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Maheshwar Fort

Madhya Pradesh Forts

INTRODUCTION
This 16th century fort is famous for its elegant architecture & spectacular view from Narmada River, this place was constructed by a greatest queen Ahalya Bai Holkar and was her residential place, a queen India ever had seen. More than 210 years after her death, Ahilyabai’s reign is still a reality in the quiet town that was her capital for almost three decades. Its there in the impressive ghats, or riverine landings, rising from the broad flow of the Narmada, one can see it in soaring temples and cenotaphs. It’s in the sound of clacking looms creating the old weaves of the famed Maheshwari hand-woven fabrics. It is in the smile of a woman vending fruit: “Of course I’m happy. Everyone is happy when Ahilyabai Devi watches over us!” Devi is a title reserved for a goddess. The reverence in which the people of Maheshwar hold her has deified Ahilyabai. This sprawling Fort now has turned into a luxurious 4 star hotel with very few luxury rooms for tourists who are coming to visit Maheshwar and its adjoining tourist attractions like Mandu, Omkareshwar, Indore, Ujjain etc. .

DERIVATION OF NAME
This place is associated with several myths and was known as Mahishmati in ancient times. Now it is known with the name ‘Maheshwar’ which is derived from God of Gods ‘Mahesh’ which is a name of Lord Shiva. The word Maheshwar is means in Hind “abode of Lord Mahesh”.

HISTORY
The history of Maheshwar revealing that, how this place has an ample status in religious obsessions, with many myths those interconnected with this place to other epical tails. Maheshwar is built in the place of Shastrarjun Kshatriya’s ancient city. And was a capital of Southern Avanti in ancient time of King Katavirya Arjuna, who is mentioned in Mahabharata and Ramayana Epic.

One day the king along with his 500 wives went to the river for having good time with them, he was requested behalf of his wives that there were not enough place to roam around freely and playing some games then he stopped the mighty river Narmada with his 1000 arms. Ravana was flying by and when he seen beneath a dry river bed, he thought it could be the idle place to worship Lord Shiva, he landed in that dry place and started praying and making Lord Shiva’s sand Lingam. During all his hard work to built lingam and praying soul deeply, the King Shastrarjun and his all wives done and planning to go back, while leaving the place Shastrarjun let the water flow. And then mighty water stream of Narmada swept Ravana along with his Shiva lingam messing up his prayers, angry Ravana got up and challenged Shastrarjun, The mighty Sahasrarjuna with the 1000 arms pinned Ravana to the ground. Then he placed 10 lamps on his heads and one on his hand. After tying up Ravana, Sahasrarjuna dragged him home and tied him up to the cradle pole of his son. A humiliated Ravana stayed prisoner until his release was secured.

Another tale correlate upper incident in little different way, where the King Sahasrarjuna was bathing with his wives in the river when some people around challenged him to stop the waters flow by his thousands hands effort and he did it effortlessly, but by doing this the water level of the mighty River Narmada growing up, the Ravana was doing his prayers and meditation nearby and so he became furious as he got disrupted. He challenged Sahasrarjuna for the battle and hence there were a gigantic fight between them, since then this place is marked for Ravana’s defeat and capture. One another tale added that, there was a king in Maheshwar named nila, who blessed with a beautiful daughter, the God of Fire Agni fell in love with her and a secret love story began between them. God Agni who assumed the form of a Brahmin to hide this secret to the king, started meeting with the princess everyday, when the king learnt about it, he became angry and ordered Agni to be punished. But then Agni assumed his true form and threatened that he will destroy everything if someone would try to harm him or his beloved princess. The king nila begged forgiveness and since then girls of Maheshwari rather became unacceptable to others as wives, thereupon incident stated that God Agni blessed them sexual liberty so they may take any Man they pleased to.

Once Maheshwar happened to be the capital of the Holkar Kingdom, since they were defeated by British, the capital was moved to Indore, Maheshwar is now a pilgrimage and many tourists from across the globe come here to have a look over stunning Mheshwar Fort which soars over the Narmada River, numerous temples and the picturesque ghats.

LEGENDARY QUEEN AHILYA BAI HOLKAR
Great achievers are magnets for legends and it is not easy to winnow fact from adulation. There is, for instance, the oft-repeated tale that when rani Ahilyabai sat in court, even birds would not fly overhead! A more plausible legend speaks of her induction into the Holkar family.

Accordingly to the story, Ahilyabai was a child of eight when Malhar Rao Holkar, military governor of the malwa region, stopped at chondi village on his way to his ruler’s capital in pune, he was impressed by the way this little girl conducted herself at a temple service. He brought the child to his mansion and had her groomed to be a bride for his son Khande Rao. In those days, child marriages were common, all over the world; so were arranged marriages with parents actively involved in seeking ‘suitable matching’ for the children. Besides, women did not have much say in the conduct of their lives: which is all the more reason to admire Ahilyabai’s outstanding success in a male-dominated world.

She was widowed when she was just 29 and, if she had followed the tradition of those days, should have thrown herself on her husband’s funeral pyre, and died in a socially sanctioned rite called sati. Most unusually, her father-in-law prevented her from taking this extreme step. Legend has it that Malhar Rao Holkar had trained her in both administrative work and military affairs. She excelled in both.

Once, when a neighbour wanted to seize her territories on the death of Malhar Rao, legend has it that she sent turbans to all the other chieftains and asked them to come to the aid of their ‘sister’. They appeared with their armies on her borders, scaring her would-be attacker. Besides, everyone realized that this physically small woman had the unquestioning loyalty of both her troops and her people. And also the protection of all the gods in the pantheon as well as the powerful Brahmins: she had given generously to charity and for the building and restoration of temples. The powers ranged behind her were formidable.

Ahilyabai’s wise and just reign came to an end with her death in 1795. But there has been a lasting consequence of her sending turbans to the other Maratha chieftains. When their wives met her they said, according to legend. “You’ve given turbans to our husbands, but what have you given to us?” Ahilyabai gave an order, immediately, for the weavers of surat who had made the turbans, to create a special weave for the saris she intended to present to the women of her supporting chieftains. In fact, she went further than that. She invited the weavers to brings their looms and their families and to relocate themselves in her capital.This, according to a strong local belief, was the beginning of the weaving industry in Maheshwar.

HOW TO REACH
Air Connectivity : Indore Airport is the main access for reaching Maheshwar through flight. Flight access to Indore is served by Devi Ahilyabai Holkar Airport (IATA code: IDR) which is about 100km. from Maheshwar town and managed by Airport Authority of India. Indore airport is known by the name of Devi Ahilyabai Holkar Airport. Airport is located about 10kms from Indore city. Their is regular taxi service available from Maheshwar to Indore airport. Indore airport flight connectivity is good with important cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Bhopal, Vishakapatnam, Goa, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Raipur etc.

Train Connectivity : Though Maheshwar doesn’t have its own railway station, but there is a nearest one which is Barwaha, 38 km from Maheshwar. Although it is a nearby station by not much useful. Indore is a main railway junction, commonly used by tourists, which is 91 km from Maheshwar and lying in the Chennai-Mumbai rail route. Some of the important destinations having direct train connectivity with Indore are: Bhopal, Ujjain, Jabalpur, Gwalior, Agra, Mathura, Delhi, Mumbai, Howrah, Gaya, Varanasi, Allahabad, Vadodra, Ahamedabad, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Sawai Madhopur, Pendra Road (Amarkantak), Pipariya (Pachmarhi) etc.

Road Connectivity : Maheshwar shares good surface connectivity with other towns, tourist destinations. It has its state transport bus station, from where one can get buses for Barwaha (39 km) which is nearest Railway station to the Maheshwar, buses are also for Indore (95km), Khandwa (110 km).


DISTANCE CHART
LOCATION MAP
From
Distance
(in Kms)
Indore
95
Omkareshwar
80
Mandu
65
Ujjain
160
Burhanpur
210
Bhopal
295

CLIMATE & WEATHER

BEST TIME TO VISIT
Maheshwar fort is open for visitors throughout the year. They can visit these historical buildings and observe the sculpture and building work. Considering the climate, October to April is a good time to visit Maheshwar. While visiting Maheshwar fort, one can enjoy the luxury stay at this heritage hotel along with boating in Narmada river. Monsoon & Winters are good time to visit Maheshwar.

ACCOMMODATION
Maheshwar is a small town whose main earning is derived from tourism. Being small town, here we can find limited accommodation facilities among which good quality accommodation can be availed at two hotels: Maheshwar fort, which is a heritage hotel with limited rooms. Its cost is very high and for luxury guests who have good paying capacity. Second option is to go for M.P. Tourism Department Hotel which is ideally located with good view of river and nice stay. In addition to them, their are some other cheap hotels & lodges that can serve you at low cost with scope of complaints.

NEXT TO MAHESHWAR
Omkareshwar: It is famous island shaped pilgrimage site on the bank on Narmada river. Among twelve Jyotirlingas in India, one in here in Mahakaal temple. Distance from Maheshwar to Omkareshwar is 80kms/02:00hrs. It lies in East of Maheshwar.
Mandu: It is a very popular historical city known as "City of Joy" in past. Here you can find number of forts, palaces and scenic land-scapes. To visit Mandu, you need one complete day. Distance from Maheshwar to Mandu is 65Kms/01:30hrs. While staying at Mandu, you can also visit Baagh Caves about 45kms from Mandu.
Indore: It is one of the largest city of Madhya Pradesh State in North of Maheshwar town. Here you can visit number of points like temples, gardens, amusement parks, shopping malls etc.
Burhanpur: It is a small town with number of Mughal era historical monuments & buildings. Very few people knows that Mumtaz Mahal actually dies in Burhanpur while accompanying Shah-Jahan in a military expedition. Asir-garh fort here is referred as door to South India and was strategically very important fort for Mughals. Similarly their are number of other monuments like Biwi ka Maqubara etc.
Bhopal: It is in North-East of Maheshwar with two World Heritage Sites: Bhimbetka Rock Shelters & Sanchi around it. In addition to this presence of lakes, historical mosques and other monuments makes Bhopal a important tourist attraction city in Bhopal. It is also the capital city of Madhya Pradesh state.

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