MANDU Madhya Pradesh

By Sanjeev Nayyar | 2018

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1. Mandu is at a height of 2,000 feet. In July 2018 drove in from Dhar (38 kms). A hill-fort under the name Mandapa-Durga existed in the middle of the 6th century. From this came name ‘Mandava’ corrupted to Mandu. It had 1,000 step-wells & 300 lakes. U see the iconic JAHAZ MAHAL. On left is Jal Mahal. Mandu is spread over 12,000 acres.

2. U see first of the 4 gates. By the end of the 10th century Paramaras rose to power in Malwa, 1st capital Ujjain next Dhar. Under kings Munja & Bhoja Malwa attained a height of power unmatched in north India of that period. Mahmud of Ghazni did not touch Malwa because on his last Somnath campaign, he had to divert his retreat to Ghazni since a vast army presumably under king Bhoja was blocking his earlier route.

3. This is called GADI Darwaza. “2 of the gates such as Bhangi Gate & Rampol Gate show definitive trace of Hindu mode of construction of pillar & lintel style.” The fort of Mandu was with Hindu rulers till 1305. The Marathas defeated the last Mughal Governor of Malwa in 1732 & from then the fort was under the Maratha rulers of Dhar.

4. This is Delhi Gate (made by Hoshang Shah) or Dihli-Darwaza as it faced the direction of the city of Delhi. It is not accessible by road but is virtually after you pay entry toll to enter Mandu. Album sequence is Roopmati Pavilion, Baz Bahadur Palace, Darya Khan Tomb, Hathi Mahal, Jain & Ram Mandirs, Jama Masjid, Hoshang Shah Tomb & Royal Pavilion.

5. Fort wall next to Delhi Darwaza. Mandu is separated from the main Malwa plateau by a deep ravine Kakra Khoh, which runs on the eastern, northern, southern sides of Mandu hill. On a clear day you get a view of the ravine from here. Also are gates called Bhagwanpur & Tarapur that are some distance from main parts of Mandu and not included in the 4 referred to earlier.

6. Rupmati Pavilion. Around 1554 Malik Bayazaid became ruler with title of Baz Bahadur. After disgraceful defeat by Rani Durgawati he almost forswore fighting. He gave himself to music in which the beautiful Rupamati proved to be his favourite consort. This bldg, constructed on the edge of a precipice overlooks Nimar valley. It was perhaps originally a watchtower later on Rupmati viewed the Narmada from here.

7. Part of the pavilion is this extensive water storage facility. Top of the hill to Nimar plains is a depth of 365.8 metres. In 1561 Baz B lost to Akbar’s general. Rupamati poisoned herself with powdered diamonds instead of falling victim to general Adham Khan. Under the Mughals Mandu lost its glory.

8. View of one of the two chattris. On a clear day one can see the river Narmada from here. Mughal rulers visited but were not very interested in Mandu. In 1732 Malhar Rao Holkar defeated Divya Bahadur, the Mughal Governor. Since then the fort was under Maratha rulers of Dhar.

9. View from Rupmati Pavilion top. Along the side facing the Nimar valley is a fort wall that you see. “The perimeter of the hill-top runs over a length of nearly 45 kms & a major portion of it is defended by strong & solid masonry wall of stone boulders & rubble”.

10. This is REWA KUND. At northern end of kund was a water-lift to supply water to Baz Bahadur Palace. “Behind the Sat-Kothadi bldg. & not far from approach road to Rupmati pavilion, was discovered the plinth of a Saiva temple, sculptures representing Durga, Siva etc & a carved ceiling with figure of dancers & musicians”.

11. Steps lead you to Baz Bahadur palace. At entrance is this wall. On top of wall is a water channel through which water flows to the water tank inside the palace. Baz Bahadur took a fancy to this palace since Rewa Kund was visited by Rupmati.

12. Panel for water to flow into tank. It was pouring that afternoon so foggy. Continuing “during clearance work such ruins were noticed at the monuments like Hoshang’s tomb, Gada Shah’s shop, Tripolia Gate & Hindola Mahal”.

13. Water tank Baz Bahadur Palace. On day 1 it was pouring could barely see. Day 2 lucky to get clear skies. Like the chattris.

14. View of tank from the other side. Lots of children playing. Palace has other parts used for dance / music performances too.

15. Caravan Sarai – basically place for travellers to relax. This is part of the Sagar Talao Group. Part of this group is Bahen-ka Mahal ie in ruins. Also see Jali-Mahal – close by is the echo point on the road, where a fine echo can be heard because of the deep & wooded valleys below.

16. This complex off the main road has Somvati Kund (that you see), Darya Khan Tomb (behind the kund), Darya Khan mosque and Lal Sarai. It was a 5 minute walk through mud since the road was being laid. Wonder how a tomb was made next to a kund?

17. Darya Khan Tomb. It has a corridor on all sides. It seems like the top portion of the tomb has been imposed on an earlier structure. Are tombs made on a plinth?

18. Are flowers as shown in this window an accepted part of Islamic architecture?

19. Where the base structure touches the tomb structure are these brackets and mouldings with lotus on either side of the arch. Does Islamic architecture permit such designs?

20. View of the corridor. The stone that you see butting out, on closer examination, seemed like remains of brackets that were seen in the earlier pic.

21. This is Hathi Mahal literally meaning Elephant Leg Palace. The monument gets its name from massive elephantine pillars at 4 corner of the monument. It was probably built as a pleasure resort but later converted into a tomb. Next to tomb is a mosque.

22. These massive pillars are said to represent the leg of an elephant. It is located on the south eastern side of the Darya Khan Complex & approach road is not good – I walked about five minutes through dirt road.

23. Jain Mandir. Missed taking pic of RAM MANDIR. In 1823 Pandit Raghunandji Das from Pune came to Mandu. Through his powers he saw certain murthis, told the queen of Dhar Meerabai S Pawar. She did not believe but said go ahead. During excavation they found 6 murthis ie Chauturbhuj Ram (four handed-dated 901 A.D.), Sita Maiya, Lakshman, Hanumanji, Suryanarayan and 16th Jain Tirthankara Shantinath.

24. Inside temple had darshan of Parshavanath, the 23rd Jain tirthankara. Pranams. Lots of temples being built in the complex. They have a rooms to stay and a bhojnalayh - not sure if open to public.

25. Front view of Jami Masjid. Mosque construction started by Hoshang Shah and completed by Mahmud Khilji in 1454. It is said builders designed it after the great mosque of Damascus.

26. Front view as one entered masjid. It is a huge hall with pillars and niches. “The arrays of arches & little domes at Jami Masjid were made for functional & not decorative purposes. The lofty minars that adorn frontage of mosques & tombs are absent in Mandu”.

27. Not known if king sat here. On one side are 9 arches & another 8. It can be construed that on one side of the king sat 9 Navaratnas & other sat Ashtapradhan meaning council of 8 ministers. “Navaratnas (Sanskrit dvigu nava-ratna- or "9 gems") or Nauratan was a term applied to a group of 9 extraordinary people in an emperor`s court in India”. “Interior has beautiful jail screens on the sides above which are seen fine blue enamel tiles set as stars or lozenges.”

28. Left side as entered masjid has a corridor with pillars. Centre of every dome had a lotus. Supporting the chajja are Hindu style brackets as we saw earlier at Darya Khan Tomb. “The raised palpit with its elegant marble dome supported on 4 arches, the brackets &balustrade of which bear clear traces of Hindu influence.”

29. Hoshang Shah’s Tomb is important because architects such as Ustad Hamid, associated with the Taj Mahal, came here to pay homage in 1659. “The platform is quite simple in construction except for carved ornamental border with projecting lobes, a feature indicating the influence of the Hindu sculptors employed for the building.”

30. View of Hoshang Shah tomb. It is said that most of the fortifications in Mandu were completed during his rule. Continuing ‘The entire surrounding of the Lohani caves were found scattered with carved fragments representing ruins of Hindu temples, mostly Saiva, which once stood there, but were presumably destroyed & their materials used in later Muslim bldgs.”

31The tomb is known for its jaali work that you see. Continuing “The main sarcophagus of Hoshang is carved in the form of a casket with receding bands & with a mihrab moulded at the top having posts of Hindu design.” Fyi Jama Masjid Delhi made from ruins of Jain temples. .

32. To the west of the tomb is a “colonnade with 3 rows of pillars dividing its depth of 7.6m into 3 aisles. U see the predominant influence of Hindu architecture in the designs of pillars & brackets & the arrangement of the flat roof supported on lintels”. “When Lohani caves were cleared they yielded some 80 sculpture or carvings now kept in the local museum in the Dharmasala attached to Hoshang’s tomb”. Pic by a local photographer.

33. Supporting the chajja are Hindu style brackets as seen in Jama Masjid and Darya Khan Tomb. Pic by a local photographer. Small room next to this hall has ruins of Hindu temples. It is at Chappan Mahal and Tivoli Mahal Museums (inside Royal Enclave) that you can see old sculptures.

34. Close to Hoshang Shah Tomb is this kund. Earlier too saw Somvati Kund next to Darya Khan Tomb & Rewa Kund next to Baz Bahadur Palace. Today Mandu has a water problem. Locals say that if step-wells of earlier times are restored the water shortage would vanish.

35. Opposite Jama Masjid is Ashrafi Mahal or Tower of Victory. It was made by Mahmud Shah, the first Khilji ruler of Malwa, to commemorate one of his victories over the Rana of Mewar. Built as a 7 storeyed tower only the basement has survived now. Period about 1450 A.D.

36. Ruins of panel in Ashrafi Mahal has flower design. Is this commonly seen in Islamic architecture?

37. Minutes away from Jal Mahal are Lohani Caves that you see. “It is possible these caves were excavated around 1068 A.D. & some Saiva temples erected in the vicinity of the caves & in other parts of the hill. Lohani caves are situated amidst runs of temples built during Hindu times.”

38. Monolithic pillar above 5 metres high, outside Lohani Caves “that probably adorned the front of a temple.”

39. Now Royal Enclave. There are 2 step-wells called Ujala & Andheri Baodi. This is Ujala Baodi because it opens to the sky. Minutes away is Gada Shah’s shop & house. “The name Gada Shah literally means Beggar Master which should more appropriately apply to Rajput chief, Medini Ray, who though a servant of Mahmud II, had virtually become the master of the realm for a time.”

40. Just outside the Madhya Pradesh Tourism resort is this huge water body. In the monsoons ie when I visited it was lovely. If they clean up the water body boating can be started and would be another reason to visit Mandu.

41. The elongated Jahaz Mahal is 360 feet in length and 50 feet in breadth. It stands on a narrow stretch of land between the 2 water bodies of Munj and Kapur Talao. The palace towers are between these 2 water bodies. In monsoons water reaches up to the edge of the monument giving it a ship like appearance hence the name Jahaz Mahal. Best viewed from Taveli-Mahal.

42. Opposite the Jahaz Mahal are two water bodies. In front is Kapur Talao. It had masonry margin all around & in middle of waters was a pavilion now in ruins. An arched underground channel exists even now connecting waters of the two tanks.” Next pic is Munj Talao. This way you get a sense you are in a ship.

43. Munj Talo. It is named after a Paramaras Rajput king by the name Munja. King Bhoja II faced Sultan Jalalud-Din Khilji in 1293 who devastated the countryside. Alaud-Din Khilji ensure that Mandu & Hindu kingdom of Malwa became part of Delhi Sultanate.

44. Bang opposite Jahaz Mahal and at end of Munj Talao is Jal Mahal that you see. All over the Royal Enclave saw lakes and baoris or step-wells. Were they made by the Rajput rulers of Mandu or are baodis part of Islamic architectural tradition?

45. View of Jahaz Mahal, notice domes. Ghiyasthu’d-Din 1469 A.D. fancied women. “It is said that he had at one time 15,000 women of various classes and professions in his seraglio. 500 beautiful Turkish females in men clothes & an equal number of Abyssinian females, all in uniform & armed stood as guards here.” Mahal has 2 swimming pools using today’s language, water sourced from a step-well nearby.

46. Spiral aqueduct empties to the upper level pool.

47. This step-well is close to Jahaz Mahal and from where water flowed in the pools. Left of pic red stone was used to purify the water.

48. Top view of lower level pool. “The cistern is beautifully designed & has a landing below the top margin for the convenience of those not knowing to swim.”

49. Within same complex is Hindola Mahal or the swing palace. The T-shaped building with its sloping buttressed wall was constructed during the latter part of the reign of G Khilji (1469-1500). The roof of this palace collapsed long ago exposing the pointed arches to the sky.

50. Arches inside Hindola Mahal.

51. Wall of Hindola Mahal – Rajasthan style jharokha think it is Nahar Jharaokha. “Mosque of Dilawar Khan was built out of materials dismantled from Hindu temples. There is also reason to believe that within the massive walls of Hindola Mahal, such materials now lie embedded in huge quantities for some of them can be seen peeping out of the core of their fallen masonry.”

52. Behind Hindola Mahal is Nahar Jharokha basically a fountain.

53. Within the royal enclave another pool. Missed seeing Dilawar Khan Mosque. “Pillars & ceiling are Hindu style while the niches in the western wall & main door bear rich ornamentation.”

54. At entrance of royal palace is the step-well Champa Baodi. Got name because of the sweet flavour of its water ie said to smell like the Champak flower. A subterranean passage connects the base of the well to a labyrinth of vaulted rooms, thus keeping them cool during the summer. “In the Lalkot area near Champa-Baodi sculpture of Hindu female deities were recovered.”

55. Rooms below the royal palace as referred to in earlier caption. By being one level lower it is cooler – good place to be during the summers.

56. Stone laid out for daily bowls. They were designed in a way so water flushed out the bowls.

57. This is the famous HAMMAM or hot-bath in the ceiling of which beautiful stars were cut for light. For a good guide call Rajesh Patel 91 9754172279. He is attached to MP Tourism.

58. Close to the ujala baodi is Hathi Pol which was the main entrance to the enclosure containing most of the buildings in Royal Enclave. It got its name because of two elephants flanking it on both sides. U see lower part of elephant body. Seems top part sliced off. “Figures are less than life-size & unlike the Hindu method of carving such figures into monoliths.”

59. This hall was used for performances for e.g. dance and plays. Some caption info taken from Rangan Dutta blog, a famous travel writer. What you see in inverted commas is from a book published by The Archaeological Survey of India, author being D R Patil. All credits to them. In case of any errors in captions mail me.

60. Nilakantha Palace is a spot, about 15 minutes away from Mandu as one drives to Maheshwar, where an old Shiv mandir existed. The current structure was built as a pleasure house by one of Akbar’s generals. In royal enclave is Taveli Mahal that houses a museum. To see pics of Art Gallery Mandu

61. In the royal enclave this is a very popular pic – centre dome of Jahaz Mahal. It was foggy so not very clear. Mandu is lovely in the rains. To see album

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