Our travel destination was Mandu in Madhya Pradesh. I came to know from Papa that there is a fort in Mandu and our hotel would be facing a Lake. I imagined that the fort would be big and white in color as Taj Mahal. I was excited about the hotel that I thought would be facing river Narmada.
There are no direct trains to Mandu. We were going by train till Ratlam and returning from Indore. Train to Ratlam was from New Delhi Railway station. We planned to go to New Delhi Railway Station by metro because it was raining and there was risk of jams.
In this trip, Nishant Mama and Chhoti Naani also joined us. When we reached at the New Delhi Station, it was 9:00 pm and our train’s arrival was scheduled at 9:30 pm. Our train was to arrive on platform number eight but another train was standing there. I thought that in the end the platform for our train would change. Later our train was scheduled to 9:40 pm. Then it was delayed by fifteen minutes and then further by twenty minutes. Our train kept on getting delayed.
Someone told us that the train that was standing on our Platform was standing there for more than two hours. Phew! It seemed it was glued to the platform.
Luckily that train moved and our train arrived within ten minutes of its leaving. We entered in the coach and our night party started with the biscuits and the cakes. Our seats were not in the same compartment. Two seats were in one compartment and another in adjacent one. It would have been great travelling together. Papa tried to get all of us in one compartment but failed. After a while we all slept. Next morning we saw that all three seats in Papa’s compartment were empty. What a pity!
When I woke up, someone told that it will take another two and half hours to reach Ratlam. I was very happy because I like to sit inside the train and watch everything from windows. When we opened the gates strong winds entered inside the train and cooled my body. Madhya Pradesh was very green, very-very green.
At Ratlam station the driver was waiting for us. We sat in the Bolero vehicle and started the journey towards Mandu. As soon as we came out of Ratlam town, the surroundings became very green.
There were lots of farms near highway. There were many water bodies as well. Some of them were ‘puddlish-ponds’ and some others were ‘pondish-puddle’. After travelling for around two hours we came to Dhar. There was a mounted statue at a square.
The road after that had many big and small pot-holes. After crossing that ricky-rocky road we passed through green farms. The road went through green landscape and all the way there were farms and farms of soya-beans, corn and Jwar. It was beautiful.
We had to drive carefully as many trucks were crossing the road from our side (the wrong side only) as the highway on the other side was under construction by that time.
After sometime we saw a temple-shaped monument. I climbed a small hill to look around. Nishant Mama also came up with me. After clicking some pictures we again started the journey.
After some time we stopped at Kakra-Khoh. There I saw someone trying to hit a ball with arrows. I asked, “Papa can I also do that?” Papa said, “Yes, but we will go to the falls first.” We went ahead and from there I could see the complete water fall and a deep gorge. There were mountains all around.
I took many big pebbles from the ground and threw them as far as I could. It’s my favorite pass-time near a water body. Then I saw a small puddle and started throwing pebbles in that. My younger brother also joined me. He is just like me!
We stayed there for half an hour. Then we did archery. We had to take aim and shoot an arrow.” The boy with the bow and arrows told us that we need to hit a ball with the arrow. If we will hit the ball, we will get five rupees. He charged one rupee for every shot. Nishant Mama’s first shot was close, rest were far from the aim. Mine were even worse. After that we again started our journey.
We stopped near an old gate and went through a wavy-way in a nearby valley. Finally we came out of that valley by climbing a wall. Nishant Mama stood on that wall. The wind blew through him and he looked very fat. It made me laugh loud.
We entered Mandu from that gate. On the way, we saw Mandu Retreat, our accommodation for second night. We continued our journey and in around ten minutes we reached Mandu Resort.
Wow! What a wonderful place it was. We could see a big lake just in front of our room. And there was a swing in front of the window. It was a beautiful place.
While I was exploring the place, food was ready. I liked the food as well. As we came out of the restaurant, we saw someone cutting grass with a machine. Papa requested him to cut grass with Tanmay. I also tried to cut grass with the machine, but it was too heavy for me. I could not even move it. It appeared to be hard work.
In the same park there were slides. We left the grass cutting machine and went to the slide. Mummy also joined us on the slide.
Soon guide came up with the taxi. His name was Vishwanath Tiwari. He has got the best guide award from the President. We went along with him to the Mandu Fort. He told us that Mandu is the second largest fort in India. The largest fort is the Fort of Kumbhalgarh and the fort of Chittorgarh is the third largest fort. Wow! I had seen only these three forts and they are the Largest Forts of India.
The very first building we visited in the Fort was Jahaz Mahal. It was called Jahaz Mahal because in old times it was all surrounded with water and looked like a ship in the water. We went inside. I liked the pattern created from the light entering from the windows. There were many pillars and they were all in a straight line. It seems that they were mended several times in the past. From the windows, we could see a big water body.
On one side of the Jahaz Mahal there was Jahangir’s Palace. We came out of the palace and saw a big water storage tank. There was a tortoise and a big fish in that.
Next we entered Hindola Mahal. It had slanted pillars outside. It used to be the Durbaar of the kings of Mandu. We went up in that Mahal from the stairs. The views of the surroundings from there were beautiful. Vishwanath Uncle claimed that it was a temple before. He told us that ASI has removed big stone slabs from some places and they found statues of Gods and Goddesses. I went to the second floor of this building. It was very windy at the top. The color of the Hindola Mahal’s stone was so fresh that I thought that the ASI had recently painted it peach.
The ruins on the back side of the building were all covered with moss.
Guide Uncle also showed us underground ways. There were holes in the fort to provide ventilation for fresh air and light into those underground ways. Vishwanath Uncle told us that there are underground ways all over the fort. Nowadays the Government has closed them so that the general public does not enter into those underground ways and get lost.
He then took us to Champa Baoli. There was a big water storage tank. The near-by building was reflected in its water.
As we came up, Vishwanath Uncle showed us an empty area with many pillars. Vishwanath Uncle told us that this was an old water tub.
When we came out, camera was in my hand. There was a group of boys and girls. One of them called me and handed his camera to take their photographs. I took two photographs. Then they also let me sit with them and took my photo along with them. It was fun. As soon as it was over, I ran and caught my Papa.
From here we sat in the car and guide uncle then drove us to Baz-Bahadur’s Palace. It was all made with arches. It was very dark inside the rooms. There was an open place and in between there was another water body. The guide told us that how Bazbahadur became a singer from a king.
He told us that the building is designed in a way that it has excellent sound effects (Acoustics). He then asked us to stand in a room and went into another room separated from ours by a gallery. He sang a short song there. We could hear him clear as if he was singing in our room.
From Bazbahadur’s Palace we went to Rani Roopmati’s Palace. It was further up. In the end there were slanted stairs to go up and at the top it was very-very windy. The guide told us that from the top on a clear day, we could see the plains of Maharashtra, Gujarat and also the river Narmada.
He told us that in morning or evening it would look very nice. We arrived a bit late. After a while as we got down it was very dark. From there we started to drive back. Guide uncle then stopped the car near a board. It was the Echo Point. Our guide told us that here if we say anything loud it will echo. He also showed us a building and told us that all along Mandu Fort there are many such buildings. These buildings are built at every 150 meters. These were transmitter-receivers of old days. He told us that in old days a guard used to stand there in all those structures. When one guard heard another guard saying something he would repeat the same line again and when the next guard would hear it he will repeat it. In this way the king received the messages about what was happening down their Fort.
Our guide then shouted in the dark, “रचित, पढ़ाई में मेहनत नही करता है, वो पास होगा या फेल?” (Rachit does not study hard, will he be pass or fail?) And the reply came, “Fail”. He then asked me, will you study hard. I said, “Yes”. He then repeated the question, “Rachit will study hard; will he be fail or pass?” And this time the reply came, “Pass.” I enjoyed this conversation with dark. ( I understood the trick as well only the last words echoed)
We came back to our hotel and had our dinner. After dinner I enjoyed an ice-cream and a cold drink. We then came back to our room, but I was not feeling sleepy. I then went to Nani’s room. Two big frogs were guarding her room. I immediately called papa. The frogs remained quiet in Papa’s presence. I went into Nani’s room and played cards there.
After some time I returned back. As I lied down to sleep, I wondered how many more buildings I would visit and how many more water bodies. It appeared there are as many Mahals in the fort as the kings who ruled Mandu. Every king made his own palace; perhaps they did not like the old palace or the old style.
(I wrote this post on October 16, 2010 on ghumakkar.com)