Gujari Mahal stands as a remarkable attraction for tourists, offering a captivating blend of historical significance and architectural splendor. This palace holds a distinguished place in the realm of art and architecture and also as one of the most significant palaces in Gwalior.
Story of Gujari Mahal
This splendid palace was commissioned by King Man Singh Tomar, a testament to his deep affection for his beloved queen, Mrignayani. Her origins can be traced to the Gujjar family, lending the palace its name. The king saw a strong Gujar (a caste in Hindus) girl separate two fighting bulls with her bare hands. That sight twanged the love strings in his heart.
King Man Singh Tomar affectionately referred to her as "Mrignayani" due to the striking beauty of her eyes, often likened to the grace of a deer. She was the ninth queen of Man Singh. Before marrying she had set four conditions. One: she would never follow the veil system, second: she wouldn’t drink water from Gwalior, third: she wanted a separate mahal for herself, in a way refusing to stay with other eight queens of Raja Man Singh and four: permission to stay with the king in every battle of his life. It is said, she died fighting alongside her king in a war.
Gujri Mahal was thus built for the ninth queen by King Man Singh Tomar in 15th century. It is a testament to the king's devotion and admiration for his queen, and to their love story in the form of this architectural gem, making it a must-visit destination for tourists seeking to explore the historical and romantic charm of Gwalior.
History of Gujari Mahal Museum
The Gujri Mahal Museum is a significant institution that is under the purview of the Directorate of Archaeology, Archives, and Museums in the state of Madhya Pradesh. It holds a prominent place in the realm of cultural heritage preservation and exhibition. Its historical roots can be traced back to the year 1913, when the reigning Maharaja of the Gwalior State, Shri Madho Rao Scindia, took a pivotal step in forming an Archaeological Department.
In 1914, a visionary decision was made to establish a museum within Gwalior, reflecting the region's rich history and heritage. Over the years, a comprehensive collection of ancient artifacts and objects was diligently gathered from diverse locales within the Gwalior state. This dedicated effort to amass these historical treasures laid the foundation for the Gujri Mahal Museum as we know it today.
The museum at Gujri Mahal was officially inaugurated in the year 1922, marking a pivotal moment in its journey of cultural preservation and exhibition. Since its inception, the museum has continually evolved and expanded. It was renovated in 2005 to improve its facilities and infrastructure. The addition of new galleries has been instrumental in enhancing the museum's offerings, allowing visitors to explore and appreciate the rich tapestry of history and culture that the Gwalior region has to offer.
What to see in Gujari Mahal in Gwalior City
The Gujari Mahal is located on the eastern gate of the fort near Badalgarh doorway. The entry to the museum has two impressive huge lions that were taken from Kakanmath Temple in Morena. The museum is a treasure house of bronze and stone sculptural art – some belonging to 1st century AD and beyond, stone and copper plate inscriptions, coins, paintings, inscribed seals, stone pillars and capitals, hero stones and sati stones, arms and weapons and many excavated materials. There are fine copies of frescoes from Bagh caves and a collection of Rajput and Mughal paintings that are noteworthy amongst the collections in this museum. All items are themed and arranged in galleries.
Walking in you will see the Open-Air Museum, the whole courtyard studded with precious artefacts. Small rooms around this courtyard contain more artefacts.
But before you proceed to see the artefacts visit the first gallery. Inside you will see the statue of a woman with the most mysterious smile in the world. It is said even Mona Lisa’s smile is paler in comparison. This statue is SAL BHANJIKA. It is kept inside a room that is kept behind seven series of locked doors.
The sculpted image of Sal Bhanjika (meaning the branch of a tree) is one the costliest sculpted image of India, safely kept locked behind a series of 7 doors in this archaeological museum. This priceless sculpture from the 10-11th Century AD is that of a woman famous for her fine delicate features and the mysterious mesmerizing smile, many times more beautiful than Monalisa in Lourve Museum of Paris. She is also known by the name Indian Venus and Gyaraspur lady. In 1985 this sculpture was presented in an exhibition in France. At that time, its cost was estimated at 60 Lakh rupees!
Underground Musical Instruments Museum
There are underground rooms in Gujri Mahal which have been converted to musical instruments’ museum. Many old instruments with short descriptions that are bilingual, both in English and Hindi, are presented.
Water supply Pipe
As per Mrignayani, the ninth queen of Raja Man Singh Tomar, water supply was arranged from the Rai River nearby. Inside these underground rooms of the palace, you can see the remains of the pipeline that was in use centuries back.
Do take a guide to understand the importance of many rare artefacts, sculptures and paintings. State run Gujari Mahal Museum should not be confused with the ASI run Archaeological Museum that is right next to the Man Singh Palace inside Gwalior Fort.