Maheshwar, a temple town on the bank of River Narmada, mentioned in the great Hindu epics ‘Ramayana & Mahabharata’, a glorious city which was known as ‘Mahishmati’, was the capital of southern Avanti at the time of King Kartavirya Arjun.
A city famous for its temple, bathing ghats, mighty fort complex which stand in quiet beauty and splendor mirrored in the river Narmada and obviously its exquisitely woven ‘Maheshwari sarees, revived to its ancient position of importance by the Holkar queen Rani Ahilyabai of Indore, who transformed this land into a land of tranquility and prosperity. These sariees are famous throughout India for their excellent floral designs.
The town lies on the north bank of the Holy River Narmada. A glorious city from a very old time, Maheshwar's temples and massive fort-complex presents an unusual charm of architectural grandeur. The city opt its name ‘Maheshwar’ from the great Lord ‘Shiva’, a grand lord in Hindu religion, which literally meant to be the abode of Lord Shiva. The ancient name of the city was Mahishmati, later it changed into Maheshwar. It sustained rich art and cultural heritage under it. Tourism and religion also hold immense significance in and around Maheshwar.
Some of the ancient Temples here are Shiv Jyotirlingam Mandleshwar, Bawangaja and Mandav. Towards 65 kms east of Maheshwar lies Onkareshwar temple, which is one of the 12 most popular Shiv Lingam temples in India. Charmed to its natural, spiritual & historical beauty, many Bollywood & Tamil movies have been shot here like Ashoka, Tulsi. The place witnessed some renowned names of Bollywood, The place also being visited by many foreign nationals round the year, those having strong interest in Indian art & spiritual values.
One day the king along with his 500 wives went to the river for having good time with them, he was requested behalf of his wives that there were not enough place to roam around freely and playing some games then he stopped the mighty river Narmada with his 1000 arms. Ravana was flying by and when he seen beneath a dry river bed, he thought it could be the idle place to worship Lord Shiva, he landed in that dry place and started praying and making Lord Shiva’s sand Lingam. During all his hard work to built lingam and praying soul deeply, the King Shastrarjun and his all wives done and planning to go back, while leaving the place Shastrarjun let the water flow. And then mighty water stream of Narmada swept Ravana along with his Shiva lingam messing up his prayers, angry Ravana got up and challenged Shastrarjun, The mighty Sahastrarjuna with the 1000 arms pinned Ravana to the ground. Then he placed 10 lamps on his heads and one on his hand. After tying up Ravana, Sahastrarjuna dragged him home and tied him up to the cradle pole of his son. A humiliated Ravana stayed prisoner until his release was secured.
Another tale correlate upper incident in little different way, where the King Sahastrarjuna was bathing with his wives in the river when some people around challenged him to stop the waters flow by his thousands hands effort and he did it effortlessly, but by doing this the water level of the mighty River Narmada growing up, the Ravana was doing his prayers and meditation nearby and so he became furious as he got disrupted. He challenged Sahastrarjuna for the battle and hence there were a gigantic fight between them, since then this place is marked for Ravana’s defeat and capture.
One another tale added that, there was a king in Maheshwar named Nila, who blessed with a beautiful daughter, the God of Fire Agni fell in love with her and a secret love story began between them. God Agni who assumed the form of a Brahmin to hide this secret to the king, started meeting with the princess every day, when the king learnt about it, he became angry and ordered Agni to be punished. But then Agni assumed his true form and threatened that he will destroy everything if someone would try to harm him or his beloved princess. The king Nila begged forgiveness and since then girls of Maheshwari rather became unacceptable to others as wives, thereupon incident stated that God Agni blessed them sexual liberty so they may take any Man they pleased to.
Temples of Maheshwar
It is said that there are more than 100 temples are telling the long history of Maheshwar, most temples are spread along the right bank of the river near Maheshwar ghat and the vicinity of the fort.