The Hindola Mahal was one of the many buildings that made up the royal palace at Mandu. Believed to be constructed during Hoshang Shah’s reign, the Mahal was probably used as a durbar or meeting hall where the king addressed his citizens. The Hindola Mahal, literally “the swinging place” in English, is resplendent and a reminder of the magnificence of the kingdoms of yesteryear.
There is a replica of this palace in the Warangal Fort, possibly constructed under the direction of the architect responsible for the Hindola Mahal. A sample of the Malwa style of architecture, the outer walls or the buttresses are sloping walls inclined at an impressive 77 degrees, giving the palace its name.
The Hindola Mahal is an important marker of history and architecture enthusiasts will find the mahal a portal to travel through and experience the echoes of a durbar long buried in the sands of time.
Hoshang Shah’s Tomb is India’s first marble structure and one of the finest examples of Afghan architecture. The incredible dome, the arches and the lattice work served as the inspiration for the Taj Mahal. The blue enamel stars and the lotus on the southern doorway are an inspired touch of colour to an otherwise white structure.
If the Taj Mahal is an intriguing monument to love and history, Hoshang’s Tomb is a monument that somehow personifies the Taj Mahal and makes it more approachable. Hoshang Shah is credited in history for more reasons than just being the first Islamic king of the Malwa region.
He was called by the name Alp Khan before he renamed himself Hoshang Shah after becoming the King of Malwa. He ruled Malwa for 27 years and is remembered for his fine taste in the arts and architecture. He is also credited for making Mandu one of the most strong and secured forts of India.
The Jama Masjid, built in 1454 by the rulers of the Ghauri dynasty, has stood a silent spectator to history. A place of worship and historical significance, the pillars and the cobbled pathways offer a place to introspect and regain balance amidst the hectic pace of life. The magnificence of the building is reminiscent of the great mosque of Damascus.
The mosque reflects the Pashtun style of architecture and Jama Masjid literally translates as the Great Mosque. Despite the sheer size, the simplicity of the architecture makes the mosque inviting as against being formidable.
The large courtyards, numerous pillars and grand entrances speak to those who pass through just as they did many years ago. If religion is not the reason, the magnificence of a structure that has stood the test of time and echoes of grandeur and magnificence must be experienced to be understood.
Rewa Kund is another monument dedicated to Baz Bahadur and Roopmati’s legendary love story. Rewa Kund is an artificial lake that Baz Bahadur built in order to ensure water supply to Roopmati’s pavilion. The other claim to fame that the lake has staked is of a religious nature.
Like many other lakes in the area, the lake’s survival to the present day is owed to the pious Hindus who have, through time, protected the lake from oblivion. The area surrounding the lake has seen construction over time. The north-western side of the lake has a pavilion that has been expanded over time, displaying varying styles of pillars and arches, providing a resting area for pilgrims and pleasure seekers alike.
The northern end of the lake has a unique contraption called a water lift that provides water supply to Baz Bahadur’s palace. A visit to the Rewa Kund is usually a part of itineraries that cover the palaces in Mandu.
Jahaz Mahal is a beautiful, well-kept, historically significant part of Mandu. The location between two lakes, Kapur Talao and Munj Talao, and the appearance of a ship gave the palace its name, Ship Palace. Built during the Khilji dynasty by Ghiya-ud-din Khilji, the palace served as a harem for the philandering Sultan.
With the numerous fountains and the tranquility of flowing water through the canals, it is easy to see why the Sultan thought the location was perfect for his harem consisting of thousands of women. The architecture, with two stories, numerous pillars, arches and details, such as tiling over the arches, amongst many others make visiting the place worthwhile.
The palace offers photo opportunities for enthusiasts like no other. The panoramic view of the lakes, surrounding landscaped gardens and the greenery beyond is breathtaking. The views make even the most philistine person take a step back and appreciate nature in all her glory.
Roopmati Pavilion states that a love saga evokes a sigh from the hardest of hearts regardless of the era. This pavilion still stands today as a testimony to Rani Roopmati and Baz Bahadur’s love story. The love story transcends religion and worldly ties and is a story of love and sacrifice inked forever on the ground in Mandu.
Their love saga has seen numerous retelling sessions, so many times over that nobody can today claim to know the truth. Although the original structure was built as an army observation point, the western additions to the structure enabled the queen to gaze on her lover’s palace and her beloved Narmada river.
Today the scenic views from the palace whisk travellers into another dimension where love conquers all. Echo Point is another famous attraction situated very close to the place. The sunset views from the palace over the Narmada river make a mark on all those who witness the sight.
Baz Bahadur’s Palace is a 16th century building that encloses huge courtyards, large halls and terraces that offer breathtaking views and has been attracting tourists from all over the world. One of the most visited places in Mandu, Baz Bahadur’s Palace is visible from Roopmati Pavilion.
The palace offers the other half of the love story between Roopmati and Baz Bahadur, a love that transcends religion and worldly ties. Although the walls of the palace show the effects of time and nature, while walking through the long corridors amidst the numerous pillars and arched entrances, the echoes of a resplendent past are heard throughout the palace.
The gardens offer wonderful views and tranquil rest areas. Built in 1509, the palace has several halls in which Baz Bahadur held court between 1555 and 1561. The palace is an exemplary specimen of the art and architecture of the time.
Bagh Caves, situated close to Mandu, are a group of nine caves which served as Buddhist monasteries. The beautiful ornamentation on the interior walls of the caves has made the caves a must-see destination in Mandu. The caves cannot be accurately dated but have been dated between 400 and 700 AD. The fact that the cave paintings have survived all the ravages of time and nature alone makes them remarkable.
The use of the word cave to describe the monasteries has been inaccurate as they are not natural, but man-made dwellings, cut out of a perpendicular rock face on the slope of the Vindhyas. The caves are very similar to the Ajanta Caves in their construction.
All the caves have similar layouts with quadrangular rooms and a small chamber, usually at the very end, which serves as a prayer hall. The caves are worth a visit even if the visit is solely to see paintings that date back thousands of years.
Rupayan Museum is one of the many places frequented by tourists. The exhibits in a museum vary; they may be temporary or permanent. The exhibits may pertain to science, arts and crafts, evolution or even history. Museums often in cities and towns across the world offer glimpses into a way of life, a culture often long lost in time and translation. A museum, therefore, may be seen as a lifetime compressed into exhibits.
Rupayan Museum in Mandu offers similar snapshots of the way of life of the locals through exhibits of tools and crafts indigenous to the locals. The brainchild of internationally acclaimed folklorist, the late Kamal Kothari, the museum is located on the outskirts of Jodhpur.
The museum sits on ten acres of land allotted by the state government to further understanding the “technology of living”. The Rupayan Sansthan is credited with being the curator of the museum.
Dai Ki Chotti Behen Ka Mahal is one group of monuments situated around the Sagar Talao. The monument is actually a mausoleum for the sister of a wet nurse. Wet nurses played an important role in the social upper crusts of ancient India. Wet nurses breastfeed and care for another woman’s child or children. Wet nurses were largely employed by the royal families of yesteryear for various reasons.
The wet nurse usually held positions of reasonable power and importance. Their positions were attributed to their ability to nourish and care for a member of the royal household. The important positions held by the wet nurses are reinstated through the monuments dedicated to the wet nurse and the sister of the wet nurse. Dai Ki Chotti Behen Ka Mahal literally translates to the wet nurse’s sister’s palace.
Darwazas simply translates as gateways or doorways. They form the entryways into the city of monuments. Mandu’s claim to fame through history has been the fort that formed the perimeter of the city. It has been one of India’s most fortified cities in history. The fort till date is the most magnificent of forts that lives up to its reputation.
The 12 gateways at regular intervals break the 45-km wall that encloses the city of Mnadu. The most celebrated gateway of all is the Delhi Darwaza that served as the main entrance to the city. The present day road or entrance to the city is through the Alamgir and Bhangi Darwaza. Rampol Darwaza, Tarapur Gate and Jehangir Gate are some other gateways of importance.
The entryway of a kingdom, it was believed, proclaimed the might and the dominance to all those who witnessed a city from the outside. The gates of Mandu were a magnificent portal to resplendent architectural marvels within the city.
The Lohani Caves and Temples in sharp contrast to the rest of Mandu are stark and strangely devoid of inscriptions and carvings that are so much a part of nearly all the buildings in Mandu. The Lohani Caves are a group of cells cut into rocks. They were initially meant to serve as residences for Shaiva Yogis. A storage tank cut into the rock served as a water source and forms the entrance to the caves.
Lohani Caves have a disputed history. While some believe that the caves served solely as residences to the yogis, there are others who believe in the religious idols retrieved from the caves as pointing to the caves having religious significance. These idols are currently located in the museum in the Dharmashala of Hoshang Shah’s Tomb. It is also believed that the temples within the caves were desecrated to provide masonry for the Islamic places of worship within the city.
Malik Mughis Masjid is one of the oldest Islamic places of religious worship in Mandu. The mosque was constructed around 1432 and is a part of historic buildings constructed around the 15th century in the area surrounding the Sagar Talao Lake. An intriguing feature of the mosque is that it was constructed from construction materials salvaged from other Hindu temples in the surrounding area.
The interior still shows remnants of beautiful mosaic tile work and Islamic calligraphy on the interior walls. Although the Malik Mughis Masjid is in a degree of ruin, it is easy to see the mosque in its entire splendour with a little imagination after touring the Jama Masjid and the mosque of Dilawar Khan, two other mosques from the same era.
The entrance porch has a dome missing but is a magnificent portal nonetheless. Tourists and those with an avid interest in history and Islam will find the mosque intriguing.
Shri Mandavgarh Teerth Mandavgarh is located within the walls of the city of Mandu. The temple is one of the few heritages of Hindu origin that survives to this day. Mandavgarh has also been known as Mandu and the city of joy at various points in time. What remains a constant irrespective of the name is the grandeur within the city walls.
Adding to this grandeur and resplendent heritage that is Mandu is this temple, Shri Mandavgarh Teerth. The temple is unique and often visited to see the white idol within the sanctum sanctorum of the temple. The temple idolises Shri Suparshvanath Bhagwan. The lord is portrayed in a Padmasana posture.
The temple is worth a visit not only to witness a tradition hundreds, if not thousands, of years old, but also because it is a well-maintained temple. Shri Jain Shwetambar Teerth Pedhi is responsible for the management of the temple along with the surrounding bhojanshala and dharmashala.
Chappan Mahal Museum is a showcase of tribal arts and crafts and ancient artefacts. As a recent addition to the geography of Mandu, all the latest technological advancements, such as audio and visual aids to the exhibits, lighting arrangements, have been deployed in the museum. The State Archeological Department was consulted in the layout of the museum and procurement of the exhibits displayed in the museum.
References to each and every exhibit displayed in the museum make the visit worthwhile. Given the involvement of the State Archeological Department in the museum, the authenticity of the artefacts is assured.
The district administration of Dhar, in order to further the tourist influx into Dhar, initiated many projects like an electric sub-station, Ashmadha, Roopayan showroom, Spardha adventure point, signboards, youth hostel amongst many others. One such project initiated by the administration is the Chappan Mahal Museum.