Mandu (City of Joy)

Monsoon arrives and the greenery around you compels to explore, pushing you to go out and travel. After few treks for the season, mind was finicky with the idea of exploring Madhya Pradesh.  MP, itself has a very glorious past with Palaces, Fort, Waterfalls, Rivers etc. on their majestic display. We planned to explore Khajuraho. We had 4 days long weekend coming ahead with 15th August, 2013 falling on Thursday, apply a leave for Friday and Saturday being off for all of us. With plan ready, and all set we waited. And then the big blow came, I was shocked to my wits end when I saw the train tickets were full to the brim and further booking would have landed us right on long waiting list. In frantic desperation, I  called my other colleagues who were supposed to accompany me on my venture. Dropped the bomb of train tickets and postponement of plan (Because in my rulebook, plan never cancels but merely postpones!).  Told them to wait till I come up with some other plan. I recollected, some time back, a friend of mine was asking to plan a trip to Mandu. It is a city of ‘Mahals and tombs’ with a history of beautiful story of Singer / King Baz Bahadur and Songstress/Queen Roopmati. Directed all my time and resources to get the details of Mandu and within a day came up with Itinerary for same. Conference called my friends and just dropped in ‘the name-Mandu’, so as to prep them for historical journey. They hit google and were dumbstruck by the images that were displayed on webpage. Finalized it, checked the details for trains and was again sent back to panic mode by IRCTC. Just 4 seats left for 2AC coach from Mumbai to Ratlam rest all were on waiting list.  And guess what, we were four. Called all, confirmed and hit the ‘book’ button and we were all set for ‘City of Joy – Mandu’. (Lesson learnt: Always plan two months in advance for any trip, so the last moment jerks can be avoided because it makes my heartbeat to go on an uneven mode.)And we waited with me grinning from ear to ear. The day arrived. We started on 14th Night, got in Dehradun Express, which leaves Bandra Terminus at 12.05 am. We had dinner prior to leaving our respective places, being 2AC, it was cool, slipped in those white sheets and dozed off. We arrived in the afternoon at 12.20 pm at Ratlam. We skipped lunch instead had light snacks and fruit, because the next journey was on bus, and I had some idea that it wouldn’t be a smooth ride, so to keep our stomach calm we didn’t risk anything heavy or spicy.We took bus to Mandu via Dhar. Road was smooth with occasional bumps here and there. After 3 hours we reached Mandu. It is a walled city on certain altitude. We did cross some huge gates to enter the city.As soon as we got down from bus, we enquired around for some hotels. A old gentleman saw us, told us that being an all girls group, we should try out Jain Dharamshala which was nearby. Jain Dharamshala allowed only families and girls to stay in their campus. We submitted some photo identification copies and got ourselves one room. It was neat and clean. It was almost dusk, hence we retired for the day. Next day, fresh, with our pre-decided dress code-Frocks and skirts, We hired a car for a day tour. 

We first visited the famed Roopmati Pavilion, it was a very large spread out area, with a pavilion through which one can view the very far-off serpentine Narmada river on clear days. Legend describes this pavilion as a watch tower as well as viewpoint for Queen Roopmati to view Sacred Narmada river.

As usual we went on with our long photoshoots. Along the way, paid visit to Rewa Kund and Baz Bahadur Mahal. Most amazing part of these palaces were the water tanks that are strategically placed in such a way that after few showers in monsoon, the tanks and reservoirs would fill up with water and reflect the sheer majestic beauty of these Mahals. Which in itself is a treat to the eyes as well as for camera to capture!

On the way, we experimented with our vocals at Echo point. Next point was Nilkanth Palace, named because of old shiva temple that was replaced by this structure during the Mughal era, built of red stone. 

Didn’t took much time to go around, we were off to Royal Complex. Royal Complex comprised of Jahaz Mahal (Ship Palace) – situated between two artificial tanks( Munj and Kapur) gives an impression of a large ship floating in water.

Jal Mahal ( Water Palace- many miniature Baodis in its courtyard and a pathway connects it with rest of the complex), Hindola Mahal (Swinging Palace, a name given to its peculiar sloping sidewalls).

Royal Palace and Champa Bawdi, Hammam (unique architecture with bathroom cubicles having perforated domes providing light. These cubicles hold water through parallel grooves carved on the stone slabs). Proper tour of Royal Complex almost took 3-4 hours from our schedule. It was so grand and magnanimous in sight we were charmed by each mahal, stopping and gaping in awe at those marvelous structures.

We had few more sites to visit, biding adieu to these palaces, we continued to Hoshang Shah’s Tomb. It is the first marble structure of India, an architecture marvel!  

Later we moved on towards Jama Masjid. Before dark, we were back to Jain Dharamshala to call it a day. We covered the beautiful Jain Temple too. It was a light and color treat for eyes.

We had reserved two days for Mandu trip, instead we finished it in a day, with one day more to spare we thought of covering Maheshwar too which was approximately 40 kms around 1.5 hrs,. Next day was reserved for Maheshwar!

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