Indore is a city where you get to walk into the footsteps of the legendary Holkar Dynasty. Tracing its origins to 16th-century, Indore was first established, as a trading centre between Delhi and the Deccan. However, the future of Indore was carved, in the royal courts of the great Bajirao Peshwa who reigned Malwa 17th-century onwards. It even served as MP’s capital from 1950 unto 1956. Indore still retains its Maratha foundation and ancient formations constituted during the British rule. For over a millennia, Indore’s historical predicaments have bettered republicanism to establish a ‘contemporaneous’ community.
A trip to this stately city (also MP’s largest) and its surroundings unveils the most legendary chronicles of Malwa rulers. Whatever your interests, Indore’s sheer diversity will make you fall in love with its cultural legacy. Whether medieval or modern, join me in exploring, some of the most visit-worthy attractions in Indore, India’s cleanest city and fastest developing economy of Madhya Pradesh.
Rajwada, translating to “native kingdom,” is a 7-storied Palace in Indore, near Chhatris, serving as an excellent illustration of royal splendour and architectural adroitness. Built by Maratha Dynasty, say almost 200 years back, this Palace stands out as one of Malwa’s most characteristic Manor exuding austere aesthetics and a Maratha Renaissance vibe. While I was here, the Palace was undergoing renovation and yet, its towering arched entrance, bastions, grand courtyards and the carved stone façades, had me under its spell. The first three floors of Rajwada are built with stone, while the rest of it is in wood.
The building you see today was rebuilt after, the 1984 riots that left the Palace damaged. State officials have done their best to keep the refurbished building, as similar as it can get, with the original building. While remodelling, the 200-year-old blueprint was put to work, in tandem with identical building material and age-old techniques. When open, visit the galleried rooms, the beautiful patios, unique crafts and all the regal memories this Palace holds within itself.
Entry Fees: INR 10
Timings: 11 AM – 9 PM
Lal Bagh Palace
Interweaved in baroque, neoclassical and rococo architectural designs, Lalbagh Palace is the 18th-century royal residence belonging to the former Holkar King. Situated by river Khan, this 3-storied manor was originally-built on 75-acres land in Italian Renaissance style, further to acquiring its rococo garb. At this palace, King Shivaji Rao Holkar hosted royal receptions, fervently displaying the flamboyant, way of life of the Holkar Dynasty.
Furnished with Italian-marble pillars, vintage crystal chandeliers, English library, leather armchairs and a queen’s bedroom imbued in neoclassicism, Lal Bagh, echoes Buckingham Palace on many levels, teleporting you right into the British benefaction. Another fine example of design-similarity lays in palace gates, a replica of the Buckingham Palace gates. The gates were imported from England and bear a Holkar emblem affirming “He who tries will succeed”. Lal Bagh Palace is recorded, as a protected monument by the Archaeological Survey of India. Five minutes from the palace is also, a statue of Queen Victoria worth taking a look.
Entry Fees: INR 10
Timings: 10:15 AM – 5 PM
This is Indore’s oldest temple, dedicated to Devi Annapurna, the female deity of food and knowledge. The imposing temple entrance is marked by four life-size elephants upholding the bedecked Mandir gates. With Dravidian art etched all over, Annapurna Temple establishes a ‘great’ similarity with Meenakshi Temple in Madurai by its comparable illustrations. Exquisite carvings of mythological personalities on the walls, makes the temple appear all the more captivating.
This 100 ft tall temple is a celebration of the sacred communion of Annapurna (manifestation of Goddess Parvati) and Shiva, the ultimate power couple of Hinduism. Following the spirit of Varanasi, Devi Annapurna’s court in Indore is also decorated, with memorable impressions of the Adi Shakti Maa Durga. Annapurna temple also contains the shrines of Kalabhairava, Hanuman and Shiva. Behind the carved walls of Annapurna Mandir, there is a large Krishna Temple, depicting Krishna Leela on its walls. Whether it be for the love of ancient India or Hindu religion, this temple is a marvellous landmark worth visiting.
Entry Fee: Free
Timings: 6 AM – 11 PM
Indore Central Museum
Central Museum of Indore traces its roots back to 1923 when, it was instituted as Nararatna Mandir (sort of a school), during the reign of Holkar king Tukojirao III. The principal purpose of introducing this institution was to obtain pictures and records of famous personages. Once a library, the organisation was further, turned into a museum to expand the collection by including artefacts and antiquities from across Madhya Pradesh. Presently known as Central Museum or Devlalikar gallery, this building houses several objects of historical, artistic and cultural interests.
The coins and antiquity galleries are classified, as Devi Ahilya Mudra Withi. Hinglajgarh Art Gallery is titled, after the select stone sculptures it displays from Hinglajgarh. In total, there are 8-galleries illustrating artefacts subject wise. Visit this museum to glance through antiquated daises, artefacts, excavations, photographs and royal ammunition from the bygone era. In Gallery-1 you will encounter the 4000 – 5000 BC artefacts, including sculptures, quartz sickles, stone tools, ornaments and household items. In Gallery-2 you will find Hindu mythological carvings. The coins and the armour incontrovertibly steal the spotlight.
Entry Fees: Indian Citizens: INR 10, Foreign Citizens: INR 100
Photography Fee: INR 50
Videography Fee: INR 200
Timings: 10 AM – 5 PM
Kanch Mandir in Indore brings back memories of the blockbuster movie Mughal-E-Azam, in which, Madhubala was seen, dancing to the tunes of ‘Pyar Kiya Tau Darna Kya’ in Sheesh Mahal, an entirely, mirrored chamber. Inside Kanch Mandir, thousands of tiny mirrors fixed on the enclosing walls create a very identical atmosphere. Built-in 1903, this famous glass temple owes its establishment to Seth Hukumchand Jain. In addition to this temple, Jain also built himself a mansion that he called Sheesh Mahal.
Seth Hukumchand, one of the prominent traders of his time, left no stone unturned to bestow his fortunes in designing these buildings in white stone with a Shikhara and a canopied balcony. The interiors boast prismatic glass panels, similar to Tiqri, a type of Rajasthani art form. Back in the day, using multicoloured mirrors to decorate walls was a successful change, and the charm still lingers around. In Indore, the best time to visit Kanch Mandir is during any Jain festival when celebrations are observed, in full swing. During these celebrations, you also get the chance to get a peek at the ‘Golden Palaki,’ hosting annual Ratha Yatra.
Entry Fees: Free to visit
Timings: 5 AM – 8.15 PM
Atal Bihari Vajpayee Regional Park
This one is a new addition to Indore’s ever-growing list of fantastic landmarks. In 2003, IDA constituted Indore Regional Park named after Atal Bihari Vajpayee, India’s former Prime Minister.
The park was then developed on 80-acres of land, covering a 42-acres lake and about thirty-eight attractions. Visit this park to spend a day speed-boating, paddle-boating, or riding a canal on a motorboat, powerboat or a mini-cruiser. Enroute indulge in lush greenery supported by a misty fountain! The most famous attraction of the Indore Regional Park is its mini-cruiser “Malwa Queen,” that stars two decks, one restaurant, a private party room and accommodation for up to eighty people.
Entry Fees: INR 25 (additional charge for the service you choose)
Timings: 11 AM – 9 PM
Footi Kothi Indore
Footi Kothi is the only unfinished architecture of Holkar Dynasty, deserted and forsaken in ruins since the eighteenth century. With its abandoned walls and eerie history travelling back to the 18th-century, it is no surprise that Footi Kothi is surrounded, by the anecdotes of supernatural occurrences.
The Kothi was ‘originally’ built by King Shivaji Rao Holkar to launch an attack on the British cantonment in Mhow. On the Ground floor, is a temple missing a door. Right behind it, are the stairs that lead you to well-structured walls and exquisitely crafted columns of the Footi Kothi. While some believe Footi Kothi is cursed, a few others suggest that when a British officer learnt the purpose behind its making, he instantly put a permanent halt to its construction.
Visit these landmarks in Indore to experience an unusual blend of the city’s distinguished past and throbbing present, spattered with illustrious architecture and swarming bazaars.