The city's most renowned landmark stands on a steep mass of sandstone dominating the city and the fort hill is around 3 kms in length. Its glorious history dates back to more than a thousand years. Emperor Babar who was inspired by this imposing structure described it "the pearl amongst the fortresses of Hind." It has been a scene of momentous events - imprisonments, battles and jauhars. A steep road winds upwards to the Fort, flanked by statues of Jain tirthankaras, carved into the rock face. Looming at a height of 100 meters over the city, the magnificent outer walls of the Fort still stand, two miles in length and 35 feet high, bearing witness to its reputation for being one of the most invincible forts of India. It encompasses about six palaces, three temples and several water tanks. This fort was a mute witness to one of India's most dramatic events in history-the 1857 revolt. It silently stood by the side and watched, as Rani of Jhansi, (key participant in India's struggle against the British), died a valiant death within the ramparts. Gwalior is a legendary city, with a very interesting and colourful past, which remembers its kings, poets, singers and saints with pride, and preserves every monument of its historical and cultural heritage, with utmost care. During this period of 1000 years, many rulers, including the Tomars, Mughals, Marathas and the British, annexed Gwalior fort. In the early 19th century, the fort was passed on to the Scindias. Within the fort are some marvels of medieval architecture. The walls of the fort give way onto the steep slopes. This fort has been a witness to many battles in the turbulent times as well as festivals in the peacetime. The rulers have imparted justice from the fort, which has seen the imprisonment of many. The ceremonies held in the fort have been spelled out grandeur but the Jauhars have screamed distress. It was here that Tatyia tope and Rani of Jhansi fought for their freedom. The structure, the placement, the architecture and every thing of the fort is unparalleled. On a clear day from the walls of the fort one can have a birds eye view of the city. In the 14th century Tomars came to power in Gwalior and made the fort their seat of administration. For the next few centuries the fort was witness to numerous conflicts with the neighbouring states. Man Mandir - where two shows take place every evening (in Hindi and English), very convincingly brings to life the old fort, its history, anecdotes and unattached legends through the resounding voice of Amitabh Bachchan. The canopy of brightly lit stars, the chill of the night and the hauntingly captivating fort is absolutely magical. The poignant ambience of chivalry and heroism has been recreated through the superbly mounted Son-et-lumiere. Assisted by the bright lights and digital sound, the saga of heroism, valour and romance floats in air every evening.
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