Sunday, 11 December 2011

Gwalior Fort

Gwalior Fort

Gwalior Fort, which is about 4kms from the centre of town, was our second destination. After we visited Jai Vilas Palace, it was a change of scenery. Driving up the mountain, we got a glimpse of the Fort standing on an isolated rock. A narrow road takes us up the mountain to one of the gates of the Fort. On the way up, you can see figures carved into the rock face. Later, we discovered that it was "Tirthankaras".  







 









One of the 7 gates to the Fort
We entered through the gate of the Fort and then was stuck, no directions after that. I hope the government took better care of the Fort. We parked outside the Fort, ample space for parking, Thank God! 

Walking into the Palace ground, the view from a distance is beautiful. The immense size of the Palace itself, overlooking the Gwalior town is something that strikes you. Mughal Emperor Babur described it as, "The pearl in the necklace of the forts of Hind". 

But then, that’s it. History clashes with government's greed for money; there is no effort on the part of the government to preserve the Palace or the Fort. There are people selling pan and cigarette inside the fort, which was a huge surprise to me. Walking through the Palace, I could smell urine and I could see the corners designed with pan spit. The contrasts of the pan spit against the red sandstone walls made a good visual. Also, guides chased us with torch lights, in the beginning it was hard to understand why, but then we had no choice but to comply to their wishes because the light to the underground chambers where not working. 
View of the Man Singh Palace

Man Singh Palace



 

Man Singh Palace information Slate
Light & Sound show was available only in Hindi as they did not have enough number of people opting for English. I agreed to be the translator to my husband and sis-in-law, so we brought tickets for the show in advance. We went around the fort visited the Shastra Bahu temple (more about it in a bit) and Gurudwara Data Bandi Chhor (the article describes very well about the Gurudwara and has pictures too). We weren't allowed to take pictures of the Gurudwara. I went inside after giving up my shoes and taking one of the scarves provided at the entrance to cover my head. It was very peaceful inside, I wished to stay there for a while but I knew we would be late for the show. I was asked to walk down and go through the dining area where "Langar" was served. If you have tasted the food at "Langar” before, you will know how tempted I was to go and have it, since I didn't have time, I decided to walk back.


Inside courtyard
We reached back in time for the show, bought some snacks and found a spot on the steps to sit down and relax. I had a really beautiful first time experience of the light and sound show in Khajuraho a year before. So, I was looking forward to the show, it was announced that the narration was by Amitabh Bacchan (The star of Bollywood). It wasn't as impressive as the light and sound show of Khajuraho. But we got to visualize the stages of how the fort came into being and its journey under the influence of the different Kings that ruled Gwalior from the fort and all the attacks it has survived.



My husband and sis-in-law were sleepy by the time the show got over but had many questions which I was supposed to answer for the bits and parts that they understood from the little Hindi they know. During the show they mentioned that Miyan Tansen, the legendary composer-musician of Hindustani music, got the name Tansen from the ruler of Gwalior, Raja Man Singh Tomar. After all stories of Tansen, I wished if we could visit his Tomb but since we had to leave early in the morning we missed it. I would love to go there during "Tansen Samaroh", the oldest music festival of India, in honour of the great musician, which is organized every year in December. If you are a Hindustani classical music lover, this is one festival you wouldn't want to miss.

Gate of Teli Mandir
Historical research and legend have a conflicting opinion on its construction dates, in 727 AD and the other puts it as 275 AD. A story goes, where the word 'Gwalior' was derived from the name of a Sage Gwalip called “Galava”. On a hunting trip Suraj Sen (King of Gwalior), met a hermit and was cured of leprosy, by drinking water from Suraj Kund or Sun Tank, which is still there in the Fort. They should package this water as medicine for leprosy now, I am being sarcastic, I know, but just look at how the tank of water is now. Take care of what little tourist spots we have, that's a request to the government.

Suraj Kund or Sun Tank

The hermit also gave him the name Suhan Pal and gave him a 'Vardan' (boon) that his descendants would remain in power, as long as they kept the Patronym “Pal”. His next 83 descendants did just that and stayed in power but the 84th was an ambitious and calculating Tej Karan, who left the state to Ram Deva Prahar and went to his father in law to be his next in succession to the Kingdom of Ambere. After two years family of Pratihars took over. Moral of the story is, don’t change your name.
 
Then it kept changing hands from Tomars, to Mughals, to Marathas, to British and finally ended up with the Scindias. 

There is a lot of significance to his Fort, like Rani Lakshmibai (the Rani of Jhansi) led the troops, to fight the British and was killed defending the mountain passage. The prison dungeon in the palace witnesses the atrocities of the Mughal dynasty, where their many royal prisoners were incarcerated and killed.
Sati (voluntary burning to death of women after the death of their husband) was performed by women of the royal family after news of the death of king. One of the temples has the oldest record of "0".

Sas-Bahu temple


 
'Sas-Bahu temple' (mother-in-law and daughter-in-law); but it's a local mistake, it's actually called SahastraBahu Temple which means “One with thousand arms” a form of Vishnu. It’s a pyramidal shaped temple built of red sandstone, built several stories high, with beams and pillars and not arches. 

 





For all its history, it lacks the impact, because it's not taken care off. 




3 comments:

  1. Thanks for a really interesting post.. I'd love to go there myself, but since I can't right now, your travelogue makes fascinating reading! Love you pics too. I have heard of Man Singh because he had the beautiful red sandstone temple of Govindadeva in Vrindavana built for Rupa Goswami. One of my favourite places in the world ever..! Have you been there? If not, you should try to go! :)
    Also I agree that many wonderful historical and spiritual sites in India are just not looked after properly by the authorities- I guess it's a hard job in a country so packed full of treasures. All the same, it is always so heartbreaking to visit a holy kund and find it filled with slime and litter :(

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  2. I'm glad you enjoyed reading the post. I've been to Vrindavana when I was younger I don't remember much, but would definitely visit again sometime.

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  3. I just go through the snap. it's really good one. I like the fort. Thank you for sharing.


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