Mandu is a celebration in stone, of life and joy, of the love of the poet-prince Baz Bahadur for his beautiful consort, Rani Roopmati. The balladeers of Malwa still sing of the romance of these royal lovers,and high up on the crest of a hill, Roopmati's Pavilion still gazes down at Baz Bahadur's Palace, a magnificent expression of Afghan architecture . Under Mughal rule, Mandu was a pleasure resort, its lakes and palaces the scenes of splendid and extravagant festivities and the glory of Mandu lives on, in legends and songs, chronicled for posterity.
Perched along the Vindhya ranges at an altitude of 2,000 feet, Mandu, with its natural defenses, was originally the fort capital of the Parmar rulers of Malwa. Towards the end of the 13th century, it came under the sway of the Sultans of Malwa, the first of whom named it Shadiabad - 'city of joy'. And indeed the pervading spirit of Mandu was of gaiety; and its rulers built exquisite palaces like the Jahaz and Hindola Mahals, ornamental canals, baths and pavilions, as graceful and refined as those times of peace and plenty. Under Mughal rule, Mandu was a pleasure resort, its lakes and palaces the scenes of splendid and extravagant festivities. And the glory of Mandu lives on, in legends and songs, chronicled for posterity. Each of Mandu's structures is an architectural gem; some are outstanding like the massive Jami Masjid and Hoshang Shah's tomb, which provided inspiration to the master builders of the Taj Mahal centuries later.
Mandu enjoys an extreme climate. The best season to visit this place is during the monsoon, that is, from July to September. While other places in Madhya Pradesh and most of the north and peninsular India are closed for tourism during monsoon, Mandu is more of a monsoon resort than anything else. The natural surroundings are in full bloom during this time.
Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated all over the Malwa region with much fun and gaiety. The festival is celebrated during September/October. The celebrations provide a window to the rich and colorful cultural heritage of the region.
The Malwa Festival is organized in Mandu by Madhya Pradesh Tourism Department. The traditional art and cultural heritage of the region are displayed during this festival.
Bagh Caves is around 50 km off Mandu on the road between Indore and Vadodra in Gujarat. These Buddhist caves date from AD 400 to 700 and were in a poor condition until few years back when the restoration work began. There are some government guesthouses and dak bungalows nearby.
Jama Masjid in Mandu
Attractions and Places to Visit in Mandu
Hindola Maha: An audience hall, also belonging to Ghiyas-ud-din's reign, it derives its name of "swinging palace" from its sloping sidewalls. Superb and innovative techniques are also evident in its ornamental facade, delicate trellis work in sand stone and beautifully moulded columns. To the West of Hindola Mahal there are several unidentified buildings which still bear traces of their past grandeur. Amidst these is an elaborately constructed well called Champa Baoli which is connected with underground vaulted rooms where arrangements for cold and hot water were made. Other places of interest in this enclave are Dilawar Khan's Mosque, the Nahar Jharokha (tiger balcony), Taveli Mahal, the two large wells called the Ujali (bright) and Andheri (dark) Baolis and Gada Shah's Shop and House, all worth a visit.
The Central Group Hoshang Shah's Tomb: India's first marble edifice, it is one of the most refined examples of Afghan architecture. Its unique features are the magnificently proportioned dome, marble lattice work of remarkable delicacy and porticoed courts and towers to mark the four corners of the rectangle. Shah Jehan sent four of his great architects to study the design of and draw inspiration from the Tomb. Among them was Ustad Hamid, who was also associated with the construction of Taj Mahal.
Jami Masjid: Inspired by the great mosque of Damascus, the Jami Masjid was conceived on a grand scale, with a high plinth and a huge domed porch projecting in the centre, the background dominated by similar imposing domes with the intervening space filled up by innumerable domes. One is struck by the huge proportions and the stern simplicity of its construction. The great court of the mosque is enclosed on all sides by huge colonnades with a rich and pleasing variety in the arrangement of arches, pillars, number of bays, and in the rows of domes above.
Roopmati's Pavilion: The pavilion was originally built as an army observation post. From its hilltop perch, this graceful structure with its two pavilions was a retreat of the lovely queen, from where she could see Baz Bahadur's palace and the Narmada flowing through the Nimar plains far below.
Hathi Mahal, Darya Khan's Tomb, Dai ka Mahal, Dai ki Chhotti, Behan Ka Mahal, Malik Mughit's Mosque and Jali Mahal are some of the other fascinating monuments. There is also the Echo Point, the 'Delphic Oracle' of Mandu. A shout from here reverberates far below and is heard clearly back. The Lohani Caves and Temple Ruins, not far from the royal enclave area also merit a visit due to their association with Mandu's history and monuments. Sunset Point, in front of the caves affords a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside.
How to Reach Mandu
Air : The nearest airport is at Indore, 99 km away,connected to Mumbai, Delhi, Gwalior and Bhopal.
Rail: Convenient railheads are Ratlam (124 km ) on the Mumbai-Delhi main line and Indore (99km).
Road : Regular bus services connect Mandu with Indore, Dhar,Mhow, Ratlam, Ujjain and Bhopal.