The history of India goes back thousands of years. There are amazing forts and palaces to visit, and fascinating stories to hear. But most tourists from abroad, on a tour of history, restrict themselves to the western Indian state of Rajasthan, Agra, New Delhi, and Hampi in the south. There is, however, much more to see in the country.
Take for example the central state of Madhya Pradesh. Here you can visit Gwalior, Jhansi, Orachha, Khajuraho, Sanchi, Bhimbetka, Mandu, and Ujjain.
Gwalior, with its beautiful palaces, monuments, and temples, is particularly worth visiting. Located 362.9 km south of New Delhi, you can reach the city in 6 hours if you take the Taj Express Highway, which passes through Agra. Jhansi, another beautiful historical city in Madhya Pradesh, is a couple of hours south of Gwalior by road. So you can plan a road trip from Delhi to cover Agra, Gwalior, and Jhansi all together in 3-4 days. It will be a fascinating trip where you will learn a lot about India’s rich history.
What to See in Gwalior
Gwalior was founded by King Surajesan. There is much to see here, including the impressive Gwalior Fort, Jai Vilas Mahal, Gujari Mahal, H.H. Maharaja Jiwajirao Scindia Museum, the Sarod Ghar, Man Singh Palace, Gopachal Parvat, the Italian Garden, Tansen Tomb, Vikram Mahal, Urvai Gate, and the Jahangir Mahal among others. There is also the Palpur Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary at a short distance away.
“Pearl amongst fortresses in India” thus commented Babar, founder of the Mughal Empire in India after he won the Gwalior fort. Built in the later part of the 8th century on an isolated outcrop of rock overlooking the Gwalior town, this apparently invincible fort have changed hands several times, giving rise to significant changes to the political history of India. This is a spectacular hill fort you don’t want to miss.
See the gates, temples, rock cut images of the Tirthankaras, Gujari Mahal – which is now a museum, the many monuments here, and the Man mandir palace. Learn how Rani Laskshmi Bai of Jhansi won the fort in 1858 and drove out the Scindia family, and how subsequently the Rani was attacked and killed here.
The Royal Family of Scindia
The Royal Family of the Scindia ruled the Gwalior State during most part of the 18th and 19th centuries till India gained independence and Gwalior became a part of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.
Gwalior Gharana of Music
The Gwalior Gharana comprises a special type of classical Indian vocal music that is different from other traditional music forms. Miyan Tansen, an outstanding patron of this school of music whose vocal music entertained the Mughal Emperor Akbar came from the city of Gwalior. You can see the Tansen Tomb while visiting Gwalior.
Jai Vilas Mahal
Do not also miss the Jai Vilas Mahal, a 19th century palace, built in Tuscan, Italian, and Corinthian architecture. The large Durbar Hall is particularly famous here. Its interior is decorated with gold furnishings and gilt, and is adorned with huge chandeliers and a huge carpet. The chandelier, which is the world’s largest, is 41 feet in height, 50 feet wide, and 100 feet long. Legend has it that 8 elephants were suspended from the ceiling’s top to see whether the rope could hold its weight.
There are interesting and bizarre things to see here, including a swimming pool with boats, a train made with silver to carry after-dinner cigars and brandy.