Narmada Parikrama is a journey of the Spirit and River

  • By Ankur Gupta
  • February 19, 2024
  • 3758 views
  • This piece covers the sacred origins of the Narmada, road route, our Parikrama experience, reflections and tips, brief Profile of every night-stay towns.

 

We took the MP Tourism 14 nights 15 day tour. The route was Jabalpur (Bhedaghat), Amarkantak, Mandla, Kareli, Hoshangabad, Omkareshwar, Badwani (all in MP), Rajpipla, Mithi Talai, Kevadiya (in Gujarat), Jhabua, Maheshwar, Ujjain, Salkanpur, Jabalpur and Amarkantak.

The good thing is we covered parts of Malwa, the vehicle tour includes include Gujarat and on most mornings we had Ma Narmada Aarti and Darshan.

1. The Sacred Origins of Narmada

The River Narmada holds a sacred place in Hindu tradition, revered as a mother goddess and a life-giving force. It is one of the seven holiest rivers in India, and the only major river flowing westward.  The Narmada River, revered as one of the seven holy rivers of India, is believed to be a daughter of Lord Shiva. According to Hindu tradition, the mere sight of the river is purifying, and its circumambulation (Parikrama) is a journey of penance, devotion, and enlightenment.

 

I was under the impression earlier that the name Narmada was derived from “Nar” (Male) and “Mada” (Female) but it seems that the name "Narmada" is said to stem from the words "Narma" (pleasure or joy) and "Da" (giver), highlighting the blessings the river bestows. Another possibility is that the name 'Narmada' derives from the Sanskrit words 'nara' (water) and 'mada' (joy), which together mean "the one that brings joy".

 

This river is unique as it is considered to be a living deity, capable of removing one's sins just by its darshan (sight). The Narmada Parikrama, a walk along the river's banks, is a ritual that symbolizes the release from the cycle of birth and death, leading one towards salvation.

The Narmada River is app 1300 kms long, starts in Madhya Pradesh (MP), briefly flows through Maharashtra and then Gujarat before entering the Arabian Sea at a point close to Bharuch. See map.

2. The Narmada Parikrama

The Narmada Parikrama, a complete circumambulation of the river, is a holy pilgrimage for many Hindus. It's a journey of faith, where one surrenders to the river's energy, walks amidst breathtaking scenery, and seeks spiritual transformation. Embarking on the Narmada Parikrama is not just a travel experience; it's a spiritual journey that holds deep significance for Hindus. 

 

We recently embarked on the Narmada Parikrama, a 15 day spiritual odyssey organized by Madhya Pradesh Tourism. While we could not maintain a daily diary, we want to share the highlights of our journey and inspire others to embrace this enriching experience.

 

May you too embark on a spiritual odyssey along the Narmada, where each stopover weaves a tale of devotion, nature's splendor, and India's rich heritage!

3. The Journey Begins: Marble Rocks Bhedaghat (25.01.24)

From the awe-inspiring canyons of the Marble Rocks to the thunderous spectacle of Dhuandhar Falls, our journey began with the mesmerizing power of the Narmada. Our spiritual odyssey commenced at the mesmerizing Marble Rocks at Bhedaghat.

Marble Rocks. 

The serene beauty of the Narmada, flanked by majestic marble rocks, sets a divine backdrop for the journey ahead. Marvel at the sculpted cliffs and cascading Dhuandhar Falls, testament to the Narmada's raw power.

Dhuandhar Falls. 

Hotel: Marble Rocks Bhedaghat-offered a comfortable respite, allowing us to soak in the tranquil vibes of the river. Hotel River View too is nice.  

 

Album Marble Rocks Jabalpur

 

Nearby Places of Interest: The Dhuandhar Falls and Chausath Yogini Temple are must-visits, offering breathtaking views and a glimpse into ancient religious practices. Album Chausath Yogini Temple

Chausath Yogini Mandir. 

a. Amarkantak The Narmada's Source (26.01.24 - 27.01.24)

This region is known as the Narmada's birthplace, a serene retreat nestled in the Maikal Hills. Experience the tranquility of the Narmada's origin amidst the forested Maikal Hills. Amarkantak, where the Narmada descends from the heavens, marks a significant point in our journey. 

Mandir and Kund. 

Narmada Udgam is where the holy river first emerges. 

We visited the sacred temples and bathed in the Kapildhara Falls, feeling a deep connection to the river's divine origins.

Rishi Kapila, founder of Sankhya philosophy, resided and did penance here. 

Holiday Homes Amarkantak - MP Tourism.

 

Nearby Places of Interest: Sri Yantra Mandir, Narmadakund, Narmada Udgam Temple, Ancient Temples of Kalachuri, and the captivating Kapildhara Falls.

Album Temples of Amarkantak

b. The Heartland of MP - Following the River's Course (28.01.24 - 02.02.24)

As we meandered through Madhya Pradesh, each stop brought us closer to the essence of Narmada. The Grand Sukhrana Kareli, River View Hoshangabad, Temple View Omkareshwar, Hotel Jalsa Barwani, and Vanwangdu Resort Rajpipla provided havens of peace.

 

Traveling alongside the Narmada, we visited ancient ghats, bustling towns, and sacred destinations. Highlights included the vibrant Narmada Jayanti celebrations and the island shrine of Omkareshwar, where the river forms the sacred Hindu symbol "Om".

 

Mandla: Witness the vibrant Narmada Jayanti celebrations and connect with the local traditions.

Kareli: Enjoy a comfortable respite on your journey along the sacred river.

Hoshangabad: Explore ancient ghats and the historic town known for its unique riverside temples.

Omkareshwar: Seek spiritual solace at the island shrine where the Narmada forms the sacred "Om" symbol. Do parikrama around Mandhata Hill that has the shape of Om. 

Omkareshwar Jyotirling Temple is on the banks of the Narmada. 

Hotels: Kingfisher Resort Maharajpur Mandla, The Grand Sukhrana Kareli, River View Hoshangabad and Temple View Omkareshwar. MP Tourism hotel at Omkareshwar is very good.

 

Nearby Places of Interest: Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga, Ahilya Fort in Maheshwar.

Inside Ahilya Fort.  

Albums Ahilya Palace and Maheshwar Mahishmati

c. Days 9-11: Landscapes and Legends

The landscape shifted dramatically, from lush forests to the plains of Gujarat. We witnessed the imposing Statue of Unity, a colossal tribute to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, and heard tales of the legendary sage Shoolpaneshwar and his connection to the Narmada.

 

Barwani (MP): Discover the hidden gems of this town on the banks of the Narmada.

Rajpipla (Gujarat): Admire the scenic landscapes as the river carves its path through lush landscapes.

 

Birla Vishranthi Dharamshala, Vamleshwar: Experience the simple comforts offered by this pilgrim guesthouse overlooking the river.

 

d. Statue of Unity, Kevadiya

Stand in awe of the colossal tribute to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, an emblem of Indian unity.

 

Hotels: Vanwangdu Resort Rajpipla, Birla Vishranthi Dharamshala, Hotel Sai Inn Statue of Unity Kevadiya. Explore Tent City too.

 

On our way back to MP we visited Ujjain, Maheshwar, Salkanpur etc.

 

4. The Journey Culminates

The final leg took us from the serene Birla Vishranthi Dharamshala to the iconic Statue of Unity near Hotel Sai Inn Kevadiya, and through the historic realms of Maheshwar and Ujjain, ending in the lush landscapes of Salkanpur and Jabalpur. 

 

Stay: Our accommodations, from the Tourist Motel Jhabua to the Teak Retreat Salkanpur, were more than just places to rest; they were sanctuaries to reflect on our journey.

 

Nearby Places of Interest: The spiritual energy of Ujjain's Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga, the architectural marvel of the Statue of Unity, and the serene beauty of Maheshwar's ghats.

5. Back to the Source

Jhabua: Explore this tribal region, gaining insights into the diverse cultures along the Narmada.

Maheshwar: Be enchanted by the intricate Maheshwari weaves and the revered Ahilyeshwar Temple.

Ujjain: Immerse yourself in the spiritual energy of this ancient city, home to the Mahakal Temple.

Salkanpur: Seek blessings at the hilltop shrine of the goddess Vindhyavasini.

Jabalpur: Enjoy the city's rich heritage and scenic beauty alongside the Narmada River.

Amarkantak: Complete your parikrama with a sense of gratitude in the Narmada's birthplace.

 

Hotels: Tourist Motel Jhabua, Narmada Resort Maheshwar, Hotel Ujjaini Ujjain

Teak Retreat Salkanpur, Kalchuri Residency Jabalpur, Holiday Homes Amarkantak.

 

As we turned back eastward, the journey felt even more meaningful. We explored historic Maheshwar, known for its intricate weaves and revered Ahilyeshwar Temple, and the holy sites of Ujjain and Salkanpur. Finally, back in Amarkantak, we closed the circle with a renewed sense of gratitude.

 

Departure for Raipur.

 

6. Reflections on the Parikrama

The Narmada Parikrama is more than a pilgrimage; it's a transformative journey that nurtures the soul. Each step along this sacred river is a step towards self-discovery, spiritual growth, and the eternal bliss of moksha (liberation). For those yearning for a spiritual quest that combines the beauty of nature with the depth of ancient traditions, the Narmada Parikrama is a calling.

 

Embarking on this sacred journey requires not just physical stamina but also a heart full of devotion. While my diary may have missed a few days, the experiences, sights, and divine encounters etched in my soul are indelible. For those intending to undertake this spiritual voyage, let the Narmada guide you towards a deeper understanding of life and beyond.

 

May your journey along the Narmada bring you peace, enlightenment, and spiritual fulfillment. Om Namah Shivaya.

7. Brief Profile of Every Night-Stay

Bhedaghat: Marvel at the marble cliffs embracing the Narmada, where the river carves through in serene whispers and roars at Dhuandhar Falls.

Amarkantak: The Narmada's birthplace, nestled amidst the Vindhya and Satpura ranges, offers tranquility and a confluence of natural and spiritual energies.

Mandla: A testament to time, Mandla captivates with its lush landscapes and historical fort, embodying the spirit of the Narmada's flow.

Kareli: A serene stop that offers a glimpse into the heartland's soul, where the river's presence is felt in the gentle winds and quietude.

Hoshangabad: Here, the Narmada's waters touch the ghats, offering moments of reflection amidst the bustling town's vibrant life.

Omkareshwar: A spiritual nexus, where the Om-shaped island and one of the Jyotirlingas beckon pilgrims to bask in divine bliss.

Barwani: Close to the Narmada, Barwani's rich cultural tapestry and historical sites offer a deeper understanding of the river's legacy.

Rajpipla: Near the Narmada, Rajpipla's regal history and natural beauty serve as a reminder of the river's enduring influence on civilizations.

 

Birla Vishranthi Dharamshala, Vamleshwar: A peaceful retreat in Bharuch district of Gujarat, offering solace and simplicity by the Narmada's banks.

Statue of Unity, Kevadiya: Witness the colossal tribute to Sardar Patel, set against the backdrop of the Narmada's flowing grace.

Gwarighat, Jabalpur. 

Jhabua: Immerse in the tribal heartland's vibrancy, where the Narmada's spirit enriches the land's traditions and folklore.

Maheshwar: The riverfront fortresses and ghats of Maheshwar narrate tales of devotion and the timeless elegance of Maheshwari fabrics.

Ujjain: A city of ancient wonders, where the Kshipra's sacred waters meet spiritual seekers and the echoes of timeless rituals.

Salkanpur: Home to the revered Salkanpur Temple, offering panoramic views that blend the divine and the natural in serene harmony.

Jabalpur: The Narmada's journey through marble rocks reaches a crescendo at Bhedaghat, where nature's artistry is on divine display.

Back to Amarkantak: Returning to where it all began, the cycle of life and spirituality continues, inspired by the Narmada's eternal flow.

Raipur: Though not by the Narmada, it marks the end of our journey, a gateway back to the mundane, enriched by spiritual renewal.

Temples made by Kalchuri Kings at Amarkantak. Sankaracharya visited.  

We liked the hotels we stayed in, both MP Tourism and non-MPT properties.

 

Each location on the Narmada Parikrama is a bead in the mala of life, strung together by the river's sanctity, offering lessons of nature, devotion, and the interwoven tapestry of India's spiritual heritage.

 

8. Tips for Embarking on the Narmada Parikrama

1. Choose your season: Avoid the monsoon and plan your trip in the cooler months.

2. Be prepared: Wear comfortable walking shoes, carry sunscreen, and stay hydrated.

3. Immerse yourself: Embrace the simple lifestyle, respect local customs, and be open to new experiences.

 

People’s selfless love for ‘Narmada Mai (river) and ‘Parikrama Wasi’ (people doing parikrama) left a deep impact on me.

This  was undertaken by seven senior citizens including JS Saharia, Sunita Saharia, Abha Sharma, Radhe Shyam Agarwal, Niroopma Agarwal, Deepak Pawar Kurlekar and Anju Deepak Pawar. These two gentlemen from MP Tourism customized this tour package. Their contacts are Shri Yogendra Bichariya (9424796955) and Shri Sanjay Bharadwaj (7987730619).Maa Narmada Parikrama

 

Also read

1. Walking the Parikrama

2. Narmada Parikrama – The Great Circumambulation

3. Video Vimleshwar to Mithi Talai where Narmada enters Arabian Sea 11 minutes

4. Tributaries of Narmada  

 

 

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