Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga Temple in Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh has a large prayer hall with about 60 huge and elaborately carved stone pillars supporting it. It is a five-storied structure with each floor having a different deity. Above the Omkareshwar linga is the Mahakaleshwar temple. Sidhnath, Gupteshwar, and Dhwajeshwar temples are on the third, fourth, and fifth floors respectively. The temple also boasts of several lofty spires.
History of Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga
The Puranas mention this sacred spot as an inhabited and spiritual place.
The aboriginal Bhil chieftains ruled Omkareshwar under the rule of the Parmar rulers of Malwa; this was from 10-13th AD and then by Chauhan Rajputs. The Marathas took over in the 18th century AD when many temples were built and renovated.
An incredulous story behind Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga
One legend says that two sons of emperor Mandhata of the Ikshvaku dynasty performed severe austerities and pleased Lord Shiva because of which the mountain is called Mandhata Mountain. And Lord Shiva manifested himself as a jyotirlinga.
Another legend says that Vindhya Parvat prayed to Lord Shiva performing severe penance to make the Vindhyas, His abode. Some say it was to become taller than Mount Meru. Lord Shiva was pleased with the penance and granted his wish by appearing as a jyotirlinga there.
At the behest of the gods and sages, Lord Shiva split the linga into two parts – one is at Omkareshwar and the other at Amareshwar or Mamleshwar. Therefore, devotees visit both these temples when they visit Mandhata.
It is said that Lord Shiva also allowed the Vindhyas to grow but only as long as he did not trouble the pilgrims. However, over time, Vindhya Parvat’s massiveness did cause problems for the devotees and so they sought sage Agastya’s help. The sage ordered the mountain to stop growing until he returned to it, which he never did, and hence he solved the devotees’ problem.
Interesting facts about Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga
- There are two Shiva temples situated near each other, both of which are famous pilgrimage spots for devotees – Amareshwar Jyotirlinga on the mainland and Omkareshwar on the island.
- It is said that Mandhata Island, on which Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga is situated, is in the shape of the sacred Om (ॐ) symbol.
- There are shrines to Panchamukhi Ganesha, and Annapoorani housed within this temple.
While devotees visit this temple throughout the year, it would be best to visit it in the winter months i.e. October to March. Visiting it during Mahashivratri (February 21st this year) would be the ultimate treat for any devotee!