Maheshwar was a glorious city at the dawn of Indian civilization when it was Mahishmati, capital of king Kartivarjun. This temple town on the banks of the river Narmada finds mention in the epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata. Revived to its ancient position of importance by the Holkar queen Rani Ahilyabai of Indore. Maheshwar's temples and mighty fort-complex stand in quiet beauty, mirrored in the river below.
Today, Maheshwar is also known for its distinctive handwoven sarees called Maheshwari. meditation; in the rows of graceful women, who carry gleaming brass pots down to the holy, life giving river; in the ferry loads of villagers who cross and recross these surging waters. Lining the banks too, are poignant memorials in stone to the satis of Maheshwar, who perished on the funeral pyres of their husbands.
Maheshwar is a town in Khargone district of Madhya Pradesh state, in central India. It is located 13 km east of National Highway 3 (Agra-Mumbai highway) and 91 km from Indore, the commercial capital of the state. The town lies on the north bank of the Narmada River.
The name Maheshwar comes from Mahesh, a name for Lord Shiva. The word Maheshwar in Hindi means abode of Lord Mahesh.
Maheshwar town is built on the site of the ancient city of Somvanshya Shastrarjun Kshatriya, and was the capital of king Kartavirya Arjuna,(Shree SHASTRARJUN) who is mentioned in the Sanskrit epics Mahabharata and Ramayana. Maheshwar was known as Mahissati (Mahishamati in Sanskrit) in ancient times and was the capital of Southern Avanti.
Maheshwar on the banks of the Narmada was capital of King Sahasrarjun. One day the King and his 500 wives went to the river for a picnic. When the wives wanted a vast play area, the King stopped the mighty river Narmada with his 1000 arms! While they were all enjoying themselves, Ravana flew by in his Pushpak Vimana. Downstream, when he saw the dry river bed, he thought it was an ideal place to pray to Lord Shiva. He made a shivalinga out of sand and started his prayers. When Sahasrajuna’s wives were done and they stepped out of the river bed, he let the waters flow. The voluminous river flowed down sweeping Ravana’s shivalinga along, messing up his prayers. Furious, Ravana tracked Sahasrajuna and challenged him. Armed to the hilt the mighty Ravana was in for a huge surprise. The mighty Sahasrarjuna with the 1000 arms pinned Ravana to the ground. Then he placed 10 lamps on his heads and one on his hand. After tying up Ravana, Sahasrarjuna dragged him home and tied him up to the cradle pole of his son. A humiliated Ravana stayed prisoner until his release was secured.
Even today, the Sahasrarjun temple at Maheshwar lights 11 lamps in memory of the event.
In Mahabharata, there is description of an unusual custom of non-prevalence of marriages in Mahishmati. As per the legend, there was a king named Nila who ruled over Mahishmati. King Nila had a daughter who was exceedingly beautiful. So much so that god Agni (fire) fell in love with her. She always used to stay near the sacred fire of her father, causing it to blaze up with vigour. And it so happened that king Nila's fire, even if fanned, would not blaze up till agitated by the gentle breath of that girl's fair lips. And it was said in King Nila's palace and in the house of all his subjects that the god Agni desired that beautiful girl for his bride. And it so happened that Agni was accepted by the girl herself. A secret love affair began between god Agni, who assumed the form of a Brahman, and the beautiful princess. But, one day the couple was discovered by the king, who became furious. Nila thereupon ordered the Brahmana to be punished according to law. At this the illustrious deity flamed up in wrath and beholding the terrible flame, the king felt terrified and bent his head low on the ground. The legend abruptly comes to a conclusion (perhaps due to narration changes it underwent in later centuries before being written) and from that time, the girls of the city of Mahishmati became rather unacceptable to others as wives. God Agni by his boon granted them sexual liberty, so that the women of that town always roam about at will, each unbound to a particular husband.
In the late eighteenth century, Maheshwar served as the capital of Rajmata Ahilya Devi Holkar, ruler of the state of Indore. She embellished the city with many buildings and public works, and it is home to her palace, as well as numerous temples, a fort, and riverfront ghats (broad stone steps which step down to the river).
Maheshwar has been a centre of handloom weaving since the 5th century. Maheshwar is the home of one of India's finest hand loom fabric traditions. Maheshwar is noted as a centre for weaving colourful Maheshwari saris. These cotton saris are weaved with distinctive designs involving stripes, checks and floral borders. The hand looms also make fabric material used for making kurtas and other clothings.
The origin of Maheshwari saris is traced to the establishment of Rehwa Society , an NGO founded by the Holkars in 1978 to give women employment and revive the town's textiles. About 130 weavers associated with the society produce over 100,000 metres of fine fabrics a year. The weaving centre is located in one of Maheshwar's historic buildings. Rehwa Society also provides a free school for weavers' children and runs a low-cost health scheme. There are few other small local organisations involved in weaving of saris and other fabrics.
Maheshwar is full of festivals and celebrations, some are: Nag Panchami, Gudi Padava, Teez (New year celebrations according to the Hindu calendar), All Mondays of Shravan month, (DOLA of Kashivishwnath on last Monday, bhang is served as prasad of Shiva), Mahashivratri, Samoti Amavas, and all other Indian festivals. There are many visiting places like gold swing is also their and it is situated at Rajwada.
Every year on the immediately preceding Sunday of Makar Sankranti (i.e. the Sunday just before the date when the Sun is about to enter the sign of Capricorn as per Indian Astrological / Sidereal calendar), Swaadhyaaya Bhavan Ashram (based at Mahalaxmi Nagar, Maheshwar) organizes Mahaamrityunjaya Rath Yaatraa in the town of Maheshwar. This Mahaamrityunjaya Rath Yaatraa was initiated by Shri Harvilas Aasopaa for the welfare of humanity, and is known to be the first of its kind in the world. The yaatraa intends to invoke blessings of Ayurved Murti Bhagwaan Sadaashiv Mahaamrityunjaya (who is regarded as the primordial and supreme doctor), and it starts from Swaadhyaaya Bhawan Ashram and culminates at the banks of the holy river Narmada.
The exquisite beauty of Maheshwar and river Narmada is captured in some Bollywood and Tamil movies. me of the movies shooted in Maheshwar including the movie "Ashoka" , Tulsi (by actor and director Sachin), Mahashivratri, A R Rehman's music video, Tamil movie Alaipayuthey's song "Snekithanea..." and " yaro yaro di..." directed by Maniratnam. Also starting episodes of Zee TV serial Jhansi Ki Rani were shooted here.In the 60's, Mythological film Mahashivratri's shooting was done here and many local artists were given a chance to act in that. Then Aadi Shankaryachary's shooting was completed in 1985. Many Film stars from Bharat Bhushan to Shahrukh Khan have visited Maheshwar and admired its rich culture and beauty. Also Yamala Pagla Deewana (Dharmendra, Sunny Deol, Bobby Deol, Kulraj Randhawa come here for shooting) film's 50 minute shot done here at Bazar Chowk, Rajwada, Ahilyabai Chhatri, Ahilya Ghaat and many more location.
Maheshwar is a culturally prosperous town and its importance is described in Puranas and through history. It is a religious town and people here are simple and pleasing.
The perfect place to start the picnic of Maheswar is Rajwada, where the glorious history of the Holker’s is depicted. Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar is the driving force of this modest building, which is located in the heart of the city. Rajwada, a seven storied structure exhibits a unique mix of Muslim, Maratha and French style architecture. A dumb witness to the bygone glory, the complex holds a marvelous, small shrine from which ancient Dussehra ceremony used to start. It is difficult to believe that this custom is still in practice here. One of the interesting sights in this massive complex is the life size statue of the late queen which is exhibited on the entrance. Many other things related to the holker’s reign are also put on display.
The palace is surrounded by a pretty garden on the western side. Though in a dilapidated state, recent renovations have recreated some of the ancient charm of this beautiful palace.
A famous temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, is an important pilgrimage center in Maheshwar. The popular belief is that at the end of the Dwapara Yuga, Lord Krishna incarnated on the eighth day of the dark fortnight in the holy month of Sravan and he is lovingly called as Pandrinath among other names. The temple, which is dedicated to the maintainer of the whole world, is exquisitely carved with beautiful images of puranas. The overhanging balconies with rich carvings and intricate designs are fantastic. The doors of the temple are decorated with minute designs, which show excellent craftsmanship. The worship of Mahavishnu in the form of Pandrinath or lord Vitthala has its roots on the Puranas and great Vaishnava Saints of 13th to 17th century made this form of worship well known through their teachings, poems and kirtans.
A famous Shiva temple situated on the convergence of the rivers Narmada and Kaveri, Omkareshwar Temple is one of the holiest pilgrimage centers in Maheshwar. Located in the sacred island called Mandhata or Shivapuri, this temple is one among the 12 sacred Jyothirlinga shrines of Lord Maheshwar. The island in which the holy shrine is placed is in the shape of the holiest Hindu Symbol 'Om', which itself add the sanctity of the temple. The name of the sacred shrine literally means ‘Om-maker-lord.’ Situated on the beautiful ambience, one can see the awesome view of the Mother Nature and the man-made constructions go together harmoniously.
Rajarajeswara temple in Maheswar is one among the numerous Shiva temples in the city. It is situated very near to the famous Ahilyeshwara temple and a frisky walk of few minutes through the lovely paved stone path from the Ahilyeshwara lead to this important shrine. This magnificient shrine is renowned as the temple of the 11 Akhand Jyoti Deepak or eternal flame lamps. The flame in the lamps will not be allowed to put out and the main offering of this fabulous shrine is ghee, which is used to light the lamps. Like all other Shiva temples in Maheswar, Rajarajeswar temple also is very rich in architecture and sculpture. The ceiling of the main shrine is decorated with many faceted mirrors.
Located on the beautiful banks of Narmada River, this temple also holds well-maintained stretches of Khats where one can see plenty of Shivalingas and Nandi shrines. Kashivishwnath Temple Kashi Viswanath temple is built by the pious and religious queen, Ahalyabhai of the Holker dynasty. Dedicated to the Jyothirlinga of Shiva, this temple displays an architectural Marvel. Mythology says that the holy darshan of Jyothirlinga of Shiva liberate the devotee from all sorrows. A single darshan of the Jyothirlinga of Kashi Viswanath equalizes the virtues acquired by the darshan of other Jyotirlingas spread out in various parts of India. A glimpse of this Jyotirlinga is an enthralling experience that purifies life and puts it on the righteous path. Vishweshwara Jyotirlinga has a remarkable significance in the devout history of India. Profoundly rooted in the Hindu mind, the Kashi Vishwanath Temple has been a living quintessence of our timeless cultural traditions and highest spiritual values.
As the name itself suggests, Maheswar is closely associated with Lord Shiva. The temples of Maheshwar are particularly famous for their excellent artistry and architecture. The spires and domes are the special characteristic of the temples of Maheshwar.
Situated on the banks of the beautiful river, Narmada, Ahilyeshwar temple provides a serene and a calm atmosphere to the devotee. Apart from the main deity’s shrine, Ahilyeshwar temple houses a shrine dedicated to Lord Ram. The façade of this marvelous shrine displays intricate carvings. Beautiful images of elephants and Maratha soldiers on the exterior of the temple catch the attention of the viewer for their originality.
Holi darsan time of the Ahilyeshwar temple is between 7 am - 6.30 pm and Aartis are fixed at 8 am and 6 pm.
Established by Richard and Sally Holkar, belonging to the ex-ruler family, Rewa Society has helped so much for the growth and development of the handloom industry. Rewa Society weaving center is a thriving attempt to continue the 250 year tradition of weaving the celebrated Maheshwari sarees.
In this sophisticated era of modern techniques, the activities of this cooperative society are a success in promoting the feasibility of the craft with drawing and advertising inputs. Like many other aspects of Maheshwar, the weaving industry, though rooted in the past, lives contentedly and gainfully in the present.
The Rewa Society, which functions in the fort complex, runs between 10.30 am - 12.30 pm and 2.30 - 5.30 pm.
The term Maheshwar means the abode of Lord Shiva and as the name implies, this beautiful city houses numerous Shiva temples. Most of the temples in Maheswar are named after the incarnations of the deity. Tilbhandeshwar temple is one among the important Shiva temples in the city. The deity is believed to increase by the size of til every year.
This holy shrine displays splendid architectural beauty with intricately worked doorways and overhanging balconies. The serene ambience of the sacred temple is a solace to the inevitable entanglements
All festivals of Lord Shiva especially Maha Shivratri, are celebrated here with great enthusiasm.
The banks of the beautiful Narmada river is considered sacred from time immemorial and it has been a famous Hindu pilgrimage destination over centuries. The 12th Century Kaleshwar Temple, which is located within equipped ramparts on the northern shore of the river, is an impressive shrine. The deity is Kaleshwar, the destructive form of the Almighty who destroys and dissolves everything to nothing.
Kaleshwar Temple in its glittering red colour presents an unusual appearance, which amply differs from the typical structures of ordinary shrines. The temple stands on an elevated platform, with spiral domes pointed upwards which is further enhanced by vertical projections. The tranquil surroundings of lush greenery add the sanctity of the temple by which the devotees felt a divine pleasure.
Among the numerous deities of the Hindu religion, Lord Shiva occupies a paramount position and is worshiped as the supreme god. Being the third element of the holy trinity, Lord Shiva took various incarnations to wipe out evils from the world. Jaleshwar temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva who is worshiped as the god of water. It is believed that Lord Shiva protects the earth from the impacts of Ganga River’s fall from heaven.
The deity in the form of 'Lingam' reminds the devotee of the presence of eternal time. The temple's elegant architecture with its towering spires, carved overhanging balconies and complicated carving works is worth seeing.
A lovely building of 18th century, Queen’s Fort was the residence of Ahalya Bai Holkar, one of the greatest queens India ever had seen. The queen’s fort, which functions between 7 am to 7 pm, is a living monument to the greatness of the late Queen. Situated on the majestic Narmada banks, Queens Fort is the hub of all activities of Maheshwar.
Once functioned as the administrative quarters of the queen, this splendid palace displays her seat, various chhatris and her personal temple with its all elegance. A devotional song in the honour of the late queen has been composed under the auspicious of the Ahalyabhai Trust. The Queens fort also houses a weaver’s cooperative society in its premises.
A visit to this fort gives oneself with an in depth knowledge about the greatest queen of the Holker’s dynasty.
This town is situated on the banks of river Narmada, at a distance of about 5 km from Maheshwar. The town was founded by Mandana Mishra, and has a stone fort constructed by Mohammedan rulers. It also has a fine flight of 123 steps leading down to the river and expanding below into a wide ghat. Tukoji Rao Holkar II built a palace here. It was also the headquarters of the Nimar Agency and Cantonment under the British from 1819 to 1864. The town is an important retail marketing and trade centre.
18 km from Khargone, Oon was a flourishing place 1000 years ago. About a dozen temples, both Hindu and Jain lie clustering here and represent an architecture patronised by the Parmara kings of Malwa. The carvings on the temples are quite similar to those in Khajuraho. An important place for Jain pilgrimage.
10 km from Barwani, tehsil headquarters of Khargone distt., the Bawangaja temples are 170 km from Indore. The 72ft high Jain statue here has been hewn in the rock. It belongs to the early 15th century. Bawangaja is an important Jain pilgrim centre.
Nearest airport is at Indore, which is at a distance of 91 km from Maheshwar. Indore is well connected to many major cities in India, including Bhopal, Mumbai and Delhi. The nearest international airport is Delhi which is 895 km away from Maheshwar. Delhi is connected with all major cities in India and abroad.
Type Arial Distance Devi Ahilyabai Holkar International Airport, Indore (IDR) International 66 km
Raja Bhoj Airport, Bhopal (BHO) Domestic 231 km
Lohegaon Airport, Pune (PNQ) Domestic 441 km
ChatChatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai (BOM) International 458 km
Barwaha is the nearest railhead, which is at a distance of 39 km from Maheshwar. Indore is the main railhead nearby. Indore is a major railway station lying in the Chennai-Mumbai rail route. It is connected with major railway stations by express and passenger trains.
Railway stations near Maheshwar
Arial DArial Distance Indore Jn Bg (INDB) 68 km
Regular public services are available from Maheshwar to many parts of the state. Maheshwar is bus connected with Barwaha (39 km), Indore (91 km) and Khandwa (110 km).