Monday 19 June 2017

Mandu - A place that resonates with history..

Hindola Mahal

In the last blog post, I had covered the city of Dhar and all the places to explore in and around Dhar. Hopefully, you must have got a taste of the rich historical relevance of the city with some known and unknown facts. Well, since it was a great day out at Dhar, I would like to introduce you all to the more interesting and historically known place i.e. Mandu also known as the "City of Joy" (named by Muslim Rulers in their reign). So, the journey started from Bhopal and then after covering Dhar, there couldn't be a better place than Mandu to explore further and it was a perfect decision that we took as there was so much to look around and capture the memories in camera. 

Whenever we talk about Madhya Pradesh, the first place that comes to our mind is Khajuraho or any Wildlife Sanctuary, as MP is quite rich in Flora and Fauna and covers a lot of forest area. We also often talk about Orchha and the vast history it holds with all the Mughal - Rajput rulers and their unheard stories. But there is one more place in M.P. that is equally beautiful and possess centuries-old tales of Parmara Kingdom - Muslim rulers and also the Mughal influence. Yes, the city of Mandu holds a rich historical background and some great stories to be told to every history enthusiast. 

Please find the itinerary below, which I shared in my earlier post as well

Itinerary was...

Bhopal → Dhar → Mandu → Maheshwar → Omkareshwar → Indore  → Bhopal

Sunset from Baz-Bahadur Palace

About Mandu...  

Mandu is located at a distance of 40-45 km approx from Dhar. Since Dhar falls en-route to Mandu, so it's always better to cover "Dhar" first and then leave for Mandu. Mandu being the hill fort has an attractive natural scenery, which looks the best in the rainy season. The city was also famous because of its natural safeguard (hills as fort walls for defense) it used to provide in the early times when fighting a battle on the ground was always preferable than climbing the hill to out-dare for the battle. Also, Jehangir, the Mughal ruler had a great place for Mandu in his heart who once told that there is no place as pleasant and beautiful than Mandu. As I read in one of the books on Mandu, it's said that Mandu city was first founded in the sixth century but it's known more because of the ecstatic architecture built from early 15th century until the end of Muslim rulers period in late 16th century. From the 10th century, the Parmara kings like Munja and Bhoja also had a great influence in Mandu and Munja Tal i.e. Tank can be seen in Mandu, today as well. After the Muslim rulers, Mughals and Marathas also ruled over Mandu for good stint. Though, most of the architectural ruins present in Mandu today, are from the Muslim period only i.e. prior to the Mughal period.

Capturing the captured, Jahaz Mahal

Let's sink-in in the history and explore the architectural gems of Mandu...

There are various monuments that are in good condition and one can find the well-detailed architecture up close. Most of the ruins are protected by Archaeological Survey of India and some by State Archaeology department. And one must appreciate the efforts put in by the ASI and State authorities to keep this 500-600 years old heritage in good condition. 

When we reached Mandu, the place had so much to offer and a story to narrate of its surreal beauty in each one of our minds. With the word go, Mandu started unfolding its marvelous gems and one could see the centuries old gates raised by Muslim rulers to mark their mantle. Our first stop in Mandu was the famous Jahaz Mahal, fortunately where we were staying too for the night in nearby Taveli Mahal guest house (within the precincts of Jahaz Mahal). We dropped our luggage in the restroom and headed for Roopmati Pavillion, to witness the serene sunset view.

Play of light and shadow, Jahaz Mahal

1) Roopmati Pavilion:

Roopmati Pavilion is well known as the monument where Rani Roopmati used to pay the visit for the darshan of sacred Narmada river, the stream of which can be seen from the top of Roopmati Pavilion. Also, to keep clear sight at Baz Bahadur Palace where the queen's beloved Baz Bahadur used to live. Their love tales are very famous in Mandu and everyone has a different yet interesting story to tell

To enjoy the beauty of this stunning monument one should visit it at the time of sunset. Also, from the top of Roopmati Pavilion, one can see the low lying areas with a carpet of greenery and many other mesmerizing monuments located in lower regions.

Epitome of love, Roopmati Pavilion

From the terrace of Ran Roopmati Pavilion

2) Baz Bahadur's Palace:

Situated on the slope of a hill just before the Roopmati Pavillion, Baz Bahadur's Palace is a great example of well planned and structured monument. There are few steps as we enter in the Baz Bahadur's palace and few halls, humongous rooms and open court. The spectacular architecture with intricate details just makes us feel like that we're transported to centuries back in a different world altogether. One can also see the Rani Roopmati Pavilion from the Baz Bahadur's palace which also narrates the love tale of Baz Bahadur and Rani Rupamati.

The courtyard of Baz Bahadur Palace

Rewa Kund, a reservoir built under Baz Bahadur's reign, is situated just a few meters away from the Baz Bahadur's palace. It was built to supply water to Baz Bahadur's palace and Roopmati's Pavilion. It's considered as an architectural marvel as the use of such developed technology in the 16th century was of great significance.

Rewa Kund

3) Jahaz Mahal:

Jahaz Mahal is one of the most famous monuments in Mandu and is very well kept by the ASI. Since we stayed in Taveli Mahal, the view of Jahaz Mahal was exquisite at the night and with the first strike of sun rays on the Jahaz Mahal, it made the whole scenic beauty of the Mahal even more exemplary. With Munja and Kapur tanks on the either side of the Jahaz Mahal, makes it appear like a Ship Palace floating in the sea. Though the water tanks were not full in December we heard the same bio of the place from many locals. The grandeur of Jahaz Mahal in itself speaks a lot and describes the love and joy which used to be the main highlight of the palace in the reign of Muslim rulers. The corridors, halls, chattris, tombs and beautiful "Jharokhas", everything is so royal and magnificent that even today's artisans would feel and wish like if they had born in that era.

Wide view of Jahaz Mahal from Taveli Mahal

A peek into history

We have our own Greek architecture in Mandu...

4) Hindola Mahal:

Hindola Mahal literally means a swinging palace. Its sidewalls give a peculiar sloping impression that makes this monument quite different from others. Though the architecture of this palace is simple, huge arches and sloping sidewalls make it look amazingly different yet marvelous

Hindola Mahal (Swinging Palace)

5) Jami Majid:

Jami Masjid is by far the most protected and majestic monument of Mandu. As soon as we enter from the huge gate of Jami Masjid, this flawless, next to perfect monument awaits for your appreciation. The courtyard, arches, and domes take you to the European Architecture, where the awe-struck feeling strikes you more often than not. I personally found this as the most magical place in Mandu and a rich example of architectural brilliance. 

Side view of Jami Masjid- An architectural marvel

Corridors of Jami Masjid

6) Hoshang Shah's Tomb:

It's said that Hoshang Shah's Tomb was the first marble structure ever built in India. Also, the Afghan architecture was so impressive and stunning that even Shah Jahan sent his architects to meet the builders of the Tomb to pay homage and study about the tomb for the construction of Taj Mahal in Agra. The tomb from inside has the mausoleum on the square marble platform in the middle of the hall. The intricate design and beautiful internal architecture set it apart from other ruins present in Mandu.

Hoshang Shah's Tomb

Natural 3D image of a corridor

7) Asharfi Palace:

Asharfi Palace is situated in the front of Jami Masjid. Apart from stairs to the gateway, there is nothing more left of the seven story-ed building ruins. Once, it was the highest building in India and now there are only ruins left of the palace. People say that it was built in very small time and that's the reason why it collapsed completely.

Entrance to the Asharfi Mahal

People gazing at the beauty of more than 600 years old architecture

Best time to visit....

Best time to visit Mandu is from August to February. In the summer season, it gets very hot to dedicate enough time to each place. So, it's always preferable to plan a trip here in the second half of the year.

Jahaz Mahal (A ship palace floating in the sea)


Every spot opens at sunrise and closes at sunset.

Entry Fee and details....

The entry fee was nominal at most of the places and at some places, we don't even have to pay the entry fee.

One of the centuries-old ruins

How to reach Dhar from Bhopal....

Bhopal → Sehore → Ashta → Dewas → Indore → Pithampur → Dhar Mandu

PS: Special thanks to my father. I took all the liberty and asked him to guide us throughout the tour. Being an archaeologist, he was fully aware of the places and history behind them.

Previous Posts from this trip:

Hidden Gems of Madhya Pradesh - Dhar

This is my entry for Trip Experts Awards 2017 by TripScam. Thanks Deepa for nominating me. Here are the rules for the contest.

Trip Expert Award Badge 2017

Note: Few details have been taken as a reference from Incredible Madhya Pradesh.