Walking down the road from my accommodation at Malwa Retreat in Mandav, I knew I had made the right choice to spend 3 days of my summer buried in anecdotes from the medieval past. Since early childhood, the tales of dynastic rule have been magnetic for me. The intricate architecture, the grandeur of the era and the nature of ancient civilization have drawn me like a moth to a flame.
It is safe to assume that for someone who is in love with imposing historical marvels, I was expecting huge decorated palaces narrating the chores of the past. Crushing my expectations in this case, it was a pleasant surprise to find a combination of beauty and history in the ruins of Mandav.
The city built in the 8th century is an amalgamation of Mughal and Malwa dynasty. Once standing tall and bright, the city of Mandav is now a picturesque collection of ruins. The tales of the regal reign echo in the empty corridors, reflecting a flamboyant kingdom that once flourished in Mandav. One can easily find the intricate beauty in the (now disrepair) architecture while strolling down common lanes in the city.
Located in the Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh, Mandu (popularly known as Mandav) will put all your royal dreams to reality. Malwa’s bespoken treasure will enchant you with its scenic view overlooking the Narmada Valley in the south and the Malwa plateau in the north. Once a jewel in the Malwa dynasty is now a pin-on-the-map for travellers who relish the beauty of grand ruins.
At a distance of 290 kilometers from the state capital Bhopal, the town is an unconventional photographer’s paradise. The tranquil ambience is a perfect escape from the hullabaloo of the city. The town maybe compact in size but has a lot to offer for visitors who nurture a soft corner for history and princely architecture.
The Pavallion is an archaic structure set on a hilltop which might not look appealing at first sight but definitely is not to be missed when in Mandav. It is a 10-minute steep trek to the palace and it is totally worth the effort. Have you been to some place that beckons you with its scenic beauty but gives you the creeps? The palace being at a secluded location has an aura of mystery to it. Trust me, you will feel it too!
The airy edifice is a hoarder of small tunnels and dungeons and will make you look over the shoulder at least once, if you visit at sunset like I did.
Rani Roopmati’s Pavallion was initially built as an army post is the quintessential spot for a panoramic view of the region. The city that appears like a collection of damaged buildings and rubble will refine into textured beauty at sunset making you want to gaze at it forever. The windy corridors and designed vaults left me stringed with the thoughts of the impressive royal events that once must have happened there. That is the beauty of history; it makes you wonder and taps the imagination.
Want to witness an architectural marvel? Visit the Jahaz Mahal situated between two artificial lakes and shape of the structure looks like as if a ship is sailing in water! One can almost feel the aura of ancient royalty while walking across the long palatial galleries and splendid gardens that are well maintained till date. Growing up in congested cities has retracted from us the comfort and ‘luxury’ of open spaces. Who wouldn’t like a palace with a lake, acres of embroidered landscape and magnificent anatomy with nothing but the best? The Jahaz Mahal is all about letting the free air in.
Growing in an ever-growing technological world, we often miss the attention to detail, as “everything is possible now”. But to witness this shape and peculiarity of the structure at Jahaz Mahal is a stir to the mind that people in that era could design so efficiently without the conundrum of modern gadgets.
The Hindola Mahal, meaning the ‘Hall of Swings‘ situated in the backyard of Jahaz Mahal is another place, not to be
missed. The timeworn tales narrate that the princess along with her attendants used to come to this particular hall-like palace, decorated with white drapes and flowers during the monsoon season. If you stand there for a minute with closed eyes, you’ll feel a part of the narrative too!
Small & the unknown
Mandav is- against the contrary- a perfect spot to wander-off trekking and discovering small architectural structures spread across the region. So on the second day of the trip, I decided to get a little adventurous. I set-off with no particular idea in mind and decided to let the path lead the way.
While walking down the Eco Point, I stumbled upon something marvelous. Unknown to the world rested small archaic domes and darbars where a Sufi saint sitting with his santoor, humming the tunes of the past that added placidity to my day. It is the pleasure of discovering the unwanted that puts a wide smile on the face of a wanderer, as it did on mine.
Mandav is an appropriate spot for a weekend getaway. Those who want to visit cities in Rajasthan or Maharashtra for getting in touch with the historical wonders of India but also want to escape the chaos of the city, Mandav is the place for you. The destination is optimum for sitting back and relaxing with a book in the lap of history. This small town will not only make you itch for your own palace but also add a pinch of royal magic to your travel diary. It is indeed an endowment from the past.
Other places to visit in and around Mandav:
- Jami Masjid
- Rewa Kund
- Baz Bahadur Palace
- Situated at a distance of approximately 40 kms from Mandav is the Ahilya Fort, which is yet another picturesque spot on the trip. The fort is built on the banks of river Narmada in Maheshwar.