Any place is good to visit, if you have it within you to enjoy wherever you are. The sights of a place are an additional bonus.
Maheshwar, on the banks of the river Narmada, is a small town in Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh. Dwarfed by the commercial capital of the state Indore, just 80 Km. away, it is still interesting enough for visitors to have a good time while exploring what it has to offer. A place of prominence and capital during the rule of the Holkars in the 19th century, this fortress town has also become a tourist’s delight of today.
What does one get to see in and around Maheshwar?
- Plenty of temples for a start. Steeped in mythology, with lots of folklore to contend with Maheshwar has attracted tourists from across India and abroad alike. The Sahastrarjun temple close to the river Narmada is a prominent attraction for the lore of Ravanabeing defeated and pinned down by King Kartavirya Arjuna is quite popular. The King who was known to have 1000 arms and 500 wives, once stopped the flow of the Narmada river for some time, that his wives could play and enjoy themselves in that dry area. King Ravana flying overhead in his Pushpak Vimana seeing the dry river bed thought it fit to sit down and pray to Lord Shiva with a shivalinga made out of sand. While he was doing that king Sahasrarjun seeing that his wives had finished enjoying themselves, allowed the river Narmada to flow again. Ravana was disturbed and troubled by the loss of his Linga that got washed away. Furious, he challenged Sahasrarjun, who accepted and instead pinned down Ravana with his 1000 arms and tying him up, put 10 lamps on his heads and one on the tied hands and kept him like that in a humiliated state till he could be rescued.
- Other temples that are visited are Rajarajeshwar Mandir, Kashi Vishwanath Mandir, Chaturbhuj Narayan Mandir, Mahila Mata’s Chatris, Chintamani Ganapathi Mandir etc. that are sprawled across the place.
- The newly constructed EkMukhi Datta temple also known as Shiva Datta Dham is constructed in an area of about 30 acres. The Temple area is restricted to 10000 sq. feet and is situated on the banks of historical Narmada River. The main attraction of this temple is the very beautiful idols of Lord EkMukhi Datta, Maa Narmada and Lord Ganesha.
- The well-maintained historical fort built by Rani Ahilyabai Holkar is a big draw for tourists who visit Maheshwar. Ahilya Fort is now a heritage hotel, founded by Prince Richard Holkar, a descendant of both Ahilya Bai Holkar and the last Maharajah of Indore. Also visited is the palace of Rani Ahilyabai just to get a fair idea of how she lived.
- Rani Ahilyabai had a penchant for dresses and it was her patronage that made Maheshwar become a good hub for handloom clothing, with its unique designs and fine textured fabrics, especially sarees and salwar kameez.
- Surprisingly Maheshwar has become a very good venue for shooting scenes. For Bollywood movies by the Deols, music videos by prominent directors like A.R.Rahman, movie scenes by Mani Ratnam, Andrew Vasanth Louis with his episodes from the serial Jhansi Ki Rani etc. They and many others of the ‘filmy duniya’ have shot this place into the limelight.
Maheshwar & its textiles
Ever since Rani Ahilyabai lent her personal encouragement to the migrant weavers who had settled in Maheshwar, handloom fabrics became a cottage industry for the place andhave become widely known for their unique style They provide a fine example of the devotion and dedicated efforts to preserve the purity of a traditional art.
What makes a Maheshwari saree different?
The Maheshwari Saris are exclusive for their unique designs on silk and cotton fabrics, the fine use of zari and brilliant use of stripes, checks and exquisite floral borders.
Distinctive features of the Maheshwari Sarees are its light weight, shiny lustre, and a fine display of colours, with brilliant motifs, an attractive Pallu and a border to match. ThePallu is particularly noted for the colourful stripes in varied colours such as green, pink, magenta, mauve, violet etc. which lend the fabric a mesmerising look. The border is also adorned by trendy designs and themes such as the Maheshwar fort and similar subjects.
The unique feature of a Maheshwari saree is its reversible border. The border is designed in such a way that both sides of the saree can be worn. This is locally known as ‘Bugdi’.The designs in the Maheshwari sarees were inspired by the detailing on the walls of the Fort of Maheshwar. These designs are found on the Maheshwari sarees even today. However today there is no dearth of innovative designs, novel designs and patterns, and very much trendy and current in tune with the market taste and have got included to make the hand woven Maheshwari saree trendy and current.
Once, the Maheshwari saree was made of pure silk. In the course of time, these sarees online began to be made in pure cotton sarees and with a mixture of silk and cotton (silk yarn in the warp and cotton in the weft). Nowadays, wool is also being used in the production of Maheshwari sarees.
These sarees are extremely light in weight.Initially made only in dark shades like red, maroon, black, purple and green, today, these sarees are also being made in lighter shades and gold and silver zari threads are being made use of liberally.
Unnati Silks and the Maheshwari sarees
Traditional to the hilt yet trendy in its approach, Unnati Silks has a wonderful collection of the Maheshwari handlooms that make it hard to choose from.
Plain colored fields with striking golden zari borders, dark backgrounds flanked by multicolor borders, classy neons with striking zari , stripes pattern sarees with lovely large motifs on the pallu, elegant geometrical block printed motifs with a zaripatti border and so on. Maheswari silk sarees decorated with thread embroidery, kundans and beads; they are stylish, they are sensational, stunning and shiny, their fame is as lustrous as the fabric itself since traditional times.
Besides the sarees are the wonderful lot of salwar kameez and the unique dupattas collection that showcase the immense talent of the weavers.