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Gwalior city has an interesting and colorful past that is mingled with triumphs of many victories as well as sorrowful memories of tragic losses. The world famous Kohinoor diamond once resided among the treasures of Gwalior fort. With the death of Raja Vikramaditya in the first battle of Panipat against the Mughal invader Babur, his family was left at the mercy of the victor. To save her honor and the kingdom his queen had to offer the Kohinoor diamond, the most valuable possession that they had, to the victor’s son, Humayun. The Gwalior had many occupants long before Emperor Babur arrived in India. There is an interesting legend about the name of the city. In the eighth century CE a Hindu saint Gwalipa offered Raja Suraj Sen the water from Suraj Kund or the sun pool that is located inside the fort to cure him from leprosy. The Raja was very much indebted to the saint and named the city after him.

The Gwalior Fort, crowning the high ridge that is more than 100 meters or 328 feet above its surroundings, dominates the entire area of the city no matter from which side one looks at it. The Fort over this ridge is more than 3 kilometers or 1.9 miles long and varies in width between 1 kilometer or 0.6 miles to as less as 200 meters or just 656 feet. During its turbulent history the fort changed hands many times. The Tomer rulers were replaced by the Mughals, who in turn were pushed aside by the Marathas and finally the British took Marathas help in suppressing the First War of Indian Independence and then held influence over the region until India’s independence in 1947. One of the most dramatic and tragic events in the First War of Indian Independence occurred in 1858 when the British East India Company troops with help from Marathas among many other native rulers led a fierce assault on Gwalior Fort. Rani Laxmi Bai of Jhansi lost her life fighting the foreign invaders but became immortal in the annals of Indian history. Even today poetry describing her valor and determination is taught in schools all over India.

The beautifully decorated exteriors of the ramparts of this fort enclose six palaces, five temples, ancient Jain shrines and several pools of water. From the fort one has a panoramic view of the entire Gwalior city. In the east of the Gwalior Fort is the old Gwalior City. The Teli-ka-Mandir or the temple of oilman is the oldest of the temples inside the Fort. Its architecture is quite unique because it does not have the spacious Mandapa and the multi-columned hall. These features are quite characteristic of most temples in northern India in particular. The shape of the roof suggests Buddhist influence in its style because the Shikhar or the towering spire over the sanctum area is replaced with a ridge similar to ones used in the vaulted roofs of Buddhist Chaitya-Halls. The other two interesting Hindu temples in the fort are the Sas-Bahu or temples dedicated to mother-in-law and daughter-in-law. The larger one of these two is believed to be constructed in 1093 CE. Only the porch has survived and that has quite an imposing three-story high structure. Built in the typical Hindu temple architecture, this temple does not have any arch. The entire construction is done with stone beams and columns. The smaller Sas-Bahu Temple appears to be more elegant and pleasing to view. On the road to the Fort there is an ancient Vaishnav Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu’s four-armed form, the Chaturbujh. It dates from 875 CE and is the oldest of all temples in Gwalior. Its Shikhar is crowned by a dome like structure that is quite similar to Teli-ka-Mandir. A sound and light show in the evenings gives an interesting account of the history of Gwalior Fort and the region.

The Scindia Royal family under protection of the British had ruled the Gwalior territory until Independence. Most of their former main palace, the Jai Vilas Palace, has been converted into a public museum. In one part of the palace the current members of the former royal family still reside and one area with 35 rooms has been converted into a heritage luxury hotel called the Jai Vilas Palace Hotel. The most impressive part of the museum is the Darbar Hall that has golden decoration on the walls and two gigantic Chandeliers that weigh a couple of tons. These Chandeliers were the largest in the world when they were installed and the builders tested the strength of the roof by making ten elephants walk on it. The palace construction was commissioned in 1809 after a design submitted by Lt. Col. Sir Michael Filose based on the style of an Italian Palazzo. The museum has a collection of antiquities from Mughal period and later. The other palace that has also been converted into a heritage luxury hotel is Usha Kiran Palace.

5-star heritage hotels:

Taj Usha Kiran Palace Hotel – 36 rooms & suites
Gwalior Regency Hotel - 51 rooms

Heritage Hotel:

Neemrana's Deo Bagh Palace Hotel - 15 rooms in a vast garden with ancient monuments from 17th. & 18th. centuries.

3-star hotels:

Hotel Shelter – 68 rooms
The Central Park Hotel – 80 rooms
Hotel Landmark – 42 rooms
Hotel Grace - 18 rooms (some are air-cooled-no restaurant)

Distance from Gwalior in Kilometers and Miles:

Agra: 118 Kilometers or 73 Miles
Jhansi: 97 Kilometers or 60 Miles
Delhi: 321 Kilometers or 199 Miles
Jaipur: 350 Kilometers or 217 Miles
Bharatpur: 178 Kilometers or 111 Miles
Datia: 74 Kilometers or 46 Miles
Khajuraho: 275 Kilometers or 171 Miles

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