[Maheshwar, India] A Trip to Maheshwar: On the Banks of the Narmada

In 2015, we embarked on our first trip to the geographical heart of India, Madhya Pradesh (MP). Our itinerary featured three destinations in the Malwa region of MP: Mandu (Mandav), Indore, and Maheshwar.

The Ghats along the River Narmada. Maheshwar, Madhya Pradesh, India

The Temples and Ghat along the River Narmada. Maheshwar, Madhya Pradesh, India

Picturesque river views, beautiful temples, a majestic fort, a serene boat ride, and a long meditative stroll along the riverside ghats. Maheshwar was the perfect place to end our vacation. Home to the famous Maheshwari handloom saris and capital of the brave queen, Ahilyabai Holkar, this small town on the banks of the river Narmada left an indelible impression on my heart.

In the eighteenth century, Queen Ahilyabai Holkar ruled from Maheshwar. In 1818, Indore was chosen as the capital of the Holkar dynasty. Even today, Ahilyabai is revered in the town of Maheshwar.

The Majestic Fort of a Brave Queen
The fort stands tall on the banks of the river Narmada. This majestic fort is testimony to the story of the great queen, Ahilyabai Holkar, and her impressive reign over the Indore state. A statue of the Queen is located at the entrance to the fort. Inside, a small temple and a museum are open to visitors. From the fort, we viewed the river Narmada below, flowing along peacefully on its journey toward the Arabian Sea.
Only a part of the fort is accessible to all visitors. The other part of the fort premises has been converted into a heritage hotel.
Queen Ahilyabai Holkar. Maheshwar Fort, Madhya Pradesh

Queen Ahilyabai Holkar. Maheshwar Fort, Madhya Pradesh

Exquisite Temples: Stories from Mythology and History
The town of Maheshwar is said to have been mentioned in the Ramayana and Mahabharata with the name ‘Mahishmati’.
King Sahastrarjun fought and defeated an angry Ravana here. Then, he placed ten lamps on Ravana’s heads and one lamp on his hand. The detailed story is available here. We visited the Sahastrarjun temple near the fort. Even today, eleven lamps are lit in the temple to commemorate the event.
Next, we paid our respects to Lord Shiva at the Rajarajeshwar and Kashivishwanath temples nearby.
Temples of Maheshwar. Madhya Pradesh, India

Temples of Maheshwar. Madhya Pradesh, India

As we proceeded from the fort toward the ghat, two exquisite temples with beautiful sculptures captured our attention. The sculptures and intricate designs here are a sight to behold. Time came to a standstill as we admired these works of art. Suddenly, we were interrupted by noisy schoolchildren. Oh well, they moved on in a few minutes. And then, it was quiet again. Junior was quite enthusiastic about observing the sculptures in detail. We walked from one wall to another, one structure to another, up a flight of steps, and down another. So much to see, so much to appreciate.

Temples of Maheshwar. Madhya Pradesh, India

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  Temples of Maheshwar. Madhya Pradesh, India
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Temples of Maheshwar. Madhya Pradesh, India

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  Temples of Maheshwar. Madhya Pradesh, India
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We are Family! Maheshwar Temple Complex, Madhya Pradesh, India

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  We are Family! Maheshwar Temple Complex, Madhya Pradesh, India
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Craftsmanship on Display. Maheshwar Temple Complex, Madhya Pradesh, India

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  Craftsmanship on Display. Maheshwar Temple Complex, Madhya Pradesh, India
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Look who's here! Maheshwar Temple Complex, Madhya Pradesh, India

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  Look who&#8217;s here! Maheshwar Temple Complex, Madhya Pradesh, India
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Tranquil Ghat Along the Narmada: Prayer, Reflection, and Meditation
Just before sundown, we strolled along the serene Ahilyabai ghats, a place that is considered to resemble a ‘mini-Varanasi’.
The clean ghats are dotted with small Shiva idols and accompanying Nandi statues. No flurry of activity or loud noise here. A man was deeply engaged in prayer. Another rowed his boat gently along the Narmada. The sun began its descent toward the horizon. A few tourists returned from their journey to the Baneshwar temple on a small island. We gazed up at the fort that loomed in the background. And then, we turned our attention to the hues of crimson in the sky. The numerous temples rose up above the ghats. Each monument told a tale. Each structure breathed history. All we did was pause and listen.

Shiva and Nandi. Ghat along the Narmada, Maheshwar, Madhya Pradesh, India

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  Shiva and Nandi. Ghat along the Narmada, Maheshwar, Madhya Pradesh, India
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Sunset and Tranquil Moments at the Ghat. Maheshwar, Madhya Pradesh, India

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  Sunset and Tranquil Moments at the Ghat. Maheshwar, Madhya Pradesh, India
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Movie Magic:

Maheshwar has been a popular filming location in the Indian movie industry. Take a look at the pictures in this blog post and try to guess which movies and songs have been shot here.

Useful Information:
– Accommodation: The MPTDC Narmada Retreat, on the banks of the river, offers comfortable accommodation. It has spacious rooms, a vast garden and a children’s play area.
– Eating: The restaurant at MPTDC Narmada Retreat and Laboos Cafe, which is located between the ghats and the fort entrance.
– Shopping: Buy Maheshwari handloom saris at the outlets in the town.

– Other activities: Visitors can enjoy a boat ride in the river.

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