Majestic Mandu: A Visual Journey Through the Cultural Tapestry of Madhya Pradesh

Majestic Mandu: Unveiling the Cultural Splendors of Madhya Pradesh

In the heartland of India lies a hidden gem that beckons travelers and history enthusiasts alike: Mandu, a place where time seems to stand still and every stone tells a tale. Nestled in the Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh, Mandu is a treasure trove of historical and cultural marvels that captivate the soul. Nestled among the mountains of Vindhyachal, Mandu is small in terms of area (21 square kilometers), but its history is very extensive. The memories of many dynasties like Parmar, Chauhan, Ghori, Khilji, Mughal, Maratha that India has seen in the last thousands of years have been preserved in the various architectures of Mandu. It takes those interested in history back a thousand years, while Mandu is an open-air school for architecture connoisseurs and students.

Nestled among the mountains of Vindhyachal, Mandu is small in terms of area (21 square kilometers), but its history is very extensive. The memories of many dynasties like Parmar, Chauhan, Ghori, Khilji, Mughal, Maratha that India has seen in the last thousands of years have been preserved in the various architectures of Mandu. It takes those interested in history back a thousand years, while Mandu is an open-air school for architecture connoisseurs and students.

 

Jahangir’s Reverie: Monsoon Magic in Mandu’s Historic EmbraceNestled among the mountains of Vindhyachal, Mandu is small in terms of area (21 square kilometers), but its history is very extensive. The memories of many dynasties like Parmar, Chauhan, Ghori, Khilji, Mughal, Maratha that India has seen in the last thousands of years have been preserved in the various architectures of Mandu. It takes those interested in history back a thousand years, while Mandu is an open-air school for architecture connoisseurs and students.

The name of Mughal Emperor Jahangir is known for his love of art. It is said that Jahangir developed his skills to such an extent that he could guess the painter of the 17th century by looking at a painting. Most of the time, that assumption turned out to be true. Apart from painting, Jahangir was deeply interested in architecture. Evidence of this can be found in his autobiography, ‘Tuzk-e-Jahangiri‘. The notes taken by Jahangir after his visit to Mandu in Madhya Pradesh in this book are worth quoting here. The translation of the original Urdu sentence is as follows:

I can’t think of any other place in the monsoons like Mandu, with its beautiful architecture, pleasant climate, and breathtaking scenery.

Nestled among the mountains of Vindhyachal, Mandu is small in terms of area (21 square kilometers), but its history is very extensive. The memories of many dynasties like Parmar, Chauhan, Ghori, Khilji, Mughal, Maratha that India has seen in the last thousands of years have been preserved in the various architectures of Mandu. It takes those interested in history back a thousand years, while Mandu is an open-air school for architecture connoisseurs and students.
Pond with water lilies, with the Jahaz Mahal in the background, Royal Palace complex, Mandu.

Anyone who has visited Mandu during or at the end of the monsoon would probably agree with the above sentence about Jahangir. Because the ancient but historic Mandu, with its matchless architecture, assumes a different beauty and mood in rainy weather. Mandu is only 40 kilometers away from the ancient city of Maheshwar in Madhya Pradesh. 

Architectural Odyssey: Navigating Mandu with a Local Guide

Majestic Mandu: A Visual Journey Through the Cultural Tapestry of Madhya Pradesh

Mandu has a large number of architectures and is also very diverse. Hence, a local guide should be accompanied to understand each architecture while visiting. Meanwhile, here is a picture guide for the reader of ‘Voyage-Vista’ who wants to visit Mandu. Do some homework before embarking on a Mandu trip.

 

The Architectural Marvels: Palaces and Forts

1. Jahaz Mahal: The Ship Palace

Nestled among the mountains of Vindhyachal, Mandu is small in terms of area (21 square kilometers), but its history is very extensive. The memories of many dynasties like Parmar, Chauhan, Ghori, Khilji, Mughal, Maratha that India has seen in the last thousands of years have been preserved in the various architectures of Mandu. It takes those interested in history back a thousand years, while Mandu is an open-air school for architecture connoisseurs and students.
Jahaz Mahal

Jahaz Mahal, also known as the Ship Palace, stands as a testament to Mandu’s rich architectural heritage. Nestled within the Mandu architectural complex, this grand structure is located on the left-hand side as you enter. Perched between two artificial lakes, Munj and Kapoor, the palace takes on a rectangular shape with umbrellas adorning its roof. The strategic layout of courtyards and the intricate detailing on the walls showcase the brilliance of medieval craftsmanship. During the monsoon, when both lakes are filled with water, the palace’s reflection resembles a majestic ship, earning it the moniker of the architectural ship palace. This captivating sight adds to the allure of Mandu’s historical treasures.Nestled among the mountains of Vindhyachal, Mandu is small in terms of area (21 square kilometers), but its history is very extensive. The memories of many dynasties like Parmar, Chauhan, Ghori, Khilji, Mughal, Maratha that India has seen in the last thousands of years have been preserved in the various architectures of Mandu. It takes those interested in history back a thousand years, while Mandu is an open-air school for architecture connoisseurs and students.

Gyasuddin Khilji built this palace for the residence of more than 1500 queens. There are three large halls connected by a corridor in the middle of the lower floor and a small room at the very end. There is an open bath-like area, closed from three sides, located at the northern end. Which has a beautiful, artfully carved spiral canal carrying water. One of the reasons for creating such canals that carry water to the bathhouses may be the

Majestic Mandu: A Visual Journey Through the Cultural Tapestry of Madhya Pradesh
Jahaz Mahal,

purification of water, if it is an art. As the water moves through the long canals, the impurities settle down, and finally, the clear water collects in the bath tub. The appearance of this place from above is like a tortoise and a lotus, whose symmetry and beauty are astonishing. If you want to enjoy a beautiful view of the entire ship palace, you should go to the Taveli Mahel next to the entrance.

 

2. Taveli Mahel (Palace)

Nestled among the mountains of Vindhyachal, Mandu is small in terms of area (21 square kilometers), but its history is very extensive. The memories of many dynasties like Parmar, Chauhan, Ghori, Khilji, Mughal, Maratha that India has seen in the last thousands of years have been preserved in the various architectures of Mandu. It takes those interested in history back a thousand years, while Mandu is an open-air school for architecture connoisseurs and students.
Taveli Mahal

Earlier, there were stables here, which were destroyed, and a palace was erected on them. Today, the second floor of the palace is closed, and a museum has been built on the rest. In the monsoon, when there is water in the lake and the forests are growing all around, the beauty of Taveli Mahal and Jahaz Mahal flourishes.

3. Mandu Fort: Sentinel of History

Nestled among the mountains of Vindhyachal, Mandu is small in terms of area (21 square kilometers), but its history is very extensive. The memories of many dynasties like Parmar, Chauhan, Ghori, Khilji, Mughal, Maratha that India has seen in the last thousands of years have been preserved in the various architectures of Mandu. It takes those interested in history back a thousand years, while Mandu is an open-air school for architecture connoisseurs and students.
Mandu Fortress

The formidable Mandu Fort stands proudly on a rocky plateau, overlooking the vast expanse below. Its massive gates and intricate carvings transport visitors to a bygone era. As we explore its ramparts, we can almost hear the echoes of the past, resonating with tales of valor and conquest.

4. Hindola Mahel (Palace)

Nestled among the mountains of Vindhyachal, Mandu is small in terms of area (21 square kilometers), but its history is very extensive. The memories of many dynasties like Parmar, Chauhan, Ghori, Khilji, Mughal, Maratha that India has seen in the last thousands of years have been preserved in the various architectures of Mandu. It takes those interested in history back a thousand years, while Mandu is an open-air school for architecture connoisseurs and students.

Built by Hoshang Shah, the palace is known as the Hindola (a swing) because of its sloping walls. Viewed from above, the whole structure looks like an English ‘T’ shape. Behind the palace, there is a large ramp called ‘Hathi Chadhao’ on the outside. As the name suggests, it was used to bring guests on elephants to the palace. The decorations in Hindola Mahal are of the usual type. However, the construction of the whole building is something special.

 

Majestic Mandu: A Visual Journey Through the Cultural Tapestry of Madhya Pradesh

As such, the outer walls of the palace slope inward as they go up. Also, the hall is not fully enclosed from above; the room has six arched doors on either side with beautifully carved windows in Islamic style. Thus, due to the open structure rather than the enclosed one, the palace is open and creates a wonderful design of sunlight and shadow during the day.

 

5. Rani Rupmati Mahel

Nestled among the mountains of Vindhyachal, Mandu is small in terms of area (21 square kilometers), but its history is very extensive. The memories of many dynasties like Parmar, Chauhan, Ghori, Khilji, Mughal, Maratha that India has seen in the last thousands of years have been preserved in the various architectures of Mandu. It takes those interested in history back a thousand years, while Mandu is an open-air school for architecture connoisseurs and students.
Rani Roopmati Pavilion

In 1534, Malwa (Mandu) province of Madhya Pradesh came under the rule of Mughal Emperor Humayun. But within a few years, Sher Shah Suri brought Mandu under his rule and appointed Shujat Khan as Suba of Mandu. After Shujat Khan’s death, Malik Bayazid won the bloody battle for succession among his three children, crowned himself as the independent ruler of Mandu, and ascended the throne as Sultan ‘Baj Bahadur’.

 

 

Nestled among the mountains of Vindhyachal, Mandu is small in terms of area (21 square kilometers), but its history is very extensive. The memories of many dynasties like Parmar, Chauhan, Ghori, Khilji, Mughal, Maratha that India has seen in the last thousands of years have been preserved in the various architectures of Mandu. It takes those interested in history back a thousand years, while Mandu is an open-air school for architecture connoisseurs and students.

Initially, Baj Bahadur ruled well. Once, when he was out hunting, he saw a girl named Rupmati singing melodiously on the banks of the river Narmada. Baaj Bahadur fell madly in love upon seeing her and proposed to her for marriage. Before the marriage, Rupmati made a condition to live in a palace overlooking the holy Narmada river, which Baj Bahadur accepted and gave her the status of queen. A beautiful palace was also built for Rupmati in a high place in Mandu. The Narmada could be seen while standing in the palace. Both their lives were shaped by music, poetry, and the arts. When Akbar’s generals,Nestled among the mountains of Vindhyachal, Mandu is small in terms of area (21 square kilometers), but its history is very extensive. The memories of many dynasties like Parmar, Chauhan, Ghori, Khilji, Mughal, Maratha that India has seen in the last thousands of years have been preserved in the various architectures of Mandu. It takes those interested in history back a thousand years, while Mandu is an open-air school for architecture connoisseurs and students. Adham Khan and Pir Mohammad, who had become enamored with stories of Rupmati’s appearance, invaded Mandu in 1561, Baj Bahadur’s small army could not resist them. Seeing the defeat of Baj Bahadur in the war, the queen Rupmati chose to commit suicide by poisoning herself rather than surrendering to the enemy. Meanwhile, Baj Bahadur fled south towards Khandesh. After some time, he regained Mandu with military help from other kingdoms, but the rule did not last long. The Mughal Emperor Akbar’s army invaded Mandu and defeated and captured Baj Bahadur. Baj Bahadur spent the rest of his life in the service of Akbar. According to historical records, Baj Bahadur can be considered the last independent royal of Mandu/Malwa. Much of the architecture seen today in Mandu dates back to the period of Baj Bahadur.

6. Asharfi Mahel

Majestic Mandu: A Visual Journey Through the Cultural Tapestry of Madhya Pradesh
Asharfi Mahel

Ashrafi Mahal is probably the most beautiful architecture of the golden period of Mandu. Hoshang Shah had it built in front of the Jami Masjid, although it was then a madaresa, where the students had rooms to eat and live. Over time, the building began to be used for various purposes. Later, Mahmood Shah converted it into the site of his tomb. A mausoleum was built here, but the construction proved too heavy, and within a few years it fell to the ground.

Four minarets were erected on the four sides of the mausoleum. One of the minarets was made seven stories high by Mahmood Khilji as a symbol of his victory over Mewad. That minaret, like Vijayastambha, however, collapsed along with the mausoleum. Today, only its ground floor is visible.

Cultural Kaleidoscope: Mandu’s Rich Heritage

1. Roopmati’s Pavilion: A Love Story in StoneMajestic Mandu: A Visual Journey Through the Cultural Tapestry of Madhya Pradesh

Perched on the southern edge of the fort, Roopmati’s Pavilion narrates a poignant love story. The pavilion offers panoramic views of the Narmada River and the surrounding landscape. The love affair between Roopmati and Baz Bahadur, the king of Mandu, adds a romantic allure to this historical marvel.

2. Reva Kund and Baz Bahadur’s Palace: The King’s Abode

Reva Kund is a natural reservoir that was developed by Baj Bahadur, and a canal was built

Majestic Mandu: A Visual Journey Through the Cultural Tapestry of Madhya Pradesh
Reva kund

from it to supply some water to Rani Rupmati’s palace. Today, Rewa Kund has religious significance. Devotees who circumambulate the Narmada regularly visit that tank. Next to the tank is an arched doorway.

To the east of Reva Kund stands the Baj Bahadur Mahal, which can be reached by climbing forty steps on a beautiful slope of a forest-covered mountain. It was built by Nasiruddin in 1508, but later Baj Bahadur converted into a palace. There is a water tank in the middle of the palace. Umbrellas erected on the roof look beautiful.Majestic Mandu: A Visual Journey Through the Cultural Tapestry of Madhya Pradesh

Baz Bahadur’s Palace stands as a testament to Mandu’s royal legacy. The palace, with its courtyards and intricately designed halls, reflects the opulence of a bygone era. Visitors can immerse themselves in the regal ambiance, imagining the grandeur of courtly life that once graced these halls.

Spiritual Oasis: Mandu’s Sacred Enclaves

1. Jami Masjid: A Spiritual Symphony in Stone

Majestic Mandu: A Visual Journey Through the Cultural Tapestry of Madhya Pradesh
Entrance to Jami Masjid mosque

At the heart of Mandu lies the grand Jami Masjid, an architectural marvel that transcends religious boundaries. The mosque, with its imposing domes and intricate carvings, stands as a symbol of unity and harmony. The vast courtyard echoes with the prayers of centuries, creating an ethereal atmosphere.

The construction of the Jami Masjid was started by Hoshang Shah and completed by Mahamud Shah Khilji in 1454. It is

Majestic Mandu: A Visual Journey Through the Cultural Tapestry of Madhya Pradesh
Mihrab and minbar in Jami Masjid mosque,

the largest of all the temples in Mandu. The Jami Masjid is not very artistic, but it is elegant in appearance. It is built of tumbled sandstone, following the style of worship of the city of Damascus, Syria. Spread over an area of 100 square meters, the mosque has three main domes and a number of smaller domes. Tall arches give the mosque beauty. The concept of the enclosure of the domes may not be clear from a distance, but when you stand on the premises and look up, you get a clear picture of the size and construction of the domes.

 

2. Hoshang Shah’s Tomb: A Beacon of Persian Influence

Majestic Mandu: A Visual Journey Through the Cultural Tapestry of Madhya Pradesh
Hoshang Shah’s tomb

Hoshang Shah’s Tomb, the first marble edifice in India, exudes an aura of serenity. Influenced by Persian architecture, the tomb is a harmonious blend of intricate details and pristine white marble. As visitors stroll through the serene surroundings, they can feel the spiritual resonance that permeates this sacred space.

Dilawar Khan Ghori, the Subedar of Mandu in Tughlaq rule in 1401, declared himself an independent king and made a town called ‘Dhar’ his capital. After the death of Dilawar, his son Alp Khan assumed the name ‘Hoshang Shah’ and became king in 1405, shifting the capital from Dhar to Mandu. The town of Hoshangabad in Madhya Pradesh was also built by him.

mandu hoshang shahs tomb
Hoshang Shah’s Tomb,

The practice of using white marble for the mausoleums of Muslim rulers over time is believed to have come into vogue after the construction of Hoshang Shah’s tomb. It is said that before the construction of the Taj Mahal (in 1659), Shah Jahan visited Hoshang Shah’s tomb with his sculptors and decided on the design of the white dome.

The tomb is situated in the middle of a quadrangular room under a large dome that is entered through a domed hall. The carvings around the arches and doorways are elegant.

The main attractions of Mandu generally include Jahaz Palace, Hindola Palace, Palace of Baj Bahadur and Rani Rupmati, Jami Masjid, etc. But some other historical buildings are also worth seeing here. Finally, let’s check their list too.

3. Champa Baoli:

Majestic Mandu: A Visual Journey Through the Cultural Tapestry of Madhya Pradesh
Majestic Mandu: A Visual Journey Through the Cultural Tapestry of Madhya Pradesh

A sweet water well known as baoli or bawdi. The Champa Baoli is located within the imperial complex, and its water was mainly used for the adjacent hammams (baths). Above Baoli is a complex network of many interconnected basements. Some of the cellars protrude towards the surface of the Munj lake, where they serve as air ventilation. This means that the cold air coming from the Munj lake would enter the basement and go out through the well through the rooms of the palace, and thus these rooms would stay cool even on hot days.

4. Hamam:

Majestic Mandu: A Visual Journey Through the Cultural Tapestry of Madhya Pradesh

Just next to the Champa Baoli is a Turkish-style hamam (bathhouse) with a small stone sitting area where the planks are attached to the wall. The stone walls also have special tables for bringing hot and cold water, which join each other a little further and enter the bathhouse. The ceiling of the bathroom is carved with beautiful stars, the light coming from which creates a unique experience.

5.  Jal Mahal:Majestic Mandu: A Visual Journey Through the Cultural Tapestry of Madhya Pradesh

On the north side of Munj Lake is the now completely ruined Jal Mahal, the surrounding empty space suggesting a small lake. The stepped Jal Mahal in the middle seems to have been the favorite place of the kings of Malwa during the monsoons after the place was flooded in the rains. A quick visit to Dilawar Khan’s mosque, Gada Shah’s shop and his house, Ujala Baoli, and Andheri Baoli, located just opposite, can also be done in the same complex. Dai Ka Mahal, Dai Ki Chhoti Bahan Ka Mahal, Caravan Sarai, Masjid of Malik Mugith (father of Mahmood Khilji) etc. are also worth seeing.Majestic Mandu: A Visual Journey Through the Cultural Tapestry of Madhya Pradesh

To protect the city from invasions, Hoshang Shah built a total of 12 gates around the city, of which only the Delhi Gate is still standing. Darya Khan’s tomb is located next to a water tank in a quadrangular complex. Hathi Mahal is located a little away from it. This architecture is known to be so named because of its unusually thick walls and massive pillars.

Scattered architectures around include Chishti Khan’s Palace, Neelkanth Temple, andMajestic Mandu: A Visual Journey Through the Cultural Tapestry of Madhya Pradesh Songarh Fort, built by the Marathas in the 18th and 19th centuries. Apart from this, there is no shortage of architecture in small and big tombs, bastions for posts, palaces, residential houses, gates, and shops built for the royal family or traders. It is said that it is not possible that you will not see any historical architecture if you walk 50 meters in Mandu.

Surrounded by mountains and valleys, the beauty of this region flourishes in the monsoons, and the historical heritage is also different. For this experience, Mandu is a must-visit for two to three days.

For Your KnowledgeMajestic Mandu: A Visual Journey Through the Cultural Tapestry of Madhya Pradesh

  • Mandu is a very small village. However, the tour offers accommodation and food (vegetarian only), which is also modest. MP Tourism’s Malwa Retreat and Malwa Resort are good places to stay. (Link for online booking: Click Here). Apart from this, there are Jain and Hindu Dharamshalas, Hotel Maharaj, and Hotel Rupmati, which are good options for food.
  • Mandu’s attractions are spread over a wide area. A little can be walked, while a lot has to be moved in one’s own car. There is no rickshaw facility. So it is better to arrange a taxi from the hotel where you have dropped off. Along with dry snacks, a water bottle must be kept.
  • Mandu district headquarters is well connected by road to Dhar, Ujjain, and Indore. Indore (100 km) is the nearest airport and railway station. Mandu can be reached by taxi from here. Maheshwar to Mandu is barely 1.5 hours by highway, so a 1-2 day trip to Maheshwar can also be planned.

 

Conclusion: Mandu, a Timeless Tapestry

In conclusion, Mandu is not merely a destination; it is a journey through time, a visual odyssey through the cultural tapestry of Madhya Pradesh. Its palaces, forts, and sacred enclaves stand as testaments to the rich history and artistic brilliance of this region.


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