No doubt, it is my favorite Fort out of all Indian Forts and there is a reason which is, its historic richness and beauty which has not yet declined after fourteen centuries. GWALIOR, 200 miles south of Delhi (capital of India), is strategically located on the north-south road. The Fort was highly secure and best suited to surprise the opponent. Towering 300 feet above the old town, the Gwalior Fort is situated on a steep, flat-topped, isolated 2800 feet long stone hill. Its walls are about 30 feet high. The glory and majesty of the Gwalior Fort have to be appreciated even today for aesthetic features.
Story Behind the Name Gwalior
Legend says that the fort was founded by Suraj Sen, a Rajput chief. An ascetic named Gwalip who cured Suraj Sen from leprosy and after this the fort came to be known as Gwalior. Some legend suggests that the sage who was named “Galav” lived in the area and the city was named Gwalior after him.
Gwalior Fort is an aesthetic example of Indian architecture. Many beautiful palaces are covered by big domes which is certainly a north India style of architecture. However “Teli ka Mandir” or Oliman temple is a combination of North Indian and South Indian architecture. The road which approaches the main gate of the fort is intentionally steep which takes the immense effort of the opponent when they try to approach the fort. Fort keeper could have surprised their opponent with bombarding of big stones.
Chronology of Gwalior Fort
|In the 6th century, the Gwalior Fort form as a part of the Gupta empire and that it was captured by the Toramana advent adventurers and his Mihirakula|
|In the 9th century, it passed into the hands of Raja Bhoj of Kanauj|
|In 1022 Mahmud of Ghazni made an assault on the fort but he was kept alive by the Parihars who remained in possession of the fort till 1196.|
|When it was acquired by Qutb-ud-din Aibak, in 1210 during his son’s rule, the Pariharas recovered for the next 22 years it remained in their possession.|
|Timur’s invasion in 1398 caused a disturbance in the country and the confusion of the Tomar Rajputs seized the fort of Gwalior. In their time Gwalior rose to great eminence. They are successively threw off the attacks on the fort in 1404, 1416 and 1429. Raja Mansingh (1486-1517) built a magnificent palace with a great gate that crowns the eastern side of the rock.|
|The Tomars resumed their hold till 1518 when they surrendered to Ibrahim Lodi. The Lodis held it for 10 years when Babur invaded and captured the fort.|
|In 1542 it fell to Sher Shah Suri who treated it as a favorite resort. In 1558 the Gwalior Fort passed into the hands of Akbar and remained in Mughul possession until the eighteenth century. The Marathas captured Gwalior from the Mughals.|
|In 1843 the fort was protected by the Gwalior contingent under British officers who continued their charge till 1857 when a rebellion took place.|
Gwalior Fort is extremely rich in the historic monuments. This site holds many temples and palaces which was built in a different timeline by distinct kingdoms.
The Man mandir palace was built by the King of Tomar Dynasty – Maharaja Man Singh in the 15th century for his favorite queen, Mrignayani. Man Mandir is often referred to as a Painted Palace which is due to the extensive use of styled tiles of turquoise, green and yellow color in a geometric pattern.
Sas Bahu mandirs
These two temples (Saas – Mother in Law, Bahu – Daughter in Law) are a beautiful example of the 11th-century work. The foundation of the larger temple was laid in 1092 and completed the following year by Mahipala the Kachhwaha chief, and the smaller temple was also built during the was the same period. The temple is dedicated to Vishnu, built of red sandstone with several stories of beams and pillars but no arches.
Teli Ka Mandir
The third temple, the Teli ka Mandir built-in the 8th or 9th-century is the highest building-110 feet high-in the fort. It is one of the oldest monuments in the Fort which is still in good shape. Its roof distinguishes it from other temples in northern India. The lower portion of the building is in the north Indian style, while the roof is in south Indian style resemblance temple of the Mahabalipuram. It was first a Vishnu temple and later it converted to Ganesh temple.
Jain temple with a huge 57 feet high Parasnath figure belongs to the 12th century. When Babur noticed this figure, it was all that was destroyed, but only some of those could have been easily mutilated.
The Gujari Mahal was built by Raja Man Singh Tomar for his wife Mrignayani, a Gujar princess. She demanded a separate palace for herself with regular water supply through an aqueduct from the nearby Rai River. The palace now has an archeological museum that has a large collection of Hindu and Jain sculptures, archeological pieces from 1st and 2nd century B.C, copies of Bagh cave frescoes and Terracotta items.
Gurdwara Data Bandi Chhor
Gurdwara Data Bandi Chhor was built during the 1970s and 1980s at the place.
Oldest Zero Found
As per the Hindu and Vedic concept when all desire and demands nullify, this state is called “Shunya”/void. Before the invention of zero in the Vedic world, “Shunya” existed. But later ~2000 years before one unknown mathematician from India thought to be used in mathematics and finally Aryabhatt invented 0 as it looks like today. This inscription is about 1500 years old which is near to the invention of 0. That’s why this representation of the 0 has assumed the oldest usage of 0.
Water Arrangement in Fort
Since the fort was built in isolation, it would have been challenging for the fort owners to manage the water supply. Thinking of this, plenty number of artificial tanks were built in the fort. Suraj Kund (Suraj Tank) is one of the oldest and biggest tanks in Fort. The water tanks or reservoirs of the fort could provide water to a 15,000 strong army, the number required to secure the fort.
Legends say King Man Singh Tomar’s wife Mriganayani (beautiful as Peacock’s eyes) was one of the most beautiful women at her time.
Local stories suggest that Mriganayani used to drink water which was brought from her father’s house only which was a hundred km far from the fort. Some secret pipeline was established to continue the water supply.
This fort is called “Gibraltar of India‘, as well.
Madhya Pradesh Tourism organizes light and sound show in the premises of the Fort every night.
There is no doubt that the Gwalior Fort witnessed many wars. The rulers ruled the fort not only from India but also from other continents. Many of the masterpieces in the fort were destroyed in the storm of war, but even after many centuries it still stands strong to tell its history. Every year the fort of Gwalior attracts thousands of visitors (local and foreign).
Book Forts of India by Amrit Verma