Beating a Royal Retreat to Mandu

ABBIE ENOCK--TRAVEL INK/CORBIS

The chaotic congestion of India's big cities can overwhelm even the most stalwart tourist, but when the time comes for a retreat, the country also offers a peaceful sanctuary: the ancient royal city of Mandu. Recite the name like a mantra as the train rumbles 18 hours south of New Delhi to Indore. And continue the chant on the four-hour bus ride to the fortified city that time appears to have forgotten.

Abandoned nearly 300 years ago after the dissolution of the Mogul empire, Mandu is now a medieval ghost town. The grand Islamic palaces, mosques...

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