Omkareshwar Temple. Temple in Madhya Pradesh, India

Omkareshwar Temple

Temple in Madhya Pradesh, India

Narmada at Omkareshwar, Madhya Pradesh Photo © indiawaterportal.org

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Omkareshwar Temple

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Omkareshwar, a Hindu temple on the island of Mandata in the Narmada River, Madhya Pradesh, India is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga (Jyoti means light and Linga means the sign of Lord Shiva) shrines in India, which are dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is among the most-revered temples of Lord Shiva in India. Most of the Jyotirlinga temples are spread over Central India, except two, one each in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, which are in the south of the country.

Legend

Shiva, also known as Mahadeva, is considered as one of the primary forms of God in Hinduism. As the legend goes, Brahma’s son, Narada, travelling perpetually around the world, told Mount Vindhya about the grandeur of Mount Meru (Wikipedia Article). Vindya was upset and decided to be bigger than Meru. He practiced severe penance, worshiping a parthivling (linga made from physical materials) until Lord Shiva was pleased with him, appeared before him, and granted him a boon. Vindhya requested that he be allowed to grow. Lord Shiva consented on the condition that Vindya will not obstruct His devotees. The Lord also split the linga into two. The Jyotirlinga is at Omkareshwar and the partivlingam at Amreswar. In his enthusiasm, Vindhya forgot his promise and continued to grow, even obstructing the sun and the moon. All the deities sought the help of Sage Agatsya. The sage visited Vindhya and convinced him to stop growing until he returned. The sage did not return and Vindhya stopped growing.

History

The island of Mandhata was ruled by Bhil (Wikipedia Article) chieftains in the medieval ages with the Parmars od Dhar as the suzerains. The last Bhil chieftain got into a disagreement of the powerful priest of the Omkaleshwar temple, was ousted from the island, and had to approach the Rajput Maharaja of Jaipur for assistance. In 1165, the Maharaja deputed his brother, Bharatsingh Chauhan, to resolve the issue. Bharatsingh captured the island, married the chieftain’s daughter, and settled on the island. Bharatsingh’s progeny are called the Bhilalas. The Bhilalas later ceded the island to the Scindias of Gwalior who later handed the island over to the British in 1824.

Architecture

The core of the temple is built of stone and in the Bhumija style with a tall Nagara style spire or Shikara with the Jyotirling on the lowest floor. The temple has two more floors to the temple with the Panchamukhi Ganesha on the first and the Annapurna shrine on the next level.The Shikara has five layers of carvings of various Hindu gods. Located on the edge of a cliff, the remaining part, or the extension to the temple was made later by the Raos and the Holkars. Unlike most other temples, the garbha griha in the Omkareshwar temple is in the middle of the temple rather than either towards the front or the rear. This is probably due to the limitations in constructing on the edge of a cliff of the Mandhata mountain. The mandapa (assembly hall) has pillars that are carved with exquisite sculptures of yakshas.

Visiting the Temple

The Omkareshwar temple is 50 miles away from the industrial city of Indore, which has an airport connected to major Indian cities. It is also connected to Khandwa, Maheshwar, and Ujjain by road. The nearest railway station is 6 miles away and is well-connected to other cities in India. A journey by train during the Monsoons (June to September) is enchanting as the train winds its way through the greenery of the mountains.. The months between November and March, though are the best time to visit the temple if one wants to avoid the rains before, and the heat after.

Accommodation available on the island is mostly basic. There are various dharmashalas (rest houses) that provide basic accommodation either for free or for a pittance. Om Shiva Restaurant on the island is a preferred stop for dining.

Poojas are celebrated three times a day: one in the morning, one at noon, and another in the evening. Shivratri, the birthday of Lord Shiva, is celebrated with great pomp and fervor.

Other places of interest on Mandhata island are the Siddhanatha Temple and the Samatrika Temple. There is also a stone fresco with elephants carved on it, an excellent specimen of Brahmanic architecture that is a major attraction to tourists.

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Author: jackmartis. Last updated: Jan 10, 2015

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