Mandu or Mandavgad is a ruined city in the Dhar district in the Malwa region of western Madhya Pradesh in central India. The distance between Dhar & Mandu is about 35 km. In the 11th century, Mandu was the sub division of the Tarangagadh or Taranga kingdom. This fortress town on a rocky outcrop about 100 km from Indore is celebrated for its fine architecture.
The earliest reference to Mandu is available in the Sanskrit inscription of 555 AD, which tells that Mandu was a fortified city even in 6th century BC. It gained prominence in 10th and 11th century under the Parmars (who called it Mandavgarh), from whom the control was snatched by Khiljis in 1305. Mandav or Mandu's was earlier known by the name of ‘Shadiabad’ meaning the city of happiness (Anand Nagari), the name was given by then ruler Allauddin Khilji. Mandu city is situated at an elevation of 633 metres (2079 feet) and extends for 13 km along the crest of the Vindhya Range, overlooking the plateau of Malwa to the north and the valley of the Narmada to the south.
These acted as natural defences and Mandu was originally the fort-capital of Rajput Parmara rulers of Malwa. Towards the end of the 11th century, it came under the sway of the Taranga kingdom.
In the 10th century Mandu was founded as a fortress retreat by Raja Bhoj. It was conquered by the Muslim rulers of Delhi in 1304. When, in 1401, the Mughals captured Delhi, the Afghan Dilawar Khan, governor of Malwa, set up his own little kingdom and the Ghuri dynasty was established. And thus began Mandu's golden age.
The 45 km parapets 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 Talao and Kapur Talao is an elegant two storeyed palace. Probably it was built by Sultan Ghiyas-ud-din-Khilji for his large harem. 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.
An audience hall, also belonging to Ghiyas-ud-din's reign, it derives its name of "swinging palace" from its sloping sidewalls. Superb and innovative techniques are also evident in its ornamental facade, delicate trellis work in sand-stone and beautifully moulded columns. To the West of Hindola Mahal there are several unidentified buildings 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), Taveli Mahal, the two large wells called the Ujali (bright) and Andheri (dark) Baolis and Gada Shah's Shop and House, all worth a visit.
Nearest airport is at Indore (99 km), connected with Mumbai, Delhi and Bhopal.
Regular bus services connect Mandu with Indore, Dhar, Mhow, Ratlam, Ujjain and Bhopal. Best season: July to March.
Convenient railheads are Ratlam (124 km ) on the Mumbai-Delhi main line and Indore (99 km).