Gwalior Fort

Gwalior Fort (Hindi: ग्वालियर क़िला Gwalior Qila) in Gwalior, in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, stands on an isolated rock, overlooking the Gwalior town, and contains a number of historic buildings. It is one of the biggest forts in India and a postage stamp has been issued by the Indian Postal Service to commemorate the importance of this fort. From historical records, it is established that it was built in the 8th century. The fortress and the city have been integral to the history of the kingdoms of North India. It is said that the Mughal Emperor Babur (1483–1531) described it as, "The pearl in the necklace of the forts of Hind". The fort, also given the epithet "Gibraltar of India', provides a panoramic view of the old Gwalior town, which is to its east.The fort’s history relates to two parts namely, the main fort and the Gurjari Mahal and the Man Mandir palace. The first part was built during the early Tomar rule, while the second part, the Gurjari Mahal (now a Museum) and the palace, was constructed by Raja Man Singh Tomar in the 15th century for his favourite queen, Mrignayani.Gwalior Fort also occupies a unique place in the human civilization as the place which has the first recorded use of zero ever. Also referred as 'Shunya' in sanskrit, this site is of mathematical interest because of what is written on a tablet recording the establishment of a small 9th century Hindu temple on the eastern side of the plateau (marked by the '0' on the nineteenth century map at the left). By accident, it records the oldest "0" in India for which one can assign a definite date

History

History of the fort is indelibly linked to the former kingdom of Gwalior, ruled by several Rajput kings. The earliest dating of the fort is quoted to a publication of the Government of India on Gwalior, which traces it to an inscription of 525 AD in a Sun temple, which is said to have been built by the Hun (Huna) emperor Mihirakula (Sveta Huna ruler in 510 AD during the reign of Huns in India).The Chaturbhuj temple (dediciated to a four armed Hindu god, a Vishnu) temple, on the way to the fort is dated to 875 AD which has close identity with the Teli-Ka-Mandir, which is also dated to the 8th century.Historical research has dated construction of the fort to 773 AD by a local chieftain of the area named Surya Sena. In 1023 AD Mahmud of Ghazni attacked to capture the fort but was repulsed. In 1196 AD, after a long siege, Qutubuddin Aibak. the first Sultan of India took over the fort but he lost it in 1211 AD. It was reconquered in 1231 AD by Sultan Iltumish, the slave dynasty ruler of Delhi. When Timurlane invaded Delhi and created anarchy in the region, Narasingh Rao, a Hindu chieftain captured the fort. It was only in 1519 that Ibrahim Lodi of the Lodi Dynasty won control of the fort. Subsequent to his death, Mughul emperor Babar manipulated the situation and took control of the fort. But with his son Humayun's defeat at the hands of Sher Shah Suri, the fort came under the reign of Suri dynasty.After Sher Shah Suri's death in 1540, his son Islam Shah shifted his capital from Delhi to Gwalior as it was considered safe from the frequent attacks from west. In the year 1553, when Islam Shah died his incumbant Adil Shah Suri appointed the Hindu warrior Hemu also known as Hem Chandra Vikramaditya as the Prime Minister-cum-Chief of Army of his kingdom. Adil Shah himself moved to Chunar as it was considered still safer. Hemu mounted several attacks from this fort to quell the rebellion in various parts of North India against the weak Adil Shah regime. The fort remained very active during 1553-56 as Hemu had fought and won 22 battles continuously, without losing any from this fort. After defeating Akbar's forces at Agra and Delhi in 1556, Hemu established 'Hindu Raj' as a 'Vikramaditya' king, in North India and had his 'Rajyabhishake' or coronation at Purana Quila in Delhi as 'Samrat Hem Chandra Vikramaditya' on 7th Oct. 1556. The capital was shifted from Gwalior to Delhi once again and was operational from Purana Quila.

Architecture

The fort and its premises are well maintained and have many historic monuments, Hindu and Jain temples (of 11 shrines, seven are Hindu temples) and palaces, out of which the famous are the Man Mandir palace, the Gujari Mahal (now an Archeological Museum), the Jahangir Mahal, the Karan Palace and the Shahjahan Mahal.The fort, which has a striking appearance, has been built on the long, narrow, precipitous hill called Gopachal. The fort spreads over an area of 3 square kilometres (1.2 sq mi). The fort, 35 feet (11 m) in height, is built over massive sandstone rocks. The fort wall is built all along the edge of the hill, though of uniform height, presents an irregular appearance due to the topogarphy of the land over which it has been built. It has two main access gates - one from the North East and the other on the South West. The fort rampart is laid all along the periphery of the hill connected by six towers or bastions. It is approached through the north east through a lengthy access ramp. The main entrance or gate to the fort, called the Hathi Pul (means "elephant gate" as elephants could pass through this gate), is accessed after passing through six other gates. Apart from the Hathi Pul gate to the Palace, there is another large ornate gate, inferred as the Badalgarh Gate. The Man Mandir palace or the citadel is located at the northeast end of the fort. Its construction is dated to the 15th century but refurbished in 1648. The fort precincts also have many monuments such as palaces, temples and water tanks. The water tanks or reservoirs created in the precincts of the fort could provide water supply to a 15,000 strong garrison, which was the estimated requirement of manpower to secure the fort. On the approach from the southern side, intricately carved rock cut temples of 21 Jain thirthankaras are seen set deep into the steep rock faces. One such statue of 40 feet (12 m) height, identified as that of Parswanath, the 23rd Jain thrithankara (or saint), escaped demolition ordered by Babar since he lost control of the fort.

How to reach Gwalior fort?

Where to stay ?