Last year was a very fulfilling year in terms of travel. I made as many as 5 trips within India. And my kids thoroughly enjoyed all of them. The last trip of the year was to the cleanest city in India – Indore and the surrounding places. Indore – India’s street food capital is also famous for its yummy food items, especially Indori Pohe and jalebi in Sarafa lane. Fun fact is Indore was the capital of the state of Madhya Pradesh before Bhopal. And it still remains the commercial capital of the state.
Indore has a history of about 500 years ruled by the Chaudharys, then Marathas and then the British. The Holkar dynasty especially under the reign of Ahilyabai Holkar has most influence over Indore. Ahilyabai Holkar is known for her bravery and leadership skills. She was a patron of temples and has built many of them during her rule.
How to Travel to Indore
Indore is a beautiful location. The city is so clean that you can actually see people cleaning the places like bus stops, roads etc for hours together. It can be easily reached from Pune by overnight bus.
It is very easy to travel to Indore from anywhere in India as it is well connected by road, trains and flights. Indore has its own airport, however, the frequency of flights is lower than that of Bhopal. If you are traveling to Bhopal, then Indore is just 4 hours away.
6 top experiences to have when you visit Indore
1] Indore: the street food experience
Talk about Indore and the first question they will ask is did you eat the yummy street food in Indore. Indore is the street food capital of the country. You have the famous Sarafa Bazaar and the 56 Dukan all buzzing with yummy street food!
The city smells of Happiness and Glory with Poha, Jalebi and Kachori!!
– Author unknown
Sarafa Bazaar is a unique concept. It is in fact a gold market during the day. After the gold market is closed, street vendors set up food stalls. The street food stalls open up at 9.00 p.m. and go on till 1.00 a.m. in the morning. This was conceptualized by the gold market shopkeepers to keep their shops safe at night. These stalls keep the place alive and kicking and there’s absolutely no chance for burglary.
If you visit Sarafa bazaar, then you should not miss bhutte ka kees, garadu (made out of sweet corn), coconut crush, sabudana khichadi, Joshi’s dahi wada, Indori Pohe with jalebi, Pattice, all types of chats, milk delicacies like Indori Shikanji, milk cake, rabdi etc. Go here with an empty stomach and enjoy to the fullest.
The only drawback of the place is that it is very narrow and crowded!
If you want a place that is a bit less crowded then visit 56 Dukan which has 56 food stalls. There are many good restaurants along with food stalls. The famous ones here are the Johny Hot Dog, chat shops, pan shops where you get the fire pan and smoke pan. The famous Nafees toast shop is also around the corner.
And don’t forget to carry back Gajak and the variety of Shev after your visit to Indore. I saw a shop that has as many as 350 varieties of Shev. From pani puri, punjabi shev to mild milk shev you have all the options. Gajak is a winter specialty which is similar to Maharashtra’s til-gul. I was surprised to know that I could get these in wide varieties.
2] Indore: the shopping experience
Indore is a shoppers paradise for us girls. Shop for kurtis, dress materials and sarees. If you are looking out for lehengas then you have a wide variety near the Rajwada.
There are very well known shops like Pakeeza for dress shopping which were recommended to us by our friends. And if you are fond of imitation jewelry, then buy it at dirt cheap rates on the streets near Rajwada.
Another specialty of Indore are the smocking dresses.The MHOW complex is famous for smocking dresses. You get them at very cheap rates.
3] Visiting history in the Great Holkar’s Rajawada at Indore:
Visit to Indore is incomplete without experiencing the legacy of the great Holkars. Visit the Rajawada and experience the history of Holkars through its beautiful architecture influenced by french, maratha and moghul architectures. Even though a part of the Rajawada is under renovation, but you can visit the remaining structure. It showcases details about history, culture and artefacts of the Holkars including the weapons they used.
photo credits: www.localguidesconnect.com
Lal Bagh palace is another wonderful piece of architecture, if you want to see the riches of the Holkar empire. It is comparatively new structure as compared to the
Rajawada. The entrance to the palace is a replica of that of Buckingham palace. The beautiful carvings and furnishings display an influence of European culture. The part of palace turned into the museum is a window into the lifestyle and heritage of Holkars.
4] Visiting temples in Indore
Indore is known as Dev bhoomi or the land of many temples. Many of these temples are built by Devi Ahilyabai Holkar. The most famous of them being Khajrana Ganpati and Bada Ganpati temples.
The Khajrana Ganpati temple is beautifully made in marble. The murals on the outer walls of the temples are exquisite and of course frameworthy! The bhaktas or disciples inside the temple continuously chanti “Ganpati Bappa Morya..” spreading a divine vibe in and around the temple!
Bada Ganpati is a very old temple and as the name suggests the Ganpati idol is very huge.
There are many other temples in Indore which you can visit like Annapurna temple, Kanch Mandir etc.
5] Travel near Indore: Omkareshwar and Maheshwar
After enjoying it in Indore, it was time to head towards Omkareshwar. I had booked a hotel in Maheshwar for a night stay.
The journey was really wonderful! Along with the dev darshan, I did some saree shopping at Maheshwar. And filled my heart with the view of gigantic Narmada river at both Omkareshwar and Maheshwar!
The first thing that I instantly felt when we landed in Omkareshwar was the pious vibe. You feel it in the air as soon as you enter here. The river Narmada flows through Omkareshwar and the river is so huge that you just feel like looking at it forever!
Omkareshwar is located on a island called Mandhata and can be reached by the hanging jhoola bridge or by a boat ride. It is said that Shiva linga emerged on its own in the temple and hence it is of much importance! As you reach the temple, there are people chanting Om Namah Shivay all the way as you reach the temple. You have to climb up a bit from the bank to reach the Shiva linga. The temple is very old and has beautiful carvings. And as you reach the Shiva linga you can instantly feel the presence of God there!
The only thing which I didn’t like here was the constant bickering by beggars and pujari’s running behind you!
They say that the visit to Omkareshwar is incomplete without visiting Mamaleshwar. It is on the opposite side of Omkareshwar on the other bank of the Narmada river. We took a boat ride to the temple. The temple is less crowded than Omkareshwar and again it’s architecture reminded me of the beautiful temples in Pattadakal.
Sant Gajanan Maharaj temple:
For all the devotees of Sant Gajanan Maharaj, there is also a Sant Gajanan Maharaj temple in Omkareshwar at a walking distance from Mamleshwar temple. The premises of the temple are so clean and it would remind you of the temple at Shegaon. There is also a stay facility available here and as in Shegaon, this place is also impeccably clean.
Maheshwar fort or Ahilya Fort:
When you talk about Maheshwar, the one thing that instantly comes to your mind are the Maheshwari sarees. They are such a beauty! On my trip to Maheshwar shopping was on the top of the list and it was totally worth it!
Maheshwar fort is half open for the visitors and the rest is converted into a heritage hotel named Ahilya Fort. The part that is open to the visitors has a huge Ahilya Devi’s statue, the antique vessels and a palkhi and a temple where still Shivalinga Puja is performed by 11 Brahmins daily. The carvings on the fort are simply beautiful!
And the best is the view of Narmada river from the fort. It will leave you spellbound and hence try to visit the fort at the sunrise or sunset!
Narmada ghat and Narmada Aarti:
There are many temples around the Narmada ghat and what you should not miss is the Narmada Aarti in the evening. We all know the Ganga aarti but Narmada Arti is equally beautiful and enchanting. Also it is less crowded. I got a chance to perform the Aarti and it felt divine!The river looks just calm at night and the floating diyas look beautiful!
Sahastra Dhara Waterfall:
This place is surely not to be missed.It is about a 15 minutes boat ride from Maheshwar. You have to then walk for around 10-15 minutes on the uneven stones. It is a place where the river drops over a sharp edge creating the impression of a thousand waterfalls and hence the name Sahastra dhara.
Now came my favourite part! Exploring the ruins at Mandu! I had heard that Mandu is called “Hampi of North” and that had spurred my interest in it. Many people say it’s best to visit Mandu in rains but I beg to differ. Mandu is one place which must not be missed anytime you visit Indore. You might want to keep an entire day or even stay in Mandu to cover the entire ruins.
6] Travel near Indore: Mandu
Mandu has huge ruins of palaces and masjids and temples from the 15th and 16th centuries. It is situated on the top of Malwa plateau and is surrounded by steep slopes. This location makes it particularly beautiful in monsoon with small waterfalls flowing on the slopes turning the place into heaven!
Here are the must visit spots in Mandu:-
The architecture of this building blows your mind with the symmetry, the gigantic walls and the beautiful lawn in the front. The masjid is really huge. It is built in red stone and is modeled on the great mosque of Istanbul.
A epitome of romance, Jahaz Mahal is the main attraction in Mandu. The place looks magical in the shape of a ship. The water around it gives a look of a boat floating in water and hence the name. Another advantage of having water around is that it acts as a natural coolant. It helps the place stay cool even in the harshest of summer.
The view from top is mesmerizing overlooking the garden and the tank. By now, I am jealous of the queen staying in such a beautiful palace! The place is really huge and you would need atleast 2-3 hrs to visit it completely. Also better arrange for a tour guide, who can explain you the importance of the place well.
If you are zapped by the architecture of Jahaz Mahal, just wait! Another surprise is on its way!
The Hindola Mahal is adjacent to the Jahaz Mahal and is a piece of architectural beauty! The palace has it’s side walls sloping outwards. This gives the feeling as if it is swinging, hence the name! Another surprising thing about the construction is that the palace is constructed using interlocking stones without any cementing.
Rani Roopmati Mahal:
Mandu is all about the love story of the beautiful Rani Roopmati and the Muslim prince Baz Bahadur. The pavilion of Rani Roopmati is a beautiful sandstone structure with beautiful arches. There is a rain water harvesting system which carries the rain water to a pond next to palace. And like Hampi, you will be zapped by the acoustics of the room used for singing and dancing.
As you climb up the palace, you will see stunning views of Mandu around you. Also the Baz Bahadur Palace is visible from this palace thus embossing their love. The view of river Narmada is soothing. Rani Roopmati used to sing for hours at this spot!
You will need atleast 2-3 hours to be see the palace completely. There is also a small hike to reach to this place. Hence you need to plan your trip accordingly.
Baz Bahadur palace:
A small yet beautiful palace is the Baz Bahadur palace, visible from the Rani Roopmati Mahal. There is a small pool in the palace and a courtyard. The royal family used it for song and dance programmes.
Light and Sound Show:
The show comes live every evening with the beautiful love story of Rani Roopmati and Baz Bahadur in the strong voice of renowned actor Ashutosh Rana. The show is from 7.00-7.35 pm and 7.50-8.25 pm and is held in Hindola Mahal. Keep your evening reserved for this beautiful show!
You can stay here in Mandu by searching for accommodation on MakeMyTrip or travel from Indore which is just 2 hours away.
Mandu is a place that is not on the tourist map but it should be! It is surely a hidden treasure! The government is taking effort to improvise its tourism. As a step towards that Mandu Festival is held every year which has live concerts, adventure sports, cycling expeditions and hop on hop off buses to visit Mandu. Do visit this gem and do write to us on how you liked it!
Here’s a fun quote from an Indore city lover –
I hate outdoor so much that I prefer to stay Indore!!
So if you have any long weekend, do plan a trip to Indore!
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