Gwalior is essentially a small city with its obligatory share of chaos, but it still bears the stamp of a place that has seen much grandeur. Once the capital of the Marathas and the Mughal emperors, it is now the seat of the Scindias, an erstwhile royal family. Gwalior is usually spoken of in the same breath as its majestic 10th-century fort, which dominates the whole region from atop a huge bluff. The great 14th-century traveller Ibn Batuta spoke of Gwalior as being a ‘fine town of white stone’, as did the Governor General of Bengal Warren Hastings, who called it the ‘key to Indostan’. Today, the city may no longer have that important a position on India’s political or cultural map, but time has not managed to tarnish all its majesty.

Things to See & Do

Gwalior Fort
This 8th-century fortress has been integral to the history of this region and has often been described as “the pearl in the necklace of the forts of Hind”, a quote originally attributed to the Mughal emperor Babur. Everything about this looming fort, with its jagged battlements and lofty towers, is larger than life. It is over 3-km-long and rises 91m above the ground level.

Entry Indians ₹15; Foreigners ₹200 Timing Sunrise–sunset; open daily Videography ₹25

Tip Palace entry ticket also valid for Sas Bahu Temple and Teli Ka Mandir

Jitender Gupta
The imposing Gwalior Fort dominates the landscape of the city
The imposing Gwalior Fort dominates the landscape of the city

The beautiful Man Singh Palace is also located in the complex. The famous Sound and Light Show takes place here.

Sound and Light Show Indians ₹100;

Foreigners ₹250 Timings March–October: 7.30–8.15pm (Hindi), 8.30–9.15pm (English); November–February: 6.30– 7.15pm (Hindi), 7.30–8.15pm (English)

Urvai Jain Sculptures
The Jain sculptures at Urvai Gate display impressive sculptural traditions. Dating back to the 15th century, these giant monoliths include several representations of nude tirthankaras (the 24 great Jain teachers). The sculptures were defaced by Babar’s invading army in 1527.

Gujjari Mahal Museum
This museum has a varied, if somewhat scattered, collection of artefacts and sculptural fragments from Gwalior and around. The Madhya Pradesh State Archaeology Department displays over 5,000 antiquities here, which were originally owned by Maharaja Madho Rao Scindia, former ruler of the city, in 1922. The striking artefacts in the museum include a priceless 9th-century Shalbhanjika (detailed sculpture of a woman standing near a tree and grasping at a branch) and some decorative pillars.

Entry Indians ₹20; Foreigners ₹100 Timings 9.00am–5.00pm Closed Mondays and government holidays

ASI Museum
The Archaeological Museum was established by the ASI in 1993, in the building, which in colonial times served as a jail and hospital. Sculptures displayed here date from the 1st century BCE to 17th century CE.

Entry ₹20 Timings 9.00am–5.00pm Closed Monday

State Protected Monuments
Vikram Mahal
is a rather simple palace which was constructed by Raja Man Singh’s son and heir Vikramaditya. Karan Mahal was constructed by Kirti Singh, the second ruler of the Tomar dynasty. Other important monuments in the complex include the Jauharkund, Dhondapur Gate, Jehangeer Palace and Shah Jahan Palace.

Shobhna Iyer
Sas-Bahu Temple
Sas-Bahu Temple

Sas-Bahu Temple
The name ‘Sas-Bahu’ means mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, however the temple’s actual name is Sahastra, which refers to a multi-armed Vishnu. The complex comprises two shrines (Sas and Bahu) dedicated to Vishnu. The platform on which the Bahu temple stands affords a fantastic view of the walls of the fort and the city.

Entry The Man Singh Palace ticket is also valid here

Data Bandi Chod Gurudwara
Sikh Guru Hargovind Singh was kept as a prisoner in the Gwalior Fort during the reign of the Mughal Emperor Jehangir, though he was later released. Through the efforts of the Guru, 52 other prisoners were also supposedly released. A resplendent gurudwara called Data Bandi Chod was built by the Sikh community to commemorate this important event.

Entry Free

Teli ka Mandir
Teli ka Mandir is the tallest and most stunning monument in the Gwalior Fort compound. It is also presumably the oldest structure; archaeologists having dated the site to the 9th century CE.

Entry The Man Singh Palace ticket is also valid here

Tombs of Tansen and Ghaus Mohammad
Situated in an old residential colony are the mausoleums of legendary musician Tansen and his teacher, Ghaus Mohammad. It is also on these grounds that an annual music festival called Tansen Sangeet Samaroh is held in the month of December.

Entry Free Timings 9.00am–5.00pm

Where to Stay
One of the best hotels in the city, Neemrana Group’s Dev Bagh (Tel: 0751-2820357, Cell: 09300270011; Tariff: 4,500–6,500) is a heritage property. Housed in buildings dating back to the 17th century, the hotel has 15 rooms furnished with four-poster beds. The in-house restaurant serves multicuisine a la carte and buffet meals. Taj Group’s Usha Kiran Palace (Tel: 2444000; Tariff: 7,650– 35,000) has luxurious rooms and facilities such as a restaurant, bar and a pool. MP Tourism’s Hotel Tansen Gwalior (Tel: 2340370, 3249000, 4010555, 4010666; Tariff: 2,990–4,290) has spacious rooms and pleasantly green grounds. Hotel Landmark (Tel: 4011271/ 73, 2345780; Tariff: 3,650–9,990) offers deluxe and superior rooms, a fitness centre and a restaurant and bar; and Hotel Banjara (Tel: 4077589, Cell: 09826252999; Tariff: 1,000–1,800) is a good choice. Central Park (Tel: 4011140/ 43, 4042440; Tariff: 6,000–11,000) on Madhav Rao Scindhia Marg has 100 rooms, a restaurant and bar; and Hotel Gwalior Regency (Tel: 2340670/ 74, Cell: 09301127750, 09755569675; Tariff: 3,700–6,600) on Link Road has similar facilities. Hotel Shelter (Tel: 2376209/ 11, Cell: 09630096401/ 03/ 04; Tariff: 3,000–6,500) on Tansen Road has a restaurant and bar.

Hotel Grace (Tel: 2340110/ 11, Cell: 09229123344; Tariff: 1,699–2,500) and Hotel City Palace (Tel: 2636787; Tariff: 960–2,640) are budget hotels. Hotel Surbhi (Tel 2443265; Tariff: 900–1,375) in Naya Bazaar is small and basic.

Where to Eat
In Gwalior, it is best to eat at the hotel at which you are staying. Most have their own restaurants, mainly serving north Indian fare. You might also find a few Continental and Chinese dishes on the menu. The city has a few standalone restaurants. The multi-cuisine India Coffee House serves delicious south Indian fare, Kwality Restaurant is popular for its non-vegetarian dishes. Moti Mahal Delux serves Mughlai and Chinese – vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian. The Mansingh, in DD mall, offers good ambience and great food.

Fast Facts

When to go October–March, when the weather is pleasant

Tourist offices

MP Tourist Information Centre, Hotel Tansen, 6A, Gandhi Road, Gwalior, Tel: 0751-2234557, 4056726, Email: gwalior@mptourism.com

Gwalior Tourist Office, Railway Station, Gwalior, Tel: 4040777, mptourism.com

STD code 0751

Getting There

Air Rajmata Vijaya Raje Scindia Air Terminal (10km northeast of the city) is currently served by flights from Mumbai only. Please check at the time of booking. Taxi ₹500

Rail Nearest railhead: Gwalior station. Daily services provided by the Taj Express and Shatabdi from Delhi and Agra

Road Gwalior is well-connected with cities within the state as well as with Delhi, Indore and Kanpur Bus Regular services available from Delhi, Agra, Bhopal, Indore, Jhansi, Khajuraho and many other destinations in the state