Mandu: Mandu is a celebration in stone of life and joy, of the love of the poet-prince Baz Bahadur for his beautiful wife, Rani Roopmati. The balladeers of Malwa still sing of the romance of royal lovers. High up on the crest of a hill, Roopmati's pavilion still gazes down at Baz's palace, a magnificent expression of Afghan architecture. Perched along the Vindhyan ranges at an altitude of about 2000 feet, Mandu, with its natural defenses, was originally the fort capital of the Parmar rulers of Malwa. Towards the end of 13th century, it came under the Sultans of Malwa, first of whom renamed it Shadiabad - the city of joy. Its rulers built exquisite palaces like the Jahaz and Hindola Mahals, ornamental canals, baths and pavilions. Each of Mandu's structure is an architectural gem. Some are outstanding like Jami Masjid, and Hoshang Shah's Tomb, which provided inspiration for the master builders of world famous Taj Mahal centuries later. Under Mughal rule, Mandu was a pleasure resort, its lakes and palaces the scene of splendid and extravagant festivities. The glory of Mandu lives on, in its palaces and mosques, in legends and songs.
Percy Brown: Indian Architecture (The Islamic Period) writes:-
The elevated plateau is a scene of the most enchanting variety. Contrasting with undulating tracts shaded by trees, are dark pools nestling in the hollows and larger lakes glistening in the sunshine, while rocky ravines alternate with sloping swards, the entire effect being unreal in its beauty. And to complete the illusion, a thousand feet below are spread vast plains of the Narbada, the delicate opalescent tints of which ... provide an entrancing background to the whole. On many of the prominent positions within the broken surface of this magic landscape ... crowning the heights are arcaded pavilions and pillared kiosks, turrets, and cupolas...
We will drive through Delhi Darwaza, the most notable of 12 gates, and the main entrance to the fortress city with a 45 km (30 miles) parapet of walls that encircle Mandu.
The Central Group - has three main structures: Hoshang Shah' Tomb, a marble edifice, is one of the most refined examples of Afghan architecture. Its unique features are the magnificently proportioned dome, marble lattice work of remarkable delicacy and porticoed courts and towers to mark the four corners of the rectangle. Shah Jehan, the builder of Taj Mahal sent his architects here to draw inspiration from the tomb including Ustad Hamid, who was associated with the construction of the Taj. Jami Masjid was 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 projecting in the center. The background dominated by similar imposing domes with the intervening space filled up by innumerable domes. One is struck by the hugeness of the building's proportions and the stern simplicity of its construction. Ashrafi Mahal was built by Hoshang's successor, Mohmud Shah Khilji, this palace of gold coins, facing the Jami Masjid, was conceived as an academic institution for young boys and sundry still remain in a fair state of preservation.
Rewa Kund Group - also has three main structures with a few other buildings to visit: Rewa Kund, a reservoir built by Baz Bahadur with an aqueduct to provide Roopmati's palace with water. Today the pool is reserved as a sacred spot. Baz Bahadur's Palace was built by Baz Bahadur in early 6th century, the palace's unique features are its spacious courtyard surrounded by halls and high terraces which afford a superb view of the countryside. Roopmati's Pavilion - 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.
The Royal Enclave - consists of mainly two mahals (palaces): The Jahaz Mahal is a 120 meter (400 foot) long 'ship palace' built between two artificial lakes, Munj Talao and Kapur Talao, is an elegant two-storied building. Probably built by Sultan Ghiyas-ud-din Khilji for his large harem. With its open pavilions, balconies overhanging the water and open terrace, the Jahaz Mahal is an imaginative recreation in stone of a royal pleasure craft. Viewed on moonlit nights from the adjoining Taveli Mahal, it presents an unforgettable spectacle. Hindola Mahal was an audience hall also belonging to Ghiyas-ud-dinís time, deriving its 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 beautiful moulded columns. The ruins include a Hindu temple which was subsequently changed to a Muslim mosque (one of the few temples not destroyed but converted by the Muslims). You will see the basic requirements of a Muslim mosque, but the subtle carvings, motifs and architecture remaining Hindu. Hear yourself at "echo point", the delphic oracle where a shout reverberates far below and is heard clearly back.