City or Citadel?
Discover India|January - February 2021
The romantic fort city of Mandu in Madhya Pradesh offers a ticket back in time and may soon become a World Heritage Site.
RASHIMA NAGPAL

I HAVE OFTEN FAILED TO understand why forts and other war monuments evoke romanticism. These are significant sites of heritage, indeed. But what about the cannons and the breached gates and the tombs of royal families is not morbid? The fact that these are all remnants of bloody battles cannot be separated from their existence, so you have to be completely objective to admire their beauty, which lies in their architecture styles and significant roles. And yet, I consider the historical city of Mandu in Madhya Pradesh to be truly romantic. So much so, that I wonder if the kings and queens who once ruled it walk out of their graves at nightfall just to relive their glory days in the palaces they built. This exception was born early last year.

While 2020 was a frustratingly travel-starved year for all of us, it began quite promisingly for me. I don’t usually care for New Year celebrations, but for the first time, I found a chance to escape the monotony of sitting and watching a movie at home . I was headed to Mandu for a three-day caper—if only the weather gods would allow it. It was a foggy winter morning in Delhi, and nearly all flights were delayed. After spending three hours at the boarding gate, I was confined within a stationary plane for another three hours, by which time I was beginning to question all of my life choices. Little did I know that flying would soon become a rare indulgence.

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