Mandu was founded as a fortress retreat in the 10th century by Raja Bhoj and conquered by the Muslim rulers of Delhi in 1304. When the Mughals captured Delhi in 1401, the Afghan Dilawar Khan, governor of Malwa, set up his own little kingdom and Mandu’s golden age began.
Although Dilawar Khan established Mandu as an independent kingdom, it was his son, Hoshang Shah, who shifted the capital from Dhar to Mandu and raised it to its greatest splendour. Hoshang’s son Mohammed ruled for just one year before being poisoned by the militaristic Mohammed Khalji, who then ruled for 33 years.
Ghiyas-ud-din succeeded Mohammed in 1469 and spent the following 31 years making his father turn in his grave, devoting himself to women and song (but not wine). He was poisoned, aged 80, by his son, Nasir-ud-din.
In 1526, Bahadur Shah of Gujarat conquered Mandu, only to be ousted in 1534 by the Mughal Humayun, who in turn lost the kingdom to Mallu Khan, an officer of the Khalji dynasty. Ten more years of feuds and invasions saw Baz Bahadur eventually emerge in the top spot, but in 1561 he fled Mandu rather than face Akbar’s advancing troops.
After Akbar added Mandu to the Mughal empire, it kept a considerable degree of independence, until taken by the Marathas in 1732. The capital of Malwa was then shifted back to Dhar, and the slide in Mandu’s fortunes that had begun with the absconding of Baz Bahadur became a plummet.