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City of Palaces and Temples - Gwalior

Posted By laveenadiaries 554 days ago on Travel - Hello friends, let's continue with our journey (To read my previous blog Click here). After exploring the city of Taj Mahal for two days, we started for our next destination-Gwalior. Gwalior is famous for its palaces and temples.Before sharing my experience in the city, I must narrate my adventurous journey on the North-South Corridor of National Express Highway. The highway connects Agra with Mumbai, but it seems that the government neglects it. The traffic on the road was mainly of the trucks carrying heavy loads, and we hardly saw any car on the highway. There were numerous potholes on the road, and their depth could not be imagined from the driving seat. My hubby had to get down of the car repeatedly to find a little shallow pit so that he could cross it without any damage. We had to fill some chuckholes with concrete using our hands because they were intense and covered the entire road. Not only this, whenever a truck passed by us, we felt that it might fall on us. The journey took double the estimated time, and we finally reached our next destination- Gwalior. We took a sigh of relief.How the city got its name?The story is fascinating. Suraj Sen, the local Prince, once lost his way in the forest. There he met a sage Gwalipa. The Prince was highly impressed with the aura of the sage. When the Prince asked for water from the sage, he took him to a river. To Prince's surprise, the river water not only quenched his thirst but the Prince also got rid of his leprosy. Out of gratitude, the Prince asked the sage if he needed something. The sage asked the Prince to build a wall on the hill to protect the sages from the wild animals during yajnas. Suraj built the wall and later built a palace in the fort and named it Gwalior after the hermit. Later the city that developed around the fort also came to be known as Gwalior.On reaching GwaliorWe checked in Hotel Radisson. The hotel is located in the centre of Gwalior's corporate district. It had already grown dark, so we decided to explore only the area near the hotel. We shopped a little at the showrooms and then decided to take some snacks at Param Food Complex. We ordered several snacks one after the other and all of them were very tasty. When we reached the hotel, we realised that we were too full to have dinner. We decided to relax by the rooftop swimming pool while my younger son enjoyed himself in the pool. Then we had a good night sleep in the comfortable beds of our rooms.Next day, we got up early, had our breakfast at the hotel restaurant and geared ourselves up to explore the city to the fullest. Gwalior ZooWe first went to see the Gwalior Zoo also called Gandhi Prani Udhyan. It was established in 1922 by Scindias. The zoo houses various species of snakes, golden peasants, sambhars,  ferocious hyenas, lazy crocodiles, monkeys, white tigers etc. It took us an hour and a half to take a look at all the animals in the zoo. The facilities in the zoo were quite similar to the Indore Zoo( For more info read my blog on Indore). The Gwalior Zoo is a pleasant family outing spot.Jai Vilas PalaceFrom the zoo, we headed towards Jai Vilas Palace. Jai Vilas Palace was the residence of Scindias.  Each storey depicts a different style. The first storey is in Tuscan style; the second is Italian Doric style and the third Corinthian style. The palace has 400 rooms out of which 35 are part of the museum. The name of the museum is HH Maharaja Sir Jiwaji Rao Scindia Museum. The museum has ornate accessories, lavish Persian carpets, rare antiquities from various parts of the world and world's most massive chandelier on display. The Rolls Royce Railway CoachesThe rolls Royce Railway coaches on display welcome you at the entrance of the property. These coaches were bought in 1905 by Maharaja Madhavrao Scindia for inspecting the city and for pleasure rides. Besides the seat, the coaches also had searchlights, a toilet, a dressing room and a rifle rack.  The museum galleriesThere are many galleries in the museum. In the first gallery, there is Scindia geneology, a brief history of Scindia family, matrimonial alliances of Scindia family with other royal families. In the next gallery information about textile and handloom industry under Scindias is displayed. We also saw dresses worn by the royal family.CarriagesIn the next room, various carriages, chariots and palanquins were on display that the royal family used on different occasions. There was a carriage embedded with silver sheets. The royal family still uses it on important ceremonies like Dussehra puja.The role of Scindia Family in the First World warThe Scindia family had a significant contribution to the First World War.  The next gallery displays the uniforms worn by the soldiers of all ranks.Swimming PoolThere is an indoor swimming pool also. Maharaja Madhvrao Scindia constructed it.  It is 58 ft long, 12.5 ft wide and 9 ft deep. It has three diving boards. Around the pool are sprinklers which created a stunning waterfall-like effect around the pool. It was mostly women-only swimming pool.Madhavrao Scindia galleryIn the next gallery, we could see HH Madhavrao Scindia's golf kit, pens, watches, membership cards and autographs of the Australian cricket team.The French reception HallHere we saw extensive European furniture which is likely to have been purchased from France. The collection of neo-classical sculpture can also be seen.The Breakfast RoomThis room displays some of the dining furniture, crockery and cutlery historically used by the royal family. The plates carry the initials of HH Madhavrao. At the back of the room stands a much shorter table. The table was specially designed for HH's wife Chinkuraje, whose height was not more than four feet. Malabar Dining RoomThe furniture in this room is made of Indian Rosewood. One of the sideboards looks like the shore temple of Mahabalipuram. The central dining furniture is carved in such a way that, when weighed together, the set of chairs have an identical weight to the table. It is interesting because each chair has a different design.WeaponsIn the next gallery a large variety of swords, katars, body armours, shields, guns, rifles and pistols are displayed. An assortment of swords dating back to periods of Aurangzeb and Shah Jahan. Rani Laxmi Bai's shield is also on display in the museum.Maharaja Madhavrao's SuiteThe bedroom of Maharaja gives a glimpse into the personal life of the king. A writing desk and a cabinet of official documents in his bed-chamber prove that he worked tirelessly. There is a cabinet in the room with his ties, handkerchiefs, boots, and walking stick. Puja RoomThis room has a crystal swing. In the early 1900s, due to the earthquake, a chandelier in the palace broke. Rather than throwing it away, they used it in making designs around the swing. Raja Ravi Verma's painting of Shiva and Parvati can also be seen in the puja room.Kerman Ka KaleenUnlike other carpets, this carpet was not for laying on the floor, but it was to be hung on the wall. The carpet is signed by Mohammad Ibn Jafar, an artist famous in Persian carpet trade. The King of Persia is portrayed in a medallion at the lower side. Rest of the carpet is juxtaposed with 178 important figures from the history of the Middle East, Asia and Europe. Jesus Christ, with many others, are also shown on the carpet. Each figure is given a number, with the corresponding name written in the borders of the carpet design.Crystal FountainOsler Company made crystal Fountain between 1874 and 1875. The fountain is 17 feet tall and has 291 crystal pieces assembled in 27 layers.Banquet HallMassive Banquet Hall has a long dining table with a silver train with carriages designed out of cut glass. The train was used as a trolley to serve food, cigar and brandy to the guests seated around the table.   Although we could not see the train moving (maybe it is out of order now ) but there is a television in the room which continuously plays the video of the train moving across the table. Taat-Paat Bhojan HallThe Taat-Paat Bhojan Hall is a dining hall with Indian style dining. Taat is a cushion or cloth mat on which silver plates are placed. Paat is the low wooden seat. The gallery is still used today on auspicious functions. The Billiards RoomThe billiards room was a place where the Maharaja could relax with friends and visitors. Billiard was the favourite game of Maharaja Madhavrao. The room has two large billiard tables surrounded by sofas, armchairs and easy-chairs.The Maharanis of GwaliorThe information about the Maharanis of Gwalior is part of the next gallery. Pre-wedding traditions are displayed. The bridal lehengas, saris, evening capes, shoes and personal possessions of the Maharanis are displayed.Darbar HallDarbar Hall is the most magnificent part of the museum. It was the place where the Maharaja and his court met to hold formal and informal meetings. The hall's interior is decorated with 560 kg of gold. The intricate carpet is 90ft by 48 ft. Inmates of Gwalior fort prison weaved it. There is a pair of the world's most massive chandeliers in the centre of the room. Indian DarbarIndian Darbar is the traditional royal Maratha court. The gallery has an ornamented canopied throne for the king to preside over the Darbar proceedings at the end. Tiger GalleryThere is a tiger gallery where stuffed tigers are on display.KitchenThe utensils, picnic hampers, ovens and beautiful pottery are displayed in the kitchen. After the educational and memorable trip to the palace, we returned to the hotel.Gwalior FortIn the evening, we set out for the Gwalior Fort. The fort is built on Gopachal Parvat. We followed the google map to reach the fort, but it took us to a crowded market. When we were looking for the correct route, a local boy approached us and offered to take us to the fort. Seeing our hesitation, he suggested us to inquire about him from the police station that was just on the other side of the road. We asked the policeman, and he assured us that he was a local guide who made his earning by guiding the tourists. The FortThe Gwalior Fort is also called Gibraltar of India. The fort complex includes the Man Mandir Palace, the Gujari Palace, the Jahangir Mahal, the Shah Jahan Mahal, Vikram Mahal and Karan Mahal. The fort has two entrance gates- Hathi Pul and Badalgarh Gate.Archaeological MuseumThere is an archaeological museum in the fort. It was Gujari Mahal that was built for Queen Mrignayani. Later this building was a hospital during the British Period. Towards its east, there is a jail building meant for contemporary prisoners. The museum has four main galleries in which the antiquities from 1st CBC to 17th CAD are exhibited. The cameras were not allowed inside the museum.Man Singh PalaceRaja Man Singh Tomar made Man Singh Palace. Babur described it as 'the pearl in the necklace of forts of India and not even the winds could touch its mast'.There are four storeys of the palace of which two storeys are underground. The Mughals used this palace as a State prison.Jauhar KundThere is a kund(pond) inside Man Mandir Palace in the fort which has historical importance. Jauhar means suicide. The Rajput wives practised sati by jumping into the pond during the attack of Iltutmish on Gwalior in 1232.Gurudwara Datta Bandi ChhorOn our way back from the fort, we stopped at the Gurudwara Bandi Chhor. Jahangir jailed Guru Hargobind the sixth Sikh Guru at Gwalior Fort in 1609. Guruji was released from the prison on Diwali day. He managed to win the freedom of 52 kings who had suffered imprisonment in the fort. The gurudwara, constructed in the memory of the sixth guru, is famously known as Gurudwara Datta Bandi Chhor. The Scindia School You can also see the famous Scindia School a few km from the fort.Saas Bahu TempleBy listening to the name, we thought that the temple is dedicated to saas and bahu. Then we found that it is the short form of Sahstra Bahu, another name for Lord Vishnu. These temples situated adjacent to one another, and the larger one has intricate carving and is adorned with sculptures and lotus carving on the roof.Statues of Jain TirthankarasOn the way back to the city, we saw beautiful statues of Jain Tirthankaras. The sculptures are carved in the Gopachal Parvat.They looked like cave temples.Some facts about ScindiasThe Scindia State of Gwalior became a significant regional power in the second half of the 18th century.The Scindia family ruled Gwalior until India's Independence in 1947.In 1962 Rajmata Vijayraje Scindia was elected to Lok Sabha. Initially, she was a member of congress, but later she joined BJP.Her son Madhavrao Scindia was elected to Lok saba in 1971 as congress representative, and he served the party until he died in 2001.His son Jyotiraditya Raje Scindia is also an active member of BJP.Gwalior is famous forChanderi Sarees Hand made carpetsLacquerware and ornamentsTansen Music Fest - Classical musicians from all over the country perform near the tomb of Tansen.How to reach GwaliorBy air- Rajmata Vijayraje Scindia Airport By road- North-South Corridor of National Express Highway connects Gwalior to Delhi, Agra, Indore and Mumbai(Not recommended).By train-Can reach by Delhi Bhopal Shatabdi Express.

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