Having served as the seat of several dynasties all through history, the city of Gwalior can be best described as the glittering gem of Madhya Pradesh. The city owes its regal status to the myriad of ancient forts and Hindu temples. It’s hard not to get mesmerised by the city’s historical and cultural charm. Having stood the test of time, Gwalior puts on display the best of art and valor. While the city’s monuments are a testament to the valor of the rulers who once wore the crown; the architecture is a reflection of the fine artistic skills of the bygone era. Though not a ‘holiday-destination’ in the quintessential sense, it sure makes or an interesting pit-stop en route to exploring the other treasure troves of Madhya Pradesh. If you find yourself in the majestic city of Gwalior for 24 hours, here are a few things that you should not miss out on.
Browsing through the history of the city by delving into its architectural grandeur
Gwalior has many mysteries up its sleeve, but its iconic forts are far from it. From the incredible Gwalior fort to the iconic Jai Vilas Palace, the city continues to retain a medieval majesty. Set atop an isolated rock, towering over the old city, the Gwalior Fort is a star attraction of the city. Rightfully labelled as the ‘pearl amongst fortresses of India’ by the Mughal emperor Babur, the structure is a sight to behold during the riveting sound and light show in the evening. Incorporating architectural elements like Chinese dragon, the fort houses 6 palaces and rock-cut temples. One of the most impenetrable forts in India, this enormous structure lures travellers from around the globe.
The historic seat of the Scindia family, Jai Vilas palace is the epitome of opulence and royalty. One of the grandest buildings in Gwalior, it was built by the then ruler Jayaji Rao Scindia and reflects a beautiful blend of Tuscan, Italian and Corinthian styles of architecture. Today, the palace is home to the descendants of the royal Scindia family. Out of the 400 rooms, 40 have been converted into the Jiwaji Rao Scindia Museum which is open for public view. A visit to the palace will certainly transport you to the illustrious era of the Scindia dynasty.
Get mesmerised by the stunning shrines in Gwalior
In addition to housing several regal structures, what dominates the cityscape of Gwalior are the unique and attractive temples that hold more of a historical significance than a religious significance. Known as the ‘City of Temples’, Gwalior has some of the most intricately carved temples, constructed in different eras. An amalgamation of divinity and antiquity is the Sun Temple here. Not to be confused with the one in Konark, Odisha, this temple was built in the 1980’s. Dedicated to the sun god, the red sandstone exteriors and white marble interiors. Cou[led with the beautiful garden surrounding, add to the aesthetics of the architectural marvel. The other famous Hindu shrines in Gwalior include the Teli ka Mandir, dedicated to lord Shiva, Vishnu and Matrikas. Constructed in Dravidian style, it’s a must-visit on an architecture buff’s itinerary. On the other hand, the Chaturbhuj temple holds a position of significance because of its mathematical connection. Set inside the Gwalior fort complex, it is believed that the mathematical figure ‘zero’ originated on the walls of this temple. If you have a couple of hours in hand, then this temple complex is sure worth your time!
Immerse yourself in the capital of Hindustani music
When it comes to Hindustani classical, you cannot take the discussion further without touching upon the Gwalior Gharana. With an impeccable lineage and style, Gwalior Gharana is an integral part of the Gwalior culture. This school of music rose to fame during the reign of the Mughal emperor Akbar. Gwalior has given birth to some of the leading stalwarts in the Hindustani music circuit. One of the prominent figures was Tansen, who was amongst the nine gems of Akbar’s court. Discover the legend of this musical prodigy at the tombs of Mohammed Ghaus and Tansen.The tomb plays host to the prestigious Tansen Music Festival, a six-day celebration of the art of music and a tribute to one of the pioneers of Indian classical music.
Shop till you drop at Sarafa Bazaar
Frequented by locals and tourists alike, the lively markets of Gwalior are a treat to the eyes. From traditional artifacts to junk jewellery, it’s undoubtedly a shopaholic’s paradise. One can even find Maheshwari and Chanderi silk sarees in the rustic market areas of Gwalior. The Patankar and Sarafa Bazaar are some of the busiest markets of the city. Be it the delicate silk saris that symbolize the handloom industry of the city or the intricately carved stone artifacts, there is no dearth of options to splurge on. The different shades of the bazaars are sure to leave you longing for more.
Gorge on some lip-smacking local delicacies
There’s a lot more to Gwalior other than its historic monuments and rich culture. Having served as the political and cultural epicentre of several dynasties, the evolution of Gwalior’s cuisine is quite interesting to see. A Gwalior trail would most definitely be incomplete without indulging in its culinary charms and mind you, it’s street food all the way. From the steaming hot kachoris to the scrumptious Bedai (pooris filled with spiced lentils) Gwalior’s love for its local snacks is hard to resist. The addictive aam ki launji (mango chutney), petha gilori, and paneer jalebi, more than satisfy your sweet cravings.