Bharat Stories
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Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga

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Located on the banks of Narmada River in Shivapuri Island in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, Omkareshwar is a popular Hindu pilgrim place, devoted to Lord Shiva and is also one among the 12 famous Jyotirlingas—holy shrines for Lord Shiva spread over the country in different cities. It is said that the Island Shivapuri is actually in the perfect shape of the popular Hindu symbol Om (ॐ). Coming to the holy shrines in the pilgrim place, there are two temples that make the place as famous as it is today; this includes one to Omkareshwar—which literally means the Lord of the Om Sound, also called the Lord of Omkaara, and the other one to Amareshwar, which literally means the lord who can never die, who is immortal.

However, it is said that regardless of the geographic elements, the encryptions on the shlokas of the Dwadash Jyotirlinga suggest that the holy jyotirlinga is actually Mamleshwar, which happens to be lying on the other side of River Narmada. Many religious events are celebrated with grandeur in this place and during days of ‘’parva’’ on every Monday, Lord Omkaara’s gold plated three-headed idol sits on a palanquin and is celebrated with a lot of drums, chants, with devotees and priests gathering together to offer their prayers for the lord. During the sacred month of shravan, long processions happen, and they are known as the ‘’SomvaarSawaris’’ and all the people in the crowd chant the holy phrase, ‘’Om ShambhuBholenath.’’

The story behind the origin of jyotirlinga goes back to a tale when Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma were having a debate about having the upper hand in the creation of the universe, and hence the supreme audacity over it. That is when Lord Shiva came and in order to put an end to the debate, pierced the entire three worlds, simultaneously appearing as one powerful and huge pillar of light, which was the Jyotirlinga, and thus, the lord’s first manifestation into such an object. Both Brahma and Vishnu tried their best to find the end of this ray of light, but both only met with defeat although none admitted it.

The Jyotirlinga is thus believed to be an infinite pillar of light and ever since that event, the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines in the country happen to be those places where Shiva’s light emerged during the ArdraNakshatra. The other 11 shrines excluding the one at Omkareshwar are as follows: Mallikarjuna in Andhra Pradesh, Somnath in Gujarat, Mahakaleshwar in Madhya Pradesh, Kedarnath in Uttarakhand, Bhimashankar in Maharashtra, Viswanath in Uttar Pradesh, Tryambakeshwar in Maharashtra, AundhaNagnath in Maharashtra, Rameshwar at Tamil Nadu, Grushneshwar at Maharashtra, and Vaidyanath at Maharashtra.

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