Glorious Past, Artistic Present & Timeless Sacredness

Sumana Kukke Madhya Pradesh Maheshwar Narmada Silk

Narmada is one of the seven holy rivers of India, which is said to have the power to cleanse the sins of the people who visit it. Human settlements thrived at these banks believing that the river will keep their lives pure and sustain life. Maheshwar is a town situated on the right bank of the river Narmada and is one of those places in the world known for its glorious past, artistic present and timeless sacredness.
Today Maheshwari sarees are recognised by its site of production Maheshwar that has gained its own unique identity shaped by its rich culture and sacred charm.

The Holkars were once the Subedars of that area under the Peshwas of Pune; they later broke off from Pune’s reign after the Third battle of Panipat to establish their independent state. When Khande Rao Holkar who was the heir to the Holkar dynasty died in battle in the year 1754, his father Malhar Rao Holkar prevent Khande Rao’s widow Ahalya Bai Holkar from committing sati as he thought that the nation needed her. Later in 1767 when Malhar Rao died Ahalya Bai Holkar became the head of the state; she shifted her capital from Indore to Maheshwar, which was more sacred and serene.
During that time, there was no local style or settlements of weaving in Maheshwar. Ahalya Bai brought weavers from Maharashtra to start weaving in the city of Maheshwar. She encouraged women to weave which eventually helped the economical growth of the province. It developed into a strong seat of power
and religion, so that art and crafts flourished in this environment of nurturance. Due course the weavers developed an unique style of weaving combining the styles practiced in Maharashtra and motifs inspired by the rich environment around them.

The airy and transparency of Maheshwari weaving, is a reflection of the delicate first rays of sun that touch the steps of the ghats by the Narmada. The first bathers in Maheshwar arrive to the banks of the river to take a dip and perform their morning rituals. Some devout bathers even stop to worship the innumerable banalingas on the ghats, by pouring water, offering flowers and performing a small puja to these Swayambhu Lingas.

As the Sun moves up the zenith, the town slowly comes to life accompanied by the rhythm of the looms busily weaving wonders in silkcotton. The weavers, who once wove plain sober sarees and turban materials, today weave dupattas, dress materials, sarees of all kinds and styles, Kurta materials and bed linens. Handwoven Maheshwaris represent today the living heritage of this magical place and continue to grace traditional fashion.

As the sun slowly dips down the horizon, the mysterious quality of the city returns. People gather on the riverbank to worship the river. Some just set afloat a humble lamp on a leaf cup, while others perform an elaborate aarti with bhajans to mark their respect to their sustainer and protector.



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