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A Travel Blog from India: February 2012

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Romantic ruins of Mandu!

Mandu mesmerises you. Especially if you are there after monsoon. Like we were.

We visited Mandu as a part of 15 days long road trip in central India. We stayed in lovely Jhira Bagh palace in Dhar. The palace being on the highway and on the outskirts of Dhar helped. We did not have to go through the town. The road from palace to Mandu was surprisingly good as this must be the route taken by most tourists coming from Indore.

After fifteen KMs we see a sort of picnic spot with some locals. We could see a huge gorge. We ask the local guy and he says it is called “SUSIDE POINT”. We get down to see what it is all about. I get zapped to see fantastic valley and a nice waterfall. Brinda gets out of the car and get her Nikon. The valley looks beautiful and the gorge really deep. There wasn't much of water in falls – must be a beautiful sight when it rains – but still looked charming. We can now understand why the locals call this SUSIDE POINT!!

Valley view @ Suside point
Beautiful Waterfalls @ Suside point
Mandu or MANDAVA as it was known in medieval times was the largest fortified city in the country. Mandu is a huge, crumbling collection of old buildings from the 15th and 16th centuries, sitting on top of a large, flat mountain, surrounded on all sides by steep sloping sides and rugged hairpin roads. It is steeped in atmosphere and history. Poorna had gone there after rains in year 1986 while posted in MHOW. Mandu is magical after rains. Greenery is soothing and with broken fort walls ,gates and palaces thrown in between it gives a magical look.

Without giving too much of history – which one can get from Wiki – the place today is well preserved by Archaeological survey of India. In fact ASI has published an excellent monograph on the place. One can comfortably spend a day exploring the various monuments in the place. The place still retains its rustic rural charm and is not crowded unlike many of our monuments.

One of the Gates to Mandu
We take a guide as soon as we reach the town. Though the town is well signed, we always feel it is good to have a guide with you so that do don’t have to struggle for directions. Also important is to set expectation clear to guides how much time you can spare to see the place. Guides are garrulous and we need to keep a check on them.

Our first stop is at the Echo point. There are two buildings opposite to each other very far from the road at the edge of the hill. Echo Point is named so because, situated next to a steep hill, the scenic place gets this name from the natural echo phenomenon here.

Echo Point
You stand on the road at a designated point and shout and it gets echoed in it building on the right!! We shout and it works….like the way it does in Golconda in Bijapur. More than the echo part, we loved the setting of these mausoleums in the middle of greenery.

We drive along the road watching many ruins at a distance. Then we see the vast expanse of water set amidst greenery – Sagar Talab. The good monsoon has filled the tank to the brim. It looks lovely and the tank is also used for boating and we could see some honeymooning couples paddling away in the waters!!

Sagar Talab
Roopmati pavilion look imposing from a distance. Built on the highest point of Mandu, with "Open to sky cupolas" it has excellent views of the valley in all directions. Rani Roopmati, the consort of Baz Bahadur lived here and balladeers of Malwa have many stories of romance between them. It is a simple construction with cupolas in the corners.

Roopmati Pavilion from Distance
Eastern elevation - Roppmati Pavillion
Baz Bahadur Palace as seen from the top of Roopmati Pavilion - Notice the greenery around
Archway - Roopmati Pavilion
Rainwater Harvesting techniques - Roopmati Pavilion
Valley view from Roopmati Pavilion

We get down and drive to Baz Bahadur palace. The palace in its heydays must be grand but what remains now looks simple and nice. There is a central pool and one can see steps leading to water from all sides. This is the place from where Baz bahadur used to conduct his activities. There is courtyard inside the palace which were used for song and dance programmes. Large rooms in the palace were meant for private concerts.

 Archway at the entrance of Baz Bahadur Palace
 Water pond inside Baz Bahadur Palace

On the way to the main attraction of Mandu, Jahaj Mahal, we stop at the Rewa kund which supplied water to Roopmati pavilion which also had quarters possibly for Baz Bahadur's troops on its banks.
Rewa Kund

We reach Jahaj Mahal. The first look of the place looks magical. With the water bodies full, you feel as if the Mahal is floating in the water. Built in the design of a huge ship, with water bodies around this is the “Main attraction” of Mandu. You have to give it to our kings and queens of yesteryear for their amazing vision in building these structures. Building in the middle of water bodies naturally kept the palace cool in the scorching summer heat.

Jahaj Mahal - Doesn't it look like a Jahaj!! 

Water body around Jahaj Mahal

Front Elevation - Jahaj Mahal

A side view - Jahaj mahal

Tortoise shaped bathing tank

Water bodies all around!

Ruins of Palaces as seen from the top of Jahaj Mahal

Ruins of Palaces as seen from the top of Jahaj Mahal

Ruins of Palaces as seen from the top of Jahaj Mahal

 Hindola Mahal - Palace built like a swing or Jhoola!!

 Archways inside Hindola mahal

 Beautiful details of Hindola mahal

Panoramic view of water body from the top of Jahaj Mahal

Water channels in Jahaj Mahal

Tank for Rain water harvesting
The elegant Jami Masjid - Notice the domes

 Interior architecture of masjid

Eastern corner of the Masjid

We miss out Hoshang Shah’s tomb and make a quick round of Ashrafi Mahal or Tower of victory. Another interesting story is that the sultan used to make his fat queens walk up the Mahal many times everyday to make them slim. Since the steps of the Mahal are slightly inclined, they had to put in extra effort which made them sweat. Interesting story indeed by our guide. So the original “Stepper” we all use in Gyms was invented in Mandu!!!

The Ashrafi Mahal - Notice the inclined steps

As we get into the car, we notice these huge fruits not seen anywhere before. I ask the guide what it is. He says it is Mandu Imli found in the forests!! We dare not experiment with it.

Mandu Imli

We now bid good bye to Mandu though there is many more monuments to see. We now head to Maheshwar on a road which goes on the edge of the hill providing us beautiful vistas of the valley. 

 Valley views as we go down the hill

 Valley views as we go down the hill

Valley views as we go down the hill

If you are interested in Archeology, Architecture or Sculpture like us, don't miss the following posts in this blog

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