The not-for-profit Rehwa Society was started in the late ‘70s by the Holkars, with the objective of reviving the ancient hand weaving craft of Maheshwar, and giving employment to women. Today over 80 weavers are at work, and our textiles are famous throughout India. Situated a five minute walk from the Hotel, the centre has traditional wooden hand looms, and we have our own dye house. Surpluses from the sale of textiles support the adjoining Ahilya School, which was started for weavers’ children. Both can be visited in the same morning
A daily ritual dating from the time of Queen Ahilya Bai is still performed every morning in the area just below the breakfast Mandap by 11 Brahmins. Here you can watch them painstakingly making thousands of shivalings out of earth, which culminates in a puja to ask for the protection of the inhabitants of the Holkar State.
Pilgrims doing a circumambulation of the Narmada on foot (which takes 3 years, 3 months and 3 days), are offered rations and subsidized places to stay along this devotional journey, a distance of 2,600 kms. Continuing the age old ritual practiced since Ahilya Bai’s time, the family Trust and Ahilya Fort distribute rations to pilgrims.
A short drive (75 minutes) away are the ruins of the 15th century fortified city of Mandu, on the edge of the Malwa plateau. One of India’s most romantic sites, these Islamic buildings pre-date the arrival of the Mughals and are scattered over 60 square kilometers of forests. The Royal enclave is built around a lake, and the nearby tomb of Hoshiang Shah served as a model for the Taj Mahal. Mandu is especially attractive in the monsoon months of August and September.
While in Mandu, should you wish to spoil yourself with an unforgettable lunch, arrive at one of Mandu’s secluded ruins with a breathtaking view of the plateau below. Discover an elegant al fresco picnic (laid out with tables and chairs, linen, glassware and cutlery) served by our uniformed waiter.
In the town of Omkareshwar, an 80 minute drive upriver from Maheshwar, is one of the 12 most revered temples of followers of Shiva. The main idol is a lingam or phallic symbol of Shiva’s creative power, which is believed to have sprung out of the earth by itself. A very important Hindu pilgrimage site; all visitors are welcome. A side trip to Bakawa, the sole place in India that hand-crafts shivalings, can be arranged. Omkareshwar can also be combined with a trip to Baji Rao Samadhi.
Baji Rao was a very important Peshwa ruler in the 18th century. His scenic chattri, or crematory cenotaph, is perched above the Narmada River in the village of Rewa Khedi, and is about an hour from Ahilya Fort. A visit there can be combined with a visit to Omkareshwar. And why not spoil yourself, and stay for lunch, stylishly arranged under the trees in the shadow of the monument? An al fresco picnic can be set up and waiting to be served by our waiter after your visit to the samadhi.
Included in your stay is a not-to-be-missed boat ride to Baneshwar Temple, considered to be the Centre of the Universe. Watch the sun setting as you glide down the Narmada on a hand-poled boat to the Temple. Have a cup of tea and then release diyas as an offering to the River.
Our organic 15 acre farm is a 10 minute drive from the Hotel. The farm provides much of the livestock and produce used in our kitchen. You can pick your lunch, and watch your dinner growing! We use traditional and organic farming methods, and our ploughs are still pulled by our sturdy local bullocks.
A 20-minute boat ride across the Narmada River are the two sleepy villages of Naodatodi and Bothu, very much in contrast to bustling Maheshwar town. Guests can enjoy a pleasant 45 minute walk through a typical village of the region and its fields, and your boat can collect you at the end of the walk. Trail bikes are also available.
Experience vedic blessings in a Ganesh Puja, or prayer service, in the Ganesh temple located in the centre of the Ahilya Fort Hotel.
Classical Hatha yoga sessions are held on the Fort’s southwestern turret, overlooking the river. They are guided by yogini Niradhara, a certified Yoga Alliance teacher and Y.A.C.E.P., and are an excellent way to start the day.
Our massage treatment room is located in the Lingarchan area of the Ahilya Wada. In our effort to work within the local community, our masseurs (for gents) and masseuses (for ladies) are trained in-house and give the traditional nimadi maalish massage of the region.
Guests can enjoy a leisurely 2 ½ hour float down the River on our traditional paddle boats. Our boatmen will serve you light refreshments. Don’t forget your sunscreen and hat!
A magical hour under the stars on the Narmada. Your traditional wooden boat will be hand-poled up the River through hundreds of flickering lamps, as you are serenaded by local musicians. Float and drift under the timeless night sky as our waiter serves you refreshments.
Dine in the ancient garden of one of the Holkar State’s chief nobles. Take a hand-poled boat down the diya-strewn river and disembark at the magical Boleya Chhatri gated garden for a delectable vegetarian dinner by candlelight, served by our staff.
This list is by no means exhaustive; there are many more activities we can arrange. When booking an activity, do give us a day’s notice so that we may plan a memorable experience for you. Some activities are chargeable so please be sure to enquire about rates from our front office or guest relations team, or when making your booking.
It was a great pleasure to be back again in Ahilya Fort. As usual, the staff were cheerful & professional. Garden was also immaculate and my stay was amazing.Fabienne (France), April 2023
Absolutely loved this place! The setting is beautiful, the staff is wonderful and the food is incredible... It was lovely to relax here.Elizabeth (Scotland), March 2023
Normally when you return the experience is as good as the 1st. With Ahilya Fort, the 2nd experience surpassed the first; delightfully so!Rahul (India), July 2023
The Fort is so tranquil, it was a beautiful soulful experience. Our kids loved the ambience, the architecture and enjoyed plucking vegetables from the Kitchen Garden,Shakuntala (India), August 2023
An amazing experience, staying on the banks of the River Narmada in a Heritage Fort Palace will be the integral part of the fondest memories.Virender (India), September 2023
Wonderful days in real India. Loved the room, with views over the river & so much serenity.Linda (Australia), September 2023
The true magic of the hotel was the warm embrace we received from all staff. Couple that with wonderful meals with the menus created each day by our host, Prince Richard Holkar sourced from their in-house organic garden & farms, made our stay truly magical. We were reluctant to leave.Jeffrim (Australia), February 2023
The Ahilya was everything and so much more than what I had read. Indeed you are not staying at a hotel but cocooned in a home away from home.Yash K. (India), February 2023
Perhaps the only heritage hotel maintained in the old Royal style. Very homely.Malabarian (India), February 2023
A supremely different experience in every way…Heaven absolutely!Preeti & Rekhy (India), March 2022
Thank you for opening your beautiful home to all of us. It had the most special energy, best service, yummiest food and lots of love.Pretha (India), March 2022
Toujours aussi raffiné, élégant et merveilleux.Francois (France), March 2022
Ahilya…always grateful for your kind, gentle hospitality.Nandini (India), April 2022
C'est un lieu unique au monde et vous y serez reçu comme des amis de la famille!Il est difficile de décrire le fort car chaque détail est beauté. Toutes les chambres sont des petits musées. Au milieu du fleuve il y a... le centre de l'Universe. C'est un peu une expérience irréelle mais tellement formidable qu'elle sera pour nous : inoubliable! Merci à tous.Mr and Mrs Picard (France), December 2018
This place has been absolutely incredible, the staff is amazing, the service was everything and this fortress is stunning. I wish all the staff members best of luck and may you be blessed with kindness you have shown me.Ms. Coffy (United States) June 2018.
To Ahilya Family thanks for a wonderful stay filled with tons of love and warmth. Hospitality is at its best. Came back after 5 years I didn’t realize I missed this place so much in the last few years. It’s like falling in love all over again. Thanks for everything.Mr. & Mrs. Sharma (India), March 2018
What a wonderful treat and treasure! Thank you for your gracious and warm hospitality in a place of such history and the legacy of a Queen. We are very grateful for the experience.Mrs Clinton (United States), March 2018
Convivial, luxurious and in a very good way, slightly eccentric, there is so much that is simply "right" about this lovely hotel. Drifting down the Narmada on one of the hotel boats, watching the sun set and with the distant sound of the temple drums, it is hard to imagine a more exotic place!Robert & Wendy (United Kingdom), May 2018
Ahilya Fort is a real gem - hidden India. All the staff was very helpful and friendly Kunta and Garva took great care of us. Food good(not over spicy for us) and our room Imli, looking the river was very comfortable. We appreciate no TV & phone. A real hide a way for us.Richard & Jan (Australia), September 2017
Il existe à travers le monde quelques diamants cachés, connus seulement par une poignée d’initiés. Ahilya Fort, dans son écrise de Maheshwar, est ce joyau, un kaleidoscope de l’Inde éternelle, de l’Inde millenaire. Pur comme la Narmada, immutable et protégé des soubresants du temps. Un grand respect pour Richard Holkar, un Prince.Eric Drouhet (France), December 2013
Quiet, Serene, Quaint!!! A magical place to contemplate and discover hidden gems of art & architecture. Kudos to REHWA for keeping our heritage alive. Feels like home because of Koonta Bai and her team. Will be back.Supriya and Nandani (India), September 2017
Every detail and aspect of our stay was planned to perfection in order to create a most magical experience in what feels like the most luxury and beautiful home-away-from-home. Thank you again for your hospitality and kindness.Bella (United Kingdom), November 2018
We had the loveliest visit here at the Fort. We so enjoyed the company, the meals, the activities and the tent too. I loved speaking french with guests. The meals were superb! Well done on the homemade jams and jellies. We hope to return with my husband and other son.Mrs. Rhys (France), January 2018
It is been such a magical experience staying at Ahilya Fort. We had such a wonderful time staying at the hotel and working with local weavers. Thank you for your incredible hospitality we are looking forward to returning soon!Ashton & Devon (United Kingdom), April 2018