Destinations: Mandu (1994)

Mandu is another historical town of Madhya Pradesh. Located on the Vindhya Hills it falls in the Malwa Region of the State. It is one historical place that is not inhabited. It is only a tourist site and the nearest town is Dhar, 30-odd kilometers away. It is basically a fort the remnants of which one can see and savour. The place at one time was the capital of Mandu principality. While the rest of the city has disappeared leaving hardly any trace, the ruins in the fort around 700 years old, now maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India, are interesting for visitors.

Mandu has had a very chequered history. Starting off in the 7th& Century as a flourishing town, it was taken over by Paramaras who, however, were routed by the burgeoning Muslim feudal warriors who captured it only to lose it after a few decades. Even Akbar apparently had sent his army to snatch the place away from the then ruling Muslim warlord. Anyway, it is a very complicated history of wars won and lost as it turned out to be a long lasting game of conquering the throne and then losing it.

What, however, is the most significant memory the Muslim ruling class left behind was the romance between a Muslim ruler Baz Bahadur and a Hindu girl – a mere shepherdess. She was so beautiful that the King, Baz Bahadur, the last Sultan of Malwa, fell neck-deep in love with her. He married her, built a palace for her that fronted the distant River Narmada in accordance with her wishes. So enamoured was he of his consort that he skipped looking after the matters of state and spent his days and nights only with her. Theirs was a legendary romance that came down to modern times through word of mouth and through the songs of  Roopmati. Akbar had wanted to capture both of them but, while Baz Bahadur fled away to Mewar his Rani poisoned herself.

The remains are spread over a huge area and one has to have a vehicle to take a look at them. Of note are the Roopmati’s pavilions, Rewa Kund, Jahaz Mahal, Hindola Mahal, Baz Bahadur’s palace. While the Jahaz Mahal and Hindola Mahal were constructed in different eras they complement each other as a set of buildings. Jahaz Mahal is very interesting in the sense it is built between two lakes giving the impression of a ship sailing through the waters. It was constructed by Ghyas ud din Khilji more than six hundred years ago.

Hindola Mahal, too, is more or less of the same vintage but it is said that its construction may have started in early 15th Century during Hoshang Shah’s reign but was completed at the end of the century by Ghyas ud din Khilji. Hindola Mahal could have been used as an audience hall

There are remnants of Hindu and Jain structures scattered in the area. Those may be of specific interests of the community concerned. The jahaz Mahal and the pavilions of Baz Bahadur’s Palace and those Roopmati’s Palace are what lure the visitors to this rather indifferently connected place. Nonetheless, the State Tourism Department has a good outfit for spending a night in comfort.


More by :  Proloy Bagchi

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