Mandu - City of Love destroyed by Powerquest

Situated approx. 100 km. from Indore, Mandu is a small ancient city in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Mandu rose to its peak of glory under patronage of then king Baz Bahadur. This was the time when love story of Baz Bahadur and his queen Rani Roopmati had painted the Mandu in colours of love during 16th century. Till date their love story is the flavour of all folk tales and song-dance theme in this Malwa region. Baz Bahadur (commonly known as Brave Hawk) was a warrior par excellence who fall in love with Roopmati, a shepherd with a symphonic voice.

Testimony to their fairy tale saga: To respect the desire of Roopmati to worship river Narmada every morning, Baz Bahadur constructed a Pavilion (Roopmati Mandap) cum military observatory fort to enable Roopmati to get a sight of and worship river Narmada daily from terrace of pavilion.

Large courtyards surrounded with high terraces and large halls are the highlights on this Fort cum Palace. From the courtyard of Rani Roopmati Pavilion, the king used to enjoy the songs recited by his queen.

And unending romantic walk in these walkways:

Rewa kund, a small pond fed by river Narmada water from an underground crevice was also rebuilt by Baz Bahadur. Bath in this pond has significance equivalent to river Narmada.

Aqueducts were built to transport water from this pond to Baaz Bahadur Palace, which is just opposite to this pond.
However, love has many enemies. And Akbar came to know about the beauty and divine voice of Roopmati. An attack by powerful Mughal army led to tragic end to this fairy tale love story. Defeated Baz Bahadur escaped to nearby kingdoms leaving behind Queen Roopmati, who gave up her life by consuming poison in order to preserve her honour from the Mughal general Adham Khan. Perhaps that was the only option to the womenfolk to safeguard their honour from invaders in those times.

Other than legend of Baz Bahadur and Roopmati, Mandu was also occupied by Khiljis and Mughals for some time. Reign of Ghiyas-ud-din Khilji was notable as he gifted Mandu with masterpiece architectural marvels like Jahaz Mahal and Hindola Mahal in 15th century. Jahaz Mahal (Palace) has been created like a ship floating on the sea. Jahaz Mahal is approx. 110 m. x 15 m., much like a sea vessel. 

Grandiose of this monument invokes a thought process, basically what was the purpose behind construction at this spot when Delhi was the capital of Khilji dynasty? This beautiful palace was built to house captured women, in fact thousands of women as royal consorts. Actually, this palace used to serve as harem of then Khilji king of Mandu. All of sudden the pain of women in those times somehow eclipsed the beauty of the palace. 

Artificial lakes were created around it, to give this mammoth structure an impression of vessel floating in the sea for this monument. That’s why the name Jahaz Mahal. (Jahaz means ship in Hindi).

Exhaustive water conservation techniques were applied to keep the lakes full of water during the dry seasons. Likewise, this small stepwell in the palace to collect the rainwater:
Adjacent to Jahaz Mahal is the Hindola Mahal, called as Swinging Palace due to sloping outer walls. 

Designed like a swing, this large meeting Hall has notable ventilated roofs/ windows. (Hindola means Swing in Hindi). This is a rare example of simple yet effective Afghan architecture style monument in India. On windy evening one can clearly hear romantic tunes created by windows and ventilated roofs.

Other than these 2 noteworthy monuments, ruins in the premises also hold high despite neglect of centuries.

Ruins are spread across 10 km. x 15 km. area all throughout the Mandu. While moving on to Rani Roopmati Mahal, take a stopover at ECHO Point and enjoy your voice echoing in the mountains.

Mandu is full of grand structures, which must have played important role at their peak. But most of the monuments/ buildings are now in ruins, other than mentioned above. Likewise, this Gadaa Shah's House and Shop. In actual it must have been a huge shopping complex. Check the outer walls' resemblance with Hindola Mahal:

Akbar, then Mughal King during one of his visits had ordered destruction of most of the buildings to avoid use by enemies as military base. What an idea?

However, his son Jahangir loved this place and restored many of the monuments. He loved this place and spent considerable time in Mandu with his wife Nurjahan. In his autobiography “Tuzuk-i-Jehangiri” (Memoirs of Jahangir), Jahangir has quoted:

"I know of no other place that is as pleasant in climate and with such attractive scenery as Mandu in the rainy season."

Besides the ruins, there is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva which attracts pilgrims from nearby places, Neelkanth Mahadev temple. Temple is situated downhill from the road and can be missed easily, take care while driving. Temple looks like a fort or a part of fort, perhaps the temple have got preserved from the attackers by the structure. You will enjoy the time spent here. 

While roaming around Mandu, came across a white matter being sold in small packets. Known as it is known as Mandu ki Imli, this is the baobab fruit of African origin. This fruit grows in abundance in Mandu and the powder of Baobab fruit is mixed in water with sugar and consumed as local drink.
More about Mandu: Original name was “Mandavgad”, Mandu gained prominence in 10th and 11th century under the reign of the Paramar rulers. Since defeat of last Paramar king in 14th century, Mandu continued to see bloody attacks from Khiljis, Mughals and other nearby states. Brief stability was provided by Baz Bahadur in 16th century, until finally Mandu was taken over the Marathas in 1732 by Peshwa Baji Rao I. Thereafter Marathas restored peace, the city remained hidden from mainstream for long. Mandu is equipped with 45 km. solid fortified wall and 12 gateways (doors), which tells the strategic importance of this place has been as a Gateway to Western India. While entering to Mandu, many such gates will come in the way:

Now the region is one of the leading areas in wheat production. After Mandu, next destination on our itinerary was Maheshwar.

Keep exploring Guys…

Gaurav Verma

A passionate Traveler who wants to see the whole world before hanging his boots. Always ready to explore offbeat and hidden spots. MBA + Engineer from Ivy league colleges, Gaurav is much sought after for his choice of lifestyle activities and Brand promotional campaigns.

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