The mystical Mandu – Part II of Incredible heart of India

This trip was in continuation to the Bhopal one, which was done in March of 2015 during the Holi. Yes, your time calculation is right, I am rolling this blog approximately after a year. Well on justification front I guess you term it – ‘A Planned Creative Block’. I just decided to take some time off and concentrate my creative energy on other aspects of life. I have always come to believe that discontinuing activities for small period of time, always gives us time to reflect and comtemplate. Thus, short sabbaticals are a good way, at least as I believe, of bouncing back with a renewed energy and some thoughtful ideas. 

Mandu, Mandavgarh or ‘the city of Happiness’ as it recieves its citations in Historical writings is a fortified historical city in Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh. It has been closely contested political entity between Khiljis, Rajputs Parmars of Malwa, Rajput Rana of Mewar and Marathas. This contest carefully manifests in its Architecture, which in a way is a melange / borrowing bag of various regionalistic styles of those times. Geographically, it sits atop a small hillock and is fairly secluded from hum-drum of other big cities in proximity like Indore or Bhopal. The plain region beneath the hillock is locally known as Nimar region and the hillock along with the plateau is known as Malwa region. Nimar is agriculturally rich, climatically warm and population wise dense. Whereas on the other hand, Mandu, which is the highest geographic location of Malwa is a historic settlement frozen in Medieval times with sparse cultivation, lush green wilds on hill side and a contemplative quiteness. It thrives on tourist footfall, mainly from November to February and post monsoons i.e. July to September.

Jahaz Mahal- Mandu (coutesy : Flickr)

Since I went during the start of the off-season, I was able to avoid the conundrum of touristy footfall and most importantly sketch extensively :). Also because March is the time, when it becomes sufficiently dry, I got the chance of observing and speculating the operation logic of its water systems of Mandu. Being an architect, I have heard extensive references of its water management system through spatial intervention. And indeed, seeing the water bodies with receeded water mark and open filtration system made me appreciate the simple yet effective means of water management of Mandu. But having done the trip during dry season, I admit I missed the scenic landscape beauty of Mandu. And I guess I would sometime pack my bag again in monsoons to witness what I missed during my last trip.

Mandu has numerous group of notable monuments, but the Jahaz Mahal is the feather of its crown. Literally translating to ship plalace, this linear building hugs one edge of the central reservoir. On the other side of jahaz Mahal, there is desending hierarchy of gardens and filtrations ponds around it.


The other notable buildings Rani Roopmati Pavillion, Hindola Mahal, Tomb of Hosang Shah and others. All of them very graceful, some more stylistically detailed ,others a bit less. But all of these have aged very beautifully with the landscape. The idea of landscape and Buildings have an oxymoronic relationship. Buildings look best when new and landscapes when they mature. The hue of spring in surrounding trees and grasses added a tinge of youthfulness to these otherwise timeless buildings. I remember I sat quite some time around these and sketched few of them. Here is a collage of what I garnered as the spot sketches.

Well what’s super special about the treasury of buildings that Mandu has is – Hindola Mahal, meaning swing palace. It was so designed to catch the monsson breeze and give privacy to women folks to enjoy the monsoons.

I and Hindola Mahal

I have started to develop a feeling that this could turn to be a never ending post, for though this trip existed tangibly for 48 hours, the expanse of memories, experiences and visual vistas are  far too elaborate. I retire for my afternoon siesta with a recap of Mandav, reeling across my brain. I close this sketch post with some more candid clicks from my camera. Since a picture says a thousand words, I assume that these three pictures below will suffice for the defecit of expression, that Mandu earns from my sketch pad.

Mandu, I hope I see you again, this time during Monsoon… when the winds blows high and I could put swings on Hindola Mahal and swing along the monsoon breeze….. Till then Bye…. Loved you.

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