Omkareshwar or better known as Mandhata Omkareshwar is one of the foremost of the 12 Joytirlingas or it is luminous physical self-presentation of Lord Shiva of the Hindus. Omkareshwar, the sacred island, shaped like the holiest of all Hindu symbols, 'Om', has drawn to it hundreds of generations of pilgrims. Here, at the confluence of the rivers Narmada and Kaveri, the devout gather to kneel before the Jyotirlinga (one of the twelve throughout India) at the temple of Shri Omkar Mandhata. And here, as in so many of Madhya Pradesh's sacred shrines, the works of Nature complement those of man to provide a setting awe-inspiring in its magnificence.
The island comprises two lofty hills and is divided by a valley in such a way that it appears in the shape of the sacred Hindu symbol 'Om' from above. Between the precipitous hills of the Vindhya on the North and the Satpura on the South, the Narmada forms a deep silent pool which in former times was full of alligators and fish, so tame as to take grain from human hand. This pool is 270 ft below the cantilever type bridge constructed in 1979. The bridge has enhanced the scenic beauty of the place, making it look exceedingly picturesque.
Omkareswar kshetra parikrama is the very important thing to do in Omkareswar tour.The parikrama route Starts from Omkareswar temple and completes after surrounding the hill.Adi Shankaracharya did parikrama when he visited Omkareswar jyotirling.While doing parikrama, he met his Guru Sri Govindapada and learned Advaita from him.We can see that place at the end of parikrama. It is nearer to Omkareswar temple.
First of all we will reach Triveni sangamam.Here we can take holy bath.Just after Triveni sangamam there is a temple of Runa Mukteswar. In this temple people offer Red gram to lord Siva. After that the journey is through forest. It is very pleasent and nice to see in Winter season.After crossing this forest there is a temple of Bholenath.It is the mid point of parikrama. The Siva linga in this temple is very big and it is made of Narmada banam. After that we will reach Durga Goddess temple. By crossing Durga temple we will enter into a deep forest. In the forest there are many ancient monuments and temples which are under the control of Indian Archeological department.
In the way of Parikrama one can see so many Sadhus belonging to different traditions. If we are lucky we can see deers and peacocks in the route. The view of Narmada river is very beautiful with the bridges and the Project.
The last stop is the cave of Guru Govindapada. Totally we can get very much pleasure by doing this parikrama.
Omkareshwara Temple is located at a distance of about 12 miles from Mortakka in Madhya Pradesh. A special feature of the location of Omkareshwar Temple is that the river Narmada branches into two and forms an island Mandhata or Shivapuri in the center. The shape of the island resembles that of the visual representation of the Omkara sound, Om. There are two temples here, one to Omkareshwar and one to Amareshwar.
The Omkareshwar Temple is built in the Nagara style and is characterized by a lofty shikhara. There are also shrines to Annapurna and Ganesha here. Before entering the temple one has to pass through two rooms. The Omkareshwar is not affixed to the ground but is naturally installed there. There is always water around it. The significance of this linga is that the linga is not situated below the cupola. The idol of Lord Shiva is situated on the top of the temple. The temple can be reached by ferry from the banks of the river. A huge fair is organized here on the day of Karthik Poornima.
Shiva Purana describes the greatness of Omkareshwar and Mammaleshwar. It says, two sons of the sun dynasty Mandhata - Ambarish and Mucchkund practiced severe penance and austerities here and pleased Lord Shiva. They also performed great religious sacrifices in this place because of which the mountain is named Mandhata.
Another popular legend says that once upon a time Vidhya Parvat practiced severe penance and worshipped Parthivarchana along with Lord Omkareshwar for nearly six months. As a result Lord Shiva was pleased and blessed him with the desire boon. On the sincere request of all the gods and the sages Lord Shiva made two parts of the lings. One half being Omkareshwara and the other Amaleshwara or Amareshwar, also known as Mamleshwar Mahadev temple.
Some scholar say, King Mandhatha of the Ishvaku clan is believed to have worshipped Shiva here. Besides, Govinda Bhagavatpaada, the Guru of Shankaracharya is believed to have lived in a cave here.
Places to visit Near-by
Omkar Mandhata - The temple stands on a one mile long, half mile wide island formed by the fork of the Narmada. The soft stone of which it was constructed has lent its pliable surface to a rare degree of detailed work, of which the frieze figures on the upper portion are the most striking. Also intricately carved is the stone roof of the temple. Encircling the shrine are verandahs with columns which are carved in circles, polygons and squares.
The Siddnath Temple - A classic example of early medieval Brahminic architecture, this one is well worth a visit. Its most eye-catching feature is a frieze of elephants over 1.5m high carved on a stone slab at its outer perimeter. Elaborate carved figures decorate the upper portion and the roof of the temple. The shrine is encircled by verandahs with columns carved in circles, polygons and squares.
24 Avatars - A cluster of Hindu and Jain temples, remarkable for their skillful use of varied architectural modes.
Satmatrika Temple - 6 km from Omkareshwar, a group of 10th century temples.
Kajal Rani Cave - 9 km from Omkareshwar a particularly picturesque scenic spot, with a panoramic view of broad acres and gently undulating landscape that stretches in unbroken harmony till the horizon.
Getting there and around
By Air - The nearest airport is Indore (77 km), connected by regular flights with Delhi, Mumbai, Bhopal and Gwalior.
By Rail - Nearest railhead is Omkareshwar Road (12 km) on the Ratlam-khandwa section of the Western Railway.
By Road - Omkareshwar is connected to Indore, Ujjain, Khandwa and Omkareshwar Road by regular bus services.