Oh god what a long train ride. But we reached Gwalior in the afternoon of the 19th and stayed at this really beautiful hotel that used to be the guest house for the Maharaja of Gwalior. The actual palace was just across the street, which we toured. The hotel was definitely atmospheric, and we saw parrots all over the place. I heard the cries of peacocks, but never actually saw any.
The palace was an interesting blend of Indian and European. It houses the biggest chandelier in the world! I was very happy.
The next day we went up to tour the fort. It’s on a big hill overlooking all of Gwalior, and lining the pass are huge Jain carvings in the rock. Jainism is pretty close to Buddhism, although the Buddhist statues have their eyes closed whereas the Jain ones have their eyes open.
The fort was lovely. We saw the different courtyards they used for singing and dancing, and the Maharaja would stand up on a balcony with a golden umbrella to watch. In the dancing courtyard there used to be mirrors and gems in the walls, reflecting the dancers as the eight queens watched behind their latticework windows.
I also banged my head pretty hard on one of the lower doorways. Apparently the Maharaja was a short guy.
We saw the different temples as well, including one built for the Maharaja’s mother-in-law that used to house an idol of Vishnu. All of the idols, like the one for the Shiva temple, were taken by the Mughals when they invaded—as well as all those mirrors and gems in the old palace. Then the British came and turned the palace into a fort, but at least they preserved whatever statues were left.
There was a Gurudwara nearby as well, which we visited. My mother is Sikh and I grew up going to these temples, but this was slightly different from the American ones. Same concept and everything, but little touches that were different, such as wading through a small pool of water before you cross the threshold (you have to be barefoot/clean to go into the temple, as well as having your head covered and having an offering). The prasad tasted just the same, though.
That night we took an express train back to Delhi, where we met with our other relatives. Then we go to Agra.