On the north bank of the sacred Narmada River, Maheshwar ranks among our favourite off-track destinations in India. The town rose to prominence in the 18th century under the Holkar dynasty, who erected an imposing sandstone palace complex and some beautiful shrines on the waterfront. They also developed the local weaving industry: Maheshwari saris are famous across the country to this day. You can see the cloth being hand woven in the traditional style at the wonderful Rehwa Society workshop, housed in the pillared temple of a former Shiva shrine. It was set up as a not-for-profit initiative by Richard and Sally Holkar in 1978, and is still going strong, providing a sustainable livelihood for a dozen women.

Apart from visits to handloom workshops and temples, visitors may stroll along the riverside paths, where dhobi-wallas create a dazzling spectacle with their laundry each morning, head off upriver for wild swims in the clean waters of the Narmada, and enjoy sunset boat rides. With so much to experience in the area, we generally recommend a stay of at least three nights here.

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