Maheshwar is one of the few pilgrimage towns in the state of Madhya Pradesh. In addition to its well established status as pilgrimage town, rich cultural and built heritage with glorious past only increases its pride as a tourist town. This holy town is situated on north bank of sacred river Narmada and has direct easy access to Agra-Mumbai National Highway at Dhamnod through good road thereby connecting all major tourist circuits in the state.
Maheshwar handloom products, particularly Maheshwari saris as its brand name, are internationally renowned. Tourism is one of the major economic activities in Maheshwar which is supported by its built heritage including various religious structures, holy Narmada, handloom and other cultural heritages including various festivals.
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In addition to its built heritage, Maheshwar also boasts of its cultural heritage including literature, arts and crafts, festivals etc. Maheshwar has been a centre of handloom weaving since the Fifth Century AD. Maheshwar is home to one of the India's finest handloom fabric traditions and is a noted centre for weaving colourful Maheshwari saris.
Maheshwari saris were introduced in Maheshwar about 250 years ago by Rani Ahilyabai and are renowned throughout India for their unique weave and distinctive designs involving stripes, checks and floral borders. The handlooms also make fabric used in kurta and other clothing. With the establishment of Rehwa Society, an NGO founded by the Holkars in 1978, tradition of the Maheshwari saris were reinvented to give women employment and revive the town's textiles.
Maheshwar is famous for its fort, and its numerous temples are also highlights of the townscape. The temples and ghats of Maheshwar have together given the town a distinct identity. The ghats are named after the dynasties such as Peshwa ghat, Fanse ghat, Ahilya ghat etc. Lining the river Narmada, which itself is a heritage, flights of steps lead down from the sandy banks into the river. The religious, cultural and daily life of the people plays out on the river bank. Pilgrims and holy men sit here in silent meditation; rows of women carry gleaming brass pots down to collect the water of the sacred river; ferryloads of villagers cross and recross the river. Lining the banks are memorials in stone to the satis of Maheshwar, who perished on the funeral pyres of their husbands.
The memorial shrine or chattri of Ahilya Bai, an ornate building that resembles a temple, is one of the grand monuments in Maheshwar. The magnificent Maheshwar fort palace, built in 1766, is simple and elegant. It is a typical example of the Maratha architecture of the period. Within the complex is an exquisite small shrine which is a starting point of the ancient Dussehra ceremony which is still carried out.
The temples of Maheshwar with their tiered and soaring spires are distinguished by carved overhanging balconies and intricately worked doorways and walls.
Temples to Visit
Kaleshwar, Rajarajeshwara, Vithaleshwara and Ahileshwar are the main temples here. This place is also known for its archaeological significance. Navdatodi is an archaeological site situated just outside Maheshwar town which was discovered in 1950. In the early stages of excavation, painted pottery and microliths were found at Navadatodi. More excavations on this site have confirmed
that people resided there from the lower paleolithic period until the 18th century.
Spiritual places in Maheshwar
Kalangin Rudra Tirth: is located on confluence of Narmada and Maheshwari River. There are three ‘Shivalayas’ viz. Kadambeshwar, Jaleshwar and Kandeshwar located around the confluence.
Swarna Dweep Tirth: is located on southern bank of Narmada. Shalivahan shivalaya is located here which is only one of its kind in the entire country.
Angira Rudra Tirth: is located about 1 kilometer west of Maheshwar on the bank of Narmada;
Triveni Tirth: At a distance 1 Km west of Angira Tirth near Gram Jalkoti, Karam and Buti rivers meets Narmada forming confluence of three rivers which is why this tirth is called triveni tirth.
Sahastradhara: Next to triveni tirth towards further west at a distance of about 1 Km there is famous Sahatradhara waterfall which is known as Sahastradhara tirth.
Narmada: Narmada river itself is the biggest tirtha;
Rajrajeshwar Temple: This is shivalaya of famous Pauranic emperor of Mahishmati dynasty which is famous as Rajrajeshwar temple.
Ahileshwar Temple: This is known as Ahilyabai Chhatri
Bhawani Mata (Vindhyawasini) Temple: This temple located near Bus Station. According to Ahilya inscriptions, this is Vindhyawasini Devi temple famous as Bhawani Mata.
Kaleshwar, Jaleshwar and Sapt Matrikas: Kaleshwar and Jaleshwar shivalayas are located near confluence of Maheshwari and Narmada Rivers. Pilgrims visit this complex in large numbers during Mahashivratri.
Baneshwar Temple: The temple is located on river island in the middle of Narmada.
Pandharinath Temple: This temple is located near the hut of Jai Siyaram Baba;
Matangeshwar Temple: This ancient shivalaya is located just north of Muktabai Fanse Chhatri.
Dev Puja: It is located inside Rajwara. In this temple the swarna jhula.
Rajbada: This was the residence of Ahilyabai which represents her simple living;
Bithobaji Ji Ki Chhatri: located adjacent to chhatri of the queen. He was son of Tukoji Rao Holkar;
Crematorium and Chhatri: On the bank of Narmada where Devi Ahilyabai was cremated there are few important chhatris.
Bhartari Cave: On the east of Matangeshwar temple Bhartari cave is located. In ancient time there was secret underground way to Ujjain from this cave;