Baobab Trees: Whomping Willow of Mandu

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Baobab trees- the world’s most enormous tamarind tree. It is prominent in the vicinity, apart from the rubble of the fort. These trees reminded me of the Whomping Willow -one planted at Hogwarts in Harry potter. Since it was a dry season, most trees looked parched with leafless branches, but Baobab is also known as the tree of life, bearing fruit in the rainy season & plucked in the dry months. Apart from Baobab, banyan trees are in plenty. It took me by surprise to know Mangoes, Custard apples & Chikoo are abundant here. 

Baobab Trees: Whomping Willow of Mandu
Baobab Tree

While exploring Mandu, on foot or by cycle, I saw Baobab trees all around. Walking around it, I observed that a large part of the fort ramparts is now in rubble or boulders. Our guide explained that Mandu, due to its strategic location & natural defence, was a relevant military post. Mandu has too much history to take in one tour. 

Baobab Trees: Whomping Willow of Mandu
Hathi Pol

But as it was lunch break, we depleted the local speciality for lunch Dal Bafla- it’s made of wheat flour, Rava (semolina) and spices, well steamed & then roasted in Ghee. It is served with Dal, so we ordered a thali of Dal Bafla. It was seriously yummy. Since the weather was hot, with no breeze to comfort, so to quench my thirst, I bought a Baobab and a parcel of its sour & tangy core- it tasted damn good.

Baobab Trees: Whomping Willow of Mandu
Baobab Fruit- Tamrind

Then we began our walk towards the south of the Royal enclave, where lies the village cluster- it consists of the Jami Masjid (Mosque), Hoshang Shah’s Tomb and the Ashrafi Mahal.

Jami Masjid:

 The 15th-century architecture is a massive structure on a large plinth, designed similarly to Umayyad Mosque (the oldest mosque in the world) in Damascus. It is an enormous illustration of Afgan architecture, with huge domes and a long corridor flanked by massive columns.

Baobab Trees: Whomping Willow of Mandu
Jami Masjid

There is some excellent Jali work yet intact, and along the corridor, Imam uses a pulpit to give sermons. Hoshang Shah started the construction in 1406 AD, and it was finally completed by Mohammad Khilji in 1454 AD.

Baobab Trees: Whomping Willow of Mandu
The interior of the Masjid

Tomb of Hoshang Shah: 

One corner of Jami Masjid has a small passage leading to another courtyard- The Hoshang Shah’s Tomb. It’s just right behind the Jami Masjid, the first marble mausoleum built in India. Before this, sandstones were used to create an Islamic tomb. The tomb has a round-shaped dome decorated with a Crescent believed to be imported from Persia or Mesopotamia. Hoshang Shah himself started the work on this white marble tomb; however, it was completed by Mahmud Khilji in 1440.

Baobab Trees: Whomping Willow of Mandu
Honshang’s Tomb

The interior walls of the monument are adorned with intricate stone Jalis’ (lattice) in interesting geometric patterns. The beautiful carving on the luxurious white marble so impressed the Mughals that Ustad Hamid took inspiration from the tomb to build the Taj Mahal. An inscription dated 1659 AD records the visit of the architects. This tomb also combines Hindu style, as a Dharamshala runs along the west of the enclosure.

Baobab Trees: Whomping Willow of Mandu
The intricate architecture of the tomb

Ashrafi Mahal: 

Right opposite Jami Masjid is the Ashrafi Mahal or Palace of Gold coins, only the word ‘Mahal’ is inapplicable to Ashrafi Mahal, as it was not a palace. Still, a Madras was built by Muhammad Shah and served as his tomb. It is an open quadrangular structure with arcaded corridors on the external; though it’s now in ruins, small cubicles can be seen which might have been used to study & stay. In 1443 to commemorate the victory of Mahmud Khilji over Rana Kumbha, the Maharaja of Mewar, this Madrasa was converted into a seven-storey circular tower,” Tower of Victory”. But a new fable was posted by MP tourism, that Ghiyasuddin Khilji offered a gold coin to queens every time they walked up and down the staircase. It was an excellent exercise to keep queens fit and sound. This is hilarious.

Baobab Trees: Whomping Willow of Mandu
Ashrafi Mahal

Gada Shah’s shop: 

It’s east of Hindola Mahal and is considered a medieval shopping mall. The building features tall walls and high arches, though the roof in the midriff of the building has collapsed. The real meaning of Gada Shah is Beggar Master. Some Historians believed that Gada Shah was a byname for the Rajput chief Medini Ray.

Baobab Trees: Whomping Willow of Mandu
Gada Shah’s Shop

The latter had tactfully taken control of Malwa from the Khalji ruler Mahmud II around 1515 AD and flourished in the trade of ivory, saffron and musk.

Baobab Trees: Whomping Willow of Mandu
Andheri Boadi

Near Gada Shah’s shop are two step wells, Andheri (Dark) Baoli and the other Ujaala (Light) Baoli. The previous is an underground well infested by bats, & latter is an open stepwell in the middle of thick undergrowth.

Baobab Trees: Whomping Willow of Mandu
Ujjayi Baodi

In that location is a Ram Temple built by Maharani Sakarwarbai Pawar in 1769, close to the Ashrafi Mahal. Some Jain temples in the same furrow, a museum housing a replica of the Palitana temple complex and colourful wall paintings. We did not see them, but if you wish, add them to your list. Since it was twilight & we were exhausted post the extensive tour.

Baobab Trees: Whomping Willow of Mandu
Moonlite Night

On arriving at our hotel, we ordered tea and some snacks & basked in the moonlit night.

How to reach:

 By Air:

The nearest airport, Indore, is from Man u, 94 km away. This airport is connected to many cities in India.

 By Rail:

The Patal Pani is the nearest Railway Station at a distance of 43 kilometres from Indore, which is well connected with other major cities.

 By Road:

 Several cab services that connect Mandu plies on frequent, 94  m from Indore. You can drive too, and the distance is 858.5km from Gurgaon.



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