Magical Mandu

27.7 13 Jul 2024

  • City existing since 6th Century BC
  • Shelters the monument that inspired The Taj Mahal
  • Houses India's biggest fort - The Mandu Fort
  • Witness to the legendary romance of Rani Roopmati and Baz Bahadur
  • Home to numerous ancient Afghan architectural marvels

Magical Mandu

Mandu is a celebration in stone, of life and joy, and the love of poet-prince Baz Bahadur for his beautiful consort, Rani Roopmati. Perched along the Vindhya ranges at an altitude of 2,000 feet, Mandu has eclectic creations combining the charming assertion of the Afghan mode with the great cultural heritage of the Turkish people.

Each of Mandu's structures is an architectural gem, like the massive Jami Masjid and Hoshang Shah's Tomb, which is believed to be the inspiration for the master builders of the Taj Mahal.

Floating over its reflection, the Jahaz Mahal in Mandu looks like a ship that's about to sail. However, for centuries this ship made of stone and mortar never did. Instead, it stood floating over the twin lakes, bearing a silent witness to Mandu's long, rich and varied history.

The grand palaces are still alive with royal romance while the gateways (Darwaza) speak about the history of imperial conquests.

The legendary love story of Baz Bahadur and Roopmati gave birth to the construction of the Roopmati Pavilion and Rewa Kund. The abandoned ruins of Hathi Mahal and Ashrafi Mahal have interesting stories associated with their existence. The intriguing site of the Bagh caves has the power to bridge the events between the bygone centuries.

There are myriads of places to see in Mandu which include forts, palaces, gateways, and temples. Mandu is a city adorned with breathtaking architectural jewels and a walk through the gallery of these monuments can leave you spell-bound.


Mandu ka Dal Paniya" is a must-try local delicacy while soaking in the legacy of the medieval capital of Malwa.

Dal Paniya is easily available in most restaurants and hotels and is also popular in other parts of Madhya Pradesh.

These paniyas are made using maize flour, salt, sugar powder, milk and lukewarm water. The dough of the Paniyas is divided into small balls and then are flattened slightly (like bati). Then these paniyas are cooked in a tandoor which gives them a smoky flavor when dipped in the dal. If you love spicy food, you must give this traditional Malva dish a try as it is super flavourful.

The city of Joy is also home to giant Baobab trees (Baobab is a tangy fruit), originally from Africa, whose seeds were gifted by the Caliphs of Egypt to the Sultans of Mandu in the 14th century. Locally it is called Khorasani Imli and is used to add tang in dal and curries. Also, the vendors in Mandu sell the gourd-like fruit, after they have ripened in February.


Roopmati's Pavilion

The pavilion was originally built as an army observation post. From its hilltop perch, this graceful structure with its two pavilions was a retreat of the lovely queen, from where she could see Baz Bahadur's palace and the Narmada flowing through the Nimar plains far below.

Jahaz Mahal

This 120-meter-long 'Jahaz Mahal' built between two artificial lakes, Munj Talao and Kapur Talao, is an elegant two-storeyed palace. With its open pavilions, balconies overhanging the water and open terrace, Jahaz Mahal is an imaginative recreation in stones of a royal pleasure craft.

Hindola Mahal

An audience hall, it derives the name of 'swinging palace' from its sloping sidewalls. Superb and innovative techniques are also evident in its ornamental facade, delicate trellis work in sandstone, and beautifully moulded columns.

Ashrafi Mahal

Built by Hoshang Shah's successor, Mahmud Shah Khilji, this 'palace of gold coins', facing the Jami Masjid, was conceived as an academic institution (madrassa). In the same complex, he built a seven-storeyed tower to celebrate his victory over Rana Khumba of Mewar, of which only one storey has survived. Also in ruins is the tomb which was intended to be the largest structure of Mandu, but collapsed due to hasty and faulty construction.

Baz Bahadur Palace

Built by Baz Bahadur in the early 16th century, the palace's unique features are its spacious courtyard surrounded by halls and high terraces with a breathtaking view of the surrounding countryside.

Darwazas (Gateways)

The 45 km parapet of walls that encircle Mandu are punctuated by 12 gateways. Most notable of these is Delhi Darwaza, the main entrance of the fortress city, for which the approach is through a series of gateways such as Alamgir and Bhangi Darwaza, through which the present road passes.

Hoshang Shah's Tomb

It is India's first marble edifice and is adorned with a magnificently proportioned dome, marble lattice work, porticoed courts, and towers to mark the four corners of the rectangle. Shah Jehan sent four of his great architects to study the design and draw inspiration from the tomb.

Jami Masjid

Inspired by the great mosque of Damascus, the Jami Masjid was conceived on a grand scale, with a high plinth and a huge domed porch. One is struck by the enormousness of the building's proportions and the mosque is enclosed on all sides by huge arcades with a rich and pleasing variety in arrangements of arches, pillars, number of bays, and rows of the dome above.

Nilkanth Mahal

Belonging to the Mughal era and close to the Nilkanth shrine (the sacred Shiva shrine), this palace was constructed by Shah Badgah Khan for Emperor Akbar's Hindu wife. On the walls here are some inscriptions from the time of Akbar, referring to the futility of earthly glory.


A trip to Mandu, no doubt magical in itself, can be made more exciting by planning an excursion to one of the many destinations nearby. A 90 km trip to the 6th-century rock-cut Bagh caves, a 140 km excursion to the district of Jhabua, known for its colourful Bhagoriya festival, the mediaeval town of Dhar, just 40 km from Mandu, which is also the district headquarters, Burhanpur, the ancient gateway to south India, 220 km from Mandu. One can also go on a spiritual trail to the temple towns of Maheshwar and Omkareshwar (40 km and 105 km respectively), located scenically by the banks of river Narmada.


If you are planning a trip to the city of joy around December, during the Mandu festival, you can hear, see, taste, and feel Mandu in a manner like never before.

The Mandu Festival, a 5-day celebration of art, craft, music, food, and adventure offers live concerts, adventure sports, cycling expeditions, glamping, hot air ballooning a,nd much more. It will surely be an experience like never before!


The best time to visit Mandu is between July and March, when the average temperature is comfortable, varying between 14 Degrees Celsius (57 Degrees Fahrenheit) and 30 Degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit). The summers are hot, and the temperature can rise as high as 46 Degrees Celsius (115 Degrees Fahrenheit), while in the winters it can dip to below 5 Degrees Celsius (41 Degrees Fahrenheit). After the scorching heat, monsoons arrive towards the first week of July and the rainy season stretches till mid-September. During the rains, Mandu acquires a sheen of fresh green and clouds lazily float in and out of lush valleys.


By Air: The nearest airport is Ahilyabai Holkar Airport at Indore (95 km), which is connected by regular flights from Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Bhopal, Ahmedabad, Nagpur, Raipur, Kolkata, etc.

By Rail: The nearest railhead is located at Ratlam, 130 km from Mandu. Major mail and express trains stop here. Alternatively one can disembark at Indore, which is well-connected to Delhi and Mumbai by rail.

By Road: Mandu is well-connected with regular bus services from Indore and Dhar (40 km). From Indore, there are direct buses to Mandu from Gangwal Bus Stand and Sarawate Bus Stand. The journey usually takes around 3 hours. Buses to Dhar are available frequently from the two bus stands. From Dhar, one can either take a bus or hire a car.

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Best Places to visit

Ashrafi Mahal

Baz Bahadur

Gateways (Darwazas)

Hindola Mahal

Hoshang Shah Tomb

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MPT Malwa Resort, Mandu

Price: INR 3290 - 4290 Phone: 07292-263235

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MPT Malwa Retreat, Mandu

Price: INR 300 - 2990 Phone: 07292-263221

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