Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mandu a Honeymoon Paradise

For all those who head straight for the hills for that elusive whiff of romance, let me say that Mandu is the perfect honeymoon destination. It is the city of love and delight; after all one of its most famous legends is the love story of Baz Bahadur and Rani Roopmati.Mandu is situated about 90 kms. from Indore. Mandu is also known as Shadibad, which means the city of joy. Mandu was fortified as early as the 6th century, but gained prominence in the 10th century as the fort capital of the Parmar rulers of Malwa. Mandu is perched along the Vindhyan ranges at 592 m. Later, towards the end of the 13th century it came under the sway of the Sultans of Malwa, under whom it was named Shadiabad. It is now a romantic ghost city remarkably intact over an area of 12 square km.
Mandu is situated on an isolated hill top which is separated from the tableland to the north by a deep and wide valley over which a natural causeway runs to the main city gate. Mandu is the largest standing fortified town in the world. The walls of Mandu have a circumference of 75 km. The walls look the same as they did some 300 years ago. There is an abundance of mango, tamarind and banyan trees. The city is particularly beautiful immediately after the monsoons, a emerald green landscape full of waterfalls. There are lakes, groves, gardens and palaces. The best season to visit Mandu is from June to September, when the tanks are full and the rain turns the entire countryside into a verdant green.

Best time to visit: 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.
Major tourist Attractions in Mandu: Perched in the rugged terrains of the Vindhyas, Mandu is a fort hilltop located in Madhya Pradesh. Its enchanting landscape, embedded with architectural gems, is cuddled by mountains at a height of 2000 ft. The place still echoes with the elegance and beauty of the regal era and abounds in historical monuments that have gracefully aged with time. These architectural relics scattered throughout the beautifully rutted backcloth of the mountains form its major tourist attractions. Based on their location, these edifices are segregated into three distinct groups. Explore the numerous places in Mandu that interest tourists.
Royal Enclave Group

Jahaz Mahal (Ship Palace)

This ship-like structure was the brainchild of Sultan Ghiyas-ud-din Khilji. The palace served as his harem and was home to 15,000 maidens. Two lakes bound the palace on the eastern and western sides and underpin the illusion of a ship.
Taveli Mahal

Located on the south of Jahaz Mahal, this ancient monument was used as a guardhouse and a stable during the Mughal regime. It now acts as a gallery of Archaeological Survey of India and houses various archaeological findings.
Hindola Mahal (Swing Palace)

It is located near the Jahaz Mahal and is a large hall that is supported by sloping buttresses. It served as a pleasure palace of the Mughals, who organized their evening parties here during the monsoon season.
Champa Baoli

An elaborately constructed step-well, the place was so named as its waters were believed to smell like the 'Champa' flower. A summer retreat of the emperor,; it houses cool wells, underground rooms (Taikhanas) & subterranean bathrooms.
Village Group
Jami Masjid

This huge edifice, built in 1454, was one of the finest achievements of the Ghauri dynasty. Faced with red sandstone, the monument dominates the village of Mandu and is structured on the 'Omayyed Mosque' in Damascus, Syria.
Tomb of Hoshang Shah

It lies on the south-west of the Jami Masjid and is believed to be the oldest marble building of India. Sheathed completely in white marble, its design and workmanship greatly influenced Shah Jahan, who sent his architects to study it before building the Taj Mahal.
Ashrafi Mahal

It was built by Mahmud Shah Khilji. Originally constructed as a Muslim religious school (Madrasa), the place was later extended to become his own mausoleum. The building collapsed due to faulty architecture and now stands amidst ruins.
Jain Temple

It is a modern temple complex that enshrines images of various Jain 'Tirthankars'. All the temples are richly festooned with marble, silver and golden statues of the Jain saints. The place also houses a Jain museum inside it.
Rewa Kund Group
Baz Bahadur's Palace

Located near Rewa Kund, this place was erected in 1509 by Baz Bahadur, the last king of Malwa. It exhibits a skillful blend of Mughal and Rajasthani architectural style, with high terraces, ornate halls and spacious patios.
Rupmati's Pavilion

This fort was originally built as an army observation post and offers some enchanting views of the Narmada gurgling through the Nimar plains below. With its striking pavilions, the fort was used as a summer retreat by the queen.
Other Attractions

There are also some other forts and monuments in Mandu, which are not categorized into any groups, but deserve special mention. Nilkanth temple, located at the very edge of a steep gorge, is a renowned Shiva shrine. Nilkanth Mahal, constructed by the Mughal Governor, Shah Badgah Khan for Emperor Akbar's Hindu wife, is also a notable architectural specimen of Mandu. Hathi Mahal, Darya Khan's Tomb, Dai ka Mahal, Dai ki Chhotti Behan Ka Mahal, Malik Mughit's Mosque and Jali Mahal are some other fascinating monuments that still reverberate with the glorious past of Mandu.
PLACES AROUND MANDU: 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.
FAIRS & FESTIVALS: 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.

Hotels in Mandu:

Jhira Bagh Palace Hotel, Mandu : Jhira Bagh Palace is located in Mandu Road Dhar is easily accessible from Indore and Ratlam. The palace hotel provides a total accommodation of 16 luxurious rooms. All the rooms are sufficed with most modern amenities needed for a royal stay. A multi-cuisine restaurant takes care of the dining needs of the guests. There is a fully equipped conference center for the business visitors. Other facilities include a myriad of sightseeing options and indoor/outdoor games.
Malwa Resort Tourist Cottages, Mandu: The Malwa Resort is one of the two hotels run by the MP tourism hotels in Mandu. While the other is located in the Mandu town, Malwa Resort Tourist Cottages lies outside of the town, near the forest area. The hotel has well-appointed cottages facing a small water body with ample space for a family of 3. The water body is the central space when one drives into the hotel, and forms a place to chit chat, eat & relax when in the hotel. The food is quite good for the location (as nothing much is available in the town), with a variety of traditional & Punjabi cuisine. The bar is also well stocked. The only down side is that one can stay at the resort only if one has a way to drive around Mandu, else the place is too far & location too unsafe to walk around.

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