The majestic 250 year old Ahilya Fort sits on the edge of a cliff, high above the mighty and sacred Narmada River, surrounded by the fascinating, unexploited town of Maheshwar. The views over the river and ghats are exceptional. Replete with history and intrigue, myth and legend, Ahilya Fort offers guests a rare chance to get off the tourist trail and an abundance of things to see and do.
With the amazing, deserted city of Mandu and the famed island temple of Omkareshwar nearby, this is a place at which to spend time and relax but from where you can also explore the river, undisturbed by other tourists.
The Royal Tent boasts one of the most spectacular views and locations of any hotel and truly is ‘fit for a king’, with its own garden and plunge pool; whilst the suites are beautiful and subtle and boast oodles of space and fabulous views. The rest of the rooms are scattered around the rambling premises and each is different and cosy.
The architecture is outstanding and a stroll down through the town, via the exemplary school, to the ghats is a must; not to mention a walk along the riverbank which is pulsating with colourful life. Also visit the renowned workshops of the Rehwa Society, whose lady handloom weavers produce some of the finest saris and cloth in all India.
Being a gourmet himself, your host (should he be in residence at the time), Prince Shivaji Rao Holkar, has the highest standards and the food here is delicious and principally organic, sourced from the fort’s enviable vegetable garden.
Meals are taken in different areas of the fort at different times and guests tend to dine together at night but may choose to eat on their own if they wish. It is all inclusive so, once here, you pay for nothing – be it food, alcohol (excluding imported), massages or local excursions.
The pool is lovely; sunny terraces and shady verandahs abound; a cosy library exudes peace and quiet; a small massage room soothes tired, over-travelled bones; and the charming rooms and suites have superb views, balconies or gardens. The exquisite picnics they arrange are moments to marvel at! A boat trip at sundown is something you will never forget.
Sit back whilst being rowed past temples and offered refreshing drinks and a delicious dinner. Watch the reflections become moon-shadows on the river as the moon emerges – an extraordinary experience. Truly a memorable place where you are transported back in time and where one could spend days or weeks!
Ahilya Fort uses solar energy for the kitchen and laundry. The rooms are too scattered to make it viable to provide energy for the rest of the fort.
They currently have 3 solar panels but 15 are planned which will be used to light the public areas and paths in the fort. They have an organic vegetable garden which provides the vegetables for the hotel, as well as an organic farm providing the hotel's wheat, lentils, etc. They have an energy plantation for organic fire wood production, making them self sufficient.
The owners are deeply involved in the conservation of Maheshwar's heritage, and Unesco and the French government are also involved. The Unesco involvement means Maheshwar is chosen as one of the 18 'Indian Heritage Cities Network' as also has a Unesco promoted heritage walk. Under an agreement signed between the French and Indian governments, Maheshwar and Chinon will cooperate in heritage based projects and exchange programs.
The Rehwa Society is an NGO founded by the Holkars (owning family) in 1978, with the ambitious objective of improving the lives of Maheshwar's handloom weavers, giving women employment, by reviving and popularizing the Maheshwari textile tradition. This not-for-profit Society utilizes its surpluses exclusively for the welfare of Maheshwar's weavers. One of the Society's marked successes is the Ahilya School, also founded by the Rehwa Society, in 1989, with an initial supporting grant from the German aid organization, BORDA.
An ideal place to take in its entirety due its small size and very private, spacious grounds. Suitable for longer, spread out celebrations due to its location in central India. A property with many pretty areas suitable for different parties on different days. Other, overflow accommodation of a lesser standard is nearby but limited. Varied entertainment possible.
For reservations please contact your tour operator, your local travel agent,
or the hotel.
Visit the extraordinary deserted city of Mandu. Enjoy a magical ‘floating’ dinner on the river surrounded by flickering candles, or on the island with a blazing log fire.
By air to Indore from Bhopal, Delhi or Bombay, followed by a 2 - 3 hour drive. Alternatively drive from Mandu, Dhar, Mhow or Omkareshwar.