During my travel to Madhya pradesh, I happened to visit this beautiful small town Maheshwar little did I realise that this place will fascinate me not just with its picturesque ghats along river Narmada and its famous Maheshwari sarees but I will also carry an inspiring and heart touching story of queen Ahalyabai Holkar. It goes like this...
The period of Ahalyabai is set during 1725-1795 where girls were married off at early ages and the queens raised their children with all the royal pampering. Tragic struck when Ahalyabai lost her husband at a very early age and with no male heir in the family was encouraged by her father in law to take up the administration of the kingdom. Like an able queen she was quick to learn the political nuances and became a very strong and powerful ruler. She won a lot of battles and expanded her kingdom making it politically and economically a strong state. She set up religious buildings all over the country to establish the mark of power, which stretched from Varanasi in North India to Rameshwaram in South India.
She was a queen not just with strong political and military chivalry but also a woman with compassion which won a lot of hearts of her subjects. One such feat that she established was setting up hand looms and empowering the women to weave and support themselves and their family. This mark of empowerment about 250 years before has its result seen even today in the textile industry with (women dominated) weavers weaving the famous Maheshwari weaves.
To me Ahalyabai Holkar's accomplishments despite her personal set backs and rigid society norms is so relatable to every woman even today, maybe in different contexts. Stories like hers and many other women only goes to show that we all have the strength to be leaders and only need to empower ourselves to the right knowledge and skills.
My picture wearing a Maheshwari saree....reminding me of my inner strength every time I wear it.