Omkareshwar is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. This sacred island, shaped like the holiest of Hindu symbols 'Om', is about 2km long and 1km wide. Omkareshwar Temple is situated on the mountain Mandhata by the banks of Narmada River in Malva, Madhya Pradesh which is 77km away from Indore. The temple is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva which are spread throughout India and is closely linked with the Mamleshwar Temple which is situated on the southern end of the Narmada River. It is said that both Omkareshwar and Mamleshwar are two halves of the same ancient Linga that Lord Shiva had himself created and then divided into two. Here, at the banks of Narmada, devouts gather to kneel before the Jyotirlinga at the temple of Shri Omkar Mandhata. And here, as in so many of Hindu shrines, the works of nature complement those of man to provide a setting that is awe-inspiring and magnificent. The shrine follows a North Indian style of stone-architecture and is embellished with beautiful carvings in the support structure.
It is said that once, sage Narada, during one of his earthly travels, sang the praise of Mount Meru's magnificence to Mount Vindhya. Jealous of the praise, Mount Vindhya prayed to Lord Siva for more splendor than Meru. Lord Shiva blessed Vindhya with the boon of perpetual growth on the condition that it would not hinder his devotes with its growth. However, Vindhya soon forgot the condition and grew so much that it hid the sun and the moon. The devotees then approached Saint Agasthya for help, who tricked Vindhya into not growing any further. The Jyotirlingas that Shiva had placed near Vindhya as a sign of his boon then came to be known as Omkareshwar and Mamleshwar.
The Omkareshwar temple is built in stone and boasts of extraordinary construction and a highly regarded extravagant style. There are various other stories also related to the history of this temple. The second story is about King Mandhata's penance and the severe austerities he practiced for Lord Shiva. It is said that Mandhata, along with his two sons, meditated with all his might till Shiva manifested himself as a Jyotirlinga and came to the king. No wonder then that the mountain is called Mandhata in honour of this great king.
Another story talks about a great war that broke out between the Gods and the Demons in which the Demons ultimately won. Thus defeated, the Gods all prayed to Shiva who appeared at this spot in the form of Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga and rose out of the ground to defeat the demons.
Apart from the main shrine, other major temples like Siddhanath Temple, Satmatrika temple, etc are great places to visit while you are here. A fresco of elephants, carved on a stone slab, is also a major draw on account of being a classic example of early medieval Brahmanatic architecture.
The best time to visit the temple is during the major festivals dedicated Lord Shiva. Shivratri, believed to be the birthday of Lord Shiva, is the main day when one should visit this temple. For this festival, Shiva is decorated in the most exquisite and elaborate manner and the entire place echoes of religious hymns and incantations.
How To Reach
The nearest airport, Indore - 77 km from the shrine, is connected to Delhi, Mumbai, Bhopal and Gwalior with regular flights.
Nearest railhead is Omkareshwar Road on the Ratlam-Khandwa section of the Western Railways.
Omkareshwar is connected to Indore, Ujjain, Khandwa and Omkareshwar Road by regular bus services including Volvo buses and private buses.
The white dome which is made of soft soap stone is the major attraction of the temple. The beauty of the temple is its tower which is built on the ancient Nagara pattern, and consists of 5 distinct layers, that features the image of various Hindu Gods. A visit to the temple can take you to the glorious times of the 17th century when temples were not merely places of worship; they were destinations for instilling faith and awe amongst people and places of self-reflection. This temple lives up to all these expectations and hence is a major religious site for Hindus all over the world.