Gwalior is much more than its historic Gwalior Fort. Gwalior Fort is much more than just a fort! It’s enormous and impregnable. It’s beyond your stretch of the imagination. It has palaces, baolis (water tanks), temples and much more. Let’s explore the gorgeous temples in Gwalior and its Fort in this post!
While you make your way towards the glorious historic temples in Gwalior Fort; they razzle-dazzle your senses. The carvings, the avenues and everything that you witness here imprisons a grandeur and as one looks intensely, each and every stone breathes a story.
You can either take your car up through Urwahi Gate or walk up ( I would recommend you to walk) if time is not an issue. It’s not too rough a climb and you can have a glimpse of stunning terrains on your way up.
Halfway on the hills of the fort on either side of Urwahi road, there are many huge rock-cut Jain statues to discover. They represent the Jain Tirthankaras. The largest statue (approx. 17 meters in height) is an imposing figure of Parshvanath seated on a lotus. These sculptures are slightly way down into the arboraceous valley called the Urwahi valley. You can take steps leading down to get a good perspective of them. The pathways are alive with huge lovely Jain sculptures which move you with their poised touch of godliness. These sculptures are speculated to be carved during the 15th century under the aegis of a Tomar king. However, some of them are thought to be possibly dated around the 7th century. Damages are apparent and again Mughals are to be blamed for their irreverent act of vandalism on the temple.
Sas-Bahu Temple – The most Intriguing of All the Temples in Gwalior Fort
We moved to Sas-Bahu Temple, later in the day. The temple was constructed by King Mahipala of the Kachchhwaha dynasty. The pair of temples made entirely of sandstone looks awesome! Sheer architectural brilliance, I must say! Both the temples are located adjoining each other and are more or less analogous. It feels as if divinity and spirit of God live in these beautiful temples. The temple was built around the 9th century. Its name is derived from Sahastra-Bahu, another name of the ‘thousand-armed’ Lord Vishnu.
These temples of Gwalior Fort too were misconducted by the Mughals. Britishers gave new life to the temples.
As per the folklore, the wife of the King was a devotee of Lord Vishnu while her daughter-in-law worshipped Lord Shiva. Thus, ultimately two temples were built, one after the another. The Large temple is intricately adorned with exquisite carvings and sculptures of the deity and the roof is decorated with beautiful lotus carving.
Teli Ka Mandir – The Most Famous of All the Temples of Gwalior Fort
Another architectural marvel is a rock carved temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Teli ka Mandir was built around the 9th century and is supposed to have been made by the Teli community (oil traders). The temple is unique because of its Dravidian and Buddhist architectural style, especially the domed roof. It is decorated with sculptures from Hinduism. I spent quite some time admiring the details of the carvings.
Teli ka Mandir is known to be the oldest and tallest of all the structures in Gwalior Fort. The temple was undergoing some construction work when we visited as you can see in the picture.
Chaturbhuj Temple – The Temple of Zero
When you walk down the path from Man-Mandir Palace to about halfway towards the Gwalior gate, there’s a small temple called Chaturbhuj Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The temple has an inscription in the ancient language near the deity. This stone inscription includes the first ever recorded description of zero (around the 7th century). So, mathematicians also call it a Temple of Zero.
Sun Temple – The Newest to All the Temples of Gwalior
The Sun Temple or Surya Mandir is the recent addition to the temples of Gwalior. It was built in 1988 by G.D Birla. It has been inspired by the Sun Temple at Konark in Orissa. The temple is adorned with a lovely sculpture of Lord Surya. I couldn’t help but adore the spellbinding architecture!
All the temples are located in Gwalior Fort complex except Sun Temple (Surya Mandir.) It’s situated in the Morar area near Ecological Park.
Gwalior can be easily reached by air, rail, and road. It’s well-connected by air to the cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Indore, and Bhopal. Gwalior Airport is the nearest airport. All the major trains like Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Kolkata, and Delhi-Chennai make a stop at Gwalior railway station. Gwalior is strongly linked to all the major towns in Madhya Pradesh and the rest of Northern India by road.
Just 6 km away from the Gwalior city centre, Gwalior Fort can be reached by private or public transportation.
Opening/Closing Timings and Days
The temples inside Gwalior Fort are open all days of the week from 8:00 am – 6:00 pm. Surya Mandir is open all days of the week from 6:30 am to 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm. It remains closed from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm.
Time Required / Duration of Visit
It takes anywhere around 2 to 3 hours to explore all the temples in Gwalior Fort Complex. We visited the fort and the temples on the same day and witnessed the light and sound show in the evening, so it took us the entire day.
While all the temples have free entry, Teli Ka Mandir costs somewhere around INR 20 per person for entry.
Best Time to Visit
It’s best to visit during the months of October to February. Try to visit early in the morning if you are combining the visit with the fort.
Most of the time, we visit temples and really don’t bother to know the stories behind them but this trip was unlike that. I auscultate the sounds of past these places are still breathing.
I really had no idea that Gwalior would leave me awe-struck. I stood in silent awe, too amazed to say anything. We ended our day with a sense of delight.
Visiting these gems made me wonder why people always dream about sojourning foreign destinations when such ethereal places are hidden in our own backyard. Truly, Incredible India!
After all, the past is our only real guide to the future, and historical analogies are instruments for distilling and organizing the past and converting it to a map by which we can navigate.
~ Michael Mandelbaum
So, go explore the past to understand the future!
What’s your take on visiting religious shrines? Ain’t they spiritually renew you? Have you ever got a chance to explore these awe-inspiring temples of Gwalior Fort?
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