Tales of the Heartland.I

by Varsha Arun June. 13, 2020 275 views
Between a fort and a palace : Best Lassi ever!

Between a fort and a palace : Best Lassi ever!

Delving into my old files the other day, I came across photos of a memorable trip I made 5 years ago to Madhya Pradesh, the central state of India. It was more of a cultural tour rather than a leisurely vacation to some of the richest heritage sites of our country. MP is filled with historic structures of bygone eras that whisper stories of their many rulers & their dynasties.

Here, I write about the first place we visited; a city named Gwalior, the city of true royals. Well known for its hilltop fort, Gwalior is the home of the Scindia dynasty that ruled the state from 18th to 20th century. Traces of its past glory can be felt in corners of its many temples and palaces.

Fading colour blue is the original dye used during construction of the fort

Fading colour blue is the original dye used during construction of the fort

Gwalior fort is one of the most majestic and impenetrable fortresses of India. Although its exact date of construction is unknown, it is believed to have been around since the 6th Century, having been passed through the possession of multiple empires like the Mughals, the Marathas and even the East India company. Eventually, it came to be occupied by the Maratha Scindia family in 1844 and has continued to be a part of Gwalior's stately legacy ever since.

Main entrance door...The balcony seen above the doorway is a common occurrence in forts & palaces; they were used to shower flower petals on the palace guests or the king after he returned victorious from the war

Main entrance door...The balcony seen above the doorway is a common occurrence in forts & palaces; they were used to shower flower petals on the palace guests or the king after he returned victorious from the war

Sitting atop a vast hill, the imposing structure dominates the entire city of Gwalior. The UNESCO world heritage site covers an area of 3 sq.km and has 2 entrance gates; the main being 'Hathi Pul' (Elephant Gate), approached by a long ascending ramp to the summit. The complex inside houses several small temples, palaces and water tanks.

It boggles me to think that people of that time would hardly have imagined the approach road made for elephants would be used for fun cycle rides..

It boggles me to think that people of that time would hardly have imagined the approach road made for elephants would be used for fun cycle rides..

Time for reflection

Time for reflection

Stone jaali screens act as privacy screens while at the same time providing light & ventilation

Stone jaali screens act as privacy screens while at the same time providing light & ventilation

At the forefront of the fort's many legacies is the tale of Rani Lakshmibai, the Queen of Jhansi :

On her refusal to surrender Jhansi to the British in 1858, the Jhansi fort was bombarded; the siege resulted in near destruction of her fort and upon realising that resistance within the city was useless, she jumped from the high fort on her beloved horse with her infant son strapped to her back to escape. Along with an escort of guards, she was able to flee to the nearby city of Gwalior... where together with her allies, she sought shelter within the Gwalior fort to regroup & prepare the troops for battle. But she was unsuccessful in persuading all the leaders to fight & had to defend against successive sieges on the fortress with limited troops. After fighting for days, she breathed her last in the fort, with eyewitnesses accounting for her bravery & valiance against British rule.
"No, Impossible! I shall not surrender my Jhansi!" - Queen Lakshmibai
View from where Rani Lakshmibai jumped - Jhansi fort & skyline

View from where Rani Lakshmibai jumped - Jhansi fort & skyline

Another notable edifice located in the heart of the city is the living palace of the ruling Scindia family, the 'Jai Vilas Palace'. Established in 1874 by Maharaja of Gwalior at the time - Jayajirao Scindia, it harmoniously blends Tuscan, Italian & Corinthian styles of architecture. Due to the erstwhile royal family being on good terms with the British, the palace was endowed generously with a European touch by its designer in every inch of its 28 acres.

40 rooms out of the 400 have been converted into a museum showcasing antique collections of immense value...

40 rooms out of the 400 have been converted into a museum showcasing antique collections of immense value...

The most distinguished feature of the palace is undoubtedly the "Durbar Hall", previously used for banquets, resplendent in its gold furnishings. Among the other famous embellishments are two almost identical crystal chandeliers imported from Vienna, believed to be the heaviest in Asia and a silver food & liquor train on the long dining table, whose carriages were made out of cut glass.

To reassure sceptics at the time of construction, the architect, Sir Michael Filose suspended 8 elephants from the Durbar's ceiling to prove that it was sturdy enough to withstand almost twice the weight of the chandeliers

To reassure sceptics at the time of construction, the architect, Sir Michael Filose suspended 8 elephants from the Durbar's ceiling to prove that it was sturdy enough to withstand almost twice the weight of the chandeliers

The Indian musician Tansen, who played in the courts of the Mughal ruler Akbar during the medieval period was born in Gwalior and so here lies his final resting place. His voice was believed to posses such magic as the clouds would rain down and animals would be enchanted. The 'Tomb of Tansen' is of typical Mughal style architecture; square structures topped with domes, walls featuring intricate jaali patterns and beautifully landscaped gardens.

Time for recollection - Site of Tansen's tomb

Time for recollection - Site of Tansen's tomb

And now, onto the next....

For further reading :

Join the conversation
8
There are 8 comments , add yours!
Piotr B 5 months ago

Great pictures! Life is not long enough to see all wonders of India.

5 months ago Edited
Varsha Arun Replied to Piotr B 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Thank you...Haha yes it's true...I am from India and i still have seen only a fraction :-p

4 months, 4 weeks ago Edited
Piotr B Replied to Varsha Arun 4 months, 3 weeks ago

I hope to go back to India as soon as flights from EU resume. One is spoilt for choice in India as in Europe😀

4 months, 3 weeks ago Edited
Varsha Arun Replied to Piotr B 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Yes for sure..! It's at the top of my bucket list to be able to tour all of Europe one day...smile
India is currently seeing the peak of it's Covid curve, do be safe when you travel here grimacing

4 months, 3 weeks ago Edited
Antonio Gil 5 months, 1 week ago

My kind of India. 😁

5 months, 1 week ago Edited
Varsha Arun Replied to Antonio Gil 5 months, 1 week ago

Haha, glad to hear from you Antonio!

5 months, 1 week ago Edited
Sri V 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Very nice narrative grinning

5 months, 2 weeks ago Edited
Varsha Arun Replied to Sri V 5 months, 1 week ago

Thank you for your kind words :-)

5 months, 1 week ago Edited
Up
Copyright @Photoblog.com