Magical Monuments of MP – Mandu, the city of joy

I have been waiting for this opportunity ever since I have started visiting MP, thanks to my corporate necessities. Finally, this month, I was lucky enough to take out some time to visit “Mandu”, one of the most acclaimed monuments of Madhya Pradesh. Situated in Vindhya range of Dhar district, this fantastic city of stones is just 150 km away from Indore.  Sharing herewith all the photographs and information which I could gather about though ASI infostones and discussions with my local colleagues. 

The entire region is fortified with a 45 km long fort wall and there are number of Gateways to enter into the region. The region boasts more than 40 structures but due to paucity of time, I decided to cover only the famous ones. You will get a feeling of being transported back into the history once you are there.

Mandu, famous for its story over romance, poetry and beauty, the region of Malwa was ruled by the then poet prince Baz Bahadur who fell in love a shepherdess Roopmati who was also fond of music. The couple used to have music Mehefils at their palaces and the structures suggest their musical taste.

Rani Roopmati Pavillion

We started our day long tour with visiting the “Roopmati Pavillion” which is about 6 km from the main town. Located on a small hill, this place offers picturesque scene of the adjoining plains and a distantly flowing river Narmada. As understood, Rani Roopmati used to view river Narmada from this location before having food everyday. Bollywood inspired to make Bharat Bhushan starer “Rani Rupmati’ in 1957  with “Aa laut ke aaja mere meet”  song. To know more about the movie and legendary Malwa queen please visit http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0368196/.

DSC_5504

Roopmati Pavillion as seen from the Baz Bahadur Palace

DSC_5560

Stone stairs embeded into the wall for climing Roopmati Pavillion

DSC_5673

Pavillions of the Roopmati Palace

DSC_5523

Baz Bahadur Palace

Built by the poet prince Baz Bahadur in the early 16th century, the palace’s unique features are its spacious courtyards surrounded by halls and high terraces which offers a superb view of the surrounding including pavillion of his lady love Roopmati. The perfectly designed parapets of the structure will make the modern civil engineers feel short.

DSC_5528

DSC_5545

DSC_5544

DSC_5663

DSC_5627

DSC_5644

DSC_5703

DSC_5626

Tomb of Hoshang Shah

The tomb of Hoshang Shah located just behind the Jami Masjid is based on a square area with four artistic side domes and the main marble dome mounted  in the center. The entire structure stands on a square marble platform. Also known as India’s first marble edifice, this tomb has served as an inspiration in building the legendary Taj Mahal as Shahjehan sent four of his architects to study and draw the master plan for building Taj Mahal.

Hoshang Shah's Tomb

Hoshang Shah’s Tomb

Hoshang Shah's Tomb

Hoshang Shah’s Tomb

DSC_6232

DSC_6276

Jami Masjid

Built by Hushang Shah in 14th century, this is considered to be the largest mosque in India. Built above a plinth level of more than 15 feet, the mosque

DSC_6190

DSC_6222

DSC_6327

Jahaj Mahal

This more than 100 mtr long ship resembling palace is perhaps the biggest attraction of the place. Built amid 2 lake reservoirs (Munj lake and Kapur lake), this 2 storied structure gives an impression of a royal ship with a deck. As the water levels were receded during my visit, I could not get the images I thought about it.

DSC_5861

DSC_5824

Picturesque Jahaj Mahal @ Mandu

DSC_5864

Stairs to the Upper deck of Jahaj Mahal @ Mandu

DSC_5846

Kapur Talao @ Jahaj Mahal @ Mandu

DSC_5938

Artistic water harvesting channels @ Jahaj Mahal @ Mandu

Hindola Mahal

As the name suggests, this palace resembles a swing. In T shape, the palace has upper floor with several balconies (Jharoka’s) from where the women can watch the proceedings in the main hall.

DSC_5993

DSC_6004

DSC_6028

DSC_6047

DSC_6010

Neelkanth Mahal

A shrine of Lord Shiva is located in a steep ravine. Surrounded by lush green trees, this place attracts lot of devotees. Some inscriptions in Urdu were visible on the walls of the shrine which are supposed to be of Akbar’s era. Just below the worship place, there is a pond from where the water goes into the ravine below through some beautiful circular canals (pic below).

DSC_5725

DSC_5757

A lady curiously onlooks the water passing through the circular water channels @ Nilkanth shrine

DSC_5723

Circular Water channels @ Nilkanth

DSC_5753

Shivling and the bulls @ Nilkanth

Other attractions

Mandu’s tamarind or Mandu ki Imli is a unique sort of fruit found only in this region of India. There are few local dishes made of this tamarind. The giant trees have a huge trunk and were first cultivated several hundred years ago by the local rulers. Interesting…

DSC_5647

DSC_5769

Mysterious ruins of Paddhargadh fort in Kutch

Early this year, I was on an official visit to Kutch. On the weekend, I got an opportunity to tour beautiful Kutch excluding the Rann part. The same day return journey covered visits to Bhuj, Ashapura, Narayan Sarovar and Mandvi. Between Bhuj and Aashapura, near Manjal village, a ruined structure could not skip my attention. Out of my curiosity, I decided to further explore the same. I believe, Paddhargadh must have been a very beautiful small fort. Sharing herewith some photographs and information which I could gather about this place.

Ruins of Paddhargadh fort in Kutch

Lost in the History

Contrary to monolithic structures (which are made carving a single rock as in the case of famous Ellora or Karle Kind caves), these types are called megalithics in which large blocks of stones are carved and used in building the structure.

Ruins@Paddhargadh

Ruins@Paddhargadh

As mentioned in the ASI board at this abandoned place, this fort was built in 10th Century by some Ra’ Punvro (even I could not get any details about this) and that this was an extensive fort that time. Reasons of destruction are not known to anyone although it is believed that this was destroyed due to invasion by the Jakhs.

Paddhargadh

Paddhargadh

Looking to the pattern of the this double storeyed structure, one will admire about the taste of the king who might have built it. The upper deck is supported by cylindrical blocks measuring about 7 to 8 ft and some of them still stand pretty after facing the cruel jolts of Kutch earthquakes time and again

Paddharhadh

Paddharhadh

The columns were seen with somewhat square tops on which head of animals and men were seen.

Paddhargadh

The display board put up by ASI briefs about the myth surrounding this beautiful structure. The site could have been preserved by ASI beautifully which seems to be lacking on their part.

Interesting place. Visit in case u r enroute Ashapura temple from Bhuj side any time. Geo coordinates are 23.258461,69.381637.

Magnificient Architecture of Ancient India – Stupas of Sanchi

Always wondered about the great engineering skills our Indian ancient civilisation possessed. You are taken aback thousands of years whenever you visit these rich Indian heritage sites be it the religious structures like Stupas of Sanchi or Monuments of Hampi or temples of Khajuraho & Meenakshi etc. Most of these ancient monuments are unique in architecture and need to be preserved from natural and other calamities looking to their importance in Indian history and heritage. In year 2011 I had several visits to MP and during one of those visits, I had an opportunity to visit the Sanchi (a world heritage site) to witness the amazing craftmanship of the then civilisation had put in to erect these fantastic structures. The stupas along with few temples and monasteries were built on a hillock by Emperor Ashoka and dates upto 300 BC.

Places must see : Stupa No 1 or Great Stupa and its 4 gateways, Archaeological museum, Monastery and temple. Brief information about the site is given on the ASI plaque near the great stupa and the same is shown below.

1. Great stupa

The stupa no 1 is also known as ‘great stupa’. This hemispheral dome shaped structure is around 100 ft in dia and 50 ft in height. Apparently it seems to be made of bricks and mortar. There is a raised terrace with fenced circumference around the dome shaped stupa. The stupa is accessible from 4 sides through magnificiently carved gateways (called as ‘toran Dwar’ in hindi) depicting the epics of lord budha’s life and morale stories called ‘Jataka’s.  It is learn that each of these gateways have been made from carving out a single stones weighing more than 400 tons.

Great Stupa

Great Stupa

Lord Buddha Statue on the periphery of Main Sanchi Stupa

Lord Buddha Statue on the periphery of Main Sanchi Stupa

a) Northern Gateway

This is one of the best preserved gateways amongst the four however with the wheel in the uppermost area is in broken condition. The carvings on the gateway depicts scenes from Lord Buddha’s life. Both the pillars are supported by four elephants facing different directions. The gateway is crowned with a wheel of law which is in broken condition.

Northern Gateway

Northern Gateway

b) Southern Gateway

As learnt, this is the oldest amongst the four gates depicting scenes from Lord Buddha’s birth and some events from the life of Emperor Ashoka after his adopting the Buddhism.

Southern Gateway@Sanchi

Southern Gateway@Sanchi

Four back to back lions are sitting pretty on both the square shaped pillars of this gate. These back to back four lions are not knew to any Indian as they form our state emblem (I feel, saying this, you guys must be comparing the emblem on the Indian coin with the above image). The gateway is carved with the stories of Buddha’s birth and also life of Ashoka the Great after he took over Buddhism.

The four lions

The four lions

c) Western Gateway

Four pot bellied dwarfs are carved on each of the supporting pillar and this gateway mainly depicts the scenes from seven incarnations of lord Buddha.

Western Gateway of Sanchi

Western Gateway of Sanchi

d) Eastern Gateway

This is the most interesting of the four gateways. This eastern gateway depicts scenes of Lord Buddha’s entry into Nirvana. The ‘Yakshi’ or the statue of a goddess hangs beautifully on one of the pillars while it is learnt that the gateway originally contained two statues.

Yakshi hanging on the Eastern Gateway

Yakshi hanging on the Eastern Gateway

2. Pillars

Pillars near the Great Stupa

Pillars near the Great Stupa

3. Ruins of the Temple from the Gupta Era

Remains of temple from Gupta era

Remains of temple from Gupta era

DSCN2247DSCN2246DSCN2245DSCN2244DSCN2237

Some random pics @ SanchiDSCN2223DSCN2220DSCN2219DSCN2218DSCN2259

Remains near the Buddhist Vihara

Remains near the Buddhist Vihara

How to reach & where to stay

Sanchi is around 45 km eastwards from Bhopal and is easily accessible by road. One way is through the district of Raisen whereas there is another direct road from Bhopal bypass near Karond flyover. The nearby town is Vidisha (Loksabha constituency of Shri AB Bajpai). At Sanchi, there is an excellence restaurant run by MPTDC in case you want to stay or have food.

A trip I will always relish in my life and would like to come here again for the serene, calm and holy atomosphere. The dedication with which this architecture might have been built, makes you feel dwarf. Guys, I tried my best to collect the information about this site through the local guide, plaques and some information from internet but still if I have missed some things or any facts, my sincere apologies.

Your comments for improvements / suggestions would help me a lot in improving the contents my blogs.