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Mhow

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Mhow is located in the Indore district of Madhya Pradesh. It is a small cantonment town, that is, for the most of its existence, it has served as the headquarters of a military unit. The town is located some 23 kilometers south of the administrative headquarters city of Indore, towards Mumbai right on the Mumbai-Agra road.

As of the Indian Census of 2001, there are some 85,023 people living in the cantonment town, with the males constituting about 54% of the total population. Even though it has a military background, Mhow is one of the most beautiful towns of central India and it holds the distinction of being one of the country’s most prestigious military training establishments. The place is also considered as the birthplace of Lord Parashuram, the sixth incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu.

The town’s original name itself has no definite etymology. There are several theories as to how Mhow got its present name. The most likely is that it is an acronym of Military Headquarters Of Western India, given its background. Another theory states that the name came from the village near the present-day Mhow, which has reportedly been called Mhow Gaon since the olden times. Still, another says that the name was taken from the tree Mahua, which grown in abundance in the forests around Mhow.

Mhow was founded in 1818 by Sir John Malcolm, who led the force that defeated the Holkars at the Battle of Mahidpur that same year. The result was the signing of the Treaty of Mandsaur between the British and the Holkars,which led to the founding of the cantonment town, as well as the shifting of the Holkar Kingdom from the town of Maheshwar to Indore. Mhow became the headquarters of the 5th Division of the British Raj Southern Army, and was a major railway division during that time until a few years after India’s independence. Ironically, the town now still has no broad gauge railway.

Even now, Mhow has been synonymous with the Indian Army, having been the latter’s training facility since the British occupation days. There are three premier training institutions in the cantonment. They are:

1. The Infantry School, which is the alma mater of the Indian Infantry, spearheaded by the Indian Army. The school conducts courses related to infantry for officers and soldiers of the various regiments of the Indian Army. Its Commando Wing is located in Karnataka. The Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU) is a part of this school.

2. The Military College of Telecommunication Engineering (MCTE), which is the alma mater of the Corps Signal. The Corps Signal is responsible for the integrity and continual functioning of the Indian Army communications. It also trains cadets for a Bachelor’s degree in engineering.

3. The Army War College, which was known as the College of Combat until a few years ago. The institution conducts three courses: the Junior Command (JC) course, the Senior Command (SC) course and the Higher Command (HC) course.

In 2003, the town was renamed as Dr. Ambedkar Nagar amidst some controversies, in honor of the father of the Indian Constitution who was born there.

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