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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Gwalior fort

The Gwalior fort has changed hands many times, from the Tomars in the 8th century to the Scindhias who were its masters when India became independent, and each of these dynasties adorned and embellished the fort. One cannot help being impressed with the perfect blend of the Hindu and Muslim architecture that characterizes the fort and finds its fullest expression in this brilliant monument.

Architecture Of Gwalior Fort :-
Build by the Rajput ruler clan Tomars in the 15th century, the awe-inspiring Gwalior fort in Madhya Pradesh is situated on sandstone precipices, which are 2.8 km long and 200-850 m wide and 91m above surrounding plains. A major portion of the fort was built during the reign of Raja Man Singh, one of the greatest of the Tomar kings, for his Queen Mrignayani. Described as the ‘pearl among the fortresses of Hind’ by the great mughal Emperor Babur, the fort surrounded by imposing walls 35-feet high and two miles in length, is the perfect blend of Hindu and architecture.

The Fort
The mighty fort dominates Gwalior city, a place that has served as the centre of several historic north Indian kingdoms. With a turbulent and pretty eventful past, the Gwalior fort has changed hands many times, from the Tomars in the 8th century it passed on to the Mughals, then the Marathas under the Scindia’s (1754) followed briefly by Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi, Tatiya Tope and the British. From the British the fort finally went to its former masters, the Scandia’s when India became independent. The fort has been a mute witness to many historical battles and events- one of the most important among them being the 1857 revolt, as well as the valiant death of Rani of Jhansi, (Rani Laxmi Bai) in 1558 within its ramparts while fighting against the British.

Gateways, Temples and Palaces :-
This magnificent fort with two main entrances encloses three complexes, six palaces, temples and a number of water tanks. Inside the fort there are some wonders of medieval architecture, including temples, such as Teli-ka- Mandir (8-11th century AD) and Sas-bahu ka Mandir (16th century),and Man Mandir Palaces (15th century) and Suraj Kund, an 8th century AD water tank where the Rajput chieftain suraj sen or Suraj Pal, who founded the Gwalior city, is believed to have been cured of a deadly diseases after drinking from the pond and the direction of Saint Gwalipa, in whose name the city is named.

Of the two main entrances to the Fort, one is in the north-east and other is in the south-west. On either sides of the access road to the southwest entrances- the Urbai Gate, are statuses of Jain Thirthankaras dating back to the 8th and the 15th centuries, some up to 20m tall. The figures were defaced by the forces of Babur in 1527 but were later restored. The images are classified into five main groups. The Arwahi group contains a 17m high standing sculpture of the first Jain thirthankara, Adinath and a 10m high seated figure of Nemnath, the 22nd Jain thirthankara. The south-eastern group is the most important and covers nearly 1 km of the cliff face with more than 20 images.

The northeastern entrance to the fort, accessible through worn out steps cut out of the rock, has six gates. The gateways in between include the Gwalior or Alamgiri Gate built in 1660, named after emperor Aurangazeb. Badalgarh or hindola gate, a fine example of Hindu architecture named after Man Singh’s uncle, Raja Badal Singh Tomar, the third gate, Bhairon no longer exists; the ourth gate build in the 14th century (876AD) has the Vishnu Chaturbhuja or Four-Armed temple in Gwalior. The last gate, Hati pur, or elephant gate built in 1516 is the entrance to the main Man Mandir palace. Another gateway, the Hawa Gate, which Stood within the palace, has been demolished.

Tallest Structure
The tallest structure in the fort, the 100 ft high Teli-ka Mandir (Oil man’s temple) dates back to the 9th century, and is the most impressive of all the temples in the Gwalior fort. Constructed by the Pratihar Rajas, this Vishnu temple is an amalgamation of the Dravidian (From South India ) and the Indo-Aryan (North Indian) architectural styles. The roof is typically Dravidian but the sculptures and embellishing inside are Indo-Aryan in nature. The 10m high doorway has a Garuda statue on top.

Sas-Bahu-ka-Mandir : (Mother in law and daughter in law temples) the two graceful temples similar in style but different in sizes adjoining each other were originally known as the ‘Sahastrabahu’ temples. Built in the Nagara style of architecture, the twin temples dating between 9th and 11th century dedicated to Lord Vishnu or Sahastrabahu, stands close to the eastern wall of the fort.

Mahipala built a Kachhwaha Rajput Prince of Gwalior in 1093 AD the larger one among the two. The temple several storeys high, is balanced solely with the help of beams and pillars without arches. The doorways, ceilings and four huge pillars are sculpted with graceful figures and intricate patterns. The temple has an ornately carved base and the ceiling is an impressively carved dome. The smaller temple, widely recognized as that of the Bahu, more elegant in appearance than the greater Sas-Bahu temple consists of an open sided porch with a pyramidal roof. Between the Teli Ka Mandir and the Sas-Bahu temple there is the historic Gurudwara Data Bandhi Chhorh built in memory of Guru Hargobind Sahib, the 6th Sikh Guru. Completely made of white marble, the Gurudwara is decorated with colour glasses with cupolas on domes made of gold.

Man Mandir Palace : Approached via the northeastern fort entrance, is the most impressive building in the Gwalior fort. It was built by Raja Man singh of the Tomar dynasty between 1486 and 1516 and was later repaired in 1881. The palace is also known as the chit Mandir or Painted Palace for its richly tiled and Painted decorations with elephants and peacocks, and the exceptional fresco with the ducks paddling in turquoise waters. The now deserted palace has four storeys, two of them underground. Rooms are spacious but bare, some of them with fine screens used for musical concerts where behind these screens, the royal ladies used to listen to concerts and learn music.

Below the palace, there are circular underground cells used as a prison during the Mughal Period. Emperor Aurangazeb imprisoned his brother Murad and later executed him here. The Sikh guru Har Gobind was also imprisoned here for two years. Near by is the Jauhar Kund where the Rani (queen) committed Mass sati or self-immolation, after their husbands were defeated in battle, following the Rajput tradition.

Other Palaces within the Gwalior Fort, which are worth seeing, included the Vikramaditya Mahal, Karan Mandir, or Kirti Mandir Palace, the Jahagir Mahal, the Shahjahan Mahal and the Gujari Mahal. Built in 1516, the Vikramaditya Mahal with a domed roof lies between Man Mandir and Karan Mandir and narrow galleries connect these palaces. Karan or kirti mandir is a two storeyed palace with a long pillared hall built by Raja Kirti Singh.

Raja Mansingh Tomar built the 15th century Gujari Mahal for his favourite queen, Mrignayani. The exterior of the Gujari Mahal is well preserved and the Palace now houses an Archeological museum. There is a large collection of hindu and jain sculptures, archeological pieces some dating back to the 1st, and 2nd century BC, terracotta, imitate of the Bagh (Garden), and caves frescoes. The statue of Shalbhanjika (the tree goddess) brought from Gyras Pur, an exceptional piece in miniature is kept in the museum.

Inside of Gwalior fort

Gwalior Fort Wallpaper

Gwalior Fort Photo

Gwalior Fort Design

Gwalior Fort backside view

Gwalior Fort , Madhya Pradesh

A beautiful seen of Gwalior Fort

Rides in Gwalior mela

Gwalior Fort Images

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