The peaceful, riverside town of Maheshwar has long held spiritual significance – it’s mentioned in the Mahabharata and Ramayana under its old name, Mahishmati, and still draws sadhus and yatris (pilgrims) to its ancient ghats and temples on the holy Narmada River. The town enjoyed a golden age in the late 18th century under Holkar queen Ahilyabai, who built the palace in the towering fort and many other monuments. Away from the ghats and historic buildings, Maheshwar’s colourful streets display brightly painted wooden houses with overhanging balconies.
The river, and the fort which overlooks it, is about 1.5km south of the bus stand. Leaving the bus stand, walk straight over the crossroads and continue past the internet cafe and ATM until you reach a floodlit roundabout. Take the left fork to get to the ghats via Hansa Heritage hotel, Labboo’s Café and the fort. Take the right fork to head directly to the ghats.