Digital Dimdima
-By Jayanthi Mahalingam
Down to the sea
The Narmada in Gujarat
A Hill With A View
The Monuments Of Mandu
An Ancient City
An Island In The River
Beyond Hoshangabad
Steeped In Legends
Narmadey Har
The Cult of Thuggee
The Splendour of Marble Rocks
Original Inhabitants
The World Of Verrier Elwin
Tribal Queen
The Jewel Of Kanha
The Narmada In Mythology

 

An Island In The River

The Narmada ripples gently around huge pink boulders and tumbles over small rapids. Just before reaching Omkareshwar, it cascades 10 m down into a gorge, to form the specatcular Dhardi Falls. The rocks enclosing the river appear like flaky pastry. The faint white lines or dharis on them have given rise to the name. People live in the caves hollowed out by the river near the falls.
Omkareshwar is an island which is shaped like the symbol ‘Om’. The Narmada weaves her way through tall cliffs that are over 30 metres high, before reaching the sacred island.
The most celebrated temple on the island is the Omkar Mandhata. It houses one of the twelve jyotirlingams.
The temple is dark from the inside. A winding passage leads to the sanctum sanctorum, where the Omkareshwar jyotirlingam stands in a small pool of water. It is believed that the level of the water inside the pool always remains constant.
The shops that dot the way to the temple sell tiny lingams, claimed to have been found in the riverbed.
The oldest temple on the island is the 10th century Siddhnath temple. It is elaborately carved. A one and a half metre high stone elephant stands as a sentinel at the temple’s entrance. Close to the temple is the Surajkund Gate, which is flanked by 3-metre high statues of the Pandava brothers, Arjuna and Bhima.
Omkareshwar is also famous as the place where Adi Shankaracharya met his guru, Govinda Bhagavatpada, when he donned the robes of sannyasa and set out on his spiritual quest. Shankara studied under his guru on the banks of the Narmada and became a great philosopher, teacher and reformer. He wandered all over the country till death claimed him in the Himalayas, at the early age of 32. Shankaracharya wrote many books, including commentaries on the Brahmasutras, Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita. Much admired for his lucid and graceful prose, he has given to Sanskrit some of its most beautiful hymns (stotras) and philosophical poems.


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