Gwalior is a city in Madhya Pradesh, India. It lies 76 miles (122 km) south of Agra with a population of 690,342.


The City

At the heart of Gwalior is its fortress (, one of the most formidable in India. It occupies an isolated rock outcrop, and is surrounded by high walls ( which enclose buildings from several periods. the old town of Gwalior lies at the eastern base of the fortress. Lashkar, formerly a separate town that originated as a military camp, lies to the south, and Morar, also a formerly separate town, lies to the east. Gwalior, Lashkar and Morar are presently part of Gwalior Municipality.

Historically and architecturally, Gwalior is interesting first as a very ancient seat of Jain worship; secondly for its example of palace architecture of the best Hindu period (1486-1516); and thirdly as an historic fortress.

Gwalior Fort

The fort of Gwalior (, within which a number of historic buildings are situated, stands on an isolated rock. The face is perpendicular and where the rock is naturally less precipitous it has been scarped. Its greatest length from north-east to south-west is 1.5 mile (2.4 km), and the greatest breadth 900 yd (820 m). The rock attains its maximum height of 342 ft (104 m). at the northern end. A rampart, accessible by a steep road, and farther up by huge steps cut out of the rock, surrounds the fort. The citadel stands at the north-eastern corner of the enclosure, and presents a very picturesque appearance with interesting tiles with symbolic images (

There are several remarkable Hindu temples within the fort. One, known as the Sas Bahu (, is beautifully adorned with bas-reliefs. It was finished in 1093, and, though dilapidated, is still picturesque.

An older Jain temple has been used as a mosque. Another temple in the fortress of Gwalior is called the Teli-ka-Mandir, or “Oilman’s Temple.” This building was originally dedicated to Vishnu, but afterwards converted to the worship of Siva. It has an unusual configuration: shrine-like in that it has a sanctuary only; no pillared pavilions or mandapa; and a Buddhist barrel-vaulted roof on top of a Hindu temple.

A striking part of the Jain remains at Gwalior is a series of caves or rock-cut sculptures, excavated in the rock on all sides, and numbering nearly a hundred, great and small. Most of them are mere niches to contain statues, though some are cells that may have been originally intended for residences. One curious fact regarding them is that, according to inscriptions, they were all excavated within the short period of about thirty-three years, between 1441 and 1474. One of the colossal figures ( is 57 ft (17 m) high, which is taller than any other in northern India.

The palace built by Man Singh (1486-1516) forms the most interesting example of early Hindu work of its class in India. Another palace of even greater extent was added to this in 1516. The Mughal emperors Jahangir and Shah Jahan added palaces to these two, the whole making a group of edifices unequalled for picturesqueness and interest by anything of their class in Central India. Among the apartments in the palace was the celebrated chamber, named the Baradari, supported on 12 columns, and 45 ft (15 m) square, with a stone roof, forming one of the most beautiful palace-halls in the world. It was, besides, singularly interesting from the expedients to which the Hindu architect was forced to resort to imitate the vaults of the Moslems. Of the buildings, however, which so excited the admiration of the first Mughal emperor Babur, probably little now remains.

The Fort area is also home of the Scindia school (, a well regarded institution founded by the late Maharaja Madhav Rao Scindia of Gwalior in 1897.

In modern times a major Sikh gurdwara was constructed at the Fort area.

The Old Town

The old town of Gwalior, which is of considerable size, but irregularly built, lies at the eastern base of the rock. It contains the tomb of the Sufi saint Mahommed Ghaus, erected during the early part of Mughal emperor Akbar’s reign, and the tomb of Mian Tansen, a great singer and one of the 'Nine Jewels' of Akbar's court.

Close to the heart of the city is splendid Jai Vilas Palace, patterned on the French palace of Versailles. The town has a museum situated in the Gujari Mahal.


Lashkar is derived from the Persian lashkar, meaning army, or camp, as it was originally the camp, and later the permanent capital, of Sindhia at Gwalior. Jivaji Chowk is the central focus of Lashkar, with a large square, a former opera house, banks, tea, coffee and juice stands and a municipal market building. Thriving bazaars surround the chowk.


Morar, formerly a separate town, lies three miles east of the old city. It was formerly a British military cantonment and residence of a political agent, but in 1886, when the fortress of Gwalior was restored to the Sindhia, the troops at Morar were withdrawn to Jhansi, and the extensive barracks were likewise made over to Sindhia. In the Revolt of 1857 Morar was the scene of the most serious uprising in Central India. By 1900 it a centre for local trade and had an important tanning industry, with a population of 19,179 in 1901.


Tradition holds that the fortress of Gwalior was traditionally built by Surya Sen, the raja of the neighbouring country. The Chandela Rajput kings of Bundelkhand captured the city c. 950. In 1196 Gwalior was captured by Muhammad Ghori; it then passed into the hands of several chiefs, including the Tomara Rajputs, whose ruler Man Singh rebuilt the fortress. In 1559 Akbar gained possession of it, and made it a state prison for captives of rank. On the dismemberment of the Mughal empire in the early eighteenth century, Gwalior was seized twice by the Jat rulers of Gohad state Maharaja Bhim Singh Rana (1740-1756) and Maharaja Chhatra Singh Rana (1780-1783).

Gwalior under the Sindhia

In 1760 it was garrisoned by the Maratha leader Sindhia, from whom it was wrested in 1780 by the forces of the British East India Company, and to whom it was finally restored by the British in 1886.

Under the British Raj, the Sindhia ruled a large princely state with its capital at Gwalior. The state consisted of two well-defined parts, which may roughly be called the northern and the southern. The former was a compact mass of territory, bounded north and northwest by the Chambal River, which separated it from the British districts of Agra and Etawah, and the princely states of Dholpur, Karauli and Jaipur of Rajputana; on the east by the British districts of Jalaun, Jhansi, Lalitpur and Saugor; on the south by the princely states of Bhopal, Tonk, Khilchipur and Rajgarh; and on the west those of Jhalawar, Tonk and Kotah of Rajputana. The southern, or Malwa, portion was made up of detached or semi-detached districts, between which are interposed parts of other princely states, which again were mixed up with each other in bewildering intricacy. The two portions together had a total area of 25,041 sq. mi. and a population of 2,933,001 in 1901.

The chief products were wheat, millets, pulses of various kinds, maize, rice, linseed and other oil-seeds; poppy, yielding the Malwa opium; sugar-cane, cotton, tobacco, indigo, garlic, turmeric and ginger. In the first decade of the twentieth century about 60% of the population of Gwalior state were employed in agricultural and only 15% in industrial occupations, the great majority of the latter being home workers. There was a leather factory at Morar; cotton-presses at Morena, Baghana and Ujjain; ginning factories at Agar, Nalkhera, Shajapur and Sonkach; and a cotton-mill at Ujjain. 55,000 persons were engaged in the cotton industry at the time of the 1901 census.

The population was composed of many elements, among which Brahmins and Rajputs were specially numerous. The prevailing religion was Hinduism, 84% of the people being Hindus and only 6% Muslims. The revenue of the state was about one million sterling; and large reserves had been accumulated, from which two millions were lent to the government of India in 1889, and later on another million for the construction of the Gwalior-Agra and Indore-Neemuch railways. Gwalior state built its own railways, including a branch from Bina on the Indian Midland to Guna; an extension of this line to Baran, which opened in 1899; from Bhopal to Ujjain; and two light railways, from Gwalior to Shivpuri and Gwalior to Bhind, which were opened by the viceroy in November 1899. On the same occasion the viceroy opened the Victoria College, founded to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee; and the Memorial Hospital, built in memory of the Maharaja's father. British currency had been introduced. The state maintained three regiments of Imperial Service cavalry, two battalions of infantry and a transport corps.

After Indian independence

Upon India's independence in 1947, the Sindhia Maharaja of Gwalior acceded to India, and Gwalior, together with the 24 other princely states in the western half of the Central India Agency, formed the new state of Madhya Bharat. Gwalior was the winter capital of the new state, and Indore was the summer capital. In 1956, Madhya Bharat and the neighboring states of Vindhya Pradesh and Bhopal were merged into Madhya Pradesh state, with the new capital at Bhopal. The Scindia family has been active in national politics.

Gwalior District

Area 5,214 sq km, population 1,629,881 (2001 census), a 26% increase from 1991. Gwalior district is bounded by the districts of Bhind to the northeast, Datia to the east, Shivpuri to the south, Sheopur to the east, and Morena to the northwest.

The district is mostly a relatively level plain. This plain, though broken in its southern portion by low hills, has generally an elevation of only a few hundred feet above sea-level. In the summer season the climate is very hot, the shade temperature rising frequently to 112 F., but in the winter months (from November to February inclusive) it is usually temperate and for short periods extremely cold.

Gwalior Division

Gwalior division includes the districts of Ashoknagar, Bhind, Datia, Guna, Gwalior, Morena, Sheopur, and Shivpuri.

The division corresponds to the northern, contiguous portion of the former princely state of Gwalior together with the former princely state of Datia; the non-contiguous southern portions of the former state of Gwalior are currently part of Bhopal, Indore and Ujjain divisions.

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