Located within the Gwalior Fort complex, the Sas-Bahu Temple is a stunning example of 11th-century craftsmanship and architectural finesse. The fort stands on a rocky sandstone hill with a rich history spanning over 1000 years, having been conquered by various rulers, including the Tomars, Mughals, Marathas, and British. In fact, the Mughal Emperor Babur once referred to it as 'the pearl amongst the fortresses of Hind'. The Sas-Bahu Temple consists of a sanctuary and a triple-storey mandapa with projecting porches, all adorned with intricate foliate motifs on the walls, doorways, and ceilings.
The Sas-Bahu temple is a beautiful example of Indian temple architecture. The temple complex consists of two temples, the large temple (Saas or Sas) and the small temple (Bahu), located at the eastern end of the Gwalior Fort. The temple's architecture blends different styles, including Bhumija, Nagara, and Dravidian. The temple's Mandapa inscription deciphered by Historian Alexander Cunningham states that the construction began in 1093 AD during the reign of King Kachhwaha Mahipala by his brother Padmapala.
The large temple (Saas or Sas) has three entrances from three main points and a richly carved entrance to Mandapa, which leads to the main pillar-lined Mandapa. At the entrance, there is Garuda in the Mare, and Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. The temple originally followed the Bumija style, which is over 100 feet high. Cunningham speculates from the ruins that the plan shows a three-story structure with balconies and a cruciform base. The small temple (Bahu) has Mandapa with stone seats (kakhasana) around it.
The intricate carvings and sculptures on the temple walls and pillars are a sight to behold. The temple's design and layout are also significant, with the temple complex consisting of multiple structures, each with its own unique features and characteristics.
One popular interpretation of the Sas-Bahu Temple suggests that it represents the relationship between a mother-in-law (Sas) and a daughter-in-law (Bahu). The temple's larger size symbolises the mother-in-law, while the smaller temple represents the daughter-in-law. This signifies the importance of harmony in family relationships and the eternal bond between the two. However, the temple's narrative is also associated with other intriguing stories.
Another legend states that King Kirti Singh constructed the temple in honour of his mother-in-law and wife, symbolising his respect and devotion towards them. Finally, a popular story suggests how the temple was initially called the Sahastrabahu Temple and dedicated to Lord Vishnu. King Mahipala of the Kachchhapaghata dynasty built it in the 11th century.
The Sas-Bahu temple faced widespread destruction during the Delhi Sultanate's reign and was largely rebuilt and restored at various times. The restoration of the temple was done in a way that preserved its original architectural style and design.
By Air: Gwalior Airport is a domestic airport that offers regular flights to various cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Indore, and Bhopal.
By Train: The Gwalior railway station is the closest railway head that is part of the Jhansi Rail Division.
By Road: Gwalior has good road connections to major towns in Madhya Pradesh and nearby areas. It is connected to Agra, which is 118 km away, as well as Mathura and Jaipur, which are 350 km away. Delhi is located 321 km away, while Lucknow and Bhopal are 423 km away. Chanderi is situated at a distance of 239 km.