“The Jahaz Mahal” is located in the Mandu district of Madhya Pradesh. The literal translation of the word “Jahaz” means to ship and in the true sense, the palace looks like a ship floating in the water. Just like the Taj mahal surrounded by a reservoir, the ship palace is surrounded by a reservoir and its beautiful reflection can be seen in it giving it a grand and royal appearance like that of a ship.
History speaks about several reasons for building this great structure. It was built during the Lodi Dynasty and is one of the greatest pieces of architecture of the dynasty. It served as an inn or pleasure resort for travelers and pilgrimages from Iran, Afghanistan, Morocco, Iraq, and Arabia.
It was built during the reign of Mandu Sultan Ghiyas Ud Din Khilji who is believed to have kept 15,000 women as his consorts. Some historians believe that the main reason for building this monument was to accommodate all these women. Another version is that it was built as a retreat for the emperors and their families to get away from the heat and dust of Delhi.
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The Mahal is standing in the middle of two lakes Munj Talao and Kapur Talao; upon a narrow strip of land. This makes Jahaz Mahal look as if it’s floating. Jahaz Mahal is a rectangular structure, three feet tall with two floors and thick walls. The palace has intricately carved structures known as Chhatris in the corners as well as in the center. The rooms and chambers must have been very royal decorated once upon a time, although nothing much remains but historians have found evidence of tiles and jewels. The central pavilion dome is decorated in blue tile pieces which still remain intact. A small mosque also prevails in the palace and must have been a holy place for the guests and travelers.
The mahal is not only a tourist attraction of Madhya Pradesh but also a venue of an annual cultural festival that started in the year 1820 by emperor Akbar Shah II. It takes place in the form of a procession starting from Mehrauli and stops at the jahaz mahal to offer flowers, it is also known as a procession of florists since they carry with them flower-bedecked fans and offer it as a mark of reverence to many temples on the way including the Jahaz Mahal. The festivities were brought to an end but then restarted by Jawaharlal Nehru. And till today it is celebrated for three days with pomp and show. The artists are decorated in their culture outfits and fire dancers lead the procession.
Looking at the tarnishing condition of many ancient monuments that were once recognized as India’s Pride, the Conservation Society of Delhi has recognized the Jahaz Mahal as one such monument that needs special attention and adequate prevention measures. They conduct workshops and seminars to educate people to conserve the rich heritage of our country. It is the work of such voluntary agencies that India is able to uphold its beauty and culture.
The palace is open to tourists every day of the week from sunrise to sunset. Mandu has no railway station or airport of its own. Ratlam Junction is the nearest railway station to Mandu. And the nearest airport is Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar Airport which is around 93 Km away from Jahaz Mahal Mandu. Mandu has well-built roads and is connected with some of the major cities of Madhya Pradesh. It makes Mandu reachable through different parts of Madhya Pradesh.
The palace is an absolute treat to the eyes and could be more of a treat if conserved by our citizens and tourists. The palace gives us an insight into the thinking of the architects of those times and is incomparable with today’s piece of architecture. The Jahaz Mahal is a must-visit for anyone touring Madhya Pradesh.
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