Saturday, February 14, 2009

Mandu - A Love Story

City of forts on the Valley of Bindhya Mountain is located at a altitude of 634 meters covering an area of 23 sq km, surrounded by a long 45 km fence. Kakra Khoh or, deep narrow gorge has separated Mandu from the mountain. But, today, Mandu is like a lonesome and kind of haunted city to the tourists, enclosed by hilly rivers. In monsoon, Mandu looks more beautiful. Aquatic birds flock on the bank of the lake in search of companions. At night you may even experience the tigers roar.

History of Mandu:

In the tenth century Hindu king Bhuj (1010-1042) founded Mandu as a retreat. In the 11th century Parmar Kings established Malwa as a separate kingdom making Mandu as its capital. Then it was known as Mandabgarh. Between 1256- 1261, Parmar king Jayabharam shifted his capital from Dhar to Mandu. In 1293 Jalaluddin conquered the surrounding area of Mandu but yet Mandu was under the control of the Hindu king. In 1304, Malwa along with Mandu went under the control of Ghori & Khilji. By the time Mughals conquered Delhi in 1401, the Governor of Malwa, Afghan hero Dilwar Khan Ghori declared Mandu as a separate state.

Hosang Shah, the son of Dilwar, after being enthroned in 1405, shifted his capital from Dhar to Mandu once again. Hosang Shah Ghori s son Muhmmad ruled state for only one year.
Killing Hosang Shah's son Muhmmad with poison, Mahmud Shah Khilji, captured Mandu in 1436. During his long rule of 31 years, Mahmud remained occupied in recurrent crisis, but he was a great admirer of art & culture. During his rule, Hindu, Jain & Muslim cultures gained impetus.

In 1469, Mahmud's son Giasuddin after being enthroned at the age of 47, passed 31 years of his reign remaining inactive and enjoying life in luxury. At last, he was killed by his son Nasiruddin by poisoning in 1500. Local history says that, Nasiruddin also had to face a abnormal death in 1510 as price for his own fault. After Nasiruddin, his son Mahmud was enthroned.

In 1526, Bahadur Shah of Gujarat captured Mandu defeating Mahmud taking advantage of internal conflicts in Mandu. In 1534 Mughal emperor Humayun snatched Mandu from the clutches of Bahadur Shah, but one of the generals of Shah retained the power.

The chronicles of history of Mandu by this time was hazy and confusing. After much ups and down, in 1554, Malik Bayajid, a notable musician & son of Suja, became the king of Mandu and named himself asBaj Bahadur. He was more interested in music than administration. Also he was in deep love with a pretty beautiful maestro Rupmati ''Lady of Lotus'.

Akbar conquered Mandu in 1561 and he was also fascinated by Rupmati. Baj Bahadur left Mandu to avoid confrontation with Mughals. Mandu was shattered by Mughal attack. Much later, Jahangir remade Mandu as a token of his admiration of its natural beauty.

In 1732, Mandu went into the hands of the Marathas. The capital was shifted over to Dhar. Mandu gradually turned into a haunted place under cover of dense forest. But the history of Mandu still attract the tourists.

The ruined palaces and forts still tell the love story of Baj Bahadur and Rani Rupmati.

The Places to see in Mandu:

The forts and palaces and monuments in Mandu can be divided into four major groups:

Village Group

Royal Group

Reoa Kund Group

Other important monuments

If you are with a car, it will take 5 hours to see the important places. You can hire an auto other wise @ INR 200 approximately. The guide charge is @ INR 100. Take the help of guide but believe their stories with a pinch of salt.

Village or Central Group :

Through 3 gates-Alamgir, Delhi and Bhanai, bus enters to reach market place of Mandu or Village Group.

Asrafi Mahal:

The first monument you will see is Asrafi Mahal. Asrafi means gold coin. Jehangir named this Mahal as a memory of Noorjahan’s visit to Mandu. It was a seven storey structure. Today only the ground floor is exisiting.

Ram Mandir:

Just beside the bus stand with the idols of Ram, Lakshman and Sita.

Jami Mosque

Opposite Ram temple, there is Jami Mosque made of pink coloured sandstone. It is a specimen of Afghan architecture, built as a replica of Omayyed Mosque of Damascaus. Construction of this mosque was started by Hosang Shah and it was ended by Mahmud Shah in 1453. Specimen of Architecture of Hindu-Buddhist-Jain era is found in the dome of it, which is at the entrance. Perhaps it was a court of a Hindu king, which was later changed into a mosque. Its decoration, star shaped bluish tiles and-lattice work are beautiful. Being supported by numerous pillars, a dome is placed. In a small altar, quotations from the Koran (aayat) are inscribed in Arabic language. It remains open from 8.30 am to 5.00 pm.

Tomb of Hosang Shah

Annex to the Jami Masjid, there is the grave or Tomb of Hosang Shah, built in Pathan style of architecture. Beside it there are tombs of his Begum, two sons, daughter and son-in-laws—all are in eternal rest. He started constructing his own graveyard monument but it was completed by his son 5 years after his death in 1440. The white marble tomb is a product of mixed architectural and cultural blend of Hindu, Muslim, Afghan styles. This was the first of its kind in India. At the top is centered a circular main tomb with 4 other supported tombs at 4 corners. The lattice work is also beautiful. In 1659, Sahjahan visited the tomb and was amazed by its beauty. Before constructing Taj Mahal , he sent his architects led by Ostad Hamid to get an idea of the technical knowhow from this tomb. However, it was possibly a ShivaTemple in the past made by Bhuj, as sunplant, lotus, garland of rudrakshya are still depicted on it.

Royal Group :

Taking left to the west of the village crossing Elephant bridge, a little ahead there are the spartan Lohani Caves of Royal Enclave Group. @ INR 5 is the entry fee to the Royal Group, which remains open from 8 am to 5 pm.

Jahaz Mahal

The road moves farther. Near to it, in the midst of 2 artificial lakes, Munja and Kapur is situated Ship Palace or Jahaz Mahal, a ship-shaped 2-storeyed palace. The architectural planning of this ship palace amazes the tourists. When the shadow of the palace is reflected in the lake water on full moon night, it seems as if, a ship is sailing. fromTabeli Mahal it looks more beautiful.

This was built by Sultan Giasuddin as his Harem Mahal. Second opinion is this that it was the summer resort of Malwa King Munjdeb. On the first floor, a tortoise-shaped and on the 2nd floor a lotus-shaped swimming pool are still present. The bathrooms to the north are so exotically designed that tourists may feel like surrounded by 1500 beautiful ladies. More than thousand Turkish and Abyssinian women were brought to this harm.

Tabeli Mahal

Opposite to it, stable of the King's court, 2-storeyed Tabeli Mahal, today it has been converted to an archaeological museum.

Hindola Mahal

A little farther, there is HindolaMahal (1425 AD) or Swing Palace,—a meeting hall of the Kings with their subjects and citizens. The palace is made of sandstone. It was built by Sultan Giasuddin. The lattice work has made the palace more beautiful. Hindu Gods & Goddesses are portrayed and painted on the walls of this mahal. The image of Vishnu is depicted in reverse. It has a T-shaped hall and walls have been constructed at an angle of 77°, so that it appears at first sight, it is hanging in the air. Probably, to facilitate the king to reach the 2nd storey on elephant back it was designed like this way. Fragments of local history recalls that Noorjahan used the cradle in Hindola Mahal.

Roopmati Mahal

Out of the ruined mahals, Roopmati Mahal or the 6.5 m deep Champa Baoli to the north of Munja lake is notable. It was believed the water of Baoli was perfumed like champak flower. Others feel that, the mahal was named after the queen or by the name of the flower like which it looks. An underground tunnel from the mahal is there to reach a safe destination. The hot & cold water were available for bathing at that time. The Hamam of Roopmati is grand.

Beside it, there is Makbara or, Mosque of Dilwara Khan built in 1405.

On the left, Jal Mahal—the ruins of Mughal-Roman sculptural beauty built by Jehangir.

Nahar Jharokha (Tiger Balcony); Ujala and the Andheri—two big wells or Baoli.

Rewa Kund Group:

Roopmati Pavilion

Crossing Sagar Talao 5 km to the south of bus stand is situated Roopmati Pavilion founded by Baj Bahadur in Afghan style of architecture. The pavilion used to be a recreation centre. It has 2 Chabutara, or high tombs. They were built in order to watch and observe movements of the enemy; however Roopmati, the daughter of Man Singh Rathore used to visit Narmada (Mokshoda) river, flowing far away (26 km) at Nimar valley, from the 365 meter high mahal. The ambience is soothing. The sunset and the moonlit night add more to the beauty.
Besides, on the slope of the hill, Baj Bahadur built Rewa Kund to supply water to his palace.

Palace of Baj Bahadur

The palace of Baj Bahadur, an extraordinary blend of Rajasthani-Mughal architecture adjacent to Rewa kund. In the Sangeet Mahal (1508) or Music Conference Hall, musical soiree of Roopmati and Baj Bahadur was a regular feature. Their love immortalized in ballads still vibrates in the air of Rewa Kund villages. Mughal emperor Akbar became almost mad after Roopmati’s excuisite beauty. He sent General Adam Khan to invade Mandu and bring Roopmati to feed his passion. Avoiding battle, Baj Bahadur ran away from Mandu and the injured Roopmati was arrested by Adam Khan. She committed suicide by taking poison to protect her modesty.
Other Monuments:

Nilkanth Palace

Nilkanth Palace of the 16th century, made of red stone is simply unchallenging. A flight of steep stairs with a narrow entrance used to be the old Shiva Temple, which was converted into a water palace by Mughal Governor Shah Badgah Khan for the Hindu Queen of Akbar. On its wall, the Deccan victory of Akbar had been depicted. Akbar built a retreat too. This Mughal Palace surrounded by the water of SagarTalao was a favourite of Jehangir. The sunset looks beautiful from the palace. Bajirao I won Mandu in 1732 and made it a Hindu temple of Lord Shiva after thorough renovation. The temple is shaded under the African Baobab tree. Monkeys are found here. Snakes are also found in numbers, even sometimes spread their hoods over the idol of Lord Shiva. Fountain trickles down on the head of Lord Shiva - the Nilkanth.

Hati mahal

Little away, the river jumps down from the hill. A little ahead to the east of the road, there is Baradari, or pleasure pavillion Hati mahal or the stable for elephants. There is a dome upon it, being supported by pillars like the shape of elephant's leg.

Beside it, there is the grave of Dariya Khan (1526 AD). Nahar (Tiger) Jharokha - a place for hunting tigers.
Besides, there is echo point, on the bank of Sagar Talao. If you say something aloud, your last word resonates in the hills.
Near Royal Enclave, there is Sunset Point, in the calm & quite atmosphere of mountain—the natural beauty of Mandu & sunset look beautiful from here.
There are Jain temples—Ekkhamba or Chorkot.
The latest attraction of Mandu is Mandu or Malab festival in the end of winter.

How to reach Mandu:

Nearest airport and major city is Indore. Nearest rail station is Mhow 66 km, Indore 95, Ratlam 105 km. Bus link has been developed with the 3 railway stations. Mandu has bus link with Amedabad and Vadodara of Gujarat via Dhar.

On Mumbai-Agra NH, Mandu is 19 km away from Gurjari and 95 km away from Indore. Regular bus service is there. Plenty of buses (almost hourly) are available from Dhar for Mandu.
From Indore You can hire a car and can visit Mandu comfortably.

Some travel agents also arrange conducted tours from near the station at Indore. MPTDC also arrange week end tours to Mandu even in the rainy season, when Mandu looks so green and beautiful.

Places to stay at Mandu:

Though most of the tourists use to have a day visit at Mandu, it will be nice to stay here for a day or two to relish the history and beauty of Mandu.
The hotels you can stay at Mandu:
STD code of Mandu +91 7292

Hotel Roopmati Ph: 263270

MPTDC Traveller’s Lodge Ph: 263221

Tourist Cottage, Roopmati Rd Ph: 263235

This article is republished at India Study Channel

Photo attribution:


dede said...

nice post brother, i give you smile too

Priya said...


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Rewa said...

Nice Post !

Did their is any connection of rewa kund with rewa city of madhya prades or from rewa dynasty

Rewa City