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Maheshwar

The first sight of the beautiful fort and tiered temples of Maheshwar, shimmering above their reflections in the waters of the sacred Narmada River, is something you will never forget. Not many tourists make it this far, which is a shame because it is one of the most atmospheric villages in India, where visitors can watch pilgrims come to the riverside ghats to immerse themselves in the holy water and make offerings to the Hindu god Shiva. 

Maheshwar was once the capital city of King Kartivirarjun, revitalised in the 18th century by the Holkar queen of Indore, Queen Ahilyabai, who built Maheshwar’s magnificent fort. Ahilya Fort has now been converted into a heritage hotel run by Prince Richard Holkar, and it is one of Ampersand’s favourite hotels in India. Within the fort are several more complexes of temples including the Maheshwar Palace, where the public can wander through the ornate and multi-tiered courtyards and explore a museum showcasing some personal artefacts from the life of Queen Ahilyabai.

There are wonderful views from the fort and temples to the plains beyond – Maheshwar is a place in which to savour the peace and quiet. If visitors ever tire of this low-key village then a visit to the island temple of Omkareshwar, named so because pilgrims believe the original mud mound to appear as the form Om, is nearby on the Narmada River. The deserted city of Mandu offers a truly mystical exploration of its long and varied history through the palaces, tombs, monuments and mosques of this area. Of particular note is the awe-inspiring Jahaz Mahal which appears to magically float above water and the extensive Jami Masjid and Hoshang Shah's tomb, which is credited as the inspiration for the Taj Mahal.

Back in the Maheshwar, visitors should make time to shop for the famed local saris, woven in plain cotton with decorative silk ends. Handloom weaving in Maheshwar has been a tradition that brings about economic revenue for its inhabitants since the 5th century. A co-operative of weavers at the Rehwa Society is a good place to watch weavers at work and purchase the distinctive geometric printed saris. Behind the craft workshop there is a school, funded entirely by the profits from the material.

The sleepy riverside town of Maheshwar is infused with the spiritual chill-out vibes for which India is renowned, and it is a wonderfully authentic and romantic place to spend a few days.

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There are no foreign lands. It is the traveller only who is foreign.
Robert Louis Stevenson

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- Mr David Wallace, North India
I thought the Ampersand team was outstanding. We couldn’t have hoped for anything more.
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India
I had a very lovely time and was looked after splendidly. My first visit to India could not have been better, save for being longer! But I shall return at some point and I shall look to you to make the arrangements.
- Matthew Nicklin, North India
Without question, you put together the best trip I have ever taken. We were shown around like visiting dignitaries, the hotels were fantastic and the itinerary was just right. Everybody I know will hear about how amazing Ampersand is!
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Difficult to articulate just how good the service from you and your team really was. We know you will continue to do well and hope we have the chance to seek your assistance again before long.
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So many highlights to choose from! The hotels were amazing but Maya Villa was a highlight… I loved just hanging out in the hammock reading my book and watching the peacocks chase the cows!
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We had a wonderful holiday - everything was perfect. Thank you for helping us to make a thoughtful plan to enjoy and make most out of our trip. The places we visited, the guides, the transportation and driver, the hotels selected... Everything was great!
- Jaime Benitez, South India
Everything you did for us whilst we were away was hugely appreciated, and Ampersand has been exemplary in every way. I'll always recommend you!
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