Gwalior with the Gwalior Fort is located in Madhya Pradesh. It lies 122 km south of Agra. It's a big city with a population of over 1.2 million. Gwalior was the capital city of Great Maratha Sardar & Warrior Maharaja Shrimant Madhavraoji Shinde - Sawstant Gwalior.
Like so many other Indian cities, Gwalior is old, more then 1000 years. It's not surprising as it lies at a strategic point in north India. The huge fort as served several Indian kingdoms. The Mughal emperor Babur (15th century) described it as "The pearl in the necklace of the forts of Hind". Others named it the "Gibraltar of India'. The fort dominates the skyline of Gwalior.
Gwalior was a stop over for me on the way from Khajuraho to Agra, Fatehpur Sikri and Jaipur. I knew in Rajasthan I would see plenty of other forts. So, should I visit the fort or skip it? I still had a few months on my visa and time enough until I was planning to fly back to the Netherlands. So what the heck. I went in the fort and had no regrets.
The art work in the fort is so amazing, one can easily hang out here for days, in awe of the architectural wonders the fort offers. Some of the Mosaics are so impressive, it's hard to believe they're several hundred years old. Even the colours are still vivid.
Gwalior has a tradition in arts, in singing, dancing, poetry, architecture and all can be seen back in the way the fort is build. Although huge in size, the details are amazing like a classic Indian dance, as I wrote in my diary. Not for nothing the different kingdoms used Gwalior as a center, if not capital.
Even today the city is the center for several festivals although I was not able to be in town during one of them. An interesting modern festival is the kite festival, annually held on the 14th January. Should be fun to visit.
In and around the city there's many Jain temples to see. I visited one but in all honesty, I forgot which one.
Getting there and away
Should you have the desire to fly, Gwalior has an airport, well connected. It also has a good rail connection with all parts of the country.
Gwalior is easy to reach from all directions. It's a good day on the bicycle to Agra (122km). The road to Jhansi is not too busy and from there you can continue to Khajuraho.
As with all big cities in India, you can stay dirt cheap (and not too clean too) but for a few dollars more you can have a very decent hotel. I stayed in the Hotel Surbhi Gwalior which was cheap (US$10) and very good. There are hotels, hotels and guesthouses available.
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Maybe with the exception of Angkor, Machu Pichu and Borobodur, there's no place with such majesty as the Taj Mahal:
and a little Taj Mahal Magic
The temples of Khajuraho
The temples of Khajuraho belong not only to UNESCO's World Heritage, they are also some of the most beautiful and vivid ancient examples of sandstone carving.
Many travelers skip it, but I think it's more then worth the visit, despite the numerous historical sites you can visit in India.
Fatehpur Sikri was build in 15 years, and abandoned 14 years after completion. It's effectively a ghost town, a magnificent ghost town!
The wealth of Udaipur is legendary. Few places in India have more palaces on such a small area as Udaipur. That alone makes a visit more then worthy.