Mysterious Gwalior: The Fort

A: “I was reading a book about the history of Gwalior. It mentioned that the Gwalior fort was built by Raja Mansingh at the request of a siddha named Gwalipa.”

Guruji: “I’ve heard that as well. Mansingh built only a few portions of the fort though, what are now known as “Man Mandir” and “Gujari Mahal”. The rest of the fort is quite old. In fact, it is one of the oldest forts in India. By the way, the temple in the fort known as ‘Saas Bahu Mandir’ was originally “Sahastrabahu Mandir”. [Sahastrabahu, “the-thousand-armed” is a legendary figure in Hindu mythology. He is also known as Kartyavirya Arjuna]. Over time, the name Sahastrabahu got corrupted into Saas Bahu (Saas = mother-in-law, Bahu = daughter-in-law).

“This history is not generally well known, but there are clues to prove that it might be true. There’s a village called Jamdwara near Gwalior, where it is believed that Jamdagni Rishi lived and built his ashram. That is the place where Lord Parashuram was born, and where he decapitated his mother Renuka Devi, and that’s where he fought and defeated Sahastrabahu Arjuna. Keeping these legends in mind, it is conceivable that there could be a temple of Sahastrabahu in Gwalior. There’s no deity in that temple which is really strange, but the place is very beautiful.”

“I’ve heard that there’s a maze in the fort where a lot of people have gotten lost over the years.”

“Not exactly a maze, but there’s a yantra like pattern in the garden of Gujari Mahal which sometimes people refer to as maze. There are a lot of hidden passages in the fort though. Some legends say that the fort was built overnight by djinns (genies) ! This is a legend from that area. Some sweet-makers in Old Gwalior (where the fort is) claim that djinns used to come in the night to buy sweets from them! By the way of payment, the djinns would give them round ‘coins’ made of leather, with 1 gram of Gold nail hammered in the middle of it. I have seen such a ‘coin’ in the possession of a shop-keeper. The shop-keepers used to keep the shops open all night long in the hope that the djinns would come buy from them, since the price djinns would pay with this special coin was much higher than the value of the sweets (laugh). That area is quite mysterious in some ways.”

“This book also claims that the current Gwalior is actually the old Goverdhan”.

“That’s very interesting to know! People say that in Krishna’s times, Gwalior was a part of Vraj. The cow herders (Gwaley) used to own all this land, including Gwalior and nearby places like Gohad. These places used to belong to the cow herders of Vraj mandal. Even the mountains of Gwalior are known as Gopanchal mountains. ‘Gopanchal’ literally means a place where gop or cow herder lives. It is definitely possible.

“Also see, there’s a place near Gwalior called “Jaurasi ka Daank” which is actually the place of spiritual austerities of the 84 Siddhas! 84 in Hindi is pronounced Churasi, from which the name Jaurasi came. Datia (a place near Gwalior) is associated with Lord Dattatreya. Its old name is Datteya. The temple of Lord Shiva there, Van Khandeswara Maharaj, is a very ancient temple. There’s a legend that Ashwatthama used to come and worship there. The place was later developed by Datia Swami. But it was already a siddha place.

“Send me a copy of the book you are reading, it sounds very interesting. [“Gwalior” by Arthur Hugh, Vidya Mandir Publications].

“There’s another legend about how the fort of Gwalior came about. There was a king named Surajsen who suffered from leprosy. He did worship of the sun to get healed from his sickness and he did. After that, he built the fort of Gwalior. There’s a kund (reservoir) named after him in the fort, called Suraj kund. In fact, there’s plenty of water at the top of the fort. There are many water tanks which never dry-up and they are always filled with water even though there’s no apparent source of water to them. The fort is quite big – it is about 2km x 1 km. There are also a lot of snakes and pythons in the fort.”

“In the book, there’s also a reference about a police constable who turned into a sadhu and now tells stories to everyone.”

“Yeah, it is a very old story. He was called Baba Lochandas. He used to be a police constable and a very sincere devotee of Lord Hanuman. One day, in his worship of Hanumanji he completely lost track of time and missed his duty at work. Later, he found out that some one else had come and carried out his duties in place of him. That instant itself he resigned from his job and turned into a sadhu. First he used to live near the fort but then he moved to Sanichara (a place in Gwalior). I’ve seen that place where he moved. It is quite remote. For miles, you don’t see any houses or people and at the end of the road there’s a temple on top of a mountain where sadhus have a place to stay. “

[20090801] Recorded: June 18, 2004