Mandu Information

Mandu, set picturesquely at the edge of the Vindya range, overlooking the Narmada river was once known as Shadiabad, the ‘Citadel of Joy’. It was the pleasure resort of the rulers of Malwa and echoes with love tales of poet prince Baz Bahadur and Rani Rupmati.

Built at a cool height of over 600m (2,000 ft.) on the southwestern edge of the Malwa Plateau, with sweeping views of the Nimar Plains below, Mandu was once the largest fortified city on earth, and playpen to some of central India’s most powerful rulers. Initially christened by the Malwa sultans as the “City of Joy,” the medieval capital inspired its rulers to celebrate the most pleasurable of pastimes—one of Mandu’s most famous palaces was built solely to house some 15,000 concubines, and it is said that the Mughal emperor Humayun was so mesmerized by Mandu’s sanguine beauty that he developed an opium habit during his stay here. Today the exotic ghost city—still one of the most atmospheric destinations in India—draws but a handful of tourists, which makes the excursion here all the more rewarding. It’s just 2 hours away from the industrial hub of Indore, yet Mandu, even more so than Orchha, is rural India at its best: a place of enduring beauty, both natural and man-made, with panoramic views. It’s the perfect antidote to the well-traveled North India circuits. You can visit Mandu as a rather long day trip out of Indore, but for those willing to sacrifice luxury for serenity, it’s worth spending a night or two here to revel in silence, fresh air, and wide-open space.

EXPLORING MANDU

After passing through the narrow gates of the fortress and continuing for some distance, you’ll arrive in “downtown” Mandu (a collection of shops and stalls in the vicinity of the Central Group of monuments). As soon as you emerge from your car or bus, you’ll be approached by a local guide, who will offer his services with a nervous but easygoing disposition. Even if your guide—and there are only a couple in Mandu—is not a certified expert, this is one place where it can be fun to have someone show you around and enrich your experience with a version of history that overdoes the myth, romance, and fantasy of the place. However, do agree on a price upfront and establish that he speaks passable English. The fee should be Rs 200 to Rs 400 ($4.55–$9.10) depending on guide and hours. All monuments are open from 8am to 6pm. If you don’t plan to spend the night in Mandu, start your tour immediately with 15th-century Jama Masjid . Said to have been inspired by the mosque in Damascus, this colossal colonnaded structure bears some Hindu influences, such as the carvings of lotus flowers and decorative bells. Adjacent the mosque is the mausoleum of Hoshang Shah, the first white marble tomb in India, said to have inspired those in Agra; it’s ultimately missable. The Royal Enclave (Rs 100/$2.30; daily 8am–6pm) is dominated by enormous Jahaz Mahal, commonly known as the “ship palace.” Built between two artificial lakes, it certainly was intended to be the ultimate stone pleasure cruiser, where the sultan Ghiyas Shah kept his 15,000 courtesans and an additional 1,000 Amazonians from Turkey and Abyssinia to guard them. Behind the ship palace is Hindola Mahal; its oddly sloping buttress walls have given it the nickname “Swing Palace.” Mandu’s main road stretches southward, through open fields dotted with ruins and a few village houses, and continues into the Rewa Kund group of monuments, where the passionate romance between Maharaja Baz Bahadur, the last independent sultan of Malwa, and the beautiful Hindu shepherdess, Rupmati, is preserved in striking stone constructions. Apparently smitten by Rupmati’s glorious singing voice, Baz built the Rupmati Pavilion (Rs 100/$2.30) so that she could see her village in the Narmada Valley below, but things went awry when the Mughal emperor Akbar came to hear of her legendary beauty and voice and wanted to take her home as a souvenir. After a fierce battle in which Baz was defeated, his beloved committed suicide. The view from the pavilion, which stands on the edge of a sheer precipice rising 365m (1,168 ft.) from the valley floor, is still sublime. On the way back from the pavilion, stop at Baz Bahadur’s Palace (Rs 100/$2.30), where the acoustics enjoyed by the musically inclined king remain quite astonishing, even if some of the restoration work is a bit ham-fisted.

Jahaz Mahal

The 400 ft. long and 50ft wide double storey pleasure palace built between two lakes, resembles a ship.  This remarkable edifice in stone is said to have been built by Sultan Ghiyas-ud-din Khilji for his large harem of 15000 women.

Hoshang Shah’s Tomb

The beautiful tomb is one of the finest specimens of Afghan architecture and the first marble structure of the country.

Jami Masjid

It is patterned on the great mosque of Damascus and is another great example of Afghan architecture in India.

Asharfi Mahal or the ‘place of gold coins'

It was built by Mahamud Shah Khiliji and was conceived as an academic institution.  In the same complex he built a seven storeyed victory tower to celebrate his victory over Rana Kumbha of Mewar.

Rupmati’s Pavilion

It was built by Baz Bahadur for his queen Rupmati, on the southern crest of a hill, overlooking the Nimar valley.  The pavilion commands a panoramic view of the meandering Narmada river, especially on full moon night.

Hindola Mahal

The ‘swinging palace’ gets the name from its leaning walls that resemble a swing.  It combines immense proportions with simplicity of design.  Other attractions include, Jami Masjid, Rewa Kund, Baz Bahadur’s Palace, Nilkantha etc.

Mandu Distance Guide

Mandu to Bhilai 823 Km
Mandu to Bhopal 270 Km
Mandu to Chitrakoot 829 Km
Mandu to Damoh 543 Km
Mandu to Datia 554 Km
Mandu to Gwalior 570 Km
Mandu to Indore 83 Km
Mandu to Jabalpur 604 Km
Mandu to Jagdalpur 1187 Km
Mandu to Kanha 750 Km
Mandu to Khajuraho 658 Km
Mandu to Mandla 701 Km
Mandu to Bhandhavgarh 734 Km
Mandu to Pachmarhi 435 Km
Mandu to Panna 680 Km
Mandu to Raipur 246 Km
Mandu to Sanchi 316 Km
Mandu to Shivpuri 456 Km
Mandu to Sidhi 904 Km
Mandu to Ujjain 139 Km
Mandu to Vidisha 336 Km