The day started with beaten coffee in bed, made by cook and served by the husband. What else do you want, to kick start a day? But before I start today’s day allow me to tell you, how we ended our last day after we reached Gwalior. As we had reached Gwalior by 1400 hrs we thought why not visit one of our main destinations in the city, “The Jai Vilas Palace”. Timings for the palace are 1000 hrs to 1630 hrs with a ticket of Rs 100 per person. This is the first place I have encountered where you have to pay for your mobile phones, if you want to carry them inside. (Apart from camera charges, which is again Rs 150).
Jai Vilas Palace
As the name says Palace, don’t think to find a typical palace. Why I am saying that it’s not a typical palace is because it is now a hotel and out of the 400 rooms of the palace, 40 rooms have been transformed into Jiwaji Rao Scindia Museum. One part is still the residence of the descendants of the former royal Maratha Scindia dynasty. A visit to the palace makes you explore the royal times of the Maratha Scindia dynasty. This visit makes you flip back the pages of the luxurious lifestyle of the kings and queens of those times.
The palace is truly an architectural marvel as it combines Italian, Tuscan and Corinthian styles of architecture. The most popular attraction of the palace is the Durbar hall, which is beautifully decorated with gold furnishings. The hall has one of the largest chandeliers of the world, which is believed to be the heaviest in Asia. The center has a large dining table which has a silver train that was used as a table trolley for serving food to the people. It took us almost one and a half hours to visit the entire museum. We hit the local market where I didn’t find anything new. Thus we reached our room.
Coming back to today we started early. I guess this was the first time we both got up so early on a trip. We didn’t want to cook ourselves in heat of Gwalior as the temp showed for the day was 42 deg by 1000hr. We left for Gwalior Fort at 0630hr as the fort opens at 0700hr. But we halted en route to visit Sun Temple, constructed by Mr. Brila to replicate ‘Sun Temple of Konark’.
When you search for Gwalior fort on google maps it takes you to the main entrance. If you are taking this route to be mentally prepared to conquer the fort hill, so please wear sports shoes or flats as you have to climb 1.5Km upslope. Before you start your climb do visit “Gujari Mahal”, which is now a museum right at the gate.
Don’t be scared, that you have to climb a hill and don’t drop your plan to visit Gwalior fort because of this reason. We have a second option available for you. There is a second route, where you can take your two/four wheelers till the second/back entrance of the fort. This route was made by the Britishers for their convenience. Your keyword for google search or local navigation is ‘Urvai Gate’ for this entry.
Right before you start your climb towards ‘Urvai gate’ you will witness Jain sculptures carved in the mountain. If you focus on their faces they are new compared to the rest of the body as they were broken by Mughals and restored recently by ASI. There are no entry tickets for this place. Though tickets for entry in the fort will cost you Rs 75 per person. No fee for the camera was charged here.
As we enter the fort the first thing we noticed was, Oh it’s the palace where ‘Luka Chuppi’ was filmed and FYI Alia’s song ‘Rajwadi Odhani‘ from the movie Kalank was also filmed here. The magnificent blue-tiled one of its kind forts was standing right in front of our eyes ready to tell so many stories of Love, Valour and Betrayal.
This fort has a total of five stories out of which two floors are underground. We all have witnessed indoor swimming pools. But how many of you have witnessed an underground swimming pool? Here you can witness this in the second basement of the fort, whereas the first basement has swings for Queens. You might be thinking why would someone have swings placed underground, while they look beautiful in the garden. For the reason, you have to visit this fort. I will not spoil the fun for you and trust me it’s a good reason, not a funny one.
Next to the fort is the Jahangir Mahal, a complex of 5 buildings. This is the place were Rajwadi Odhani’ from the movie Kalank was filmed along with numerous scenes from various movies. You will notice a well-maintained pond next to it. Today we all are talking about rainwater harvesting, But let me tell you that our kings were way smarter than us. What we are apprehending today they realized it centuries ago and hence planned for collection of rainwater near forts.
It took us almost 3hrs to completely visit the complex, understand the history behind it and click photographs of the same. After completing the fort we decided to move out for other destinations, which are the part of fort only but sited at distance. This was the first time I have noticed a fort having a Hindu temple, a mosque and a gurudwara. Temple and mosque are as per the belief of the rulers but the story of gurudwara is a heartwarming one. I strongly recommend you to hire a guide to visit this place.
Saas bahu temple, Teli ka Mandir, Gurudwara, Tansen temple are few attractions in and around the main fort. As the temperature was rising we decided to head back to our room and take rest. We did go for light and sound show of fort in the night. Two shows are available both Hindi and English starting from the last light of the day.
After the light and sound show, we hit the streets for food. There are a few famous streets but we visited two of them. First Shinde ki Chawni and second Gole ka Mandir. I like the first option as we can sit in our car and was served in the car only and not to mention one of the best Chole Bhature we had.
The next morning we packed our bags, loaded in the vehicle and ready to hit Jhansi. But how can we move without breakfast. Our breakfast stop was, small shop on Morena Road ‘Jai Bansiwala’ for a taste of local item served in breakfast named as ‘Bedai’. I believe if you are in the city never miss a chance to enjoy the local cuisine.
NOTE: Outside the fort, you can meet the Kalu Guide. a boy who can speak 10 different languages despite never able to go to school.