Friday, August 19, 2016

Ghats of Narmada – Omkareshwar


India is country where faith has become a nascent part of people’s lives. There might be no place in the country where one won’t find a temple around. While secularism is an integral part of India, its faith foundation can be traced back to the foundation of Hinduism and temple towns of Bharat. One such old town is Omkareshwar.


At about an hour’s distance from Indore, Omkareshwar seems like a crowded small town that has grown in random unprecedented way over time and is now a block of crisscrossed dusty pavements with centres of faith at every other corner but it has one of the twelve ancient Jyotirings of the world that hold great importance in Hindu scriptures. A Jyotirling is believed to be a place where a proper ‘shiv linga’ had occurred naturally and recognized by sages of the time to hold incessant power and spiritual aura. Omkareshwar, or the river Island that houses the Jyotirling, however is believed to be created by the power of penance of Sage Mandhata and the shiv ling occurred there as a result of the power of his devotion and as the centre point of his spiritual power but then split in half when the sage doubted his penance.


Obviously it is all about stories and mythologies but with them grew faith and with faith grew this place and became what it is today. Now Omkareshwar is a pilgrim centre, smaller than the close by town – Ujjain, but equally sacred to the believers of Shiva. When you enter the town, all you see is lodges and tea/sweet stalls with boiling badam (almonds and cashews) milk at the entrance. A small bus-stand and a lot of people asking you to take a boat from the Ghat greet you in the vehicle free town. A little ahead is the Gomukh Ghat of Narmada that joins the mainland to the temple island. The Ghat is where you see the might of Narmada flowing through the deep gorge created by erosion of the old volcanic rocks of the Omkareshwar island, the towering temple of Omkareshwar and the reason why this place is named after lord Shiva (the shape of the island is like an Om)


The place as such is simple and doesn’t have much. A long lane of flower vendors, a 3 level temple with around 150 steps or so, the main Linga in a cage, a couple of other smaller shrines and a long queue of devotees. Close buy is an old fort and the village where the flower vendors and the priests reside. Yes, not much right? But it is the Narmada and the aura of the place that is undeniably captivating. I spent the whole evening at the top of the temple observing the beautiful sunset over the dangerous looking but calm river, the busy ghat, the last lot of the boats to the temple, some devotees still crossing the bridge to the island – another way to the temple, and the priests preparing for the evening arti.



Don’t know how much and what power these religious places hold but the whole experience of finding the calm and quiet at dusk, observing everything around and hearing the drums of the arti, created a different kind of silence and was something that made me believe in the aura of the place. God or no god, belief or no belief – Omkareshwar gave me an evening to remember. 

14 comments:

  1. Have been wanting to do the Omkareshwar and Mandu circuit. Where did you stay here?

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    1. Hey Param, I did Mandu Maheshwar and Omkareshwar on one day and traveled from and to Indore. Stayed at a relatives place in Indore but you do have budget stay options in Omkareshwar or can opt for Alhilya Palace Hotel in Maheshwar if luxury is your thing :)

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  2. Never been to these parts yet.
    Loved my virtual travel here.

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  3. Have not been here but your pictures and descriptions have got me thinking of it. Beautiful

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    1. Ami you love history right, you will love the Mandu - Omkareshwar - Maheshwar circuit. :)

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  4. Awesome story... MP has so many lesser known heritage places...
    I have been planning to travel along Narmada for so long!

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    1. Thanks Jitaditya. Madhya Pradesh seriously has a lot of places to explore and all of them are pretty offbeat but amazing. Hope you get to do the 'Along Narmada' trip soon :)

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  5. Lovely write-up. Hadn't heard much about Onkareshwar until I landed here.

    No photos of the sunset?

    Cheers,
    Rajiv

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    1. Hey Rajiv thank you so much, glad you liked the write up. I didnt really get the glimpse of the sun from where I was standing in the temple but got the view of the dusky light shining on the bridge :D

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  6. Have been to Indore so many times but never knew this beauty lay there :) awesome post :)

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    1. Haha Shweta you aren't the first one. I myself went to Omkareshwar on my 4th visit to Indore. We always visited Ujjain but never Omkareshwar. Glad you liked the post :)

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  7. I remember visiting this many years ago, with Ujjain mahakaaleshwar. The boats bobbling in Narmada is quite a sight. I love the windows photograph! :)

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    1. Thanks Divsi. Old towns and their windows and doors :D

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