I have seen many forts including the Forts of Delhi, Kangra, Agra, Hyderabad and Siliserh (Alwar). But this one in Gwalior almost took my breath. In my entire life, only two forts have made me hold my breath and praise silently. These are Forts of Gwalior and Golconda (Hyderabad).
I went to Gwalior (Madhya Pradesh – India) in 2004 or 2005. We were 5 guys, on a college trip, there to participate in a National Level College Fest. We got time and thought it might be a good idea to check out the famous Gwalior fort. We took a taxi, and he took us to the gates of fort. The taxi driver asked if we want a tour guide. We said no. We entered the gate and found ourselves at the bottom of thousands of meter long steep and tight road. On both sides of this road, were very high walls, fro m where any you can attack any enemy, without being hurt. Anyway, we started marching and continued to do so for nearly 1/2 hour. All we could see were huge walls of fort on both sides but the path was not ending.
Finally we reached another huge gate, which was having very nice blue paintings all over it. There was a big pit near the gate and a wooden plank was kept to cross it. When we entered that gate, we found a huge compound and on our right side, was standing the mighty fort with blue painting all over it. (see first picture of this post).
We were now so tired, that all we wanted was a place to rest. Then suddenly my attention went to the White Building on my left. Oh great, it was Gurudwara Bandi Chhor. This place has a very inspiring history. In 1619 AD, Sixth Guru of Sikhs were taken prisoner by the king of Gwalior. But soon, the king was so impressed by his talks, that he decided to release him. But Gurujee refused. He said, that there are 52 other kings of neighboring states, who are imprisoned in this fort. Release everyone. The King of Gwalior said, I will not release others. But, those who can hold the onto your gown (Chowla), can go. Then gurujee immediately ordered his sikhs to prepare him a huge gown. Once it was ready, Guru wore it and all 52 kings got space to hold the gown. This was the day of Diwali. From that very day, Every sikh celebrated Diwali as “Bandi Chhor Divas” (Day of liberation/freedom of Prisoners).
So we reached this nice gurudwara and sat inside the hall for nearly 15-20 mins. When we were back to normal, we proceeded to have Lungar at gurudwara. It was truly refreshing.
Then we moved to see the actual fort. Some guy near entrance asked us if we wanted a tour guide. We refused! When we were entering the fort, The gatekeeper asked us where is our tour guide, and we said we don’t need any. But by this time, we started thinking what is so special about tour guides. Anyway, we entered the fort. There was this nice big porch and stairs going down. We went downstairs and found another staircase to reach the second level of basement. We kept on finding stairs and kept on going down till we reached 4th level. The Gwalior fort has 6-7 levels of basement. Now we were standing in the Prison Room. A very foul smell was coming. It was total dark and we were lost. We tried every gate and window. But every time, we ended up in reaching same prison room. There were small holes in roof and floor. We could see other basement levels. But we were not able to go there. Bats were flying on our head and they were scaring us like anything. Then we heard a tourist group and ran towards them. Their tourist guide was explaining about the fort and told that it is designed in such a way that prisoners can never get out of this level. Levels below this are even ferocious and dangerous. We just walked behind this tour group, came out and ran out of the fort. We didn’t even bothered to see the rest of Fort. We just reached the exit, took a taxi, headed for railway station, and took a train to Agra.
But I must say…
Hats off to Architects of Gwalior Fort.