Location: 385-Miles Southeast of Delhi, Madhya Pradesh.
Name derived from 'Khajur', The Date Palm.
Built By: Chandela Rajputs.
Built During: 950 AD - 1050 AD.
Sensuality Sublimated: Khajuraho, derived from the word 'khajur' meaning the date palm, was a quiet, unknown town till a chance discovery made it a popular tourist destination. Forgotten and unvisited until the mid-1960s, the place is now, after the Taj, India's biggest single tourist attraction. Khajuraho has the largest group of medieval Temples; each studded with countless sculptures of extraordinary grace and delicacy. The temples of Khajuraho are indeed, celebrations of the stylized and refined courtly accomplishments of beauty, love and creative arts.
Khajuraho lies about 385 miles (616 kilometers) southeast of Delhi. It was once the religious capital of the Chandela Rajputs, a tribal dynasty who ruled this part of India from the tenth to the twelfth centuries. The Khajuraho temples were built in the short span of a hundred years, from 950-1050 AD in a truly inspired burst of creativity. A wall with eight gates enclosed the whole area; each flanked by two golden palm trees. There were originally over 80 temples, of which only 22 now stand in a reasonable state of preservation, scattered over an area of about eight square miles
A saga inscribed in stone, Mandu is situated on the edge of the Malwa Plateau. Mandu was dominated successively by Hindu and Muslim rulers. Mandu is also known as the city of joy. It was in the 10th century that Raja Bhoj founded this town as a retreat. It was taken over by the rulers of Delhi in 1304. The Mughals invaded as this place in 1401.The Afghan governor, Dilawar Khan established the kingdom of Mandu and with this started the golden era of this place. But it was not Dilawar Khan rather his son Hoshang Shah who raised it to greatest splendor. When the Mughals had captured it, capital of Malwa was shifted Dhar. Then again Hoshang Shah shifted the capital from Dhar to Mandu. Today Mandu is a ghost town. But it is a ghost town with a difference. Its grandiose and remarkable architecture makes it one of the places having the most impressive collection of Afghan art in India.
Mandu is a place where songs describing the love of Poet-prince Baz Bahadur and beautiful singer Roopmati fill the atmosphere. Balladeers sing songs of the romance and the Roopmati Pavilion overlooking the palace of Baz Bahadur stands as testimony to that as well. In the 13th century this place was also called Shahibabad. All over this place are spread ruins of Afghan Architecture. Jahaz and Hindola Mahals, ornamental canals, baths and pavilions, which are till, date as graceful and exquisite as they were then.
The monuments of Mandu can be divided into three categories, which includes the Royal Enclave, the central group and Rewa Kund group. The royal enclave includes Jahaz Mahal, Hindola Mahal. The central group has Hoshang Shah's tomb, Jami Masjid, Ashrafi Mahal and the Rewa Kund group have Rewa Kund, Baz Bahadur palace, and Roopmati pavilions. Then there are some more monuments, which are not kept in any of the groups this, include Nilkanth shrine and palace. Hathi Mahal, Darya Khan's Tomb, Dai Ka Mahal, Dai ki choti Bahan Ka Mahal and many other such monuments are worth giving a visit.
The lohani cave and temples are not far from the Royal enclave area and is associated with history of Mandu. Sunpoint near the caves affords a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside. Mandu is one of the few places in India where Baobab tree is found. It is the tubby Grey tree that looks as if it has been planted upside down with its roots in the air.
SHOPPING: Mandu is basically a historical place, which is surrounded by forests and natural beauty. Being a very small city it does not offer much to purchase and shopping malls are absent. Nevertheless, one can buy some local handicrafts and items made in the region. These items make good souvenirs and decorative pieces. Items made from gold and silver are particularly popular between the tourist as well as the native people. One cans always go for some handloom cloths and some colourful garments. Being part of Vindhya range (Malwa), the influence of Vindhyachal (Malwa) tribal art is clearly visible in on the handicrafts and other items. One can also look for leatherwork.
CLIMATE: July to March is the best time to visit this place. But while all other places are closed for tourism during Monsoons, Mandu offers the best time in this period. In fact, Mandu is more of a monsoon resort than anything else is. The natural surroundings are in full bloom during monsoon months.
GETTING THERE: The nearest airport is that of Indore which is linked with major cities in the country. There are regular services by various airlines to Indore. From Indore Mandu is 99 kms, which can be covered on a bus or hired taxi. The main railway stations for Mandu are Ratlam (124 kms) and Indore. These railheads are on the Mumbai - Delhi line and all major trains have a stoppage at these stations. Mandu is well connected by roads and is accessible from anywhere in the state. There are regular bus services from all the major cities in the state.
Jahaz Mahal: Jahaz Mahal or the ship palace was built by Sultan Ghiyas-ud-din-Khilji to maintain his large Harem (place where the ladies of rulers lived). This palace is in shape of a ship and is locate between Munj Talao and Kapur Talao (pond).
Hindola Mahal: The church like Hindola Mahal or the Swinging palace derives its name from the sloping sidewalks. Due to the slopes the walls of this palace seems to be swinging. Hindola Mahal essentially was a meeting place during Ghiyas-ud-din-Khilji's time.
Hoshang Shah's Tomb: Magnificently proportioned domes and intricately & delicately done marble latticework are the main features of Hoshang Shah's Tomb. This tomb is one of the best examples of Afghan architecture in India and probably the first marble edifice. Portico courts and towers mark the four corner of the rectangular tomb. It was from this tomb that Ustad Hamid got inspiration for designing Taj Mahal. Many architects were sending by Shah Jahan to study this tomb and then decide the constructing plan of the Taj.
Jami Masjid: This huge Mosque stands on high plinth and is adorned by imposing domes. A huge dome and minaret forms the center of this mosque, which derives its inspiration from the great mosque of Damascus. The scale on which this mosque was built and the proportions of the building is just unimaginable. The number of bays and arrangements of pillars and arches rows of domes above all make this mosque very pleasing in nature. Particularly from the central court is covered with huge colonnades, which makes it very fascinating.
Ashrafi Mahal: This was essentially built as Madras, a place for Islamic teaching. Even today the rooms and cells tell a story of teaching and studying. The name means palace of gold and was build by Muhammad Shah Khilji.
Rewa Kund: This pond was build to supply water to Rani Roommate’s palace. Built by Baz Bahadur, the pond is considered very sacred today.
Baz Bahadur Palace: Spacious courtyard surrounded by halls and high terraces with an excellent view of the countryside make this palace. Baz Bahadur built the palace for himself in the early 6th century.
Roopmati Pavilion: This pavilion was retreat for Roopmati. From the graceful pavilions Roopmati could see the palace of his beloved Baz Bahadur, The Pavilions also give a good view of river Narmada flowing through the Nimar plains. But these pavilions were originally built as army observation posts. Watching the sunset from these pavilions gives maximum pleasure.
Nilkanth: This Shiva temple is located on the edge of a steep gorge. The tree shaded courtyards and sacred pond fed by a stream is part of this ancient temple. Pilgrims and devotees come here to worship Lord Shiva.
Nilkanth Mahal: Mughal Governor of Mandu, Shah Badgah, built this palace for Akbar's Hindu wife. This Palace is very close to Nilkanth Shrine and it derives its name from the shrine itself. Interestingly the wall of this palace has inscription saying the futility of earthly pomp and glory. This palace became the favorite retreat for Jehangir.
Echo Point: Also referred as Delphic Oracle of Mandu. A shout from here reverberates far below and is clearly heard back.
Bagh Caves: Bagh caves are 50 kms west of Mandu. The location of these caves is three kms from the main road between Indore and Vadodra. The caves are seven kms from Bagh village. Essentially these caves were carved out during 400 to 700 AD. They are caves carrying Buddhist motifs. When discovered these caves were in vary bad shape and recently restoration works began. These cave are worth giving a look before one proceeds further.
FAIRS & FESTIVALS: The Malwa region is known for fun and colourful festival celebrations. Particularly during September / October, when Ganesha Chaturthi is celebrated in with much pomp and fan fair. These celebrations are window to the rich and colourful cultural heritage, which this place inherits. During these festivals and fairs, tribal art and crafts are displayed. Excellent pieces of art & crafts made in clay, wood, metal, bamboo, clothe, leaves etc visual treats and good purchase for decorations and gifts. The Madhya Pradesh tourism development corporations are trying to exploit the tourism potential of this area to its maximum. So, the Malwa festival is organized in Indore, Ujjain and Mandu. A cultural program accompanies this festival, among other things. The traditional art and cultural heritage come to the fore ground. In fact, like the festivals in Khajuraho and Konark there has been an attempt to make this a national festival. The festival is an attempt to link regional art and culture with the national mainstream. And to the delight of the organizers Malwa festival has been receiving attention from the media and tourist inflow to this region has been on a rise.
NEAR BY CITIE