Ahilya Fort

Location: Central India | India

Price guide: £££££ £200-£350 per person per night

Ahliya Fort is a regal palace in the town of Maheshwar, on the banks of the Narmada River, which dates from the 18th century. From the terrace, you can watch the hustle and bustle of daily life on the riverside ghats, where pilgrims and locals come to bathe and worship. The hotel is owned and run by the flamboyant Prince Richard Holkar, whose ancestor built the fort, and you’ll feel like a guest in someone’s opulent, but friendly, home.
Perfect forExploring rural Madhya Pradesh in style.
In the know
  • 18th-century fort restored and run by Prince Richard Holkar
  • Sumptuous dinners presided over by the prince
  • Complimentary traditional wooden boat rides down the river
  • Trips to school and weaving factory set up by Prince Richard’s charity

Recommended for...

  • Cultural Immersion
  • History & Heritage
  • Service & Hospitality
  • Off the Beaten Track

Hotel Overview

Sense of place

The fort has stayed in the family, and was restored and is still run by Prince Richard Holkar: son of the last Maharajah of Indore, and a descendant of the Queen Ahilya who built the fort 250 years ago. Despite its regal past, it has a relaxed atmosphere and a stunning vantage point over the sacred Narmada River.

Rooms at Ahilya Fort

Each of Ahilya Fort’s 13 rooms and suites is individually designed, featuring hand-picked antique furniture and artworks. Styles vary, from the traditional, jade and gold Superior Room to the breezy, contemporary Narmada Royal Suite, which has a private sitting room and a balcony overlooking the river. For an extra-exclusive stay, go for the Arjun Royal Tent, which sits in a private landscaped garden next to the river and features its own plunge pool.

Food and drink

All food is included in your stay at Ahilya Fort. The menu reflects owner Richard’s interest in cookery and travels across the world, with a mixture of Western and Indian cuisine. Breakfast combines Western and Indian staples with jams home-made by the prince, while at lunch, European pastas, salads and veg dishes are on offer. Dinner is the main event, when a feast of sumptuous specialities from across India is washed down with generous amounts of wine. When the sun goes down, the terrace is transformed into a fully kitted-out cocktail bar.


Ahilya Fort features a beautiful pool, surrounded by tropical landscaped gardens, where guests can relax and cool off. There’s also a traditional masseur on hand to administer a range of wellness treatments. Well-heeled guests will be pleased to hear that there’s even a tailoring studio on site. Kids of all ages are welcome, with space for cots in some of the rooms and a babysitting service available on request.

Activities at Ahilya Fort

Complimentary traditional wooden boat rides on the river are organised and led by the hotel’s passionate and knowledgeable staff, as are tours of the textiles factory and school set up by Prince Richard’s charity, Rehwa Society. A walk along the ancient ghats below the fort affords a glimpse into life as it has been lived here for centuries, while the ruins of the ancient city of Mandu lie nearby. Omkareshwar, a prominent Hindu temple devoted to the god Shiva, sits on an island in the river.

Best time to go

Best time to travel

Good time to travel (but some limitations)

Travel is possible (but it’s not the best time)

Travel is not recommended

  • Jan
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Best time to go

Hotel location

Ahilya lies around two hours’ drive south of Indore, which welcomes regular flights from Delhi and Mumbai (both 1.5hrs).

Stay at Ahilya Fort on these trips

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