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Maheshwar, Madhya Pradesh

On the banks of the river Narmada lies Maheshwar, a beautiful temple town that often features as a location in Bollywood and Tamil/ Kollywood movies. Maheshwar is thought to have existed since the beginning of Indian civilisation and is mentioned in the Mahabharata and Ramayana epics.

This charming town is awash with bustling ghats, colourful houses and saffron-clad pilgrims and sadhus (holy people who have renounced the worldly life). Maheshwar sings of the glory of ancient India. Visit the ghats at dusk to see the evening prayer ceremonies, or head to the street markets for handwoven silk and cotton Maheshwari sarees as souvenirs.

Ahilya Fort

High above the sacred Narmada river is the imposing Ahilya Fort. Converted to a wonderful heritage hotel in 2000, it was built for the Maharani Ahilyabai Holkar and included her personal residences, offices, and darbaar audience hall all within the fort.

Baneshwar Temple

This ancient temple on an island surrounded by the fast flow of the Narmada River is a shivalay (temple of Shiva). The temple dates back to the 9th or 10th centuries and its triangular walls are a wonderful example of an ancient building technique that protects temples from the currents of water.

Festivals

Maheshwar is full of celebrations and festivals, including Nag Panchami, Gudi Padava and Teez (New year celebrations according to the Hindu calendar). Every year on the Sunday before the sun enters the sign of Capricorn, Mahaamrityunjaya Rath Yaatraa takes place, to celebrate the welfare of humanity, culminating at the banks of the holy river Narmada.