The importance of Gwalior Fort in the history of our country
The Gwalior Fort in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, was constructed in the 8th century. Spread over an area of three square kilometers, the height of this fort is 35 feet. This fort is still standing as an example of the beauty and robustness of medieval architecture. It is one of the central attractions in Gwalior. Built with red sandstone, this fort is one of the largest forts in the country and has a rich history, with an important place in our heritage.
This fort was said to be built in 727 AD by a local King, Suryasena, who lived in the village of Sinhonia, 12 km away from this fort. Over the years, many Rajput kings have ruled from this fort. After its construction, the king fell ill with leprosy and was cured by a saint named Gwalipa. To thank the saint, the king named the fort and the town after him and Gwalipa gave them the title of ‘Pal’. The Pal dynasty ruled over it for about 989 years. After this, the Pratihara dynasty ruled over it. In 1023 AD, Mohammed Ghazni attacked this fort but had to face defeat. After a long siege in 1196 AD, Qutubuddin Aibak subjugated this fort but in 1211 AD he lost it again. Then in 1231 AD, Iltutmish, the founder of the Mamluk dynasty, subjugated it.
After this, the fort was ruled by the Tomar dynasty from 1398 to 1505 AD and King Devavaram established the kingdom of Tomar at Gwalior. The most famous king of this dynasty was Maan Singh (1486–1516), who built several monuments inside the fort complex, including Gujari Mahal for his wife Mrignayani which has now been turned into a Museum.
In 1516, Maan Singh lost to Ibrahim Lodi and lost this fort too. Soon after, Babar of the Mughal dynasty attacked Gwalior and captured the fort. But Sher Shah Suri defeated Babur’s son Humayun and seized this fort under the Suri dynasty. After Sher Shah’s death in 1540, his son, Islam Shah shifted the capital from Delhi to Gwalior and after his death, his successor Adil Shah Suri went to Chunar, handing over the responsibility of protecting Gwalior to Hem Chandra Vikramaditya (Hemu). In 1556, Hemu established the Hindu Raj by defeating Akbar in Agra and Delhi in the Second Battle of Panipat. After this Hemu changed his capital back to Delhi and started ruling from Purana Qila.
Akbar attacked the fort of Gwalior and captured it and it was converted into a prison. After the Mughal dynasty, the Rana and Jats ruled it, then the Marathas hoisted their flag on it. Then in 1780, its control went to Gond Rana Chhatar Singh who took it away from the Marathas. Mahadji Scindia regained it in 1784. Between 1804 and 1844, the control of the fort changed between the British and Scindia. Finally, in 1844, the Maratha Scindia family of Gwalior, as the British government’s protectorate, occupied the fort and until India’s independence in 1947, they continued ruling it.
The fort premises includes several temples, palaces, and water tanks. The palaces include the Man Mandir Palace, the Gujari Mahal, the Jahangir Mahal, the Shah Jahan Mahal, and the Karan Mahal. The fort has two entrance gates: the first is the main entrance called the Elephant Gate (Hathi Pul) and the other is called the Badalgarh Gate on the opposite side.