A two and a half hour drive from Indore, will bring you to Mandu, the fort city of Madhya Pradesh. I had heard about the Jahaz Mehal, a palace built in the shape of a ship, and I just had to see it. So there I was driving down the narrow road leading to the fort complex, dodging cows and speeding two wheelers. A twenty five rupee ticket is all it would take to board this ship, which has never set sail and for centuries has stood staring at its own reflections.
Built around CE 1500 by Sultan Ghias-ud-din, the palace was to serve as a harem for the Sultan's 15,000 'women friends'. Imagine the Sultan's whim that he got two water tanks built on each side of a strip of land so that the concept of a ship floating on water can be realised fully. This palace is unlike any other for its elongated structure, 110 meters in length and only 15 meter width. It is a a duplex, by the way, two floors of majestic architecture with a steep staircase that really completes the whole ship reference.
I walked around the pavilions and under the arches, thinking of all the 15,000 women of the harem. And one also wonders at the designing marvel, every jharoka is of significance, every airway picturesque. The extravaganza is on display with the beautifully swimming pools on the terrace of the palace. It is said that every evening, they would light lanterns around the water tanks and the pools, the whole palace would be lit with tiny golden flames and then would begin a night of fun, drinking and debauchery.
Beautiful gardens flank the structure and the artificial water tanks hold green and clean water, making the pathway scenic. There are many more structures in and around the Jahaz Mehal, the hammams for instance and the Hindola Mahal are right next to it.
It won't take you more than an hour or so to explore the Jahaz Mahal. The entry ticket, like I mentioned earlier is twenty five rupees a person. Monsoons are a good time to visit as the tanks are replenished with clear water, the area is lush green. I was lucky to spot a rainbow from the palace pavilion. Go prepared to take a lot of pictures for your social media. You may also spot some playful langoors in the area.
Make sure you keep Mandu in your to do list for your MP travels.
Writer- Sneha Dev