32) Gwalior - again a terrible city with stunning monuments

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April 29th 2005
Published: May 19th 2005EDIT THIS ENTRY


Aren't they lovely, these ducks in single file?
This time the train ride was easy and fast, it took only about an hour. We wanted to go to a better hotel but it was full because we were in the middle of the wedding season, all the Indians marry in a period of two months, since the karma is good. So we went to a hotel on the other side of the street in a very nice building but not very well kept. Anyway, we always went back for food to the other place and ate excellent meals there. Gwalior is yet another big, busy, noisy and crowded city, which is hardly visited by tourists. The city lies in the state of Madhya Pradesh, situated in the heart of India, remaining largely unindustrialized, which allows the still dense forests and grasslands of the east to house two of India's best national parks. Madhya Pradesh is also the only state we have seen where they use tempos (=shared auto-rickshaws). In Gwalior they looked very strange, the rear part is just a bigger rickshaw, but the front part reminded us of a vehicle from the film Mad Max. Once not only the Indians were staring at us, but also us at
Alamgiri GateAlamgiri GateAlamgiri Gate

Second gate when entering from the northeast with a real structural arch and flanked by two massive towers
their fascinating vehicles.

In Gwalior there is one major site to see, the Hill Fort. The fort stands on a sandstone precipice 91m above the surrounding plain, 2.8 km long and 200-850 m wide. In places the cliff overhangs, elsewhere it has been steepened to make it unscaleable. Anyhow, the fort was taken by the British in 1858 after long and fierce fighting. We took a taxi to the northeastern entrance, where we paid the ridiculous sum of 50 paise for both of us to enter the whole complex except the palaces. From this side, the way up to the main palace buildings is on a steep rough 1-km ramp with good views. You have to pass trough several gates, the second one is a true structural arch, a quite unusual feature. The way was really steep but it was more the heat which caused Klaudia some problems, maybe she had also eaten too much the evening before. For a certain time we had restricted the number of meals to two per day, it was simply too hot to eat, and had drunk a couple of litres per day. But Klaudia managed the ascent with a lot of stops
Main rampMain rampMain ramp

Nice view of the fort standing on the cliffs
in the shade and when she reached the hilltop and saw the marvels of the palace, she was already cured. The outer wall of the first palace was once covered with tiles in yellow representing ducks, blue ones for decorative reasons and for outlining figures of elephants and tigers, and green ones for banana plants. Enough was left or had been restored to kindle the visitors' imagination how these beautiful tiles must have glittered in the blazing sun! We are aware of the fact that we were visiting another fort, but again it was unlike all the others.

Then we stepped into the Man Mandir Palace from the late 15th century, the most impressive building in the fort. The 30-m high eastern retaining wall is a vast rock face on the cliff-side interrupted by large rounded bastions. The palace consists of two storeys, on which beautifully decorated little rooms are arranged around two inner courtyards. They have small entrances suggesting that they were built for the royal ladies, 8 of whom lived here. The emperor had 9 wives, but the 9th was not of a noble caste, so she had to live outside the palace and away from the
Hathia PaurHathia PaurHathia Paur

Once you get through this gate, the palace in its splendour becomes fully visible
noble ladies. Some interior elements attracted our attention, like a number of iron rings used for swings or beautiful wall hangings, or the walls studded with construction of mortar similar to a type case, where the women supposedly put their jewellery. Interestingly, in addition to the two storeys above ground there are two underground floors which provided refuge from hot weather and acted as a dungeon when required. Angled ventilation ducts allowed in fresh air (air condition is obviously not a invention of modern times) while pipes in the walls were used as "speaking tubes". We saw an octagonal bath which would have been filled with perfumed water - the water welled up through inlet holes in the floor but these are now blocked. All these fascinating details were explained to us by a local guide and two Danish girls joined us, the only tourists apart from us. After the tour and a long chat we separated from them, Stephan had a look at another palace and Klaudia had a nap on a shady bench, where for once the Indians around her remained relatively quiet in order not to disturb her.

Originally we planned to move on to our
Man Mandir PalaceMan Mandir PalaceMan Mandir Palace

We were really awe-struck, no wonder
next destination the same day, but then we saw further interesting buildings on the grounds and decided to stay another night. After the palace we visited some Hindu temples, the first ones the Sas Bahn Mandirs. This "Mother-and-Daughter-in-law" pair of 11th century temples are dedicated to Vishnu and still preserve fine carvings in places. Further south, the Teli-ka Mandir is to be found, the earliest temple in Gwalior from the mid-8t century. This unique 25-m high Vishnu temple is essentially a sanctuary with a garuda (mythic eagle, Vishnu's vehicle) at the entrance. The exterior is awesome, but the interior is practically blank, maybe due to the fact that the British used the building as a soda-water factory and a coffee shop. Directly opposite this old temple, there was a modern Sikh temple out of shining white material, but this one we did not visit.

We were on our way out on the western side and close to the exit we passed sensational on both sides of the street. Nobody was there and we got extremely close to the huge naked statues, they even seemed superior to us than the ones in the Ellora caves. One of them

When she looked at the wonderful tiles, she immediately felt better
particularly fascinated us, not for artistic reasons, but because bees had decided to form their hive on its chin, thus creating the effect of a beard. A hilarious sight indeed.

Gwalior lies off the beaten tracks, but it would deserve many more tourists than it actually gets.

Additional photos below
Photos: 23, Displayed: 23


Sas Bahu Mandirs - small templeSas Bahu Mandirs - small temple
Sas Bahu Mandirs - small temple

It has an ornately carved base with a frieze of elephants and a vaulted ceiling under a pyramidal roof
Sas Bahu Mandirs - big templeSas Bahu Mandirs - big temple
Sas Bahu Mandirs - big temple

Impressive although only the Assembly Hall remains
Klaudia meditatingKlaudia meditating
Klaudia meditating

This fabulous temple had some impact on her
Stephan the explorerStephan the explorer
Stephan the explorer

Naturally he could not resist climbing up. Klaudia preferred staying below, and otherwise she could not have taken this picture
Teli-ka MandirTeli-ka Mandir
Teli-ka Mandir

Awe-inspiring exterior, but blank interior

Beautiful Sikh temple, unfortunately we could not go inside
Jain sculpturesJain sculptures
Jain sculptures

Row of fascinating Jain sculptures
Shaking handsShaking hands
Shaking hands

Impressive dimensions
Nice beardNice beard
Nice beard

Living beard out of bees
Gujari Mahal Palace - Archaeological MuseumGujari Mahal Palace - Archaeological Museum
Gujari Mahal Palace - Archaeological Museum

Bird's view of the nice museum
Klaudia and reduced templeKlaudia and reduced temple
Klaudia and reduced temple

One of the fine exhibits of the small museum

Varaha is one of the ten Vishnu incarnations
Mythical horseMythical horse
Mythical horse

Cute horse on a nicely carved base

The bridegroom came by horse...
Dancing in the streetsDancing in the streets
Dancing in the streets

A marriage gives people the occasion to be relaxed

We were reminded of the film Mad Max

19th September 2005

Sas Bahu Mandir
This is a brilliant photo! Shows clearly how the silhouette of the temple looks like an elephant! And the wonderful concept of a temple dedicated to the relationship between a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law! (Many Indian movie melodramas are about the conflict between MIL and DIL with the poor guy stuck in the middle!)
29th October 2005

Thank You!
I'm hoping to stay in Gwalior for 18 months, beginning early next year. There isnt much information about it anywhere, and not much in the way of pictures either; You've given me a taste of both, so thanks.
7th March 2010

it's is amazing
the fort of gwalior fort is amazing because it's art make it's vry special it's is the finest art i ever seen in my life.
13th December 2010

Bharat Vikas Parishad Shaka Shivaji Gwalior
Gwalior is Histical place. Very Very Beautiful Places in gwalior
12th September 2011

need advise
1> Tell me, is it a terrible climb from the city to the fort in Gwalior?...or does a vehicle drop you half way till some gate?? I am extremely keen on Gwalior, but terrified with long climbs... Give me a genuine advise ! :) 2> Which month did you go? I will avoid summers... thanks in advance
25th October 2012

Gwalior is one of the oldest city of central India (metropolitan city)
TravelBlog is The Best Travel Blog Site. Gwalior is Historical place. Very Very Beautiful Places in India.

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