Indore is the largest city in the state of Madhya Pradesh. It is situated on the banks of the River Khan and Sarawati. The bustling commercial centre of Madhya Pradesh, Indore was a princely state until 1947, ruled by the Maratha Holkar dynasty.
Indore is known for its architectural splendor. The tales of the glorious past are narrated by these splendid historical monuments. Queen Ahilya Bai Holkar was a great architectural patron and constructed many temples across her territory. The queen is taken in great regard by the people and as a tribute; her statue was built in the center of the city, near Rajwada.
At the heart of the city surround by the lively bazar, is the Rajwada Palace, built with design elements incorporated from Islamic, Maratha and French architectural styles, is a 200 year old seven story structure. While most of it has been lost to numerous fires over the centuries, the façade still stands as testimony to its magnificence.
A short walk to west from Rajwada Palace, stands the Kanch Mandir (Glass Temple), an opulent 19th century Jain temple decorated with mirrors, glittering chandeliers, and murals on the glass.
On the southwestern edge of Indore is the Lalbagh Palace, which is spread across 28 acres and houses a pretty rose garden. Built by the rulers of Indore in the early 20th century. Now a museum called the Nehru Centre, its gilded Rococo interiors house galleries of miniature paintings, medieval coins and cultural artifacts.
Lal Bagh Palace
Lal Baag Palace is one of the most spectacular buildings in Indore. It stands on the outskirts of the town, towards the southwest. It is a three storey building on the bank of the River Khan. The palace was built by Maharaja Shivaji Rao Holkar during 1886-1921. Situated amidst dry and dusty gardens, it is architecturally quite similar to the New Palace. Lal Bagh Palace once hosted many royal receptions and even today, reflects the life style and taste of the Holkar Rulers.
The construction of the palace began in 1886 under Tukoji Rao Holkar II. It was carried out in three phases and the final phase was completed in 1921 under Tukoji Rao Holkar III. Owing to its unique style of construction, it was one of the most stylish residences in India. The entrance hall on the ground floor is in marble and displays prehistoric artifacts. There is a coin collection on the first floor which dates back to the Muslim period.
There are also exhibits like contemporary Indian and Italian paintings and sculptures. The interiors of the Lal Baag Palace transport the visitors to the historic era. Lavish decorations in the style of Versailles Palace, Italian marble columns, grand chandeliers, rich Persian carpets, flying nymphs on the ceiling, Belgium stained glass windows, Greek mythological reliefs, Italian style wall paintings, stuffed leopards and tigers gives the visitor an out of the world experience.
The ballroom of the palace has wooden floor mounted on springs for extra bounce. The kitchen was built on the opposite bank of the river. It was connected to the palace by a well lighted underground tunnel. The gates of the Palace are a replica of the gates of Buckingham palace (London). Only, they are about twice their size. The gates were molded in cast iron and were shipped from England. They also carry the Holkar state emblem which states "He who tries will succeed".
The daunting gates of the Lal Bagh Palace are unique in Asia. The rooms of the palace have now been restored and furnished and it has been turned into a museum. Much of the furniture and ornamentation seen there belongs to late Regency and early Georgian style. The main attractions of the palace are the accurately proportioned and furnished rooms, with beautiful carvings on the walls as well as the ceilings.
The architecture and decoration of this Lal Baag Palace reflects the highly westernized outlook and aesthetic sensibility of the later Holkars. The Palace was inhabited by the Holkars till 1978. Tukojirao III was the last resident of this splendid palace. The Government of Madhya Pradesh is developing it as a cultural centre. The whole complex has a total area of 28 acres and boasts of one of the best rose gardens in the country.
Central Museum, also known as the Indore Museum, is one of the most interesting buildings in Indore. It is a treat for the people who are genuinely fascinated by the history of India and the rich civilization that flourished here in the pre historic age. It is located near the General Post Office in Indore. The Museum exhibits the finest collection of Parmar sculptures from Hinglajgarh. The Parmar style actually originated here only. Its main features include proportioned figures, careful and intricate ornamentation and depiction in stone.
The Central Museum also boasts one of the best collections of medieval and pre-medieval Hindu and Jain sculpture in Madhya Pradesh. These sculptures have been finely carved and date back from the reign of the Guptas to the Paramanas. They have been collected from the ruins of the 11th-12th century temples at Hinglajgarh. They usually depict Harihara, Shiva and Parvati seated on Nandi, standing Parvati and a damaged Chamunda. Among the architectural remains preserved in the museum, the most remarkable is a doorframe, richly adorned with figures and ornamentation.
There are two galleries in the Museum. Gallery I display artifacts from MP's prehistoric period ranging from 5,000 - 4,000BC. There are exhibits from western Malwa as well, which include stone tools, quartz sickles, ornaments and items of domestic use. All the Hindu mythological carvings have been displayed in Gallery II. The museum is also famous for its collection of coins, arms and armor.
The Kanch Mandir, as the name suggests, is a temple which is entirely made up of glass and mirrors. It is also known as the Seth Hukamchand Temple, as it was built by the "Cotton King" Sir Hukamchand Seth in the early 20th century. It is primarily a Jain temple and is a wonder in glass. The walls, ceiling, floor, pillars, doors, everything here is entirely adorned with glass. The Kanch Mahal has always been an object of interest for almost all the Hindu rulers in India.
The dazzling Sheesh Mahal in Amer Fort of Rajasthan is an exemplary piece of art and provides a breathtaking sight. The Kanch Mahal of Indore is somewhat the same. The major difference being that it is a temple rather than a palace. Owing to its beauty, the palace attracts a number of tourists. Kanch Mandir is located quite close to the Rajwada. The temple is decorated with thousands of mirrors with patterned ceramic tiles.
The charisma of the temple is further intensified with the delicately crafted Chinese lantern-type glass lamps and cut glass chandeliers. The interiors of the Kanch Mandir are just mesmerizing. The temple boasts of more than 50 murals depicting Jain stories. They also depict scenes of conversion to Jainism, torture of sinners in the afterlife and 19th century court life. The Kanch Mahal is quite different from all the other such monuments in the country.
Its uniqueness arises from the fact that it is too showy and splendid to be the shrine of a religion which advocated simple living. Infact, not just simple living, rather austerity. The colorful glass beads and raised sculpted figures give a special 3D effect to the temple. The idol of Lord Mahavira, the founder of Jainism is made from shimmering black onyx. The temple is a place of interest for both the Jain pilgrims as well as the tourists. The temple is situated on Jawahar Road near the Rajwada and opens at 10:00 am.
Rajwada is the historical palace of the Holkars. It was built about two centuries ago and is located near the Chhatris in the main square. It is a seven storied structure, which serves as the living example of the grandeur of the Holkars.
The palace was once the centre of all the trading activities in the city. It is a blend of Maratha, Mughal and French style of architecture. The entrance of the palace has a lofty archway with a giant wooden door which is covered with iron studs. The gopura-like monument is made up of wood and stone. It has a number of balconies windows and corridors. The entrance leads to a huge courtyard, which is surrounded by galleried rooms and the arcaded Ganesha hall, which was once the venue of all state and religious functions. This hall is now used for art exhibitions and classical music concerts.
Best time to visit
July – March