Mandu, a medieval-fortress city, is one of the surreal travel destinations of Madhya Pradesh. You have to cut through the dense forests to reach the fortified town spread on a rocky plateau. About 45 km of fortified area is dotted with palaces, tombs and mosques. All the monuments merge beautifully with the emerald landscape of Mandu. The balladeers here still sing the immortalized story of Baz Bahadur and Roopmati; though the history of Mandu is much older than the era of Baz Bahadur. Mandu was once the largest city in Hindustan (India). In that period it enclosed 334 palaces, 40 large ponds, 300 mosques and 800 temples.
For a quick introduction of Mandu, watch this 5 min video:
If you are keenly interested in the history and monuments of Mandu, check out the following 25 min documentary:
Travel Tip: Mandu can be visited on a day-tour from Indore, but staying here for a day or two is a cherishable experience.
1. The Royal Enclave
Jahaz Mahal (literally – the ship palace) – the iconic structure of Mandu – is situated in the royal enclave. Ghiyasuddin, the fifth sultan of Malwa, built this palace in the 15th century. This edifice stands on a narrow strip of land between two man-made lakes. When the two lakes are full, this unusually shaped palace appears like an anchored ship, hence the name Jahaz Mahal. The design and location of this palace suggest that this would be a pleasure palace of the sultan.
Hindola Mahal (swinging palace) is also a part of the royal enclave. It was so named by its sloping walls which give an impression that the building is swaying. This 15th-century structure is a typical example of Mandu architecture; it served as a royal assembly hall. It owes its appeal to the wide arches, tracery work and lattices.
Champa Baodi, once a pleasure palace, is now a dilapidated structure. It has a series of subterranean chambers which were cooled by the flowing water. The ladies of the harem would seek respite in this palace during the gruelling summer days.
Gada Shah’s House and Shop
‘Gada Shah’ is a mysterious character in the history of Mandu. The annals of Mandu don’t have a word about him, though there are two buildings in his name in the town. It is said that the Rajput chieftain ‘Medini Ray’, a trusted minister of Sultan Mahmud II, was called ‘Gada Shah’. The building that is known as his shop was in fact an audience hall. His two-storeyed house has a fading fresco depicting him with his consort.
Mosque of Dilawar Khan
First sultan of Malwa had built this mosque in 1405. It is quite apparent that the stones and pillars of the Hindu and Jain temples, that stood here earlier, were used in this mosque. It is amongst the oldest monuments of Mandu.
2. The Village Group
The construction of this beautiful pink-sandstone mosque was begun by Hoshang Shah, the second sultan of Mandu. It was completed in 1454 by Mahmud Khalji. Great Mosque in Damascus is said to be the inspiration behind this mosque. Beautiful domes and colonnades makes this building attractive.
Hoshang Shah’s Tomb
This tomb is the finest structure in the village group. Situated behind Jami Masjid, Hoshang Shah’s Tomb is set on a low plinth in a walled enclosure. Four cupolas stand on the corners of square enclosure. A porch with arched openings, crowned by a marble dome, leads in the tomb. The pierced-stone windows let in the sunshine that illuminate the sarcophagus of Hoshang Shah. This was the first marble tomb to be built in India.
Ashrafi Mahal, opposite the Jami Masjid, was a ‘madrasa’ (a theological college). It also has ruins of a seven-storeyed victory tower. This tower was built in 1443 by Sultan Mahmud.
3. Rewa Kund Group
The monuments of Rewa Kund Group are associated with legendary love story of Baz Bahadur and Rupmati. Rewa Kund itself was a step-well fed by an underground stream. Its waters were believed to have curative powers.
Baz Bahadur Palace
Situated near Rewa Kund is the Baz Bahadur Palace, built in the early 16th century. It has an octagonal pavilion overlooking an untended garden. There are splendid views from the projecting pavilion and the terrace. Baz Bahadur was the last sultan of Malwa who was defeated by the Mughals in 1561.
Rupmati’s pavilion, south of Baz Bahadur’s Palace, is perched on a ridge. Baz Bahadur had built this palace for his muse Rupmati. The princess, it is said, began every day with a glimpse of river Narmada, she considered the river as her mother. But now things have changed and there are no traces of the waters of Narmada in the vicinity. The building has beautiful domes. You can get sublime views of Narmada valley from here, especially around sunset.
4. Around Sagar Talao Lake
There is a smattering of a few simplistic monuments near Sagar Talao lake. The oldest of them is the Mosque of Malik Mughis. Built in 1453, this mosque has turquoise tiles and Islamic calligraphy in the porch at the main entrance. South of the mosque are two interesting buildings: Dai ka Mahal (the “Nurse’s Palace”) and Dai Ki Chhoti Behen ka Mahal (the “Nurse’s Younger Sister’s Palace”).
Also read: Travel Destinations in Madhya Pradesh>>