We departed Udaipur very early because we had a significant drive ahead of us. After a 10 hour ride we ended up at a non-descript roadside hotel where we set-up camp. Given that we were camping by the side of a noisy road in significant heat, I predictably opted for an upgrade and stayed in the hotel instead. I had a room to myself and access to a nice table with a cold beer so it proved to be a good opportunity for photo editing.
In the morning we went to the tiny town of Mandu to check out their famed Afghani architecture, reputed to be the best in India. Mandu only has a population of about 10K but back at the height of the Khan kingdom in the 15th century it was a city of one million.
Mandu was first established in the 10th century but only as a fortress retreat. When the Mughal empire conquered Delhi in 1401, the Afghani governor of Malwa, Dilwar Khan established an independent kingdom encompassing Mandu. His son Hoshang Shah then shifted the capital of the kingdom to Mandu and invested in building up the city. The city was conquered and liberated a number of times in the ensuing 300 years, until it finally fell to the Marthas in in 1735. Thereafter the kingdom’s capital was shifted and the city emptied out.
Below, a photo on the road just at the outskirts of the town:
We arrived at the Royal Enclave where the various royal palaces are contained just before it opened so we had some time for a light breakfast at some tables outside. At this point we had a cook and his son preparing our meals for four days and this breakfast made one hell of a first impression. He made us a curried egg salad with some fresh chopped peppers which was absolutely amazing.
Some photos of the Royal Enclave:
The entrance to the enclave:
Pictured below is the Jahaz Mahal. Our guide and my Lonely Planet book insist that it looks like a ship’s bridge, resulting in its nickname, the Ship Palace, but I don’t see it:
More photos from the Royal Enclave:
This is the hamam (bath) for the royal women. It is said that Ghiyasud-din had a harem of 15,000 maidens so it must have gotten very crowded inside. In its current state the outside is not too impressive but the awesome domes inside are still magnificent:
More photos from inside the Royal Enclave:
This photo is taken from the second floor of the Jahaz Mahal. That floor once contained a number of luxurious pools and the ornate spirals below carried the water into the pools:
After the royal enclave we visited the nearby Jama Masjid, a mosque dating back to the 15th century:
Located a stone’s throw away is Hoshang’s Tomb, which is reputed to be India’s oldest marble building. As is evident from its design, the architects of the Taj Mahal drew their inspiration from this structure:
Two pictures from the town proper. I thought we packed our cars in tightly in my family when I was a kid. This family managed to pack in about 17 people and a lot of belongings into a very small van:
A cook at a small roadside shop. Note that he is just using an open fire fueled by firewood:
After departing Mandu, we took off on a short ride to our campsite next to the Karwand Dam. A picture from a high bridge on the roadway to the dam:
Believe it or not, the dam is pictured below. Karwand dam was constructed back in the 1970’s for irrigation purposes and is over 2 km long. As of now, this has been the only camping on the trip that is actually picturesque and I did not upgrade. That being said since there was nothing around, I could not upgrade even if I had wanted to do so. Camping is one thing, but camping in 30+ degree weather with wicked humidity among a dozen other souls with different bedtimes and snoring habits is not my idea of fun–I did not sleep more than a couple of hours that night. Two pictures of the dam:
I’ll finish with two random arty type shots. Both of the shots below are from the campsite at the roadside hotel near Mandu: