The city of Mandu in Madhya Pradesh dates back as far as the sixth century BC and is home to India’s finest examples of Afghan architecture. Full of Baobab trees, the place boasts a number of heritage sites that speak of royal romances and imperial conquests. Here’s a quick guide to the palaces, tombs, monuments and mosques worth a visit and places at which to grab a quick bite. For more information on Mandu and monuments in India, visit BookMyShow.
The most romantic of Mandu’s treasures, Roopmati Pavilion sits on the edge of the plateau overlooking the Nimar plains below.
The original structure, comprising a massive hall flanked by two rooms at either end, seems to have been built as an observation tower to keep watch for any sign of an enemy invasion.
According to Malwa legends, however, Baz Bahadur, the last sultan of Malwa, built it for Roopmati, his golden-voiced shepherdess, who’d agreed to leave her home in the plains only if she could live in a palace within sight of her beloved river Narmada.
Unfortunately for the lovers, Mandu was soon captured by Mughal general Adham Khan, acting on the orders of emperor Akbar. Bereft of her Baz Bahadur, Roopmati poisoned herself to avoid falling into the invader’s hands, or so the story goes.
Open daily, 8am to 6pm.
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Hoshang Shah’s Tomb
Hoshang Shah was the first formally appointed Islamic king of the Malwa region.
The marble mausoleum in which he rests is crowned with a tiny crescent thought to have been imported from Persia or Mesopotamia, and its domed interiors are dimly lit by light filtering in through stone jalis.
Aside from the sarcophagus of Hoshang Shah, there are other graves below the dome, three of which are marble.
Open daily, 8am to 5.30pm.
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What else to see
Dating from the fifteenth century, Jahaz Mahal appears to float over its own reflection.
Complete with scalloped arches, airy rooms and beautiful pools, it is rumoured to have been built by Sultan Ghiyas-ud-din Khilji as a pleasure palace for his harem of 15,000 women.
Open daily, 6am to 6pm.
The construction of this red stone mosque, commissioned by Hoshang Shah, Malwa’s first Islamic king, began around 1406. Although a relatively austere building, it is reckoned to be the finest and largest example of Afghan architecture in India.
Inspired by the great Umayyad Mosque in Syria, it boasts an array of domes and arches around a courtyard, beautiful jali windows in the porch, and a 17-bay-wide prayer hall.
Open 8am to 6pm; Friday closed.
The Hindola Mahal is so called because its sloping walls resemble the ropes of a swing.
Believed to be constructed during the reign of Hoshang Shah, Malwa’s first Islamic king, this T-shaped building, set apart from other Mandu monuments by the extreme simplicity in design, is thought to have been a durbar or a royal reception hall.
Open daily, 6am to 7pm.
Baz Bahadur’s Palace
This palace, named after Baz Bahadur, the last independent ruler of Mandu, is a curious mix of Rajasthani and Mughal styles.
It was built in 1508–09 by the Khilji Sultan Nasir-ud-Din.
Open daily, 7am to 7pm.
The nearest airport is in Indore, which is around 94 km from Mandu. The journey takes approximately two hours by road and there are buses running at regular intervals between Mandu and Indore via Dhar and Ratlam and even between Mandu and Bhopal.
Places to eat
What this canteen-style diner lacks in looks, it makes up for in taste. The strictly vegetarian menu is extensive and easy on the wallet and has local specialties such as Mandu malai kofta.
If you’re craving a cold beer to go with your chicken tandoori, stop here.