Tuesday, 26 August 2008

25 August 2008: Gwalior Fort

Gwalior Fort protects a 3km-long plateau, 100m above the main city. The fort has a bloody history, with neighbouring moguls and even the British controlling it at various point in time. The east side of the fort has the impressive Gwalior Gate and the turrets of the Man Singh Palace. Further north, the ruins of seven palaces adorn the cliff top with great views of the city and the plains.

Approaching from the west gate, the sole ticket office is conveniently located one mile away at the east gate. We found this out as we tried to visit numerous buildings at the southern end of the fort, and were turned back by the officious guards. No amount of pleading or the fact that we were on our way to the ticket office would persuade them to let us in.

Once we'd bought our tickets and entered the grounds, we came across a tank of water in one of the ruins. Here, the Rajput women of the harem committed ritual mass suicide in order to avoid being raped by the advancing armies of Iltutmish, the Slave King of Delhi.

During the day we met some lovely children who were keen to get their picture taken. They studied themselves in the photo afterwards. We explored the numerous buildings, ramparts and ruins which make up the fort in the sweltering heat. It was around 36 degrees with high humidity, so please excuse the sweat marks in the photos! Anything less than trousers feels inappropriate here. Nobody wears shorts or vest tops.

Not quite as much staring today, although one young lad stalked us for a while, attempting to peek out from behind rocks so that we wouldn't notice. Unfortunately we did. He wasn't even embarrassed by what he was doing.

The day finished very pleasantly with a fine meal at the Landmark Hotel. We felt like VIPs with a security entourage, as the number of waiters outnumbered guests by four to one. Not sure why there was an armed guard outside, or why the hotel had a sign saying 'No guns or ammunation' (their spelling not ours).

Read the Bhopal to Gwalior posting.