Oct 15, 2012

Yatra- Amarkantak, the birth place of holy River Narmada

I am nostalgic about Madhya Pradesh again! Yeah, thought of posting one more destination from MP- a pilgrim center. Well, the very holy place Amarkantak. Located at the point where Vindhya and Satpura ranges meet Amarkantak is one of the lesser known pilgrim centers in India though it is the birth place of River Narmada and also river Sone.

One of the seven sacred rivers of India- River Narmada is considered to be the holiest and purest river. When Lord Shiva was performing the Tandava Nritya (the dance of cosmic destruction) the sweat from his body flowed down to earth forming the river. The river waters have such powers that even polluted river Ganga comes to river Narmada once a year, in the form of a black cow, and takes a dip to cleanse her accumulated sins. River Narmada is considered to be daughter of Lord Shiva and also known as Shankari. Whoever dies in Amarkantak will definitely find a place in heaven :) All Hindu gods, demons, sages and saints have achieved spiritual powers here.
I took a private bus from Jabalpur to Amarkantak which took almost 10 hrs to reach. And I had one evening to go around. That is because I had to return to Bangalore the very next day for a super urgent work! I came to know about this super urgent work only when I was half the way towards Amarkantak. I took a room in an Ashram which was clean and comfortable much like a hotel room. Then hired a taxi and started venturing around. The place has thick green forests. 

The main attraction here is Narmada Kund, that is Mata Narmada temple. The origin of river Narmada. It is one of the 51 Shaktipeethas. The temple is painted white and the reflection of the structure in the early morning light looks divine. Around this temple are many smaller shrines of Shiva, Vishnu, Lakshmi, Sooryanarayan and many others. The whole place has Shivalinga all over. I filled a small bottle with the water of Holy Narmada for my Mother. 

Interesting is an elephant statue. If you could squeeze your body through the gap between its front and hind legs it means you are free of sins!!! My taxi-driver said small skinny person like me could easily do it and I tried. I could not pass! Right in front me a huge guy squeezed himself through it :( Everybody around consoled me saying that I didn't try with devotion and also I am still very young to be free of sins!!!! I felt like jumping into the river Narmada right away!! Well, I didn't :)

Visited Jwaleshwar Mahadev temple 8KM from Amarkantak where the river Johila originates. The legend here is- Lord Shiva released a bana (arrow) to destroy Tripura (three cities) which belonged to demon King Banasura. The ashes of one city fell upon Mt Kailash, the other one was saved by Lord Shiva. The shattered pieces of the third city multiplied into crores and became shivalingas and fell over Amarkantak, the origin of River Narmada. And hence the name Bana Linga
Bana Linga is believed to be self-menifestation of Lord Shiva and are found in the river Narmada. The place where these crores of lingas fell on Maikal mountain is called Maha Rudra Meru. Bana Linga are formed by accumulation of quartz crystals and some gem stone material in an elliptical shape. I too bought a linga, I don't know if it is really genuine one! The only linga visible on the land is Jwaleshwar which is in the temple.

There is a newly built Amareshwar temple which is still under construction. Very near to Jwaleshwar Mahadev temple it looks like a big project with 10ft (looked so not sure about the exact number) tall Shivalinga.

Visited Sonemuda, the origin of river Sone. It seems gold dust was found in the waters of this river and hence the name Sone (gold). This place has a beautiful viewpoint from where one can see the beautiful valley and the forest. Nearby is Mai-ki-bagiya (garden of Goddess). It is believed that River Narmada in her human form enjoyed the nature here. It is a grove of flower and fruit bearing trees. But, the monkeys here are one big annoyance. I wonder how did the Goddess enjoyed dealing with these notorious monkeys! I left the place as the monkeys tried to greet me by pulling my bag, clothes and those babies climbing up on me as if I were a tree in Mai-ki-bagiya.

A bit away from the Narmada Kund is an interesting temple structure called Sri Yantra Maha Meru mandir which was closed for visitors. My taxi-driver advised me that it would better to see it from far. It looked like a much bigger structure was being built. There is another Sarvodaya Digamber Jain Temple which houses world's biggest ashtadhatu (8-metals) idol of Adinatha. I didn't have much time to cover it and also the waterfalls Kapiladhara.

On the side of Narmada Kund there is a gated complex which encloses ancient Kalachuri Temples. These temples are architectural feast to the tourists. The local legend says these temples were built by Pandava brothers from Hindu Epic Mahabharatha in a day during their exile. In the early morning light walking amidst these temples was a memorable experience. These are protected monuments under Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). Per ASI these temples were built by Kalachuri King Kamadeva between 1042-1072 AD.
Though I had made plans of spending more time in Amarkantak I had to leave early in the morning. I had to rush to the bus station to catch 9:00AM bus to Jabalpur. I had another 10 hour journey back to Jabalpur to catch a train to Bangalore! I was very tired. I ate two hot aloo-vada for breakfast before I got in to the bus. I was thinking about finishing the work in Bangalore asap, visit my parents for a day and get back to Nagpur from where I was about to go to Pench National Park, which is believed to have inspired Kipling to write the popular The Jungle Book.
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9 comments:

  1. Interesting place. Havent heard about it before. Nice captures too.


    http://rajniranjandas.blogspot.in

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    1. That is why I said it is lesser known pilgrim center. Thanks!

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  2. Captivating pics and repturous narration. You are indeed blessed to be able to visit suck remote pilgrimage spots.

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    1. Thank you Mr. Ramakrishnan. Yeah visiting Amarkantak was on top of my list!

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  3. Good post and great historical research.

    Photos also good

    thanks kusum

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  4. wonderful images...what a place...

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    1. Thanks! Yeah the place is awesome and wild!

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    2. Great for giving us an opportunity to know about our own India

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