Much has vanished in the haze of time, but the little that survived should be safeguarded and worth exploring. An impressive archaeological site like Khandwa, one of India’s oldest inhabited places, owns the key to several ancient monuments. Sacred Hindu and Jain temples and religious sites are surrounded by enchanting sceneries that include ancient ponds, rivers, natural parks, and small islands. 

An architectural review of location: Khandwa - Sheet1
Omkareshwar Temple Surroundings, Khandwa, [email protected]

Architecture and Planning

An ancient town like Khandwa holds onto a historical richness and vast narratives. In the shadow of colonial buildings and long-forgotten corners of the city, hoary temples and sculptures are hidden. Omkareshwar, Tulja Bhavani Temple, Nav-Chandi, Dada Dhuni wale ki Samadhi, and Devi Dham are among the most known worship places for Hindu pilgrims. The temples of Khandwa are highly influenced by the Māru-Gurjara and Nagara architectural styles, which stand out through elaborate exteriors and interiors. Intricate carvings and details are found on most of these buildings’ surfaces, imbued with ample symbolism. Another characteristic of these temples is represented by the flying arch-like ceiling, which builds upon a dome structure. One of India’s biggest religious sites, the Omkareshwar temple lays its foundation over a large area and has been constructed from marble, stones, and soft stones. Built and designed according to ancient architectural standards, this temple, among others, represents an ode to monumental architecture.

An architectural review of location: Khandwa - Sheet2
Omkareshwar Temple Surroundings, Khandwa, [email protected]

The temple carries an exquisite spiritual and historical value given by the antique art found inside and outside the construction. Ancient communities meticulously carved wall paintings, transforming the religious location into an architectural monument. Such a temple not only astonishes the human being through its spiritual charge and symbolic design but also satisfies an important role. The majestic building has a considerable height to ensure that the pilgrims can see it from a long distance. Surrounded by nature and drowning in a serene atmosphere, the sacred temple never ceases to attract tourists and faith devotees throughout time. Such a picturesque landscape created by the River Narmada and the buildings encircling it should not be missed by any eye! The temple’s architecture stays intact and invites the visitor or the believer to experience and connect with the interior of the building and its surrounding area. Tales of rulers, deities, and past communities are visually spoken through extraordinary sculptures and aged walls of the construction. Not only a divine place for devotion but a museum of frieze carvings lingering on the temple’s brownstone pillars, Omkareshwar is an impressive shrine. Found on the circular path of the island, the temple encourages the walker to explore hidden corners of the district and discover more breathtaking ashrams and religious temples.

As for its planning, Khandwa was the main connector between the northern, southern, eastern, and western rail routes: north (Delhi), south (Bombay, today Mumbai), and west (Baroda). Due to its accessible location and availability of resources, Khandwa has become a fitting region for potential industrial purposes. Today, it is located on the main roads that link northern India to the Deccan region and is considered both a rail junction and a major road. 

Khandwa’s Community and Culture

Located in the Nimar region of Madhya Pradesh in India, Khandwa is home to various cultural and religious sites used and appreciated by the community as worship solaces. These temples and kunds (ponds) together form a valuable and significant pilgrim center for the followers of the Hindu faith. When it comes to its communities, the culture of Khandwa embraces great diversity and unites different tribes that share an equal enthusiasm and gratitude towards their space. The population is predominantly occupied by Hindus, Muslims, Sindhis, and Sikhs. Communities like the Kunbis, Rajputs, and Marathas are supporting the agricultural social structure of the district, contributing to the rural mass, whereas groups such as Muslims, Jains, Sindhis, Sikhs, and the Bania group choose to settle in urban regions. Apart from these groups of people, there are the Bhils, Gond, and Korkus tribes that reside in the beautiful nature of the forest areas. 

An architectural review of location: Khandwa - Sheet3
Kishor Kumar Smarak, Khandwa, [email protected]

Socio-political Dynamics in Khandwa

Influenced by colonial occupancies, the town has been in constant change throughout time. Back in the 12th century, Khandwa was the heart of Jainism, later to fall under Mughal rule from the 16th until the mid-18th century when the Britishers took over. During the British occupation, historical buildings such as the Local Nagar Nigam and Girl Degree College were built. The colonial period of the British Government brought English architectural influences and impacted the planning of the city. 

An architectural review of location: Khandwa - Sheet4
Government Medical College Khandwa, [email protected]

Towards a Modern Khandwa

Khandwa of today is rapidly changing and growing into a modern city that advances in its infrastructure, civic facilities, and local amenities. An ecological and greenery balance is ensured by authorities to lead the development of the city in a sustainable direction. The city formed in 1867 is nowadays active in timber, grain, and cotton trades, and it is home to various government colleges and an experimental sericulture farm. 

Omkareshwar Temple, Khandwa, [email protected]

Bibliography

Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia (2014, September 5). Khandwa. Encyclopaedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/place/Khandwa

Harle, J.C., The Art and Architecture of the Indian Subcontinent, 2nd edn. 1994, Yale University Press Pelican History of Art, ISBN 0300062176

Shah, K. K. (1982, January). THE ANTIQUITY AND ANCIENT PLANNING OF KHANDWA. In Proceedings of the Indian History Congress (Vol. 43, pp. 790-797). Indian History Congress.

Image sources:

1_Omkareshwar Temple Surroundings, Khandwa, India; [Photograph]. (HelloTravel gallery) Available at: https://www.hellotravel.com/india/khandwa 

2_Omkareshwar Temple Surroundings, Khandwa, India; [Photograph]. (i.pinimg.com) Available at: https://www.shivamahadeva.net/2020/06/omkareshwar-temple.html 

3_Kishor Kumar Smarak, Khandwa, India; [Photograph]. (KhandwaOnline) Available at: https://www.khandwaonline.in/city-guide/about-khandwa  

4_Government Medical College Khandwa, India; [Photograph]. Available at: https://www.moksh16.com/government-medical-college-khandwa/ 

5_Omkareshwar Temple, Khandwa, India; [Photograph]. Available at: 

https://ghhumakad.com/omkareshwar-temple/ 

Author

A curious human being and aspiring designer who seeks to investigate different modes of existence and speculative habitats. She studies the intersection of art, design, technology, and science. Exploration through observation is her approach. During her daily walks, she pays attention to both built and sonic environments. She is deeply passionate about sound, space and matter. When she sees architecture that moves her, she hears music.

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