Situated at the confluence of the rivers Narmada and Kaveri, the holy city of Omkareshwar in the Khandwa district, Madhya Pradesh is shaped in the form of Hindu religious symbol ‘Om’, due to the merging of two valleys and a central pool of Narmada waters.

It derives its name from ‘Omkara’ which is just one other name of Lord Shiva. Situated on the Mandhata islands, Omkareshwar houses one of the 12 revered Jyotirlingas and hence, draws thousands of devotees each year. It has two ancient shrines- Omkareshwar and Amaleswara.

The Linga forms of both the temples are considered as a single form of Lord Shiva or as a single Jyotirlinga. It is a common belief here that Shiva split into two and one-half of Jyotirlinga appeared in Omkareshwar and the other half at the Amaleswara temple. Both of the temples are separated by a narrow ridge.


As per Hindu legend, Vindya, the deity controlling the Vindyachal mountain range was worshipping Shiva to propitiate himself from the sins committed. He created a sacred geometrical diagram and a Lingam made of sand and clay. Shiva was pleased with the worship and believed to have appeared in two forms, namely Omkareshwar and Amaleswara. Since the mud mound appeared in the form of Om, the island came to be known as Omkareswar. There is a shrine for Parvati and five-faced Ganapathi in the temple.

The second story relates to Mandhata and his son’s penance. King Mandhata of Ikshvaku 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 Muchukunda, 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.

Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga Complex 

The temple has a grand Sabha Mandap (meeting or prayer hall) standing on about 60 huge brown stone pillar (14 feet high), elaborately carved with a curious frieze and fillet of satyrlike figures. Many of them have broad shoulders and meditating foreheads.The temple is 5 storeyed each having a different deity. There are three regular ‘Pujas’ in the temple. The morningone done by the temple trust , the middle one by the priest of Scindia state and the evening one by the priest of the Holkar state.The temple is always crowded with pilgrims, coming after a bath 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.

Mahakaleshwar temple at Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga is on the first floor while Gupteshwar and Dhwajeshwar temples are located on the 3rd, 4th and 5th floors of this temple.

Festivals celebrated at Omkareshwar Temple 

  • Maha Shivaratri – This festival is celebrated for 5 days. This day marks the event of Lord Shiva’s marriage to Goddess Parvati. A Mela is organised by the temple management which is visited by lakhs of pilgrims every day. Special Poojas and Aartis are conducted throughout the day
  • Karthik Utsav – It is celebrated in the month of Karthik as per the Hindu Calendar. This festival is celebrated for 10 days. The Panchakoshi Yatra is organized during this period. It starts from the Ekadasi of the Shukla Paksh from the Gomukh Ghat and ends on Poornima at the Omkareshwar temple.  A huge Mela is organized when pilgrims from all over India stay and do Poojas
  • Narmada Jayanti – This usually occurs in the Magha month of the Hindu Calendar. This day is used to commemorate the birth of the holy River Narmada. The celebrations are started at 12 noon. Hundreds of deepams are lit throughout the hillside and along the Narmada Ghat. In the evening, special Aarti is conducted on the banks. A huge Bhandaar is arranged and Prasad is distributed to the pilgrims

Some of the other main festivals celebrated are Basant Panchami, Holi, Hanuman Jayanti, Shanishwar Amavasya, Guru Purnima and Janmashtami.



Leave a Reply