Mandu is the ultimate tribute of love, life, and joy of two beautiful people – Baz Bahadur and Rani Roopomati, immortalized by the marvelous structures, monuments, and palaces made up of stone. You can still listen to their euphoric romance from the balladeers of Malwa.Â The first thing that will really amaze you is the series of exquisite palaces and monuments built by the rulers of Malwa. Some of the most renowned ones include Hindola Mahal and Jahaz Mahal, Hoshang Shah’s tomb, and Jami Masjid (Damascus’s great mosque was the inspiration behind its architecture). In fact, these are the structures that inspired Shahjahan to build one of the Seven Wonders of the World – Taj Mahal, centuries later.
HOW TO REACH
Indore Ahilyabai Holker Airport is the nearest airport to Mandu. Mandu is about 100 km from the airport and taxi charges about Rs 2,000 for the travel. Indore is a domestic terminal which is connected to Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Jaipur and Ranchi. Delhi is the major international airport connecting to many major cities abroad.
Nearest railhead is Ratlam railway station, which is about 125 km away from Mandu. This station is well connected to the rest of the major cities in India and is an important junction in the western railways. Direct trains are available from Delhi (Nzm Garib Rath), Mumbai (Mumbai Rajdhani) and Kolkata (Garbha Express).
State owned buses connect many cities in Madhya Pradesh to Mandu. Many private bus services are available from major cities in India to Mandu. Regular deluxe and semi deluxe buses are available from Indore (100 km), Bhopal (278 km), Ratlam (125 km) and Ujjain. Deluxe buses charges about Rs 3 per km.
WHAT TO Â SEE
Hathi Mahal or Elephant Palace is located at Mandu of Dhar district, Madhya Pradesh. The building has got its name because of its massive pillars, mostly disproportionate in size and these pillars supports the dome above. The huge pillars look like the legs of elephant.
Jahaz Mahal or Ship Palace is an edifice of architectural brilliance and speaks of the confluence of different architectural styles. There has been a debate among the scholars regarding the exact date of construction. Some say that it was built during 1436-1469, by Mahmud Shah I Khalji. However, most scholars say it was built during 1469-1500 by Ghiyas al-Din. Other historical evidences such as Ghiyas al-Din’s living style and unique ways of amusement also point out to the fact that this building was built by him.
These are among the key attractions of Mandu. They are popular because of the mural paintings done by some of the great painters of ancient India. These are not natural caves but artificial ones. Bagh Caves are the perfect example of rich Indian architecture, where face of a hill was cut to form beautifully designed caves. Initially, there were nine caves but now only five have survived. The design of these caves speak of Buddhist influence on architecture.
It is also known as Swinging Palace, which has a large ‘durbar’ or meeting hall. Hindola Mahal has become one of the most visited sites in Mandu. According to available evidences, archaeologists say that it was most probably built during the rule of Hoshang Shah between 1425 and end of 15th century. It is considered as one of the palaces in the royal palace complex. Per available records, this was mainly used as an audience chamber. This place has a T-shape with the main hall being 30 meters in length, 18 meters in breadth, and 12 meters in height.
Baz Bahadur built a reservoir at Mandu during early sixteenth century, which was meant to supply adequate water for the palace of Roopmati. This particular place is now regarded as a holy spot and has spacious courtyard and high terraces. Rani Roopmati’s Pavilion was primarily created as observation post of Army and that is why it was constructed at the hill top. It was the perfect romantic place of retreat for Roopmati. From the pavilion she can look at the palace of his paramour while Narmada flows below quietly. You will find stonework beside the ‘Kund’ and along the steps till the water level is reached.
Baz Bahadur’s Palace:-
Baz Bahadur’s Palace is located near Rewa Kund. In fact, water was supplied from the later to the former. While the Rewa Kund is at top of the hill, this palace is on the slope. Baz Bahadur’s Palace provides exceptional view to the place. There are numerous halls in the courtyard along with rooms on all four sides.The rooms were primarily used for amusement, especially as music and dance. On the northern side of this palace you will find a projected octagonal pavilion having arches from which you can view a beautiful garden. In the middle, you will also find a beautiful reservoir.
Dilawar Khan’s Mosque:-
This is one of the earliest as well as renowned Indo-Islamic structures present in the ancient city of Mandu and was constructed in the year 1405. At that time, Dilawar Khan Ghouri was the leader, and hence the name. Dilawar Khan’s Mosque is characterized by a prayer room, corridors on three sides, Mehrab on the west, and a central entrance. Influence of Hindu and Mughal architecture can be found here. Ceiling of the prayer hall was built per Hindu style. In fact, the entire architecture has influence of Hindu workmanship.
Shah Badgah Khan built this palace, who was the Mughal governor during that time. Near Nilkanth Shrine this palace was built for Akbar’s, the famous Mughal Emperor, Hindu wife. Inscriptions can be found on the walls narrating the glorious tales from the past.
Chhappan Mahal Museum:-
This museum is located inside the famous Chhappan Mahal of Mandu. It was built during 16th century. Till the year 1990, the building belonged to the family of Puar Dynasty. After 1990, Chhappan Mahal was converted to a museum. Here, you will find important remnants of the tribal past as well as rich culture. Frescos, architecture of Bagh Caves, Stone Age relics, and articles belonging to the rulers of this area can be found in Chhappan Mahal Museum. The museum has 4 galleries named Poorvika, Aranyika, Mandapika, and Drishyika.
Besides usual shopping complexes and shopping arcades, having the latest and happening brands, you will find unique handicrafts in Mandu, Madhya Pradesh. These handicrafts bear traditional and cultural touch of this place. You will be amazed by witnessing the mystical and inspired craftsmanship. Many of these art forms were on the brink of extinction. This is when Madhya Pradesh Hastshilp Evam Hathkargha Vikas Nigam Ltd. chipped in to protect this art form from extinction. You can collect the local art forms not only as a souvenir but also to decorate the interior of your house. Visit one of the several Craft Development Centers and purchase the ones that attract your fancy.
Like any other place in India, you will find all kinds of cuisines and delicacies in Mandu. Multi-cuisine restaurants can be found here. You can have Tandoori, Chinese, Continental, and all other delicacies of the world in the restaurants of this place. You should try the local delicacies to enjoy the taste of the place literally. Whether it is Kebabs, Khoprapak, Bhutte ki Kees, Malpua, or Mawa-bati, you can’t afford to miss the local delicacies of Mandu.