Firstly! This is my first travelogue.So please bear with me if you find something amiss. :-\ Do share your views and healthy criticisms below for me to improve. 🙂
Last weekend,I had visited Gwalior,a historical place in Madhya Pradesh,India.It was an impromptu plan and we set foot for the unknown.Don’t worry,nothing dramatic happened. 😛
If you are an Indian,you may not have heard what this state stores for the tourists.If you are someone from abroad,I guess you may have heard. That’s what usually happens with mass media. 😀
My travelogue will have where to stay and its review,places to visit,myths about that place,transportation and weather report.We had 3 days/2 nights trip starting from Saturday .
Weather and terrain-Gwalior is more of a dry region.Rainfall is scanty here and best time to visit is from Sep-Mar.It gets hot and sunny during the day which you can see from the repeated attempts of covering myself with the stole in the pictures attached here. 😛 Summers are a big no-no to go.Even in March,it gets hot,but it is still bearable.If you are a model or a photographer,you can actually have those quirky photos where the model is wearing a long dressy something in front those rough terrains.;-) March is more of an off-season so we got discounts in our shopping and stay.
Stay-Thanks to Makemytrip.com,we found a hotel of our liking but booked through phone as the hotel people give more discounts compared to websites.We stayed at Hotel Grace,just 5 minutes away from the Railway station.It is on the main road and you can easily get autos or shared autos from there.The hotel people provide complementary pick-n-drop facility from the railway station.Also ,they provide their own taxi for your Gwalior tour which we found cheaper compared to the tourism taxis.We had opted for AC deluxe room,but got upgraded for free as the deluxe rooms were not vacant. 😀 They give complementary drinks on arrival,fruits with every breakfast and water bottle on leaving.Very humble and courteous hotel staff.They also adjusted for our last day stay of 7 hours as our train was at 8pm and hotel checkout-checkin timing is around noon.We were shifted to normal AC room on that day ,which was also good.If you are someone who loves chic interiors,this may turn you off.But based on the rates,you can’t hope much.However,the normal AC room came with a balcony unlike the AC executive room we stayed in.The washrooms in both the rooms are small,but are neat and hygienic.Rooms are huge and kept clean.The executive room came with classy interiors and small fridge.Service is fast and to the point.Food is also good.Taste and quantity is amazing.If you have opted for room with breakfast ,then do ask for the breakfast menu,as we had forgotten to do so,and only remembered on the second day of our stay.You can tell them to add less spices according to your preference.Since there is no in-house restaurant,they provide free room food service.All the above are said according to the off-season,as I think peak seasons are best to judge a hotel’s service.They have positive ratings though everywhere on the websites.We did get discounts in the hotel room rent and the taxi we took from them was of nominal price charge.
AC executive room
How to reach and transportation-We stay in Delhi NCR,so we had 3 options on how to reach Gwalior.There is a direct flight from New Delhi and the buses ply from Noida to Gwalior.You can drive your car ,no worries.Based on price and time,train service is best.It takes 3 hours from New Delhi Railway station to reach Gwalior.We travelled by Shatabdi express, which is renowned for its short travels, speediness and its food service.Bhopal is the last station for this train and in between we have our Agra,the abode to the mesmerizing Taj Mahal and Mathura,Lord Krishna’s playground.Shatabdi express runs in the morning at 6 AM and in the night from Gwalior,it leaves at 7:45 PM.Breakfast served was okayish as the fries seemed like they were microwaved.The bread was raw and came with butter and cutlet.We had vegetarian dishes on the train both times.Tea served was good.Dinner on the same express was better than the breakfast.Alongwith the Indian bread,we had a mixed dal and sabzi made from cottage cheese.Rice had to be there along with our lip-smacking pickle.Curd was fresh and the ice-cream served was simple vanilla.Overall-we enjoyed the dinner more.You can opt for city tours with Madhya Pradesh Govt.run tourism department from the Gwalior station kiosk itself.We did that when we reached there.They have these open buses which take you around the city and its gems.We left in the tour bus at 11 AM and had our tour end at 4PM.
The tour buses are cheapest but they are on first-come-first – serve basis.The tours are charged at INR 200 per head.Damn cheap!But their taxis are costly.The local autos also ply to the touring spots,but will leave you much farther away from the actual monument/fort.Best decision is to take the tour bus or private taxi.You can find all sorts of available transportation from the station.
Places to visit-Gwalior is rich in history and royalty.You may not have even heard of it,but it’s a hidden treasure.There are 10 must-see places over there which can be covered easily in a day.Out of them,7 are worth seeing.They have immense architectural designs and history.We took guides at many places to know about the spot.
- Gwalior fort-The fort glistened during dusk and hues of blue tiles added the perfect contrast to the golden fort.At first site,it looks amazing.Remnants of the blue tiles of the forts add a different kind of beauty to the vacant fort.You can easily get lost if you are alone,so its best to take a guide with you.Mind you! You will find those couples who fight for privacy in the nook and cranny of these monuments. 😛
- Sas Bahu temple- It has 2 temples and is just 5 minutes away from the Gwalior fort.In Indian terms,it means ‘Mother-in-Law and Daughter –in-Law’ literally but the name is a short form for Shastra Bahu.The temples are actually devoted to Lord Vishnu. The temples don’t have any idols in them.Infact all the temples in Gwalior city have no idols as Aurangzeb,the Mughal ruler took away all signs of Hinduism from these temples and plundered them.He defaced the idols from the wall carvings as well .:-( If you want to see the most intricate designs possible,go there at once.Women forms at various stages of life are carved on the hard stone bringing them to life.You can literally make out story from them.The temple premises offer a panoramic view of the Gwalior city so all you shutterbugs will be pleased definitely.
- Gopachal Parvat- On the way to the Gwalior fort and Sas-Bahu temple,they can be seen easily on the hill sides,literally. I loved them so much that I couldn’t stop myself from taking pictures at every angle.Even though Hinduism was prominent in Gwalior,but you see the shadows of Jainism there once you see this carved beauty.
- Teli ka Mandir- It is once again located near the fort.The guide described it as honeymoon temple. 😀 The kings used to wed there and spent 10 days locked up afterwards in the bedroom made in the above portion of the temple.Now,if you go,you will see an empty monument from inside.
- Mausoleums of Mohammed Ghaus & Tansen- Tansen was the poet/singer,who can make it rain or influence Mother Nature in ways you can never imagine in your life,with nothing,but his voice and songs.His resting abode can be found in this complex.He is laid near his Guru , Mohammed Ghaus,who tutored him to become the great Tansen we know,from the Emperor Akbar’s courtyard.The Mausoleums are in state of neglect,I don’t know why,as people can be seen sleeping in the monuments and littering.
- Gujari Mahal Archaeological Museum-What I heard from the guide was that,the king had married a woman from Gurjar caste who couldn’t live the luxurious pompous life of the kings and queens,so she made the king build her a palace of her own liking and had a water pipeline laid,all the way from her hometown to her palace as she will drink water from that town only.That’s some attitude! You rock woman! 😉 The palace has been turned into a museum which houses artifacts and idols from the King’s era.A guide is very much needed here as only then,you can understand the history.The museum needs tickets to enter.
- I have kept the most royal one for the last.It is Jai Vilas palace museum.The palace is the most aristocratic and houses amazing historical artifacts .It belongs to the Scindia family/Scindia dynasty.It is well maintained.The Obamas have been here.What more can I say.The Scindias do come often to stay.The palace is open to hosting marriages or functions but will cost you a bomb.What the Scindias wore,ate from,their furniture,recreation items,temple etc ,everything can be learnt from this museum.This also needs tickets and they have a souvenir shop.
The other tourist spots are Gurudwara,Surajkund,Samadhi of Rani Lakshmi Bai and Sun temple.You will like them too,but the richness lies in the places I told you above.
- Next day,we embarked on the tour for outskirts of Gwalior.We took the hotel car and it took 5-6 hours to cover all the 3 places.The journey cut through villages and the roads are usually devoid of major traffic.First came Padavli.It is actually Lord Shiva’s temple,which was converted to fort later on and was destroyed by the Mughals.Only the inscriptions remain on the walls of the temple which showcases various Hindu deities and their stories.I wonder how the people made this possible at that time. :-O
- It was followed by Bateshwar group of Lord Shiva temples.Indeed,there are so many temples,that you will lose count.It is in the state of restoration though and the Archaeological dept. of India,has successfully brought the temples to their earlier glory.Each temple bears the Shivling .The temple complex has 1 bathing Kund( water reservoir used for bathing for sacred ceremonies thereafter) which has natural source of water , as in the water never dries up.
- We were looking forward to the Mitavli trip as we had heard that our Parliament building has been inspired from this very Gwalior monument.Atop the hill,we could see a cylindrical structure from a distance.We had to climb steep slopes to reach our destination and there we go.Indeed,when you enter the premises,you can grasp why the Parliament looks similar.It is also a Lord Shiva temple in cylindrical form.The periphery has small Shivlings and in the centre,one huge Shivling rests in a dome like structure.People do come to pray here even today.
Famous Gwalior items-After having a tiring first day,we ended our tour with shopping.Gwalior will attract ladies for its silk and cotton saris.Chanderi saris and Maheshwari saris are native to Gwalior.My mother bought Maheshwari sari and 2 suit sets from the govt. run store called Mrignaynee,named after the Gurjari queen.There was a sale going on due to off-season.
I read on the sites that Gwalior is amazing for leather goods.Such a disappointment.They don’t have anything special in leather goods.Infact the natives themselves told us Gwalior is known only for the saris and Gajak.I couldn’t find the famous snack/samosa wala over there as featured on Instagram accounts.I bought home a box of Gajak,a sweet biscuit like snack made from sugar,sesame seeds,nuts and other sweetening/dry fruit agent.
As I was sitting on my return train,I reminisced the stories I heard of the kings and queens and what if,I had been born at that time.
PS:Please do not reuse the pictures with / without modification without taking my permission.All these have been taken by me,so kindly respect my wish.
Hotel Grace website
Madhya Pradesh Tourism website
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