[Advaita-l] Trip to jyotirlinga-s

Ramesh Krishnamurthy rkmurthy at gmail.com
Tue Mar 14 07:26:34 CST 2006

Sri Sanjay Srivastava wrote:

> religious practices (here also I am not sure if "soma" used in vedic yAga
> was really an intoxicant) or accepted by shishTAchAra (such as kAla-bhairava
> temple in Ujjain).
This is an unrelated point, but I felt that some of our members might
be interested. I visited Ujjain last year towards the end of the
SrAvaNa mAsa. At that time I was in Bhopal on an assignment and took
the opportunity to visit some of the shrines in western MP.

>From Bhopal, we went directly to Omkareshwar (oMkAreSvara), one of the
jyotirlinga-s. This is a very small town on the banks of the narmadA,
but of prime importance in our dharmic history, for it was here that
Adi Sankara met his guru Sri govindapAda. The narmadA breaks up into
two and rejoins, forming an island that is shaped like the OM symbol
in devanAgarI. The island is quite large (about 3 km in
circumference), so the shape is not readily apparent from close range.
Perhaps it would be more apparent if one looks at it from one of the
nearby hilltops, or from the air.

The main temple is at the foot of the island, right next to the river,
where we made the usual offering of bilva leaves. There are 2 bridges
(motor vehicles not allowed) connecting the mainland with the island,
one on each side of the temple. With the 2 suspension bridges, the
place is like a scaled-down replica of Rishikesh, with its famous rAm
jhUlA and laxmaN jhUla bridges.

And whats more, the place teems with saMnyAsI-s. Other than Rishikesh,
which I visited 5 years back, I haven't seen any other place so full
of saMnyAsI-s. Even Varanasi pales in comparison.

Next to the temple is the cave where Adi Sankara met his guru SrI
govindapAda. The greatest incidents happen in the unlikeliest of
places! Possibly, the presence of the jyotirlinga and the relative
isolation of the place made it a favorite haunt of saMnyAsI-s since
time immemorial.

It is a traditional practice to complete a parikramA around the island
by boat. But a dam is being constructed upstream and a parikramA is
currently not possible. So we just had an "up-down" trip by boat. It
is not clear whether a parikramA would be possible once the
construction is over.

>From Omkareshwar, we proceeded downstream to Maheshwar. The Narmada
here is much wider and very beautiful. Rani Ahilyabai Holkar of
Indore, who famously rebuilt the kASI viSvanAtha temple in Varanasi
after its destruction by Aurangzeb, ruled her kingdom out of Maheshwar
after the death of her husband. There is a beautiful rAja-rAjeSvara
temple here, apart from a temple attached to Rani Ahilya's palace (the
palace itself looks rather spartan, though the temple is quite
impressive) on the right bank of the Narmada. There is also a small
shrine in the middle of the Narmada, with atleast 200-250m of water on
both sides!

We proceeded to Mandu, which has some old forts, and finally reached
Ujjain (home to the mahAkAleSvara temple, another of the
jyotirlinga-s), dead tired, at around 10 pm. We checked into a hotel,
whose name I forget, but which had a restaurant very appropriately
named 'naivedyam'! The hotel manager suggested that we should plan to
reach the temple before 3 am if we wanted the morning darshan! So we
got up at around 1:30 am, had a bath, and proceeded to the temple.
When we reached there, there was already a huge crowd waiting.
Nevertheless, we were in a good position to enjoy the famous
bhasmAratI here. The temple is quite large (not just the compound but
the main shrine itself) and there was enough place for us to sit for
more than an hour and observe the proceedings. Part of the process was
the alankAra (decoration) of the linga, which was done using a saffron
coloured powder (not sure what it actually was), apart from other
materials. Basically, a 'face' was drawn on the linga and it looked
really beautiful. Then, the alankAra was abruptly removed and the the
linga was covered in bhasma.

After the exhilarating darshan, we went to the banks of the river
kShiprA (site of the Ujjain kuMbha melA), spent about 30 min there,
and returned to our hotel. After a couple of hours of rest, we were
back on the road to Bhopal.

With oMkAreSvara and mahAkAleSvara, I've covered 6 of the
jyotirlinga-s, the other 4 being kASI viSvanAtha (Varanasi),
tryaMbakeSvara (near Nashik in Maharashtra), somanAtha (Somnath in
Gujarat) and nAgeSvara (near dvArakA in Gujarat). Among these,
nAgeSvara is not very well known and is probably not regarded as a
jyotirlinga by everyone. The problem of course is that there are more
than 12 temples that claim to be one of the 12 jyotirlinga-s! For
example, there are several vaidyanAtha-s, the most famous being
Baidyanathdham (Deoghar) in Jharkhand and Parli Vaijnath in


PS: Hope the members found this mail interesting. It may not have
added much to our understanding of dharma and moksha, but I hope the
moderators find it acceptable.

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list