Places of Interest
¤ Juna Rajwada
The palace of the Holkars, the ruling dynasty of Indore, is nowhere
as old as some of the greatest palaces of India and has very little
history behind it. The most notable thing one can say about it is that
the palace has been up in flames three times in its 200-year-old
history. It was reduced to no more than a facade after the fire in
1984 destroyed most of it.
Built by Maharaja Malhar Rao Holkar II (1811-34) in the old part of
the town, the seven-storey gateway of the Old Palace towers over the
busy lanes of the Kajuri Bazaar. It is the only existing seven storied
entrance of a palace.
The palace consists of a splendid range of buildings that youll
love to amble through. To the right of the gateway facing the main
square is the Gopal Temple (1832), a large central hall with granite
pillars supporting an elaborately carved roof. The temple enshrines
the idol of the family deity Malhari Martand.
Opposite the temple, across the square is the Anna Chatra or
almshouse for the poor. To the north is the New Palace (1894) and
garden, built in a classical manner with a French style pavilion roof
by Gopal Rao, a local engineer.
¤ Kanch Mahal
The Kanch or Sheesh Mahal has always been a weakness of most Hindu
rulers in India. It is usually a magnificent sprawling room adorned
with countless mirrors. If youve been to Rajasthan, youll
probably remember the dazzling Sheesh Mahal in Amber Fort.
The Kanch Mahal of Indore, however, isnt the luxury palace of a
whimsical king; it is actually a Jain temple.
Located pretty close to the Rajwada, this temple is also known as
Seth Hukanchand Temple. Thousands of mirrors adorn the walls, floor
and ceilings of this fantastic shrine decorated with patterned ceramic
Exquisitely crafted Chinese lantern-type glass lamps and cut glass
chandeliers further enhance the interior. The temple boasts of more
than 50 murals depicting scenes of conversion to Jainism, sinners
being tortured in the afterlife and 19th century court life.
If youve seen other Kanch Mahals in India, youll realize
that this one is particularly special. For one it is much too
ostentatious and splendid to be the house of worship for a religion
which advocated simple living, even austerity.
Colourful glass beads and raised sculpted figures lend this a shrine
a special 3-D effect. The image of Lord Mahavira, the founder of
Jainism is made from shimmering black onyx.
On Jawahar Road near the Rajwada. Opens at 1000hrs.
¤ Chhattri Bagh
This garden of cenotaphs dedicated to the royal family lies along the
Khan river. The seven chhattris to the Holkar kings are grouped within
a crenellated wall.
The one dedicated to Malhar Rao Holkar (1766) has ornamental
sculpture and low relief work. Slightly smaller than this is the
chhattri dedicated to Indores most venerated ruler, Rani Ahilya
Bai Holkar. Another, a 12-sided pavilion on a low plinth is dedicated
to her son Male Rao Holkar (1766).
There is another similar enclosure beyond containing the Chhattri of
Maharaja Hari Rao Holkar IV (1843). Most of these cenotaphs are now in
disrepair and the inner sanctums are locked.
¤ Lal Bagh Palace
Just outside the town, to the southwest stands the grand Lal Bagh
Palace built between 1886-1921. Maharaja Shivaji Rao Holkar ordered
this quaint three-storey building set amidst maintained, though dry
and dusty, gardens. Architecturally similar to the New Palace, it was
designed by Triggs of Calcutta.
The Maharaja was obviously quite taken up by everything British: the
entrance gates are replicas of those at Buckingham Palace, London.
They were cast in iron in England and then shipped to Indore. The
palace has a wooden ballroom floor mounted on springs; marble columns,
chandeliers, stained glass windows and stuffed tigers complete the
The rooms have now been restored and furnished and the palace turned
into a museum. Much of the furniture and ornamentation is in the late
Regency, early Georgian style.
The entrance hall to the ground floor is in marble and gilt rococo
with a display of prehistoric artifacts. Two attractive rooms are
predominantly Indian and include Mughal exhibits.
The coin collection on the first floor dates mostly from the Muslim
period. Other exhibits include miniatures and contemporary Indian
paintings and sculptures. Youll also spot some Italian
sculptures and intricately inlaid boxes.
Heres what KK Chakravarty has
to say about the palace: "A blend of Italian villa, French
Chateau, traditional motifs and modern conveniences, the Lal Bagh
Palace is indeed a statement of riotous Victorian eclecticism not
surprising, perhaps, for a ruler who supported the British!"
Timings : Open 1000-1700hrs; closed Monday; admission charge
¤ Mahatma Gandhi Hall
Formerly known as the King Edward Hall, it was opened in 1905 by the
future King George V. However, locally it is known by a third name:
An excellent example of Indo-Saracenic architecture, it was designed
by Charles Frederick Stevens of Bombay. Faced in white Seoni and red
Patan stone, it has a central domed clocktower and two-storey wings
terminated by domed towers. Inside is a spacious hall with a seating
capacity of over 2,000. Above it are a terraced roof, minarets and
cupolas in Rajput style.
¤ Central Museum
Located near the GPO, this museum has one of the best collections of
medieval and pre-medieval Hindu and Jain sculpture in MP from the
reign of the Guptas to the Paramanas.
Most of these have been gathered from the ruined 11th-12th century
temples at Hinglajgarh. The finely carved panels portray Harihara,
Shiva and Parvati seated on Nandi, standing Parvati and a damaged
Among the architectural fragments is a doorframe complete with
figures and ornamentation. All the Hindu mythological carvings have
been displayed in Gallery II. Gallery I displays artifacts from MPs
prehistoric period, c 50,00-4,000BC, and also some from western Malwa
including stone tools, quartz sickles, ornaments and items of domestic
Timings : Open 1000-1700hrs;
closed Monday; admission free; guides available.
Bada Ganpati Temple:- At the western end of MG Road, this temple
houses the largest statue of the Hindu deity Lord Ganesha (son of Lord
Shiva and Parvati) in the world. The idol is 8m high and painted a
¤ Gita Bhawan
This is not one temple but a group of shrines, chief of which is
dedicated to Annapurna Devi (the Goddess of cereal and grain). The
architectural style here is definitely south Indian.
¤ Other Places
Indore, thanks to its British overlords, contains many European
buildings. The Residency is an elegant 19th century
bungalow with semicircular verandahs and is set in a carefully planned
park, through which the Khan river flows. Other colonial relics are
the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches, the post office, King Edward
Hospital and Daly College, an exclusive school in a fine marble
building with a series of portraits by Herbert Olivier.
Apart from these, there are many nice palaces and bungalows too. The
Hawa Bungalow (1894) is a charming classical building in an Italianate
style. On the edge of the Bhameri Tank, 11.2km from Indore, is the
Sukhniwas Palace (1883), the summer retreat of the family. The vast
Duryao Mahal at Burhawa was the residence of Shivaji Rao Holkar from
1903, a huge pile of a building along the river front in white and
yellow stucco linked by classical balustrades. The Nurbada Mahal is in
the same vein as the Hawa Bungalow.