Mandu – the forgotten land of History
When I went to Indore with literally no plans and just to visit a friend, I became aware of this semi-hidden treasure of Mandu. Semi-hidden since it is already in the list of some of the travellers, but not so touristy and crowded yet.
Why should you visit Mandu?
Mandu City is existing since 6th century BC
It shelters the monument that inspired the Taj Mahal
It houses India’s biggest fort – the Mandu Fort
The city is witness to the legendary romance of Rani Roopmati and Baz Bahadur
Home to numerous ancient afghan architectural marvels
The city surrounded by Baobab trees, native to Africa
How to reach Mandu:
An ancient city in the present-day Mandav area of the Dhar district, it is located approximately 100 km away from the Indore City of MP.
There are local buses that take one to the bus stand of Mandu. But the whole area cannot be accessed as there are no local vehicles. So we went taking a cab from Indore.
Also it was a reasonable choice provided the soaring temperatures of the place in the day time.
Where to stay:
Indore is the nearest city to stay at cheap rates for a 1-day trip to Mandu
Also, there are few resorts available near the Mandu city, subject to availability
10 things you must visit/do while at Mandu:
Mandu is a city and does not have a single place to visit. Hence at every 100 meters, you will find a heritage structure with a board (or maybe not) describing the structure. Although every one of them is not so interesting, we would be making a list of all those structures that you must not miss if you plan to travel to the place.
1. Rani Roopmati Pavillion
The palace is known for the love story between the Hindu queen who was a great singer and the Malwa ruler Baz Bahadur. The western projection of the Pavilion contains a large cistern in which rainwater was collected during the monsoon through a channel running from the roof to the reservoir below.
When Adham Khan came to capture Mandu, he was surprised by the beauty of Roopmati and Rani Roopmati poisoned herself to avoid capture. Thus ended the love story made of music, poems, and dohas.
2. Baz Bahadur’s Palace
The Bazbahadur Palace is famous for not just the engineering marvels, but also for the famous love story of Bazbahadur with his wife Rani Roopmati. On the way to Roopmati Pavilion and also very close to Reva kund where Roopmati used to come to have a bath, there are 2 chambers in the palace, standing where the sounds from the other chamber can be heard without use of any amplifiers.
3. Echo Point
If one stands at the right location and claps, one can hear the distinct echo of the sound still. There was a localite who showed us how to throw out sound to listen to the echo.
These dome shaped structures served as echo points by amplifying and relaying sound waves. During those time messages were sent in coded form by beating of drums/ making different sounds from one tower to another. Persons guarding the towers would listen to it and relay it further. The process was done till the message reached the right person. These towers thus acted as a quick and efficient means of transmission.
4. Neelkanth Mahadev Temple
The place is dedicated to Lord Shiva, hence known as Neelkanth Mahadev.
The court was approached by leading down sixty-one steps, which is located a bit away from the main roads. The temple had rooms on east, south, and west. The north was kept open to appreciate the fabulous green valley below . On the southern side at the centre, there was the main shrine located with a double arched openings.
As such the Mahal built in red stones was constructed by Shah Badagh Khan a Governor of the Mughal e Azam , for Akbar’s Hindu queen as a pleasure retreat in 1574.
The pleasant winds, the surrounding view and calmness give all of the reasons for giving a visit to this place.
5. Hathi Mahal
Completely away from the main road, this place generally remains least crowded. When we arrived we could even hear the sounds made by Mole Crickets around. It was a mysterious as well as the peacefully secluded area.
Hathi-Mahal owes it’s name for the disproportionately massive pillars, looking like the legs of an elephant constructed to support the high dome above.
The building was originally constructed as a pleasure resort but later converted into a tomb, since a sepulcher is now seen inside.
6. Jami Masjid
The inscriptions on the doorway to the porch indicates that the mosque was modeled on the basis of Mosque of Damascus in an Afghan style of architecture.
Completely built during the reign of Mahmud Khilji in 1440 A.D., the courtyard of Jami Masjid still holds the mughal architectural brilliance to these days.
The intricate work on marbles with colourful times framed up, the place is huge enough to hold large number of worshippers. Tranquil at its best, its a place where you can spend some time before moving on.
7. Hoshang Shah’s Tomb
It is said that the tomb was constructed in the 15th century. The tomb was so beautiful that it impressed Shah Jehan and so he sent four of his architects before construction of Taj Mahal. It has been said that Ustad Hamid had a great association with the team who constructed Taj Mahal.
8. Jahaz Mahal
An exemplary creative imagination realized – all the passages, windows were designed with arches in different designs, various creative design patterns can be observed in water tanks (Baoli), flooring and small openings of walls even.
At the Champa Baodi – the water of this well used to smell of Champa flower and hence the name. A passage goes down to the base of the well and further connects itself with a labyrinth of vaulted rooms – the “Tahkhana”.
9. Hindola Mahal
The main hall of this Palace was mostly used as an audience chamber. Built during the reign of Hoshang Shah about 1425 C.E, this building is situated in the complex of Jahaz Mahal.
10. Buy Baobab fruit
Don’t forget to buy this exotic rare fruit, that looks like white dry imlies and tastes also like that. The Baobab is locally known as ‘Imli’ (tamarind), or ‘Bada Imli (Big tamarind) in Mandu and is popularly referred to as ‘Mandu ki Imli’.
Mandu has the presence of a good number of Baobab (Adansonia Digitata) trees which can be sighted across the length and breadth of Mandu. Being native to Africa, they are considered as one of the very ancient and longest living trees. These trees also find a mention in the Hindu epic of Mahabharata.
An African folk-tale claim that their consorted shapes were caused by an angry deity plucking the tree from the ground and thrusting it back in again upside down. hence they are also called ‘Upside-down trees’ with the branches resembling the roots after the shed the leaves. The baobab trees have an incredible quality of storing water in their trunks in high capacities and hence are a lifeline to the locals of the tropical regions of Africa. The Africans consider the baobab their sacred and refer to it as the tree of life. this tree possesses many medicinal properties and is of great nutritive value. apart from providing shelter water, and food to many every part of its tree proves useful in many ways.