I was keen on reading this book since I watched "Punyashloka Ahiyabai " on Television. At the same time, the producers have given a disclaimer that the story is a dramatised version of the actual story and not a factual representation. But since Ahilyabai Holkar of Malwa has been an inspiration for generations, I wanted to read and know more about her.
This is the story of the brave lady- Devi Ahilyabai Holkar, the Holkar Queen of the Malwa-Martha kingdom in India. She was born in Chaundi Village in Maharashtra and, at a very young age of 8-9 years, impressed Shri Bajirao Peshwa and Shri Malhar Rao Holkar with her intelligence. Malharrao got her married to his son, Khanderao Holkar and brought her to Indore, the capital of Malwa.
Ahilyabai took training under Malharrao's mentorship and, through sheer hard work, bravery and courage, took over the reins of the subhedari. Malharrao also sponsored her education, and she learned to read and write.
During her lifetime, she went through many hardships and her personal life was filled with sorrow and tragedies. Her husband and later her son had many vices and were a constant concern for her. But she strived for the betterment of Malwa and its people. She was a strong follower of Lord Shiva.
Stories of her courage and philanthropic work are widespread. She built many temples on the banks of river Narmada and in several different cities in India.
The famous Maheshwari sarees that we see today are due to Ahilyabai's vision of equipping women with some means of livelihood by encouraging and promoting them to start weaving, sell their products and stand on their own feet.
I would recommend this book to all those who are interested in history.