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Gwalior Fort, Madhya Pradesh: A Travel Guide

One of the best places to visit in Madhya Pradesh, Gwalior Fort is one of the oldest and resplendent fortresses in India. The fort came into prominence around 8th century under the rule of Rajput Tomar kings. This sprawling hill fort houses several structures of note that include 2 palaces, several temples and water tanks.

The fort's rule changed several hands that include Rajputs, Mamluks, Suris, Mughals, Marathas and British. To get a peek into the turbulent history and legends associated with Gwalior Fort, do attend the Son et Lumiere which is held every night at the open air amphitheater inside the fort complex.

Gwalior Fort, Madhya Pradesh, India
Gwalior Fort, Madhya Pradesh, India
Gwalior Fort, Travel Facts:

Location: Seated at the hilltop, around 100 meters above the city level, the fort  is around 7 km from the Gwalior railway station.

Built by: The fort is believed to have been built by Raja Man Singh Tomar, however, in the course of five hundred years the fort went from one ruler to another.

Built in: Gwalior Fort was built in the 8th-century.

Highlights: The fort consists of three temples, six palaces and numerous water tanks. It is 35 feet high and is about 2 miles in length.

How to reach: One can easily get to the fort from the city by bus, taxi, auto, rickshaw or even by walking if there is time.

Best time to visit: November- January.

Entry fee: INR 75 per head (adult); INR 40 per head (children); INR 250 per head (foreign tourist)

Standing on a steep mass of sandstone, Gwalior fort gives a clear view of the east of Gwalior. The fort comprises of two main palaces: Man Mandir and Gujari Mahal. Besides the main two palaces there are other recommended places like the Man Singh Palace, Jauhar Kund, Jahangir Mahal, Sahahjahan Mahal and more. The temples and the monuments are of different religion mostly Hindu and Jain.

Gwalior Fort is included in our list of top 10 forts in India. Check out the other top forts in India.


The fort’s dramatic entrance named the Hathi pul (elephant gate) is on the eastern side. A steep road winds upwards to the Fort, and along the way there are Jain sculptures cut into the rock which is well worth the climb.

History and Anecdotes: 

Gwalior's history is traced back to a legend. In 8 A.D, a chieftain called Suraj Sen was stricken by leprosy. Hermit saint, Gwalipa, cured him and in gratitude the chieftain founded the city which he named after the saint who had given him the gift of new life.

Gwalior Fort - History and Anecdotes
Over the centuries the city has been captured by many dynasties when slowly it became popular. The different rulers in the city brought about diversity and a new taste each time, which is evident in the architecture and designs till today.

The earliest record of the fort is  525 AD where it is mentioned in an inscription in the temple of the Hun. The fort was made to serve as a prison by the Mughals.  

It is believed that the Gujari Mahal is a momento of Raja Mansingh Tomar’s love for his Gujar Queen, Mrignayani. The palace is made beautifully and so is the other palace, Man Mandir with its outer walls are distinctively decorated with blue mosaic tiles and rows of yellow ducks.

The fort is a prominent landmark of the city as it stands upright and broad, it has served the purpose well during the times of battles, imprisonments and jauhars.

Some Interesting Facts about the Gwalior Fort:
  • The Fort is one of the biggest forts in India.
  • It covers an area of 3 square kilometers and is 35 feet high. 
  • There are eleven temples of Gautama Buddha and Tirthankars of Jainism.There are also a number of palaces (mahal).
  • There are two gates, one on the northeast side with a long access ramp and other on the southwest. The main entrance is the Elephant gate and the other is the Badalgarh Gate.
  • The water tanks or the reservoirs of the Fort could provide water to a 15000 strong garrison, they were required to secure the fort.
  • One of the palaces of the fort, Gujari Mahal has been converted into an archeological museum.
  • Every evening a light and sound show is presented in the Fort’s open amphitheater.
  • On the same hill is the famous boarding school, which is exclusive for the sons of princes and nobles, Scindia School. It was founded by Madho Rao Scindia in 1897.
  • There are many festivals and fairs that take place in Gwalior during the winter seasons: Gwalior Annual Trade Fair is famous to experience the native culture and for shopping.
  • Tansen Music Festival, is held in honor of Tansen who was from the city.This festival ensures you a journey of Indian classical music.
  • Gwalior Carnival, which started recently by the tourism department of the city is an event that includes various activities like dance, music, food, spiritual camps and sports.
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