Places to Visit
Mandu "The City of Joy"
Mandu is home to India's finest examples of Afghan architecture, clinging to the edges of a ravine-riddled 20-sq-km plateau overlooking the hazy plains. With-in this well-defended plateau is wealth of palaces, pleasure pavilions, mansions, tombs and mosques.
The hill range is endowed with a very attractive natural scenery, which is at its best during the rainy season, when on all sides, it is clothed in green with a number of brooks and torrents, rushing down into the ravine winding about its sides below. The beauty of which is further enhanced by about a dozen lakes and ponds interspersed on its top.
Emperor Jehangir who journeyed all the way from Delhi to spend time here wrote "I Know of no place so pleasant in climate and so pretty in scenery as Mandu during the rains." It was called by the Muslim rulers as Shadiabad, "The City of Joy".
The 45 km parapet of walls that encircle Mandu are punctuated by 12 gateways. Most notable of these is Delhi Darwaza, the main entrance to the fortress city, for which the approach is through a series of gateways well fortified with walled enclosures and strengthened by bastions such as the Alamgir and Bhangi Darwaza, through which the present road passes. Rampol Darwaza, Jehangir Gate and Tarapur Gate are some of the other main gateways
This 120 mt long "Ship Palace" built between the two artificial lakes, Munj Talab and Kapur Talab is an elegant two storeyed palace. With its open pavilions, balconies overhanging the water and open terrace, Jahaz Mahal is an imaginative recreation in stone of a royal pleasure craft. Viewed on moonlit nights from the adjoining Taveli Mahal, the silhouette of the building, with the tiny domes and turrets of the pavilion gracefully perched on the terrace, presents an unforgettable spectacle.
There are some historians who believe the Jahaz Mahal was built by Sultan Giasuddin as his Harem Mahal. Whereas there are some who believe it was the summer resort of Malwa King Munjdeb.
Sultan Ghiyasud-din Khilji built the Hindola Mahal, or the Swinging Palace. It got this name from its sloping walls which looked like the trestle supports of a swing. It was a great audience hall of the King of Mandu.
There are several unidentified buildings to the west of the Hindola Mahal which still bear traces of their past grandeur. Amidst these is an elaborately constructed well called Champa Baoli which is connected with underground vaulted rooms where arrangements for cold and hot water were made.
Other places of interest in this enclave are Dilawar Khan's Mosque, the Nahar Jharokha (tiger balcony), the two large wells the Ujali (bright) and Andheri (dark) Baolis and Gada Shah's Shop and House, all worth a visit.
Tomb of Hoshang Shah
Retains the masculinity and majesty of the Afgan ruler. The white marble tomb is a product of mixed architectural and cultural blend of Hindu, Muslim, Afghan styles. It has a beautiful dome, marble lattice work, porticos, courts and towers.
Hoshang Shah started constructing his own tomb but it was completed by his son five years after his death in 1440.
In 1659, Sahjahan visited the tomb and was amazed by its beauty. He had sent his architects to study the design of and draw inspiration from the Tomb. Among them was Ustad Hamid, who was also associated with the construction of Taj Mahal.
Inspired by the great mosque of Damascus, the Jami Masjid was conceived on a grand scale, with a high plinth and a huge domedporch projecting in the centre, the background dominated by similar imposing domes with the intervening space filled up by innumerable domes. One is struck by the huge proportions and the stern simplicity of its construction. Its construction was started by Hoshang and completed by Mahmud Khalji in 1454 A.D
The great court of the mosque is enclosed on all sides by huge colonnades with a rich and pleasing variety in the arrangement of arches, pillars, number of bays, and in the rows of domes above.
Roopmati Pavilion was built by Baj Bahadur. The pavilion has an Afghan style of architecture. It has two Chabutara, or high tombs. They were built in order to watch and observe movements of the enemy. However Roopmati, the beloved wife of baj Bahadur used the pavillion to worship and perform her rituals the Narmada (Mokshoda) river, flowing far away (26 km) at Nimar valley, from the 365 metre high mahal.
The ambience at the pavillion is soothing. The sunset and the moonlit night add more to the beauty.
The Bagh Caves are a group of nine rock-cut monuments, situated among the southern slopes of the Vindhyas in Kukshi tehsil of Dhar district in Madhya Pradesh. These are renowned for mural paintings by master painters of ancient India. The use of the word "cave" is a bit of a misnomer, since these are not natural, but instead examples of Indian rock-cut architecture.
The Bagh Caves, like those at Ajanta, were excavated by master craftmen on perpendicular sandstone rock face of a hill on the far bank of a seasonal stream, the Baghani. Buddhist in inspiration, of the nine caves, only five have survived. All of them are 'viharas' or monasteries having quadrangular plan. A small chamber, usually at the back, forms the 'chaitya', the prayer hall. Most significant of these five extant caves is the Cave 4, commonly known as the Rang Mahal (Palace of Colors).
Bagh caves are famous for its paintings. Paintings are the traces of the fully matured pictorial art of the country which have their parallels only at Ajanta in Maharashtra. Bagh caves will for ever be remembered for the famished glory of the painting which has left its shadows traces on the walls and ceilings of these caves. Their colours are faded and subject matters are disfigured. The visitor who pauses, ponders over and dives deep into significance with patience and imagination, looks upon these wall-paintings as the highest achievements in the world of art of that time.
Dhar is host to a studio which not only has a history but offers learning and has many interesting sculptures lying in a closet. The Maharaja of Dhar was a patron of arts. He invited several artists to his kingdom during the first half of the twentieth century. Raghunath Krishna Phadke was then a renowned sculpturist in Mumbai who accepted the invitation and started a studio in Dhar.
The studio has several works of Mr. Phadke and his students. Academically perfect, these sculptures have caught the personality of the model in a royal way. You would find sculptures of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Ram Mohan Roy and all those recognizable figures from our national movement. There are portrait sculptures of Kings, queens, local chieftains and spiritual leaders.
In 1903 by K. K. Lele, Superintendent of Education in the Princely State of Dharfound a Sanskrit and Prakrit inscription from the time of Arjunavarman in the walls of the Kamal Maula mosque at Dhar. The text of the inscription includes part of a drama composed by Madana, the king's preceptor. The inscription reports that the play was performed before Arjunavarman in the temple of Sarasvati. The inscription, which is engraved with exceptional beauty, is displayed inside the entrance. The inscriptions, prompted Lele to describe the building as Bhoj Shala because King Bhoja was the author of a number of works on poetics and grammar.
Lath Masjid 'Pillar Mosque', to the south of the town like the tomb of Shaykh Changal, was built as the Jami' Mosque by Dilawar Khan in 1405. It derives its name from a pillar made of iron which is supposed to have been set up in the 11th century. The pillar, which was nearly 13.2 m high according to the most recent assessment, is fallen and broken; the three surviving parts are displayed on a small platform outside the mosque. It carries a later inscription recording a visit of the Mughal emperor Akbar in 1598 while on campaign towards the Deccan. The pillar's original stone footing is also displayed nearby.
Jheera Bagh Palace
Outside the town, off the road to Mallu, the Pawars built a palace at Hazira Bagh from the 1860s. Known as the Jheera Bagh Palace and presently run as a heritage hotel, the complex was renovated by Maharaja Anand Rao Pawar IV in the 1940s. Graciously designed in an unpretentious art deco style, it is one of the most elegant and forward-looking examples of early modern architecture in north India.