One of the masterpieces of the ancient Indian architectural art is the Gwalior Fort of India, a well preserved historic complex of several monuments which is spread over an area of 3 square km and surrounded by the concrete walls of sandstone. The great Mughal Emperor Babar (1483–1531) described it as, “The pearl in the necklace of the forts of Hind” which is located on a hilltop which is 100 meters above from the plain and beholds the city of Gwalior. Gwalior is a historic city of Madhya Pardesh, India which offers a range of grand and glorious buildings from which the most famous is the Gwalior Fort. This fort is a prime example of indomitable castles of India which has remained under the control of many monarchs of the times.
The history of the Gwalior Fort traces back to the fifth century AD and its architecture possess the landmarks of the Guptas, the Hunas, the Pratiharas, the Kachhwahas, the Tomars, the Pathans, the Mughals, the Marathas and the English. The significant monuments of the Gwalior fort include Man Mandir, Teli-Ka-Mandir, Sas Bhau Temple, Badal Mahal, Alamgiri gate, Ganesa gate, Chaturbhuj gate, Rock-cut Jain collosi, Urwai gate etc.
The hill on which the Gwalior fort is built is known as Gopachal. The surrounding wall which is built all along the edge of Gopachal is almost 2 miles in length and the width varies from one km’s to 200 meters. The Man Singh Palace was built by Man Singh in the 15th century. The Mughal emperor Aurangzeb imprisoned and later murdered his brother Murad in the same place. It is called a ‘painted palace’ or ‘Chit Mandir’ the walls of which are painted in tremendous styles and colors. The Teli-ka-Mandir, or “Oilman’s Temple” was constructed in the 8th century, which is deemed as one of the oldest monument of the fort, and it is an amalgamations of numerous ancient construction patterns. The highest monument of the Gwalior fort is Garuda, which is a place dedicated to the Pratihara Vishnu. The twin Vaishnava temple known as Sas Bahu that were built during the reign of the Kachchapghattas have a unique feature. They were raised several stories high solely with the help of beams and pillars, and with no arches having been used for the purpose. Another prominent part of the Gwalior Fort are its water reservoirs which were created in the precincts of the fort and could provide water supply to a 15,000 strong garrison, which was the estimated requirement of manpower to secure the fort.
The mighty Gwalior Fort has passed through many battles in the turbulent times and many festive occasions in the peace time. But the good thing is that this Herculean acropolis is maintained with time to time restorations by the rulers.