NITN | @notintownlive | 28 Jun 2023, 07:43 am
Image: Deepak Nigam/Wikipedia Creative Commons
If Indore in Madhya Pradesh has never been on your travel bucket list, then maybe this is a perfect excuse to include it. As the Soha Ali Khan – Vicky Kaushal starrer ‘Zara Hatke Zara Bachke’ enjoys a favourable box office run, here’s a quick round up of Somya and Kapil’s city.
Usually considered a commercial and transport hub, Indore is also a historical city, the first capital of the Holkar dynasty, and the gateway to some of the state’s religious, cultural and scenic destinations. Indore is also known for its food streets.
Indore is one of the cleanest cities in India – the topper for the sixth consecutive year (2022) in the Union government’s annual cleanliness survey of urban areas.
Well connected to the rest of the country by air, road and rail, Indore has hotels and resorts to suit every pocket.
While a day is enough to see the main attractions and enjoy one of the food streets, we suggest at least an overnight stay to enjoy the city to the fullest.
Best time to visit is winter. But you may visit any time of the year save peak summer.
Delving into the royal past
The crowd and noise of Khajuri Bazar may appear a bit daunting if you are in Indore for the first time but do not let that stop you from visiting the Rajwada. Built in 1749 by Malhar Rao Holkar, the former palace reflects a mix of Maratha, Moghul and French architectural styles. The present structure has been almost completely restored and is now maintained by the state archaeological department.
Entry is through the main gate in the seven-storied palace. Inside, there is a sprawling courtyard with other buildings overlooking it. From the first and second floor of the main palace, you may catch a sight of the busy Rajwada Square below and a park.
Rajwada at night
The Rajwada is open every day from 11am to 7pm; open on all days except Mondays. Ticketed entry. Those who want to visit the Malhari Martand Temple, have to take the lane outside the building. The upper floors of the building housing the temple have been converted to a museum gallery (ticketed entry) showcasing artefacts used by the royal family.
Built in 1832, this temple – dedicated to Krishna – reflects Maratha architectural style and is undergoing a thorough restoration.
Open every day, between 7am and 9pm.
Built by Rani Ahilyabai of the Holkar dynasty in 1735, this temple is dedicated to the elephant headed god Ganesha.
This Jain temple, as its name suggests, is made of glass. It is dedicated to Lord Mahavira. Located in the busy Itwaria market area, it is best to use local conveyance to avoid parking woes. Entry for non-Jains at the discretion of temple authorities says many visitors on review websites.
Get ready for glimpses into classical European art and architecture. The palace was constructed in phases between 1886 and 1921. Murals, stucco work with gold details, stained glass, chandeliers, period furniture, etc. offer a look into the glamorous past. Even the main iron gate of the palace, a replica of the Buckingham Palace gate, was fashioned in England and then shipped to India.
Located on the bank of the Khan River and a little over 3km from the city centre, this was the residence of the Holkar royals until the late 1970s. It was later acquired by the state (renamed as Nehru Centre) and recently underwent large-scale restoration. The palace complex includes temples, water bodies and gardens.
The palace is open from 10am to 5pm on all days except Mondays. Ticketed entry.
Photo by Anukampa Mohanty
Functioning from its present address since 1965, the genesis of the Central Museum dates back to the early 20th century. The museum has various galleries dedicated to sculptures, inscriptions and copper plates, coins, weapons, paintings and photographs, etc.
The museum is open every day except Mondays and government holidays, from 10am to 5pm. Ticketed entry.
While the city has many well-known restaurants and cafes, you cannot leave Indore without checking out 56 Dukan and Sarafa Bazar.
This is a food street which can teach a lesson in cleanliness to many food streets in India. The place takes its name from the 56 shops located here, all numbered and arranged in a row along one side of a quadrangle.
Photo by Uttara Ganguly
One of the must try dishes here is the Khopra Patties, the quintessential Indian 'aloo tikki’ with a liberal addition of coconut to the stuffing, and served with spicy chutney. Another dish you may try is the Egg Benjo where an omelette is packed inside a ghee-fried bun and served with a variety of chutneys.
Apart from a variety of snacks, you will also get ice-creams, juices, etc. The place is usually open early morning to late at night.
This jewellery market by day turns into a food street by night. As the gold and silver shops down their shutters, hawkers pushing carts start arriving by 8pm. By 10pm, the area is buzzing with the chatter of sellers and buyers. Some of the vendors have unique ways of drawing visitor attention.
Bhutte ke Kees (a dish made from mashed corn cooked with spices and a dash of milk and served with toppings) and Garadu (crispy chunks of yam deep fried and seasoned with spices and lemon juice) are two of the must try items among many.
Photo by: Uttara Ganguly
If you can steer yourself through the crowds, shopping in Indore can be an interesting experience. Bargaining is allowed in most places but you have to be a pro at that.
We have already mentioned Sarafa Bazaar for gold and silver jewellery. For clothes and fabrics, you have to visit the MT Cloth Market (largely a wholesalers’ market) and the Sitlamata Bazar. The Heritage Market has an astonishing display of footwear of all kinds, including branded ones. The Moolchand Market specialises in children’s clothing. If market hopping is not your strong point, then head to Topkhana market, where you will find clothes and other products, including handicrafts.
With Indore as your base and depending on the time at your disposal, you can visit some of the most popular attractions of Madhya Pradesh.
If you are short of time, you may visit the Patalpani Falls on the Choral River, about 30km by road from Indore. The waterfall tumbles down for about 300 feet cutting through greenery and rocks. The volume of water varies with the season. The best time to visit is during or just after the monsoon.
Photo by Uttara Ganguly
With a couple of days in hand, you may visit Ujjain, Maheshwar, and Omkareshwar. The seat of Mahakaleshwar (Shiva), Ujjain on the bank of the Shipra River is also associated with the memory of poet Kalidasa. Omakareshwar, also dedicated to Shiva, is an island in the middle of the Narmada River. Both Mahakaleshwar and Omkareshwar are part of the 12 ‘jyotirlinga’ pilgrimage centres. Maheshwar, on the bank of the Narmada River, was the capital of Malwa under Rani Ahilyabai. Initiated by her, the city turned into a premier centre of weaving. You may buy the famous Maheshwari saree (or even fabrics) from the weavers themselves or the many emporiums dotting the town. The fort, which descends to the bank of the river, is known for its many temples and sculptures. A corner of the fort is preserved as a museum. You may also add the medieval city of Mandu, about 100 km away from Indore, to the circuit.
(All images courtesy Madhya Pradesh Tourism Board unless otherwise mentioned)
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