Gwalior is a city in Madhya Pradesh, India, lying 76 miles (122 km) south of Agra, and known as the tourist capital of Madhya Pradesh. The city has a population of over 1.2 million; its greater metropolitan area is the 46th most populous area in the country. Gwalior occupies a strategic location in the Gird region of India, and the city and its fortress have served as the center of several of historic northern Indian kingdoms. That the location of the city still is considered militarily important is signaled by the presence of a major air force base at Maharajpura.
According to local tradition, Gwalior owes its name to a sage of former times. Suraj Sen, a prince of the Kachhwaha clan of the eighth century, is said to have lost his way in the jungle. On a secluded hill he met an old man, the sage Gwalipa, whose influence almost took him by surprise. Upon asking the sage for some drinking water he was led to a pond; the waters not only quenched his thirst but cured him of leprosy. Out of gratefulness, the prince wished to offer the sage something in return, and the sage asked him to build a wall on the hill in order to protect the other sages from wild animals which often disturbed their yagnas (or pujas). Suraj Sen later built a palace inside the fort, which had been named "Gwalior" after the sage; eventually the city which grew around the fort took the same name.
Gwalior has a sub-tropical climate with hot summers from late March to early July, the humid monsoon season from late June to early October and a cool dry winter from early November to late February. Under Koppen's climate classification the city has a humid subtropical climate. The highest recorded temperature was 53oC and the lowest was -1oC. Summers start in late March, and along with other cities like Nagpur and Delhi are among the hottest in India and the world. They peak in May and June with average daily temperatures being around 33-35oC (93-95oF) , and end in late June with the onset of the monsoon. Gwalior gets 970 mm (39 in) of rain every year, most of which is concentrated in the monsoon months from late June to early October. August is the wettest month with about 310 mm (12 in) of rain. Winter in Gwalior starts in late October, and is generally very mild with daily temperatures averaging in the 14-16oC (58-62oF) range, and mostly dry and sunny conditions. January is the coldest month with average lows in the 5-7oC range (40-45oF) and occasional cold snaps that plummet temperatures to close to freezing.
Gwalior can be visited from late October to early March without much discomfort, but the months from April to June should be avoided due to the extreme heat. The monsoon months see sustained, torrential rainfall and risk of disease, and should also generally be avoided. Gwalior's main station is one of the major commercial railway stations of the North Central Railway of Indian Railways, whose zonal headquarters is in Allahabad. The station has won awards from Indian Railways for clean infrastructure in 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, and 1992. Express trains such as the Bhopal Express, Taj Express and Bhopal Shatabdi stop at Gwalior.
Gwalior is, perhaps, one of the few places where both narrow gauge and broad gauge railways tracks are still operational. The Gwalior narrow gauge track is the narrowest in India. Gwalior is well connected by train services to all parts of the country, including 4 metros. There are direct trains to Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata (Howrah), Chennai, Trivandrum, Indore, Jaipur, Udaipur, Ahmedabad, Pune, Jammu, Lucknow, Bhopal, Bangalore and other major towns. Gwalior is the main station serving most of the important and long distance trains. There are two other stations within the city limits, named Gwalior Birla Nagar and Gwalior Sithouli. These stations interconnect to other stations and also serve the short distance trains connecting Gwalior to nearby towns and villages. There are other narrow gauge stations within the city, named Gwalior Grasim Factory and Motijheel. Gwalior lies on the longest functional broad gauge line in India between Delhi and Mumbai.
Gwalior is fairly well connected to other parts of Madhya Pradesh and India with national and state highways. The proposed North-south-Corridor of the Golden-Quadrilateral Highway project passes through the city. The Agra-Bombay national highway (NH3) passes through Gwalior, connecting it to Shivpuri on one end and Agra on the other. The city is connected to the Jhansi by the National Highway 75, towards the south of the city. In the Northern, the city is connected to the holy city of Mathura via National Highway. There are bus services to and from all major and minor cities near Gwalior, including Bhopal, Agra, Delhi, Jabalpur, Jhansi, Bhind, Morena, Datia, Jaipur and Indore.
Gwalior's public transport system consists of tempos, horse-drawn tongas (which run fixed routes much like a bus system) and auto rickshaw taxis. Recently the municipal corporation has launched Gwalior City Bus covering some routes in the city. The tempos and auto-rickshaws are often cited as a cause of pollution and road congestion, and the local government has plans to replace the tempos with vans that shall run on Liquefied Petroleum Gas. However, taken in itself, this solution ignores the congestion and pollution caused by private cars, which are far more significant especially considering that the impact of private cars is actually caused for the benefit of a very small section of the city's population.
Gwalior may have been held by the Guptas or some of their subordinates, but the oldest historical evidence shows the fort was conquered by the Hunas in the early sixth century. The evidence for this is a stone inscription of the time of Mihirakula recording the construction of a temple to the sun god. It is now in India Museum, Calcutta. Subsequently, the Gwalior was taken by Gurjar Pratihars of Kannauj. From inscription found such as Rakhetra stone inscription, scholars assert that Gwalior was under the possession of Gurjara Pratiharas till at least 942-43 A.D.
In the 10th century, after Gurjara Pratiharas, Gwalior was taken by the Kachwaha Rajputs. Qutb-ud-din Aybak captured the city in 1196. Shamsud-din Altamsh took control of the area in 1232. By the 15th century the city had a noted singing school which was attended by Tansen. It first fell to the British in 1780, but was one of the cities taken during the Sepoy Rebellion.
Today Gwalior includes the former city of Lashkar. Laskar was the capital of Gwalior state, one of the princely states of India during the British Raj. It then served as the capital of Madhya Bharat from 1950 to 1956.
At the heart of Gwalior is Gwalior Fort, built by Raja Man Singh Tomar, of the Tomar dynasty. This formidable structure was reputed to be one of the most invincible forts of India. It occupies an isolated rock outcrop. The hill is steepened to make it virtually unscalable 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.
Gwalior is also known for its share in 1857 revolt mainly due to Rani Lakshmi Bai's heroic resistance and death. After Kalpi (Jhansi) fell into the hands of the British on May 24, 1858, Lakshmibai sought shelter at the Gwalior fort. The king of Gwalior was not willing to give up his fort without a fight as he was afraid of the British. But the soldiers laid down their arms in respect for the Rani of Jhansi. Thus the freedom fighters entered Gwalior without a fight.
The British wasted no time in attacking Gwalior. It was the fiercest, bloodiest battle ever fought on Indian soil. Lakshmibai's courage, strength, and ability as she valiantly fought the British army's vastly superior forces, are remembered to this day. She dies fighting and Gwalior was captured. Tantya Tope was hanged and Rao Sahib escaped.
Gwalior is a well acknowledged place of art, associated with historic as well as contemporary evidence. In August 2005 a mural created by Aasutosh Panigrahi and five other artists was acknowledged as World's Largest Indoor Mural by the Guinness Book of Records.
Gwalior holds an unparalleled reputation in Sangeet. Greatest ever classical singer (Dhrupadiya) was Baijnath Prasad alias Baiju Bawra, who lived in Gwalior for his whole life under the patronage of Man Singh. Baiju was born in Chanderi and was cremated there only, got the training of music in Brindaban under great Swami Guru Haridas ji. He was Court Musician of Gwalior along with Nayak Charju, Bakshu, and others.
Tansen, born in Behat, trained in music at Vrindavan, served Raja Ramchandra Waghela of Bandhawgarh, and then went to Agra under the patronage of Akbar. After the death of Tansen in Fatehpur Sikri and cremation in Agra, the ashes were buried in Gwalior. Tansen Samaroh is held every year in Gwalior.
Ustad Natthu Khan, Hassu Khan, Haddu Khan, Nissar Hussain, Rehmat Khan, Shankarrao Vishnu Pandit, Ramkrishna Buwa Vaze, Rajabhaiyya Poonchhwale, Krishnarao Pandit, lived here and spread the magic of music. Renowned artiste Mrs. Malini Rajurkar, who is keeping the flame of Hindustani music alive today, also belongs to Gwalior.
Sarod Maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan is also from the royal city of Gwalior. His grandfather Ghulam Ali Khan Bangash became a court musician in Gwalior.
'Late Vijay Singh Akolkar' (died in 1969) one of the best satirist in that time. He is belonging to shahi pariwar (Jhagirdar) Now, one of the great Hindustani classical singers, Dr. Ishwar Chandra Karkare who is fourth generation of artist’s poets and musician family, lives here and his classical music is full of spiritual joyousness.
Marathi Sahitya Sammelan, the conference on Marathi Literature was held once in Gwalior city. It was presided by President of the Conference writer Kusumavati Deshpande (and wife of Kavi Anil) in 1961. She was the first female president of the annual Sammelan since its inception in 1878.
Culturally Gwalior is the confluence of two rich cultures Bundeli and Braj. Bundelkhand covers Gwalior, Bhind, Morena, Sagar, Shivpuri, Guna, Sheopur and adjoining areas.
This dance is related to people who have traditionally been in the business of cattle herding. In different parts of the state these people are known by different castes such as Ahir, Baredi, Gwal, Rawat, Raut, Gwala etc. These people believe that they are descendants of Krishna.
All national festivals, Diwali, Holi, Makara Sankranti, Eid-ul-Fitr, Rakhi,Mahavir jayanti and other local ones like Nag-Panchmi, Ahilya Utsav, Ganesh Utsav, Gudi Padwa (Marathi new year), Navratri, Dussehara, Durga Puja are celebrated with equal enthusiasm. Last decade has seen a rise in celebration of events like Valentine's Day, Rose Day and New Year's Eve.
Gwalior also celebrates Rang Panchami quite differently. This festival is celebrated five days after Dulendi or Holi. This is also celebrated like Dulendi, but colors are mixed with water and then either sprinkled or poured on others.
Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated in a unique way in Gwalior city. People of Gwalior arrange a carnival of floats (known as "Jhanki" in local Hindi language) in various places of city.
Makar Sankranti is a 'Kite Festival' on 14 January each year; people fly kites and compete to cut each other's kites in sky.