Showing posts with label River. Show all posts
Showing posts with label River. Show all posts

MP Diaries: Jyotirlinga temple Omkareshwar, The Divine OM Parikrama

During our discussion over a quick lunch, we decided to skip Omkareshwar and Maheshwar and head straight to Mandu due to time constraint. Without wasting any more time, we headed towards Mandu and the closest route was via Maheshwar. Around 3:40 pm, we reached a cross road leading to Omkareshwar and realised that Mandu was about 150 km from here. Thinking again, we modified our plan and drove towards Omkareshwar as we were aware we wouldn't be able to make it to Mandu before sunset. We reached the village of Omkareshwar within ten minutes and were greeted by the narrow lanes of this temple town. Navigating through these lanes, we reached the southern bank of river Narmada. While we were on a look out for a place to park our vehicle, we were surrounded by numerous priests (read them as touts/agents) who offered to take us to a direct darshan of the Lord Omkareshwar. We managed to find a parking spot finally through one of the agent inside a compound for Rs 50/-.
Omkareshwar Temple Ghat
Omkareshwar Temple Ghat
Omkareshwar is one of the 12 Jyothirlinga shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is situated on an island resembling the holy symbol OM on the banks of the triveni sangam (holy confluence) of rivers Narmada, Kaveri and invisible Saraswathi. There are two ways to reach the temple from the southern bank of river Narmada, either a walk via hanging bridge or a boat ride. We zeroed in on the boat ride as our little one enjoys being in, around and surrounded by water! After a hard bargaining negotiation, our agent he agreed to show us three places for Rs 200/- which were the confluence of the rivers/dam, the Omkareshwara temple and the Vishnu temple. Our boat man first took us close to the dam and told us about that place being the confluence of the rivers which we realised later to be untrue. The point of confluence lies behind the dam and can be reached by walk from main temple. Later we were dropped at the bank of Omkareshwar temple. He informed us that the temple would open by 4:30 pm for darshan and here again while we waited in queue for darshan, we were approached by many priests/agents offering direct darshan at a cost. We had a tough time avoiding them. We stood in the queue for, say 20 minutes before we had the darshan of Lord Omkareshwar. 
Omkareshwar Dam across River Narmada
Omkareshwar Dam across River Narmada
Lord Omkareshwar Jyothirlinga
Lord Omkareshwar Jyothirlinga 
 The main temple of Omkareshwara is multi-storeyed, with each storey housing one Shivalinga dedicated to the various forms of Lord Shiva. The temple has some beautiful sculptures which are spread across the temple complex. Thanks to Madhya Pradesh government, this place is very cleanly maintained despite being a pilgrimage center. Here on while returning to our boat, we found a cave temple dedicated to Guru Shankaracharya. This sacred cave is the place where Shankaracharya met his guru Govindphada. We reached the boat, and rode towards the Vishnu temple. We had to see this huge idol of Lord Vishnu from the boat only and later were dropped near the Gomukh Ghat. Gomukh ghat is a ghat on the southern bank of river Narmada and a flight of steps here lead us to the temple complex of Mamleshwar. This temple is considered to be the oldest temple here and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. We managed to make a quick visit to all the temples in the complex and stopped by to have a cup of tea. In between our exit from the temple and sipping hot tea, we had picked up a book about Omkareshwar written in Hindi. As we sipped tea, we brushed through the book only to find many other interesting places worth a visit here and around. At the tea stall, we inquired about a few places given in the book and were informed that most of those structures were located on the hillock behind the main temple. Though we were contemplating and initially quite hesitant to ascend the hill, by heart because of our tired legs, we desperately wanted to visit this place and finally put a step forward. Our hearts finally winning won over legs. Unknowingly we were along the divine OM Parikrama or the Narmada Parikrama, a circuitous path regarded as sacred when completed by pilgrims. We crossed the hanging bridge and started our ascent by the steps laid to the top of the hill with the beautiful sun setting, in the back ground. We had to hurry up and rush through a few temples and structures before it fell completely dark. We only wished we would have made it here much earlier, so we could enjoy the sheer beauty of this place. All the structures and temples built here are attributed to the reign of the Paramara dynasty.
Inside Shankaracharya Cave
Dwarapalas of Mamleshwar Temple
Mamleshwar Temple Complex  Omkareshwar
Mamleshwar Temple Complex 
Calmly Flowing Narmada
Gauri/Gori Somnath temple  ( Locally known as Mama-Bhanja temple) 
This is a beautiful two storeyed temple belonging to the 11th century AD housing a huge Shivalinga. It is built of red sandstone and is associated with various interesting legends. There is also a beautiful Nandi idol opposite to the temple. A little further is the Patali Hanuman temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman who is seen in a reclining posture.
Gori Somnath Temple
 Sita Mata Temple 
This 11th century temple, now mostly in ruins is dedicated to Goddess Sita (Lord Rama's consort). 
Goddess Sita 
Sita Matha Temple
Sita Matha Temple 
Chand - Suraj Dwar (Moon - Sun Fort Gateway) 
This is a very beautiful fort gateway and on either sides of the gateway are carved images of river goddesses Ganga and Yamuna. A carving of Lord Ganesha is also seen here.
Mahishasura Mardhini
Lord Ganesha
Chand Suraj Dwar
 Siddhnath Barahdwari Siddeshwar Temple
The main reason for our ascent to this hillock was the picture of Siddhnath temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The sun had set by the time we reached this temple. Even in the dark the temple looked equally beautiful, consisting of 72 pillars (18 pillars in each direction). All the pillars seemed to be very well executed.
Siddhnath Barahdwari Temple

Bhima Darwaja (Bhima Gate)
Another gateway to this fort is the Bhima Darwaja where a huge idol of Bhima (one of the five Pandava brothers from Mahabharata) is seen. 

Finally we reached the main temple of Omkareshwar where the parikrama ends and got another chance of darshan of the Lord, this time among a relatively lesser crowd. Since it is the Parikrama path, the pathway was well laid and well-lit all along.
Carvings on the Ceiling of Omkareshwar Temple
Omkareshwar At Night 
Raj Mahal Omkareshwar
Raj Mahal Omkareshwar

Distance from nearby major town - 75 km from Indore.
Accommodation - Being a pilgrimage center, there are many options for finding accommodation. Narmada resort being one among the better ones is maintained by MPSTDC. 

Where to eat - Many road side eateries offer Poha, Jalebi, Samosa and other snacks.


1. RBS Visitors Guide India - ''Madhya Pradesh"
2. Omkareshwar Mahathva - A Local Guide
2. Ghumakkar 

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Madhya Pradesh, The heart of Incredible India

             "God Made Madhya Pradesh Beautiful. 
     We made it comfortable" 
   - Madhya Pradesh Tourism 

Madhya Pradesh (MP), often referred to as the 'heart of Incredible India' owing to its location in the centre of India is the second largest state of India in terms of area and the fifth largest, in terms of population. As a state, MP  boasts of being a mixed bag of well known destinations  and certainly has a lot to offer to an avid traveler. It has without doubt left a great lasting impression on us. Catch a glimpse of this wonderful state through our lens. Summarized below are ten of the most notable facts and the best ones we experienced during our journey.

1. Roads - The state of MP probably has the best of roads in India and surprisingly is one of the few states wherein the state highways, major district roads and village roads are far better than the National highways. Two of our most favorite stretches were the four laned 140 km stretch of state highway connecting Dewas to Bhopal and the two laned 105 km stretch of major district road connecting Saleha to Tigawa.  Driving across MP was thoroughly enjoyable primarily due to its good roads.
Village Road
2. Food - POHA (flattened rice) and Jalebi (saffron colored sweet coil) branded as the national food (intentionally called so)  of Madhya Pradesh as they have it on all occasions of break fast, lunch, snack and dinner . Invariably, all road side eateries serve only Poha, Jalebi along with its savory and snack counterparts of Samosa/ Kachori and Sev, at all times.
Break Time Poha
3. History - The history of MP dates back to the Mesolithic period (as per artifacts found in Bhimbetka), early Buddhist era (Stupas of Sanchi), early Hindu temple architecture (Tigawa, Nachna, Ashapuri), Medieval temple architecture (Bateshwar, Gwalior, Khajuraho), Jain architecture (Gwalior, Pathari, Khajuraho), Islamic architecture (Mandu, Chanderi), British architecture (Asirgarh, Raisen), Cenotaphs (Orchha, Gwalior, Shivpuri) and freedom struggle for Indian independence. As per legend,  Lord Rama and Sita  spent most of theirs years of exile in their 14 year exile period in Chitrakoot (now in state of Madhya Pradesh). In most of the places we traveled, we always found and explored other lesser known places that played a significant role during the reign of various kings and dynasties.
Badal Mahal, Chanderi
Badal Mahal, Chanderi 
4. Wildlife/ Nature - Undoubtedly MP is a state blessed with natural wealth and wildlife, and popular   among the tourist population for wildlife sighting, especially the Royal Bengal Tiger. A wide variety of wildlife can be sighted in the national parks of Bandhavgarh, Panna, Pench, and Kanha and in the sanctuaries of Satpura and Chambal apart from other smaller reserves. Sighting wildlife came easy to us as we spotted a fox, jackal and  wolves on different nights during our  travel  across this state (national parks or sanctuaries  not being a part of the roads we traveled). Our sighting of Vultures  at Orchha, Indian Skimmers at Chambal and the lovely Peacocks with their families at  Bateshwar will always remain close to our hearts.
Indian Skimmers
Indian Skimmers at Chambal
5. Rivers - Many rivers flow across the state, with Narmada following the longest path, Chambal being the cleanest and Shipra being the holiest. All rivers were flowing with glory and pomp owing to the good monsoons of last year. Being one of the water rich states of India, MP enjoys vast stretches of fertile land.
Sunset at the Lake of Pathari 
6. Agriculture - The vast stretches of agricultural lands that MP encompasses were dedicated to rabi crops owing to the current season, mostly Wheat, Mustard, Bengal gram (Channa) and Tur. The state's predominant  dependence on agrarian economy was clearly evident even on the out skirts of major towns like Bhopal and Indore, where the agricultural lands were filled with standing crops. Thanks to them because of which we were always surrounded by greenery.
Mustard Fields 
 7. Tourist Infrastructure - True to their tag line "God Made Madhya Pradesh Beautiful. We made it comfortable", the tourism department of Madhya Pradesh has done a very credible and appreciable job in providing the best infrastructure possible and surely deserve all the applause for their commendable work. From accommodation to providing tourist information along with all other necessary facilities for tourists across all locations were perfectly managed by the tourism department. This is definitely something that every other state in India can learn to follow. On the flip-side, most the information boards with regards to directions and distance were seen in the language of Hindi, which would hinder or rather make it more difficult for foreign tourists and travelers from the southern most region of India to navigate around.
Midway Treat, Bhimbetka 
8. Diesel Pricing - Strangely, the only hurdle during our road trip was the high priced diesel in MP. They were presumably the highest compared to the other states we have traveled across. Apart from their high prices, its variation was drastic across the state. While diesel at Indore was priced at  Rs 62/- per liter, the same was Rs.67/- at Nowgaon, Chattarpur. This difference is quite high when compared to all the other states we've traveled, where the maximum difference was less than a rupee.
9. Bus Rapid Transit - Indore and Bhopal are two cities in MP where the BRT system has been successfully implemented. Very few Indian cities have this system of separate lanes for buses. It was good to witness that this system was being followed very strictly, not interfering with other travelers on road.
10. People - The locals were very kind and helpful in many ways. To quote an instance, while we decided  to stop by at a particular place for breakfast in Chanderi, we had to reverse our vehicle and while doing so, a biker collided at the rear end of our vehicle. Though it was not a serious collision, the biker tried to exaggerate the entire incident, seeing which the locals gathered in order to help us as they were aware that the fault was not ours. They assessed the situation and convinced the biker to just move on as nothing serious had occurred and  politely told us to carry on. We were thankful to them and just wondered how people elsewhere would have behaved in the same situation. That apart, in most of the places we observed that people minded their own business and seemed least interested in others. Also, there was selfie madness everywhere with people being engrossed admiring their beauty.
Photo on Demand 

This blog post will be followed by a series of posts under 'MP Diaries'.

The Gorge Fort - Gandikota

      'Gandikota' is an ancient fort surmounting the Penna gorge in Jammalamadugu taluk of Cuddapah district, Andhra Pradesh. The river Penna flows through the Erramalai hill range, forming a gorge at Gandikota. The steep rocky walls of the gorge run for a length of about 1.5km and rise above 90m height on either sides. Gandikota village was founded by a king named Kapa, hailing from the nearby village of Bommanapalle in the 11th century and the fort at Gandikota is believed to have been built by him. This gorge, popularly known as 'India's Grand Canyon' is very popular among  travelers and proves a prefect weekend gateway for tourists from Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad. The AP tourism department has provision for accommodation with basic amenities for tourists wanting to stay overnight. We hadn't booked any as we were unsure about the time required to explore this place. But, on reaching the fort, we realized we may need more time to explore and hence decided to book a room here. Though the accommodation was full for that evening, luckily a group that was supposed to be there that night canceled their reservation giving us an opportunity for overnight stay. We quickly latched upon this opportunity as the manager later informed us about the rareness of such non availability owing to a very unusual case of full booking  by a  biker community.
Gopuram of Madhavaswami  Temple
         It was around 3pm by the time we settled down and  the temperature was too high to step out and start our exploration. At 4pm, we decided not to waste any more time and drove our vehicle towards the fort, found a comfortable place to park and started our exploration by foot. The fort built over the right bank of river Penna covers a wide expanse of land and houses many ancient structures. The lofty tower (Gopuram) of Madhavaswami temple was quite inviting, so we decided to visit this temple at once. The temple at the outset gave us the feeling of Vijayanagar architecture. The story of the temple dates back to the 13th century. Once, Lord Madhavaswami appeared in the dreams of King Harihara Bukkaraya and instructed him to construct a temple in the forest where he was hunting. Thus, this majestic temple was built to honor the lord. Though the temple is partly ruined, the remaining structure  is well maintained.
Rear View Of Madhavaswami Temple
       After witnessing the grandeur of Lord Madhavaswami Temple,  we visited the Royal Tank, the Jail and the Charminar which lie in close proximity to one another. We later moved on towards the grand looking Jumma Masjid, built by the Nawabs of Golconda. The masjid sets a perfect example of the Indo-Islamic Architecture. Right opposite to the Mosque complex is a big tank, which even today serves as a source of water to the residents. A big granary (storehouse for grains) is present besides the mosque. Next to the granary is a beautiful temple dedicated to Lord Ranganathaswami built by the Vijayanagar kings.
Jumma Masjid
Unity in Diversity
Inscriptions Found inside Ranganatha Temple
Lord Ranganatha Temple
       It was time now to witness the magnificent and strikingly picturesque 'Penna Gorge' or 'India's Grand Canyon'.  The view of the gorge was simply spectacular. One can easily run out of words to describe its beauty. Spellbound by its mesmerizing beauty, we wanted to explore more than just have a view of the gorge. As the sun was setting, we had to retire for the day and wait until sunrise to continue our explorations.
Penna Gorge