Omkareshwar is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. The Temple of Lord Omkareshwar is situated on the banks of River Narmada, in between Indore & Khandwa. The temple is situated on an island, which is encircled by the Narmada River. The island is known as Mandhata island.
Omkareshwar Temple of Lord Shiva
This holy temple is situated in Madhya Pradesh, in the Khandwa district. This is situated on Mandhata island. An interesting fact about the island is that this is in the shape of Om symbol. Here are two temple, one of Omkareshwar and other of Mamleshwar or Amareshwar.
The main Omkareswar temple is built in the North Indian style of architecture, with high spires. The sanctum sanctorum containing the Jyotirlinga seems to have been originally a small temple of the old construction style, the dome being made of layers of stone slabs.
Puja at Omkareshwar Temple
There are three regular ‘Pujas’ in the temple. The morning puja done by the temple trust, the middle one by the priest of Scindia state and in evening by the priest of the Holkar state. The temple is always crowded with pilgrims, coming after a immersion in the Narmada and with pots full of Narmada water, coconuts and articles of worship, many of them performing Abhishek or special worships through the priests.
During fair or ‘Parva’ times there are heavy crowds in the temple. On every Monday, the gold plates three headed idol of Lord Omkar is taken in a palanquin with bands, drums , priests. The devotees gather in procession known as Dola. First, they go to the river where worship is performed, and then through the streets of the town.
In the holy month of shravan, the processions take place, known as “Somvar Sawaris”. These are huge and grand. The crowds dance uttering the Lord’s name “Om Shambhu Bholenath”. In this procession, throwing Gulal making the atmosphere red.
Three Legends of Omkareshwar
Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga also has its own history and many stories. Out of these, three of them are prominent.
This is about Vindhya Parvat (Mount). Once upon a time, Sage Narada (son of Lord Brahma), visited Vindhya parvat. In his spicy way, Narada told Vindhya Parvat about the greatness of Mount Meru.
This made Vindhya jealous of Meru and he decided to be bigger than Meru. Vindhya started worship of Lord Shiva to become greater than Meru. Vindhya Parvat practiced severe penance and worshipped parthivlinga (A linga made from physical material) along with Lord Omkareshwar for nearly six months.
As a result, Lord Shiva was pleased and blessed him with his desired boon. On a request of all the gods and the sages, Lord Shiva made two parts of the lingas. One half is called Omkareshwara and the other Mamaleshwar or Amareshwar.
Lord Shiva gave the boon of growing to Vindhya mountain, but took a promise that Vindhya will never be a problem to Shiva’s devotees. Vindhya began to grow, but did not keep his promise. It even obstructed the sun and the moon.
Soon, all deities approached sage Agastya for help. Agastya along with his wife came to Vindhya, and convinced him that he would not grow until the sage and his wife returned.
They never returned and Vindhya is there as it was when they left. The sage and his wife stayed in Srisailam which is regarded as Dakshina Kashi and one of the Dwadash Jyotirlinga.
The second story relates to Mandhata and his son’s penance. King Mandhata of Ishvaku clan (an ancestor of Lord Ram) worshipped Lord Shiva here till the Lord manifested himself as a Jyotirlinga. Some scholars also narrate the story about Mandhata’s sons-Ambarish and Mucchkund, who had practiced severe penance and austerities here and pleased Lord Shiva. Because of this the mountain is named Mandhata.
The third story from Hindu scriptures says that once upon a time there was a great war between Devas and Danavas(demon), in which Danavas won. This was a major setback for Devas and hence Devas prayed to Lord Shiva. Pleased with their prayer, Lord Shiva emerged in the form of Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga and defeated Danavas.