For all those who head straight for the hills for that elusive whiff of romance, let me say that Mandu is the perfect honeymoon destination. It is the city of love and delight; after all one of its most famous legends is the love story of Baz Bahadur and Rani Roopmati.The call of Mandu is strongest when the monsoon clouds shower it with cooling water that turns it lush green. Situated on an outcrop of the Vindhyas, the hillfort is separated from the surrounding plateau by a deep ravine called Kakra Khoh, which encircles it on the east, west and north. The ruins are spread over an area of 21sq km and are surrounded by luxuriant undergrowth and crystal clear lakes and ponds.
The crown of the hill was fortified as early as in the 6th century BC, but Mandu gained eminence only near the end of the 10th century when the Paramaras formed an independent kingdom based initially at Ujjain and then at Dhar under Raja Bhoja and his successors. The Muslim Khaljis of Delhi in 1304 and the Hindu kingdom of Malwa became part of the Delhi Sultanate under Muslim governors.However, the 1401 invasion of Delhi by the Mongols came as a blessing and Malwa seized independence under its Afghan governor. Then began an era of prosperity and fortune that lasted right through the Mughal invasion until the Marathas captured Mandu in 1732.
Dilawar Khan, a true-blue Afghan opportunist, decided to rebel against his overlords, the Khaljis of Delhi, when they were caught napping by the Mongols.He made Dhar his capital and it remained so until his death. His son Hoshang Shah, the very same man who destroyed the dams at Bhojpur, soon shifted base to Mandu. Peace, calm and steady expansion were the hallmarks of Hoshang Shah’s reign. Some excellent monuments were erected from then on, among them the Jami Masjid, the Delhi Gate and his own tomb.
The next king in line, Muhammad Shah, ruled for a year before being poisoned by Mahmud Khan. Mahmud Khan I Khalji thus seized power and founded a new dynasty. He was a brilliant soldier-sultan, under whom Mandu gained both in territory and prestige.He commissioned many beautiful buildings including his own tomb, the madrassa (school of Islamic education), and a seven-storey Victory Tower, of which only the base now remains.
Mahmud Khan was succeeded by his son Ghiyath-ud-Din in 1469 and another period of peace and prosperity followed, only to be disrupted when Ghiyath-ud-Din’s son, Nasir-ud-Din, found the old man going strong even at 80 and decided to speed up things a bit. He poisoned his father and finally got to sit on the throne of Mandu.