Dhar


Historically and culturally, Dhar District has occupied an important place through its epoch-ancient, mediaeval and modern. Dhar, known as Dhar Nagari in ancient period and Dhar in mediaeval period has had the privilege of being of the capital city, both in the ancient and in the early mediaeval periods.

The ruled over a vast territory around Malwa for 400 years from the 9th to the 13th centuries. Vakpati Munja and Bhojadeva were the most famous rulers of this dynasty. Munja was a great general, a poet of repute and a great patron of art and literature. His court was adorned by poets like Dhananjaya, Halayudha, Dhanika, Padmagupta, the author of Navasahasan kacharita, Amitagati, etc. He excavated the Munja Sagar at Dhar and Mandu and built beautiful temples at a number of places.

Bhojadeva, the most illustrious of the Parmaras, was one of the greatest kings of ancient India. His name became a household word in India not only as a soldier but also as a builder, a scholar and a writer. Authorship of a large number of books on a variety of subjects like grammar, astronomy, poetics, architecture and asceticism is ascribed to him. He shifted his capital from Ujjain to Dhar, where the established a university for Sanskrit studies. It is known as the Bhoja Shala in which was enshrined the image of Goddess Saraswati. He rebuilt temples, including the magnificent temple at Bhojapur. Bhoja also created a large lake near Bhojapur.

In the year 1305, A.D. the whole of Malwa passed into the hands of Al-ud-din Khalji when Dhar and Mandu were also captured. Dhar continued to be under Delhi Sultans until the reign of Muhammed II. At that time, Dilawar Khan Ghuri was the Governor of Malwa. In 1401 A.D. he assumed royalty and established an independent Kingdom of Malwa, with his capital at Dhar. His son and successor, Hoshang Shah moved the capital to Mandu. Hoshang Shah died in 1435 A.D. and was entombed in the splendid mausoleum which still exists at Mandu. On Hoshang's death his son, Ghazni Khan, succeeded him. He ordered his capital Mandu to be called "Shadiabad" (the City of Joy). He, however, had a very short reign, as he was poisoned to death by Mahmud Khalji in 1436 A.D. Mahmud Khan ascended the throne and inaugurated the reign of the Khalji Sultans in Malwa. Khalji Sultans continued to rule Malwa till 1531 A.D. Later Malwa was captured by Sher Shah and was placed under the charge of Shujat Khan. Shujat Khan was succeeded by his son Baz Bahadur. Mandu and its environs reverberated with the stories of romance of Rupmati and Baz Bahadur. When Baz Bahadur was defeated and put to fight by the Mughal army, his beloved Rupmati took poison and put an end to her life to escape dishonour.


In the administrative organisation of Akbar, Dhar was the Chief town of a Mahal in Mandu Sarkar of the Subah of Malwa. Akbar stayed at Dhar for seven days, while directing the invasion of the Deccan. He also visited Mandu a number of times. Mandu was also a favourite resort of Emperor Jahangir, who stayed here for over six months in 1616 A.D. In his memoirs, Jahangir has payed glowing tributes to the pleasant climate and pretty scenery at Mandu Noorjahan shot four tigers with six bullets, from the back of an elephant, near Mandu.

When Baji Rao Peshwa divided Malwa among Sindhia, Holkar and the three Pawar Chiefs, in 1832 A.D. Dhar was bestowed on Anand Rao Pawar. The rulers of Dhar held away over this area till 1948, except for a brief period of three years, following the grate Revolt of 1857.

Dhar was an important centre of Revolt, during the First War of Independence in 1857. Freedom fighters captured the Fort of Dhar which remained in their possession from July to October, 1857. The Bhils also took active part in the Revolt. The rebels paralysed the authority of the State and opposed the British. Consequently, a large force marched against Dhar under Colonel Durand, and captured the town. Just because three or four rounds were fired on the British troops by rebels, the British soldiers took a tribal revenge on the local people. They dragged civilians from their houses, killed them and looted their property ladies were dishonored. The rebels defended the fort, till 31st October, 1857 when breach was caused. They, therefore, escaped through an underground passage.

As an aftermath of the Revolt, Dhar State was annexed to the British territory. The British Government however, changed the decision of Government of India, and restored Dhar to Anand Rao III, on the 1st may 1860.

Mandu, clothed in green, with turbulent brooks and torrents rushing down into the encircling ravines, presents a magnificent spectacle. Thousands of tourists are drawn to Mandu, to have a glimpse of the splendid movements there.

Another place of great national importance is Bagh, where the caves have been excavated on the rockface of a lofty hill, on the bank of the Bagh river. The paintings at Bagh date back to a period between the 5th and the 7th centuries A.D., the Golden Age of Indian Art. Together with the Ajanta paintings, the Bagh paintings represent the finest traditions of Indian Art, which had a far-reaching influence on the Buddhist Art, not only in India, but also on the entire Buddhist Art in Asia.

The majority of the population in Dhar District belongs to the Scheduled Tribes. The main tribes in the District are Bhils and Bhilalas. Their highest concentration is in Kukshi Tahsil.

Dhar is located at a distance of 33 km from Maheshwar, 35 km from Mandu and 64 km from Indore. All of them are major towns of Madhya Pradesh and are well connected to various parts of the country through railways and roadways. Once you have reached any of them you can take buses to reach Dhar. Buses ply regularly from and to these places. Here you can avail of autos, buses or jeeps to reach Dhar.

It is believed that just at a distance of about 3 km from Dhar is the place where Kalidas meditated. This interesting piece of information draws many tourists in addition to the Tourist attractions in Dhar.

Dhar does not just contain important historical monuments, its scenic beauty is also something to be enjoyed and appreciated. A major tourist attraction in the small medieval town of Dhar is the Bhojashala Mosque.

The mosque was originally a temple. It is believed to have been constructed by Raja Bhoj. Later after the accession of Alauddin Khilji to the throne of Delhi, Dhar came under Islamic influence and it was probably at this time that the temple was converted to a mosque. There are several Sanskrit inscriptions that can be found in the Bhojashala Mosque which authenticates the fact that it was earlier a temple. A large number of motifs are found. There are inscriptions of conch shells, bells. The architecture of Bhojshala is akin to a typical Hindu Temple. You will surely be impressed by the architectural skills that have been displayed.

Dhar is well connected to the major towns and cities of Madhya Pradesh by road. Buses ply at regular intervals. There is no problem in reaching Dhar once you have reached Maheshwar or Mandu or Indore. Indore is the nearest airport and all of them are also well connected by rail to different parts of India.

The Dhar Fort is the most important historical monument in Dhar which was the capital of the legendary king Bhoj. It is situated at a distance of about 3 km from the central area of the town.

When Alauddin Khalji came to power in Delhi, Islamic influence started spreading in Dhar. He took initiative and started the construction of the Dhar Fort. In the year 1344 the work was completed. The Dhar Fort still stands after the passage of so many years. Dhar was an important centre at the time of the Great revolt of 1857. The Dhar Fort was captured by the Indian freedom fighters and kept in their possession for four months from July to October.

The fort is situated to the north of the town. It stands on top of a small hill. It was constructed out of red sandstone. The architecture of the fort is a combination of Hindu, Mughal and Afghan style and this is its uniqueness. The Dhar fort in Madhya Pradesh contained the palace of the Raja. The best part is that this fort has been well preserved and you can get great views of the surrounding area from the ramparts of the fort.

Dhar is located at a distance of 33 km from Maheshwar, 35 km from Mandu and 64 km from Indore. All of them are major towns of Madhya Pradesh and are well connected to various parts of the country through railways and roadways. Once you have reached any of them you can take buses to reach Dhar. Buses ply regularly from and to these places. Here you can avail of autos, buses or jeeps to reach Dhar.