COLLAGE : Interview with Sally Holkar of WomenWeave Charitable Trust
There is only one truly exceptional hotel in Maheshwar, Ahilya Fort. Overlooking the river Narbada from its regal perch, this unique destination hotel provides exceptional experiences, excellent food and memorable service.  It was our family home for many years.
Ahilya Fort does not serve meals to non-residents; and finding decent food in our small, remote town is still a bit of a challenge; The Narmada Retreat (also overlooking the river) can provide a decent omelets or some 'dal chawal’ for hungry travellers.
Shopping in Maheshwar is, of course, a textile lover's paradise.  Apart from the Rehwa store, near Ahilya Fort, there is Gudi Mudi a sure source of high design textiles in handspun cotton, silk, wool and even linen. Well worth a visit.
Wander the bazaar on foot, just looking at the remains of enchanting architecture (now you have to look pretty closely as unfortunately, too many locals have preferred to demolish the charming old in favor of the ubiquitous cement box!) and sampling the delights of the lac bangle makers or the famous Indian sweets on offer, hot and sugary throughout the day. Historic Mandu is an hour's drive away. And Omkareshwar is about three hours upriver. 
Mandu is a very special place.  A short drive from Maheshwar, it is a unique and beautiful fortified plateau with a myriad of magnificent buildings, spanning many centuries of conquest, pleasure and inspired architecture.  Wandering can take half a day- or a week.  The more you move about, the more you discover.  In situ accommodation is mediocre at best, but the Dhar Palace is about an hour's drive away and does a good job with food and rooms. 
I personally like to bypass the major tourist sites in Mandu and find my on personal little abandoned monument, with a large local Kirni tree, where I sit in the shade, enjoy the 'green breeze' from this verdant utopia, and read up on Mandu's fascinating history.

~Sally Holkar