Mandu, a small town about 35 kilometers from Dhar city in the western region of Madhya Pradesh, caught my attention some two years ago when one of my friends invited me for a trip to this amazing place. It was about time that I visit this beautiful fortress town. So, I booked my tickets and was all geared up for another monsoon escapade, another weekend gateway, another trip of 2017, albeit a crazy one considering the fact that I travelled over 30 hours to spend less than 24 hours there, but those 24 hours were totally worth the insanely hectic travel schedule!
Before we go further, let me tell you, this has been one of best trips I have had and you’ll figure that over the course of this feeble attempt to write down this stunning experience. I believe I won’t completely do justice to the experience, but I think I’ve done the best I could, with my limited vocabulary and frail English.
So, I started my journey from Bandra Terminus by hopping on to the empty sleeper class compartment of BDTS Jabalpur Super Special at 11:23 PM. I quickly located my seat and went off to sleep. Waking up the amazing view, was a clear sign that I am in for a treat this time.
Reaching Ratlam was the first hurdle I had crossed. I had to cross two more hurdles. That was to get a bus from Ratlam to Dhar and then Dhar to Mandu(or Mandav as the locals prefer calling it). The bus rides were quite bumpy and not so pleasing to the body, but they soothed the eyes well. Monsoon had done its job in making the place look magical.
I reached Mandu around 4 in the evening. After a quick chat with the locals and checking out few places, I zeroed in on Hotel Royal Palace. I quickly had a shower and headed out to visit the close by places as it was almost 5:30 in the evening. I headed for Ashrafi Mahal and sunset point.
Ashrafi Mahal didn’t really amuse me much, but it gave a beautiful view of Jami Masjid and the backyard also led to an amazing view. After spending about 15-20 minutes, I headed to sunset point. I knew for a fact that I wouldn’t get to see the sunset because it was quite cloudy, but the locals said it has quite a breath-taking view.
On my way there, I must have missed some path or something and instead of reaching sunset point, I ended up reaching some other place and trust me, I have never seen anything like that ever in my life! It was the most alluring valley I have ever seen. I usually don’t like comparing places, but it wouldn’t be wrong to say Lonavala, Khandala, Panchgani, Mahabaleshwar, etc stood nowhere close to this!
I walked a bit further to find three people talking, having some drinks and enjoying the beautiful view. I clicked a couple of pictures and wanted to go further but while I was at it, one of them greeted me and after a few exchanges of greetings and some random questions, I ended up talking to them and chilling with them. I was a bit sceptical and hesitant so didn’t really have anything to drink or eat, but we were talking about random things while they played some cringe-worthy music.
We went a bit further and they were slightly drunk already so they ended up playing some peppy music and started dancing there itself. It was quite a sight! Seeing random people dance on item numbers with a view like that was something I didn’t imagine at all. Not even in my dreams!
I went there for a great view and got some amazing company along with it!
It was about to turn dark and after a bit of persuasion, we headed from there only to roam around the place for a few more hours! They stayed at Dhar and knew the place well, so they showed me around. We went to Roopmati’s Pavilion, then they took me to one of their friend’s place that had a balcony overlooking a valley, but it was too dark to see anything at that point of time. The only thing that I could feel was the fog, coupled with cold wind sending shivers down the body every now and then. The skepticism and fear of the unknown had vanished by then so I gave them company for a couple of drinks too.
Hunger started taking over gradually and somewhere between our discussion about life and work, I ended up popping what seemed like the most important question of my life at that point of time – “Bhai, khaana kaha khayenge…bahot bhookh lagi hai!”. They insisted on having another drink, that I happily obliged and we headed to this amazing restaurant called Shivani Hotel (owned by their friend) to have some mind-boggling, delicious Paniye and dal. If I heard it correctly, it is an MP specialty. It was indeed special. I ended up eating way more than I usually do.
I woke up early the next morning to cover the places, as I couldn’t do much the previous day. Destiny had other plans for me! As I stepped out, it started drizzling and a few minutes later the place started covering in a thin layer of fog. I managed to visit Jami Masjid that was 5 minutes away from the place. I quickly had breakfast after that and headed to Jahaz Mahal, but it started raining by the time I reached there and the entire place was covered with dense fog. The fog was too much and I could barely see or click anything.
Disheartened, I headed back to the hotel, hoping it would get better in some time, but it didn’t so I canned visiting other places as that would just mean more disappointment and would be even more heart-breaking. I relaxed for a bit in the room and headed to this Hotel called Rupmati for lunch.
I read great reviews about this place so it made absolute sense to me to head there and have some good food with great view. I placed my order and headed out for a smoke that I normally do after having food, but something from within urged me to do it before and that turned out to be a good decision too. I met a few more people there. Smoked and had lunch with them and headed towards Dhar in a bus that had a goat as a company; so I could manage to get the train for Mumbai and eventually get back to the mundane life.
What makes this trip one of the best trips of my life is the fact that it was extremely unpredictable. I didn’t expect the place to offer me such amazing people. I didn’t expect to drink over there. I didn’t expect to enjoy and drive around at night. I didn’t expect any of these things! I expected the trip to be a quiet one where I would visit the points of interests and come back but it turned out to be quite the opposite. I’ve always believed in the fact that you’re always where you are meant to be and this trip just backs it up even more!
1. Don’t follow this if you are not okay going out of your comfort zone. This travel would test your patience a lot.
2. Everyone is not as good as the people I met, be careful in general, but be open to meeting people.
3. Talk to locals as that’s the best thing you could ever do to learn more about a place
This is one of the most different experiences of my life. I definitely suggest visiting this place if peace is what you’re looking for couple with a nice weather.