What was initially conceptualized as a trip which would involve around 4 or 5 of us invariably expanded to include 8 others. We were finally around 12 of us who decided to make the most of the day off given to us. So, there we were off to Mandu, also called the City of Joy, the legendary fortress on the edge of the Malwa plateau, situated as the gateway between the regions north and south of the Vindhya mountains.
We started off with a sumptuous breakfast of Upma, cornflakes and hot tea at the mess at around 0830 hrs, on Friday, December 3rd, 2004. It took us close to 3 hrs to reach Mandu, inclusive of a tea stop at Dhar, the erstwhile capital city of the Malwa region. The journey itself was quite un-interesting until we actually took a turn on the dirty road, which gave us an awesome panoramic view of the entire plateau. It was then we realized the magnitude of what we were about to witness during the rest of the day.
We started off on our exploratory ways even before we even hired a guide. We stopped as soon as we saw the Dilli Darwaza. An awesome welcome to the legendary fortress !!!. Supposedly, this door faces in the direction of Delhi, which once used to be the de-facto ruling interest of the entire Malwa region courtesy the Mughal empire.
It was then that we bumped into Mr Jagdish Pal, the guide. We started off with visiting the Jami Masjid, a controversial mosque. According to the guide, the place does not have the three necessary ingredients that all mosques should have, viz, the four minarets inside the complex, the water tank in the vicinity of the mosque and the fact that the platform where the Imam Taqht (main priest) would stand and address the faithful did not conform to the usual Islamic standards. In any case, what was left of the mosque was awesome enough to impress all of us.
Directly opposite to the Jami Masjid was the Ashrafi Mahal, roughly translated to mean the Palace of the gold coins. The story goes that when Allaudin Khilji to celebrate his controversial victory over Prithviraj Chauhan built a victory tower which majestically stood at over 152 feet with 198 steps to be climbed to reach its top. When Jahangir, the son of Akbar, and his wife, Noor Jehan were visiting the place, during her pregnancy, he wanted her to get to the top of the tower to have the best view of the entire fort of Mandu. Since she was quite reluctant to climb the steps, he lured her to the top by placing one gold coin at the base of every step of the tower. However, we weren’t lucky enough to actually see the tower coz the same has been ravaged by an earthquake and other natural causes and what remains of it is a measly 10-15 feet of it. In any case, our resident rock-climber Senthil made it a point to climb some of the ruined wall to give us some amazing photos.
We moved on to see the Rani Rupmati pavilion and the Baz Bahadur palace. I guess this is a long enough post for today. More details regarding the awesome trip to Mandu to follow soon. Keep watching this space to get the remainder of the details of it in the near future.