In its first edition, which took place from December 28, 2019, to January 1, 2020, Mandu Festival attempted to bring to light the forgotten treasures of the ancient fort city of Mandu. And it succeeded— for we have returned with tales age-old and fascinating history. Text & Photographs by Rashima Nagpal
Unending farmlands, idyllic pastures, grazing cattle, patches of human settlement, and more such imagery is par for the course when travelling to a rural destination in India. A two-hour drive from Indore to Mandu in Madhya Pradesh is made up of just that. But if you look close enough, you will discover nuances that make any destination unique.
In the historic town of Mandu, even before you will try to observe, the remaining pieces of a medieval fortress will catch your fancy. It begins with the darwazas; Mandu has 12 of them, including Dilli Gate, Tarapur Gate, and Haathi Darwaza. You pass through quite a few of them as you chart the town’s hilly terrain.
A thorough story of the history and architecture of Mandu requires a visit to the following— the expansive Jahaz Mahal, Rani Roopmati’s Pavillion that doubles up as the vantage point in the city, Baz Bahadur’s Palace, Rewa Kund, Hoshang Shah’s Tomb that serves Shah Jahan with the inspiration for the Taj Mahal, the Jami Masjid that lies at the heart of the city and its impeccable Pashtun architecture, and the Hindola Mahal that hosts a fabulous light and sound show each evening.
But a hot-air balloon ride, that we experienced as part of the Mandu Festival, serves the destination right. For a bird’s-eye view makes you realise that the riches of what was once the largest fort city of India is to be reckoned with.
The Mandu Festival promises to come back for its second edition between December 25, 2020, and January 3, 2021. But you need not wait for it to explore Mandu. For the heritage of monuments remains, as it has for thousands of years.