Omkareshwar is a popular pilgrim destination, dedicated to lord Shiva in Madhya Pradesh state of Central India. It is in western part of state on the bank of holy Narmada river. The eternal god Lord Shiva is one of the three main gods of Hindus - Brahma, Vishnu & Mahesh. Here Mahesh refers to lord Shiva. He is worshiped most in Hinduism, known to be a god of destruction who activates his power to destroy evil powers. Omkareshwar, is a sacred island of Lord Shiva, called Mandhata or Shivapuri, situated 80 km from Indore, the financial capital of state Madhya Pradesh. The island got a shape of “OM’ by the two lofty hills, divided by a valleys, ‘OM’ which is a sacred Hindu symbol, also known to be a sound which given the birth to this whole universe and living being. Their are 12 revered Jyotirlinga shrines in India in which 2 are in Madhya Pradesh. Here in state jyotirlingas are in Omkareshwar & Ujjain towns. Here in Omkareshwar, jyotirlinga is in Mamaleshwar Temple.
This is another abode Heaven of Lord Shiva, Thousands of devotees comes here everyday, let alone the figure of millions which increases at festive time like ‘Mahashivaratri’.
This place has a very old history of being its pilgrimage, which relate from an event during 10th of century AD. According to it, Parmar King Udayaditya installed here 4 stone inscriptions with some holy couplets on it, then the temple were known as Amaleshwar Temple, some ‘Shiva Mahima Couplets’ can also be seen on those inscriptions. Lord Shiva, the name alone is everything in itself, he considered to be the most powerful & destructive god amongst all Hindu deities, he is the one who believed to be born of itself, simultaneously he is also very innocent god, who never need any special worship, customary rituals or dedication from his devotees, an utterance of Mantra ‘Om’ or couple of tri-leafs of Bael (Aegle marmelos) or if nothing then to only recall him from a pure heart can be enough to conquer his heart. There are many names & tags that he owns, one of them regarding him as the ‘lord of Death’, the one who has the control over birth and death, which is why he is most adorable amongst Hinduism, he rules over whole universe, giving ‘Moksha’ to Living being, which meant to be ultimate door of getting off to the cycle of birth and death, Mahashivaratri (Grand night of Shiva) is a biggest celebration and festival of this temple and city. Thousands of visitors around the world come here at the occasion of Mahashivaratri to feel the celebration with god, to realize the immense power of Lord Shiva (the creator of Universe). The term ‘Jyotirlingam’ derived from the first appearance of lord shiva on earth, which was resembled as the Lingam ‘the piller of light’.
Omkareshwar has its own legendary history. According to one story, Vindhya mountain was visited by Narad Muni (son of Lord Brahma) in a comic mood. He told Vindhya about the greatness of Meru mountain which made Vindhya full of jealousy. He begin worship of Lord Shiva to become greater than Meru mountain. He continued his relentless worship for 6 months. He practiced severe penance and even worshipped Parvita Linga Puja without moving from its place. As a result, lord Shiva was pleased with his worship and blessed him with his desirable boon with a condition to not to become problem to Shiva devotees. At the same time Hindu Goods and Maharishis came and praised Shiva and requested to stay in that place. Shiva accepted and stayed in that place as Mamaleshwar Jyotirlinga. Full with proud and jealousy, Vindhya mountain began to grow in unconditional way and even violate the boon conditions. He even create obstruction for Sun & Moon also. All devotees and deities put the matter in knowledge to Lord Vishnu who suggested them to meet sage Agastya who is capable to solve their problem. On suggestion of Vishnu Gods meet saint Agastya and described their problem. At that time Agastya Maharishi was living in Kashi with his wife. Agastya with his wife visited Vindhya mountain and requested him to stop growing till they can go to southern part of India for worship purpose and return back. Vindhya was agree on this condition and stop its further growth. But Agastya Maharishi never returned back which put Vindhya restricted to its present state. Saint Agastya with his wife stayed in Srisailam which is also called "Kashi of South India" and Dwadash Jyotirlinga. Similarly their are some other legends also.
In later history we can discover that during 12th century, Omkareshwar was under rule of Bhil Kings. Bhil is a martial tribe mainly concentrated in Central India. It was the time when Bhil king Natthu was ruling the region and he was in a conflicting situation with powerful priest Daryo Gosai. Priest wrote a letter to Jaipur's Rajput king for help in settling the issue with Natthu Bhil. Jaipur king send his brother Bharat Singh Chauhan to do the justice with arrogant Natthu Bhil. Soon Bharat Singh Chauhan was at Natthu's door. Natthu Bhil was a shrewd person and in the name of child has only a beautiful and talented daughter. To avoid the conflict, Natthu offered a marriage proposal to Bharat Singh with his daughter which was accepted. After Natthu Bhil, Bharat Singh ruled this region and from here Bhil-Rajput genealogy begins due to which today's Bhils in this region claims themselves as descendents of Rajputs.
The old temples about Mandhata have all suffered greatly from the bigotry of the Mohammedans who ruled the country from about A.D.1400. Every old dome is overthrown, and not a single figure of a god or animal is to be found unmutilated. The fanatic Allauddin passed through the country in A.D. 1295 on his return from his Deccan raid, and as he took Asirgarh (near Burhanpur) which is not far from Omkareshwar, it was probable that he would have passed over so tempting on idol preserve. Policy of Allauddin of intolerance to other religions was continued by the Ghori princes of Malwa, and later by Mughal king Aurangzeb. While visiting the Mandhata hills and its nearby places, we can witness the remains of temples and structures which attracts interest of archaeologists. Both the hills are covered with remnants of habitations built in stones (Basalt and yellow Sand-stone) without cement.
MAMALESHWAR or AMARESHWAR TEMPLE
Mamaleshwar is one of the 12 jyotirlingas spread over India. Some people knows it with other name called Amakeshwar temple also. It is a protected ancient moment. It is on the bank of holy Narmada river, opposite bank to Omkareshwar temple. Often people consider Omkareshwar temple as jyotirlinga temple but it is Mamaleshwar temple in Omkareshwar town having actual jyotirlinga. It is just 2kms from town bus stand. It is counted among oldest temples of town. On reaching Omkareshwar bus stop, devotees can just walk to river bank and take holy dip and step up to Mamaleshwar temple. On the way to temple, shop-keepers will be offer you Bilwa patras, flowers and sweets and other ingredients required for worship to lord Parameshwar. Here temple is not huge but have sanctum where lord Shiva has been positioned and hall where devotees can worship lord Shiva. Here idol of mata Parvati is also present on the wall back of Shiv-linga. Here one can per Abhishekam to Shiva in which he/she will chance to even touch Shiv-linga. While visiting to Mamaleshwar temple, you will meet many Pandas on the way who will offer you their service to worship Shiva in different way like Pardhiva Shiva Linga Pooja, Sahasra Linga Pooja etc. Till year August-1795, when Rani Ahilya Bai passed away, here 22 Brahmin priests were present to perform worship but now it has been reduced to 5 or 6 priests. Visitor will notice some other temples also adjoining to Mamleshwar temple. While visiting Omkareshwar, Mamaleshwar temple is among must visit spots in town.
Omkareshwar is basically a pilgrim destination especially for those belonging to Hindu religion. As in India, Hindu religion is in majority so percentage of hindu devotees is also very high, among visitors. This crowd increases even more during hindu festivals like Maha-shivratri, Diwali, Dussehra etc. In addition to this, tourist from other countries visits Omkareshwar to judge Indian culture and heritage. Here most of the foreigner tourist are those who are either traveling from Ajanta & Ellora caves or going towards their as they are part of same itinerary. Other immediate tourist attractions are Maheshwar, Mandu, Indore city or Burhanpur. They are encompasses heritage temples, riverside temples, forts, palaces and picturesque scenic natural beauty. In addition to temples, tourists can also enjoy boating in holy Narmada river.
FAIRS & FESTIVALS
Omkareshwar is mainly a pilgrim destination and also visited as a tourist destination. Most of the temples here are ancient and considered as historical monuments. During fair and festivals like Maha-shivratri, Diwali, Dussehra, Navratra, Vasant Panchami local people gathers here to celebrate the festivals and also attend local fairs. Most of the visitors are from nearby townships and cities like Indore, Khandwa, Ujjain, Dhar etc. As here temples are mostly associated with hindu god Lord Shiva, so during Maha-Shivratri crowd and celebration were at their peak. One can notice huge crowd of devotees in long queue to worship lord Shiva. In addition to worship in temples, visitors also do boating, do shopping and enjoy the night lighting arrangement in temples and streets. To witness these festivals and joy of people, tourists from foreign countries also like to visit Omkareshwar during festivals. It is the best time to witness the culture and rituals of local people and to get involved with them.
HOW TO REACH
Omkareshwar is in west of Madhya Pradesh state. It is a popular pilgrim tourism destination. Its nearby developed city is Indore which is a popular airport, commercial hub and well linked with trains from rest of the India. So major access to Omkareshwar is via Indore city. Various modes to traveling to Omkareshwar is given below:
By Road: Omkareshwar is well linked by road to other places in India. It has direct road connectivity to destinations like Indore, Burhanpur, Maheshwar etc. Most of the road conditions are good to travel. One can travel to Omkareshwar by road at any time of the day and even in night hours. It has good bus & taxi connectivity with Indore and Maheshwar. Town have its own small Bus-stand in city center. You can easily get bus service in day time but rarely find any bus service in night hours.
By Train: For reaching Omkareshwar by train, nearest railway station is in Indore.
By Flight:For reaching Omkareshwar by flight, nearest airport is Rani Ahilyabai Airport at Indore city. It has direct flight connectivity from New Delhi, Mumbai, Raipur, Bhopal, Hyderabad, Nagpur etc.
CLIMATE & WEATHER
Content coming soon....
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Omkareshwar is a beautiful place with island embraced by Kaveri (branch of Narmada) in North and sacred Narmada river in South at West of Madhya Pradesh. It can be visited throughout the year but the time from August to March was good time to visit this holy place. During festivals like in months of August, October, November, February it remain crowded with devotees from all over India to offer their prayer in temples and have holy dip in rivers. Here in Month of February visitor's crowd is at its peak due to festival of Maha-shivaratri, a festival to worship Lord Shiva. This place never remain under shortage of water as its flow was controlled by nearby dam so it can be visited any time of year by tourists & devotees.
For accommodation purpose for tourists & devotees, their are number of budget hotels in Omkareshwar. Apart from hotels, one can also take shelter in local Dharamshala's in temples courtyard or small guest houses. Here luxury hotels are not available but Madhya Pradesh State Tourism Department hotel "Narmada Resort" is the good place to stay for tourists. In case you will not find good place to stay, you may opt to take hotel in Indore city or nearby Maheshwar town and visit Omkareshwar as excursion tour.
NEXT TO MADHYA PRADESH
Next to Omkareshwar, we can visit Ujjain, Burhanpur, Maheshwar, Mandu, Indore and may further go to World Heritage sites like Ajanta - Ellora caves, Bhimbetka, Sanchi.