Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga is located in the Mandhata or Shivapuri or Mahismati island of the Narmada River, in the Khandwa district of Madhya Pradesh. It is one of the 12 revered Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva and a major pilgrimage site. The island is in the form of an ‘Om’ symbol which is why it holds special significance.  It is believed that Lord Shiva resides in the ‘Om’ symbol and showering his blessings upon those who come to seek his guidance.

In this region, there stand two majestic temples of Lord Shiva – one to Omkareshwar (literally meaning ‘Lord of Omkara or the Lord of the om sound’) located on an island and another honoring Mamleshwar (Amaleshwar) (‘Immortal Lord’ or ‘lord of Immortals/Devas’) situated in mainland along the south bank side of Narmada River. Omkareshwar is a holy place, where the sacred rivers Narmada and Kaveri intersect to provide an atmosphere of peaceful serenity.

The prayer hall of the temple proudly boasts 60 intricately-carved stone pillars of 14 feet height. It is five-storeyed structure, each floor home to its own deity. The Omkareshwar linga is located on the first floor, while the Mahakaleshwar temple can be found one level up. On floors three, four and five you’ll come across Sidhnath, Gupteshwar and Dhwajeshwar temples respectively.

Omkareshwar temple is believed to have existed since Satyuga time and has been renovated several times by various rulers such as Paramaras during the 11th century and Ahilyabai Holkars from Indore during the 19th century. The temple is a masterpiece of architecture, full of stunning carvings and images in honor of Lord Ganesha, Lord Karthikeya, and Goddess Parvati. 

Daily, three sacred rites occur at the temple; in the morning, a priest of trust performs one puja, noon another Pujari of Shindhia, and finally evening with a rite from Holkar state’s featured priest. Moreover on Mondays unique festivities take place as devotees along with their chosen priests partake in Palakhi yatra – three faced gold idols of Lord Omkareshwar idol is placed within the palanquin before it journeys across various sectors of town. 

During this, first of all go to the river bank and worship is done, after that tour is done in different parts of the city, this procession is known as Somvar Savari. It is celebrated on a large scale in the holy month of Shravan and a large number of devotees chant Om Shambhu Bhole Nath while dancing and blowing gulal, it is a very beautiful sight.Furthermore Laghurudra Abhishek (a Hindu purification ceremony), Maha Rudrabhishek (sacred fire ritual) and Narmada Aarti are amongst pivotal ceremonies.

Omkareswar Kshetra Parikrama is an sacred journey. Interested Devotees of Omkareshwar temple complete this pilgrimage. The parikrama path covers approximately 7-8 km and begins at the Omkareshwar temple, encircling a hill. Along your walk you will see many small temples, ashrams, and rest stops.

Legends and history

The first story is about Vindhya Parvat (Mount).

Once upon a time, Narada (the son of Lord Brahma) visited Vindhya Parvat. In his manner, Narada told Vindhya Parvat about the greatness of Mount Meru. Observing Meru’s grandeur caused Vindhya to feel jealous, so he resolved to be even larger. To make his wish come true, Vindhya Parvat began a strict devotion of Lord Shiva and built parthivlinga (A linga made from physical material). His dedication lasted for six whole months. Shiva was satisfied and granted his wish. He allowed Mount Vindhya to grow, but also warned not to cause any trouble to devotees in any way. After that the gods and sages asked Shiva to stay in the town. He agre to do so and split the lingam in two. One half is called Omkareshwara and the other Mamaleshwar or Amareshwar. Thanks to this blessing granted by Lord Shiva, Vindhya’s dream was realized in full glory.

Unfortunately, Vindhya forgot his promise and began to expand and blocked out both sunlight and moonlight from reaching its surrounding areas. Consequently, all of the deities consulted with Sage Agastya for a solution. Sage Agastya was guru of Vindhya. The sage then visited alongside his wife towards Vindhya.

He told Vindhya, I want to cross the mountain to get to the other side. You have now grown so huge that I cannot even go to the other side. Can you please bow down and make way for me.Vindhya, did not suspect anything and immediately bowed, ‘Great Sage! Please go over to the other side and complete your work. Sage Agastiyar and his family immediately crossed over. Sage Agastiyar said, I may want to come back in a hurry. It would be very helpful to me if you remain in this form, till I come back Vindhya…’. Vindhya nodded his head, ‘I will stay this way till you come back sir!’

Sage Agastiyar thanked the mountain and he and his family started walking south.

His mission accomplished, Sage Agastiyar with his family settled in the south and never moved north again. True to the word, Vindhya remained in a bowing position, even today awaits the return of the sage.

As Vindhya stopped growing, the imbalance of the earth stopped and the Devas and the humans thanked the sage and his family.

The Second story is about King Mandhata and his two sons Ambarish and Muchukunda.

The story of King Mandhata and his two sons Ambarish and Muchukunda. They were determined to please Lord Shiva through their devotion and penance. They meditated for many days on the harsh terrain of the mountaintop. After a long time, they finally achieved success in pleasing Lord Shiva. Lord manifested himself as a Jyotirlinga. Because of this, the mountain is named Mandhata.

This is why Mount Mandhata has become so important to devotees of Lord Shiva – it is said to be the site where these two princes achieved great success in their spiritual journey. People flock to this holy mountain to seek blessings from  lord Shiva. 

Mount Mandhata is an important pilgrimage destination for those seeking divine blessing and spiritual freedom. It is the perfect place to meditate and reflect, and devotees of Lord Shiva will surely find peace here.

Third Story is about war between Devas and Danavas.

According to legend, after the Devas were defeated in a great war with the Danavas, they prayed to Lord Shiva for help. In response, Lord Shiva took on the form of Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga and defeated the Danavas. Omkareshwar is a symbol of Lord Shiva’s power, and of his willingness to help those in need.

How to Reach Omkareshwar

By Flight
Although there is no airport in Omkareshwar, Devi Ahilyabai Holkar Airport in Indore is the closest option and is only 77 kilometres away. Bhopal is also a nearby alternative. Private cabs and radio taxis are easily available from the airports.

By Road
If you’re looking for the closest bus stand, your best choice is Mhow–located 48 KM away from Omkareshwar. Khandwa is also an option at 73 KM farther out. For those who’d like to make a direct journey, Ujjain, Indore, Bhopal and other cities offer buses that can be booked online on both Madhya Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (MPRTC) as well as private networks. 

By Train
Omkareshwar has its own railway station, which lies on the Akola-Ratlam line. There are numerous trains that travel from various cities and connect directly with Omkareshwar Road.

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