Magical Mandu: Cycle Through The Ruins Of The Empire
Mandu is endowed with a very attractive natural scenery, the best of Mandu is further enhanced by about a dozen of lake and ponds interspersed on it. The hill may therefore very well be styled as the beauty spot of Malwa and this is probably the reason why the city, enclosed within its fort walls when in its prime was called by the Muslim rulers as Shadiabad (The City Of Joy).
Mumbai - Mandu - Mumbai
Well for starters and low budget traveller, Indore is the nearest city to Mandu and Indore has an airport which is 84 kms away and takes 2 hours to reach Mandu. So plan your trip in a way that you reach Indore first and then make your way to Mandu. But, the flights to Indore will be costly which can raise your travel expenses by a great deal.
The cheapest and convenient way to reach Indore is by train. Due to train connectivity, it makes sense to either explore it as a weekend trip from Mumbai or you can combine it with a day trip to Maheshwar (Like I did) over a long weekend. By train, it will take 14 to 15 hours to Indore from Mumbai.
From Mumbai, you can take 12961 Avantika Express on Friday from Mumbai Central at 07:10 PM and will reach Indore the next day around 09:15 AM.
Alternatively from Mumbai, you can also take 22943 Pune Indore Express on Friday leaving Kalyan Junction at 06:23 PM and will reach Indore the next day around 08:30 AM.
For return journey from Indore, you can take 12962 Avantika Express on Sunday leaves from Indore at 04:15 PM and will reach Mumbai Central next day early morning around 06:10 AM
Indore to Mandu
Local Bus Services: Mandu is well connected from Indore and Dhar. From Indore, there are few direct buses to Mandu. You need to check for it at Gangwal Bus Stand or Sarawate Bus Stand. Alternatively one can take a break journey to Dhar and from Dhar, they are regular buses and even local transport which goes to Mandu. Most important bus frequency to Dhar is must better than the direct bus frequency to Mandu. As per local, they are hardly 2-3 direct bus from Indore to Mandu.
Hire A Cab: Probably one of the most expensive options as it can easily cost you around ₹5000 to ₹6000. If you are 3-4 people then you can consider this option but if you are travelling solo or in a group of two, then this will again be a little expensive.
Two Wheeler: The road between Indore to Madu is in good condition, driving all the way to Mandu make sense. So you can hire a bike/scooty in Indore. This is perfect for solo travellers and budget travellers. A scooty or bike will cost you around ₹1000 to ₹2000 for 2 days and it will take around two hours to reach Mandu from Indore. However, make sure you have your driving license with you.
Where to Stay?
Malwa Resort a property of MPT (Madhya Pradesh Tourism) located in the centre part of the town which makes it an ideal place to stay. Base category room will cost you around ₹ 3500 per room/night. Apart from the fabulous view of Sagar Lake from the room, you must check for "Puri Bhaji" at breakfast. They make amazing Puri Bhaji.
If you are travelling in a group of 8-10 peoples you can also check out Malwa Retreat another property of MPT (Madhya Pradesh Tourism), which has a dormitory. Including breakfast per bed will cost you ₹ 550 per night.
Day One: Magical Mandu
If you have travelled to Mandu through hired cab or bike you don't need to worry about local transport. But would recommend exploring the town on a cycle. You can easily get a cycle on rent at the bus stand or at the Main Market area. Simply, you can just request your hotel front desk to arrange, they will surely do it.
Apart from a few isolated ruins of Mandu are clustered around a small area. The first thing that you will notice is the Alamgir Darwaza one of the twelve ghats of the Mandu Fort.
The archaeological sites of Mandu can be classified into five broad groups:
Rewa Kund Group
Sagar Talao Group
Darya Khan's Tomb Group
Royal Enclave Group
Mandu Village Group
Apart from these major groups, there are several scattered archaeological sites all over Mandu. There are also several gateways leading to the fortified medieval settlement of Mandu.
On day one you can easily cover the first two groups. So let start with -
Rewa Kund Group
Rani Rupamati Pavillion
The original structure is actually a sandstone structure built as an army observation post. This can be clearly seen from the east which consists of a lower but massive hall with two rooms
at both ends. The building with the pavillion above belongs to the earliest stage built originally for maintaining an effective military watch over any possible enemy movements. The corridors in these basements have a number of arched opening across their width to support the ceilings. The western area at the basement contains a large cistern to which only rainwater could be supplied during monsoons by means of a channel running from the roof to the reservoir below.
Rani Rupamati Pavillion knows after Rupamati who used to come here daily for darshan of
the sacred river Narmada. To enjoy the romantic beauty of the site one should visit it at the time of sunset or in a clear moon-light.
Baz Bahadur Palace
Baz Bahadur's Palace is situated on the slope of a hill in the midst of a picturesque nature of this setting the main gateway palace is approached by forty broad steps with landings at intervals. It was constructed in the early 16th century and is notable for its spacious
courtyard fringed with halls, and high terraces which give a terrific view of the lovely surrounding. The main palace consists of a spacious open court with halls and rooms on all the four sides and a beautiful cistern in its middle.
On the terrace are seen two beautiful baradaris which provide an enchanting view of the surrounding country. There is an inscription in Persian over the main entrance which assigns its construction to Sultan Nassir Shah in A.H. 914 (A.D. 1508-9).
This is an artificial lake/pond which was witness to the legendary love story of Roopmati and Baz Bahadur. It was constructed to ensure regular water to Rani Roopmati's Pavilion. The Kund is fringed with pillars and arches of beautiful design and style under the shadow of which tourists and pilgrims can rest and enjoy the beauty of the reservoir. The place is not grand but historical. Bathing is not allowed in the Kund nowadays but the water is clean. We did see a few village boys having a dip and enjoying themselves. As per local this places is now also used for Antim Sanskar - cremation ceremony under Hindu religion.
Sagar Talao Group
MPT Malwa Resort is also categorized under Sagar Talao Group.
At just a walking distance from the hotel is the Echo Point on the road where a fine echo can be heard because of the deep and wooded valley below.
Dai Ka Mahal is the tomb of a royal wet nurse situated on a basement. The basement has arched openings towards the western side and the remains of circular towers on the southeastern and northeastern corners. It is said that these once supported lovely pavilions
which were in level with the floor of the tomb. The notable feature of this tomb is the elongated octagonal neck of the dome enclosed by an ornamental parapet with "guldastas" or tiny kiosks encircling the drum. This is a feature rarely found in Mandu but common in the architecture of the Deccan.
Dai-Ki-Chhoti Behan Ka Mahal (Gumbad)
Other than the Dai Ka Mahal, the Dai ki Chotti Behen ki Mahal seems to reinforce the social
strata of power that wet nurses enjoyed in Mandu.
As the name states, this used to be used to provide shelters for travellers possibly. Usual Mughal Architecture with Pillared hallways and a huge courtyard. You can still distinctly see
the rooms that were a part of this complex. It is dilapidated now and good for a few pictures of the facade
Malik Mughith's Mosque
The main entrance to the mosque is from a projecting porch on the east. Strong pillars once supported a dome that did not survive the ravages of time. hough the floor plan of the porch
is square this is transformed into an octagon towards the top, by arches built across the corners. The courtyard is surrounded by carved pillars taken from ruins of Hindu temples. The western colonnade- the prayer hall- is the most imposing with intricately carved niches in the wall which are inlaid with blue tiles and floral designs