Ahilyabai Palace Maheshwar

By Sanjeev Nayyar Sanjeev@esamskriti.com | 2018

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1. One can easily walk up the road to fort entrance. The fort has 2 sections, the eastern contains the Cenotaph Complex and the western has Rajwada, the royal court & residence. As I walked into Rajwada saw this sculpture of Ahilyadevi, by Uttam Pacharne. Note fort wall behind. In front is Ahilya palace.

2. At Rajwada Indore saw this painting. Gives a complete view of Ahilya Fort and temples with Narmada ji in front. “This 16th century fort is famous for its elegant architecture & spectacular view from Narmada River, this place was constructed by a greatest queen Ahilya Bai Holkar and was her residential place”. Malhar Rao Holkar shifted his capital to Indore 1818.

3. Front view Ahilyabai Palace. Those who have been to Rajasthan would have seen huge palaces. In comparison this one is small and simple. It is a 2 storeyed wooden building.

4. Entrance to palace opens into a courtyard. It is surrounded by a pillared verandah on all sides. Rooms on the upper floor served as the royal residence while those on lower were for guests. Again so simple. ‘The verandah on the lower floor houses a small museum displaying objects used by Ahilya Bai. From the swords & shields to objects of daily use are in display.’

5. Ahilyabai Holkar Gaddi – where she sat. She ruled from 1767 to 1795. Palace is made in wood. Maheshwar was known as ‘Mahishmati’ in ancient times. Maheshwar is derived from the name ‘Mahesh’ one of the names for Shiva. Ahilyabai was a Shiv bhakt or devotee.

6. This is Rajgadi (royal throne) of Ahilyabai Holkar. Minutes away are the cenotaphs, temples & ghats. As you walk down to the ghats you will hear the noise of clacking looms at Rehwa Society where you can see Maheshwari hand-woven fabrics being made. Locals gave 3 names for genuine stuff–Rehwa Society, Hansa Creations and a Co-operative society in MP Tourism’s Narmada Resort.

7. Nana Fadnavis (an influential minister & statesman of the Maratha Empire during Peshwa administration in Pune) words for Ahilyabai Holkar. Paramhansa Yogananda, author of Autobiography of a Yogi, described Ahilyabai “as the greatest women of modern India.”

8. A canon outside palace. Behind you see a tent. The Holkar Trust run a hotel here. Maheshwar is 95 kms from Indore i.e. well connected by road and rail. Some caption info taken from Rangan Dutta blog.

9. Ahilyabai started Lingarchan puja in 1766 for the benefit of her people. Everyday 111 Brahmins each would prepare a board with 1,000 little shivlings made out of the soil of the fields, each ball representing one person. These boards would be blessed and the lingams collected and finally offered in the river Narmada.

10. This tradition continues 250 years later, the difference being that 11 Brahmins make the shivlings today. Each Brahmin prepares a board with 1,100 little shivlings made out of the soil of the fields, each ball representing one person. These boards would be blessed and the lingams collected and finally offered in the river Narmada.

11. Walls of fort rises more than 30 metres. View of fort. Maheshwar has lovely temples and ghats. Very peaceful. Do walk into the small lanes – could see some old styled houses. Visit ancient Raj Rajeshar Mandir for sure. Buy Maheshwar hand-woven products lovely.

12.Board in palace is self-explanatory. Some weapons displayed in palace and Ahilyabai’s palkhi. To read about Maheshwar and Ahilyabai http://www.madhya-pradesh-tourism.com/heritage/forts/maheshwar-fort.html

13. Samadhi of Ahilyabai Holkar on the banks of the Narmada. So simple. Pranams. To read Why Ahilyabai Holkar was a Great Woman https://www.esamskriti.com/e/History/Great-Indian-Leaders/Why-Ahilyabai-Holkar-was-a-GREAT-WOMAN---1.aspx

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