I could have never guessed that Mandu is so beautiful if I had not visited the place. Mandu's greatest tale is the story of the romance between Baz Bahadur and Rani Roopmati which ends tragically with the death of Roopmati. Baz Bahadur fought long and hard for control over Mandu and finally joined Akbar.
|Jurassic Park - Petrified trees, not so petrified Anjali|
100 kms away from Indore, Mandu is dated to 555 BCE at which time it was already considered a flourishing centre. It was ruled by the Parmars in the 11th century. In 1305 Allauddin Khilji captured Malwa. Timur captured Delhi in 1401 and his governor of Malwa, Dilawar Khan (an Afghan, Ghuri dynasty) ruled the province. His son Hoshang Shah shifted the Malwa capital from Dhar to Mandu and built many of the magnificent structures. The Ghuri dynasty made way for the Khalji dynasty, whose scion, Ghiasuddin, built the famed Jahaz Mahal, to house his large harem consisting of thousands of women. From the Khaljis to the Mughals, when Humayun captured Mandu after defeating Bahadur Shah of Gujarat.
The kingdom slipped from the Mughals and finally came to Baz Bahadur in 1540s - he was most famous for his romantic liaison with Rani Roopmati. Sher Shah Suri's capture of Delhi shifted the power balance. After the second battle of Panipat, Akbar's armies defeated Baz Bahadur. It is believed that Akbar's governor Adham Khan fancied Rani Roopmati which is why he attacked Mandu. Baz Bahadur was defeated and fled. Hearing about the fall of Mandu Rani Roopmati poisoned herself to death. Baz Bahadur would put together a confederacy of kingdoms and defeat the Mughals and regain Mandu for a short time until he was defeated again and after fleeing for a long time, joined Akbar's service. It is important to know this history because we find structures built by Baz Bahadur, named after Roopmati, a tomb of Hoshang Shah, Jahaz Mahal by Ghiasuddin and so on.
|Dino - all alone in Mandu|
As we approached Mandu, we first come across a dinosaur park where some petrified trees are preserved. Apparently dinosaur eggs, teeth etc have been found in the area. It overlooks a lovely valley and there is a small museum.
|If you want to date a fossil this is how you do it - don't go to Tinder|
The Afghan/Persian architecture comes into view as we drive into Mandu and we get a sense of what we have in store. A Jali Mahal shows up, beautifully constructed and well preserved, the fabulous Alamgir gate, more gates and then the steep slope up to the Delhi gate which must have been the main entrance to Mandu. Mandu is a bit like Hampi, but perhaps better preserved and less touristy. There is a lovely lake, and a small bridge leading to a park.
|Alamgir gate - Entering Mandu, but there's a friendly guard in green|
As we go into the fort we find more and more beautiful structures on either side.
|Conversations under the banyan (or whatever) tree|
We headed straight to the Roopmati pavilion which is the furthest point in Mandu and perhaps the highest point in Mandu.
|Atop Roopmati pavilion|
It overlooks the Narmada valley on one side and on the other side looks at the Baz Bahadur palace which is located below the Roopmati pavilion. We parked the car and walked up.
|Inside the pavilion|
It reminded me a lot of Golconda and its architecture, only better preserved and smaller. We skipped Baz Bahadur's palace owing to the heat and upon Raja's recommendation.
|View of the pavilion|
We then headed off to Jahaz Mahal, passing the beautiful Jami masjid and the Hoshang Shan tomb within it. Hoshang Shah's tomb was supposedly India's first marble structure and served as a template for the Taj Mahal. It's beautifully preserved.
|Complete view of the pavilion|
Jahaz Mahal was built by Ghiasuddin for his harem and the vision, scale and detail in execution enthrall you.
|Jahaz Mahal - Ghiasuddin's marvellous harem|
It's incredibly beautiful, with two artificial lakes on either side and the palace built as if it were a ship sailing those waters.
|Atop Jahaz Mahal - lakes on either side|
Behind the Jahaz Mahal lies the Hindola Mahal, which inspired the IIM, Indore structure with its slanting facade. A solid structure that looks like it will last till the end of time.
|Hindola mahal - with its slanting side|
Out of Jahaz mahal we plonked ourselves in one of those hotels right outside and ate some delicious Malwa cuisine - daal baajle - which they made right in front of our eyes.
|Inside the Hindola mahal|
Bit like daal bhati churma of Rajasthan. Delicious.
|A view of the Hoshang Shah tomb - bad pic, it's a marvellous structure|
And then we drove back. An early start would always help if you are visiting Mandu since there is so much to see. It would be fantastic to stay overnight actually. MP Tourism has places to stay. Mandu an absolute delight for photographers many of whom were around. In fact inside the Roopmati pavilion, we found a couple, flanked by several photographers, who were posing lovey dovey pics, all dressed up, embracing one another. The spirits of Roopmati-Baz would be happy.
Hopefully some other time again.
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