With the Gwalior Fort dominating the cityscape, Gwalior seems like a one-attraction city, but you would be amazed at its wealth of historically, spiritually and architecturally significant points of interest. From exploring its intriguing temples to visiting museums with stunning collections, there are so many things to do in Gwalior. And then there’s the food that will delight any epicurean. A town of temples and forts, Gwalior straddles the medieval and modern worlds with finesse and it would be an eye-opener to discover its hidden gems. Go ahead and book a fabulous hotel in Gwalior and sit back to read about the best things to do in Gwalior, right here.
Things to do in Gwalior:
1. Explore the Gwalior Fort
If you only have time for one thing to do in Gwalior, visit the iconic Gwalior Fort. A majestic structure built over a rocky outcrop, Gwalior Fort has been in existence since at least the 6th century and has over the centuries witnessed the fortunes and misfortunes of many dynasties like the Guptas, Pratiharas, Tomars, the Mughals, Marathas and the British with the Central Asian Hunas thrown in. Each occupier left their indelible mark on the fort in the form of beautiful monuments that visitors flock to see today. Go explore the fort’s imposing ramparts and bastions, its palaces (especially the Gujari Palace) and temples, ornate gates (Hathi Pol and Badalgarh Gate) and the many tanks and reservoirs to understand why it was called ‘a pearl among all the fortresses in India’. Stay on till the evening to watch the captivating light and sound show that takes you through the history of the fort and be amazed at the fact that the 2nd oldest mention of ‘zero’ was found in a manuscript in an old temple here at the fort!
- Location: Gwalior
- Timings: 6.00 am – 5.30 pm
- Entry Fee: ₹75 per adult, ₹ 40 per child, ₹250 (foreigners)
2. Be mesmerized by the majestic Man Singh Palace
Be mesmerized by the 15th century Man Mandir Palace built by the Tomar king, Raja Mansingh, a great patron of the arts, inside the Gwalior Fort. Visiting this remarkable structure is one of the first things to do in Gwalior while at the fort. What immediately catches your attention here is the outer wall that is adorned with enameled tiles in vibrant blue, green and yellow hues, coloring a mosaic of human figures, animals, birds and trees. Measuring 300 feet in length, the façade of the palace features cupolas and towers while the interiors consists of two open courtyards hemmed in by richly decorated suites. As grand as it sounds, the structure is also the only pre-Mughal Hindu palace in the country which is absolutely intact.
- Location: Near Archaeological Museum Fort Campus, Gwalior
- Timings: 10.00 am – 6.00 pm
- Entry Fee: ₹5 per person (Indian), ₹100 per person (foreigners)
3. Lose yourself at Gwalior’s awe-inspiring museums
One of the best things to do in Gwalior is to lose yourself in the awe-inspiring exhibits at the city’s museums.
Jai Vilas Palace & Scindia Museum
Occupying more than 30 rooms in the eclectically designed Jai Vilas Palace (it combines Tuscan, Italian-Doric and Corinthian architectural styles over 3 storeys!) built by Maharaja Jayaji Rao Scindia in 1874, this museum displays exotic antique furniture, carriages, paintings, rare lithographs and textiles.
- Location: Jai Vilas Palace, Lashkar, Gwalior
- Timings: 10.00 am – 5.00 pm, Thursday – Tuesday
- Entry Fee: ₹30 per person (Indian), ₹100 per person (foreigners)
State Archeological Museum
Inside the historic Gujari Mahal in the Gwalior Fort, this interesting museum is home to several rare Hindu and Jain sculptures from the 1st and 2nd CE including the famed Shalabhanjika – once a standard decorative feature in temples and palaces. This one’s from the 10th century and is exceptional in its details. You can also see paintings, antique weapons and replicas of frescoes from the Bagh Caves.
- Location: Gwalior Fort, Near Karan Palace Fort Campus, Gwalior
- Timings: 10.00 am – 7.00 pm, Monday closed
- Entry Fee: ₹10 per person (Indian), ₹100 per person (foreigners), camera – ₹50 for each, video camera – ₹200 for each
Archeological Survey of India Museum
Located right in front of the Hathi Pol gate of the fort, this museum is filled with sculptures from various dynasties and periods like the Kushana, Pratihara and Shunga periods. Most sculptures are fine examples of Vaishnava and Jain styles and worth your time.
- Location: Gwalior Fort
- Timings: 10.00 am – 7.00 pm
- Entry Fee: ₹5 per person
4. Explore Gwalior’s temples
The city’s many temples range from remarkable to astonishing in their architecture, legends and the artistic adornments. So an absolutely awesome thing to do in Gwalior would be to go visit some of these temples. Among the top visited ones include:
The Sahastrabahu Temples, locally known as Sas-Bahu Temples are a pair of shrines dedicated to Lord Vishnu, built in the 11th century by King Mahipala of the Kachchhappaghata dynasty. Visiting these magnificent temples is one of the many popular things to do in Gwalior. Go here to marvel at the 3-storeyed shrine with intricate carvings, ornate doors and pillar, and beautiful friezes.
- Location: Fort Campus, Near Post Office, Gwalior
- Timings: 8.00 am – 5.00 pm
- Entry Fee: Free
Teli ka Mandir
Built sometime in the 8th or 9th century, it is very intriguing temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, Shiva and Matrikas and visiting it should definitely be on your list of top things to do in Gwalior. Go to see its impressive gopuram-like façade, ornate doorways, giant statue of Lord Vishnu on his mount – Garuda – and elaborate carvings of gods and goddesses. Not much remains inside the temple (it was brutally plundered by Islamic invaders) but its architecture, an amalgam of north and south Indian styles, is worth a visit.
- Location: Gwalior Fort
- Timings: 8.00 am – 6.00 pm
- Entry Fee: ₹20 per person
Lying about 35 Km north of Gwalior are the Bateshwar Temples – a conglomeration of about 200 sandstone shrines dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu and Shakti. Most likely built between the 8th and 10th centuries during Pratihara dynasty’s rule, the temples were mostly in ruins till the ASI restored them beautifully. Today visiting the site, lying in the dusty ravines of the Chambal River, is one of the top things to do in Gwalior. Go here to see the exquisite carvings, bas reliefs, sculptures depicting women playing musical instruments and stunning friezes that depict stories from the Bhagvat Purana. Also admire the temples’ remarkable lintels that show the dashavatars and the Saptamatrikas or the Seven Mothers, a tradition in Shaktism.
- Location: Near Mitawali, Padawali, Banmore, Morena
- Distance from Gwalior: 37.2 Km
- Timings: 9.30 am – 5.30 pm
- Entry Fee: ₹15 per person
5. Be intrigued by the Gopachal Parvat rock-cut sculptures
When you see the giant 17-m high standing sculpture of the first Jain Tirthankara – Adinath – at the Gopachal Parvat monuments inside the Gwalior Fort, you’d have to wonder at the mastery of the artists in that era. And there are nearly 100 of them, large and small, each one carved out of the rock face with precision, housed in small niches and restored (they were defaced by Babur’s armies during a raid). No doubt that one of the best things to do in Gwalior is to go visit these rock-cut sculptures and marvel at their intensely detailed forms.
- Location: Kila Gate Rd, Gwalior Fort
- Timings: 10.00 am – 6.00 pm
- Entry Fee: Free
The city is filled with archeological and architectural gems, all of them historically significant and visiting them is one of the first things to do in Gwalior. You should also visit the Scindia Chhatris, the ruins of Vikram Mahal, Tansen’s Tomb and the Rani Lakshmibai Memorial – an ode to the time she spent here, during her last battle with the British invaders.
6. Go on a culinary journey
If you really want the essence of a city baked into your being, you have to eat what it eats. And in Gwalior it is a huge list of yummy foods to sample. The city offers everything from royal favorites to the street food of the everyman and sampling as much as you can is quite the thing to do in Gwalior!
An elaborate breakfast: Bedai kachoris at SS Kachoriwala on Nayi Sadak, sunshine yellow poha at Aggarwal Poha Bhandaar and end with freshly made boondi laddoos from Bahadura’s.
A sumptuous lunch: Chicken bharta at Kwality, dosas at Indian Coffee House and choley bhature at Alfonzo.
The 4 pm munchies: Lambi panipuris (they’re oblong instead of the usual round pops you find elsewhere), Karela chaat (not the bitter one, but a flaky pastry made with flour) served with matra, and bhutte ki kees at Vrindavan Restaurant.
A decadent dinner: Meat Biryani and/or Godoroo meat stew anywhere in the Jama Masjid area, the unlimited veg thali at Panchvati and grilled chicken steak at Silver Saloon.
7. Indulge in Shopping
Whatever be your reasons for being in the city, you have to go shopping. It is one of the most fun things to do in Gwalior and if you’re traveling with family, shopping will be ever more rewarding. Plus, it will give you another perspective on this historic city.
Start your shopping spree at Sarafa Bazaar, the city’s oldest market. A colorful, carnival like atmosphere welcomes you to shops selling lacquer worked knick-knacks and jewelry, handmade carpets and carved metal storage boxes.
At Patankar Bazaar load up on gossamer Chanderi and Maheshwari sarees, traditional handicrafts and printed Bagh textiles.
Buy bangles, baubles and cosmetics from Topi Bazaar; you’ll have to look for it in the Sarafa Bazaar.
At Bada Market get more choices in printed cotton textiles, and Chanderi and Maheshwari sarees.
If you want a mall-style shopping day, head to the Dindayal City Mall for branded apparel and accessories, and home accents. The mall also has a multiplex where you could spend a couple of hours.
Some other experiences that make up our list of the best thing to do in Gwalior include attending the Tansen Music Festival, going for a boat ride on the Tighara Dam and hiking in the Madhav National Park. Got more things to do in Gwalior that make for a great holiday? Share your experiences with us here.