Mandu: Legends of Love in the City of Joy

March 15, 2018 Author: munishmishra04_3od47tgp
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Nestled in the enchanting forests of Madhya Pradesh is the little town of Mandu. A site of extravagant festivities under the Mughal rule, Mandu, with its lakes and palaces was a pleasure resort. Mandu is a historic city in Malwa plateau with large number of historic monuments. In past it is known by the name of Mandavgarh & Shadiabaad. It is a celebration in stone of life and joy called ‘the city of joy’ by the muslim rule’s, between 1401 and 1561 it was the capital of a Muslim state in the north of India. Under the Mughal rule, Mandu was a pleasure resort, its lakes and palaces the scenes of splendid and extravagant festivities, and the glory of Mandu lives on, in legends and songs, chronicled for posterity.

History of Mandu

According to a Sanskrit inscription of 555 A.D, the History of Mandu goes back to the 6th century when it was a fortified city. It was later named Mandhavgarh in the 10th or 11th century, by the rulers of the Parmara kingdom. In the year 1261, even the capital of the Parmaras was transferred from Dhar to Mandu. Later still, in 1305, the Parmars were captured by the Khiljis. Dilawar Khan, the Afghan ruler of Malwa, renamed the place from Mandu to Shadiabad.

It was in the hands of Hoshang Shah (1405-35) that Mandu reached to heights of glory. Under his rule, came up the magnificent buildings and structures of Mandu which later went on to become the major tourist attractions of the city. The son of Hoshang Shah, however, was on the throne for barely a year when he was poisoned to death by Mohammad Shah, the next successor to the throne. After a reign of 33 years, full of ups and downs, feuds and skirmishes, his son, Ghiyas-ud-din took the reins in the year 1469 and ruled for 31 years when his son poisoned him to death in lust of the throne. However, he could rule for only 10 years, an unhappy one, though, till Mandu went to the hands of Bahadur Shah of Gujarat in 1526.

Bahadur Shah was defeated by Humayun in 1534, but with the departure of Humayun, the city slipped into the hands of an officer from the earlier dynasty. Later on, Baz Bahadur seized the city of Mandu in 1554. However, he was also scared off by the advent of the great emperor, Akbar. Then the History of Mandu took a turn as it gradually passed on to the Marathas in 1732. At this point of time, the capital city was reassigned to Dhar and Mandu almost remained uninhabited.

Owing to the long reigns of the Muslims in this part of the country, Mandu houses several Islamic architectural specimens in the constructions. They were, however erected by using stones salvaged from the destroyed Hindu temples.

Mandu Scene

Overview of Mandu

Mandu is a mystic place which can be described as celebration in stone, place of life, joy, victory, palaces of the poet-prince Baz Bahadur, often remember for the love tale of, Rani Roopmati. The local tribes of Malwa still remember the romance of these royal lovers, and Roopmati’s Pavilion situated on hill still gazes down at Baz Bahadur’s Palace, a marvel of Hindu-Afghan architecture The Hill Fort of Mandu is situated about 35 K.m of Dhar district in Madhya Pradesh, in extension of Vindhya ranges at an altitude of 2,000 feet, Mandu, was originally the capital of the Parmara rulers of Malwa having fort which serves as natural defence against enemy. Dhar and Mandu formed the heart of Malwa, that great high- land plateau whose rolling plains with their table-like hills, stretch from just north of the sacred Narbada to the fortress of Chanderi.

Mandu is a celebration in stone of life and joy, of the love of the Mpoet-prince Baz Bahadur for his beautiful consort, Rani Roopmati. The balladeers of Malwa still sing of the romance of these royal lovers, and high up on the crest of a hill, Roopmati’s pavilion still gazes down at Baz Bahadur’s palace, a magnificent expression of Afghan architecture. Perched along the Vindhyan ranges at an altitude of 2,000 feet, Mandu, with its natural defences, was originally the fort-capital of the Parmar rulers of Malwa. Towards the end of the 13th century, it came under the sway of the Sultans of Malwa, the first of whom renamed it Shadiabad-the City of joy, and indeed, the pervading spirit of Mandu was of gaiety; and its rulers built exquisite palaces like the Jahaz and Hindola Mahals, ornamental canals, baths and pavilions, as graceful and refined as those times of peace and plenty. Each of Mandu’s structures is an architectural gem; some are outstanding like the massive Jami Masjid and Hoshang Shah’s Tomb, which provided inspiration for the master builders of the Taj Mahal centuries later. Under Mughal rule Mandu was a pleasure resort, its lakes and palaces the scenes of splendid and extravagant festivities. And the glory of Mandu lives on, in its palaces and mosques, in legends and songs, chronicled for posterity.

Views of Mandu

Mandu, the City of Joy comprises several mosques, tombs, palaces, tanks and the pavilions.

Darwazas (Gateways): The 45 km parapet of walls that encircle Mandu are punctuated by 12 gateways. Most notable of these is Delhi Darwaza, the main entrance to the fortress city, for which the approach is through a series of gateways well-fortified with walled enclosures and strengthened by bastions such as the Alamgir and Bhangi Darwaza, through which the present road passes. Rampol Darwaza.

Hoshang Shah’s Tomb: India’s first marble edifice is one of the most refined examples of Afghan architecture. Its unique features are the magnificently proportioned dome, marble lattice work of remarkable delicacy and porticoed courts and towers to mark the four corners of the rectangle. Shah Jehan sent four of his great architects to study the design & draw inspiration from the tomb. Among them was Ustad Hamid who was also associated with the construction of the Taj Mahal.

Hoshang-Shah Tomb

Jaami Mosque: Being similar to world famous Mosque in Damisq, Jaami Mosque is one of big and splendid Building in Mandu. Hosangshah started the construction of this Mosque, which is a finest example of Afgaani architecture, in 1554 AD, Mehmood Khilji completed the work. Overall the architecture of this building is fantastic, which the most wonderful thing to see about it is.
The western colonnade or the prayer hall is the most imposing of all with numerous of arches pillars which supports the ceiling of the three great domes and the 58 smaller ones. The central niche (mihrab) is the most beautifully designed of all and is further ornamented along its sides with a scroll of interwoven Arabic letters containing quotations from the holy Koran.The Jami Masjid shows how the rulers and builders of Mandu had visualized dignity and grandeur in architecture through simplicity, austerity and massiveness of construction.

Jami Masjid

Ashrafi Mahal: Built by Hoshang Shah’s successor, Mahmud Shah Khilji, this ‘palace of gold coins’, facing the Jami Masjid, was conceived as an academic institution (madarassa) for young boys, and sundry cells still remain in a fair state of preservation. In the same complex he built a sevenstoreyed tower to celebrate his victory over Rana Khumba of Mewar; of which only one storey has survived. Also in ruins is the tomb which was intended to be the largest structure of Mandu, but which collapsed due to hasty and faulty construction.

Asharfi Mahal

Jahaz Mahal: This 120 metre long ‘ ship palace’ built between the two artificial lakes, Munj Talao and Kapur Talao, is an elegant two-storeyed palace. Probably it was built by Sultan Ghiyas-ud-din Khilji for his large harem. With its open pavilions, balconies overhanging the water and open terrace, Jahaz Mahal is an imaginative recreation in stone of a royal pleasure craft. Viewed on moonlit nights from the adjoining Taveli Mahal, the silhouette of the building, with the tiny domes and turrets of the pavilion gracefully perched on the terrace, presents an unforgettable spectacle.

Jahaj mahal

Hindola Palace

This audience hall has sloping walls that resemble the trestles of a swing: ‘hindola’ means swing. For all its massive bulk it is esthetically austere as a monastic shrine with soaring windows filled with stone grilles. The external pillars aligned with the sloping walls are buttresses to counteract the thrust of the arches that once supported the high roof. Only the arches now remain to show where the roof once covered the great hall. In spite of Ghiyathud-Din’s apparent change of lifestyle, he could not abandon the women of his court; they wouldn’t know where to go if he died. The transverse projection to the far end of the hall seems to have been meant to provide safe access to the hall for the king and his women; a flight of sloping stages allowed women to be carried up in palanquins, or to ride up on horses and elephants.

To the west of Hindola Mahal there are several unidentified buildings which still bear traces of their past grandeur. Amidst these is an elaborately constructed well called Champa Baoli which is connected with underground vaulted rooms where arrangements for cold and hot water were made.

Rani Roopmati’s Pavilion

The pavilion was originally built as an army observation post. From its hilltop perch, this graceful structure with its two pavilions was a retreat of the lovely queen, from where she could see Baz Bahadur’s Palace and the Narmada flowing through the Nimar plains far below.

Amongst the many monuments and palaces that adorn the historical city of Mandu famous for the legendary tragic love story of Prince Baz Bahadur and Roopmati is the Roopmati’s Pavilion, one of the most visited tourist attractions in Mandu. Perched atop a hillock on the southern side of the Baz Bahadur Palace, Rani Roopmati Pavillion is from where the queen would view the palace of her beloved, Baz Bahadur.

How to Reach

Mandu City is located in Dhar District in western region of Madhya Pradesh in India. This District is approximately 98 km from Indore and 285 km from Bhopal. Mandu City lies at an elevation on the Malwa Plateau amidst the Vindhya Ranges around 2000 feet above sea-level. Mandu is easily accessible by road, rail and air. Mandu City is easily reachable from all the major cities of India.
By Flight: The nearest airport to Mandu is at Indore, which is 110 km away. Pre-paid taxi services are available fromthe Indore airport to Mandu. Indore airport is well connected with Mumbai & Delhi airports. In addition to them it is also connected by Jabalpur, Gwalior, Bhopal, Hyderabad, Raipur airports.

By Train: Indore railway is the nearest railway station for reaching Mandu by train. From Indore to Mandu, we have taxi service available.

By Road: Mandu is well connected by road from rest of the India. Nearby towns & cities are Indore, Dhar, Maheshwar etc. It can be reached by surface journey at any time and taxi services are available from nearby destinations.

Best Time to Visit

Mandu is a heritage site that is open for visitors throughout the year. It is open in all season but from October to May we can observe more tourist arrival. Among composition of tourists, foreigner tourists arrival is more from October to April due to more suitable climatic condition to travel where domestic tourist arrival remain high in holidays. Local tourists are mostly derived from Indore and other nearby towns & cities. Considering the climatic conditions, we can say October to April is the best time to visit. For photography, August to February is good to capture heritage monuments with beauty of surrounding nature.


[1] “Mandu”, available online at:

[2] “History of Mandu”, available online at:

[3] “Madhya Pradesh Popular Destinations: Mandu”, available online at:

[4] Vivek Singh, “Title: Importance and Origin of Name “Mandu” Or “Mandav” In Malwa Through the Ages”, National Journal of Arts, Commerce & Scientific Research Review, JUL-DEC 2016, Volume 3


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