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Brief Profile of the State of Madhya Pradesh

Madhya Pradesh, situated in the centre of India, is often called the heart of Incredible India. It
is surrounded by Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan.
Innumerable monuments, exquisitely carved temples, stupas, forts & palaces are dotted all over
the State. Madhya Pradesh, located in the geographic heart of India, is surrounded by seven
states viz. Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh in the south, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan in the
north, Bihar and Orissa in the east and Gujarat in the west. Madhya Pradesh is the second
largest Indian state in size with an area of 308.252 sq km. Though the state of Madhya Pradesh
came into existence on November 1, 1956 but it came into its present form on November 1,
2000 following its bifurcation to create a new state of Madhya Pradesh.
Madhya Pradesh is called the "Heart of India" because of its location in the centre of the
country. It has been home to the cultural heritage of Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism and
Jainism. Innumerable monuments, exquisitely carved temples, stupas, forts and palaces are
dotted all over the state.
A plateau region in the northwest of the state, north of the Vindhya Range, with its distinct
language and culture. Indore is the major city of the region, while Bhopal lies on the edge of
Bundelkhand region. Ujjain is a town of historical importance.

Travel Circuits
The development of tourism is normally focused around travel circuits, which are a collection
of tourist spots/locations adjacent to one another, so that once a tourist comes to the starting
point of a circuit, it is only natural for him to proceed from one location to the next on the
The following four tourist circuits have been identified in the state of Madhya Pradesh.
1. Gwalior – Shivpuri - Orchha - Khajuraho
2. Indore - Ujjain – Maheshwar – Omkareshwar - Mandu
3. Jabalpur – Bhedaghat – Mandla – Kanha - Bandhavgarh
4. Sanchi - Bhopal – Bhojpur – Bhimbetka - Panchmarhi


Taking one on a spiritual sojourn in Madhya Pradesh, this circuit is of utmost importance. The
five destination of this circuit offer an insight on the imperishable faith that people have on
God. Most of the destinations in this circuit are referred to as ‘temple towns’ and have a
peculiar divinity that cannot be seen anywhere else.

Starting from a place that is de facto the gateway to the ‘Temple Towns’ of Madhya Pradesh,
Indore is a place where one can reload. Indore reflects the rich heritage contributed majorly by
Holkar dynasty. The city keeps its coffee culture alive and offer visitors some really cool cafés
to chill at before taking up a tour of this religious circuit in Madhya Pradesh.

Somewhere around 54kms from Indore is the famed ‘Temple City’ called Ujjain. Situated on
the bank of River Kshipra, Ujjain is the hub for Shaivites, Vaishnavites and followers of
Shakta. The city also narrates the tales of Avanti and Ujjaini kingdoms that were once
prospered here. The serene ghats make ideal places to visit to attain peace of mind and
rejuvenation of soul. Dotted with temples, Ujjain certainly gives one the feel of divine
intervention at some point of the journey.
Situated on the bank of River Narmada, Maheshwar is a small yet beautiful land of paradoxes.
The town is the reflection of golden period of Holkar dynasty that flourished in architecture
during the reign of Ahilyabai Holkar. It has also been the handloom weaving centre and is
known for Maheshwari Sarees. Since it has a long held spiritual significance, a lot of sadhus
and sages visit here. Dotted with temples, ghats, palaces and wooden houses with overhanging
balconies, Maheshwar guarantees to take one back in time.

One of the most revered places in India; Omkareshwar is also an important destination in the
religious circuit in Madhya Pradesh. Reckoned to be amongst the 12 Jyotirlingas,
Omakareshwar that is situated on the confluence of River Narmada and Kaveri is definitely a
must see in the state. Spirituality comes natural to this place and the utter peace of mind that
one attains by visiting here is indeed a gift for lifetime.

Lying luxuriously on a thinly forested plateau, Mandu is indeed the perfect destination to end
a tour that has brought much peace to your mind and rejuvenated the entire being. This beautiful
town is the best specimen of Afghan architecture. Sitting besides the ravine and lake are its
palaces, tombs and other monuments; a decent population of Baobab Trees is also the beauty

Indore- Indore is the take-off point for this travel circuit. It is a bustling commercial town,
which was the seat of Holkar rulers. It is well connected by air, rail and road from Delhi and
Mumbai. It has a few interesting features, the Rajwada, Palace and the cenotaphs of Holkar
rulers. It is called the " Mini Mumbai" because of its importance of commercial activities.

Ujjain- Ujjain is said to be the second holiest town after Varanasi. A Sinhasta mela is also
organized every 12 years on the lines of Kumbha mela. The town has a number of temples and
ashrams, the most famous being the Mahakal temple having one of the 12 Jyotirlingas. The
other temples are Chintamani Ganesh, Gopal Mandir, Kal bhairav and Mangalnath. It is said
that Sudama, the childhood friend of lord Krishna, stayed in Sandipani Ashram. Ujjain is 54
kms from Indore and is well connected by rail.

Maheshwar- Located on the bank of river Narmada, it was the seat of the Holkar dynesty,
prior to Indore. It has temples and ghats which have stone carvings. The prime deity worshiped
by the Rani Ahilyabai Holkar, the religious and the serving utensils made of pure gold are
displayed in the temple. Boating on river Narmada is a pleasant experience. It is located 85
kms from Indore on the National Highway No3.

Mandu-A small town bordering the plains of Nimar has the massive Afgan monuments of
various shapes and sizes, e.g. the Jahaz Mahal (the Ship Palace). The romantic tales of
Bazbahadur, the last Afgan king, and Roopmati, a Rajput princess, are still sung by balladeers
of Mandu. The Mughal monarch Jaghangir was fascinated by this place and named it the " City
of Joy". It is 100 kms from Indore by road.
Ujjain- The city of Mahakal Temple with one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Shiva. It is a temple
town on the banks of river Kshipra. It is also the land of poet laureate Kalidasa who wrote the
immortal Meghdootam.
Ujjain, situated on the banks of river Kshipra has its origin in the ancient Hindu mythological
tale of churning of the ocean. While the demons chased the gods accrioss the skies for Holy
Nectar, a few drops were spilt, one fell at Ujjain. It is also linked to the name of Kalidasa and
his immortal poetic creation of Meghdootam.
 Mahakal Temple (A Jyothilinga)
 Bade Ganeshji Temple
 Chintaman Ganesh
 Pir Matsyaendranath
 Bhartrihari caves
 Harsiddhi Temple
 Kaal Bhairav
 Sandipani Ashram
 Mangalnath Temple
 Kaliadeh Palace
 V ed Shala (Observatory)

A special mention must be made of the astronomical and astrological significance of

Ujjain. The Hindu astronomers reckoned their first meridian of longitude from Ujjayani.
Ancient India as described by Ptolemy also mentions this. The ancient concept of time and
space is closely associated with Ujjayani and, therefore, the Mahakal as the presiding deity
of Ujjayani. According to the ancient astronomical texts on 21st March the day lasts six
months at the North Pole Star and after another three months thereafter the sun is at its
remotest point from the southern horizon. At that time the sun is directly above Ujjain.

In ancient period Ujjain was the seat of astronomical studies. The city, being at the
center of the country, was the place where scientific astronomy first evolved. The students
of astronomy then fixed the meridian here in relation to other places for their astronomical
calculations. Ptolemy’s Geographica (150 A.D.) is a work of great importance for
understanding the geography of ancient India. He fixed the position of Ujjain at 77 23 from
where the meridian starts. Under Asoka Ujjain attained the highest state of prosperity. He
is said to have funded a college here where astronomy and astrology were taught as special
subjects. Ujjain continued to be the center of astronomical studies under the Guptas.
Varahimira, one of the Nav Ratnas (nine gems) of the court of Chandra Gupta II, was an
astronomer who wrote the ancient treatises Brihatsamhita and Laghu Jataka on astronomy
and astrology. He is believed to have been born at Kayatha near Ujjain. Udayagiri (near
Vidisha) is an ancient site that has an inscription in one of the caves that mentions the
presence of Chandra Gupta II. The twin hills of Udayagiri and the saddle in between have
remains that indicate that the site may have been used for astronomical observations.
Incidentally, the Tropic of Cancer also passes through Udayagiri. Ujjain continued to be
the seat of astronomical studies down to the days of Bhoj Parmara to whom is attributed
the astronomical work named Rajaamrangaka.

One sees a reflection of the Hindu view of the cosmos in the observatories established by
Maharaja Jai Singh of Amber (1686-1743) in the 17th-18th century A.D. Over extension
of the Mughul empire by Aurangzeb weakened its control and after his death in 1706 the
local chieftains asserted their power. Maharaja Jai Singh of Amber sided with the weakened
Mughal king Mohammad Shah (1719-48) and as a reward he was appointed the governor
(subedar) of the provinces of Agra and Malwa in 1721. Jai Singh had strong interest in the
Hindu concept of the cosmos. Besides establishing in 1728 the new city of Jaipur as his
royal capital based on the concept of the Mandala he established astronomical observatories
at Jaipur, Delhi, Mathura, Benares and Ujjain. Ujjain had been at the center of Hindu
astronomy for centuries and it is therefore not surprising that Jai Singh chose Ujjain
for establishing one of his observatories. According to Hindu cosmological ideas the
meridian of Ujjain runs through the center of the world. For that reason all their
astronomical calculations were focused on this place. This is somewhat similar to the
English making the Greenwich meridian and the French the Paris meridian into the line of
reference for taking their readings. Maharaja Jai Singh’s book Zig Mohammad Shahi gives
an account of the instruments extant at that time for making astronomical observations.
Father Teffenthaler who was the first European to write about the instruments at Ujjain in
1785 had made the following observations:

“Ujen, the capital of Malwa, is a very large, heavily populated and built-up town on a large
plain. There are also two very large lakes in the town; one at the ox market, the other known
as Garsathi, and charmingly situated to the south-west, is full of water-birds and has several
bays. Not far away is the suburb built by King Jesing, former governor of this province,
which is alongside an observatory and other equipment constructed of mortar; there are,
for instance, two equinoctial sundials, an upper and a lower one; a wall whose upper edge
forms an angle with the horizontal plane equal to the local latitude pointing towards the
pole and situated on the meridian, with a geometrical quadrant on both sides; in addition
there is a limestone gnomon and a meridian line engraved on stone.”
However, when Kaye came to Ujjain in 1915-16 he found only ruins. In accordance with
his detailed suggestions for restoration the instruments were reconstructed from a scratch
by the Archaeological Survey of India. The observatory now has the following instruments:
Samrat Yantra, Dakshino Vritti Yantra, Nari Valaya Yantra and Digamsa Yantra.

Omkareshwar- Another religious town having Jyotiralinga, it is located in the confluence of

Narmada and Kaveri. It is an Om shaped island having the famous temple of Omkar Mandhata.

Situated at the confluence of rivers Narmada and Kaveri, the ‘OM’ shaped island is the seat of
one of the 12 Jyotilingas in the temple of Omkar Mandhata.


 Omkar Mandhata Temple

 Siddhnath Temple
 24 Avtars
 Saptmatrika Temple
 Kajal Rani Cave

Maheshwar- A town located on the bank of river Narmada, it was the seat of Devi Ahilyabai
of Holkar Dynasty. It has a number of temples and sprawling ghats and is also known for the
handloom sarees.

Mahishmati, the old Maheswar, is a temple town on the banks of river Narmada which finds
mention in Ramayan and Mahabaharata. It was the set of Holkar Queen Rani Ahilya Ba, who
constructed the fort and the temples.


 Rajgaddi and Rajwada

 Temples of Kaleswar, Rajragheshwar, Vetthaleswar and Ahileswar.
 The Sprawling Ghats

Mandu- Known as the "City of Joy", it has massive Afghan Monuments of medieval period.
The plateau is studded with monuments of different shapes and sizes.

Mandu, a small plateau clothed in green and surrounded by ravines, has some of the finest and
massive afghan monuments of medieval period. It was a “City of Joy” for the Sultans of Malwa
and was visited by Jehangir a few times during the rains. The balladeers of Malwa still sing
poems on the royal romance of Bazbahadur and Roopmati.


 Darwazas (Gateways)
 Jahaz Mahal
 Hindola Mahal
 Jama Masjid
 Hoshangshah Tomb
 Asharfi Mahal
 Bazbahadur’s Palace
 Roopmati Pavilion
 Nilkantheswar
 Echo point (the Delphic oracle of Mandu)

Malwa, Sanskrit Malava, historical province and physiographic region of west-

central India, comprising a large portion of western and central Madhya Pradesh state and parts
of south eastern Rajasthan and northern Maharashtra states. Strictly, the name is confined to
the hilly tableland bounded by the Vindhya Range to the south, but it has been extended
southward to include the Narmada River valley and the Satpura Range.

Traditionally a land of plenty, it is an area of fertile black soil drained by the Chambal,
Sipra, Kali Sindh, and Parbati rivers. The region is covered with savanna-type vegetation
on the plateau and moist deciduous forests in the southern part, generally on the spurs of the
Vindhya and Satpura ranges. Teak is a commercially important tree. Other natural resources
of the area are lac (used to make shellac), dyeing and tanning materials, gums, fruits, sabai
grass (a valuable fibre plant), and honey.

Agriculture dominates the regional economy, and the cultivation of cotton, jowar (grain
sorghum), wheat, corn (maize), gram (chickpeas), sugarcane, millet, and peanuts (groundnuts)
is important. The Malwa region also has a variety of mineral deposits, including coal,
manganese, mica, iron ore, copper, bauxite, limestone, clays, calcite, zinc, and graphite, most
of which are commercially exploited.

Industries include the manufacture of textiles, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals, as well as

cotton ginning and pressing, food processing, and hand-loom weaving. Malwa’s industrial
centres include Ujjain, Indore, Bhopal, Khandwa, Ratlam, and Neemuch. Small-scale
and cottage industries are more important at the local level. The region long has been known
for its production of fine muslin and chintz at Chanderi and Sironj. Malwa is well connected
to the country’s rail and road networks.

As early as the 2nd century BCE the area was known as Avanti; it was held by
the Mauryan and Gupta dynasties. The first recorded dynasty was the Paramaras,
a Rajput (warrior caste) clan, who ruled (800–1200 CE) from their capital at Ujjain and, later,
at Dhar. Invaded by the Muslims in 1235, the province became a strong independent state
(1401–1531) with its capital at Mandu. Later annexed by the Mughals, it was one of the first
provinces to be conquered. The Marathas entered Malwa in 1724 under the peshwa (chief
minister) Baji Rao, with the help of the Scindias, Holkars, and Puars, and Malwa became the
headquarters of the Pindaris, or irregular plunderers. In 1817 the British restored order.

Malwa became a part of the Central Provinces in 1861. Malwa Agency, a subdivision of the
British Central India Agency, was created in 1895; it consisted of the princely states of
Alirajpur, Barwani, Dhar, Jaora, Jhabua, Jobat, and Kathimau, and several petty states.
Neemuch was its headquarters. In 1948 Malwa was formally divided among the states of
Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan.

Area- 81,767 km2(31,570 sq mi)
Elevation- 500 m (1,600 ft)
Population-(2001)- 18,889,000
Languages- Malwi , Hindi
Largest city- Indore

Malwa (highlighted) as per 1823 depiction of India by Fielding

Lucas Jr.

Malwa is a historical region of west-central India occupying a plateau of volcanic origin.

Geologically, the Malwa Plateau generally refers to the volcanic upland north of the Vindhya
Range. Politically and administratively, the historical Malwa region includes districts of
western Madhya Pradesh and parts of south-eastern Rajasthan. The definition of Malwa is
sometimes extended to include the Nimar region south of the Vindhyas.
The Malwa region had been a separate political unit from the time of the ancient Malava
Kingdom. It has been ruled by several kingdoms and dynasties, including the Avanti Kingdom,
the Mauryans, the Malavas, the Guptas, the Paramaras, the Malwa sultans, the Mughals and
the Marathas. Malwa continued to be an administrative division until 1947, when the Malwa
Agency of British India was merged into Madhya Bharat (also known as Malwa Union) state
of independent India.
Although its political borders have fluctuated throughout history, the region has developed
its own distinct culture, influenced by the Rajasthani, Marathi and Gujarati cultures.
Several prominent people in the history of India have hailed from Malwa, including the poet
and dramatist Kalidasa, the author Bhartrihari, the mathematicians and
astronomers Varahamihira and Brahmagupta, and the poly math king Bhoja. Ujjain had been
the political, economic, and cultural capital of the region in ancient times, and Indore is
now the largest city and commercial centre.
Overall, agriculture is the main occupation of the people of Malwa. The region has been one
of the important producers of opium in the world. Wheat and soybeans are other important cash
crops, and textiles are a major industry.
Several early stone age or Lower Paleolithic habitations have been excavated in eastern
Malwa.[2] The name Malwa is derived from the name of the ancient Indian tribe of Malavas.
The name Malava is said to be derived from the Sanskrit term Malav, which means “part of
the abode of Lakshmi”.[3] The location of the Malwa or Moholo, mentioned by the 7th-century
Chinese traveller Xuanzang, is plausibly identified with present-day Gujarat.[4] The region is
cited as Malibah in Arabic records, such as Kamilu-t Tawarikh by Ibn Asir.[5]
The Malwa Culture was a Chalcolithic archaeological culture which existed in the Malwa
region, as well as nearby parts of Maharashtra to the south, during the 2nd millennium
Ujjain, also known historically as Ujjaiyini and Avanti, emerged as the first major centre in the
Malwa region during India's second wave of urbanisation in the 7th century BC (the first wave
was the Indus Valley Civilization). Around 600 BC an earthen rampart was built around Ujjain,
enclosing a city of considerable size. Ujjain was the capital city of the Avanti kingdom, one
of the prominent mahajanapadas of ancient India. In the post-Mahabharata period—around
500 BC—Avanti was an important kingdom in western India; it was ruled by the Haihayas, a
people who were responsible for the destruction of Naga power in western India.[8]
The region was conquered by the Nanda Empire in the mid-4th century BC, and subsequently
became part of the Maurya Empire. Ashoka, who was later a Mauryan emperor, was governor
of Ujjain in his youth. After the death of Ashoka in 232 BC, the Maurya Empire began to
collapse. Although evidence is sparse, Malwa was probably ruled by the Kushanas,
the Shakas and the Satavahana dynasty during the 1st and 2nd century CE. Ownership of the
region was the subject of dispute between the Western Kshatrapas and the Satavahanas during
the first three centuries AD. Ujjain emerged a major trading centre during the 1st century AD.
Malwa became part of the Gupta Empire during the reign of Chandragupta II(375–413), also
known as Vikramaditya, who conquered the region, driving out the Western Kshatrapas. The
Gupta period is widely regarded as a golden age in the history of Malwa, when Ujjain served
as the empire's western capital. Kalidasa, Aryabhata and Varahamihira were all based in
Ujjain, which emerged as a major centre of learning, especially in astronomy and mathematics.
Around 500, Malwa re-emerged from the dissolving Gupta Empire as a separate kingdom; in
528, Yasodharman of Malwa defeated the Hunas, who had invaded India from the north-west.
During the seventh century, the region became part of Harsha's empire, who disputed the region
with the Chalukya king Pulakesin II of Badami in the Deccan.
In 756 AD Gurjara-Pratiharas advanced into Malwa.[9] In 786 the region was captured by
the Rashtrakuta kings of the Deccan, and was disputed between the Rashtrakutas and the
Gurjara Pratihara kings of Kannauj until the early part of the tenth century. The Emperors of
the Rashtrakuta dynasty appointed the Paramara rulers as governors of Malwa.[10] From the
mid-tenth century, Malwa was ruled by the Paramaras, who established a capital at Dhar.
King Bhoj, who ruled from about 1010 to 1060, was known as the great polymath philosopher-
king of medieval India; his extensive writings cover philosophy, poetry, medicine, veterinary
science, phonetics, yoga, and archery. Under his rule Malwa became an intellectual centre of
India. His successors ruled until about 1305, when Malwa was conquered by the Delhi
Sultanate. Malwa was several times invaded by the south Indian Western Chalukya Empire.[11]

Position of Malwa with respect to other states in c. 1200. prior to conquest by Delhi Sultanate
Dilawar Khan, previously Malwa's governor under the rule of the Delhi sultanate, declared
himself sultan of Malwa in 1401 after the Mughal conqueror Timurattacked Delhi, causing the
break-up of the sultanate into smaller states. Khan started the Malwa Sultanate and established
a capital at Mandu, high in the Vindhya Range overlooking the Narmada River valley. His son
and successor, Hoshang Shah (1405–35), developed Mandu as an important city. Hoshang
Shah's son, Ghazni Khan, ruled for only a year and was succeeded by Mahmud Khalji (1436–
69), the first of the Khaljisultans of Malwa, who expanded the state to include parts of Gujarat,
Rajasthan, and the Deccan. The Muslim sultans invited the Rajputs to settle in the country. In
the early 16th century, the sultan sought the aid of the sultans of Gujarat to counter the growing
power of the Rajputs, while the Rajputs sought the support of the Sesodia Rajput kings
of Mewar.
Gujarat stormed Mandu in 1518. In 1531, Bahadur Shah of Gujarat, captured Mandu, executed
Mahmud II (1511–31), and shortly after that, the Malwa sultanate
collapsed. The Mughal emperor Akbar captured Malwa in 1562 and made it
a subah (province) of his empire. The Malwa Subah existed from 1568 to 1743. Mandu was
abandoned by the 17th century.
As the Mughal state weakened after 1700, the Marathas held sway over Malwa under
dispatchment of Baji Rao I under leadership of Chimnaji Appa, Nemaji Shinde and Chimnaji
Damodar were the first Marathagenerals to cross the boundary of Maharashtra and to invade
in Malwa in 1698. Subsequently, Malharrao Holkar (1694–1766) became leader of Maratha
armies in Malwa in 1724, and in 1733 the Maratha Peshwagranted him control of most of the
region, which was formally ceded by the Mughals in 1738. Ranoji Scindia, noted Maratha
commander, established his headquarters at Ujjain in 1721. This capital was later moved
to Gwalior State by Daulatrao Scindia. Another Maratha general, Anand Rao Pawar,
established himself as the Raja of Dhar in 1742, and the two Pawar brothers became Rajas
of Dewas State.
At the end of the 18th century, Malwa became the venue of fighting between the rival Maratha
powers and the headquarters of the Pindaris, who were irregular plunderers. The Pindaris were
rooted out in a campaign by the British general Lord Hastings, and further order was
established under Sir John Malcolm.[4] The Holkar dynasty ruled Malwa
from Indoreand Maheshwar on the Narmada until 1818, when the Marathas were defeated by
the British in the Third Anglo-Maratha War, and the Holkars of Indore became a princely
state of the British Raj.
After 1818 the British organised the numerous princely states of central India into the Central
India Agency; the Malwa Agency was a division of Central India, with an area of
23,100 km2 (8,900 sq mi) and a population of 1,054,753 in 1901. It comprised the states
of Dewas State (senior and junior branch), Jaora, Ratlam, Sitamau and Sailana, together with
a large part of Gwalior, parts of Indore and Tonk, and about 35 small estates and holdings.
Political power was exercised from Neemuch.[4]
Upon Indian independence in 1947, the Holkars and other princely rulers acceded to India, and
most of Malwa became part of the new state of Madhya Bharat, which was merged into
Madhya Pradesh in 1956.


Malwa (central India, in yellow), as depicted in the Ostell's New General Atlas, 1814
The Malwa region occupies a plateau in western Madhya Pradesh and south-
eastern Rajasthan (between 21°10′N 73°45′E and 25°10′N 79°14′E),[8] with Gujarat in
the west. The region includes the Madhya Pradesh districts
of Agar, Dewas, Dhar, Indore, Jhabua, Mandsaur, Neemuch, Rajgarh, Ratlam, Shajapu
r, Ujjain, and parts of Guna and Sehore, and the Rajasthan districts of Jhalawar and
parts of Kota, Banswara and Pratapgarh.
Malwa is bounded in the north-east by the Hadoti region, in the north-west by
the Mewar region, in the west by the Vagad region and Gujarat. To the south and east is the
Vindhya Range and to the north is the Bundelkhand upland.
The plateau is an extension of the Deccan Traps, formed between 60 and 68 million years ago
at the end of the Cretaceous period. In this region the main classes of soil are black, brown
and bhatori (stony) soil. The volcanic, clay-like soil of the region owes its black colour to the
high iron content of the basalt from which it formed. The soil requires less irrigation because
of its high capacity for moisture retention. The other two soil types are lighter and have a higher
proportion of sand.
The average elevation of the plateau is 500 m. Some of the peaks over 800 m high are at Sigar
(881 m), Janapav (854 m) and Ghajari (810 m). The plateau generally slopes towards the north.
The western part of the region is drained by the Mahi River, while the Chambal River drains
the central part, and the Betwa River and the headwaters of the Dhasan and Ken rivers drain
the east. The Shipra River is of historical importance because of the Simhasth mela, held every
12 years. Other notable rivers are Parbati, Gambhir and Choti Kali Sindh.
Due to its altitude of about 550 to 600 meters above mean sea level, the region has
comparatively cool evenings against the hot days during the summer season.[15] Even if the day
temperature reaches 42 to 43 degrees Celsius, the night temperatures are always in range of 20
to 22 degrees making the climate much cooler than the other areas of the region. The cool
morning wind, the karaman, and an evening breeze, the Shab-e-Malwa, make the summers less
harsh. The term Shab-e-Malwa, meaning dusk in Malwa (from shab, Urdu for night), was
introduced by the Mughals.
The Vindhya Range marks the southern boundary of the plateau, and is the source of many
rivers of the region.
The year is popularly divided into three seasons: summer, the rains, and winter. Summer
extends over the months of Chaitra to Jyestha (mid-March to mid-May). The average
maximum temperature during the summer months is 37 °C, which typically rises to around
40 °C on a few days. The rainy season starts with the first showers of Aashaadha (mid-June)
and extends to the middle of Ashvin (September). Most of the rain falls during the
southwest monsoon spell, and ranges from about 80 cm in the west to about 10.5 cm in the
east. Indore and the immediately surrounding areas receive an average of 90 cm of rainfall a
year. The growing period lasts from 90 to 150 days, during which the average daily temperature
is below 30 °C, but seldom falls below 20 °C. Winter is the longest of the three seasons,
extending for about five months (mid-Ashvin to Phalgun, i.e., October to mid-March). The
average daily minimum temperature ranges from 6 °C to 9 °C, though on some nights it can
fall as low as 3 °C. Some cultivators believe that an occasional winter shower during the
months of Pausha and Maagha—known as Mawta—is helpful to the early summer wheat and
germ crops.[8]
The Sambhar is one of the most common wild animals found in the region.
The region is part of the Kathiawar-Gir dry deciduous forests ecoregion.
Vegetation: The natural vegetation is tropical dry forest, with scattered teak(Tectona
grandis) forests. The main trees
are Butea, Bombax, Anogeissus, Acacia, Buchanania and Boswellia. The shrubs or small trees
include species of Grewia, Ziziphus
mauritiana, Casearia, Prosopis, Capparis, Woodfordia, Phyllanthus, and Carissa.
Wildlife: Sambhar (Cervus unicolor), Blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra),
and Chinkara (Gazella bennettii) are some common ungulates. During the last century,
deforestation has happened at a fast rate, leading to environmental problems such as acute
water scarcity and the danger that the region is being desertified.
The population of the Malwa region was about 18.9 million in 2001, with a population density
of a moderate 231/km². The annual birth rate in the region was 31.6 per 1000, and the death
rate 10.3. The infant mortality rate was 93.8, slightly higher than the overall rate for the Madhya
Pradesh state.
There are numerous tribes in the region, such as the Bhils—and their allied groups,
the Meos the Bhilalas, Barelas and Patelias—and the Meenas, who all differ to a remarkable
degree from the regional population in their dialects and social life. They encompass a variety
of languages and cultures. Some tribes of the region, notably the Kanjars, were notified in the
19th century for their criminal activities, but have since been denotified. A nomadic tribe from
the Marwar region of Rajasthan, the Gadia Lohars—who work as lohars(blacksmiths)—visit
the region at the start of the agricultural season to repair and sell agricultural tools and
implements, stopping temporarily on the outskirts of villages and towns and residing in their
ornate metal carts. The Kalbelia is another nomadic tribe from Rajasthan that regularly visits
the region.[17]
Malwa has a significant number of Dawoodi Bohras, a subsect of ShiaMuslims from Gujarat,
who are mostly businessmen by profession. Besides speaking the local languages, the Bohras
have their own language, Lisan al-Dawat. The Patidars, who probably originated from
the Kurmis of Punjab, are mostly rural farmers who settled in Gujarat around 1400. Periods
of Maratha rule led to the growth of sizeable Marathi communities. The region
of Indore, Dhar, Dewas and Ujjain has a considerable Marathi speaking populace. A
significant number of Marwaris, Jats and Rajputs also live in the region. The Sindhis, who
settled in the region after the partition of India, are an important part of the business
community. Like southern Rajasthan, the region has a significant number of Jains, who are
mostly traders and business people. The region is home to smaller numbers
of Goan Catholics, Anglo-Indians, Punjabisand Parsis or Zoroastrians. The Parsis are closely
connected to the growth and evolution of Mhow, which has a Parsi fire temple and a Tower of
Indore is the commercial capital of Malwa region. Malwa is one of the world's major opium
producers. This crop resulted in development of close connections between the economies of
Malwa, the western Indian ports and China, bringing international capital to the region in the
18th and 19th centuries. Malwa opium was a challenge to the monopoly of the British East
India Company, which was supplying Bengal opium to China. This led the British company to
impose many restrictions on the production and trade of the drug; eventually, opium trading
was pushed underground. When smuggling became rife, the British eased the restrictions.
Today, the region is one of the largest producers of legal opium in the world. There is a central,
government-owned opium and alkaloid factory in the city of Neemuch. Nevertheless, there is
a still a significant amount of illicit opium production, which is channelled into the black
market. The headquarters of India's Central Bureau of Narcotics is in Gwalior. The Rajputana-
Malwa Railway was opened in 1876.
The region is predominantly agricultural. The brown soil in parts of the region is particularly
suitable for the cultivation of such unalu (early summer) crops as wheat, gram (Cicer
arietinum) and til (Sesamum indicum). Relatively poor soil is used for the cultivation of
such syalu (early winter) crops as millet (Andropogon sorghum), maize (Zea mays), mung
bean (Vigna radiata), urad (Vigna mungo), batla (Pisum sativum) and peanuts (Arachis
hypogaea). Overall, the main crops are jowar, rice, wheat, coarse millet, peanuts and pulses,
soya bean, cotton, linseed, sesame and sugarcane. Sugar mills are located in numerous small
The black, volcanic soil is ideal for the cultivation of cotton, and textile manufacture is an
important industry. Large centres of textile production include Indore, Ujjain and Nagda.
Maheshwar is known for its fine Maheshwari saris, and Mandsaur for its coarse woollen
blankets. Handicrafts are an important source of income for the tribal population. Coloured
lacquerware from Ratlam, rag dolls from Indore, and papier-mâché articles from Indore, Ujjain
and several other centres are well known.
Mandsaur district is the sole producer in India of white- and red-coloured slate, used in the
district's 110 slate pencil factories. There is a cement factory in . Apart from this, the region
lacks mineral resources. The region's industries mainly produce consumer goods—but there
are now many centres of large- and medium-scale industries, including Indore, Nagda and
Ujjain. Indore has a large-scale factory that produces diesel engines. Pithampur, an industrial
town 25 km from Indore, is known as the Detroit of India for its heavy concentration of
automotive industry. Indore is recognised as the commercial capital of Madhya Pradesh, and
is the main centre for trade in textiles and agro-based products. It has one of the six Indian
Institutes of Management and one of sixteen Indian Institute of Technology.

The culture of Malwa has been significantly influenced by Rajasthani culture, because of
their geographic proximity. Marathi influence is also visible, because of recent rule by
the Marathas.
The main language of Malwa is Malvi, although Hindi is widely spoken in the cities. This
Indo-European language is subclassified as Indo-Aryan. The language is sometimes referred
to as Malavi or Ujjaini. Malvi is part of the Rajasthani branch of languages; Nimadi is spoken
in the Nimar region of Madhya Pradesh and in Rajasthan. The dialects of Malvi are, in
alphabetical order, Bachadi, Bhoyari, Dholewari, Hoshangabadi, Jamral, Katiyai, Malvi
Proper, Patvi, Rangari, Rangri and Sondwari. A survey in 2001 found only four dialects: Ujjaini
(in the districts of Ujjain, Indore, Dewas and Sehore), Rajawari (Ratlam, Mandsaur and
Neemuch), Umadwari (Rajgarh) and Sondhwari (Jhalawar, in Rajasthan). About 55% of the
population of Malwa can converse in and about 40% of the population is literate in Hindi, the
official language of the Madhya Pradesh state.[18]
Traditional Malwa food has elements of Rajasthani, Gujarati and Maharashtrian cuisine.
Traditionally, jowar was the staple cereal, but after the Green Revolution in India, wheat has
replaced jowar as the most important food crop; many are vegetarians. Since the climate is
mostly dry throughout the year, most people rely on stored foods such as pulses, and green
vegetables are rare. A typical snack of Malwa is the bhutta ri kees(made with grated corn
roasted in ghee and later cooked in milk with spices). Chakki ri shaak is made of wheat dough,
which is washed under running water, steamed and then used in a gravy of curd. The traditional
bread of Malwa is called baati/bafla, which is essentially a small, round ball of wheat flour,
roasted over dung cakes, in the traditional way. Baati is typically eaten with dal (pulses),
while baflas are dripping with ghee and soaked with dal. The amli ri kadhi is kadhi made with
tamarind instead of yogurt. Sweet cakes, made of a variety of wheat called tapu, are prepared
during religious festivities. Sweet cereal called thulli is also typically eaten with milk or
yoghurt. Traditional desserts include mawa-bati (milk-based sweet similar to Gulab
jamun), khoprapak (coconut-based sweet), shreekhand (yogurt based) and malpua.
Lavani is a widely practised form of folk music in southern Malwa, which was brought to the
region by the Marathas. The Nirguni Lavani(philosophical) and the Shringari Lavani (erotic)
are two of the main genres. The Bhils have their own folk songs, which are always
accompanied by dance. The folk musical modes of Malwa are of four or five notes, and in rare
cases six. The devotional music of the Nirguni cult is popular throughout Malwa. Legends
of Raja Bhoj and Bijori, the Kanjar girl, and the tale of Balabau are popular themes for folk
songs. Insertions known as stobha are commonly used in Malwa music; this can occur in four
ways: the matra stobha (syllable insertion), varna stobha (letter insertion), shabda
stobha (word insertion) and vakya stobha (sentence insertion).

Malwa was the centre of Sanskrit literature during and after the Gupta period. The
region's most famous playwright, Kalidasa, is considered to be the greatest Indian writer ever.
His first surviving play is Malavikagnimitra (Malavika and Agnimitra). Kalidasa's second
play, his masterpiece, is the Abhijñānaśākuntalam, which tells the story of king Dushyanta,
who falls in love with a girl of lowly birth, the lovely Shakuntala. The last of Kalidasa's
surviving plays is Vikramuurvashiiya ("Urvashi conquered by valour"). Kalidasa also wrote
the epic poems Raghuvamsha ("Dynasty of
Raghu"), Ritusamhāra and Kumarasambhava ("Birth of the war god"), as well as the
lyric Meghaduuta("The cloud messenger").
Swang is a popular dance form in Malwa; its roots go back to the origins of the Indian theatre
tradition in the first millennium BC. Since women did not participate in the dance-drama form,
men enacted their roles. Swang incorporates suitable theatrics and mimicry, accompanied
alternately by song and dialogue. The genre is dialogue-oriented rather than movement-
Mandana (literally painting) wall and floor paintings are the best-known painting traditions of
Malwa. White drawings stand out in contrast to the base material consisting of a mixture of red
clay and cow dung. Peacocks, cats, lions, goojari, bawari, the swastika and chowk are some
motifs of this style. Sanjhya is a ritual wall painting done by young girls during the annual
period when Hindus remember and offer ritual oblation to their ancestors. Malwa miniature
paintings are well known for their intricate brushwork.[20] In the 17th century, an offshoot of
the Rajasthani school of miniature painting, known as Malwa painting, was centred largely in
Malwa and Bundelkhand. The school preserved the style of the earliest examples, such as
the Rasikapriya series dated 1636 (after a poem analysing the love sentiment) and the Amaru
Sataka (a 17th-century Sanskrit poem). The paintings from this school are flat compositions
on black and chocolate-brown backgrounds, with figures shown against a solid colour patch,
and architecture painted in vibrant colours.[21]
The biggest festival of Malwa is the Simhastha mela, held every 12 years, in which more
than 40 million pilgrims take a holy dip in river Shipra. The festival of Gana-gour is celebrated
in honour of Shiva and Parvati. The history of the festival goes back to Rano Bai, whose
parental home was in Malwa, but who was married in Rajasthan. Rano Bai was strongly
attached to Malwa, and did not want to stay in Rajasthan. After marriage, she was allowed to
visit Malwa only once a year; Gana-gour symbolises these annual return visits. The festival is
observed by women in the region once in the month of Chaitra (mid-March) and Bhadra (mid-
August). The Ghadlya (earthen pot) festival is celebrated by the girls of the region, who gather
to visit every house in their village in the evenings, carrying earthen pots with holes for the
light from oil lamps inside to escape. In front of every house, the girls recite songs connected
with the Ghadlya and receive food or money in return. The Gordhan festival is celebrated on
the 16th day in the month of Kartika. The Bhils of the region sing Heeda, anecdotal songs to
the cattle, while the women sing the Chandrawali song, associated with Krishna's romance.
The most popular fairs are held in the months
of Phalguna, Chaitra, Bhadra, Ashvin and Kartik. The Chaitra fair, held at Biaora, and
the Gal yatras, held at more than two dozen villages in Malwa are remarkable. Many fairs are
held in the tenth day of the month of Bhadra to mark the birth of Tejaji. The Triveni mela is
held at Ratlam, and other fairs take place in Kartika at Ujjain, Mandhata (Nimad), among

The main tourist destinations in Malwa are places of historical or religious significance. The
river Shipra and the city of Ujjain have been regarded as sacred for thousands of years.
The Mahakal Temple of Ujjain is one of the 12 jyotirlingas. Ujjain has over 100 other ancient
temples, including Harsidhhi, Chintaman
Ganesh, Gadh Kalika, Kaal Bhairava and Mangalnath. The Kalideh Palace, on the outskirts
of the city, is a fine example of ancient Indian architecture. The Bhartrihari caves are associated
with interesting legends. Since the fourth century BC, Ujjain has enjoyed the reputation of
being India's Greenwich,[22] as the Prime Meridian of the Hindu geographers. The observatory
built by Jai Singh II is one of the four such observatories in India and features ancient
astronomical devices. The Simhastha mela, celebrated every 12 years, starts on the full moon
day in Chaitra (April) and continues into Vaishakha (May) until the next full moon day.
Mandu was originally the fort capital of the Parmar rulers. Towards the end of the 13th century,
it came under the sway of the Sultans of Malwa, the first of whom named it Shadiabad (city of
joy). It remained as the capital, and in it the sultans built exquisite palaces like the Jahaz Mahal
and Hindola Mahal, ornamental canals, baths and pavilions. The massive Jami Masjid and
Hoshang Shah's tomb provided inspiration to the designers of the Taj Mahal centuries
later. Baz Bahadur built a huge palace in Mandu in the 16th century. Other notable historical
monuments are Rewa Kund, Rupmati's Pavilion, Nilkanth Mahal, Hathi Mahal, Darya Khan's
Tomb, Dai ka Mahal, Malik Mughit is Mosque and Jali Mahal.
Close to Mandu is Maheshwar, a town on the northern bank of Narmada River that served as
the capital of the Indore state under Rajmata Ahilya Devi Holkar. The Maratha rajwada (fort)
is the main attraction. A life-size statue of Rani Ahilya sits on a throne within the fort complex.
Dhar was the capital of Malwa before Mandu became the capital in 1405. There, the fort is in
ruins but offers a panoramic view. The Bhojashala Mosque (built in 1400) is still used as a
place of worship on Fridays. The abandoned Lat Masjid (1405) and the tomb of Kamal Maula
(early 15th century), a Muslim saint, are other places of interest.
Modern Indore was planned and built by Rajmata Ahilya Devi Holkar. The grand Lal Baag
Palace is one of its grandest monuments. The Bada Ganpati temple houses what is possibly
the largest Ganesh idol in the world, measuring 7.6 m from crown to foot. The Kanch Mandir is
a Jain temple entirely inlaid with glass. The Town Hall was made in 1904 in indo-gothic style;
originally named King Edward Hall, it was renamed Mahatma Gandhi Hall in 1948.
The chhatris are the tombs or cenotaphs erected in memory of dead Holkar rulers and their
family members.
The shrine of Hussain Tekri, built by the Nawab of Jaora, Mohammad Iftikhar Ali Khan
Bahadur, in the 19th century, is on the outskirts of Jaora in the Ratlam district. Mohammad
Iftikhar Ali Khan Bahadur was buried in the same graveyard where Hussain Tekri was buried.
During the month of Moharram, thousands of people from all over the world visit the shrine
of Hazrat Imam Hussain there, which is a replica of the Iraqi original. The place is famous for
the rituals called Hajri to cure mental illness.