By Sanjeev Nayyar | 2007

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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. An overview of Omkareshwar Jyotirling ie on the banks of the river Narmadaji. What you see in front is the Narmada river, at the base of the red temple is a ghat where devotees bath in the Narmada, the white structure is the temple that houses the Jyotirling, behind that is king Mandhata’s palace. On the left is a bridge that takes devotees on to the island. Clicked from new bridge.

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. Another view of the temple complex clicked from the old bridge that was constructed in 1979.

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 temple is situated on a hillock. Clicked this picture from the base, at the top is the mandir.

The new bridge constructed during the last Simhastha held in 2004. You can cross the river Narmada on to Omkareshwar in various ways. You can take the new or old bridge or take a boat ride.

A view of the new bridge. As you see it is supported by columns on either side of the river.

We took a boat ride in the Narmada. Clicked this picture whilst sitting in the boat. What you see in the background is the Dam being constructed currently, expected to generate some 500 MWs of power.

Devotees who want to come by boat take one from this ghat that you see in the center of this picture.

Whilst we were reaching the temple from the new bridge clicked this picture that shows the old bridge. On the right of this picture is the ghat where devotees who come by boat get off.

A closer view of the Omkareshwar Jyotirling. Just next to the white structure you can see a recently constructed portion as you can see in the next picture. Since the temple has five levels it helps you go from level two to level three. Level three to five is within the structure itself. At each level is a mandir ie Omkareshar, next Mahakaleshwar, Siddheshwar & Manshadevi, Gupteshwar and Dhwajeshwar.

Entrance to the main temple. As you can see the structure above the old columns is a recent construction. You will meet a number of Pandas who want to help you with the pooja.

This passage is as you enter the temple. Columns look ancient. The flooring has been renovated and now has granite.

As we walked further through the passage we see the entrance to the main sanctum. Note the images on the columns are all disfigured (saw similar figures in Ellora temples too).

This is the picture of the actual linga. It is small in size, has an uneven surface.

This is the point from where devotees enter Siddheshwar & Manshadevi, Gupteshwar and Dhwajeshwar that are on three levels. Internal staircases are quite difficult to climb.

Shivling at the highest temple point called Dhwajeshwar.

What you see is king Mandhata`s palace.

When you take a boat to cross over to Omkareshwar you get off at this point. Clicked this from the boat. Gives you a view of what looks like an old palatial building.

On the old bridge we met this bhakt who had dorned Rudraksh on the upper part of his body and head.

As we walked towards Nagar Ghat for a bath in the Narmada we saw this devotee chanting at the Vikat Hanuman Akada Mandir.

The Nagar community has recently constructed this very beautiful and clean ghat. What you see is an overview of the ghat.

At Nagar ghat this Dwar was constructed in the water. It was like some sort of a boundary beyond which devotees should not go. I had a 30-minute bath in the holy Narmada on this ghat. Water is not very cold. Water current is very swift so if you are not careful you could get swept away.

Next we visited Mamleshwar mandir ie about ten minutes away from Omkareshwar. What you see is entrance to the temple. The temple structure looks ancient although no board gave the date.

A side view of the temple.

Devotees worshipping the Lingam inside the temple.

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