WEAVER'S WORLD / MAHESHWAR / HISTORY
Maheshwar is a large town in the Khargone district of Madhya Pradesh, India. The National Highway No.3 from Agra to Mumbai passes close by to this historic place and Indore the commercial capital of the State is less than 100 Km from it. Lying on the North bank of the holy river Narmada, Maheshwar itself had been a capital city during the rule of the Holkars in the early part of the 19th century and remained so till Indore became the new capital in 1818.
Maheshwar an ancient town of pilgrimage with a rich heritage of art and culture finds mention in epics like the Mahabharata and Matasya Puran by the name Mahishmati. It is said that King Mahishman, who belonged to the Hyhay Dynasty, founded it. The Maheshwar fort was built during the rule of Akbar, the Mughal emperor and later when Rani Ahilyabai the Holkar queen who ruled in the latter part of the 18th century declared Maheshwar as her capital and developed it. Temples were constructed and the ghats and other structures also came up during her rule. She invited weavers from the rich princely states of Hyderabad, Mandav and others to come and settle in Maheshwar so that it could benefit from their rich craft. Purchasing their goods and gifting to visiting dignitaries to Maheshwar she gave them the opportunity to practice their skills and hone their craft, at the same time ensuring the spread of the reputation of Maheshwar weaves. She encouraged these weavers to try and weave natural fibres that would carry designs from the Maheshwar fort that were inscribed on its walls. That was perhaps the beginning of a tradition that has survived till today.
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