Gwalior has always been known as a city of valour. This city of enduring greatness was once the seat of reigning Rajputs(Pratiharas, Kachwahas, and Tomars) and then the Marathas who have left behind indelible etchings in the form of palaces, forts, temples, and monuments. The magnificent momentoes of a glorious past have been carefully preserved, giving Gwalior an appeal unique and timeless.
Gwalior's history is traced back to a legend in 8th century AD when a chieftain known as Suraj Sen was cured by a hermit-saint Gwalipa, from a deadly disaease. In gratitude, he founded this city by Gwalipa's name. Gwalior became, over the centuries, the cradle of great dynasties, and with each the city gained a new dimension from the warrior kings, poets, musicians, and saints who contributed to making it renowned throughout the country. The scenic splendour must have inspired the legendary music maestro- Tansen - to conjure up his compositions. The city is also the setting for the memorials of freedom fighters such as Tatya Tope and the Rani of Jhansi. Today the old settings stand side by side with the trappings of modernity.
Old name of Gwalior is Gopadri or Gopgiri. In the Mahabharta Gopalkaksh has been mentioned as the place of victory of Bhima. Probably Gopalkaksh is same Gopadri.
During the later period of 2nd Century a new dynasty called Nagvans (vans means clan) took roots in Vidisha-Gwalior region. Vrashnath was the founder of the Nagvans. A coin has been found of this ruler in Vidisha during Veshnagar excavations.
Bhimnag was the next ruler of this clan who shifted it's capital from Vidisha to Padmavati (modern Pawaya near Gwalior). Coins of descendant of Bhimnag, Skandnag, Vashunag, and Vrahaspatinag have been found in Pawaya. According to a pillar inscription found in Allahbad, Samudragupta had defeated last ruler of Nagvans, Ganpatinag.
Pawaya is some 68 kms from Gwalior. The life-size statue of Chaksha Manibhadra has been found here. The Parmars built the fort and the nearby Dhoomeshwar Mahadeo temple, which are the main attractions of Pawaya.
Beginning of legendary Gwalior fort found it's roots in the 5th Century during the rule of a Kachhwaha Rajput prince, Suraj Sen.
It is believed that Gwalior was also under the rule of Mihir Bhoj (836-882 AD). In the 10th Century, second ruler of Kachapghat Rajvans, Vrajdaman had taken over Gwalior after defeating king of Kannauz. Mangleraj and Kirtiraj were the subsequent rulers of Gwalior.
In 1021 AD Mahmud of Gazni attacked on Gwalior. One of his lieutenants Malik Bahauddin Tughluq won Gwalior fort after lot of hard work.
In 1195-96 AD Mohammad Ghauri on Gwalior and it's ruler Sallachan accepted the supreme command of Mohammad Ghauri so Ghauri allowed him to be the ruler of Gwalior. Later on Qutbuddin Aibak appointed Iltutmish as it's Kiledar (In-charge of Fort).
Iltutmish was the most famous ruler of Slave dynasty who, after winning Sindh in 1228 AD, expanded his empire by taking over Mandu, Gwalior, Malwa and Ujjain. Later on various rulers of Slave and Tughlaq dynasty ruled here.
During the later period of 14nd Century Tomar clan took advantage of weak position of Islamic rulers, and Vir Singh Dev established Tomars as rulers of Gwalior. Udhwaraddev, Vikramdev, Dungrandra singh were the subsequent rulers of Gwalior.
Dungrandra singh is famous for his support for Jain Dharma (Religion). Kirti singh, Kalyanmal and Man singh were the descendants of Dungrandra singh. Tomars ruled Gwalior from AD 1486 to AD 1526.
The most famous of its kings was Man Singh Tomar who rebuilt many important parts of Gwalior fort. Ibrahim Lodhi had defeated son of Man singh, Vikramaditya. Vikramaditya was killed in the first battle of Panipat. Thereafter Gwalior was mostly a part of the Mughal Empire.
Babur has given beautiful description of Gwalior in his autobiography "Babarnama".
During the third battle of Panipat, 1761, Maratha Empire received a severe jolt. Jat ruler Lokandra singh took over Gwalior after the battle of Panipat. Yet again in 1765 an able Scindhia ruler Mahadji scindhia regained Gwalior. Dulatrao (1794-1827) was successor who in 1810 shifted capital from Ujjain to Gwalior.
After merging Gwalior, Indore, Malwa and other small states, Madhya Bharat State was formed in April 1948, during the meeting of rulers of Madhya Bharat in Delhi. On May 28, 1948 Pt.Jawahar Lal Nehru inaugurated this State and Jiwajirao Scindhia took oath as the chief of the State.
Present Madhya Pradesh was formed on 1st November 1956 after merging Madhya Bharat, Vindhya, Bhopal and MahaKoshal. Pt. Ravi Shankar Shukla was the first chief minister of the State.