Omkareshwar, the sacred island, shaped like the sacred holy symbol, ‘Om’ has drawn hundreds of generations of pilgrims. It has two lofty hills and it’s divided by a valley, creating a shape of ‘Om’ from above. Omkareshwar offers a unique confluence of religion and serenity, this place is home to the famous Jyotirlinga. Whether one is a travel enthusiast or a Lord Shiva devotee, this place has plenty of spots reserved for people with varied tastes.
1. SHRI OMKAR MANDHATA
The temple stands on a one mile long, half mile wide island formed by the fork of the River Narmada which draws millions of pilgrims every year. The temple was constructed on the soft stone which has lent its pliable surface that highlights its’ rare degree of delicate work, of which the frieze figures on the upper portion are most striking. Encircling the shrine are verandahs with columns which are carved in circles, polygons and squares & the stone roof of the temple is intricately carved.
2. 24 AVATARS
These are a group of Hindu & Jain temples beautifully designed and built with unique styles of architecture. During the attack of Mahmud Ghazni in the 11th century A.D, the Muslim invader demolished many Hindu & Jain temples in every part of the country, including Omkareshwar. Many temples were here, of which, only the 24 Avatars are still standing.
3. SATMATRIKA TEMPLES
These Temples are located 6 km from Omkareshwar. The history of these temples dates back to the 10th century built in the Nagara style of architecture. These group of temples are dedicated to seven Goddesses, Maheshwari, Varahi, Brahmi, Indrani, Narasimhi, Koumari and Chamunda which can be seen here.
4. SHRI MAMLESHWAR JYOTIRLING TEMPLE
Mamleshwar Jyotirlinga Temple is the only important shrine on the mainland, and faces the Omkar- Mandhata. This Temple is located near Amreshwar temple opposite to the Omkareshwar Temple. It was constructed in the 10th century and a protected monument which depicts extraordinary architectural style of ancient India. There are verandahs encircling the temple which have columns carved in square, polygon and circles. The stone roof of the temple is also intricately carved. This temple, like the Omkareshwar Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is believed 22 Brahmins performed the Lingarchan rituals on a daily basis in the temple since the reign of Maharani Ahilyabai. However, the Brahmins have now been brought down to 5 & around 1000 Shivlingas are planted on a wooden board to perform daily rituals.
5. SHRI OMKARESHWAR JYOTIRLING TEMPLE
The Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga Temple is one of the holiest shrines in India and one of the 12 treasured Jyotirlingas in the country. This is a Hindu Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and is located on the island of Mandhata. Mandhata Island has its shape resembling the sacred symbol of ‘Om’ which makes this island even more divine. This temple features Nagara style of architecture, complete with elaborate frescos and intricate carvings. The beautiful balconies and column carvings of varied shapes add to the visual appeal of the temple. Apart from Lord Shiva, the deities Ganesha, Annapoorna, Narmada, Krishna and Shani are also worshipped here. The Jyotirlinga is naturally installed on the ground floor of the five-storey temple and is always partially immersed in water. Legend has it that King Mandhata of the Ishvaku clan, an ancestor of Ram, worshipped Shiva here till the Lord manifested himself as a Jyotirlinga.
6. SIDDHANATH TEMPLE
From the Omkar-Mandhata Temple, 170 steps cut into the hillside upwards, past the palace of the tribal king and the local settlements lies the ruins of the 13th century Siddhanath Temple. This temple is the most charismatic architectural beauty of the town. The Siddhanath Temple was attacked by Mahmud of Ghazni but still stands tall symbolising strength. The frescos of elephants are the main attraction of this temple, which are carved in stone 1.5m in height. Is is a fine example of early medieval Brahminic architecture with detailed carvings on the pillars and walls of the temple, which not only depicts its rich architecture, but also its spiritual value.
7. GAURI SIDDHANATH TEMPLE OR GAURI SOMNATH TEMPLE
Gauri Siddhanath Temple or Gauri Somnath Temple is situated on the Mandhata Island in Omkareshwar, just 0.6 km away from the bus stand which can be reached by a long flight of steps cut into the hill-facing west of the bridge. On crossing the bridge, the steps are a little onto the left leading to this Temple. This Temple has a striking resemblance with the Khajuraho Temples in terms of design and artwork. The Gauri Somnath temple has a huge 6-feet linga made of black stone. Goddess Parvati and Shiva idols are located behind this linga. This temple of Gauri Somnath is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is constructed in the Bhumji style of architecture, in the shape of a star. It is a three-storied temple made in the shape of a peahen. According to legend, the linga was initially made of white stone and whoever gazed into it could see the image of his next birth. Aurangzeb, thus gazing, was rewarded with the sight of a pig. Enraged, he threw the linga into fire, turning it black.
8. KAJAL RANI CAVE
Kajal Rani Cave is one of the main attractions in Omkareshwar. Situated 8 kms from the Omkareshwar Temple, the Cave is a scenic spot that flaunts its’ undulating land upto the horizon. This place provides a relief from the many holy sites of the town.
9. GHATS OF OMKARESHWAR (PESHAWAR, FANASE, AHILYA GHATS)
PESHAWAR GHAT: Peshawar Ghat is one of those tourist places in Omkareshwar which offer a blend of beauty and religion. The peaks of the Vindhyachal mountain range, bifurcated by gorges and transparent flow of streams makes Peshawar Ghat one of the most visited places in Omkareshwar, especially during Mahashivratri festival. Devotees mainly visit to take a holy dip in the Narmada River.
FANASE GHAT: The Fanase Ghat is one of the several Ghats located on the banks of Narmada River. On occasions like Diwali, Purnima, Holi, the number of devotees increase who take a dip in the holy river. Thus, the ghat looks even more spectacular during the festivals.
AHILYA GHAT: The Ahilya Ghat is located in Omkareshwar town next to the Ahilya Fort. The Ghat was built by Ahilya Bai and is situated at the banks of Narmada River. The view of the sunset from the Ahilya Ghat is quite breathtaking. Taking a boat ride from the Ghat is also an enjoyable experience, as one can view the entire stretch of the Ghat as well as the Ahilya Fort from afar. The boat ride goes all the way to Baneshwar Temple, which often gets submerged during monsoons.
10. KEDARESHWAR TEMPLE
Kedareshwar Temple was built in the 11th century dedicated to Lord Kedar, another manifestation of Lord Shiva. This temple is famous for its architecture. It is located at the confluence of Narmada and Kaveri rivers, situated about 4kms away from the Omkareshwar Temple. Kedareshwar Temple has an uncanny resemblance with the Kedarnath temple located in Uttarakhand.
11. SRI GOVINDA BHAGAVATPADA CAVE
Sri Govinda Bhagavatpada Cave is one where Guru Adi Shankaracharya learned his lessons from Govinda Bhagavatpada Granth. As per local legend, Adi Shankaracharya walked hundreds of miles through forests, valleys, crossing mountains and rivers to finally reaching Omkareshwar to find Govinda Bhagavatpada in a state of ’Nirvikalpa Nishtha’ (Sanskrit, unwavering concentration in deep meditative state) in a cave under a Banyan tree along the banks of Narmada River.
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