Ever since I had learnt about Rani Lakshmi Bai, fondly known as Jhansi Ki Rani, I wanted to visit Jhansi and Gwalior. She fought her last battle and was later cremated here. I wanted to visit the famous Gwalior fort and Phool Bagh. Although, when I did get a chance to visit the city, I could visit only the fort because of the tight schedule.
According to the legends, Gwalior Fort was built by Prince Suraj Sen and later a whole city grew around it. The fort sits on a hill and thus had a strategic importance during the ancient time.
What to expect:
Archaeological Museum/Gujari Mahal: This Mahal was built by Raja Man Singh for his wife Mrignayani. She made a demand to her King that there must be a continuous water supply from the nearby river, Rai. Which the king fulfilled and the water was made available by deploying a pipe line for around 2.5 km. Before entering the main building of Gwalior Fort, you will have an entry to this Mahal.
This Mahal was later converted into a museum by the government of India. Many artifacts, idols and coins, from different parts of the country are being put in this museum.
You will get to see beautifully decorated stone carved pillars, portraits of Kings along with many idols of Lord Shiva, Natraj, Mahavir Tirthankar and many other Gods and Goddesses of all shapes and sizes. I particularly liked an idol in which Lord Shiva is doing Tandav. There is a whole section which stores the old coins of Naag Vansh, Alamgir’s and Khilji’s time as well. Then there is a room with portraits of Hindu and Mughal kings depicting their daily life.
You will also get to see a big sculpture of Goddess Mahishasur Mardini and a rare idol of Lord Brahma and Sugreev, who helped Lord Ram in finding Mata Sita. (I found it a little misfit among other idols though).
The museum also has a board that shows how ancient brahmi characters were evolved into modern devnagiri characters.
The Gwalior Fort:
As mentioned above, Gwalior fort sits on a hill. so you will have to walk on an elevated path for around 700m to reach the actual fort area.
There is a temple of Wrishi Sidh Baba in first 200m followed by Lakshman Darwaza. Enter that and within few meters you will get to see a big wall decorated by Indian love birds, who think that their love is incomplete until they write their names somewhere. What could be a better place than a tourist place where thousands of people come only to see some random names written on a wall.
Move past that wall and you will see another huge Darwaza which is the main entrance of the fort. On the right side, you will see the wall of Raja Man Singh Tomar’s Palace, decorated with beautiful colour combination of Blue and Yellow. During night time a light show is presented, where the whole history of the fort is played, first in Hindi followed by in English language.
Take a right, there are separate entry doors for Raja Man Singh Palace and Karan and Vikram Mahal.
The Karan and Vikram Mahal, does not only have two huge Mahals, but also a very big open space with many other buildings, including horse stables, conference halls along with watch towers on the boundary walls of the Gwalior Fort.
From the boundaries you can have an aerial view of the whole city. Which looks spectacular and the beauty would increase during the night time. You will be amazed to see rooms in the rooms and many secret paths and tunnels. In between both the Mahals, there is a big kund which was used as a Johar Kund during ancient times.
While all these things would look amazing to you, the other side of all this is not so beautiful. With that, I mean, there is no maintenance of the area, specially near the boundaries. You will see bushes spreading all over the place with no one to control them. You will find couples almost in every corner of the palace which makes the situation a little awkward for the visitors, especially those who come with their families. Not only the open area but the actual premises of both the mahals are not well maintained.
Once you come out from this area, go to Raja Man Singh Palace, it is the place where the King used to spend his leisure time. There is a veranda in the middle, surrounded by beautifully sculptured walls with a nice use of colors. The king used to sit in the balcony and watch the dancers performing different forms of dancing.
Runner’s View: In total, you will cover close to 4 km with a total elevation gain of 300m, which serves as a good workout.
How to reach Gwalior Fort:
It is around 4 km from Railway station, you can take an auto or book a cab, which will cost you around Rs 50 – Rs 70 and drop you at the main gate of the fort. Surprisingly, it is only around 2 km if you chose to go by walking.
The distance is 12 km from the airport and again you will have to either book a cab or take an auto.
The public transport is not that good in Gwalior so you will have to rely mostly on the private buses or autos which operate on the fixed routes. I found the rates of these private transports fairly reasonable as compared to other major cities I have visited.
For Indians: Rs 20
For Foreigners: Rs 200
Karan and Vikram Mahal:
For Indians: Rs 40 (payment via card) / Rs 50 if you give cash
For Foreigners: Rs 400 / Rs 500
Raja Man Singh Palace:
For Indians: Rs 20
For Foreigners: Rs 200