Ahilya Fort was built in the 1700’s by Maharani (Queen) Ahilya Bai Holkar, looking over the banks of the sacred River Narmada. Her descendant, the son of the last Maharaja (King) of Indore, Prince Richard Holkar, converted his home into a one-of-a-kind guest residence in 2000, living here most of the year with his beloved pugs.
The fort looks out over the river gaats and all their activity below, people washing their clothes and bathing their bodies, fisherman setting off in their boats, holy men walking to and from the many ashrams nearby.
Food is a strong focus here, with much of what they craft in the kitchen coming from their organic garden. Prince Richard handmakes all the 20 or so varieties of jam served at breakfast, alongside Indian dosa pancakes and freshly baked french-style bread.
There’s so many interesting people who work and live here too – there’s the yoga teacher, a former New York artist who runs her own ashram next door, there’s American Aimee who runs things here and has spent 18 years in India with so many stories from her travels to tell, there’s Maheshwar-born Kuntabai who runs housekeeping and looks after everyone like a mother, she’s worked for the family for many years.
At sunset, you’ll be rowed out to the middle of the holy River Narmada to the temple that’s said to sit at the centre of the universe. You can see it sitting just below the twinkling Northern star at night.