The beautiful and serene Mandu in Madhya Pradesh is a destination one should visit at least once in lifetime. It is also known as Mandav and was earlier known as Shadiabad (City of Joy). It is perched on a plateau in the Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh. Many dynasties have risen and ended in Mandu. But, above all, this place is famed for the love story of Baz Bahadur and Rani Rupmati who were not destined to live together for a longer time. The story of Rupmati is a sad tale of her loyalty towards her lover Baz Bahadur. It is said that Baz Bahadur was a gifted man in musical art and Rupmati was also a musician, singer and poetess.
Rupmati was a Hindu Rajput princess of Dharmpuri. One day Baz Bahadur came to the valley of river Rewa (also known as Narmada or Narbudda) for hunting. While he was pursuing a deer, he was distracted by a melodious voice. He followed the sound and reached the spot where Rupmati was singing and playing bin (a musical instrument). Baz Bahadur was struck in awe by her beauty and captivated by her magical voice; he told her that he wants her to accompany him to Mandu. She replied that “Never will I marry thee until the waters of Rewa, the goddess of my worship, flows through thy royal city there on high.” When Rewa shall flow through Mandu, I will be your bride. Thus Baz Bahadur built the Rewa Kund, a beautiful reservoir, at Mandu. When Rupmati’s father heard of this development, he opposed his daughter from marrying an Islamic king, he instead told his daughter to consume poison and die. The caste and religion came in way of the two lovers. Rupmati sang the poem on death and it seems that as she was singing the last verse of the song and was about to drink poison, Baz Bahadur rode up to her palace and took the bride to be to Mandu after defending her father in a war. But the love story doesn’t end there.
As per writings of Ahmed-ul-Umri there is another version: The story begins during the reign of Shuja’at Khan. Bayazid had got the province of Sarangpur as Jagir from his father. In that city was a Brahman named Jadu Rai, with whom Bayazid was very friendly. One day Jadu Rai invited Bayazid to his house and arranged a great feast. At Jadu Rai’s house, his eyes fell upon the face of his beautiful daughter Rupmati. Bayazid was aware of her beauty from many others. After the death of his father, Bayazid became the Sultan of Malwa with the title of Baz Bahadur. Once, Baz Bahadur summoned Jadu Rai to his court at Mandu and bestowed upon him, the province of Sarangpur, on the condition that he should give Rupmati in marriage to him. When Rupmati entered Bahadur’s harem, he spent day and night in her company. He got engrossed in sensual pleasures and let his ministers look after the affairs of the kingdom. The ministers made mistakes after mistakes with their limited abilities. By 1555, Humayun returned to India, he died and his son Akbar succeeded him. Akber went on winning state after state in India. When the news of Akbar’s victories reached Mandu, Rupmati advised Baz Bahadur to take reins of his kingdom in order to save it from Akber.
Bahadur Khan (Sultan of Gujrat) led the first attack on Malwa in 1560, but he was soon recalled due to Bairam Khan’s (akbar’s advisor and right hand man) rebellion. In 1561, Akbar sent his general Adham Khan Koka (Akbar’s foster-brother) and Pir Muhammad to conquer Malwa. Baz Bahadur marched to Sarangpur to oppose them but was defeated and fled towards Khandesh. After Baz Bahadur’s defeat, all his treasures fell into the hands of Adham Khan including the ladies of his harem. Adham Khan summoned Rupmati to and told her that he would maintain her grace and make her his queen. Rupmati fled from the palace but Adham’s military captured her and brought her to the palace. On that night prior to her union with Adham, she adorned herself in the very bridal dress which Baz Bahadur had given her. She took her bin and sang songs of sorrow for the last time. After that she went to the bridal chamber and took poison of powdered diamond. In the morning, when Adham Khan reached the bridal chamber, he found her asleep. He took her hand and tried to awaken her; but his effort was in vain; she had already died. She was buried in a tomb located at Sarangpur in the middle of a tank.
Baz Bahadur and Rupmati spent pleasant days together for a brief period. Baz Bahadur was lost in her love so much as that he easily lost to Akbar’s general, Adham Khan when Mandu was attacked. Baz Bahadur had got so immersed in Rupmati’s love, that he not ready for a war and was forced to flee. Rupmati preferred to give up her life than falling into enemy hands.
Established in 600 BC as a fortified city, Mandu saw its moment of glory under King Bhoj’s reign and during the Muslim rulers. Its fortunes rose during the reign of Afghans and with the rise of the Khiljis, it became an important centre of power in central India. It exchanged hands between the Sultan of Gujrat and Mughals, and for a brief time Baz Bahadur, before being finally conquered by the armies of Akbar. Until the capital of Malwa was shifted to Dhar by the Marathas, Mandu maintained its importance.
Though the city is in ruins today, it remains one of the precious specimens the Islamic architectures in India. A little of it also talks about King Bhoj’s era. Its marvellous architecture is well maintained; the credit goes to the MP Government and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). Jahaz Mahal is an awesome complex of palaces such as the Hindola Mahal, Jal Mahal, and the Champa Baoli which was a deep well. It is a very well maintained and offers fantastic views from the top. The beautiful and breathtaking steep staircase on the left of Jahaj Mahal takes you in the past era. There is something which keeps you glued to the place. The best time to visit is August to October, the water bodies are filled and the surrounding becomes lush green. There are ample food and beverages stall outside the heritage structure. I repeat, it is one of the ‘’must visit’’ places in MP.