Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga resides on the island of Mandhata or Shivapuri in the Narmada river. The island is said to be in the shape of the Hindu symbol ॐ.
The island hosts two Shiva temples, one is the Omkareshwar itself and the other is the Amareshwar, which means the Immortal lord or the Lord of Immortals or Devas.
In the sloka of Dwadash Jyotirlinga, Mamleshwar, the other name of Amareshwar, is the Jyotirlinga. However, most of the people consider both Omkareshwar and Mamleshwar equally sacred and consider them to be the jyotirlinga at this place.
Legends and history of Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga
According to Hindus, the deity controlling the Vindyachal mountain, Vindya, was worshipping Shiva to free himself of all the sins that he had committed. To please the lord, the created a sacred geometrical diagram and a Lingam made of sand and clay, and he was successful in doing so. Shiva is said to have appeared in two forms there: Omkareshwar and Amaleswara. As the mud formed Om, the island was known as Omkareshwar.
In the island, there is a shrine for Parvati and five-faced Ganapati.
There is another legend related to the temple. It is said that King Mandhata of Ikshvaku clan (the ancestor of Lord Ram) was a great devotee of Lord Shiva, and he kept praying till Lord Shiva manifested himself as a Jyotirlinga. Moreover, some scholars also claim that Mandhata’s children – Ambarish and Muchukunda – practiced several reparation and severities to please Lord Shiva. Thus, the mountain was named Mandhata.
Another story claims that there was a great war between the Asuras and the demons, and the demons had won that war. As the Asuras lost, they prayed to Lord Shiva with great severity. Pleased with them, Lord Shiva emerged in the form of Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga and overpowered the Danavas.
Also, the Adi Shankara’s cave, Omkareshwar, is also the place where Sri Adi Shankara met Guru Govindapada in a cave. Even today, the visitors can find the cave below the temple where the image of Adi Shankara is mounted.
Another legend states that sage Narada provoked Vindhya mountain by teasing him that Mount Meru is more important than Vindhya mountain. To prove Narada wrong, he prayed to Lord Shiva and was granted the wish to be greater than Meru. The Lingam that was worshiped by Vindhya was spread across two lingams, one being the Omkareshwar and the other being the Mamaleshwar.
Structure of Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga
The Omkareshwar temple takes the shape of Nagara style, and the most important feature of the temple is the lofty Shikhara. To enter the temple, one has to pass through two rooms. The Omkareshwar is naturally installed in the area, with water flowing all the time across it. One other important feature is that the linga is not below the cupola, instead, it is on the top of the temple.
The temple attracts worshippers on the day of Kartik Poornima.