Gwalior Fort

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Gwalior Fort
Part of Madhya Pradesh
Madhya Pradesh, India
Fort Gwalior.jpg
Man Mandir
Gwalior Fort is located in India
Gwalior Fort
Gwalior Fort
Coordinates 26°13′49″N 78°10′08″E / 26.2303°N 78.1689°E / 26.2303; 78.1689
Type Fort
Site information
Controlled by Government of Madhya Pradesh
Open to
the public
Condition Good
Site history
Built 8th century and 14th century
Built by Hindu Kings of India
In use Yes
Materials Sandstones and lime mortar

Gwalior Fort (Hindi: ग्वालियर क़िला Gwalior Qila) is an 8th-century hill fort near Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, central India. The fort consists of a defensive structure and two main palaces, Gurjari Mahal and Man Mandir, built by Man Singh Tomar. The fort has been controlled by a number of different rulers in its history. The Gurjari Mahal palace was built for Queen Mrignayani. It is now an archaeological museum. The oldest record of "zero" in the world was found in a small temple, which is located on the way to the top. The inscription is around 1500 years old.[1]


Map of the fortress.

The word Gwalior is derived from one of the Hindu words for saint, Gwalipa.[2]


Gwalior Fort seen from the Residency. 10 December 1868
Gwalior Fort map 1911

The fort is built on an outcrop of Vindhyan sandstone on a solitary rocky hill called Gopachal. This feature is long, thin, and steep. The geology of the Gwalior range rock formations is ochre coloured sandstone covered with basalt. There is a horizontal stratum, 342 feet (104 m) at its highest point (length 1.5 miles (2.4 km) and average width 1,000 yards (910 m)). The stratum forms a near-perpendicular precipice. A small river, the Swarnrekha, flows close to the palace.[3]


Main entrance.

Legend tells that Surya Sen Pal, chieftain of the nearby Silhonia village was on a hunting trip. He came upon the hermit, Gwalipa (Galava) who gave the chieftain healing water from the Surajkund reservoir. In gratitude for the healing of leprosy, the chieftain founded Gwalior, naming it after Gwalipa. The earliest record of the fort is 525 AD where it is mentioned in an inscription in the temple of the Hun) emperor, Mihirakula (510 AD). Near the fort is an 875 AD Chaturbhuj temple associated with Telika Mandir.[4]

Pal dynasty[edit]

The Pal dynasty of 86 kings ruled for 989 years. It began with Surya Sen Pal and concluded with Budha Pal. Budha Pal's son was Tej Karan (1127 - 1128). Gwalipa prophesied that the Pal dynasty would continue while the patronym, Pal was kept. Tej Keran married the daughter of Ran Mul, ruler of Amber (Jaipur) and received a valuable dowry. Tej Keran was offered the reign of Amber as long as he made it his residence. He did so, leaving Gwalior under Ram Deva Pratihar.[5]

Gurjara-Pratihara Dynasty[edit]

The Gurjara-Pratihara dynasty at Gwalior included Pramal Dev, Salam Dev, Bikram Dev, Ratan Dev, Shobhang Dev, Narsinh Dev and Pramal Dev.[6]

Turkic conquest[edit]

In 1023 AD, Mahmud of Ghazni unsuccessfully attacked the fort. In 1196 AD, after a long siege, Qutubuddin Aibak, first Turkic sultan of Delhi took the fort, ruling till 1211 AD. In 1231 AD, the fort taken by Iltumish, Turkic sultan of Delhi. Under attack from Timurlane, Narasingh Rao, a Jaina chieftain captured the fort.

Tomar rulers[edit]

The Rajput Tomara clan ruled Gwalior from 1398 (when Pramal Dev captured the fort from a Muslim ruler) to 1518 (when Vikramaditya was defeated by Ibrahim Lodhi).[citation needed]

A portrait of Hemu from the 1910s.
  • Pramal Dev (Ver Singh, Bir Sing Deo) 1375.
  • Uddhharan Dev (brother of Pramal Dev).
  • Lakshman Dev Tomar
  • Viramdev 1400 (son of Virsingh Dev).
  • Ganapati Dev Tomar 1419.
  • Dugarendra (Dungar) Singh 1424.
  • Kirti Singh Tomar 1454.
  • Mangal Dev (younger son of Kirti Singh).
  • Kalyanmalla Tomar 1479.
  • Man Singh Tomar 1486 - 1516 (builder of the Man mandir).
  • Vikramaditya Tomar 1516.
  • Ramshah Tomar 1526.
  • Salivahan Tomar 1576.

Suri dynasty and Hemu[edit]

In 1519, Ibrahim Lodi took the fort. After his death, control passed to the Mughal emperor Babur. Babur's son, Humayun, was defeated by Sher Shah Suri. After Suri's death in 1540, his son, Islam Shah, who was ruling from Purana Quila Delhi, on the advise of his adviser Hemu moved power from Delhi to Gwalior for strategic reasons. After the death of Islam Shah in 1553, his incumbent, Adil Shah Suri, appointed the Hindu warrior, Hemu, as Prime Minister-cum-Chief of Army at this fort and retired to Chunar Fort. Hemu used Gwalior to expand his army and consolidate his position to take on rivals. From 1553 - 1556, Hemu acted as de-facto king of North India, and attacked Akbar and Afghan rebels from the fort winning 22 battles consecutively from Punjab to Bengal. Hemu finally became king and was crowned at Purana Quila in Delhi defeating Akbar on 7 October 1556.

Mughal dynasty[edit]


When the Mughal leader, Akbar captured the fort, he made it a prison for political prisoners. For example, Kamran, Akbar's cousin was held and executed at the fort. Aurangzeb's brother, Murad and nephews Suleman and Sepher Shikoh were also executed at the fort. The killings took place in the Man Madir palace.[7](p68)

Raizada dynasty[edit]

Maharaja of Gwalior leaving the fort from the Hathi Pol. Painting by Edward Lord Weeks.

The Raizada Rajputs of Junagarh occupied the fort on three occasions between 1740 and 1783.[8](p360)[8](p359)[9][10] (Maharaja Bhim Singh Rana 1740 - 1756; Maharaja Chhatra Singh Rana 1761 - 1767; and Maharaja Chhatra Singh Rana 1780 - 1783).

Maratha rule[edit]

The Elephant Gate.

In 1779, the Scindia clan of the Maratha Empire stationed a garrison at the fort. The fort was contested in the First Anglo-Maratha War. On August 3, 1780, the East India Company under Captains Popham and Bruce captured the fort in a daring nighttime raid, scaling the walls with 12 grenadiers and 30 sepoys. Both sides suffered fewer than 20 wounded total. In 1784, the Marathas under Mahadji Sinde, recovered the fort. There were frequent changes in the control of the fort between the Scindias and the British between 1808 and 1844. In January 1844, after the battle of Maharajpur, the fort was occupied by the Marathas as protectorate of the British government.[7](p69)

Rebellion of 1857[edit]

On 1 June 1858, Rani Lakshmi Bai led a rebellion. The Central India Field Force, under General Hugh Rose, besieged the fort. Rani Lakshmi Bai died on 18 June 1858.


Rock cut images of the Tirthankaras

The fort and its premises are well maintained and house many historic monuments including palaces, temples and water tanks. There are also a number of palaces (mahal) including the Man mandir, the Gujari, the Jahangir, the Karan, and the Shah Jahan.[11] The fort covers an area of 3 square kilometres (1.2 sq mi) and rises 35 feet (11 m). Its rampart is built around the edge of the hill, connected by six bastions or towers. The profile of the fort has an irregular appearance due to the undulating ground beneath.

There are two gates; one on the northeast side with a long access ramp and the other on the southwest. The main entrance is the ornate Elephant gate (Hathi Pul). The other is the Badalgarh Gate. The Man Mandir palace or citadel is located at the northeast end of the fort. It was built in the 15th century and refurbished in 1648. The water tanks or reservoirs of the fort could provide water to a 15,000 strong garrison, the number required to secure the fort.

Jain temples[edit]

Interior of Jain Temple, Gwalior Fort

Siddhachal Jain Temple Caves were built in 7th to 15th century.There are eleven Jain temples inside Gwalior fort dedicated to the Tirthankaras. On the southern side are 21 temples cut into the rock with intricately carved of the tirthankaras. Tallest Idol is image of Rishabhanatha or Adinatha, the 1st Tirthankara, is 58 feet 4 inches (17.78 m) high.

Main Temple


Jain statues carved out of rock in the Gwalior Fort near the Urwai Gate

The entire area of Gwalior fort is divided into five groups namely Urvahi,North West,North East,South West and the South East areas. We can find 24 idols in the padmasana 40 in the kayotsarga and around 840 idols carved on the walls and pillars in the Urvahi area. 58 feet 4 inches high idol of Bhagwan Adinatha outside the Urvahi gate, 35 feet high idol of Bhagwan Suparshwanatha in the Padmasana in Paththar-ki bavadi (stone tank) area. [12]


58 feet 4 inches high idol of Bhagwan Adinatha

Number of idols on this hill is about 1500, which includes the size from 6 inch to 57 feet in height. All the idols are carved by cutting the hilly rocks (rock carving) and are very artistic. So the whole of fort seems a vast temple of Jain idols. More of the idols were made in the period of King Dungar Singh & Keerti Singh of Tomar dynasty. Period of these idols is said between V.S. 1398 to V.S. 1536. The vastness & beauty of these idols shows the proficiency of artists. Here is a very beautiful & attractive miraculous colossus of Bhagwan Parsvanath in cross legged seating posture 42 feet in height & 30 feet in breadth. It is said that in V.S. 1557, Mughal emperor Babar after occupying the fort ordered his soldiers to break the idols, when soldiers stroked on the thumb, a miracle was seen and invaders were compelled to run away. Gopachal is the place of precept by Bhagwan Parsvanath and is also the place of salvation of Shri 1008 Supratishtha Kevali. In the period of Mughals the idols were destroyed mercilessly, broken fragments of those idols are spread here & there in the fort. Main colossus of this Kshetra is Lord Parsvanath’s, 42 feet high and 30 feet wide, all-round beautiful & miraculous, unique in world. Together with the place of precept by Bhagwan Parsvanath & place of salvation of Shri Supratishtha Kevali, there are 26 Jain Temples more on hill and one Trikal Chaubeesee Mandir also agreeable.[13]

Mughal Invasion

In 1527, Babar army attacked Gwalior Fort and de-faced these statues.In spite of invasion the early Jaina sculptures of Gwalior have survived in fairly good condition so that their former splendour is not lost. The reliefs reproduced by us are cut into the cliff-wall below the Ek-khamba Tal (tal = tank) on the western side of the Fort-rock {south-western group), but there are early Jaina sculptures at other points as well.[14]

Man mandir palace[edit]

Man Mandir

The Man mandir palace was built by the King of Tomar Dynasty - Maharaja Man Singh in 15th century for his favorite queen, Mrignayani. Man Mandir fort is often referred as a Painted Palace because the painted effect of the Man Mandir Palace is due to the use of styled tiles of Turquoise, green and yellow used extensively in a geometric pattern

Hathi Pol[edit]

Hathi Pul.

The Hathi Pol gate (or Hathiya Paur), located on the southeast, leads to the Man mandir palace. It is the last of a series of seven gates. It is named for a life-sized statue of an elephant (hathi) that once adorned the gate. The gate was built in stone with cylindrical towers crowned with cupola domes. Carved parapets link the domes.

Gujari Mahal museum[edit]

Gujari Mahal.

Gujari Mahal was built by Raja Man Singh for his wife Mrignayani, a Gujar princess. She demanded a separate palace for herself with a regular water supply through an aqueduct from the nearby Rai River. The palace has been converted into an archaeological museum. Rare artefacts at the museum include Hindu and Jain sculptures dated to the 1st and 2nd centuries BC; miniature statue of Salabhanjika; terracotta items and replicas of frescoes seen in the Bagh Caves.

Teli ka mandir[edit]

The Teli-ka mandir (the oilman’s temple or oil pressers' temple) is a Brahmanical sanctuary built in the 8th (or perhaps the 11th century) and was refurbished between 1881 and 1883. It is the oldest part of the fort and has a blend of south and north Indian architectural styles. Within the rectangular structure is a shrine with no pillared pavilions (mandapa) and a Buddhist barrel-vaulted roof on a Hindu mandir. Buddhist architectural elements are found in the Chitya type hall and torana decorations at the entrance. There is a masonry tower in the nagari architectural style with a barrel vaulted roof 25 metres (82 ft) in height. The niches in the outer walls once housed statues but now have gavakshas (horse shoe arch) ventilator openings in the north Indian style. The gavaksha has been compared to the trefoil, a honeycomb design with a series of receding pointed arches within an arch. The entrance door has a torana or archway with sculpted images of river goddesses, romantic couples, foliation decoration and a Garuda. Diamond and lotus designs are seen on the horizontal band at the top of the arch indicating an influence from the Buddhist period. The vertical bands on either side of the door are decorated in a simple fashion with figures that are now badly damaged. Above the door are a small grouping of discs representing the finial (damalaka) of an Indo-Aryan Shikhara. The temple was originally dedicated to Vishnu, but later converted to the worship of Siva.[15]

Garuda monument[edit]

Close to the Teli ka Mandir temple is the Garuda monument, dedicated to Vishnu, is the highest in the fort. It has a mixture of Muslim and Indian architecture. The word Teli comes from the Hindu word Taali a bell used in worship.

Saas-bahu temple[edit]

In 1093, the Pal Kachawaha rulers built two temples to Vishnu. The temples are pyramidal in shape, built of red sandstone with several stories of beams and pillars but no arches.The one is small and other is large

Karn mahal[edit]

The Karn mahal is another significant monument at Gwalior Fort. The Karn mahal was built by the second king of the Tomar dynasty, Kirti Singh. He was also known as Karn Singh, hence the name of the palace.

Vikram mahal[edit]

The Vikram mahal (also known as the Vikram mandir, as it once hosted a temple of Shiva) was built by Vikramaditya Singh, the elder son of Maharaja Mansingh. He was a devotee of shiva. The temple was destroyed during Mughal period but now has been re-established in the front open space of the Vikram mahal.

Chhatri of Bhim Singh Rana[edit]

This chhatri (cupola or domed shaped pavilion) was built as a memorial to Bhim Singh Rana (1707-1756), a ruler of Gohad state. It was built by his successor, Chhatra Singh. Bhim Singh occupied Gwalior fort in 1740 when the Mughal Satrap, Ali Khan, surrendered. In 1754, Bhim Singh built a bhimtal (a lake) as a monument at the fort. Chhatra Singh built the memorial chhatri near the bhimtal.

Other monuments[edit]

There are several other monuments built inside the fort area. These include the Scindia School (an exclusive school for the sons of Indian princes and nobles) that was founded by Madho Rao Scindia in 1897, and the Gurdwara Data Bandi, a memorial to the sixth Sikh, Guru Hargobind.



  1. ^
  2. ^ Fodor E. et al "Fodor's India." D. McKay 1971. p293. Accessed at Google Books 30 November 2013.]
  3. ^ Oldham R. D. "A manual of the geology of India." ISBN 9781108072540 Cambridge University Press 2011. p65 Accessed at Google Books 30 November 2013.
  4. ^ Mitra S. (Ed.) "Orchha, travel guide." Goodearth publications 2009. p65. Accessed at Google Books, 30 November 2013.
  5. ^ Bhayasaheb B. R. (translator) "History of the Fortress of Gwalior." Education Society's Steam Press, Byculla, 1892. University of Michigan. p432. Accessed at Google Books 30 November 2013.
  6. ^ Bakshi S. R. "Early Aryans to Swaraj." Sarup & Sons, 2005. p321 ISBN 9788176255370. Accessed at Google Books 30 November 2013.
  7. ^ a b Torton E. "A gazetteer of the territories under the government of the East-India company, and of the native states on the continent of India, Volume 2" W. H. Allen & Co. 1854.
  8. ^ a b Singh N. "Jat-Itihas." 2004.
  9. ^ Krishnan V. N. "Madhya Pradesh District Gazetteer." Gwalior.
  10. ^ Agnihotri A. K. "Gohad ke jaton ka Itihas." Nav Sahitya Bhawan. New Delhi, Delhi. 1985. p. 29.
  11. ^ "Temples of Gwalior" Kamat's Potpourri Webpage. Accessed 1 December 2013.
  12. ^
  13. ^,%20M.P.html
  14. ^
  15. ^ Allen M. P. "Ornament in Indian architecture." University of Delaware Press 1991. ISBN 0-87413-399-8.

Further reading[edit]

  • Tillotson G. H. R. "The Rajput Palaces – The Development of an Architectural Style" Yale University Press. New Haven and London 1987. First edition. Hardback. ISBN 0-300-03738-4
  • A. K. Singh and N. K. Jain. Gvāliyara Durga: sthāpatya, kalā evaṃ abhilekha. Delhi: Aryan Books International, 2014. ISBN 978-8173054778

External links[edit]