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Mandu – A love story

Talking with a friend when we lived in Pune, he mentioned cycling around Mandu Fort. Despite loving history, I had never heard of it but made a mental note. Several years down the road, now in the travel space, I had the option to visit the region and enthusiastically made my way to this incredible site. Located at an elevation of 2,079 feet on the Vindhya mountain range (which in general divides North and South India) the fort and town go on for about 13 km with the Malwa plain on one side and the mighty Narmada and its valley on the southern side. A fairly large settlement, Mandu won the /Best Heritage City award in 2018 and you really have to visit (day trip) to understand why. Founded in the 11th century, the capital of the Malwa region moved here given its excellent natural defences. Several Sultans changed before Dilawar Khan established the Ghuri dynasty and his son Hoshang Shah made it prosperous. His is the first white marble Tomb built in the country and he built it in his lifetime as he felt his descendants would not spare the coin to do it after his death!

Several stories about the area abound, but the most interesting is the love story of Rani Roopmati & Baaz Bahadur. The latter was king of Malwa and was a famed musician. Rani Roopmati was a poet and renowned for her melodious voice and incredible beauty. It all started with a ritual. The queen, followed the daily custom of gazing upon the holy Narmada river before breaking her overnight fast. However, her marital home was not close to the holy river, so she almost starved to death before hurriedly being sent back to her family. She continued to sing in her home and follow her religious rites.

Rani Roopmati Mahal

Legend has it that once he heard her sing, Baaz Bahadur fell in love and asked her to move to Mandu. She agreed to come to the palace on the condition that she was allowed to gaze upon and worship the river daily. Rani Roopmati’s pavilion was built and it still stands beautifully. One can still see the mighty river in the distance. All was going well with an acoustically designed palace and many musical nights, but news of the party and her beauty spread!