By – Sathya Shivakumar – HSTD
Edited by Shivakumar Chandrasekaran – HSTD
Omkareshwar derives its name from Om -The primordial sound and Lord Shiva as the source of Om.
Situated about three hours’ drive from Indore, Omkareshwar and Mahakaaleshwar hold significant religious importance. After visiting Mahakaal in Ujjain, we arrived at Omkareshwar in the evening. As we strolled along the bridge, we witnessed the mesmerizing sunset over the Narmada River. The streets were lined with vendors selling large papads, leaving us wondering who would consume it all. It was quite a surprise as we turned around to find our father feeding the papads to the cows. A Panda(priest), offered to guide us for a darshan of the main deity at Omkareshwar. We passed through the bustling market and ascended the steps leading to the shrine. The air resounded with the chiming of bells, and a massive crowd chanted in unison, “Har Har Mahadev!” While we waited outside, we absorbed the vibrant atmosphere during the Arathi. After the Arathi we were let in for the darshan. Stepping into the inner chamber, we pressed our heads against the glass enclosure that housed the Shiva linga. In that moment, a sudden sense of surrender engulfed us, and our thoughts echoed, “Shiva, you are our ultimate refuge!” Those precious moments spent inside the sanctum were a reward for enduring the wait and the crowd. Upon returning to our hotel room, we shared our experiences, knowing another interesting aspect awaited us – “The Omkar Parikrama!”—an opportunity for reflection and a genuine connection with the Omkareshwar pilgrimage.
Omkareshwar Parikrama refers to the sacred act of circumambulation around Omkar island. The following morning, we embarked on the Omkar Parikrama—an 8 km walk around the Mandhata hill, which, along with the river, forms the shape of Om. Excitement filled the air as Radha and I decided to undertake the parikrama together, supporting each other while capturing our dance videos. Our parents chose to accompany each other on the journey, while the children and others opted for the boat parikrama. We were to be the “soul mates” for the parikrama.
Omkar holds a special significance in the life of Sri Adi Shankara. It was here that he found his Guru, Govinda Bhagavath Pada. Leaving Kaladi in search of his Guru, Adi Shankara arrived at Omkar and discovered Govinda Bhagavath Pada, deeply absorbed in Samadhi. The Guru inquired about the person standing before the cave, and in a spontaneous flow of verses, Adi Shankara explained that he was not any of the material identification and indeed the “self”!
We were fortunate to encounter a joyful gypsy named Rani, who graciously volunteered to lead us to the starting point of the Parikrama. There were two routes available—a short parikrama around the temple itself and another one through the village. Surprisingly, even some locals were unaware of these routes. During our exploration, our mother called and informed us about the Gita Parikrama and the cave of Govinda Bhagawad pada. However, our attempts to inquire about them proved futile as no one seemed to be aware of their existence. Determined to find answers, we approached a pandit with our queries. Interestingly, his name happened to be Govinda. We expressed our desire to locate the Govinda Bhagwat pada cave and requested him to accompany us throughout the entire parikrama. Although initially hesitant due to his usual role of guiding people solely to the temple, he eventually agreed to join us on this unique journey.
Our adventurous parikrama began with a visit to the 𝐊𝐞𝐝𝐚𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐡𝐰𝐚𝐫 𝐓𝐞𝐦𝐩𝐥𝐞. Tranquility filled the air. The sacred Shiva Linga was ensconced in the inner chamber. Our gaze was drawn to a magnificent statue of Lord Shiva inside the temple, evoking the words of Mohanji and deepening our connection to the divine essence of Lord Shiva within our hearts.
After cherishing a few precious moments at the shrine, our journey continued. The path of the parikrama unfolded before us, adorned with picturesque landscapes of flowing rivers, majestic hill sides, and the lively presence of birds, monkeys, and squirrels. Suddenly, a melodious voice reached our ears, resonating deeply within our hearts. As we approached the source, we discovered a young boy immersed in reading verses from the Ramayana. Completely absorbed in his recitation, he seemed oblivious to the world around him. Touched by his devotion, we offered a humble dakshina as a token of appreciation and gratitude before continuing on our way.
There were numerous shrines along the way – Hanuman, Devi Mandir and the enchanting 𝐑𝐚𝐝𝐡𝐚 𝐊𝐫𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐧𝐚 𝐊𝐮𝐭𝐢𝐫, to name a few. Our eyes were captivated by a baby Krishna swaying on a swing outside a cottage, beckoning our attention. It felt like the perfect setting to offer a sacred hymn to Lord Sri Krishna, the eternal protector of the universe. The tranquil ambience of the village resonated deeply with us, and we were touched by the warm hospitality of a village woman who graciously invited us to record our song in her humble abode. Her joy at having a dancer choose her cottage as the ideal location for this divine offering melted our hearts and deepened our connection to the spiritual essence of the place.