Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh
The Omkareshwar Temple is one of the Jyotirlingas, one of twelve Hindu temples of particularly special importance to the deity Shiva. It is traditionally the fourth temple of the list, though not necessarily in either importance or in order to be visited. Per the Jyotirlinga legend, Shiva appeared on the spot as a beam of light. The Omkareshwar Temple commemorates a number of major events of Hindu legend, most notably a battle between the Lord Shiva and a demon. Of all the Jyotirlinga it is the one most centrally located in the Indian subcontinent.
The island of Mandhata, the whole of which is considered a sacred site with numerous temples, is in the midst of the Narmada River. The entire island enjoys a very long history of human habitation as well as a very long sacred past. It is a focal point of the Narmada River which itself is considered one of India’s most important sacred waterways.
Several Hindu legends are connected to the island. One is an involved story about the known as the Vindhya, which prayed to Shiva to grow larger than a rival mountain. While Vindhya did not grow as large as this other mountain, it became prominent enough on the island to later accommodate two great temples.
Shiva also made several appearances here, including the one in which he granted Vindhya’s boon. Most famous is the tale in which a demon named Danavas defeated Devas in battle. However Devas prayed to Shiva, who came, battled and defeated Danavas. His incarnation Omkareshwar emerged from this encounter.
Thanks to its (relatively) safe position on an island, the temples of Mandhata have weathered the centuries somewhat better than other sacred sites during the various invasions that ravaged Central India. While the Omkareshwar Temple is named as the Jyotirlinga here, that is technically not true. The Omkreshwar Temple honors the incarnation of Shiva. The nearby Mamleshwar Temple is the actual temple of the Jyotirlinga.
The Mamleshwar Temple is one of the older of the Jyotirlinga temples, though the scars of reconstructions and renovations are evident. Some work was done relatively recently in order ro make access into and out of the temple easier. The main tower is a fairly simple affair of tan brick with minimal ornamentation, at least compared to the other Joytirlingas.
Nevertheless there is some exquisite sculpture work on both the inside and the outside of the the temple. The shrine inside is relatively small, but the sanctuary has an intimate look and feel that is surprising for such an important sacred site.
The Mamleshwar Temple actually stands across the Narmada River from Mandhata Island, approximately 280 miles northeast of Mumbai. It faces the Omkareshwar Temple on the island, with which it is often confused. As of this writing no other visitor information was available. Web: http://shriomkareshwar.org (official website).
Because they are so closely tied together, the Mamleshwar Temple and Omkareshwar Temple are often mistaken for one another. The other major shrine on the island is the Amareshwar Temple, dedicated to the Lord of the Immortals.