MANDU TOURISM GUIDE:
Map: Mandu Tourism, Madhya Pradesh, India
Location: Madhya Pradesh
Tourist Attractions: Bhopal, Sanchi, Gwalior, Khajuraho, Ujjain, Indore and Mundu
Best Time To Visit: October to March.
A saga inscribed in stone, Mandu is situated on the edge of the Malwa Plateau. Mandu was dominated successively by Hindu and Muslim rulers. Mandu is also known as the city of joy. It was in the 10th century that Raja Bhoj founded this town as a retreat. It was taken over by the rulers of Delhi in 1304. The Mughals invaded as this place in 1401.The Afghan governor, Dilawar Khan established the kingdom of Mandu and with this started the golden era of this place. But it was not Dilawar Khan rather his son Hoshang Shah who raised it to greatest splendour. When the Mughals had captured it, capital of Malwa was shifted Dhar. Then again Hoshang Shah shifted the capital from Dhar to Mandu. Today Mandu is a ghost town. But it is a ghost town with a difference. It’s grandiose and remarkable architecture makes it one of the places having the most impressive collection of Afghan art in India.
Mandu is a place where songs describing the love of poet-prince Baz Bahadur and beautiful singer Roopmati fill the atmosphere. Balladeers sing songs of the romance and the Roopmati Pavillion overlooking the palace of Baz Bahadur stands as testimony to that as well. In the 13th century this place was also called Shahibabad. All over this place are spread ruins of Afghan Architecture. Jahaz and Hindola Mahals, ornamental canals, baths and pavillions which are till date as graceful and exquisite as they were then.
The monuments of Mandu can be divided into three categories which includes the Royal Enclave, the central group and Rewa Kund group. The royal enclave includes Jahaz Mahal, Hindola Mahal. The central group has Hoshang Shah’s tomb, Jami Masjid, Ashrafi Mahal and the Rewa Kund group has Rewa kund, Baz Bahadur palace, Roopmati pavillion. Then there are some more monuments which are not kept in any of the groups this includes Nilkanth shrine and palace. Hathi Mahal, Darya Khan’s Tomb, Dai Ka Mahal, Dai ki choti Bahan Ka Mahal and many other such monuments are worth giving a visit.
The lohani cave and temples are not far from the Royal enclave area and is associated with history of Mandu. Sunpoint near the caves affords a panoramic view of the surrounding country side. Mandu is one of the few places in India where Baobab tree is found. It is the tubby grey tree that looks as if it has been planted upside down with its roots in the air.
SHOPPING IN MANDU:
Mandu is basically a historical place which is surrounded by forests and natural beauty. Being a very small city it does not offer much to purchase and shopping malls are absent. Nevertheless, one can buy some local handicrafts and items made in the region. These items make good souvenirs and decorative pieces. Items made from gold and silver are particularly popular among the tourist as well as the native people. One can always go for some handloom cloths and some colourful garments. Being part of Vindhya range (Malwa), the influence of Vindhyachal (Malwa) tribal art is clearly visible in on the handicrafts and other items. One can also look for leather work.
July to March is the best time to to visit this place. But while all other places are closed for tourism during Monsoons, Mandu offers the best time in this period. In fact, Mandu is more of a monsoon resort than anything else. The natural surroundings are in full bloom during monsoon months. GETTING THERE: The nearest airport is that of Indore which is linked with major cities in the country. There are regular services by various airlines to Indore. From Indore Mandu is 99 kms, which can be covered on a bus or hired taxi. The main railway stations for Mandu are Ratlam (124 kms) and Indore. These railheads are on the Mumbai – Delhi line and all major trains have a stoppage at these stations. Mandu is well connected by roads and is accessible from any where in the state. There are regular bus services from all the major cities in the state.
SIGHTSEEING IN MANDU:
Jahaz Mahal: Jahaz Mahal or the ship palace was built by Sultan Ghiyas-ud-din-Khilji to maintain his large Harem (place where the ladies of rulers lived). This palace is in shape of a ship and is locate between Munj Talao and Kapur Talao (pond).
Hindola Mahal: The church like Hindola mahal or the Swinging palace derives its name from the sloping sidewalks. Due to the slopes the walls of this palace seems to be swinging. Hindola mahal essentially was a meeting place during Ghiyas-ud-din-Khilji’s time.
Hoshang Shah’s Tomb: Magnificently proportioned domes and intricately & delicately done marble latticework are the main features of Hoshang Shah’s Tomb. This tomb is one of the best examples of Afghan architecture in India and probably the first marble edifice. Porticoed courts and towers mark the four corner of the rectangular tomb. It was from this tomb that Ustad Hamid got inspiration for designing Taj Mahal. Many architects were send by Shah Jahan to study this tomb and then decide the constructing plan of the Taj.
Jami Masjid: This huge Mosque stands on high plinth and is adorned by imposing domes. A huge dome and minaret forms the center of this mosque which derives its inspiration from the great mosque of Damascus. The scale on which this mosque was built and the proportions of the building is just unimaginable. The number of bays and arrangements of pillars and arches, rows of domes above all make this mosque very pleasing in nature. Particularly from the central court is covered with huge colonades which makes it very fascinating.
Ashrafi Mahal: This was essentially build as Madrassa, a place for Islamic teaching. Even today the rooms and cells tell a story of teaching and studying. The name means palace of gold and was build by Mahmud Shah Khilji.
Rewa Kund: This pond was build to supply water to Rani Roopmati’s palace. Built by Baz Bahadur, the pond is considered very sacred today.
Baz Bahadur Palace: Spacious courtyard surrounded by halls and high terraces with an excellent view of the country side make this palace. The palace was built by Baz Bahadur for himself in the early 6th century.
Roopmati Pavillion: This pavillion was retreat for Roopmati. From the graceful pavilions Roopmati could see the palace of his beloved Baz Bahadur, The Pavillions also give a good view of river Narmada flowing through the Nimar plains. But these pavillions were originally built as army observation posts. Watching the sunset from these pavillions gives maximum pleasure.
Nilkanth: This shiva temple is located on the edge of a steep gorge. The tree shaded courtyards and sacred pond fed by a stream are part of this ancient temple. Pilgrims and devotees come here to worship Lord Shiva.
Nilkanth Mahal: This palace was built by Mughal Governor of Mandu, Shah Badgah for Akbar’s Hindu wife. This Palace is very close to Nilkanth Shrine and it derives its name from the shrine itself. Interestingly the wall of this palace have inscription saying the futility of earthly pomp and glory. This palace became the favourite retreat for Jehangir.
Echo Point: Also referred as Delphic Oracle of Mandu. A shout from here reverberates far below and is clearly heard back.
MANDU SIGHTSEEING AND EXCURSIONS:
Bagh Caves: Bagh caves are 50 kms west of Mandu.The location of these caves is three kms from the main road between Indore and Vadodra. The caves are seven kms from Bagh village. Essentially these caves were carved out during 400 to 700 AD. They are caves carrying Buddhist motifs. When discovered these caves were in vary bad shape and recently restoration works began. These cave are worth giving a look before one proceeds further.
TOURIST INFORMATION CENTRES:
Madhya Pradesh State Tourism Development Corporation Ltd. – Gangotri, 4th floor, T.T. Nagar, Bhopal- 462 003 Madhya Pradesh, India.
Tourist Information Counter – 204-205, Kanishka Shopping Plaza, 19 Ashoka Road, New Delhi – 110 001 India
MANDU FAIRS AND FESTIVALS:
The Malwa region is known for fun and colourful festival celebrations. Particularly during September / October, when Ganesha Chaturthi is celebrated in with much pomp and fan fair. These celebrations are window to the rich and colourful cultural heritage which this place inherits. During these festivals and fairs, tribal art and crafts are displayed. Excellent pieces of art & crafts made in clay, wood, metal, bamboo, cloth, leaves etc visual treats and good purchase for decorations and gifts. The Madhya Pradesh tourism development corporations is trying to exploit the tourism potential of this area to its maximum. So, the Malwa festival is organised in Indore, Ujjain and Mandu. This festival, among other things, is accompanied by a cultural programme. The traditional art and cultural heritage come to the fore ground. In fact, like the festivals in Khajuraho and Konark there has been an attempt to make this a national festival. The festival is an attempt to link regional art and culture with the national mainstream. And to the delight of the organisers Malwa festival has been receiving attention from the media and tourist inflow to this region has been on a rise.
Man Languages: Hindi & Local Dialects And English
A WORD OF CAUTION: To all tourist – beware of touts, if, new to the place.
NEAR BY CITIE(S) OF MANDU:
Bhopal: 285 kms.
Maheshwar: 63 kms.
Alwar: 142 kms.
Bharatpur: 176 kms.