By Sanjeev Nayyar | 2007

  • 1
  • /
  • 1

Maheshwar was a glorious city at the dawn of Indian civilization when it was Mahishmati, capital of king Kartivarjun. This temple town on the banks of the river Narmada finds mention in the epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata. Revived to its ancient position of importance by the Holkar queen Rani Ahilyabai of Indore. Maheshwar`s temples and mighty fort-complex stand in quiet beauty, mirrored in the river below. Entrance to Ahilya Fort.

Clicked the fort from the Ghat ie on the banks of the Narmada. Very good architecture. You see the Ahileshwar mandir in the background. To the left of the temple the fort extends after that.

A closer view of the fort entrance from the ghat side. The ramparts of the fort were built in the 16th century, by Mughal king Akbar; Maheshwar itself has been continually inhabited for some 4000 years. Today, Maheshwar is also known for its distinctive hand-woven saris called Maheshwari. Peshwa Ghat, Fanase Ghat and Ahilya Ghat line the river Narmada, flights of steps lead down from the sandy banks to the river and through the day a kaleidoscope of rural India can be seen here, in the pilgrims and holy men who sit here in silent meditation; in the rows of graceful women, who carry gleaming brass pots down to the holy, life giving river; in the ferry loads of villagers who cross and recross these surging waters.

A closer view of the entrance. Lining the banks too, are poignant memorials in stone to the satis of Maheshwar, who perished on the funeral pyres of their husbands.

Entrance to the Ahileshwar mandir, opposite is the Vithaleshwara mandir.

A rear view of the Ahileshwar mandir with the Narmada river in the background.

A view of the Vithaleshwara mandir.

This picture was clicked from a height since the fort is on a hillock. You get to see a side view of the Ahileshwar mandir with Vithaleshwara mandir towards the end. In the former you can also see Deepswthamb a symbol of Maratha architecture.

A view of the Ahilya Fort walls taken from the banks of the Narmada.

Ghat with Narmada in the background. You can go for a boat ride, very enjoyable. A boat trip in the afternoon takes you to Baneshwar Temple in the middle of the river, and a swim in the Narmada`s cool and unpolluted waters. Baneshwar, according to ancient Hindu texts, is the centre of the universe: the axis, which connects the centre of the earth and the North Polar star, passes through this simple temple!

Entrance to Shri Devi Ahilyabai Holkar’s Wada palace built in 1766. Rajgaddi and Rajwada: A life-size statue of Rani Ahilyabai sits on a throne in the Rajgaddi within the fort complex. This is the right place to begin a tour of Maheshwar, for this pious and wise queen was the architect of its revived importance. Other fascinating relics and heirlooms of the Holkar dynasty can be seen in the other rooms, which are open to the public.

Within the complex is an exquisite small shrine, which is a starting point of the ancient Dussehra ceremony, which is carried out even today. The image on this day is installed reverently in a splendid palanquin and carried down the steep fort road to the town below to receive the yearly homage of the people of Maheshwar.

Opposite Ahilyabai`s palace is a small garden today. Note the fort walls at the end, was the second line of defence for the palace. Visit

You see Dilip Singh Rathore our driver for the trip. On days we started at 5.30 am and reached at 10pm but he still had a smile on his face. He was a good guide too. We are lucky to have him as our Vahanchalak (driver).

Receive Site Updates