Maheshwar is a small town situated south of Indore on the banks of the river Narmada, renowned for its Maheshwar saris. The river banks are dotted with colourful shrines and are the site of daily worship of the sacred river.
But the most eye catching structure on the river bank is the 18th Ahilya Fort, residence of the erstwhile royal family of Indore, and now converted into a heritage hotel.
What to see
Fort Complex: Rajgaddi and Rajwada: Once a fort now turned into a museum, 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 other rooms which are open to the public. Within the complex is an exquisite, small shrine which is the 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.
Ghats: 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 these surging waters. Lining the banks too are poignant memorials in stone to the satis of Maheshwar, who perished on the funeral pyres of their husbands.
Temples: With their soaring spires, the many-tiered temples of Maheshwar are distinguished by their carved overhanging balconies and their intricately worked rays. Temples to see are: Kaleshwara, Rajarajeshwara,Vithaleshwara and Ahileshwar.
Air: Nearest airport is Indore (91 km), which is connected by domestic airlines with Bombay, Delhi, Bhopal and Gwalior.
Rail: Nearest railheads are Barwaha (39 km), Khandwa (110 km), lndore (91 km) and Mhow on the Western Railway.
Road: Motorable roads connect Maheshwar with Barwaha, Khandwa, Dhar and Dhamnod