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Mandu - The City Of Joy

“I know of no place so pleasant in climate and so pretty in scenery as Mandu during the rains.” ~ Emperor Jahangir.
In this "City of Joy", the lyrical voice of Rani Roopmati across the Narmada recalls the noble love tales of Baz Bahadur and Rani Rupmati.

The fortress of joy, Mandu is located at an elevation of 634 m in the Vindhya Range. The fortress is enclosed in the 37 km long battlements. In this well-defended plateau, one could find the wealth of palaces, mansions, pleasure pavilions, mosques and tombs. Thus, Mandu showcases structures that are considered as fine specimens of Afghan style of architecture.

During monsoon, the hill range of Mandu is at its best in natural scenery. The entire area is covered in lush greenery with number of torrents and brooks, gushing down into the narrow valley. The beauty of the place is further enhanced by numerous ponds and lakes dotted across.

Mandu is a celebration in stone, of life and joy,of the love of the poet-prince Baz Bahadur for his beautiful consort, Rani Roopmati.
View from Jahaz Mahal in Mandu
Every structure in Mandu is an architectural gem and these were built in the duration of hardly 125 years, i.e., between 1401 A.D to 1526 A.D. Structures such as massive Jami Massjid and Hoshang Shah’s tomb have also been an inspiration for the designing of glorious Taj Mahal.

A ruined city Mandu (Mandavgad) is located in the present-day Mandav area in the Dhar district. Mandu is situated at a distance of 35 km from the Dhar city in the Malwa region of western Madhya Pradesh. From Indore, this fortress town is located at a distance of 100 km.

In the 10th century, Mandu was founded by Raja Bhoj and later in 1304, was occupied by the Muslim rulers of Delhi. In 1401, when the Mughals occupied Delhi, the governor of Malwa, Afghan Dilawar Khan, located his own little kingdom and subsequently golden era of Mandu began.

Mandu was established as an independent kingdom by Dilawar Khan, but it was his son, Hoshang Shah, who made efforts and shifted the capital to Mandu from Dhar. The legacy then was ruled by Hoshang’s son Mohammed, for one year and then was poisoned by the militaristic Mohammed Khalji, who thereafter ruled Mandu for 33 years.

In 1469, Mohammed Khalji was succeeded by his son Ghiyas-ud-din, who ruled for next 31 years. Thereafter, he was poisoned by his son Nasir-ud-din at the age of 80.

Bahadur Shah of Gujarat occupied Mandu in the year 1526. In 1534, Mandu was reoccupied by Mallu Khan after ousting Mughal prince Humayun. After 10 more years of invasions and feuds, Baz Bahadur emerged as the ruler of Mandu. But, later in 1561, Baz Bahadur fled Mandu instead of facing advancing troops of Akbar.

Mandu, after being added to the Mughal Empire, was considered as a significant degree of independence. In 1732, Mandu was occupied by the Marathas. Thereafter, the capital of Malwa was again shifted back to Dhar, and the fall in fortunes of Mandu had begun with the running away of Baz Bahadur, which became a drop.

Jal Mahal,Mandu

Splendid Palaces, mosques, monuments and tombs mark the identity of Mandu. These attractions are broadly categorized into three groups, namely, The Royal Enclave, Rewa Kund Group, and the Village Group. The entry to any of these groups requires a nominal fee of INR 100 and INR 5 for foreigners and Indians respectively. Apart from this, there are smaller ruins dotted across other regions of Mandu.

  • Royal Enclave Group: This is the most extensive and impressive group of attractions in Mandu. This group includes a collection of Palaces, which were built by different rulers around 3 tanks. The multi-level Jahaz Mahal (Ship Palace) is one of the major highlights of the group. This used to house Sultan Ghiyas-ud-din-Khilji's substantial harem of women.
  • Rewa Kund Group: This group lies 4 km to the south, and features Palace of Baz Bahadur and Rupmati's Pavilion. You can enjoy the spectacular view of sunset and overlook the valley. The tragic and legendary romantic tale of Mandu ruler Baz Bahadur and beautiful Hindu singer Rupmati make this place popular among visitors.
  • Village Group: This group is located in the heart of Mandu. There is a mosque, which is regarded as the finest specimen of Afghan style of architecture in India. The Hoshang Shah's Tomb is also featured in this group. These both attractions served as the source of inspiration for the construction of the Taj Mahal centuries later. The Ashrafi Mahal is also worth a visit due to its detailed Islamic pillar work.

How to Reach:
  • By Air: Indore Airport is the nearest airport to reach Mandu. After arriving at the airport, you may hire a taxi or cab to reach Mandu.
  • By Rail: Indore Railway Station is the nearest railhead to reach Mandu. There are taxis and cabs available for hire to reach Mandu.
  • By Road: There are 4 buses that operate from Indore to Bhopal via Dhar. To reach Mandu, you need to change at Dhar. 

Travel Tip:
Mandu (Madhya Pradesh) is an ideal destination for the visitors looking for peace and relaxation. The best way to explore the place is cycling; cycles are easily available on rent. It is advised to plan a leisure trip of 3 or 4 days to explore Mandu. Mandu's picturesque beauty is at full bloom during monsoon making it one of the best places to visit in India during monsoon.

Side Trip:
The visitors can plan to visit the Bagh Caves, situated on the bank of River Baghini at a distance of 50 km from Mandu. These caves, date back to the 5th-6th centuries AD, are a series of 7 Buddhist rock cut caves. The exquisite murals and sculptures make this attraction worth a visit. On a one day trip, you can also visit Maheshwar, the Varanasi of Central India.

Related Posts:
Top 10 Places to Visit in India in March
Top 10 Monsoon Destinations in India
 Top 5 Summer destinations for Holidays in India

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