1. Ahilya Fort, Maheswar, Madhya Pradesh
Maheswar is located 91 km from the city of Indore on the northern bank of the Narmada river. It was once the capital of the Malwa region which was ruled by the Holkar Dynasty of the Maratha clan for 4000 years. Queen Ahilyabai Holkar built the fort along the banks of the river Narmada due to her devotion to Shiva as it was a product of his being. Even today you can see ghats leading down from the fort where ceremonial rituals are performed.
The fort houses a temple complex fully devoted to Shiva with distinct Maratha architecture. The queen is remembered for her excellent administrative abilities and patronage towards cottage industries that flourish today. A room in the fort houses her collection of idols of Shiva cast in gold and silver. The most spectacular is the golden swing on which she would seat the idols. Ahilyabai’s court, where she would consult her generals, has been restored and gives an idea of her life in those days.
Currently the Ahilya Fort is run as a heritage hotel which is still owned by the descendants of the family. Richard Holkar, the son of the former Maharaja of Indore, runs the 13 room hotel which offers unique views of Maheswar and the Narmada river flowing alongside.