Founded nearly 500 years ago, Indore is the gateway to the famous tourist destinations in Western Madhya Pradesh. The city lives up to its reputation of being the trading hub between the Deccan Kingdoms and Delhi Sultanate from the time of its inception. Indore is one of the cities in India which proudly hosts the two prestigious institutes of learning Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and Indian Institute of Management (IIM) and is now on course to become a Smart City.
For most people, Indore is either a transit point or a business destination. Please take half a day to go around Indore and you will not be disappointed. On a short work visit to the city; I managed to catch up on important destinations in half a day. Indore owes its name to Raja Indra Singh who established the Indreshwar Shiva Temple at the confluence of rivers Saraswati and Kahn (now called Khan- nearly dried up) which eventually turned into a trading hub and eventually came under Maratha control in 18th century and finally with the Holkars who gave shape to present day Indore.
Travel Connections: Very well connected by air with all major cities in India with daily flights from Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore etc. The rail and road connections are also very good. All year destination for business but best visited in Monsoon when the trips in and around turn magical. Take an auto or car to go around town specially if you are strapped for time.
- Lalbagh Palace: This palace reflects the life and times of the Holkars. Situated in a large garden, this 3 storey building is now a museum where many artifacts from the times of the Holkar Rulers are now on display. Photography is not allowed inside; so take your time and walk around admiring the marble columns, the opulent bed rooms and the large ball room along with the pictures and other collections.
- Rajwada: This Palace in Indore is one of its kind, not for the seven stories but for being partly built of stone and the remaining wood. Built in 1747AD by Malhar Rao Holkar it is now in the middle of a very busy market (Khajuri Bazaar) and it is difficult to park around the palace. I was very impressed with what I saw and the light drizzle made it all the more better. Read “7 Storied Rajwada Palace” for more.
- Krishnapura Chhatris: As you are nearing Rajwada, you will find these beautiful set of structures along the River Khan which are the Chhatris of the Holkar Rulers. They are exquisitely carved and have sense of peace inspite of the location in a busy market area with honking and loud noise all around.
- Kanch Mandir: is a 100 year old Jain Temple built by Seth Hukumchand Jain just around the corner from Khajuri Bazaar. Externally, it resembles a large haveli with ornate jharokhas and other carvings. Inside it is adorned with glass on all sides which magnifies the images of the Jain Tirthankaras many times over.
- Annapurna Mandir: This 9th century temple is a must visit in Indore. The 4 giant sized elephants at the ornate temple gateway and the wall sculptures depicting mythological scenes are a welcome break on an otherwise busy street. We walked around the main shrine and the other smaller temples dedicated to Shiva, Kala Bhairava and Hanuman. While we were there, pre marriage celebrations were going on and it was a treat to watch graceful women sway in happiness.
- Gomatgiri: I visited this place on my way to the airport. If you have some extra time at hand; drop by at Gomatgiri instead of hanging around at the airport. The 21ft statue of Gomateshwara is a replica of Sravanabelagola. There are 24 marble temples dedicated to the 24 Jain Tirthankaras around the courtyard. It is a very peaceful place to sit & contemplate. I had my most memorable meeting with 2 beauties on a tree!!
- Eating out in 56 Dukaan and Sarafa Bazaar: Indore is a foodie’s delight and you cannot return without having tasted Poha, Jalebi, Bhutte ki Khees and the umpteen varieties of savouries and snacks. Jewelry Market by day and food street by night- Thats Sarafa Bazaar near Khajuri Market. The food street opens by 8pm and continues until 2am in the morning. I could not experience it due to time constraints but maybe you can; its absolutely safe. I did go to 56 Dukaan hoping to find one shop by that name until someone pointed out that it is a set of 56 shops. Squeezed my way through crowds and had my mutton pao followed by some jalebi and needless to say forgot to click pictures.
- Shopping in Indore: Walk into the State Emporium Mriganayani to pick up a Maheshwari or Chanderi weave as a saree, stole, dress material or walk around the Sarafa bazaar to pick up trinkets, potli purses and not to forget the Indore special Namkeen (salted savouries).
- Locals revere the Bada Ganapati and Khajrana Ganesha Temples both of which I was not able to visit; maybe you will and let me know of them.
Gateway to the Gems of Madhya Pradesh
- Indore to Omkareshwar – 87 kms ; the home of the Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga and the Om Shaped Island in Narmada river. Best explored on foot circumbulating the island on Omkareshwar Parikrama. Seems like any other temple town by the river thronged by thousands of devotees but something is magical about its setting.
- Indore to Maheshwar – 95 kms; the quaint town on the banks of Narmada; where life flows at an unhurried pace. You could sit by the river and watch the world go by without being hassled by priests or hawkers. After spending a weekend in Maheshwar, it leaves no doubt why this place found favour with Ahilyabai Holkar, the great Maratha Queen who ruled her kingdom from Maheshwar.
- Indore – Mandu – 95 Kms ; was an important political and cultural centre several centuries ago. Mandu has a pleasant climate all year though monsoon is special when rains, cool breeze and the light wind make it a heavenly destination. There is romance in the ruins in Mandu in some of the famous monuments like Jahaz Mahal, Hindola Mahal, Roopmati Pavilion, Baz Bahadur Palace.
- Indore to Ujjain -52 kms away has been a cultural and administrative capital from time immemorial and has been a bone of contention between many branches of royalty in Central India. Known as the temple city, Ujjain is home to Mahakaleshwar Temple; a Jyotirlinga as well as the Simhastha kumbh Mela held in Ujjain along the banks of river Shipra every 12 years when the Sun is in Aries (Mesha) and Jupiter is in Leo (Simha).