Sunday, December 23, 2012

Mandu Part Deux - Romance and Technology

An extremely hectic week, a slow Saturday, the wife on holiday, synchronised / restored my Google Apps contacts on the Blackberry (Sync not working for the last few days, and my uninstalling it erased the Contact  List from phone the last few days) and the last 30 minutes of Deewar. A day well spent! Wait, maybe part two of the trip to Mandu.

Around 11 after a leisurely breakfast; and delaying all we could, we hired the guide services of Qureshiji. The father of a government approved guide, Qureshiji is one of the oldest guides in Mandu area. Places of interest at Mandu are spread around a 3-4 km of radius of Mandu Resort, and so we decided to hire bicycles from the Resort. So Qureshiji on his bike would tell us where we needed to meet him next, and we would leisurely cycle to the place of interest, taking in view the beauty of the place enroute. There is a monument almost every 200-300 meters; so after the first few halts, we decided to bike along a little quicker and not test the ever patient Qureshiji.

Our first guided tour halt was at Baaz Bahadur Palace (Placeholder B on the map); the palace he built where he and Rani Roopmati would hold their Riyaaz and also, from where Baaz Bahadur would address his over two lakh subjects. A water channel that would fill the swimming pool inside impressed us, till we were told that this technology was just the beginning of the wonders we were to see. An impressive rectangular hall, with an enclosure on each end of the hall was where Rani Roopmati and Baaz Bahadur would hold their musical evenings. We heard Qureshiji's rendition of Jashn-e-Bahara instead :-). And then on to the porch from where Baaz Bahadur used to address his 5 lakh + subjects on the plains about 200 mtrs below. A normal loudness conversation carried to the plains down below.
With Qureshiji at the Steps to Baaz Bahadur Palace, Mandu
Our next stop was the ever famous Rani Roopmati Mahal (placeholder C on the map), at probably the highest point in the Malwa region. Rani Roopmati Mahal, legend has it was built because Rani Roopmati as a condition to be wedded to Baaz Bahadur wanted to see the Narmada, that presently flows about 20kms from Mandu, every morning. And in the early morning on a clear day, one apparently still can. Days that she could not see, she would visit the Rewa Kund. Another legend has it that Narmada Parikrama by devotees is not complete till they visit the Rewa Kund. A beautiful palace, this palace had a rain-water harvesting system. Channels that would collect rain water and after filtering (more on this later), store this for consumption. And we are talking about the 15th century A.D. here.

Rain Water Harvesting at Roopmati Mahal, Mandu
After a few glasses on nimbu pani, we were rehydrated, and back on the road; to Jahaz Mahal, our next stop. Place holder D on the map.

On the road again!

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Oh, what an impressive sight, the Jahaz Mahal. Built like a ship with water reservoirs on both sides, Jahaz Mahal sits proudly as the crowning glory of the civilisation that was. The steps seen in the picture below were built by Jahangir. In today's world Pooja and I walked down those stairs holding hands. In years of the yore, you might have been punished for standing where the royalty tread. 15,000 consorts of the king, yes, 15,000 stayed in the precinct of the Jahaz Mahal.
Jahaz Mahal, the Crowning Glory of Mandu
An intricate system of multi-layered water filtration, chambers below, use of gravity, charcoal, sand to filter water is what is done by the Aquaguards of today. Sloping roofs, water being collected and channeled from a height, fountains made due to varying thickness of pipes, air conditioned rooms two stories below earth and cooled through an array of water channels. Makes one wonder, we abuse the world live in. Those were the technologists, who co-existed and leveraged what Mother Earth gave them, without, gorging into the eco-system with little thought for tomorrow. Food for thought for us. Let's be a little civil (sic!) and stop the ruthless plundering of our planet. Let's coexist!
Water filteration at Jahaz Mahal, Mandu
Perfectly circular pipes, from 15th century. A concealed water supply system.

Guess, the star-lit hamam (Turkish bath) and Qureshiji's photo-op for Pooja. 
After, seeing some of the other wonders in the Jahaz Mahal precinct including a hamam (Turkish bath) with  steam bath and hot and cold water supply, swimming pools, and admiring the ASI's efforts, we then left for our last stop of the day, Jami Masjid (stop E on the map).

The Jami Masjid, said to be the inspiration for the Taj Mahal, is built in a compound having a caravan serai, built in a dharamshala style, columns having lotuses, a huge medley of Hindu and Mughal architecture, how each ruler contributed to build our historical heritage. It's an eye-opener. Buildings of today are a shame! The size, the grandeur of the India of then can just be imagined. This makes one just figure it would have meant, when we say, that before the British we were over 80% of the world's trade and today, a mere 2-3% (or lesser?). Pride and adulations!!
Entrance to the Jami Masjid, Mandu

The Tomb at Jami Masjid.
p.s. Thanks, Pooja, for your wonderful anecdotes of the days yore and interest in our historical heritage. Made History fun!! 

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