Inside the Ahilya Family Fortress, in Maheshwar


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After typical vacations, we all thrive to try something new. Maheshwar, in Madhya Pradesh, is one such place to experience that change. On a road in MP, we drove along many flatbed trucks, for 3 hours from Indore, before arriving at Maheshwar. I’d been here several times, yet, the idea of visiting this Royal property again had me overwhelmed. In fact, every time I visit Ahilya Fort, I get to explore its stunning beauty and sculptured artwork in a new light.

First-time travellers must climb atop the Fort, to capture the best views of Narmada River. As tiring as it may get, the aerial view of the Fort is a reward you can’t miss. Needless to say, the architectural wonders of this Fort foretell the history of Queen Ahilya Bai’s reigning era. The domed temples, arched designs, carved walls, engraved doors, colourful boats, and engaging locals narrate it all. Here’s a glimpse of Ahilya Fort’s interiors and exteriors and what you should visit, while you are here!

A Sneak Peek inside Her Highness’s Family Fortress in Maheshwar

The 18th-century Fort Ahilya or Maheshmati flaunt the incredible history of one-of-the greatest queens of India. Thereafter, Prince Richard Holkar took over the Fort in 1971 to reopen it as a hotel. To say nothing of, a trip to Ahilya Fort is a quiet, cultural introduction to the town of Maheshwar. The Fort entrance exhibits “Rajwada Pravesh Dwar” signboard, meaning entrance to the Royal Residence. This is where your journey inside a 4,000-year-old property begins! 

Begin with exploring the Ahilya courtroom (Rajgaddi), as listed in the above pictures. This small setting, near the main entrance, is often overlooked by the visitors. Just look for a historic cannon which will further lead you to the way in. Photography is not allowed here, however, If you politely request the authorities, they oblige and allow you to click a few. This silent arena lets you pay homage to Queen Ahilya and feel the essence of her historic contributions. 

The Comprehensive Exteriors and Fascinating Interiors of Ahilya Fort

Next, take the steps that lead to the Rewah Handloom Factory. Granted, you will notice multiple secondary staircases, you can take any because they all offer a unique view. Please be safe as you climb the steep steps, as none have a supporting railing. From here, you can film aerial views of Ahilyeshwar Temple and the Narmada Ghat. Located on a hillock, by the banks of Narmada river, Ahilya Fort comes to life every morning. Therefore, you will observe locals engaging in various activities at the Ghat, from early morning until late evening.

Similarly, climb all the way down to the Fort’s ground floor to discover the fascinating interiors. Here, appreciate carvings that represent lifestyle based artwork from the Maratha era. Notably, the reign of Ahilya Bai was a legendary period of excellent governance. The Royals particularly, chose Maheshwar to settle down, because they thought of this town as a microcosm of integrated India.

Visit Shiv Temple, ShahstraDhara, and Narmada River Ghats

One of the best features of Ahilya Fort is the river steps on the Ghats. The Ghat offers a direct insight into Indian lifestyle with locals bathing, praying, and swimming in the river. After touring the fort, temples, and the Rewah handloom factory visit the waterfall ShahstraDhara. Although, you will have to take a boat to visit this vertical waterfall joining the course of Narmada river. 

Ahilya Fort is a wonder of architecture which refines everything you love about India. As a matter of fact, many Pilgrims visit Maheshwar to bathe in Narmada River to soak its uplifting energy. Therefore, in Maheshwar, you will mostly be greeted with Narmadey Har, which means hail Narmada. 

For one thing, take a boat ride to Baneshwar. It’s a tiny island with a temple on the centre most axis, connecting Earth to the North Star. For the same reason, this 15th-century shrine has been popularised as a sacred spot. On your way back from Baneshwar, notice the Kashi Vishwanath temple on your right, where Ahilya Bai built small chambers for sadhus, and holy men. Conclude your Ahilya Fort trip by stopping at Labbooz Cafe, to enjoy snacks and coffee. 

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