An exceptional cultural heritage, the Ahilya Fort sits daintily overlooking the Narmada River in the 4000-year-old town of Maheshwar, Madhya Pradesh. The 18th-century fort was built by Maharani Ahilyabai Holkar during her rule from 1765 to 1796.
Within the fort was her personal residential area, offices and darbaar audience hall. In the year 2000, her descendant Prince Richard Holkar restored the fort and reintroduced it as a gorgeous guest residence. Today the fort is known as the Ahilya Fort Hotel around the world. Although redone with modern amenities and luxurious touches, the Ahilya Fort Hotel still holds onto its historic roots. Authentic, vintage and culturally sound – The Ahilya Fort makes for quite a fascinating stay.
The Ahilya Fort Hotel has 19 lavish rooms and is well-located to explore all the interesting things to do in town. Not just staying option, the fort and the lands surrounding it is a culmination of the most culturally rich sights and activities.Every day at 8:30 am the palace wakes up to the sounds of chants from the historic daily ritual, Lingarchan Puja. The Brahmins make thousands of shivalings of soil and pray for the protection of the people of Holkar State.
It’s a remarkable sight for travellers looking to witness an authentic Indian ritual. Just at a walking distance from the fort is the Rehwa Society, a nonprofit organization started by the Holkars to revive the old traditional weaving craft of Maheshwar and create job opportunities for women. Visit the weaving centre and meet the students at the adjoining Ahilya School, which was started for the weaver’s children and is supported by the surpluses from the textile sales.
The heartfelt conversations with the local children here are some of the most memorable moments from this travel journey. Take a short boat ride across the river to the villages of Naodatodi and Bothu.
You can bike around the premises or choose to go on a long leisurely walk along the fields and the sleepy afternoon sky. Sitting in the boat to the Baneshwar Temple is a scenic affair. Known as the Centre of the Universe, the temple is a great place to have a moment of peace watching the sunset. There are several amazing historic spots to visit here, all just a short drive away. About an hour from the fort is the 15th-century city of Mandu on the edge of the Malwa Plateau.
Laced with Islamic buildings midst 60 square kilometres of forests, the area is a serene spot for the best travel photographs. Visit the Baji Rao Samadhi in the village of Rewa Khedi and have an exquisite lunch at the village.
The fort offers classical Hatha yoga sessions guided by professional yoga practitioners. And you can even opt for a traditional Nimadi maalish massage by trained in-house masseuses, to wind down after a long travelling day.By the evening be prepared for the most magically orchestrated private event – A slow, swaying boat-ride through a sea of floating lamps on the moonlit Narmada River, as the local musicians serenade you with their songs.
Refreshing drinks and a starry night sky – This hour-long laze is as surreal as a fairytale. Late evening join the Roopmati’s picnic, a sundowner on the shores of the river for a candlelit dinner, musical performances and making friends with fellow travellers!
The Ahilya Fort in all its history, hospitality and shimmering grandeur is a travel experience you will never forget!