Someone returning from a trip – “Sarika and Omkareshwar”
Sarika our neighbor came one fine morning, to give Prasad to us that she had brought from Omkareshwar. We knew that Sarika was very fond of travelling and had visited most of the places in the world both in India, as well as abroad. She believed that “Travel” is the most effective way to grow mentally, physically as well as emotionally. When we asked her about her trip, she was more than happy to narrate to us about her spiritual journey to Omkareshwar- a place of worship in MP.
Madhya Pradesh got its name Madhya known as “Middle” it is a big state located in India. It has its own rich culture and heritage , it has the world famous temples of “Khajuraho”, the rich soil of Malwa plateau, it is nourished by the vast flowing deep river “Narmada”, has its dense forests , also it adorns the “Chambal” ghati and holds to its pride the Lord Shiva’s “Mahakaal” temple in Ujjain . Yes, Madhya Pradesh is indeed an experience of a lifetime. Madhya Pradesh has always attracted tourists from all over the world for its beauty , spirituality, at times also education in its city “Indore – known has mini Bombay “ famous for good education in medical and engineering fields.
Sarika had visited “Omkareshwar temple”in Madhya Pradesh. Its listed in one of the Jyotirlings and its considered as a holy shrine of Lord Shiva.
Its around 12 kms from Barwaha , the hometown of Sarika. She had visited her hometown with her sister Karishma. They planned to visit Omkareshwar , 2 days after they reached Barwaha. On the day of visit, both the sisters got up early in the morning, had their tea, took bath, got ready and straightway headed for the local bus stop at 8 in the morning. Buses to Omkareswar though have frequent service, but as the day moves on it becomes very hot, so its wise to travel early. Both Sarika and Karishma boarded the bus and luckily got a good seat. The bus after moving for around 10 mins stopped at a local vendor shop for breakfast and tea. Since both the sisters did not have breakfast they got down for breakfast which comprised of delicious Poha (beaten rice) with Sev , Jalebi (sweet) and tea. It’s a local speciality breakfast liked by whole of Madhya Pradesh, which is not only light on stomach but also filling as well.
After gulping down the breakfast both the sisters sat in the bus again and the bus headed towards its journey. There were Lord Shiva’s bhajans (hymns) being played in the bus , which were quite soothing and were also complimenting the beautiful route outside. The Omkareshwar Barwaha route was adorned with huge and dense trees on both the ends. There were bullock carts on the way and the weather was also very cool . The scenery outside was mesmerising as nature was flooded by its natural beauty all over. After a while one could see the bridge , with Narmada river flowing swiftly. Both the sisters were enjoying the scenic beauty. Narmada is the longest river that flows through entire Madhya Pradesh cascading through Omkareshwar, Ujjain, and the entire valley. After monsoons , its flow becomes very dense and the bridges are marked once it reaches above the danger level. Thankfully, that wasn’t the monsoon time so nothing much to be worried .
As the bus moved ahead, they could sense that their destination was not far off as they could see the holy monks in their saffron attires, various Ashrams (holy places to live), lot of colourful garlands, clothes, offerings , curd , milk and sweet shops where Prasad was sold…. It took a while when the bus stopped at Omkareshwar bus stop. The driver and conductor asked all the passengers to get down. Sarika and Karishma too, took their belongings and headed for the shrine. They had to cross the footover bridge above the river Narmada to reach the temple. Walking across the bridge was in itself a pleasurable experience. It was a huge bridge with devotees, people sellings cocunuts and garlands sitting on either side. Also, there were photographers , who were asking the tourists and the visitors if they wanted a click with river and beautiful temple sight in the background. Once the sisters crossed the bridge, they climbed down the stairs to take holy dip in the water. After having the dip, they changed their clothes and climbed up to buy Prasad and garlands for offering at the temple. They also bought milk, curd and coconut which is supposed to be the favourite offering of Lord Shiva. They headed towards the main temple and came across the huge line of devotees which they had to also join in order to take darshan of the Lord. The huge waiting line comprised of nearly 100 devotees and there seemed to be no scope to reach the main gate of the temple till waiting period of 1 hour atleast. WELL, they say, these are the small tests that the devotees have to go through , so the two sisters had to anyways spend their time waiting. They deviated their minds by talking to other devotees, seeing the beautiful scenery around , the beautiful shops of bangles, ear-rings , hair clips for the women. There were shops adorning the worship items like Shivlings (idols of Lord Shiva) made of stones in different colours, camphor and incense sticks, coloured vermilions to be applied by married ladies, sandlewood, small temple models for worship in homes, toys for kids and a lot of other items. The two sisters did some shopping for themselves.
After striving for nearly an hour, drenched in sweat and little pain in their backs they were able to reach the main temple gate. They handed over their offerings to the local priest called “Pujari” of the temple who put the offerings, massaged milk and curd on Lord Shiva’s idol and returned back the Prasad to them.
Both the sisters were happy and contented and they offered their prayers to seek blessings from Lord Shiva. It was almost afternoon by that time, so the two sisters instead of going back home decided to rest there itself. For their lunch, they went to a nearby “dhaba” (restaurant”)serving hot chapattis with spicy curry and curd. They treated themselves with lassi (drink made of curd) after their lunch. As it was quite a tiring day they decided to take a short nap at the nearby ashram at the river bank. The rooms of the Ashram were neat and clean and they were welcomed by sweet smell of the incense sticks and holy chants by the Sadhus. Everyone in the Ashram appeared to be very busy, some in carrying out their rituals, some in cleaning up the premises, some in usual talks, while others in having a glimpse around . They rested in the Ashram and by the time they got up it was early evening.
They decided to go for a boat ride in the river as there were lots of boats around and people were enjoying boat rides. The person, a trained swimmer as well, took them in a big boat and promised to show them around the entire river bank and all the nearby temples around. As the sun was about to set the atmosphere was again in uplifting spirits of worship. The temples started preparing for the evening Arti of river Narmada. Hundreds of lamps were made ready to be put as offering in river after holy Arti. Both the sisters after their boat trip decided to stay back for “Arti” as well.
At the auspicious time, the crowds pulled up again and there were sweet smell of camphor and incense all around. The sound of temple bells seemed to be all around the holy place ,as if uniting everyone as a single entity. After the Arti was over, devotees put beautiful mud lamps along with coconuts and garlands as their holy offering in the river. It became dark, and river Narmada shined like a beautiful lady wearing a long beautiful black night gown, flooded with thousands of golden pearls shining in form of mud lamps called “diyas” . It looked beautiful as well a bit scary, as at night due to the lunar effect of the moon causes the waves to rise and the flow becomes very intense.
Anyways , the whole environment was surrounded by beauty, spirituality and mysticism. Omkareshwar has been the land of mystics, mysteries, natural beauty and spirituality and from time immemorial has attracted people from all over the world.
The whole place was so amazing that the two sisters never wanted to leave, but they had to as the last bus was about to leave. So with heavy hearts and nostalgia in their memories they said goodbye to LORD SHIVA, to NARMADA river and to the entire amazing place and headed towards their bus.
Such beautiful was the description of Omkareswar , we felt that next time whenever we get a chance we will surely visit the place. Afterall, Omkareshwar had now become a part of our hearts and lives as well….