Romancing the stones in Mandu

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Romancing the stones in Mandu

Every month, Sunday Herald Travel will bring you a favourite destination of people you know. Prepare to be surprised.

We start this column with writer, historian William Dalrymple. Author of such acclaimed books like ‘White Mughals’ and ‘The Last Mughal’, and his latest ‘Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India’, Dalrymple is also an award-winning travel writer. He came to Delhi in 1989, where he lived for six years researching his second book, ‘City of Djinns’ that presents a fascinating portrait of Delhi.

For Scottish-born Dalrymple, India is now home and he has never kept secret the fact that India fascinates and inspires him. Thus it comes as no surprise that his favourite pick is an Indian destination — Mandu in Madhya Pradesh.  Why Mandu we asked? To which his crisp one-liner reply was “because of its tombs, jungles, beautiful countryside and bats the size of cats...”

For those who have not been to Mandu, let us assure you that its story and legend will definitely seduce you into making that trip. With the Vindhyas as the backdrop, Mandu is the stage where poet-prince Baz Bahadur’s love for his beautiful consort Rani Roopmati plays out for eternity. The balladeers of Malwa still sing of the romance of these royal lovers.

If you are lucky, your guide will also relate some contemporary history involving Hema Malini, Dharmendra and Jeetendra. They picturised a popular song ‘Naam ghum jayega, chehra yeh badal jayega’ from the 80s movie, Kinara.   

Formerly named Shadiabad or the city of happiness, Mandu is a celebration of love and life in stone. Its beautiful palaces like the famed Jahaz Mahal, Hindola Mahal are in themselves architectural gems. Roopmati’s pavilion that gazes down at Baz Bahadur’s palace are magnificent expression of Afghan architecture. Then there are numerous ornamental canals, baths and pavilions.

If you happen to be in Mandu during the weekend, you will encounter many locals from Dhar and Indore, especially students who love to picnic here among the ruins. So you can do as the locals do and request your hotel to pack you a mini picnic for it is sure to take you the whole day visiting the ruins. If you come armed with a camera, Mandu provides the right setting to capture the lyrics of the stones and the hide and seek of light and shadow. It is definitely a place to let your imagination soar to the days of prince and princesses, of love and despair.

Travel tips

* How to reach: The nearest rail and air connection is from Indore, which is 99 kms away.
There’s regular bus service connecting Mandu with Indore, Dhar, Mhow, Ratlam, Ujjain and Bhopal.

* Best time to visit: From July to March. Though it is best to visit during the winter months.
For the adventurous, monsoons can be a rewarding experience as well.

* Where to stay: Madhya Pradesh Tourism offers Malwa Resort: (Tel: (07292) 263235; E-mail:

Malwa Retreat: Tel: (07292) 263221; E-mail:
One can even opt to stay at Indore that offers a range of hotel accommodation.

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