Mandu is also home to the Village Group of Monuments. I wondered whether it was a village in the days of yore, ocated far away from the glittering mahals that earned its name. The Village group is actually a Madrassa (Ashrafi Mahal) ; Jami Masjid the main mosque and Hoshang Shah’s tomb. This is an interesting group to visit; the Madrassa is in ruins, the Masjid stands inspired by the Ommayad Mosque of Damascus and Hoshang Shah’s tomb is said to be the inspiration for Taj Mahal of Agra.
The ruined structure opposite the Jama Masjid is Ashrafi Mahal which was originally built as a Madrassa or a school for Islamic Studies. The marbled walls have since crumbled but the small cubicles meant for studies can still be seen. One of the towers of the madrassa was later constructed as a lofty column- ” Tower of Victory” to commemorate the victory of Mahmud Khilji over the Maharaja of Mewar. The flight of stairs leads up to the roof of the structure providing a majestic view of Jami Masjid.
Jami Masjid is a 15th century structure which is said to be inspired by the Ommayad Mosque of Damascus. One look at the majestic red stone structure across the uber green lawn and it is apparent that it was conceived a a large expansive structure with a huge prayer hall. The arched hallways are simple and spartan except for the marble Chattri like structure which us carved exquisitely and has blue enameled work at the background “meenakari”. As you walk through the hallways and look closely at the pillars and arches, the Hindu influence is very apparent, the bells, the lotus, the flowers and temple dome.
Hoshang Shah’s tomb is located right behind the mosque and can be easily accessed from the back exit of Jami Masjid. This was the first marble structure built in India and it so impressed Shah Jahan that Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan sent his team to inspect and replicate ideas in Taj Mahal. The interior and exterior is pretty simple apart from the rimmed line of blue enamel work. The latticed windows inside are a reminder of the Gujarat style seen in Sidi Sayyed Mosque in Ahmedabad. The other graves alongside his seem to be that of his children. The The pillared hall along side the tomb is a combination of Hindu (flat ceiling with pillars and brackets) and Islamic (vaulted ceiling) influence.
Travel Tip: Mandu is about 80 kms from Indore and 40 kms from Maheshwar. The closest airport is in Indore. 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.
- Mandu Monsoon Romance: Baz Bahadur Palace
- Mandu Monsoon Romance: Roopmati Pavilion
- Mandu: Nilkanth Mahadev Mahal
- Mandu: Romancing the Ruins
- Mandu- Hindola Swing Mahal
- Sidi Sayyed Mosque “Jali” in Ahmedabad