Location: Gwalior Fort, Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh
Situated within the compound of the magnificent Gwalior Fort, Teli ka Mandir is an impressive temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It is also the tallest building inside the fort, and is around 100 feet in height.
There are various tales associated with the temple, each establishing a distinct connection with its history and origin. Some say that the temple got its name by Telanga Brahmins who were appointed to conduct religious ceremonies and rituals during the reign of Rashtrakuta Govinda III in 1794. But if we go by its name, i.e, Teli ka Mandir or “Oilman’s Temple”, teli is a Hindi word which means oil dealer and the the belief that the temple was built by oil merchants who belonged to the Teli caste, sounds true. Yet another legend associates it with the Telangana region and emphasizes on the amalgamation of North and South Indian styles of architecture, which indeed sounds convincing if we keenly notice the temple’s structure. Later, the British used this temple as a soda factory and coffee shop.
The unique Dravidian-style shikaras (spires) and intricate detailing in the temple’s designing, typically the Nagara style from the North, speaks of the exquisite blend of architectural styles. The image of Garuda (Lord Vishnu’s vehicle) is the prime attraction of this temple. Besides this, figures of goddesses, snakes and couples can also be seen. Though the temple has no usual mandap or pillared hall, it has a huge, five-meter-high doorway and garba griha or sanctum, all beautifully adorned with stone carvings. Teli ka Mandir, or Oilman’s temple is thus, worth visiting for its stunning structure.