The Heart of the British Indian Army – MHOW
After the demise of Moghul rule there was a vacuum in India. The Marathas came for a short time, but were swept away. Thus the Raj became the supreme power in India. The Cantonments and also other British institutions have survived to this day. MHOW was one particular cantonment which was set up by the English. Its importance derived from the location of its in Central India, as the British could command the entire region and subdue the local chiefs and kings.
MHOW is an acronym for Military Headquarter of War. This cantonment remains there and remains a relic of the Raj in Central India.
The British and the Holkers
The establishment of the cantonment reads as a fairy tale. It starts off with the fight of Mahidpur in 1818 when the Marathas under Holkar fought the English under Sir Thomas Hislop. The battle was won by The British and Holkar had to cede a bit of land to the English near the capital of his at Indore. The treaty of Mandsaur which Holkar signed gave the British the legitimate right to design a cantonment. This they duly did at MHOW aproximatelly fifteen miles from Indore.
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Sir John Malcolm a Scot who had taken [part in the fight at Mahidpur was entrusted with the job of setting up the cantonment. Hence in 1818 he started the process of setting up MHOW. The importance of MHOW could not be underscored as it was the lynchpin of the Raj’s control over the princes of Central India. Thus the British positioned a pure English manned division the 5 Division of the Southern Army at MHOW.
MHOW and the Army
After the British left India in 1947 the activities and all assets at MHOW were taken over by the Indian Army. The Army further expanded the facilities at MHOW and at one stage also housed the Army Training Command. The MHOW bazaar is a tribute to the English who patronized this market. In addition the Army continues to maintain an awesome club for officers with a Golf course. Sir Winston Churchill who spent quality time with the Indian Army also was posted at MHOW and his house can still be seen though it’s in a dilapidated condition.
MHOW has a salubrious climate and is also well connected by rail and road. It’s great and relaxing place for a peaceful week end and is suggested for a visit. But all credit to the Raj and the British army for establishing this excellent center.
MHOW may be easily reached from Indore which is well connected by rail to other parts of India. In fact MHOW is just 22 km from indore and Regular shuttle train and bus service is available.