Day trip to Maheshwar – Historical town famous for it’s weaves
At least twice a year I make a trip to Indore, the town best connected with Bangalore by Air. During my last trip in Aug 2018, I finally managed a day trip to Maheshwar! It takes about 1.5 hrs to get to Maheshwar from Indore which is at a distance of about 90km. So Seema, my host and sister-in-law and I started right after breakfast. We expected rain. Common at this time of the year in Madhya Pradesh. And prayed that we would be spared a heavy spell. The road to Maheshwar from Indore is excellent. After crossing Mahu, it is mostly truck traffic that one encounters. The road cuts through a mountainous region and it was all green. So, a very enjoyable ride.
We drove straight to the Ahilyabai fort and Palace. Maheshwar was the capital of the Holkar kingdom in the early eighteenth century. The city and the fort are on the bank of beautiful Narmada. A huge statue of Ahilya Devi greets you as soon as you enter the Palace are. The palace and Rajwada are mostly intact. The palaki of the queen is on display. So are some of the other items used by her. A walk around the centre court is all that is allowed. After which you can walk over to the temple which was used by the queen. A quaint Shiva temple where the pooja is still performed in the same way as the queen did in a scaled down manner. 12/24/2018 Day trip to Maheshwar – Historical town famous for it’s weaves.
We next walked towards the fort. On the left we first come across the loom. The complete process of colouring the thread, handloom weaving by weavers can be observed here. There is a small store selling sarees, scarfs etc. manufactured in the loom. For anyone who has not seen the complete handloom process before this is a must stop. The size and complexity of the architecture of the fort hits you as soon as you take a few more steps. The first monument on the right is Akhileshwar temple. From here the multiple ( I think 4) levels of the fort are visible. The elephant carving on the temple is very intricate and the panel below the jharokha almost as good as new. Most of the carving around the temple have retained their intricacy and one can spend a lot of time looking at these. There are multiple courtyards and temples within the complex, each one well carved. One can walk to the river side of the fort and Narmada is visible in its full glory. The river was full and almost no boat rides were on. The shores of the river are protected with poles and ropes and people can go and take dip within these cordoned off areas while being safe from the water current. There are a few beautifully painted shallow boats with bamboo chairs meant for the elderly to go into the river and be able to make their offerings from there. It was windy and raining so only a couple of boats were riding ( perhaps without permit!). We completed going around the fort and then descended down the beautiful stairs to the river bank.
There are a number of vendors on the steps selling snack items and tribal jewellery. The fort looks majestic from the river front. The view would perhaps be even better from a boat in the river or from the other side of the river from where the entire fort can be seen in a single frame. The river front is dotted with a number of Shivlings where people come to perform poojas and make the offerings to river Narmada. Continue walking alongside the fort on Ahilya Ghat and a number of Chattaris – all beautifully carved can be seen. We also came across women performing pooja near a set of chattaris. The crowd was less though due to the weather and since it was just a couple of days after Raksha Bandhan. The visit to Narmada would be incomplete without a selfie. So we shot one for the record. We then walked to the Raj Rajeshwar temple and having completed the historical part of the visit headed out for shopping for sarees.
There are a number of weaver outlets that dot the road as you walk out from the fort to the car parking. We entered a number of these but did not find anything different from the collection we already have. Just as we were thinking of calling the driver to drive to a city shop we came across Hansa Handloom. The shop is very well stocked and the sales folks were smart to capture the requirement of the customer and showed a lot of variety. It was delightful shopping experience.
We wanted to take lunch but could not find a suitable hotel. It was already past 3:00 pm and most of the lunch places had stopped serving. We decided to head back to Indore. But not without taking a peek at Sahasra dhara ( thousand streams). Due to the heavy rains and over flowing river, the streams were non existent. The view was still spectacular. Not spending too much time there we drove back to Indore without stopping. The truck traffic was very heavy now and it took us a couple of hours to make it to home. A day very well spent. A trip worth making if one has a day in hand while at Indore.