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OMKARESHWAR- The lord of Omkara

The quiet town of Omkareshwar in Madhya Pradesh is a spiritual hub, especially for Shiva devotees across the country. A beautiful riverside pilgrim destination in Madhya Pradesh, ‘Omkareshwar’ means ‘Lord of Omkara’ – one of the Dwadasa Jyotirlinga shrines or the 12 shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva in the form of a Jyotirlinga. Millions of pilgrims visit this small town for the sacred Jyotirlinga at the Omkareshwar temple. Besides its popularity as a pilgrimage center for Hindus, the town is also known for a hanging bridge over the Narmada river called ‘Jhula Phul’ – a splendid sight that serves as a pathway to the Mandhata Temple.


Omkareshwar has plenty of beautiful sights that will soothe the soul of both Shiva devotees and curious travelers. There is an unmistakable serenity in its landscape and a rich cultural heritage that will speak to travelers of all kinds. Here is a guide on how to make the best of your visit to Omkareshwar.


Omkareshwar Temple


The star of all tourist attractions in the town is undoubtedly the Omkareshwar Temple. It is considered to be one of the holiest shrines in India. One of the revered 12 Jyotirlingas in the country, this beautiful structure stands atop an island called Mandhata in Madhya Pradesh. Surrounding it is the confluence of the mighty Kaveri and Narmada rivers. Further adding to the mystique of the area is the island’s shape, which resembles the sacred Hindu symbol of ‘Om’.


Pilgrims in inconceivable numbers visit the shrine each year to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva. It is a shrine not only for the faithful but for history and archaeology buffs as well. Scattered around the vicinity are around 20 shrines devoted to deities such as Ganesh, Narmada, Shani, and Krishna.


Shivalinga


The famous Jyotirlinga at the Omkareshwar Temple is installed on the base floor of the temple and remains immersed in water. Abhishek is performed with milk, curd, and Narmada water three times a day. Located behind the Shivling is an image of Parvati in silver.


In front of the Shivalinga lies a bed laid out for Shiva and Parvati. There’s also a game of Chaupad placed for them to play before they go to sleep. 


The temple is also called Omkar Mandhata temple since it was the devotion of Ikshvaku aking Mandhata, that brought the Shivalinga to this location. A ‘gaddi’ that reportedly belonged to him is still visible in the temple premises.

Mandhata Palace

Walk towards the hill at the back of the temple to reach the white walls of the Mandhata Palace, belonging to the powerful Holkar dynasty.


Some parts of the Mandhata Palace are open to the public. Its open corridors are surrounded by pillars and will remind you of a quintessential North Indian Haveli. Walk towards the end to find an elegant and colorful Durbar hall. Its round ceilings are a vision with remains of beautiful glass work.


The views from the Jharokhas or overhanging windows are stunning! Enjoy beautiful vistas of the top of Omkareshwar temple and the waters of the Narmada between deep gorges. It is a perfect vantage point to take in the large size and beauty of the temple, with colorful boats in the distance plying back and forth between the shores of the rivers.


Mamleshwar Temple


The Mamleshwar temple is one half of the Jyotirlinga at Omkareshwar. It is located on the southern banks of the Narmada. A pilgrimage to Mamleshwar is a must-do while visiting the Omkareshwar temple.


This beautiful temple is located within a walled complex containing seven different temples. It is a site of immense historical significance and protected by the Archaeological Survey of India. With its old-world charm, stone walls, and mysterious allure, Mamleshwar temple is sure to take you back in time. Make sure to visit the interesting Nandi Mandap outside the main temple. 


If you’re lucky, you might also catch the unique practice of Lingarchana at Mamleshwar – where a thousand Banlingas placed in concentric circles are worshipped around the main Shivalinga every day.


Some interesting things about Omkareshwar:

  • According to mythology, Omkareshwar is where Lord Shiva chose to rest and sleep each night – also referred to as ‘Shayan.’ The ‘Shayan Arti’ is, therefore, a practice observed religiously at the temple. The temple is considered so sacred that a single visit to

Omkareshwar is synonymous with a pilgrimage to the famed Kedarnath and worshipping the Panch Kedars.

  • Archaeological findings estimate that the Omkareshwar temple’s Jyotirlinga was initially located in a small ancient temple, around which the existing holy shrine was built. 

  • The temple survived the onslaught of Mughal invasions in the 11th century. Omkareshwar Temple stood its ground and later rose like a phoenix to become one of the holiest pilgrimage destinations in the country.


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Tanisha Sharma

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