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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

How long will US economy survive?

DOLLAR GETS DOWN
How long will the US survive as an economic superpower? Writes Prashant Bhushan in Tehelka weekly. "It has been living on borrowed money for someime.

Its external debt is more than 50% of its GDP as Saudi oil money and China's trade surplus piles up in American banks. The US dollar is kept afload today mainly by the oil trade in US dollars. 


The US economy will tank if either China withdraws its money from the American banks or Saudi Arabia stops depositing its oil money in US bonds, or even if the oil trade goes off the dollar.

Thus even if we assume that we can get something in short run, how long will it last?". Bhushan, a public interest lawyer, has writen quite an interesting piece 'The eveil behemoth cometh' on Bush's visit to India and the euphria in the country. He questions that how reliable ally US can be to India.

Urdu papers on Bush's visit

Rashtriya Sahara Urdu daily has been printing a full anti-Bush page for the last several days. Read the headlines: Islam-dushmani ke field marshall: Bush, Ekkiswin sadi ka aadam khor bhedia, Duniya ka napasandeeda tareen insaan Bush amongst others.

Giving vent to their anger and reading what people want to read makes them feel lighter. That's why quite a strong anti-Bush sentiment in all Urdu papers. [A few years later the US Economy did collapse. When this post was published, people thought it was mere anti-Americanism and wishful thinking. So now?]

Urdu litterateur Rashid Hasan Khan dies

Eminent Urdu researcher, critic and scholar of classical Urdu texts Rashid Hasan Khan passed away at his native Shahjahanpur on the night intervening February 25 and 26.

The famed scholar was talking to someone on phone when he died of a sudden cardiac arrest. A leftist his first job was in a factory in his native town. Khan had shifted to Delhi in 60s and joined the Delhi University. He dedicated himself to research and grew in stature steadily.

Khan Sahab had a classical bent of mind. Also, he considered critic at a higher pedestal than poet. He wrote several important books including Classical Urdu Farhang. His research works on Bagh-o-Bahar, Fasana-e-Ajaib, Gulzar-e-Nasim, Sehrul Bayan, Masnawiyat-e-Shauq are well-known.

He was the first Urdu litterateur to be conferred with Raja Ram Mohan Rai award. After retirement he returned to Shahjehanpur. On his death Rafat Sarosh said that if a researcher would have worked so hard in any other country and in any other language he would have received numerous honours.

But, unfortunately, he was the litterateur of Urdu. Also, Rashid Hasan Khan preferred solitude. He had returned to his roots after retirement, shifting back to his ancestral house, where he pored on old texts for hours at night.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Australian Muslims at the receiving end, facing prejudices

What is happening in Australia? The Prime Minister and ministers have made prejudiced remarks against the Muslims.

Danna Vale, MP, of ruling party on the issue of induction of an abortion drug said that if Australians aborted out themselves, the country will become a Muslim nation in 50 years.

It was a debate on the drug and it took her to the Muslims and such a far-fetched imagination.
Initially she was criticised and government appeared to have distanced itself from her statement.

But then came Prime Minister John Howard's statement.that commitment to jihad and attitude towards women was a problem peculiar to Muslims and that section of Muslim community was extremist, don't assimilate etc etc

As Prime Minister, his views are even more dangerous when racial intolerance is growing in Australia and the race riots occurred in Sydney just two months ago. Muslims are just 1.5% of Australia's population.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Ek Ladki Jamuni Libaas Mein: A Girl Dressed in Purple

REPRESENTATIVE PHOTO COURTESY John H Postik*
Yesterday I met a girl. A dusky, tall, around 21-22 year old, dressed in violet and moving around swiftly and with grace.

The young woman was not fair but her face looked so radiant that I was entranced. The colour of the dress suited her so well.

To set the record straight, I have no fancy for extremely fair girls, rather, prefer the earthiness and 'namak' on face.

I couldn't recall what was particularly special in her looks but then the whole wujood brought such warmth.


Ajeeb si mas'hoorkun khushboo thee chahaar-jaanib uske. Mercurial, Seemab-sifat, as we say in Urdu, she was everywhere, almost floating in air, lyrically.

Woh udtee rahi. So enthusiastic she was about the smallest things that I was left in a daze. As the veteran poets say.....Dil chahta hai kya kya kuchh! Bataiye usko abhi shaadki karne ki kya zaroorat thee! Uska woh mardood bhi that wahan. Hopefully they don't blog.

Sometime you feel that where are all those beautiful girls who attracted you in your teenage or when you are teetering on verge of adulthood...woh ladkiyan jo fauran wujood par chhaa jatee theen....aur bohat der tak...halki baarish ka ehsaas hota tha....

Now it seems all girls are alike. Ab to jaise sab ladkiyan ek jaisee hone lagee hain....ek jaise naqsh, ek hi jaise kapde.... jeans-top aur wohi husn....na woh sabaahat, na malaahat, na namak, na hashr-samaaniyan....all alike..

Magar aaii woh shola-e-jawala aur hamein wapas woh ehsaas hua...While she was setting me ablaze with her looks, simultaneoulsy shabnam was falling on me in the form of her voice and her khiraamaN-khiraamaN chaal ie the wal. Maan gaye. Duniya se husn unqa nahin hua..

Falling in love is different yet the joy of discovering the sort of beauty which overwhelms you and takes all your senses under control, is truly amazing. And what about this serendipity of finding a girl at a place you never expected!

Beshak hamari biinai mein hii kuchh kamii hai
Warna laRkee to ek se ek is duniaa meN paRii hai :)

Dil to chaahta hai jazbat ko bayan kiya jaye marhoom Fazal Tabish ke alfaaz mein lekin kamzor dilwale sharif log bhi blog paRhte hain, kahin achhut qaraar na de diya jaaon, is se Darta hun.

[Photo courtesy]

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Sahitya Academy award goes to Jabir Husain


Just now the news has come that Jabir Husain has been conferred with the Sahitya Academy's prestigious award for Urdu.

Professor Jabir Husain is a multi-faced personality. As chairman of Bihar Legislative Council, he did a great job towards promotion of Urdu.

The voluminous magazine 'Dastavez' he brought out every month has no parallel. He has written over a dozen books. He is not just a poet and author but also a social activist and politician.

I don't think there is any more dynamic personality in India as far as Urdu is concerned. Especially, because he is active in politics, and yet he is doing work on the ground. His passion for popularizing Urdu and pushing for its use in administrative work is exemplary.

جابر حسین کو ساہتیہ اکادمی اوارڈ
-ہماری طرف سے مبارکباد

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Free speech 'advocates' jail Irving for denying holocaust but

So David Irving has been jailed for denying Holocaust. The fact remains that Jews and Holocaust are a Holy Cow. You can't discuss it. But when it comes to Muslims, everybody is gunning for their religion.

Call Muslims terrorists, extremists and mock at Islam--all in the name of free speech and right to freedom of expression.

Ham aah bhi bharte hain to ho jaate hain badnam
Woh qatl bhi karte hain aur charcha nahin hota

Bloody Hell! Mayhem in Iraq

These crazy folks in Iraq are again back to violence. These Shias and Sunnis. Can't they just be Muslims or say Humans. Why blame anyone when these sick creatures have nothing else except killing each other and suicide bombing at the shrines.

The dome of a Shia shrine was destroyed. Then Sunni mosques were attacked. Have Satan possessed these crazy guys?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Malik Shabazz alias Malcolm X was shot today



February 21 was the day El-Hajj Malik Shabazz alias Malcolm X was shot dead. He was just 39. From a drug-peddler to a member of Nation of Islam and becoming the most feared men in America, his story is fascinating and inspiring.

For years I longed to read his autobiography which is described by the Time as among the ten most influential non-fiction books of the 20th century. I had heard about Malcolm X alias Detroit Red mostly from articles and books which mentioned Muhammad Ali. Malcolm X was an important person in the life of Ali.

Mike Marquesee's book Redemption Song brought more of the Black Movement to me. Finally I got the autobiography a few months back and read it in one sitting. It tell his entire story how Malcolm Little who is born in 1925 in Nebraska, worked as shoe-shiner, drug dealer and pimp to earn living and ultimately landed in jail where he turned towards Islam.

After release he joined Elijah Mohammad's controversial Nation of Islam. He rejected his surname as many black converts who did not know the surname of their ancestors and were brought as slaves to America and made Christians but never given the status of a fellow human being.

His powerful presence and oratory skills stunned the audiences. Malcolm X feared none. He could speak of white man's hypocricy in his face and expressed his views publicly. His statement on Kennedy's death that 'Chickens coming home to roost never make me sad, rather it makes me glad' shocked the nation.

But he was getting marginalised with the NOI. Malcolm X felt that allegations about Elijah's sexual life had substance. Meanwhile, he embarked on Haj and for the first time saw people in Europe and Middle-East who treated him as their own without any distinction of colour and race that was still prevalent in US.

He returned from Haj as a Sunni Muslim. He visited Africa, interacted with world leaders and all this broadened his perspective. All this coincided with Muhammad Ali's rise as world champion. Malcolm had survived many attacks on hif life but on February 21 when he was addressing a gathering of 400, luck ran him out.

Malcolm's death was reported in papers across the world, as far as in Lucknow, Bengalore and Karachi the Urdu papers published the obituary of this brave man who inspired thousands to fight apartheid. Editorials were written in newspapers in far-East and Africa. The autobigoraphy was penned by Alex Haley who met Malcolm on a regular basis for years and during those sessions Malcolm told him his story.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Why there are no cartoons for children in Urdu magazines, newspapers?

اردو میں چارلی براؤن کیوں نہیں ؟
I feel the decline in circulation of Urdu newspapers in India is due to the fact that except politics, protests and religion they don't carry any other thing properly.

There is nothing for children. No cartoons, no comics. I have never seen Charlie Brown or Archies in Urdu papers. Till a few decades back, there were cartoon strips in magazines like, Khilauna.

But now there are no such magazines either. The social magazines or other journals also publish the children's corner, but there are no comics.

Short stories, poems are fine but cartoons immediately draw the attention of the kids. If there is a comic strip the child will read it, get used to the script at an early age and get addicted to the Urdu paper as well.

I wish that the editors of mass circulated daily newspapers like Roznama Sahara, Munsif, Siasat, Urdu Times, Inquilab, Akhbar-e-Mashriq, Aag, Salaar, Etemaad and Azad Hind realise it.

This post was published long ago. A good news is that now there is attention towards the lack of cartoons in Urdu magazines.

For more update, read these two posts, written much later. It shows that there is no need for pessimism, as individual efforts can also go a long way towards changing the situation:


1. First Urdu website dedicated to children's comics and cartoons
2. Children's magazine: Bachchon ki Duniya launched, contains colourful comic strips, cartoons

Friday, February 17, 2006

Indian Minister's 'fatwa' for cartoonist's head!

Yaqoob Qureshi
The controversy over offensive caricatures continues all over the world. India simmered again on Friday. The 'fatwa' over the ongoing controversy regarding derogatory cartoon, has come from Meerut.

Haji Yaqub, who is a minister in the Uttar Pradesh government, today announced a reward of Rs 51 crore to the person who would eliminate the cartoonist. The amount roughly translates at around $10 million or Rs 500 million.

Addressing a huge rally in Meerut in Western UP, Haji Yaqub Qureshi, said that the person who will perform this task will be weighed in gold. The announcement was made soon after the Friday prayers were held.

Naturally, media picked up the news. Such a call definitely evokes the interest of journalists. But I am wondering when will this controversy end? I think there have been enough protests [against caricatures of Prophet Muhammad in a Denmark newspaper] now in the country.

Surely, there much more serious things the Muslims need to think of. It is in the best interests of the community and its leaders to leave behind such controversial issues, and move ahead. For a Google map showing places were protests were held on this issue across the world Click here

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Against Love: Hindu, Muslim right-wing groups have same stand on Valentine's Day


1. Huge billboards with messages like 'Are you sure that your daughter who goes out on Valentine's Day will return a VIRGIN', are put up across Northern India by Bajrang Dal, a rightwing Hindu organisation.

There are many such offending messages on these hoardings, posters and banners. The faces of couples will be blackened and all measures taken up to uphold Indian culture, thunders Devendra Rawat of Bajrang Dal.

2. Shiv Sena in Uttar Pradesh and many North Indian states is ready to take on lovers.

3. Dukhtaran-e-Millat, an organisation of Muslim women in Kashmir, burns Valentine's Day cards and calls it as un-Islamic.

So everybody is against love. The loonies on both sides have common cause, feeding each other. Great that both are exposed. Let the youth have the right to make their choice. The photographs of burqa-clad DeM activists barging in shops was in a bad taste. These women said Valentine's Day is immoral and against our values.

Agreed, market economy brings us the V-Day. But 'ishq' is our birthright. We have been great aashiques for centuries. Muslims are great lovers and they should continue to do so. The state government did well to register case against DeM activists. Similar action should be taken against Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena as well.

Meanwhile, I again read that foolish notion--Muslims don't condemn enough when religous sentiments of others are hurt. We all do. We do when embassies are attacked and when MF Husain paints nude goddesses again and again.

Just that you don't read, listen, show and bother to check. As an Indian Muslim I strongly criticise MF Husain, condemn his drawings. Just today in my little, humble way, I have done that at www.indianmuslims.in

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Islam in South America: Population of Muslims growing in Latin American countries


The protest of Muslims on Danish caricature issue in Venezuela had brought spotlight on the presence of Muslims in Latin America. The countries of South America have substantial Muslims and it is estimated at 2 million Muslims live in Brazil.

Though this is a minuscule percent in the huge population of Brazil, the presence of Muslims in cities is nonetheless significant. Though majority of them are from the middle-east who emigrated to South America in search of jobs, there is a population of 'reverts' as well.

The Blacks who were taken as slaves for centuries and the crypto-Muslims from Spain (who were forcibly made Christians but secretely remained Muslms during Inquisition in Spain) kept observing Islam. Until the end of nineteenth century these Muslims families were present in Latin America.

But except Surinam where Indian Muslims reached late and maintained their distinct identity, the rest somehow disappeared in the most Christian of all continents--South America. Some of these families have converted or rather reverted to Islam.

There is also a so-called Muslim triangle at the border of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. Here migrant Arabs and Palestinians reside. Argentina has a visible Muslim population, especially in Buenos Aires that has several mosques.

Among major countries in the continent--Brazil, the biggest country, has a population of over 180 million and Muslims account for less than a million but they have presence in cities like Sao Paolo and Rio De Janeiro. Argentina has nealry 700,000 Muslims. The community is quite visible in Venezuela's Caracas and Chile's Santiago.

Suriname has the largest percentage of Muslims, around 18%, though it's a small country. Guyana has nearly 12% inhabitants practising the religion. Trinidad and Tobago that has a population of over 1.2 million has a Muslim population of 8-10%.

However, in the last couple of years the increase in trade has led to growth in Muslim population. Indigenous South Americans have also converted to Islam. There are Islamic centres in almost every country and the major cities, which help in acclimatising the coverts.

Muslims also live in Bolivia, Uruguya, Panama, Colombia and Peru. Hispanics have an old relationship with Islam and though it had the least Muslim presence among all continents, steadily Islam is also becoming part of the South American cultural heritage.

Friday, February 10, 2006

'We believe in Jesus, why can't you respect Prophet Muhammad': Indian Muslims ask Christians in Europe, West over anti-Muslim, blasphemous caricatures


In Ludhiana jail, prisoners wrote applications with their blood to the Prime Minister, against caricatures published in Denmark.

They also wrote to the Denmark government against publication of the offensive caricatures in Danish and other European newspapers.

In Lucknow, Bhopal and Ahmedabad protest rallies were held. In Bhopal the rally was so mammoth that the walled city came to a grinding halt.

The photo of rally in Bhopal where estimate of participants were made at over 2,00,000. Click on photo to see the full picture.

The participants were holding placards like 'We believe in Jesus and Mary, why can't you just respect Prophet Muhammad'.

The banners were in Urdu, Arabic, English. Also, in Hubli (Karnataka) the protest was held. In Kanpur, the largest city in UP, there was a big demonstration.

In Nagpur the demonstrations turned violent when they were not allowed to reach Commissioner's office. In Delhi, the flag of denmark was placed on the stairs of Jama Masjid and protestors walked on the flag to express their outrage.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Muharram in India: Government's Tazias, Tigers, Sawaris, Eunuchs


1. Kasturi Bai, 58, an old Hindu woman, has not applied oil to her hair for the last ten days.

The entire family is in a state of mourning as the 120-year-old tazia is taken out from her house.

The house is kept especially clean, the pan is not chewed, nothing new is worn and everybody walks barefoot.

When asked if anybody in her family has objected to this practice she says, "How dare anyone?". Amongst those designing the tazia is a police man who is on leave these days to oversee the preparations here.

2. A Muslim police officer, who considers tazia and 'maatam' as absolutely un-Islamic and is dead against them, stops a 'sawari'.

[The sawaris are 'youths', who get 'possessed' during Muharram, who run wildly, reply to questions and are heavily garlanded in the procession.]

The cop scolds him. "Don't you have an iota of shame, doing such bid'at despite being a Muslim'. The 'sawari' sheepishly says...'Sahab, main Hindu hoon' (Sir, I am a Hindu) leaving the cop astonished.

3. Through out India eunuchs [the hijdas] take out the most opulent tazias.

4. Amaria Bai, a Hindu, came 150 km from her native village to the state capital to her son just to watch Muharram. Can you believe this?

Undoubtedly Muharram is the most Indianised of all Islamic observances. It was soon after partition when Delhi was witnessing a shaam-e-ghariban as lakhs of Muslims had left for Pakistan that the government decided to take out the government's tazias in keeping with the tradition.

Similar sarkari tazias that were taken out by former Hindu states like Holkar, Scindia in Central Indian region, continue to this day. At several places district collectors or other government officials are guardians of the tazias.

For several years these tazias were taken out as hardly a few thousands of Muslims were left in Delhi. Muharram regained its fervour in Delhi by eighties. From Muharram in Delhi and Lucknow, where for 17 years ban remained on processions, to the tribal belt of Bastar and in the South, Muharram bears the shades of local culture.

I never saw savaris in UP. So are the 'sher', children painted as tigers who wander on the streets in Eastern Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh during the entire ten days. This makes Muharram, Yaum-e-Ashura, an all encompassing tradition.

What a great tradition it is. Most of my friends oppose all these practises as un-Islamic. But sine my childhood I have been fascinated with the way Moharram brings all Indians together. I never feel that I have any right to make any such pronouncements about bidah etc.

Artisans across all fields were in form or the other associated with tazia-making. I remember my Badhai (carpenter), who left all work to return to his hometown to make tazia in the mohalla, though he was otherwise a staunch Hindu.

The blacksmith makes knives and arms for the 'akhada'. Similarly the intricate handwork on the tazias required artisans from all classes and linked them economically to the Muslims. Lately we heard that old tradition of Muharram was dying in India.

I have seen fights within families where a brother insisted on keeping tradition while the other under influence of tablighi jama'at trying to stop the practice. [The photo is of Moharram procession in Sangli, a district in Maharashtra that has a very high Jain population and also large tribal populace.][Sadly, Amaria Bai died during the procession when a passing vehicle hit her]

Read a post on this blog about a Hindu family taking out tazia for 130 years in Central India

See photos of the unique Muharram processions in India that show tigers and other interesting facets. See posts here and here.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Poet Bashir Badar goes to police against another Urdu poet Manzar Bhopali

Day before yesterday, TV channel Star News  screamed 'Shair ne desh ko bad-duaa di' [Poet cursed the country]. I heard the headlines and could not follow the entire news because I was in a hurry then.

Later it was beamed on other channels as well. Subsequently, it published in newspapers. Also, posters of RSS mouthpiece Panch-Janya that asks why a poet who has such 'ill-will' against the country should be given the national honour of 'Padma-Shree', came out.

Bashir Badr [see photograph on the left] approached police in Bhopal and complained that it was Manzar Bhopali, who was behind this slander campaign against him. Manzar says that it was in 2000 that Bashir Badr had offered such prayer during Umrah.

Another poet has then lodged a complaint against him at Noida police station. Today Manzar said that Bashir has lost his mental balance and might lodge a case against Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Incidentally, both Manzar and Bashir Badr are in BJP.

BJP made Bashir Badar the Chairman of Urdu Academy Madhya Pradesh. Both had joined BJP together and floated a platform of Muslims and Urdu poets that supported Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the last elections. Both were barred from mushairas then all over the country.

Now they are fighting. So is it a clash of interest!

Friday, February 03, 2006

The love story of King Baz Bahadur and Rani Roopmati: Mandu, Dhar and Bhojshala-Part 2


Thousands of Hindu Jagran Manch [HJM] activists battled with police and tried to stop Namazis from entering the Kamal Maula Mosque in Dhar in Western MP.

Seeing the images on television, one could not help but wonder about the era of Rani Roopmati.

In those days, there was much more tolerance. Roopmati was a devout Hindu woman.

She had taken a vow of not having her breakfast until she had a 'darshan' of Narmada river considered sacred among the Hindu populace like Ganga and Yamuna in UP.

King Baz Bahadur, who ruled Malwa in those days, built the Roopmati palace on the hill to facilitate the 'darshan'. The river is so far that it is almost impossible to see it but the architects took great pains and raised a gem of palace here.

Sitting atop the pavilion on this palace, early in the morning one gets a glimpse of the silvery hair like Narmada when the first of the rays of sun fall in the morning. The reflection of the sun on the faraway Narmada gives the impression of a silvery hair far in the Vindhya ranges.

That was for Roopmati. On my visit to Mandu as a young boy almost a decade ago I was captivated at the sight. Baaz Bahadur hardly cared about his throne. The Mughals finished this sultanate and he fled to Rajputana [now Rajasthan]. Roopmati is said to have killed self.

And yes the tomb of Hoshang Shah. It is a mystery no one could solve. Throught out the year a drop of water falls on the mazaar every day in the afternoon. It is understood that during rains the water gets stored somewhere in the top of the tomb.

Through some marvellous architecture [and science] this water does not either evaporate or go dry and keeps falling drop by drop through out the year until the summer. Meanwhile, as far as what happened in Dhar today.

Nearly 13 Muslims were taken under heavy security inside the mosque and prayers were held amid stone pelting. Earlier the police lobbed tear gas shells, forced the Hindu activists out, resorted to cane charge and somehow the day passed until the next Juma will coincide with puja. Then, there may be tension once again.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Dhar, Mandu and Raja Bhoj's conversion: Islam in Malwa, part-1


Who has not heard of the legendary love story of King Baz Bahadur, a Muslim, and the Hindu girl Rani Roopmati?

The enchanting and eternal love story is spread on every nook and corner in Mandu, the mountain city.

Mandu was once the seat of the great Malwa kingdom that was ruined like Granada and Cordoba in Spain.

While six centuries after inquisition, the sounds of azaan are back again in Al-Andalus, Mandu remains as deserted nearly five centuries after Mughal Emperor Akbar destroyed it in 1562.

The Mandu fort is said to be the biggest single fort in the world and is spread over 80 sq km. The Jahaz Mahal, Hindola Mahal and numerous palaces and mosques stand testimony that once such a state existed in Malwa [the western Madhya Pradesh] in the heart of India that was a cause of envy for even the mighty Mughals.

The Jama Masjid here has the most unique acoustic system in the world. Hardly any Muslims remain in Mandu and we remember the place when the Bhojshala dispute figures in news headlines. Dhar that is close to Mandu was seat of Salateen-e-Malwa [Sultans] for sometime and here exists the temple that was converted by Raja Bhoj.

This Raja Bhoj is said to have converted to Islam after seeing the 'mojza-e-shaq-ul-qamar' [The miracle of moon getting split into two parts]. In fact, there have been several kings of the same name, and hence a section of modern historians question whether it was this particular Bhoj.

Just like Ayodhya, it is a place where right-wing Hindu groups want control. Already, a 5,000 strong police is deployed at this Masjid Kamaal Maula-Bhojshala complex on Friday when Namaz and Hindu's Basant Panchami puja will fall on the same day and in the same premises.


On February 3 this place will see thousands of Hindu activists trying to stop Muslims for prayers. Dhar has a substantial Muslim population. Between Dhar and the deserted Mandu city likes Nalcha Sharif where exists the tomb of a Sufi Saint. Probably Najmuddin Ghaus-ud-Dahar Qalandar.

The splendour of Mandu was such that it was known as Shadiabad [City of Joy] and had a population. It had a population of 15 lakh when poet-king Baz Bahadur ruled Malwa region. It is here at Mandu that Hoshang Shah Ghauri's marble tomb exists.

It is this tomb that inspired the construction of Taj Mahal. The unique Afghan architecture of palaces in Mandu are unrivalled. The Jama Masjid here has the most unique acoustic system in the world. There is no need for loudspeakers, as it has been built in such a way that the sound gets amplified and is heard to a long distance.

If you haven't seen Mandu, you have missed a chapter in the splendour of Indo-Muslim civilization.