The earliest fortification at Mandu is believed to date to the 6-7th century CE. However, nothing remains of this structure. During the 10th century CE, the region was presumably part of the Gurjara-Patihara empire of Kannauj.
On the westernmost edge of the Mandu plateau lie the ruins known as Budhi Mandu (old Mandu), also dated to the 10th century CE. The remains include a gate to the east and another to the west, both of which remain inaccessible due to the dense forest and the rocky terrain. There is a lake within the formerly impenetrable walls, whose banks are dotted with ruins of many temple complexes.
The Paramaras were the next ruling power in Mandu. They reached their golden period under the rule of Raja Bhoja. The capital was at Dhar but was moved to Mandu eventually. Through the 13th century, the Delhi Sultanate repeatedly attacked Malwa and gradually the Paramaras hold on the region weakened. In 1305, the ruling Paramara king, Mahlak Deo, was killed by Alauddin Khilji`s general, and Mandu was forced to capitulate to the Delhi Sultanate.
The Khilji dynasty was succeeded by the Tughlaqs. However, in the wakd of Mohammad bin Tughlaq`s unstable reign, the governor of Malwa seceded from the kingdom and made Dhar his capital. When his son Alp Khan, popularly known as Hoshang Shah, ascended the throne, he made Mandu the capital once again. Shah was a powerful rulerwho extended the boundaries of his kingdom. He also commissioned beautiful monuments and strengthened the city walls, making it impenetrable to any invading force. After his death, Mandu was tken over by the Khiljis of Malwa, a dynasty founded by Mahmud Shah I, under whose rule Mandu flourished, Mahmud Shah`s successor, Ghiyasuddin established a peaceful rule, but after his death, the kingdom was plagued by family feuds, till it was taken over by the Mughal Emperor, Humayun.
However, the most famous ruler or Mandu, Baz Bahadur, came after Humayun. The son of Sher Shah`s governor, Baz Bahadur was the last Sultan of Malwa. Not particularly interested in statecraft, he preferred the pursuit of music in the company of his beautiful consort, Roopmati, a court singer. Roopmati`s beauty, however, was also the cause of their doom. Mandu was invaded by Akbar`s general Adham Khan, who, having had heard to her allure, wished to possess her. Baz Bahadur`s small force was routed in the battle, and hearing of the defeat, Roopmati poisoned herself to avoid capture.
Not much is known about Mandu during the last days of the Mughal empire. Presently, this deserted city is under the protection of the Archaeological Survey of India.