When I informed my parents that I was going to Mandu, they were quite confused as they had never even heard of it. In case you haven't heard of it either, Mandu is a small town situated in Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh. And the reason why I was so excited to go there is because it is home to some of the most beautiful medieval Afghan architecture in India. My expectations were surpassed when I finally went in July and explored the ruins (the best way to get around is to rent a bicycle and go at your own pace). Since seeing is believing, I think these photographs will really give you a reason to visit Mandu.
The first place I visited in Mandu was Jahaz Mahal, which literally translates to "Ship Palace." The name comes from the fact that the palace is flanked by two lakes, giving it a ship-like appearance if you use your imagination a bit.
Visiting the Taj Mahal is usually the very first must-see on the list of a traveller visiting India. Well, Hoshang Shah's Tomb in Mandu is said to be the monument that served as the inspiration for the Taj Mahal in Agra.
Adjacent to the Taj's diminutive doppelganger is the Jami Mosque, which truly reflects the rich grandeur of the era it was built in. I was particularly taken with the perfect symmetry defining this Afghan marvel.
While riding to the Roopmati's Pavilion, which is the most popular place to visit in Mandu, I encountered several lesser known monuments that lay forgotten, with only grazing cows for company.
Roopmati's Pavilion is a magnet for romantics because of the love story (tragic, of course) that is believed to have unfolded in its midst. The pavilion is astoundingly atmospheric and the view from the top is breathtaking.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
When to go: The best time to visit is during the rainy season – the lush greenery is at its eye-popping best. Winter is also a good time to visit. Summers can be harsh.
Getting there: The nearest railway station and airport are both at Indore, which is around 100km from Mandu. From Indore, it's best to book a car since there is no direct bus service. Alternatively, you can take a bus to Dhar and then another one from there to Mandu.
Where to stay: I stayed at Hotel Malwa Retreat which is run by the MP Tourism Department. Solo travellers can book a dorm bed at this hotel for a mere ₹200 per night. However, there are a lot of other hotel options in Mandu to suit different budgets.