Mandu or Mandavgad is a ruined city in the present-day Mandav area of the Dhar District. It is located in the Malwa region of western Madhya Pradesh, India. at 35km from the Dhar city. In the 11th century, Mandu was the sub-division of the Taranga Kingdom.
This fortress town on a rocky outcrop about 100km from Indore, is celebrated for its fine architecture. The earliest reference to Mandu is available in the Sanskrit inscription of 555 AD, which tells us that Mandu was a fortified city even in the 6th century BC. It gained prominence in the 10th and 11th centuries under the Parmars ( who called it Mandavgarh) from whom the control was snatched by Khiljis in 1305. Allauddin Khilji named Mandav as Shadiabad, meaning the “city of happiness”, after the name of Princess Mandvi Chouhan of Khandwa.
The town of Mandu, situated at an elevation of 2,079 ft, is perched on the Vindhya Range, extending for 13km while overlooking the plateau of Malwa to the north and the valley of the Narmada River to the south, which acted as natural defences for the fort-capital of Rajput Parmara Rulers of Malwa, who originally built it. Towards the end of the 11th century, it came under the sway of the Taranga Kingdom.
There are some places of interest here. Mandu, due to its strategic position and natural defences, was an important place, with a rich and varied history. It was an important military outpost, and its military past can be gauged by the circuit of the battlemented wall, which is nearly 37km and is punctuated by 12 gateways. The wall encloses a large number of Palaces, Mosques, Jain Temples of the 14th century and other buildings. The oldest Mosque dates from 1405, and the finest is the Jama Masjid or Great Mosque, a notable example of Pashtun architecture.
(1) The Darwazas / Gates : The wall encompassing Mandu has 12 Darwazas or Gates. The present road, through which Mandu is reached, passes through many of these. Also encountered are smaller gateways, built to provide protection to the above-mentioned 12 Darwazas.
(2) Jahaz Mahal / Ship Palace : Situated between two artificial lakes, this 2-storied architectural marvel is so named as it appears as a ship floating in water. Built by Sultan Ghiyas-ud-din-Khilji, it served as a harem for the Sultan.
(3) Hindola Mahal / Swing Palace : It is so named due to its sloping side walls. The Hindola Mahal might have been constructed about 1425 C. E. but may date to the end of the 15th century. It is one of a set of uildings making up the Royal Palace Complex at Mandu, which consists of the Jahaz Mahal, the Hindola Mahal, the Tawili Mahal and the Nahar Jharokha. The Hindola Mahal may have been used as an audience chamber. There are a number of other undated structures surrounding the Palace — an evidence of a rich and glorious past.
(4) Hoshang Shah’s Tomb : India’s first marble structure, it is one of the most refined examples of Afghan architecture. Its unique features include the beautifully proportioned dome, intricate lattice work and courts with porticos and the towers. It served as a template for the construction of the Taj Mahal.
(5) Jami Masjid : Inspired by the Great Mosque of Damascus, this humongous structure is striking in both its simplicity and architectural style, with large courtyards and grand entrances.
(6) Rewa Kund : This is a reservoir constructed by Baz Bahadur for the purpose of supplying water to Rani Roopmati’s Pavilion. The reservoir is situated below the Pavilion, and hence is considered an architectural marvel.
(7) Roopmati’s Pavilion : A large sandstone structure, originally built as an army observation post, it is today known as Roopmati’s Pavilion. Rani Roopmati, the love-interest of Baz Bahadur, lived here, and is said to have gazed at the Baz Bahadur Palace and also at the Narmada River flowing through the plains far below, a river which the Queen revered.
(8) Baz Bahadur’s palace : It was built by Baz Bahadur. This 16th century structure is famous for its large courtyards encompassed by large halls and high terraces. It is situated below Roopmati’s Pavilion and can be seen from the Pavilion.