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The charm of Gwalior, India – The home to world’s second oldest zero!

India is one of the greatest players in history. All human pasts are still alive in this piece of land. A five thousand year epic continues till today. It’s people, cities, cultures, heritage, and traditions have now juxtaposed with the modern internet era and resulted in a conundrum and yet it remains refreshingly unique. From the vast and diverse landscape of India, I chose to write about Gwalior, a historic city in Madhya Pradesh – the heart of incredible India. During my month-long trip to Madhya Pradesh, I was intrigued to discover not only its world-famous forest but also the charm of Gwalior, India – the home to world’s second oldest zero!

Reaching Gwalior by train

Like any major city in India, Gwalior can be reached by air, rail and by road. I traveled to Gwalior from Kolkata, West Bengal on a train. I took a train from Kharagpur railway station which has the world’s third longest railway platform to reach Gwalior. If you want me to paint a picture of the train journey in India through words then it won’t be a dreamy and romantic ride like a steam train ride but something that will gift you a memorable and cherishable experience. There will be delays sometime, there will be dirt here and there, you will meet people from diverse cultures, often it will become a bit chaotic and yet surprisingly everything will run as it should.

Delay and dirt are the realities of the most rewarding travel.

Paul Theroux
The charm of Gwalior, India - the Home to world's second oldest zero, Travel Realizations, Train, Gwalior itinerary
Anything is possible on a train: a great meal, interesting conversations, an intrigue, a good night’s sleep, and strangers’ monologues!
The charm of Gwalior, India - the Home to world's second oldest zero, Travel Realizations, Gwalior Station, Gwalior itinerary
After reaching Gwalior!

You will leave the train after reaching your destination but the people, the journey, the chaos, and the experience will never leave your memories; they have never left mine!

You will leave the train after reaching your destination but the people, the journey, the chaos, and the experience will never leave your memories; they have never left mine! #Travel #Wanderers #India Click To Tweet
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My train reached Gwalior railway station in central India around 12 noon. When I bid farewell to "Gungun" – a little girl who became my friend in the short span of 36 hours of train journey, my heart ached. I knew, perhaps, I would never meet her again. Life is a platform where attachment and detachment happen continuously. Moving on with the story…. . Then got an autorickshaw and started for the hotel. After checking in, I treated myself with a sumptuous lunch (Oh India, how I miss the variety of food that you have). Although I was tired and my body wanted to take some rest, my mind didn't listen. My hotel helped me book a car for a few hours. The person who drove me that afternoon eventually took me to Sanchi, Orcha, Bandhavgarh, Dhuadhar falls ….I mean almost the whole Madhya Pradesh. Back to the story…. . The first place where my cab driver took me was Jaivilas Palace. After that, I asked him to take me to Gwalior fort. It was almost closing time but I made it. I got hold of a guide and learned so many interesting things that evening. The fort whispered in my ears the tales of the bygone era. While I am now writing a blog post on one of those places, I thought of sharing a glimpse of that evening. . Now when I am looking back to this pic of mine in front of one of the grandest fortresses in India, which has existed at least since the 10th century, I realized that the strength of my country lies in the co-existence of old and new and amidst chaos and peace. . #travelrealizations

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Places to visit in Gwalior

Steeped in history and heritage, Gwalior has innumerable places to visit. The best way to explore the city is by renting a car. Here I present a list of places to visit in Gwalior. I have included some offbeat places too. If you are looking for must-see places and also some offbeat places then this list is for you.

Steeped in history and heritage, Gwalior has innumerable places to visit. #Travel #Wanderlust #India Click To Tweet

Gwalior Fort

When I visited the Gwalior Fort and glided my fingers on its walls, I felt I touched a long gone era which is still alive inside the fort. The fort has existed at least since the 10th century, and the inscriptions and monuments found within the fort campus indicate that it may have existed as early as the beginning of the 6th century. The fort has been controlled by a number of different rulers in its history. Inside the fort, there are major monuments, palaces, and a museum; each of them has a story that gives a hint of the bygone era.

The charm of Gwalior, India - the Home to world's second oldest zero, Travel Realizations, Gwalior Fort, Gwalior tourist spots, Gwalior itinerary
Man Mandir Palace built during the reign of Raja Man Singh!

Gwalior Fort – Home to world’s second oldest zero

Another very important and significant part of history tucked in the Chaturbhuj temple in the fort is a plaque that dates from the Indian year equivalent to 875/876AD. The inscription contains two instances of the symbol zero and is the second oldest record of “zero in the world

Jai Vilas Palace in Gwalior

I absolutely enjoyed visiting Jai Vilas Palace, also known as Scindia Palace and the museum.

The charm of Gwalior, India - the Home to world's second oldest zero, Travel Realizations, Jai Villas Palace, Gwalior tourist spots, Gwalior itinerary
The beautiful Jai Vilas Palace in Gwalior

While seeing the beautiful sculptures, chariots, musical instruments and furnished halls to name a few, I was imbued with royal feelings but then I was quick to realize that I never wanted to be a queen of a palace but hearts. If you are reading my post then I already made a place in your heart and that’s more precious than any palace.

The charm of Gwalior, India - the Home to world's second oldest zero, Travel Realizations, Jai Vilas Palace, Gwalior tourist spots, Gwalior itinerary
Inside Jai Vilas Palace

The Durbar Hall, inside the palace, is beautifully designed with the world’s heaviest chandeliers, intricate gold furnishings, and a large plush carpet. The carpet laid out on this Durbar Hall is one of the biggest carpets in Asia.

Tomb of Mohammad Ghaus in Gwalior

I visited the Mausoleum which is about a kilometer away from Gwalior Fort, in an early October morning. When I stepped inside the Mausoleum, the first thing which I noticed even before looking at the beautiful greenery and architecture were the people around. I saw both Hindus and Muslims sharing early morning smiles, conversation, and prayers. The very scene made me proud. After all, India is all about unity in diversity.

The charm of Gwalior, India - the Home to world's second oldest zero, Travel Realizations, Tomb Of Mohammad Ghaus, Tomb of Tansen, Tansen Tomb, Gwalior tourist spots, Gwalior itinerary
It was a winter morning but the conversation with people warmed my heart!

The charm of Gwalior, India - the Home to world's second oldest zero, Travel Realizations, Tomb Of Mohammad Ghaus, Tomb of Tansen, Tansen Tomb, Gwalior tourist spots, Gwalior itinerary
The man behind showed me the Tamarind tree and told us its significance. Mia Tansen used to chew the leaves for a sweet voice.
I saw both Hindus and Muslims sharing early morning smiles, conversation, and prayers. The very scene made me proud. After all, India is all about unity in diversity. #India #Travel Click To Tweet

The tomb of Muhammad Ghaus who was a 16th-century Sufi saint and had an influence on Tansen, the famous Indian classical music maestro, is the main structure in the garden complex and is surrounded by graves and smaller pavilion tombs, including that of Tansen.

The charm of Gwalior, India - the Home to world's second oldest zero, Travel Realizations, Tomb Of Mohammad Ghaus, Tomb of Tansen, Tansen Tomb, Gwalior tourist spots, Gwalior itinerary
Tomb Of Mohammad Ghaus

The large central dome of the saint’s tomb tops the actual enclosed and walled large single room that houses the tom. The surrounding structure is more like a verandah with jaalis (perforated stone screens), which gives the structure a larger “enclosed” appearance than it actually has.

The charm of Gwalior, India - the Home to world's second oldest zero, Travel Realizations, Tomb Of Mohammad Ghaus, Gwalior tourist spots, Gwalior itinerary
In front of the tomb of Muhammad Ghaus 

Tansen’s Tomb in Gwalior

According to the version from Hindu legends, Swami Haridas was the major influence on Tansen and according to Muslim legends, Muhammad Ghaus influenced Tansen. Whatever the truth, the musical maestro Mia Tansen and one among the nine gems in emperor Akbar’s court, had a profound effect on Indian classical music.

Sarod Ghar in Gwalior

My visit to Gwalior would have remained incomplete had I not visited Sarod Ghar which is also the residence of Amjad Ali Khan and is owned by the Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan Memorial Trust. Being an Indian classical dancer myself, I loved the deeper perspective and insight into the North Indian Classical Music that this museum presents.

The charm of Gwalior, India - the Home to world's second oldest zero, Travel Realizations, Sarod Ghar, Gwalior tourist spots, Gwalior itinerary
The pulse of India throbs in music be it classical or Bollywood songs.
The charm of Gwalior, India - the Home to world's second oldest zero, Travel Realizations, Sarod Ghar, Gwalior tourist spots, Gwalior itinerary
These Sarods belongs to late Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan

For those who want to hear and get mesmerized by Indian Classical Music, listen to this concert on youtube hosted by the United Nations.

Gurdwara Data Bandi Chhor Sahib in Gwalior

When I reached Gurdwara Data Bandi Chhor Sahib, it was late evening and was very cold. I removed my shoes and went inside. Any religious place irrespective of its religion casts a spell on my mind through silence and peace. This place which is a pilgrimage site for Sikhs in India was no exception.

The charm of Gwalior, India - the Home to world's second oldest zero, Travel Realizations, Gurdwara data bandi chhor sahib, Gwalior tourist spots, Gwalior itinerary
All prepared to visit this historical Gurdwara!

Gurdwara Data Bandi Chhor Sahib is associated with the imprisonment of Guru Har Gobind Sahib in Gwalior Fort and his celebrated release in which he managed to win the freedom of 52 Rajas (Kings) who had long suffered imprisonment in the Fort. The word “Bandi” means “imprisoned”, “Chhor” means “release”.

The charm of Gwalior, India - the Home to world's second oldest zero, Travel Realizations, Gurdwara data bandi chhor sahib, Gwalior tourist spots, Gwalior itinerary
Gurdwara Data Bandi Chhor Sahib

Rani Laxmi Bai Memorial in Gwalior

Rani Laxmi Bai who is also famous by the name Jhansi ki Rani was a brave queen who fought against the British in India. She was one of the leading figures of the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and became a symbol of resistance to the British Raj for Indian nationalists and the Indian independence movement.

The charm of Gwalior, India - the Home to world's second oldest zero, Travel Realizations, Rani Laxmi Bai Memorial, Gwalior tourist spots, Gwalior itinerary
Rani Laxmi Bai Memorial

We Indians love Jhansi ki Rani and she will remain in our heart forever as a brave and bold freedom fighter. I visited the Rani Laxmi Bai Memorial or Rani Laxmi Bai Samadhi and recommend this place to include in your Gwalior itinerary.

The charm of Gwalior, India - the Home to world's second oldest zero, Travel Realizations, Rani Laxmi Bai Memorial, Gwalior tourist spots, Gwalior itinerary
With Siddhartha, my all time travel partner

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It is hard to grasp the diversity of culture, history, tradition and politics in India but that doesn’t deter me from trying to understand this old civilization. My trip to Gwalior gave me a better perspective on Indian history and its classical music. I wholeheartedly recommend visiting Gwalior. If you can plan this trip around the last week of december then you can witness the incredible Tansen Samaroh. Artist and music lovers from all over the world gather here in this music festival.

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3 Comments

  1. Brianna

    I had never heard of Gwalior before but it looks so beautiful! The Gwalior Fort has such beautiful architecture. The Tomb of Mohammed Ghaus is also really gorgeous. Thank you for introducing me to a new place in India, your photos are beautiful! It’s really neat that Gwalior is home to the world’s second oldest recorded zero, an interesting part of math history.

  2. What a unique destination! This is not a place I know a lot about, but your photos are just stunning – makes me want to plan a trip myself!

  3. I would’ve never thought that the oldest zeroes were recorded, and much less that the second-oldest would be in a city in India! I’m actually planning a girl’s trip to India for next spring, so of course we’ve planned for where most people go (New Delhi, Rajasthan), but I’ll have to suggest Gwalior. I’ll entice them with your beautiful picture of the Gwalior Fort. 🙂

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