Omkareshwar

Omkareshwar is situated in the Khandwa district of Madhya Pradesh state in India. It is about 20 km from Mortakka in Madhya Pradesh. Omkareshwar is formed by the sacred river of Narmada. This is one of the sacred of rivers in India and also home to one of the biggest dam projects. It is on an island called Mandhata or Shivapuri in the Narmada river; the shape of the island is said to be like the Hindu symbol. There are two main temples of Lord Shiva here, one to Omkareshwar located on the island and one to Amareshwar located on the south bank of Narmada River on the mainland. The jyotirlinga shrines, are places where Shiva appeared as a fiery column of light. The twelve jyotirlingas are Nageswar and Somnath in Gujarat, Mallikarjuna in Andhra Pradesh, Mahakaleshwar and Omkareshwar in Madhya Pradesh, Kedarnath in Uttarakhand, Bhimashankar, Trimbakeshwar and Grishneshwar in Maharashtra, Viswanath in Uttar Pradesh, Vaidyanath in Jharkhand, Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu.

Legend: Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga also has its own history and stories. Three of them are prominent. The first story is about Vindhya Parvat (Mountain). Once upon a time Narada (son of Lord Brahma), known for his non-stop cosmic travel, visited Vindhya parvat. In his spicy way, Narad told Vindhya Parvat about the greatness of Mount Meru. This made Vindhya jealous of Meru and he decided to be bigger than Meru. Vindhya started worship of Lord Shiva to become greater than Meru. Vindhya Parvat practiced severe penance and worshiped parthiva linga (A linga made from the physical material) along with Lord Omkareshwar for nearly six months. As a result, Lord Shiva was pleased and blessed him with his desired boon. On a request of all the gods and the sages, Lord Shiva made two parts of the lingas. One-half is called Omkareshwara and the other Mamleshwar or Amareshwar. Lord Shiva gave the boon of growing but took a promise that Vindhya will never be a problem to Shiva’s devotees. Vindhya began to grow but did not keep his promise. It even obstructed the sun and the moon. All deities approached sage Agastya for help. Agastya along with his wife came to Vindhya and convinced him that he would not grow until the sage and his wife returned. They never returned and Vindhya is there as it was when they left. The sage and his wife stayed in Srisailam which is regarded as Dakshina Kashi and one of the Dwadash Jyotirlinga.

The second story relates to Mandhata and his son’s penance. King Mandhata of Ikshvaku clan (an ancestor of Lord Ram) worshiped Lord Shiva here till the Lord manifested himself as a Jyotirlinga. Some scholars also narrate the story about Mandhata’s sons – Ambarish and Muchukunda, who had practiced severe penance and austerities here and pleased Lord Shiva. Because of this, the mountain is named Mandhata.

The third story from Hindu scriptures says that once upon a time there was a great war between Devas and Danavas(demon), in which Danavas won. This was a major setback for Devas and hence Devas prayed to Lord Shiva. Pleased with their prayer, Lord Shiva emerged in the form of Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga and defeated Danavas.

History: In the medieval period Mandhata Omkareshwar was ruled by the aboriginal Bhil chieftains under the suzerainty of the Parmars of Dhar, the sultans of Malwa , the Scindias of Gwalior, who in turn handed over Mandhata to the British in 1824. The last Bhil chieftain Nathu Bhil fell out with Daryao Gosai a powerful priest of the place. The latter approached the king of Jaipur to set right Nathu Bhil.

The king sent his brother Bharatsingh Chauhan, then Subedar of Jhalarapatan on the border of Malwa. Finally, the entire tussle ended with the marriage of Bharatsingh and the only daughter of Nathu Bhil. Bharatsingh along with some of the Rajput associates who also married other Bhil girls settled in Mandhata in 1165 A.D. Their progeny is called Bhilalas. Bharatsingh’s descendants ruled Omkareshwar since then. During the British rule, the Rajas (Officially known as Raos) had Mandhata Omkareshwar as their Jagir rights, all abolished now. Baratsingh’s direct descendants are called Rajputs.

*(All the above information are from Wikipedia.)

Transport:

Airport: Devi Ahilyabai Holkar Airport (IDR) at Indore is the nearest airport to at a distance of 80 km. Indore is connected to major cities in India by air. It has direct air connectivity with New Delhi, Mumbai, Bhopal, Pune, Hyderabad, Nagpur, Raipur and Ahmedabad.

Rail: The nearest Railway Station is at Omkareshwar Road at a distance of 12 km on the Ratlam-Khandwa section of Western Railway. It is connected to Indore railway station which is well connected to other cities of India.

Road: Omkareshwar is connected to major towns and cities of Madhya Pradesh. There are regular bus services from Ujjain, Indore, Khandwa and Omkareshwar Road. A large number of state-run and private buses are available, connecting various cities.

Local: Auto rickshaws are available for transportation within the city. Tour operators provide vehicles for hire. There are steamboats across the Narmada river and also two connecting bridges to reach the temple.

Tourist Interest:

Omkareshwar Temple: Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga a shiv temple on Omkar mountain an island in mid-Narmada, revered Hindu temple is the center of extreme faith.

Adi Shankara’s Cave: Omkareshwar is said to be the place where Sri Adi Sankara met his Guru Govindapada in a cave. This cave can be found even today just below the Shiva temple where an image of Adi Shankara has been installed.

Other places of interest are scattered around the Omkareshwar Temple within a radius of 5 km. The places are Mamleshwar Temple, Siddhanath Temple, Narmada Ghat, Gauri Somnath Temple, Gavisiddeshwara Temple and more.

Tour Planner:

Day 1: Omkareshwar with all its places of attraction can be covered in a single day if not visited during any festivities leading to a large number of visitors.

Hotel: Online booking is always preferable for discounts in tariff. Hotels in Omkareshwar are The Narmada Retreat, Hotel Shree Radhe Krishna, Hotel Geetashree, Hotel Ujjwal Palace and more

Read my experience in Omkareshwar.

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