Nothing compares to the feeling of being able to do what you love doing. Recently, when I donned my travelling hat, climbed up some of the poetic sandstone monuments, went on a fishing trail and tapped my feet on the tunes of Indian bands like- Kabir cafe and Mukt, I felt the exhilaration of victory. After dispirited and disrupted 2020, when none of us could travel to our heart’s desire, it felt amazing to start all over again in 2021. The trip to Mandu was special for many reasons. First, I was starting to travel again. Second, I had heard a lot about its ruins, rustic rural charms and romantic story of Rupmati and Baz Bahadur and this was my chance to see it all. And last but not the least, I was happy to start my travels right from the state where I had left. In March 2020, I had to opt out of a heritage trail in Madhya Pradesh due to the first signs of the pandemic and I was very disappointed. Exactly, an year later, I was starting from Mandu Festival 2021 organized my Madhya Pradesh Tourism. While Mandu was delighful and promising as a destination, the event hinted at a joyous comeback of travel. I would like to believe that good times will be back soon. With masks, sanitizers, and safety gears intact, the road to recovery seems long but is not far away.
Where is Mandu and what makes it the city of joy?
The hill town of Mandu is situated in the Mandav area of the Dhar district in Madhya Pradesh. 35 km from Dhar, Mandu is a gem in the Malwa region, known for its spellbinding monuments, gorgeous architecture and greenery. With the Vindhyan mountain ranges in the backdrop, innumerable water bodies and deep & wide ravines, Mandu has a picturesque topography. This fortress city was founded by the Raja Bhoja of Parmar dynasty. Later, it underwent significant changes under the Mughal rulers. And overall, it has witnessed many historic developments of Central India in the 15th and 16th century CE.
I enjoy learning about India’s rich past and there is nothing more thrilling than walking through old arches, domes, palaces, temples, mosques, etc. If you prefer to turn the pages of history, Mandu is special. Don’t forget to include Mandu in your itinerary whenever you are in Central India.
With a number of brooks, ravines, valleys interspersed with greenery and historic landmarks all around, the landscape of Mandu is extremely pleasing to the eyes. For the history buffs, this is a place of joy and maybe for this reason it was once called Shadibad, ‘The City of Joy’.
Mandu also happens to be the home to the country’s first marble monument, Hoshang Shah’s Tomb, which was used as an inspiration for Taj Mahal.
Mandu is special!
With more than 3000 big and small monuments within 29 square kilometers, it is a rare gem in the Central part of India. Before my visit, I was curiously attracted to the most popular but tragic love-saga of Rupmati and Baz Bahadur of Mandu but after my trip, I can say that Mandu needs no romantic story to attract travellers. It is a treasure trove of stories and it has everything to offer to a new-age traveller who loves to do offbeat travels.
Mandu may not be a conventional destination but its imposing gates, , magnificent structures like-Jahaz Mahal, Hindola Mahal, Jami Masjid, Hoshang Shah Tomb, Hathi Mahal, gorgeous Boabab trees, humble village settings, buildings that stand as testimony of rich heritage and hundreds of Instagram-worthy spots are awaiting curious travellers. It is a delightful heritage destination. All it needs is better infrastructure (hotels) and facilities (transport) to help travellers make the best of their time and effort there.
I have been told that it looks wonderous during monsoons and would love to return soon.
All About Mandu Festival 2021
Mandu festival has given me a new perspective and admiration for Mandu. I am a city girl but I was very happy to be lost in the picturesque beauty of Mandu. Mandu has lots to offer and it was impossible to see it all in 2 days but the festival provided a great chance to get introduced to its rich heritage. It is a great idea to celebrate our small towns and villages under the aegis of themed festivals. With the support from tourism board, Efactor did a great job with the management and curation of the event.
Some of the key events of Mandu festival were Yoga, Heritage walk, cycle tours, horse riding, tractor ride, fishing trail, Instagram tours, eco-tourism, local luncheons, Art and craft district, Food centre, shopping center and evening concerts. This proves that our Indian villages have so much potential to make great tourism destinations. The need of the hour is to identify such places and create such events.
While Heritage walk, Instagram tours and music concerts were the USP of the event, I thoroughly enjoyed the tractor ride, fishing trail and the lunch prepared by the local villagers. The displayed work in the art district was one-of-its-kind and a great way to promote local talent.
The Sound and Light show was very impressive and I was told that it takes place in Jahaz Mahal on a regular basis. Don’t miss it whenever you are in Mandu.
In the times of pandemic, I was skeptical about being a part of a crowded event. I was not sure what the arrangements would be like but I was glad to see the precautions in place. Minus the locals, most of the people were wearing masks, temperature checks were taking place at the venue and people were allowed inside the main area, only after the use of sanitizers.
The best part about Mandu is that it is well connected by road from the nearest airport in Indore, as well as other cities. Do share your experience whenever you are there. Keep following ‘Pendown’ for more blogs on India and beyond.