Sagar Talao Group, Mandu, Madhya Pradesh (MP)
Sagar Talao Group, Mandu, MP
Malik Mughith’s Mosque, Caravan Sarai, Dai ka Mahal, Dai ki Chhoti Bahen ka Mahal and Unknown Tomb
Sagar Talao, the largest lake in the Citadel of Mandu is located on the southern part of Mandu. Along the eastern banks of the lake are several monuments, which are clubbed together as the Sagar Talao Group.
The Malawa Resort run by the Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (MPTDC) is located just north of the Sagar Talao.
If you are staying in the Makwa Resort, the best way to explore the monuments is on foot.
Take a early morning walk and turn right (south) from the Malawa Resort gate.
Walk south with the Sagar Talao, on the right. A sign board on the left leads to the Malik Mughith’s Mosque and Caravan Sarai.
A dirt road diverts from the main road towards the left. A couple of yards along the dirt road and a right turn will lead you in front of the Malik Mughith’s Mosque (on the right) and Caravan Sarai (on the left).
The Malik Mughith’s Mosque is located on a high plinth and the entrance is through a long flight of stairs from the eastern side. On the either side of the stairs along the the plinth are 12 arched rooms, six on each side. these lead to rooms, which probably served as quarters for the mosque staff.
The flight of stairs leads to a portico, which was once crowned with a massive dome. The dome have long collapsed and along with the most off the pillars, which held the dome.
A Persian inscription on top of the entrance of the Malik Mughith’s Mosque claims that the mosque was built in 1432.
The entrance leads to a open coutyard, with pillared passageways on all four sides.
The centre of the western side is crowned with a dome. There are also domes on the south – western and north – western corners.
The western end contains, three passage ways separated by beautifully decorated columns.
Facing the Malik Mughith’s Mosque is the Caravan Sarai, an inn for travellers visiting Mandu. Mandu has several such Sarai (inn) but the Caravan Sarai is the largest and most spectacular of all the sarais of Mandu.
The entrance of the Caravan Sarai is through a massive arched gateway on the western side. The gate is high enough to allow camels and elephants to enter the inn.
Built in 1437 it consists of a simple architecture with a large open courtyard along with rooms on all four sides. Move out of the Caravan Sarai and take a left turn towards north.
On the right is a ruined structure next to the Malik Mughith’s Mosque. This structure probably served as the residence of the imam of the mosque.
Further north is a small pond and beyond it is a massive tomb crowned with a gigantic dome. A little bit ahead on the left is a domed structure known as the Dai ki Chhoti Behen ka Mahal.
The structure consists of a domed mausoleum along with a mosque, but nothing is know about the occupant of the mausoleum. Just south of the Dai ki Chhoti Behen ka Mahal is Lal Bagh, a Mughal Garden, complete with fountains, water channels and walkways.
Further south is a similar mausoleum known as the Dai ka Mahal, it does have structural similarities with Dai ki Chhoti Behen ka Mahal and again nothing is known about it occupant.
Building mausoleum for Dais or maids is nothing uncommon among the Muslim rulers in India. But a mausoleum for the maid’s sister definitely stands out.
The octagonal structure stands on a high plinth and is topped with a huge dome. The mosque on the western side has long collapsed and only traces of its walls on the northern and southern side remains to this day.
A flight of steps from the northern side leads to the top of the platform. The octagonal mausoleum is accessed by arched entrances on four sides. There is no grave stones inside (the original grave is below).
Biding farewell to the Dai ki Chhoti Behen ki Mahal head northwards, past the dried up channels of Lal Bagh towards the Dal ka Mahal.
This again is a monument surrounded by mystery, as nothing is known about its occupant.
Dai ki Chhoti Behen ka Mahal is similar in structure with the Dai ka Mahal, but the later remains more intact than the former.
Her also the mausoleum and the mosque is approached by a flight of stairs from the north. The open courtyard houses the mausoleum on the very centre and on the west is the ruins of the mosque.
The mausoleum is square in shape with arched entrances on each of the four sides. The interior is totally empty, with no tombs. The massive dome rests on an octagonal drum with small cupola at the corners.
Although the roof of the mosque has long collapsed but its remaining structure remains more or less intact. With two domes at the two corners the western wall contains three decorative miharabs.
On the western side of the Dai ka Mahal lies a massive domed structure, which the Archaeological survey of India (ASI) describes as the Unknown Tomb. While some historians mention it as the Adhar Dome.
What ever may be the name, here also nothing is known about the occupant of the tomb.
It is a two storied structure with a flight of stairs on the south side. The remaining three sides have seven arched entrance each. The stairs lead to the top of the first level which acts as a platform of the tomb, which is on the second level.
The square tomb is similar to Dai ka Mahal and have arched entrance on all four sides. The dome is also similar but lacks the cupola at the eight corners. The interiors are also empty.
Couple of yards west of the Unknown Tomb leads to the main road leading south wards towards the Rewa Kund Group. Don’t turn left towards south but turn right towards north and move along with the Sagar Talao on your left and in a few minutes you will be at the comfort of Malawa Resort run by the Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (MPTDC).
After brekfast you will be ready to explore the remaining monuments of the Citadel of Mandu.
- Mandu (Bengali) by Prasenjit Dasgupta (a special thanks to Prasenjit da for his help and cooperation)
- Mandu, Archeological Survey of India (ASI)
- Mnadu Travel Guide, Good Earth
Note: This trip was part of a FAM (Familiarization) trip of Hanuwantiya (Jal Mahotsav), Omkareshwar, Maheshwar and Mandu. Special Thanks to:
- Abhijit Dhar, Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (MPTDC), Kolkata
- My fellow FAM participants Uttara Gangopadhyay and Soumya Mukherjee