Travel Guide for fort town of Mandu (MP)
What to expect:
Mandu or Mandav is a small village in MP, with its pretty little houses, narrow lanes and strong sense of community. Being on top of a small hill it provides for a pleasant weather and nice view of valleys. During and after monsoon, the landscape brightens up with greenery and makes the town look quite beautiful. But none of these are the primary reasons to visit Mandu. What makes Mandu a must visit place is the amount of history that it contains. Once upon a time Mandu had been much more than a small village, it had been a fort for many kingdoms and it had even been a capital during few centuries in history for Malwa kings. The history of Mandu runs as old as 555 AD. Although no monument of that period remains, but rich heritage from the time of sultan kings are present and intact in Mandu for people to explore. The town stands out from other heritage places because of its abundant of monuments and palaces. One can walk around in Mandu and stumble upon something from a different period in almost every corner.
The nearest city from Mandu is Indore, which is only 100 km away. Indore is connected to most of the major Indian cities by train and/or flight. You can hire a car from Indore for the whole trip. Or you can get a drop to Mandu from Indore, which is charged around 2,000 Rs.
If you wish to take public transport, head to Gangwal Bust Stand which is respectively 4 km and 6 km from railway station and airport. From station you can get auto rickshaws for 50-60 bucks to reach the bus stop. From airport, you can take prepaid cab who will charge 300 Rs, or instead you can go for an App based Ola cab, which should take below 150 bucks for dropping till bus stop. You can also check for auto rickshaws outside airport for reaching bus stop.
There are only a few direct buses available from Indore to Mandu. However Indore is connected by frequent buses with Dhar, located 35 km from Mandu. Indore to Dhar is around 70 km and it takes less than 2 hours to reach. From Dhar there are buses every half an hour for Mandu. It takes another 1.5 hours to reach destination. Bus fares are Rs 60 and 35 respectively for these two journeys (Information as of Aug 2017).
Mandu doesn’t have any public transport to commute internally. However it is not a big place and can be explored on foot. From the entry point at Alamgir Darwaza to Roopmati Pavillion at the south edge it’s around 8 kilometres. From east to west the distance is even lower. If you are not comfortable with walking so much, bi-cycles are available for renting at the market area (near bus stop) which could be a good means of commute in those scenic roads.
Otherwise taxis are also available to hire for sightseeing. They usually charge 200 bucks for each cluster of monuments that you wish to visit. However, in my opinion, walking/cycling is better mode for exploration since it gives you a chance to stumble upon many of those scattered monuments that doesn’t come under tourist attractions.
Mandu is famous for its monuments and there are plenty of them. But major monuments have been grouped into following five clusters:
- The Royal Enclave - The northern most cluster is the Royal Enclave which includes the royal palace, Jahaz Mahal, Taveli Mahal etc.
- Mandu Village Group - About a kilometre south of Royal Enclave, lies the village of Mandu and also some of the popular monuments like Hoshang Shah’s tomb, Jami Masjid and Ashrafi Mahal.
- Group between village & Talao - Two km further south, in the middle of farmlands there’s located the tomb of Darya Khan, a lonely palace called Hathi Mahal, a few mausoleums and a Sarai.
- Sagar Talao Group - Further down southward, near the Sagar talao, there are a few more monuments placed close to each other. Some of the popular ones are Malik Mughith's Masjid and the big inn called Caravan Sarai.
- Rewa Kund Group - The southernmost cluster of monuments include the Rewa Kund, the palace of Baz Bahadur and Rupamati Pavilion.
For details on the monuments check out my other blog – Walking through the memories of Mandu
Apart from monuments, there are a few water tanks including Sagar Talao and Rewa Kund which adds scenic beauty to this place. Outside the fort boundary, 2.6 km from Alamgir gate towards Dhar, there is a water falls and a ravine called Kakra Koh which too attract many tourists.
Best time to visit:
Mandu can be visited all throughout the year, although summers (April to June) to be avoided if you are not a big fan of the hot weather of this region. Winters (October to March) are pleasant and appropriate for exploration. Monsoon or right after monsoon (July to September) might be the best time to visit as it provides additional scenic beauty apart from the regular tourist attractions of this place.
Places to stay:
Mandu has a few options of stay including the government run Malwa Retreat and Malwa Resort. Malwa Retreat is located near the main market area, whereas the latter is located at the bank of Sagar Talao. Both of them are decent hotel to stay, but you can’t expect luxury in there. Across the lake from Malwa Resort is another hotel called Hotel Jahaj Mahal, which too is a good option for stay. There is also Hotel Roopmati close to Malwa Retreat providing comfortable accommodation.
Apart from these, there are many guest houses in main market area, some of which can be booked online. There is accommodation facility available in local Ram Temple as well.
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