Gwalior has a long and rich history behind the creation and development of the city and district which dates back several centuries. Gwalior located in the central part of India has witnessed different phases of Indian history.
From the rule of Tomaras in the 8th century, to the Mughals, then the Marathas under the Scindias (1754) it has seen every stages of Indian history. It serves as an important center of Indian rebellion of 1857.
This rich culture and history linked to Gwalior has led to many famous
people coming from the city. Several saints, artists and musicians have
their ancestry roots from Gwalior. Today several businessman and women
are also from Gwalior. Gwalior industries have seen a major spike in the
past few decades
The Origin and Establishment of Gwalior City
Legend speaks of Gwalior acquiring its name for a miracle which took place in the city centuries in the past. According to the sayings the prince named Suraj Sen from the Kachhwaha clan of Rajasthan got lost
in the jungles of Gwalior and ran out of supplies and water.
While attempting to locate a village he came across a Sage Gwalipa from whom he pleaded for some drinking water to
quench his thirst. The sage led him to a secret spring from which the
Prince quenched his thirst but the spring not only quenched his thirst
but also cured his leprosy. Prince Suraj Sen then asked the Sage how he
could repay him and sage asked for a perimeter wall to build around the
area thus protecting him and other sages during meditation from wild
The Prince later organized for the construction of the
fort for sages and names the fort Gwalior in commemoration of the sage
who had led him to the miracle spring that cured the prince. Soon after
the construction of the first people began developing the area which
today has turn to become Gwalior city.
Gwalior Leadership Over the Centuries
After the construction of the fort by Prince Suraj Sen the area suddenly becomes an attraction for military leaders. Records show that the fort was first captured by the Hunas back in the 6th century although legend has it that the fort was first captured by the Gupta but there no evidence to prove the allegation. The Hunas capture is recorded on stone tablets recovered from the fort and today stores at the Indian Museum at Calcutta.
The fort was then captured by the Gurjara Pritiharas and remained under their control till 1196 when the Shams-ud-din Iltutmish captured the first leading to 1232. Gwalior fell to Mughal rule after the 15th century and the opening of a musical school is noted to have been established during the time.
The Sindhia clan of Maharashtra recaptured the fort in the early 1700s and it remained under Sindhia rule till it fell to the British in the 1800s. During the Sindhia rule there were several leaders who ruled the region during different periods beginning with Ranoji Rao Sindhia who took the fort in 1745 to Madhava Rao II Sindhia rule till 1925.
The History of Musical Contest at the Gwalior Fort
Gwalior fort is also famous for musical contest which today attract contestant from across India. Unlike what many people may think this is not something which started a few years back but have been held at the first since the 1500s when the fort fell to the Mughals.
At first the musical festival was help for entertainment and competition thus helping identify talented musicians at the time. This tradition has continues over the centuries and still practiced today.
The festival is known as the Tansen festival and held at the Tansen Tomb in Gwalior but unlike the past when it was meant to identify the talented musicians today is it’s aimed at promoting traditional styles of music which are under threat of being lost from across the country.
The musical festival promotes traditional music styles, songs and the playing of traditional instrument thus helping encourage younger generations to continue following their traditions. The festival falls in December and is held each year with contestant’s coming from across the nation.
Gwalior Forts Contribution in the Development of the City
Gwalior was virtually non-existent till the commissioning of the Gwalior fort by Prince Sen, and only after this fort was erected did people begin congregating around the fort. The fort acted as a safe haven for people who slowly begin moving to Gwalior over time and cultivating the land around the fort.
The fort also attracted rulers to the region as they then had a safe haven in form of the fort from which they could stay and also launch attacks and capturing new areas surrounding the region. Gwalior fort has been the main reason for the establishment of the city as well as its rapid growth in the past as well as in the modern world. Besides attracting people from across India for the Tansen festival the fort is also a major attraction for tourists from across India who visits the fort.
Economic History of Gwalior
Following the construction of Gwalior fort and influx of people to the city industries began developing to generate income for the residents. First agriculture began with the majority of farmers specializing in animal husbandry and as time passed the residents began perfecting other skills which helped them exploit the natural riches of the region.
Forest produce was among one of the first areas which locals began exploiting since it had lots of materials which could be used in construction, medicinal and food items.Today many families still exploit the forest for natural resources such as honey, wood and medical plants which are sold in the local Gwalior market for export to other cities and states.
In recent years additional natural minerals have also been discovered and exploited in the region such as sand stone and marble. The region is famous for unique marble and sandstone coloration which are in high demand across the nations for use in construction. In addition to natural products you find there are also several other industries found in the city which play and important role towards the city’s economy.
Role of Education in the History of Gwalior
When discussing the history of Gwalior it’s often forgotten to discuss regarding the role of Education and its history in the city. Gwalior is played a major role towards the development of religion as well as education with evidence showing the oldest Zero (0) engraved at the Chaturbhuj temple of Gwalior. This proves that Gwalior was at the heart of educating its city residence well before other cultures began developing advanced education.
Modern Day Gwalior
Gwalior has experience a great history over the years and continues to play and important role towards the development of northern Madhya Pradesh. The city is today connected by all forms of transportation as well as communication. Education has also improved over the years in the city which is seeing more and more schools and universities being set up which will only further contribute towards the cities development and history in the future.