The Mystical Triangle of Maheshwar, Mandu & Omkareshwar
The Ministry of Tourism, as part of its Dekho Apna Desh series conducted a webinar titled, “The Mystical Triangle- Maheshwar, Mandu & Omkareshwar” on July 18. Presented by Ashima Gupta, Commissioner of Income Tax, Indore and Sarita Alurkar, a Singapore based marketing professional, the webinar showcased the richness of the destinations covered under the mystical triangle and acquainted the viewers with these serene, captivating getaways in the state of Madhya Pradesh.
The first stop of the mystical triangle was Maheshwar or Mahishmati, one of the most serene and captivating destinations of Madhya Pradesh with historical significance, 90 kms away from Indore. The town got its name after Lord Shiva/Maheshwara and it also finds a mention in the epics Ramayana and Mahabharatha. The presenters described in detail the life & times of Queen Rajmata Ahilya Devi Holkar. The town lies on the north bank of the river Narmada River and was the capital of Malwa during the Maratha Holkar reign till January 6, 1818, when the capital was shifted to Indore by Malhar Rao Holkar III. In the late eighteenth century, Maheshwar served as the capital of the great Maratha queen Rajmata Ahilya Devi Holkar. 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.
The queen is also known for her simplicity, this is evident to the present day through Rajwada or the Royal Residence where the queen used to meet her people, a two-storied building. Tourists can see and experience the then royal setup.
Ahilyeshwar temple, where Ahilya devi used to offer prayers, Vitthal temple near Achaleshwar temple are must stop places for aarti and to admire architecture. There are around 91 temples here that were built by the Rajmata.
Ghats in Maheshwar are great places to see the beauty of sunrise and sunset and the fort complex can also be seen at its best from Ahilya Ghat. One can also go on a boat ride; during evenings after sunset boat men light small diyas as an offering to Narmada river. Baneshwar temple which is dedicated to Lord Shiva is one of the must-see temples of Maheshwar especially during sunset. Narmada aarti is performed after sunset at Narmada ghat.
Textile is another important aspect that was developed by Ahilya Devi. She invited master weavers from Surat and South India to weave sarees that are unique. The designs used on these are inspirations from the fort architecture and Narmada river. These were gifted to royal guests. She was also a generous patron of the arts. Under the princely state, the weavers’ arts flourished, which then got specialised into the present day Maheshwari cloth. Once an all-cotton weave – in the 1950s silk started getting used in the wrap and that slowly became the norm. Rehwa Society, founded in 1979, is a non-profit organisation working for the welfare of weavers of Maheshwar.
Omkareshwar has 33 deities and 108 impressive shivlings in divine form and this is the only Jyotirlinga which is situated on the north bank of Narmada. Omkareshwar is a spiritual town in Madhya Pradesh, 78kms away from Indore. A visit to Omkareshwar temple is incomplete without visiting Mamleshwar temple. It is also believed that Lord Shiva comes here to rest everyday considering there is a special aarti called Shayan aarti which is performed every day at 8:30pm in the evening. Siddhanth temple is another beautiful temple that one should definitely save time to explore.
Mandu located in Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh is also known by the name of Mandavgarh, Shadiabad (City of Joy). It is about 98km away from Indore and at an elevation of 633 metres. Nearest railway station for reaching Mandu is Ratlam (124km.) The Fort in Mandu is spread over an area of 47 sq.km and the fort wall is 64 kms.
Mandu is mainly known for the love story of Sultan Baz Bahadur and Rani Roopmati. Once out hunting, Baz Bahadur chanced upon a shepherdess frolicking and singing with her friends. Smitten by both her enchanting beauty and her melodious voice, he begged Roopmati to accompany him to his capital. Roopmati agreed to go to Mandu on the condition that she would live in a palace within sight of her beloved and venerated river, Narmada. Thus was built the Rewa Kund at Mandu, which is a reservoir built to supply water to Roopmati’s Pavilion. It’s an architectural marvel. Knowing about Roopmati’s beauty and sweet voice, Mughals decided to invade Mandu and capture both Baz Bahadur and Roopmati. Mandu was easily defeated and when Mughal forces marched towards the fort, Roopmati poisoned herself to avoid capture.
Baz Bahadur’s Palace built in the 16th-century is famous for its large courtyards encompassed by large halls and high terraces. It is situated below Roopmati’s pavilion. Then there is the Jahaz Mahal (ship palace). Situated between two artificial lakes, this two-storied marvel is so named as it appears as a ship floating in water. Built by Sultan Ghiyas-ud-din-Khalji, it served as a harem for the sultan. One cannot afford to miss the local food like poha, kachori, bafla etc while travelling in this circuit.