The Fort at Mandu: 10th to 16th Century AD





Synopsis (to be expanded)

  • A natural strongpoint in Central India's Malwa region, consisting of a plateau ~ 15-kilometers in length. Elevation is approximately 700 meters, giving a far view of the surrounding region. The River Narbada flows at the south end of the plateau.

  • Identified as a fort as early as 6th Century AD.

  • Battlements extend to 60-km.


 Malwa 1823 in relation to the rest of North West India.

800-1300 AD The Parmara Dynasty
  • Mandu first rose to prominence under the Paramara Dynasty in the 10th Century AD. The Parmaras, who were Rajputs, ruled till ~1300 AD.



A map of Malwa 1823. Ajmer is to the Northwest, Gujrat to the West.

The Parmara Kings
1300-1400 AD The Delhi Sultanate
  • Malwa fell to Alauddin Khilji of the Delhi Sultanate 1305 AD.

  • Timur's invasions led to the collapse of the Delhi Sultanate


Modern Districts of Malwa.


Dhar, which used to be the capital of Malwa before 1435 AD, is the bullseye in the map. Proceed southeast on National Highway 3 and you will see Mandu immediately to the NW of the symbol 3.

1401-1531 AD The Sultans of Malwa
  • Malwa became independent in 1401 when the governor of Malwa, Dilawar Khan, seized power.

  • The capital of Malwa, previously at Dhar, was shifted by Dilawar's successor Hoshang Shah, to Mandu in 1435.

  • Most of the very extensive Mandu Fort was built by the Sultans of the Malwa Dynasty 1401-1531.


Silver Rupee 15th Century, Chiyas Shah of Malwa

Photograph Birmingham Museum


The Sultans of Malwa

  • Dilawar Khan 1401-1405
  • Hoshang Shah 1405-1435
  • Ghazni Khan 1435-1436
  • Mahmud Khalji I 1436-1469
  • Ghiyasuddin Khilji 1469-1501
  • Nasir al-din Shah 1501-1510
  • Mahmud Shah II 1511-1532
Note: Mahmud Khalji was prime minister of Malwa when he usurped the throne in 1436. Mahmud Shah II ruled Malwa as a vassal of the Sultans of Gujrat after they captured Malwa.
Area of Mandu Fort
Mandu Fort covered almost 20 square miles, as evidenced by land records examined by Major General Sir John Malcolm and given in his Memoir of Central India p.41-42, London 1824.
Mandu Palace Complex

1. Dilawar Khan's Mosque
2. Champa Baoli
3. Hindla Mahal
4. Jahaz Mahal
5. Kapur Talao
6. Royal Palace
1531-1561 AD Sher Shah Suri/Successor Rulers
  • Sher Shah Suri captured the region in 1531.

Baj Bhadur and Rupmati

Baj Bhadur's Palace at Mandu. The pavilion he built for his queen, Rupmati, is at the left. The drawing is by Captain Claudius Harris of the British East India Company in the first part of the 19th Century.

Bronze coin of Baz Bhadur

1561-1734 AD The Mughuls
  • Akbar captured Mandu in 1561 or 1562.

  • He came to stay for a while: his general had not made a proper account of the spoils and Akbar marched quickly to Mandu.

  • After Akbar left, the city became largely deserted for reasons we do not know as yet.
1734-1818 AD The Marathas
The 9 Peshwas
  • The rise of the Marathas and the concomitant fall of the Mughuls led to Mandu passing under the control of Peshwa Baji Rao I ~1734.

  • By 1733 the Holkars rule Malwa (and Indore) as lieges of the Peshawas. The dynasty's founder, Malhar Rao Holkar (1694-1766), was a peasant who became a king by his own merit. He obtained his territories for his military services to the Peshwa in the region, and became one of the five autonomous leaders of the Maratha Confederacy.

    In the case of the Holkars the rise in status and wealth was particularly rapid and marked. From petty local power brokers, they emerged by the 1730s into a position in which Malhar Rao Holkar could be granted a large share of the cauth collection in Malwa, eastern Gujarat, and Khandesh. Within a few years, Malhar Rao consolidated his own principality at Indore, from which his successors controlled important trade routes as well as the crucial trading centre of Burhanpur. After him, control of the dynastic fortunes fell largely to his son's widow, Ahalya Bai, who ruled from 1765 to 1794 and brought Holkar power to its apogee.

  • In 1818 the Marathas are defeated in the 3rd Anglo-Maratha War. Much of the Holkar holdings are ceded to the British these once proud kings become lieges of the East India Company.

  • In 1832 AD the Peshwa divides Malwa between three chiefs, and Anand Rao Pawar becomes governor.


The Holkars
1818-1947 AD British Paramountcy

  • With the British Paramountcy in 1857 Victoria, declared Empress of India in 1871, becomes overlord of the Holkars.

  • In 1948 Yashwantrao Holkar II accedes to the Union of India as the successor state to British India.