More intricate workmanship in the carvings at Ahilya Fort, Maheshwar, India
An intricately designed viewing porch at Ahilya Fort, Maheshwar, Madhya Pradesh, India
It is said that of the five most sacred rivers of India – Ganga, Yamuna, Narmada, Godavari and Kaveri, Narmada is the holiest. It is also said that when Ganga herself feels unclean, she takes the form of a black cow and using the darkness of the night as her cover, comes to cleanse herself in the waters of the Narmada.
The Narmada, for most of its course flows through Madhya Pradesh. Owing to its sanctity, there are many temple towns on the river including Maheshwar. This tiny town on the banks of the Narmada is known not for its temples but for its benevolent queen, Ahilyabai Holkar, considered by many as a goddess.
Viewing the Narmada River from the porch of Ahilya Fort, Maheshwar …
The Ahilya Fort was originally built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1601 and was decades later regained and reconstructed to become an important place of rule by Rani Ahilyabai. She belonged to the Holkar Dynasty of Indore and reigned over the region from 1765-1796. Maheshwar was the capital of the Malwa during the Maratha Holkar reign till around 1818 as afterwards the capital was shifted to Indore by Malhar Rao Holkar III
Rani Ahilya Bai was a powerful woman, who was loved and admired by the locals. She transformed the city by reconstructing old temples and adding numerous more.
Now a tourist spot as evidenced by the colorful umbrellas of the vendors ….
Maheshwar – literally means the abode of ‘Lord Mahesh’ – another name for Shiva and is located along the Narmada River and hence an important pilgrimage site.
Ahilyeshwar Temple, inside the temple complex of Ahilya Fort Maheshwar overlooking Narmada River
Ahilyabai Holkar (1725-1795) of India ruled as a Holkar dynasty Queen of the Malwa kingdom, India. Khanderao Holkar, Ahilyadevi’s husband, died in the battle of Kumher in 1754. Twelve years later, her father-in-law, Malhar Rao Holkar, died. She inherited the throne and became one of India’s great women rulers.
Among Ahilyadevi’s achievements, she developed Indore from a small village to a prosperous and beautiful city. She made Maheshwar, a town on the banks of the Narmada river, her own capital. Ahilyadevi built forts and roads in Malwa, sponsored festivals and served as a patron for many Hindu temples.
Here is her memorial at Maheshwar ….