Gwalior Fort

17th February 2014 (Day 9) Gwalior

Man Mandir Palace

Man Mandir Palace

This is the Man Mandir Palace, built by Man Singh Tomar between 1486 and 1516.

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Man Mandir Palace

Man Mandir Palace

The main fort itself dates back to the eighth century during Tomar rule (or the Kachwacha rajputs), or possibly further back to the fifth century.  It is on a hill that rises 100 metres from the city and the surrounding countryside, and covers an area of three square kilometres.

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Man Mandir Palace

Man Mandir Palace

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Man Mandir Palace

Man Mandir Palace

The Man Mandir Palace has four levels, two of which are underground.  When Akhbar captured the fort, he made it into a political prison.  He executed his cousin Kamran here and Aurangzeb executed his brother Murad and nephews Suleman and Sepher Shikoh here.

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Man Mandir Palace

Man Mandir Palace

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Man Mandir Palace

Man Mandir Palace

The dungeons would not be the cheeriest of places to be held prisoner.

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Man Mandir Palace

Man Mandir Palace

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Man Mandir Palace

Man Mandir Palace

Although the fort is very formidable, it has been stormed many times over the centuries.  This is probably partly due to its large size and the large garrison required for effective defence.  It is said to be designed for a garrison of 15,000.

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Man Mandir Palace

Man Mandir Palace

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Man Mandir Palace

Man Mandir Palace

In 1857, towards the end of the Indian Mutiny, Lakshmi Bai, (female) Rani of Jhansi, died here as a war leader in a battle against the British.  She was a very capable individual and a reluctant convert to the mutiny.

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Man Mandir Palace

Man Mandir Palace

The outside of the Man Mandir Palace was originally covered in colourful mosaics, much of which have fallen away over the years.

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View from plateau

View from plateau

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Sas-Bahu Temple

Sas-Bahu Temple

The Sas-Bahu temple was built in 1092 as a temple for Vishnu.  There are two temples and you see here the larger one.

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Sas-Bahu Temple

Sas-Bahu Temple

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Sas-Bahu Temple

Sas-Bahu Temple

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View from plateau

View from plateau

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Street view from above

Street view from above

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Sas-Bahu Temple

Sas-Bahu Temple

This is a view from the smaller temple.

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Sas-Bahu Temple

Sas-Bahu Temple

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Teli Ka Mandir

Teli Ka Mandir

Teli Ka Mandir is an eleventh century hindu temple that fuses northern and southern architectural styles.

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Sikh Temple

Sikh Gurudvara Temple, quite close to the Teli Ka Mandir

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Sikh Temple

Sikh Gurudvara Temple with Teli Ka Mandir in the background

We only spent ten or twenty minutes at the temple.  The people I met were very friendly and a Sikh from Singapore invited me inside the temple and to their restaurant but we were not staying long enough for that.

KSG in a comment below advised me of the historical significance of this shrine, formerly a prison for the sixth Guru Hargobind.  I will now relate this in the context of a brief Sikh history:

The Sikh religion was founded by Guru Nanak in the early sixteenth century. It postulates an invisible, infinite, unknowable god where caste distinctions are irrelevant and righteous conduct and truth is the path to salvation. Initially there was no political or military dimension to the Sikh faith and it accorded well with Akhbar’s subsequent project to create a composite faith that included the best parts of all religions.  It is likely that Sikhs were welcome guests of Akhbar at Fatehpur Sikri.

This situation changed as the Mogul Emperors became more intolerant.  The fifth Sikh Guru Arjan was executed by Jahangir after supporting Prince Kusrau in the succession crisis of 1605. The eighth Guru Har Krishnan incurred Aurangzeb’s displeasure by providing hospitality to the liberal Prince Dara during the civil war of 1658.  Har Krishnan‘s son was inducted into the Mogul hierarchy so when he died, the Sikhs chose his brother Tegh Bahadur instead as seventh Guru. He toured the country encouraging conversions, including by Muslims. This enraged Aurangzeb who executed Guru Tegh Bahadur for blasphemy.

Partly in consequence of this, the sixth Guru Hargobind departed from the previously entirely pacfic and spiritual nature of the faith and armed and trained his followers. This was an affront to Jahangir, who imprisoned him for a year in Gwalior Fort, more specifically in what is now the Sihk Gurudvara Temple (images above). When he was released, Guru Hargobind insisted on fifty-two rajas being released from imprisonment in Gwalior fort at the same time.

The tenth Guru, Govind Singh, went further in abandoning the initial pacifism of the Sikhs and arming his followers, prepared to resist Mogul incursion. He also introduces a new standard of orthodoxy, with baptism into the kalsa (or pure), uncut hair, carrying of armsand adopting the name of Singh (or Lion). Even today, Sikhs are allowed to carry their ceremonial daggers on domestic Indian flights.  Guru Govind Singh was murdered, probably by a Mogul commander.

His successor, Banda Bahadur conquered various towns and successfully created a Sikh state for a while until defeated and killed by the Moguls in 1715.

As an independent political entity, the Sikhs achieved their apex in the 1830s with the Empire of Ranjit Singh, which included the Punjab, Kashmir and Ladakh, about equally divided between present-day India and Pakistan. The Sikhs were too realistic to attack the British and the British too cautious to attack the Sikhs so they formed an alliance safeguarding the boundary of India to the North-West. Later, when the Sikh kingdom was incorporated into the Indian Empire, Sikhs came to play key military and administrative roles for the British.

The Guruvadra Temple has only been in the possession of the Sikhs since independence. What you see from the outside was constructed in the 1970s and 1980s to encompass the pre-existing shrine.

 

Blog trivia; imaginary milestones just passed:  This blog now has nearly 3,500 images.  If one were to print them out at A4 size and lay the prints end to end, they would stretch one kilometre.

There are also over 150,000 words here.  I am currently reading a biography of Joanna I, Queen of Naples, Jerusalem and Sicily.  It runs to 323 pages and has very close to the same number of words as this blog.

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6 comments on “Gwalior Fort

  1. latersholly says:

    this is stunning

    Like

  2. KSG says:

    The Sikh gurdwara there represents a significant moment in Sikh history – the imprisonment and release of the Guru Har Rai (and 52 other rajas) from Gwalior.

    http://www.sikhiwiki.org/index.php/Gurdwara_Data_Bandi_Chor_Sahib

    Like

    • Murray Foote says:

      Thank you for that link KSG. I had found it difficult to find much information about the temple. I have amended the post to include a brief history of the Sikhs. It’s Guru Hargobind who was imprisoned I believe.

      Like

  3. […] to regular readers: I have modified the previous post to include a bit more information about the Sikh Temple at Gwalior Fort plus a brief history of the […]

    Like

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