An exceptional Royal experience

Ahilya Fort

Ahilya Fort

, Madhya Pradesh
, India

The 250 year old Ahilya Fort has what is possibly the most dramatic, unique and spectacular setting of any Indian hotel. Perched on the edge of a cliff, enclosed within the massive walls of the 15thC fort, Ahilya Fort has splendid views over the sacred Narmada River and the ghats immediately below. Within the fort there are pretty courtyards and verandahs on different levels linked by stone walkways. There are several gardens, plenty of hidden terraces and turrets, and a large swimming pool, in our 7 acres. It is an extraordinary and unusual place where you really can get away from it all and experience a very different side of India.

Our Rating: Luxury
Property Type: Heritage


The majestic 250 year old Ahilya Fort sits on the edge of a cliff, high above the mighty and sacred Narmada River, surrounded by the fascinating, unexploited town of Maheshwar. The views over the river and ghats are exceptional. Replete with history and intrigue, myth and legend, Ahilya Fort offers guests a rare chance to get off the tourist trail and an abundance of things to see and do.

With the amazing, deserted city of Mandu and the famed island temple of Omkareshwar nearby, this is a place at which to spend time and relax but from where you can also explore the river, undisturbed by other tourists.

The architecture is outstanding and a stroll down through the town, via the exemplary school, to the ghats is a must; not to mention a walk along the riverbank which is pulsating with colourful life. Also visit the renowned workshops of the Rehwa Society, whose lady handloom weavers produce some of the finest saris and cloth in all India.


There are three suites – the Narmada and the Naqarkhana, and Arjun’s Royal tent, 7 double superior rooms, 4 twin superior rooms, an independent garden cottage, and 1 superior air-conditioned tent.

All rooms are very individual; some have alcove lookouts over the river, and some give onto the organic vegetable garden. The three Royal Suites have spacious balconies overlooking temples and the river. Arjun’s Royal Tent is large and comfortable and very private, being tucked away in a private garden with its own plunge pool and spectacular views of the river and temples. The Naqarkhana suite and the two tents are independent accommodations while being an integral part Ahilya Fort. All rooms and tents are air conditioned, with ensuite baths.
Amenities include room safes, hair dryers, hot water bottles, heaters in the colder months, and bathrobes made from Maheshwar’s famous hand woven textiles. Unlimited mineral water is provided free of charge. Interconnecting rooms are available. We have one Wheel chair accessible room, and wheel chair access is possible for most areas.


A Table d’Hôte Menu is offered but à la carte is available for anyone with specific requests and dietary restrictions. Our chef produces delicious continental and Indian food. There is no formal dining room. Breakfast is à la carte, served on a terrace overlooking the river. One of our favourite features is the varied setting for meals. Guests tend to dine together in the evenings but you may request to eat privately should you so wish.


A boat trip at sundown is something you will never forget. Sit back whilst being rowed past temples and offered refreshing drinks and a delicious dinner. Watch the reflections become moon-shadows on the river as the moon emerges – an extraordinary experience.

Why we love this place

The pool is lovely; sunny terraces and shady verandahs abound; a cosy library exudes peace and quiet; a small massage room soothes tired, over-travelled bones; and the charming rooms and suites have superb views, balconies or gardens. The exquisite picnics they arrange are moments to marvel at!

About your host

You’ll be looked after in true style by your genial host, Prince Richard Holkar (should he be in residence), whose family owns the fort. Being a gourmet himself, the Prince has the highest standards and the food here is delicious and principally organic, sourced from the fort’s enviable vegetable garden.

Responsible/Sustainable Tourism

Ahilya Fort uses solar energy for the kitchen and laundry. The rooms are too scattered to make it viable to provide energy for the rest of the fort.

They have plans to increase solar capacity to light the public areas and paths in the fort. An organic vegetable garden provides vegetables for the hotel, as well as an organic farm providing the hotel’s wheat and lentils. They have an energy plantation for organic fire wood production, making them self sufficient.

The owners are deeply involved in the conservation of Maheshwar’s heritage, and UNESCO and the French government are also involved. The UNESCO involvement means Maheshwar is chosen as one of the 18 ‘Indian Heritage Cities Network’ and also has a UNESCO promoted heritage walk. Under an agreement signed between the French and Indian governments, Maheshwar and Chinon will cooperate in heritage based projects and exchange programs.

The Rehwa Society is an NGO founded by the Holkars (owning family) in 1978, with the ambitious objective of improving the lives of Maheshwar’s handloom weavers, giving women employment, by reviving and popularizing the Maheshwari textile tradition. This not-for-profit Society utilizes its surpluses exclusively for the welfare of Maheshwar’s weavers. One of the Society’s marked successes is the Ahilya School, also founded by the Rehwa Society, in 1989, with an initial supporting grant from the German aid organization, BORDA.

Our Recommendation

Enjoy a magical ‘floating’ dinner on the river surrounded by flickering candles, or on the island with a blazing log fire.

Can’t find a suitable itinerary that features a destination, experience or accommodation you fancy? All our group tours and holiday ideas can be personalised, or we can create a tailor made itinerary for you.

Our Accommodation Ratings