At just a three and a half hours train ride from New Delhi, Gwalior will give you some magnificent glimpses of the stunning monuments of Madhya Pradesh – central state at the heart of India. Mostly known for its fort located on top of a hill, towering the town, Gwalior is also home to some magnificent old temples. Take the footpath up the hill, it’s well worth while, since there is things to discover on the way and the views are fantastic.
Half way up the footpath to the fort, you pass a small Hindu temple, completely carved out of the rock. On one of the temples inscriptions, there is said to be the most ancient existing „zero“ of the Gwalior region. Some of the stray dogs also seem to be fond of the place, with or without zero.
Located on the same hill as the Gwalior Fort, a half hour walk to the other side of the hill, is the Teli Ka Mandir, a temple dedicated to Hindu God Vishnu. Dating back probably to the 18th century, the temple building has an impressive hight of 100 feet. Seen in the evening light, the stone building literally glows with red colours.
Circling the temple, you discover the stones carvings, depicting goddesses, dancing couples and ornaments.
It’s nice to watch the sunset from the hill top. You will get a view on the lights of the town below as well as the coloured sky. I always prefer this natural and free „light show“ to the many light shows on heritage buildings.
Located on the foot of the Gwalior fort hill, there are Jain temple caves with some 26 statues of Jain preachers, carved out of the rock. Dating back to the 15th century, the statues have been there much longer than the Gwalior fort complex. It’s a quiet scene, serene, almost deserted, just a few steps away from the bustling tourist sites on top of the hill. You have to wash your hands entering the complex, leave your shoes beside the entrance and climb up the stairs barefoot. Not all statues have survived the centuries; some had their faces smashed off by rulers with a less tolerant attitude towards other religions. However, even the surviving ones make an impressive line-up.
Gwalior not only hosts ancient temples but also some built recently by generous donors, like the Sun temple. People of Gwalior seem to prefer them to the ancient ones as entire families can be seen on the temple complex, taking time to pray and enjoy an ice cream afterwards.