This year, we embarked on our first trip to the geographical heart of India, Madhya Pradesh (MP). Our itinerary featured three destinations in the Malwa region of MP: Mandu (Mandav), Indore, and Maheshwar.
Our visit to the charming town of Mandu took us back in time… through centuries of rule by various dynasties. As power changed hands several times (from the Parmars to the Khiljis), each dynasty left behind an imprint: of monuments and stories. And the treasure trove of stories comes alive in the monuments of Mandu.
If you haven’t already read the first part of this account of Mandu, here it is.
And now, let’s move on to the second part of the story.
The Magnificence of the Central Village Group: Jami Masjid and Hoshang Shah’s Tomb
As we entered the town center, a splendid monument with a large number of domes rose majestically. This edifice, the Jami Masjid, impresses the visitor with its magnificence.
The grand Jami Masjid has been inspired by the Great Mosque of Damascus. Its sublime beauty is highlighted by the numerous domes, pillars, and arches. A vast courtyard in the premises was the perfect place for us to pause for a while, and soak in the solemnity and grandeur of the architecture.
A path from the Jami Masjid led us to another architectural gem, Hoshang Shah’s Tomb. This marble structure is a symbol of Afghan architecture. The monument is believed to have been the inspiration for Shah Jahan’s Taj Mahal.
On one side of the mausoleum, in the same complex, is a Dharamshala, built in typical Hindu style. We walked along the path, gazing at the lovely designs of the pillars and brackets. The contrast of the Hindu and Afghan architectural styles, in the same compound, left us wondering about history and its many paradoxes.
Walk, Stroll, Explore Other Monuments
In Mandu, it is a good idea to take an unhurried stroll around the town and spot the “hidden” ruins and edifices. I loved looking out for the domes in the distance, ruined monuments hidden by trees, and picturesque little ponds in green surroundings.
Unique Nilkanth Temple and Palace
It was time to bid adieu to Mandu. As we headed out of town, there was one last place to visit. Situated at the edge of a cliff, overlooking a gorge, is a holy Shiva shrine. We descended a flight of stairs to reach the Nilkanth Temple and Palace complex.
A tranquil pond and a small stream flowing from it mark the entrance to the shrine. The uniqueness of this Hindu temple lies in the Islamic architecture of the structure around the shrine. The edifice, constructed by a Mughal governor for Akbar’s Hindu wife, has Persian inscriptions.
We spent some time enjoying the serenity of the location and the pretty views of the gorge. It was the perfect way to bid farewell to the fortress town of Mandu.
– How to reach Mandu: We followed the NH3 (from Dhule toward Indore), and turned left immediately after ‘Palash Resort’ on the highway. A sign indicating the direction to Mandu was visible here.
– Where to stay: Madhya Pradesh Tourism offers a couple of options – Malwa Retreat and Malwa Resort.