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Guys, welcome to the third part of my Amazing Madhya Pradesh series 🙂

It’s been more than three months since my last post, so I hope you all have missed me 😉

For those of you visiting me for the first time, I suggest going through my previous posts in this series. Here are the links:

Madhya Pradesh, The Heart of Incredible India

Amazing Madhya Pradesh (Part I):  Indore 

Amazing Madhya Pradesh (Part II): Ujjain

 

In my previous post, I introduced you to Ujjain, home to the famous jyotirlinga shrine – the Mahakaaleshwar Temple, the holiest of the twelve sacred jyotirlingas (deriving power from within itself unlike other lingas which are ritually invested with power by priests) of Lord Shiva. Pilgrims visit all the twelve jyotirlingas in their lifetime in search of blessings and as penance.

About 135 km away from Ujjain, on the banks of the sacred and purifying Narmada river is the holy destination of Omkareshwar which houses the Omkar Mandhata Temple, a jyotirlinga shrine.

Omkareshwar is visited along with another ancient site – the beautiful historical town of Maheshwar. The distance between the two towns is 68 KM. Both are 78 KM and 90 KM respectively from Indore.

Today, I’m going to introduce you to these two beautiful ancient temple towns – Omkareshwar and Maheshwar, located on the banks of the holy Narmada river. Enjoy 🙂

Omkareshwar and Maheshwar can be covered on a day trip from Indore. So at 9:15 AM, I started for Omkareshwar in a tourist car – an air-conditioned Santro hired for 2200 rupees. Being the third week of April, the weather was very hot.

After an hours’ drive, to the left side of the road: a Shani Navgraha Temple which attracts plenty of devotees…

Ujjain’s Simhastha Kumbh Mela was to begin next year in April 2016, but the Kshipra River had virtually dried out. During this massive festival, millions of devotees descend on Ujjain for a dip in the Kshipra. For this reason, the government had built water pipelines to transport water from the mighty Narmada River to the dry Kshipra.

Narmada, one of the most sacred of rivers in India and home to one of the world’s biggest dam, is also known as “Life Line of Madhya Pradesh” for its huge contribution to the state of Madhya Pradesh. The source of the river originates in the holy destination of Amarakantak in the Shahdol district of Madhya Pradesh, 240 KM from the city of Jabalpur. It rises from a height of about one thousand metres above the sea level, where the Vindhya ranges meet with the Satpura ranges and marks off South India from the North.

Narmada or Maa Rewa, as it’s affectionately called, has more religious significance than the Ganges, and hence believed to be more powerful in its blessings and cleansing its devotees of their sins. Owing to its sanctity, there are many temple towns alongside the river as it passes through this region, the most important among them being Omkareshwar and Maheshwar. It enters the neighbouring state of Gujarat before draining through the Gulf of Khambhat into the Arabian Sea.

The water pipeline “Narmada-Kshipra Simhastha Link Pariyojana (Project)”…

As my journey progressed, the water pipeline snaked alongside the road surrounded by hills and dry vegetation. The landscape continued on for some kilometres.

Forty-five minutes later, I got my first view of the supremely revered Narmada when the car drove over the bridge across it…

Rail bridge running parallel to the road bridge…

View of the water tower on the other side of the bridge…

On the other side of the bridge, there were many restaurants.  I walked into a popular one recommended by the driver. A variety of dishes had been lined up, but I had eyes only for poha and jalebi, the signature dishes of Indore.

The walk to the water tower, in the blistering heat, was rewarding. The tower affords a splendid view of the surroundings.

View of the road and rail bridge…

Bridge carrying the Narmada pipeline…

Yours truly at the water tower…

Watch my videos: Narmada – I & Narmada – II

At the riverbank…

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Omkareshwar is within 30 minutes’ drive from this place. The riverside pilgrim destination is also a popular monsoon destination. The road passes by vast stretches of barren trees…

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The highly revered Omkareshwar Temple or Omkar Mandhata Temple sits on a small rocky island called Mandhata or Shivapuri, formed within the Narmada. The island comprises two lofty hills and is divided by a valley in such a way that it appears in the shape of the sacred Hindu symbol ‘Om’ from above.

Omkareshwar has many temples spread out over the expanse, most of them constructed in the 10th-11th centuries with idols in their sanctum, intact all these years. The Omkar Mandhata Temple is said to have been built by the ruling Paramara kings in the 11th century and rebuilt by the Holkar kings in the 19th century.  It is part of a large temple complex comprising of various shrines, and the starting point of the famous Omkareshwar parikrama, a circumambulation of the temple in a clockwise direction around the island. Pilgrims walk the entire length to seek blessings and pardon of their sins. The route passes through picturesque landscapes with many temples – old and new, remains of several ancient shrines and of fort walls along the way. Some pilgrims do the parikrama by a boat. It circles the island in about two hours’ time, including a 30-minute halt at the scenic sangam (or confluence) of the two rivers – Narmada and Kaveri. Pilgrims take a dip in the waters of the sangam, located on the westernmost point of the island, and offer prayers to cleanse themselves before moving on. Revered as a sacred spot, the narrow projection of land at the meeting point of the streams is covered with cylindrical stones of all sizes resembling the sacred shivalinga.

Although most sites of tourist and religious interest in Omkareshwar are along the parikrama path on the island, most of the tourist infrastructure is concentrated in the mainland part of the town. Dharamshalas (or religious rest houses) belonging to different Hindu sects and communities are located here. As also marketplaces, police station, hospitals, bus station and civic administrative offices.

Two pedestrian bridges connect the mainland part of the town with the island. Alternatively, the island is accessed by boat from Gomukh (meaning the ‘face of the cow’) Ghat, the ghat (series of stone steps leading down to the river) built along the mainland riverbank between the two bridges, the newer of which is a suspension bridge called ‘jhoola pool’ (or swing bridge) constructed in 1979.

The old pedestrian bridge (viewed from the temple top) …

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The older bridge was the nearest to the car park. Walking across it was a delightful experience. I got a complete view of the surroundings. A picturesque temple location with magnificent rocky terrain lining the river basin, lovely ghats with colourful boats moored at its edges, and farther away, the swing bridge and the Omkareshwar Dam. The white-painted temple shikhara (or spire) with new extensions built over the decades, and balconies at each level, promising a panoramic view of the entire river stretch.

View of the Omkar Mandhata Temple and colourful boats anchored at the ghat

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Island view from the bridge…

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Watch my video: Omkareshwar Temple 

At the other end of the bridge, a narrow lane led towards the temple entrance. Small shops selling colourful flowers, incense and other pooja paraphernalia and souvenirs (keychains, necklaces, lockets, bracelets, pictures of Lord Shiva, etc.) lined both sides of the lane. A common sight outside every well-known Hindu temples.

The way to the temple entrance…

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The temple is the centre of all activities on the island, and hence, always buzzing with pilgrims. Festive days attract huge crowds. My visit was on a normal day. Yet, there was a heavy rush at the garbhagriha (sanctum sanctorum). Somewhere around, a small group of interested-looking European tourists were admiring the temple architecture.

It’s a jyotirlinga shrine, the deity is not affixed to the ground but is naturally installed there. There is always water around the linga. The significance of this linga is that it is not situated below the shikhara.

A beautiful trishul (trident, weapon of Lord Shiva)…

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The lofty shikhara of the temple offers fabulous views of the green blue waters of the Narmada and the ghats. Its upper levels house small shrines of avatars (or manifestations) of Lord Shiva.

The white shikhara of the temple…

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An old palace on the island…

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Stray goats and plenty of langoors (monkeys) gave me company on the terrace. Since I wasn’t carrying food or water bottle, the monkeys didn’t bother me.

Watch my video: View from Omkareshwar Temple

There are two highly revered Shiva temples in Omkareshwar. The Omkar Mandhata Temple on the island dedicated to Omkareshwar “Lord of Omkara – the source of all mantras, the basis of the Sanskrit language, the origin of the Vedas, all aspects of cosmic sound”. And facing it across the river on the mainland – the Mamaleshwar Temple (also known as Amareshwar Temple), dedicated to Mamaleshwar or Amareshwar “Lord of the Immortals (the Devas)”. Omkareshwar is known as the jyotirlinga shrine, but as per an ancient record, Mamaleshwar is the Jyotirlinga. Hence Mamaleshwar Temple is considered to enshrine half of the jyotirlinga, the other half of which rests in Omkar Mandhata Temple.

View of Mamaleshwar Temple from Omkar Mandhata Temple…

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A part of the worship ritual includes taking a dip in the Narmada. From the mandapa (hall) of the temple, a series of steps lead down to the ghats. Being the entrance to the temple complex by boat, the stairs are lined with stalls selling pooja paraphernalia and souvenirs.

Located between the precipitous hills of the Vindhya on the North and the Satpura on the South, the Narmada forms a deep silent pool here. During monsoons, the water level of the mighty river rises above the danger level. I was told that it reaches close to the height of the old pedestrian bridge. Besides a variety of fish, the deep waters also harbour crocodiles.

A 10-rupee boat ride took me to Gomukh Ghat, on the opposite bank of the Narmada. A short, but very enjoyable ride.

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Watch my video: Boat ride on the Narmada river at Omkareshwar

Climbing up a series of stairs from Gomukh Ghat, and some more from the temple entrance again lined with small colourful shops, I reached Mamaleshwar Temple. The ancient exterior of the small holy temple is eye-catching. Set in a walled enclosure, the historical temple complex is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

Mamaleshwar Temple…

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Beautiful stone architecture and finely-carved pillars…

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Watch my video: Mamaleshwar Temple 

A lovely old temple surrounded by some small old shrines devoted to different deities. While I was there, I saw some just-married couples in their wedding finery and accompanied by their family, seeking the blessings of the Lord. Perhaps it was a perfect day to get married because I saw a few more couples on my way out.

It was a blistering hot day. Summers in this region are extremely insufferable. So much that, the moment I touched the door handle, the heated thing nearly scalded my hand.

At 1:45 PM, I left for Maheshwar.

 

Maheshwar – literally meaning the abode of Lord Mahesh (another name for Lord Shiva) – is situated at the banks of the Narmada river, some 90 KM away from Indore.

Deeply steeped in very rich history, this small ancient temple town is widely known as the capital of Rajmata Ahilya Devi Holkar, one of the most extraordinary rulers of eighteenth-century India, the legendary ruler of the princely state of the Holkars, and considered by many as a saint. Her massive fort-palace stands in beautiful splendour alongside the Narmada. The tiny town has numerous temples and ghats (broad stone steps which step down to the river, also known as bathing steps), and is the birthplace of the exquisitely woven ‘Maheshwari’ saris.

Maheshwar has been mentioned in ancient Hindu scriptures as ‘Mahishmati’, one of the twin capitals of the powerful Avanti kingdom, then ruled by Haihayas king – Sahasrarjun (Kartavirya Arjun). Mahishmati was a very prosperous city and had connections with other popular ancient centres like Avantika (Ujjain), Pataliputra (Patna), Paithan, Kashi (Varanasi), Bharoch, Kutch etc. It had itself become a popular centre for spiritual, religious, administrative, literature, and cultural activities.

In 1767 AD, Maheshwar became the capital of Ahilyabai Holkar, who moved her state’s capital from Indore to Maheshwar to have her palace on the banks of the holy Narmada. The pious and widely respected queen ruled over her kingdom from here till her death in 1795.

Ahilya Fort, the powerful queen’s fort-palace complex, is famous for its elegant architecture and stunning view from the Narmada. The fort was originally built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1601. Ahilyabai Holkar got it reconstructed to its present-day majestic form, an architectural splendour.

In 1818, the Holkars were defeated by the British in the Third Anglo-Maratha War and the Holkar kingdom became a part of the British Empire. The capital of the Holkar State was shifted back to Indore.

During Ahilyabai’s reign, Maheshwar became an important centre for art, culture, and industry. She brought peace and prosperity to her kingdom. She revived the city’s ancient position of importance by reconstructing old temples; building numerous new temples, riverside ghats, public works including water canals, roads and dharamshalas (religious rest houses); and establishing handloom traditions.

Ahilyabai invited master weavers from Surat (near Ahmedabad in Gujarat) and gave them land and all the required facilities to set up their looms to weave light-as-air cotton saris and turbans with distinctive zari border. The weave patterns were broad borders with geometrical motifs just like the ornate stone carvings on the temple side of the fort complex. Till today, Maheshwari sari is well-known for its beautiful weaves and light textures and colours. The fine, airy clothing is perfect for hot Indian summers. In olden days, only vegetable dyes were used and the saris were made of pure cotton. Since mid-20th century, to cut cost weavers started using chemical dyes. Pure cotton gave way to a blend of cotton and silk. The unique feature of this sari is its reversible border, which is designed in such a way that both sides of the sari can be worn.

In 1979, the Holkar dynasty set up the Rehwa Society, an NGO (non-government organization), to keep the slowly dying art of Maheshwari weave alive and at the same time help the local women earn a livelihood. The weaving centre is within the fort premises. Working on traditional looms, the modern weavers have diversified into dupattas, scarves, stoles, dress material and home linen.

Primarily a holy destination, Maheshwari is a wonderful tourist destination. Many Bollywood movies have been filmed at this awe-inspiring fort complex alongside the mesmerizing Narmada. Tourists can enjoy a boat ride in the Narmada; explore heritage buildings in the sprawling fort-palace complex; visit some of the well-known of the more than 100 temples in and around the fort, the impressive ghats (around 28) and riverside cenotaphs; and last but not least, shop for the famous Maheshwari fabrics.

The luxurious and award-winning experiential heritage hotel – Ahilya Fort – offers a memorable experience of staying at the fort and palace from where the legendary ruler Ahilyabai Holkar ruled her kingdom. It was originally the Holkar family heritage retreat, before the Holkar dynasty’s descendant Prince Shivaji Richard Holkar converted it into a luxurious hotel.

Glorious sunrises and sunsets, a spectacular view of the Narmada and much more welcomes nature lovers to Maheshwar.

Maheshwar

 

After a two-hour drive from Omkareshwar, I reached Maheshwar at 4 PM. A very small town, all the main attractions are located in the magnificent centuries-old Ahilya Fort, the royal palace of Indian history’s widely respected and benevolent queen, Rajmata Ahilya Devi Holkar

Entrance to the fort by road is through the North Gate, Ahilya Dwar

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Half of the fort-palace has now been converted into a luxurious hotel, Ahilya Fort. Rajwada, the 18th century royal palace, where the Maratha queen resided is open for public viewing.

Entrance to the Rajwada

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View of the Rajwada

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Display of Holkar palanquins…

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During my visit, photography was not allowed inside. The beautiful courtyard, filled with lush greenery, was very welcoming. Compared to the lavish palaces of other royals in the country, the residence of the powerful Holkar queen who ruled over half of the present-day state of Madhya Pradesh was simple and homely. The upper storey housing the living quarters was off limits to the public. The verandah of the 18th-century palace housed the Durbar Hall (or the Audience Hall) where the queen conducted the affairs of the state and held audiences with her people. Since Marathas had little tradition of veiling or secluding women, Ahilyabai held daily public audience.

Displays included portraits of the Holkar rulers, arms and some personal effects. All Holkar rulers are shown carrying a sword, but Devi Ahilyabai is always depicted wearing a plain white Maheshwari sari (with a plain, subtle border) with a shiva linga in her hand.

A painting of Ahilyabai Holkar at the Indore palace…

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Ahilyabai Holkar was a ruler with a difference. She led her army in a couple of battles herself, but it was never her preferred course of action. During her reign, while everywhere around wars were going on, the Holkar kingdom was never attacked or disrupted by local battles – proof of her diplomatic and administrative skills.

Though there were several examples of women ruling within the Maratha polity, women were mostly excluded by the strict rules of succession and could not succeed to kingship. For a queen to rule required both extraordinary talent and energy and fortuitous circumstances. Born in 1725 in the present-day state of Maharashtra, Ahilyabai was chosen by Malharrao Holkar, the founder of the Holkar dynasty to be his daughter-in-law. He trained her in military affairs and administration. She was twenty-nine when her husband, Khanderao died in battle in 1754, leaving her with a young son. Malharrao Holkar trusted her competence and fully involved her in military and diplomatic activities. Thus, when he died in 1766, and Ahilyabai’s son – the nominal heir – went insane and died within a year of succession, she had an established record of both military and administrative competence. Rather than adopt an heir, she took over the reign of the kingdom.

White was the colour that a Hindu widow had to embrace. In those days, when widowed women lived a dead existence, Devi Ahilyabai ruled a growing kingdom… and made it peaceful and prosperous. She helped widows in keeping their husband’s wealth, rather than surrendering it to the state or greedy relatives or managers. Devi Ahilyabai was a great patron of literary, musical, artistic and industrial enterprise. She even established a textile industry. Considered as a saint, she was one of the strongest and most powerful women rulers of India. All soldiers and subjects had faith that in case of their death in battle or unprovoked violence, their family would be taken care of by the Devi.

A devout Hindu and a great devotee of Lord Shiva, Devi Ahilyabai led a remarkably frugal existence. She wore the few white saris woven by her, no jewellery. Her meals were simple, once a day. Her room was small and sparse, but with a view of the Narmada. She found solace in worshipping Lord Shiva and living in close proximity to the sacred Narmada.

Besides her administrative skills, Devi Ahilyabai was known for generous public and charitable works, and above all else, her pious & religious nature. “She was a lady of uncommon sagacity, saintly purity, and wonderful intellectual and moral qualities, displaying utmost valour and personal courage in the midst of most difficult situations”. The austere queen used her personal funds to rebuild scores of temples that were destroyed by Muslim invaders and constructed numerous facilities at Shiva temples across the country, stretching from the Himalayas to pilgrimage centres in South India. Much revered in her time, the powerful Maratha queen is still held in high regard. Her monuments are forts and roads, a wide variety of religious endowments (temples, rest houses, tanks, bathing steps, etc.), both in her kingdom and far beyond – Varanasi, Somnath, Dwarka, Rameshwaram, Gaya, etc. So many works were undertaken at her initiative that wherever one goes in India, especially to a holy place venerated by the Hindus, one find works of piety and charity attributed to her. It is said that, without her help, it was unthinkable to have got reconstructed all the highly revered Hindu shrines destroyed by Islamic invaders. She also sponsored festivals and gave donations for regular worship in numerous Hindu temples. It is also said that during her 28-year-old rule, no pilgrim or saint ever returned without donations after meeting her.

A signboard at the Rajwada lists the pious deeds of the benevolent queen: construction and reconstruction of temples, building of ghats and dharamshalas, roads, wells and temple-tanks, funding of religious rituals and activities, etc. Another board displays a map of India highlighting the holy places that received support from this unique Indian ruler who reclaimed sacred spaces for the Hindus that had been wrested from them over centuries by Islamic invaders.

An old cannon…

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A small museum nearby housed royal possessions including silverware. Again, no photography.

From the ramparts of the fort, at the entrance of the luxurious hotel Ahilya Fort, just outside the Rajwada, I got this splendid view of the holy Narmada…

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I could imagine Devi Ahilyabai enjoying this same view for 28 years till her death in 1795.

A long flight of steps led down to the temple complex of the fort and further down to the river. On the way, to the left, was the weaving centre of Rehwa Society. It was closed, so I didn’t get to see or buy the exquisitely woven saris or fabrics that the town is famous for. It didn’t matter because my eyes were fixated on the magnificent, imposing structure to the right…the Ahilyeshwar Shivalaya.

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The architectural grandiosity of the massive fort-complex left me spellbound. Stunning…with exquisitely intricate carvings and elaborate overhanging balconies.

Watch my video:  Ahilyeshwar Shivalaya

The Ahilyeshwar Shivalaya – the chhattri of Devi Ahilya Holkar – a fabulous work of perfect symmetry…

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A beautiful, small statue of Lord Ganesha perched on top of the temple’s main door flanked by two Maratha dwarpala (doorkeepers)…

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There were two black stone deep-stambha (lamp holders) on either sides of the entrance. A prominent feature of Maratha temple architecture, the deep-stambhas have a large number of lamps which are lit on festive occasions…

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Elaborate carvings…

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An essential feature of all Shiva temples, a kneeling sculptured nandi (bull, vehicle of Shiva) faced the entrance to the temple’s sanctum sanctorum which housed the shiva linga. A statue of Devi Ahilyabai stood just beyond the shiva linga.

The temple pavilion is situated parallel to the ghat, overlooking the deep blue waters of the Narmada.

Watch my video:  Inside Ahilyeshwar Shivalaya 

Walking out, just opposite in a large courtyard, stood a two-domed structure with exquisite carvings on its sides. The chhattri (or cenotaph) of Vithoji Rao Holkar, the younger brother of Maharaja Yashwant Rao Holkar (1798-1811).

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All around the place, there were detailed carvings of elephants and scenes from daily life in the Holkar Era. Sculptures included dancers and musicians playing stringed, wind and percussion instruments, and an Englishman as well.

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From the pavilion, I got another view of the ghat below. Despite the sweltering heat, there were quite a number of visitors. And there were a couple of vendors selling lime juice and spicy treats near the South Gate, the fort entrance for visitors arriving by boat.

The ancient door…

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I passed through the gateway. But before walking down the steps, I turned around to take a good look at the beautiful doorway. Not just beautiful, breathtakingly beautiful…

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It was flanked on either side by three dwarpala (doorkeepers) statues, one atop another. Above it, a row of corbelled statues and a beautiful pavilion.

A few steps down, I captured this amazing view of the picturesque South Gate with carved pavilions on either side…

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The fort ramparts…

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Yours truly at the spectacular fort complex…

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Watch my video: Ahilya Fort 

Maheshwar is also referred to as ‘the city of ghats’. There are twenty-eight of them extending over two kilometres along the river. The prominent ones are Ahilya Ghat, Peshwa Ghat, Mahila Ghat and Phanse Ghat.

View of a ghat from the ramparts of the fort…

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It isn’t the right hour to take a boat ride. So there are plenty of boats moored alongside the bank. Many of the temples and ghats of Maheshwar are best viewed from the boat.

A close view of one of the brightly painted boats…

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And there are ghats with chhattris (or cenotaphs) dedicated to departed kings, queens and their loved ones. I walked around checking each chhattri, and chanced upon this unimpressive-looking dark stone structure…

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On close scrutiny of the small structure, I found the name of the austere, powerful queen scribbled on the wall inside, beyond the rusted iron door grill.

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I had discovered the cremation place of Ahilyabai Holkar on my own! Obviously, I was mighty thrilled.

View of Ahilyabai Holkar’s cremation place (to the extreme left) from the fort ramparts…

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The ghats were dotted by many small shrines of Lord Shiva, each one lovingly worshipped with vermilion and fresh flowers.

A Shiva temple with a kneeling Nandi facing it…

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It is said that there are more than hundred ancient temples of Lord Shiva in Maheshwar (literally meaning ‘the abode of Lord Shiva’). Among the well-knowns is the Baneshwar Mahadev temple located in the middle of Narmada river. Accessed only by boat, it’s a small shrine built by the Parmara dynasty in 5th century AD. It is believed that a heavenly line from North Star passes through this temple to the centre of Earth. I didn’t get to visit this temple, but from the ramparts of the fort, I did see a small shrine jutting out in the river. Maybe it was the Baneshwar Mahadev temple.

Devi Ahilyabai constructed a small replica of the Kashi Vishwanath temple along the ghats after restoring the original one in Varanasi (also known as Kashi or Benares)…

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The temple’s sanctum sanctorum …

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Besides small shrines along the ghat, I saw numerous shiva lingas on the shores of the Narmada. In fact, I found them everywhere alongside the water…

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The Narmada finds mention in ancient texts of India as one of the seven most sacred rivers in India. Legends also claim that the Narmada River is older than the river Ganges, and the holiest of the sacred rivers. Some also refer to Narmada as ‘Shankari’, the daughter of Lord Shiva. The river is considered as the Goddess and is highly revered. Hence it is believed that the waters of the river have purifying properties and help in attaining salvation.

The banks of the Narmada are filled with cylindrical stones resembling the sacred shiva linga. Known as bana lingas (or Narmada-lingas), these are bits of the rocky riverside flowing into the Narmada that are rendered smooth and polished by its tremendously strong currents. It is believed that Lord Shiva dwells in that rock and the parts of the rock which we find in the river are, therefore, aspects of Siva. Pilgrims and tourists collect these bana lingas to carry home for worship.

Just like centuries ago, the lives of the people of Maheshwar revolve around the ghats. At daybreak, people throng to the ghats to offer their prayers. They believe that a morning dip ensures success in the day’s endeavours. At dusk, the daily ritual is of lighting ghee lamps along the ghats. Devotees set afloat small ghee lamps, rice puffs for the fishes which are revered here, a small offering of flowers and milk as they take a ritualistic dip into the Narmada offering their prayers.

During the annual festivals of Narmada Jayanti and Mahashivratri, dawn and dusk at the ghats – in Omkareshwar as well as Maheshwar – are truly spectacular.  Poojas and maha aartis are performed on the banks of the Narmada and the entire expanse is lit with twinkling lights.

Tranquil clear waters of the sacred Narmada at Maheshwar…

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Watch my video:  Narmada river at Ahilya Fort

Despite the sweltering heat, the water felt cool when I dipped my hand in. The incredible beauty of the glittering blue Narmada and the fabulous architectural grandeur of the fort were inviting to stay the night. Unfortunately, I hardly had enough time to sit back and bask in their beauty, as I had to return to Indore, 90 KM away. At the least, a night’s stay would have been great to enjoy the ethereal sunrise and sunset. Sigh

Maheshwar, a truly astounding place. A rich confluence of art, culture, religious reverence and architectural grandeur. Very-Varanasi-like, visited by many foreign nationals with strong interest in Indian art and spiritual values. Apart from the religious aspect, Maheshwar has an irresistible charm and you don’t have to be spiritually inclined to experience it.

 

 

Ok, that’s it for now 🙂 Quite a lengthy post, eh? 😉 Hope you enjoyed it! Remember, if you’re visiting Madhya Pradesh then you simply got to add these two lovely destinations in your itinerary. Visit Narmada, and keep it clean 🙂

See you soon, have a great day 🙂

 

Coming next: Amazing Madhya Pradesh (Part IV): Bhopal

 

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