If you thought that multi level malls and stores were a thing of the 20th century, think again !! Gada Shah’s Shop in Mandu is now a ruined monument but 5 centuries ago, it was a shopping hot spot. Mandu is a city with mostly ruined monuments that are dated earlier than 16th century and have endured the ravages of time. When I entered Gada Shah Shop, the high ceilings, arched gateways, arched windows, multi levels, and large display windows said it all. Take any modern shopping mall, throw in some medieval elements and you will have something similar. As I walked in and out of the rooms, pretending to see, look and buy, I landed in the atrium which resembled a mini mud pool. I did not hesitate to step on the mud and slush enjoying the monsoon downpour and smell of earth. There was nothing on display, nothing to buyout but the stones and bricks spoke in a muffled tone about their days of glory.
A few metres ahead were the ruins of Andheri Baodi (Dark Well) and Ujala Baodi (Open Well).The Ujala Baodi or the Open well was a multi-storeyed structure with steps that went down into the well deep below. I had to curtail my enthusiasm here since the steps were slippery after incessant downpour and I did not want to take a chance. Baodi’s are well common in this part of India, which formed the backbone of the water conservation system. It was perhaps an indication that this part of the Mandu walled city was densely populated or frequented by many people due to Gada Shah’s shop
Driving through the narrow winding roads, ruins can be seen everywhere and most of them are mausoleums. One such structure was the Chorkot Mosque which appeared to have seen days of glory but now lay in an open field, a little out of bounds for travelers due to mud and slush. While the driver who took me around was lamenting the change of fortune of Mandu. I wondered if it had to do with the unfulfilled wishes of the many souls who lie trapped in the layers of Mandu or is it nature’s balancing act !! Will all our modern cities endure the test of time with all the glass and steel?
Travel Tip: Mandu is about 80 kms from Indore and 40 kms from Maheshwar. The closest airport is in Indore. The roads are good and the green countryside is soothing to the eye. It is best experienced in Monsoon months though the weather is pleasant and charming through July to March. Plan to include Mandu if you are visiting Ujjain and Maheshwar. You can cycle around Mandu for sightseeing or hire a car for the day @ Rs 500-600.
Place to Stay: MPTDC run Malwa Retreat and Hotel Rupmati are located next to each other on the road to Indore and pretty close to most of the sites. Both the hotels overlook a valley. A first floor room in Malwa Retreat will ensure a view of Jahaz Mahal. MPTDC run Malwa Resort is 3 kms away overlooking the Sagar Lake.