It is not the beauty of a building you should look at; its the construction of the foundation that will stand the test of time.
–David Allan Coe
The Gwalior Fort, constructed atop a hill, is a mammoth structure. Legends say its construction began in the 3rd Century, while historical accounts put it anywhere between the 8th and 14th Century. This Fort has seen numerous rulers and severe onslaughts across the centuries and withstood all that has been thrown at it.
As with many of the places we have visited, it is extremely difficult to paint a true picture of the scale of the structure. I could write about the long trek to the top, and the sweeping views of the city, but the closest that I can get to explaining it, is to point to the size of the people in this (incomplete) picture below.
The Jai Vilas Palace in Gwalior combines three European architectural styles—the first storey is Tuscan, the second Italian-Doric and the third Corinthian.
There is an eclectic collection of items housed inside the museum, which can be visited by the public. One section still serves as the residence of the heirs of this Palace.
We weren’t allowed to carry bags inside (there is a provision of a locker), and strangely, we weren’t allowed to carry umbrellas inside either. While the museum itself is entirely indoor, to exit the Palace, one must pass through the central lawn. As luck would have it, it began pouring just before we were about to complete our tour.
If you plan to visit this Palace in Gwalior, make sure you have sufficient time—we spent over two hours (excluding the rain delay), as there is much to see. And if you are short on time, pace yourself to keep the maximum time for the last section—the opulent Durbar Hall. We had read about the extravagant decor and seen pictures of the massive chandeliers. But it was only when we saw the hall that the reality of its grandeur hit us.
In our limited exposure to exotic places, some places leave a lasting impression, some of romance, others of awe. The Jai Vilas Palace, even with all its magnificence, left a somewhat cold and distant feeling. It’s hard to tell why – perhaps it’s the excessive indulgences; or the exclusively European architecture; or perhaps it was the weather; or just maybe, the contrast between the lifestyles of the common people, and that of their representatives, that is so blatantly visible to the casual observer.
Travelling during the Indian monsoon is tricky. Apart from the dangers of landslides and floods, there is the danger of being trapped inside a cold hotel when it is pouring outside. Fortunately, we are not crazy enough to venture towards perilous terrains or poorly administered areas.
Our first monsoon vacation was to Gwalior last year, during the Independence day weekend. I’d assumed that the rains would keep people away. We couldn’t be further from the truth. And I’d assumed that the monuments would be fresh and clean after a wash. I can’t quite comment on that. But that didn’t stop us from being mesmerized.
In the city, with the high rise buildings, its hard to lay our eyes on one continuous skyline. In fact, we sometimes give up on our chances of seeing it. And that is where smaller towns come to our starved senses’ rescue, especially during the monsoon. The massive and magnificent structures we visited were made all the more beautiful in the backdrop of the most amazing expansive skies.
Sure, we did get caught in the rain. We had to cancel our plan of visiting other places because there was a huge downpour while we were inside Jai Vilas Palace. But when you’re marooned in a Palace, it’s really not that bad!
This year, too we planned a vacation for the same weekend—but because there were so many more like-minded travelers, we couldn’t get tickets! So we did something that we felt was smart—we travelled a couple of weeks later, when most of the city tourists would be away (and we secretly hoped that hotel prices would be slightly cheaper; they weren’t). We also hoped that the impact of monsoon rains would be lesser. But when we checked the weather predictions, we were made well aware of the risk we were taking.
Day one in Udaipur, saw us marooned inside our home. But we did manage a visit to the Monsoon Palace. On day two, we literally headed for the hill to avoid getting wet in the rain, and just managed to make it inside the City Palace, before the downpour began. And like the year before, we found ourselves marooned in yet another palace!
So what’s our take on travelling during the Indian monsoon? Well, the weather is going to be cloudy, with a chance of great views!
Yup, these pictures were taken with a phone 😉 These are panoramas stitched together from individual pictures taken with a Moto G3. Click/tap to view my Flickr photostream.
One of the major attractions in Gwalior is the Saas-Bahu ka Mandir. In Hindi, saas translates to mother-in-law and bahu is the daughter-in-law.
The strange name is believed to be a convenient short form for sahasrabahu – meaning thousand arms. The two temples in the complex are covered with beautiful, intricate carvings of geometric patterns, animal motifs and dancing figures. Some claim that one temple is for Lord Vishnu, while the other is for Lord Shiva. There is also some confusion as to whether they are Hindu temples at all. What is widely agreed to, is that the larger one is definitely the saas, and the smaller one, the bahu!
This photograph of the smaller temple was taken inside the larger temple.
If you intend visiting, be sure you have enough battery and memory to click pictures. We know we didn’t stop with one 😉
To see how bloggers across the blogosphere are framing their points of view, check out this week’s Photo Challenge