Indore is the largest city in Madhya Pradesh, and together with its satellite towns of Pithampur and Dewas, is one of the fastest-growing economic regions in India. Its proximity to the Gujarat – Mumbai grid is a major factor behind its huge economic potential. Indore is also one of the foremost centres of education in central India and produces over 50,000 graduates each year, 30% of whom have technical training. The history of Indore is inseparable from the history of the Holkar State. The founder of the House of Holkars was Malhar Rao Holkar, born in 1693 AD. His soldierly qualities brought him to the forefront under the Peshwa and he was rewarded with the gift of territories comprising the Indore region. Malhar Rao was succeeded by his grandson, on whose death, without issue, his mother, Maharani Devi Ahilya Bai ascended the throne. The Holkars with their keen interest in city planning and education shaped much of Indore. Many institutions in the city predate India’s Independence. Today, Indore is a perfect mélange of the old and the new, where the old heritage structures coexist with the modern multi-storeyed buildings.
The Indore Museum houses the finest collection of Parmar sculptures from Hinglajgarh. The Parmar style originated here, and is characterized by proportioned figures, carefully and ornately depicted in stone. The museum is also known for its collection of coins, arms and armour.
The Jain Samaj has constructed a 21 feet statue of Lord Gomateshwar, a replica of the Bahubali statue of Shravanbelagola. Also built here are 24 marble temples with shilars for each tirthankar.
This Jain temple is an architectural marvel in glass. The walls, ceilings, floors, pillars and door knobs are entirely inlaid with glass. Even paintings are done in glass. Atop is a special glass chamber which multiplies the three statues of Lord Mahavira installed there into an indefinite number (said to be visible upto 21 times, corresponding to the 21 tirthankaras).
The citizens of Indore have great faith in this Ganesh temple, built during the reign of Ahilyabai Holkar. It is believed that all wishes are fulfilled by praying here. Nearby is the dargah of Nahar Sayed. This is an important pilgrimage place for Maita Muslims.
Made in 1904 and originally named King Edwards Hall, it was renamed Mahatma Gandhi Hall in 1948. Its architectural style is Indo-Gothic. Made in Seoni stone, its domes and staples are a landmark of Indore today. It has a four-faced clock tower in front, because of which it is locally known as Ghanta Ghar. It is frequently the venue for the various book and painting exhibitions, fairs and festivals held throughout the year. The building also has a library, a children’s park and a temple.
Better known for its size than antiquity, this temple houses perhaps the largest Ganesh idol in the world measuring 25 feet from crown to foot. Created as a result of the dream of an Avantika (Ujjain) resident, Shri Dadhich, it was built in 1875.
Lal Bagh Palace
Lal Bagh Palace is one of the grandest monuments the Holkar dynasty left Indore. A reflection of their taste, grandeur and lifestyle, its construction began in 1886 under Tukoji Rao Holkar II, and was carried out in three phases. The final phase was completed in 1921 under Tukoji Rao Holkar III. Many royal receptions were held here. It has a total area of 28 hectares, and at one time it had the reputation of having one of the best rose gardens in the country.
Adorned with many statues of gods of various religions, its construction is inspired by the religious motto “many names to a God is after all of one God.”
Chhatris are the tombs or cenotaphs erected in memory of dead Holkar rulers and their family members. The Chhatris picturesquely poised on the Khan river banks near Rajawada are incomparable in terms of Maratha architecture and sculpture of their period. At Chhatri Baag is the main collection of tombs housed in two compounds. Close by is the beautiful Bolia Sarkar’s Chhatri constructed in 1858 AD in memory of Sardar Chimnaji Appa Sahib Bolia.
This temple was inspired by the Meenakshi temple of Madurai. Four life-sized elephants hold an ornately decorated gate in plaster. Inside the temple of Annapurna Devi are also temples of Shiva, Kal Bhairava, Hanuman and a Pravachan Hall. The outer wall of the main temple is decorated with colourful motifs from mythological stories.
8 km from Indore, the Kasturba Gandhi National Memorial Trust was founded by Mahatma Gandhi. Its headquarters were shifted from Wardha to Indore in 1915. The main objective of t his trust is showing ways of improvement in the quality of village life and the welfare of rural women and children. Some of its many commendable activities are : agricultural production, research, training, experiments in fruit orchards, social forestry, new renewable sources of energy, gobar gas, better water management, rural institute for girls, village sanitation programmes etc.
A 2 minutes drive from the airport leads you to a hillock on which was perched a guest house of the Holkars, now converted into Border Security Arms Museum, as well as a small temple of Bijasen Mata, built in 1920, which has a magnificent view of the sunset. A mela (fair) is held during the Navratri. A good picnic spot, with a breathtaking view of Indore city by night.