The region around Gwalior precedes the legends associated with its most prominent monument, the fort, and dates as far back as prehistoric times, as evinced by the ancient stone tipped weapons and rock shelter paintings. Proof of human settlements dating to more than 3000 years ago has come to light through full-scale excavations conducted by the Archaeological Survey of India.
However,Gwalior became a notable place only in the beginning of the early medieval period. The Pratihara Dynasty came into prominence in the second quarter of the 8th century CE owing to the successful resistance it offered to the Arabs under Nagabhatta 1.
Another crowning achievement of this period was the Gwalior inscription of Mihir Bhoj, engraved on the wall of Orchha’s Chatturbhuj Temple.
It occupies a unique place in the history of epigraphy of the subcontinent as it is the earliest recorded use of ‘0’ ( In numerical ) in stone extent. The descriptions, dated 875 and 876 CE, provide information about local administration in the 9th century. One even describes the king has been an incarnation of Lord Narayana for crushing the armies of the invading Mleccha Kings.
Towards the end of the 10th century,the Rajput Kacchwaha Dynasty captured the region from the Pratihara Dynasty. The famous Saas Bahu temple was built during the region of Kacchwaha king Mahipal. This Dynasty was supplanted by another line of the Pratiharas, who retained the kingdom until 1231 CE, when Iltutmish, founder of the Delhi sultanate, took the fort after a prolonged struggle.
At the end of the 14th century, the fort was seized by the Tomar Rajputs who are credited with raising Gwalior to its height of prominence. Raja Man Singh Tomar was considered a great connoisseur of the arts and it was his patronage that led to the creation of the Gwalior gharana ( family ) of music. Incidentally, Tansen, the great singer of Akbar’s court also belong to Gwalior. In 1516 CE, Gwalior Fort came under the control of Ibrahim Lodhi,, and then eventually went into the position of the Mughals, who used it as a state prison.
Later, the British invaded Gwalior and took possession of the fort. During colonial rule, the Scindia/Shinde clan collaborated with the British in order to gain command over Gwalior, which was then a part of Maratha Confederacy. The Scindia Dynasty, founded by Ranoji Scindia – who established his capital at Ujjain 1731 ruled over Gwalior until India’s independence from British rule in 1947. Today, the family is represented by Jyotiraditya Scindia, a member of the Indian National Congress.