I had been a long time wish to visit the Maheshwar.I had heard that Maheshwar is full of history; the ones who said so were not wrong either. Also known as “Mahishmati’ was the capital of southern Avanti at the time of King Kartavirya Arjun. I visited this place as a part of my visit to Ujjain-Omkareshwar. I am sharing with you complete travel guide to visit it.
After having temple darshan at Omkareshwar, next morning we caught the local bus to Maheshwar. Public transport is tricky here and buses remains jam packed with village people, school children, employees who work in nearby city etc. The bus was scheduled at 7 AM; we had time to munch something during that time. We had poha and jalebi; you can find it at all the places in Madhya Pradesh.
After leaving from Omkareshwar, bus was passing through so many villages and lush green fields which caught my eyes. That journey reminded me of my childhood days when I always went to my native place in these type of buses; when roads were not great and that lush green fields reminded me of my village where I stayed for few years in my childhood days.
After bumpy journey of 3 hours we reached to Maheshwar. I had pre booked my hotel at Maheshwar. You can find so many budget accommodation options here but restaurants are sparse. Our hotel was at the base of entrance of Ahilya Fort. After checking in to the hotel we got some refreshment and headed towards exploration.
We started our exploration first by entering to Maheshwar fort, which was built by Devi Ahilyabai Holkar which stands on a hill overlooking the Narmada. In the late eighteenth century, Maheshwar served as the capital of the great Maratha queen Rajmata Ahilya Devi Holkar. She embellished the city with many buildings and public works, and it is home to her palace, as well as numerous temples, a fort, and riverfront Ghats. This fort is the best example of ancient Indian material construction, war tactics & defense policy.
A huge statue of Devi Ahilya bai is built in entrance to the Rajgaddi within the fort complex. After crossing it, we entered to Rajwada where fascinating relics and heirlooms of the Holkar dynasty could be seen in detail. This area has the place from where Ahilyabai used to sit for administration and justice for all.
Surprisingly the building does not depict the Maratha styled architecture only but it also boasts of designs inspired from French and Mughal trends.
Fort complex houses indicatively stone carved temples. Temples are tiered temples and distinguished by their carvedoverhanging balconies and their intricately worked doorways. It fascinated me more than anything here. Among all, Ahileshwar temple is stunning and most revered. The fort complex now houses heritage hotel Ahilya Fort which stands atop with stunning views of River Narmada. Fort itself has balconies which gives stunning view of Ghat and Narmada.
After exploring fort complex, we left the complex and headed towards the Ghats. Ghats made on the riverfront with flights of steps lead down to river. One can see here the life of rural India; ferries which ply to take villagers to cross and recross across the surging waters. Life at the shore of Narmada was so much inspiring.
It was the Noon time and sun was so much harsh, we decided to return to hotel for the rest of 2 hours. Ahilya fort houses decent cafe called Laboos cafe which serves delicious food. It also houses guesthouse accommodation but at little expensive prices.
After few hours, we left for another trail. We visited Rewa Society, which weaves Maheshwari Sarees. Maheshwar is famous for its famous Maheshwari Sarees. It was introduced by Rani Ahilyabai before 250 years ago. These sarees are renowned throughout in india for their unique weave. You can get insight into weaving of these saress at Rewa Society and you can purchase it also from many shops in the town.
I was already amazed with stone temples carvings in the fort; we decided to visit few more temples. Our first stop was Rajrajeshwar temple. The temple very old and dedicated to Lord shiva. There are small other temples in the complex which are equally beautiful.
After exiting, within walking distance there is Kashi Vishwanath temple atop on the Ghat of River Narmada. The temple is told to be replica of Kashi Vishwanath temple of Varanasi and was built by Devi Ahilya Bai as devotees could pray there instead visiting Kashi. It is most colorful temple I have seen in my life.The ceiling is studded with colorful mirror work.
After exploring so many places, now it was time to just watch the life at the Ghats of River Narmada. There are so many miniature Shiv Lingas which stands on the Ghats and people worship at the time of evening aarti.
River,temples and worship gives strong spiritual vibrations to me. It was the dusk time and we decided to take a boat ride to go away for a while to capture stunning snaps of the fort and the Ghat. The Boat took us in the middle of the river to the stunning Jaleshwar temple which was eye catching too.
After returning to the Ghats, we sat down and observed the atmosphere, there were so many tourist folks inside the fort complex and the scenario was changed than morning. We watched the sun setting down and one another day ends at the Ghats of River Narmada. With heavy heart we left the place that day.
It was time to move to another destination.
- From Maheshwar Bus stand, it is walkable distance to reach Ahilyabai Fort. Don’t overpay for auto as it is merely 5 min walk from buststand to the fort.
- Boating at the evening time is a must do activity. Boat person will take you to another side at INR 50 .Try to catch sharing boat; Private boats will be expensive. The boat will take you to Jaleshwar temple and return. You can also visit Sahashtra Dhara by boat.
- I had Poha, Jalebi, Kachori as the best snacks here.[INR 20 per plate]
- If you are saree lover, must buy Maheshwari Sarees from one of many shops in Maheshwar. Try to bargain for few bucks if you purchase it from the town other than Rewa Society.
- You can do trip to Mandu from here which is 40 Km away.
How to Reach:
Indore is the nearest airport which is 95 Km away from Maheshwar. From Indore, you can get direct buses else get a bus to Dhamnod and then get a bus to Maheshwar from Dhamnod.
From Omkareshwar, there are direct buses to Maheshwar via Barwah. If you cannot find direct bus, catch a bus to Barwah and then get a connecting bus to Maheshwar.
If you wish to come here from Mandu, catch a bus bound to Dhamnod and then bus to Maheshwar.
One can stay at Ahilya fort hotel which is heritage hotel for upscale luxury atop Ahilya fort. There are many mid range hotels too. You can stay at Hotel Ashray residency [on opp lane to Laboos cafe], Hotel Rewa residency [near Rajrajeshwar temple] which is mid range options.
Other than that Hansa Heritage hotel is best choice located at the base of the fort. There are other hotels names Krishna Palace and Balaji residency which is also a good budget options for stay.
If you are on back pack budget, the town has few guest house options in the city centre.
Trip Cost[Per person]:
Bus from Omkareshwar to Maheshwar: INR 70
Cost of Accommodation: INR 600
Food: INR 250
Misc Expenses & activities: INR 100