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A quaint town on the banks of Narmada

September 16, 2014 15:54 IST

Get Ahead reader Sangeeta didn't realise how she spent an entire day on the banks of the Narmada at Maheshwar, Madhya Pradesh.

Maheshwar is a quaint little town on the banks of Narmada. Walk along the ghats and you will know why Maratha Queen Ahilyabai (Holkar) preferred to rule from here. I spent 24 hours in Maheshwar, walking along the ghats, observing people and connecting to myself.

The famed Ahilya Fort stands majestically by the river keeping a watchful eye on every visitor. The main wing of the Fort has now been converted into a luxury hotel which is frequented by the who's who of Hollywood.

Ahilya Fort

I stayed at Labboos Cafe, which is the gatehouse of the Fort and enjoyed my stay in a cosy compact room which was once a soldiers' den to protect the fort. It was close to the river and the other sights.

After my fill of the delicious Poha, I headed towards the other areas of the fort and the ghats, barely a few metres away.

Poha

Queen Ahilyabai's living quarters have been transformed into a small museum, which show cases her life and times. She had a huge contribution in reviving the ghats, temples and the cultural fabric of the country not only in the areas that she ruled but in distant places like Varanasi as well.

A man performing puja on the ghats at Maheshwar

A few steps ahead, a flight of stairs led to the ghats. On the left side was the doorway to Maheshwari Weaving Centre -- Rehwa Society. I watched in attention while a lady continued to weave threads of love to make a saree which will be worn by someone somewhere. I wonder whether the wearer will think of the person who lovingly put it together. An hour later, I emerged out of the centre richer with a few stoles.

A lady at work at Maheshwari Weaving Centre

Walking down the stairs, I caught a glimpse of the Narmada between the Fort Walls and the imposing Sahastrarjun Temple. I hurried towards the ghat which was already crowded with people claiming their moment with Narmada.

Sahastrarjun Temple

I settled slowly along the ghats watching the undulating waves as they rose upward and then slowly dissolved away. A young man was absorbed in prayer, a sadhu walked in long strides with the umbrella by his side, an old gentleman stretched out in Yoga while a family found their moments of togetherness by the river.

A sadhu walking in long stride on the ghats at Maheshwar

Kavad Pilgrims dressed in flaming orange came by for their monsoon communion with Lord Shiva filling their pots of water with droplets of hope from the Narmada after a customary dip. Their enthusiasm was infectious and I found myself in the river soon after.

Kavad Pilgrims dressed in flaming orange

The best part of Maheshwar is it lets you be without the hassles of priests and hawkers hovering around. The temples remain untouched from commercialisation and it is easy to slip into a corner and connect with the Lord.

Tourists bathing on the ghats at Maheshwar

I spent time in Ahilyeshwar, Raj Rajeshwar, Kashi Vishwanath, Sahastrarjun, Kaleshwar and Jaleshwar Temples, each of which had a different ambience and structure but united in feel by the Narmada.

The wall murals of the fort revealed the finesse possessed by the artisans of yore. I took an evening boat ride on the river to the Baneshwar Temple in the middle of the river. The Narmada almost feels like a sea at this point stretching out its arms to hug whoever cared.

I had hardly seen the sun during the nearly cloudy day but caught one last glimpse as he slipped away between the clouds rendering an orange hue to the dark sky. It was beginning to drizzle but I was yearning for more and finally joined the bhajan in Raj Rajeshwar Temple before calling it a day.

Tourists on a boat ride

Maheshwar is an ideal get away if you are seeking some time with yourself. It is located about 90 kms away from Indore and well connected by road.

Spend more time to visit Omkareshwar and Mandu which are located close by.

A workaholic once upon a time, Sangeeta is now exploring the world through travel. She blogs at http://lifeisavacation.wordpress.com

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