Just recently, seven students of De Montfort University (DMU), Leicester UK made Indore their home for a few days as they came to city for an immersive academic and cultural exchange program at Daly College of Business School (DCBS). While their days were spent poring over lectures and workshops related to advertising and brand management, their evenings were dedicated to exploring the city of Indore. Right from visiting haat bazaars, cloth market and to digging the food at the famous food streets of the city – they did it all. However, one experience that they unanimously agreed made the trip richer was taking a walk through the heritage – Rajwada, Krishnapuri Chhatri and Maheshwar fort left behind by the Holkar dynasty that ruled Indore. We joined them in this walk and here is a lowdown on what all they enjoyed.
Intricate carvings got them hooked
Armed with their digital and action cameras, the seven students along with their Indori friends ensured all the intricate woodwork and carvings on stone walls was captured well. Wiktoria Janus, a marketing student was fascinated by the craftsmanship in the Shiva temple inside Rajwada palace. “The Indian craftsmanship is very different from Polish work, and I was amazed to see the details in the temple they had made for their deity. The motifs were so detailed and elaborate, that I clicked a lot of pictures of these carvings on pillars, walls and gates” she shares. For her friend Weronika Maria Kuptel too, this was what got her attention the most. “Right from Rajwada palace to Maheshwar fort, every stone structure dating back to the 18 th century was so fascinating. Even the installation of Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar at Maheshwar and Rajwada was so lifelike as the sculptor had managed to capture every crease of the cloth, every expression so beautifully in the details. I have recorded each of these detail on my action camera to show my friends and family back home” says Kuptel.
‘Felt like a maharani!’
For anyone visiting India for the first time, it is the royal palaces, forts and stories of maharajas – maharanis that ppeals to them the most. These exchange students had similar expectations when they were told they would be visiting the palaces of the erstwhile rulers of the province. “I wore all these flowy skirts to the palaces and got my pictures clicked along the arched hallways and alleys like a maharani! I felt like one, walking through these well-preserved heritage structures, thinking how the royal ladies of that time must have felt living in such beautiful palaces” shares an excited Marta Kurasz.
‘The history of these places is exhaustive’
Curious about the way royals conducted their life in Indore, the students kept digging deeper into the history of the Holkar dynasty. The deeper they dug, more they found! Daniel Kapusta, another Polish student from the group says, “The amount of stories, anecdotes and battles of the dynasty is exhaustive, pheww! But I had also resolved that I will find out as much as possible. The very fact that in that century, a woman like Devi Ahilyabai Holkar led the city to flourish and established it as a trade centre of the region, is quite inspiring. While visiting the weavers community at Maheshwar we came to know how the textile market for Maheshwari rose to prominence and even in this age is considered as a regal handloom piece” he says. Local students from DCBS also became guides and narrated stories of the rulers that they have grown up on. Yashvi Patle, a first year management studies student shares, “They were so interested in knowing each and every detail about Devi Ahilyabai Holkar and her legacy. We told them as many interesting stories as we know of. We even showed them the residence where current generation of the dynasty is residing in Maheshwar.”
‘Will miss Indori friends and the city’As they gear up to go back home to Leicester today, the exchange students expressed their sadness as the memorable trip comes to an end. Natalia Nowakowska, who has become good friends with the group that showed them around the city says, “I’m going to miss all the friends from here, the spicy food we ate and what they call it as ‘masti’ in Indore. However, next year these guys will be visiting us, so we’ll plan a similar cultural experience for them”. Professor Julia Cook who had come with her students from the university sums up the trip by saying, “It was indeed a rich cultural and heritage exploration for our students. They’re going back with better appreciation and understanding of the country and its heritage. I’m hoping this will make them see the world through a wider perspective and make them more inquisitive”.