So we are on a roll here :)
Barely a fortnight after my work trip to Bundelkhand, and less than 3 weeks after our Jaisalmer break, we were (once again) sitting in a Shatabdi at 6 am, speeding towards Gwalior. I opted to miss all of the Navarathri festivities in our complex which are always a lot of fun and include Golu invitations, Kanya pujas, the Raavan-vadh, and a Dandiya nite, in favour of a holiday with the family to some fairly offbeat destinations.
Some months ago, I'd looked at the map and found to my surprise that Gwalior was just a 3.5 hour train ride away from Delhi. Hmmm....as you can imagine, that set a lot of bells ringing in my head :) I'd always assumed that since it was in Madhya Pradesh, it would be a good long train ride to get there, not realizing until my map-poring exercise that it's such a large state and abuts so many other states that it lies just over the border from UP. The more I read about MP, the more intrigued I became and the more possibilities it opened up! The Dussehra break for S and the kids prompted me to apply for a couple of days off from work, and get our bookings done.
First stop Gwalior, where we stayed at the new Neemrana 'non-hotel' property. We are great fans on Neemrana and would recommend their properties to anyone looking for living in a restored heritage building (like a fort!), some great decor with local touches (a little or a LOT!), no TVs in the room, and impeccable service. The place in Gwalior we stayed in has been open for almost a year but they are still restoring and building to add more rooms so it was a work-in-progress.
|A temple (one of many) inside the property
|The zenana quarters
|Our 'balcony' :)
|Cranes and cows all around the moat-like depression around the zenana quarters
We reached Gwalior around 10, checked in and decided to take a nice long post-prandial nap in preparation for the arduous evening sightseeing :) Our first stop was the Scindia museum at the Jai Vilas Palace, the erstwhile home of the Scindia royal family.
All I have to say is that the royals had it good while it lasted. The museum was really interesting. There were stone carvings and statues dating from the the BC era through the 11th-12th Century AD! None of them were even behind a glass case and I was terrified lest I knock them over. The rooms retained a lot of their original furnishing - there were formal dining and drawing rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms, budoirs, a nursery, a study and many others. Luxuriously and exquisitely furnished.
|The pooja room
|Can you see the train tracks on the table? The table is so long they needed it to move the dishes!
The kids had a lot of fun exploring the museum, though Y was very puzzled about why all the rooms were empty, who lives there and why are we in their house? Finally she said that she wants to get married to a prince and live in a palace! (My girl has some priorities right :)) Ads was fascinated by the many stuffed tigers on the walls and in glass cases and by the many paintings and photos of tiger hunts. By all accounts the Scindias may have decimated half the tiger population of the state.
Later, we stopped by Tansen's tomb, where the major excitement was spotting a mongoose! The next day, we went to the Mansingh Palace which was completed in 1508 AD by Man Singh Tomar of Gwalior.
|A view of the palace exterior inside the Gwalior Fort. The fort is of course at an elevation and the city is down below.
|Look at the peacock carved into the wall - isn't it exquisite?
We also visited the Saas-Bahu temple, a set of 2 temples which had the most beautiful carvings. There wera few other places we could have visited but on that day they were closed off due to an event happening in the fort.
So ended our short but very interesting stay at Gwalior. There's more medieval magic coming up in my next posts :)