My suggestion of a trip to a small town in Madhya Pradesh was mostly met with an unsure 'Why do you want to go to Mandu of all places?' Honestly, the only answer I had was 'I just do'. So, obviously, that's exactly what we did.
Our train from Delhi to Indore was running 6 hours late. Frustration and annoyance was hitting a dangerously high level. By the time we reached (it was 7 in the evening), the buses to Mandu had left and we had to hire a cab (which charged extra money) for the last 95km of the trip. Surprisingly, the roads were in excellent condition and it took us about 2 hours to reach our destination- Malwa Resort (an establishment run by the MP government).
Mandu is one of those places which make you feel as though the time has stopped. There is a charm in the serene lake-side town which leaves you wanting more. The night was spent walking along the lakeside, gazing at the splendid night sky and going back to being 8 years old in the playground in the hotel premises. We slept with intention of waking up at the crack of dawn and witnessing the sunrise over the lake. But all noble intent crumbles when faced with a warm, snuggly blanket on a chilly morning.
When we finally went outside, it was nice and sunny. We had a hearty, albeit spicy, breakfast at the hotel and started our leisurely walk on an undulating road passing through green wheat fields, towards the Rewa Kund group of monuments. I am glad we decided to walk instead of taking a cab. It allowed us to soak in the rural serenity of the place- the small huts, the farms, little chicks following the mother hen, the cawing roosters, the smell of cow dung and the soft bleats of goats. The village children were very excited to see strangers sporting sunglasses and waved at us as we passed.
The premises of the Rewa Kund monuments- The palace of Baz-Bahadur and Rani Roopmati's pavilion- are quite well maintained and sparsely populated. The architecture is typically Persian with plenty of arches, domes and baths. The view from the pavilion is absolutely breathtaking and we spent our time just sitting atop the ruins, chatting and looking out into the distance. The sun got pretty harsh as the day progressed and I came back with a slightly sun burnt nose.
One can 'see' Mandu in a day or not get enough of it in a week. I do not like to check off 'Things to See' from a list of 'Places to Visit' which are flooded by tourists. I like places which are far from the madding crowd. Places which allow you to sit and reflect, maybe read a good book by the lake. Places which make you take in a deep breath and soak up the atmosphere and attain a sense of Inner Peace. Mandu is just that kind of a place. I know I did not spend too much time there on this trip, but I am coming back in the future. You can keep your Agras and Goas.