Sunday, December 16, 2018

Northern Sojourn Day X: Omkareshwar

Indore was the last destination in my journey. On that cold morning, my train reached Indore junction at breakfast time. I was visiting Indore for second time. Unfortunately, like my first trip, there wasn’t much time left to see the city before I catch my next train to Bangalore - Just 12 hours.

I had to make a choice - either I roam around the city or go to Omkareshwar. After much thinking, I chose the latter. Unpacked my bag at railway’s retiring room, took a bath and went to bus stand.

Omkareshwar jyotirlinga temple is 80kms away from Indore. Even after adjusting for delays, I thought I had enough time for a round trip. I boarded an old bus and waited for it to start. 

After some thirty minutes its engine woke up and spat thick black smoke to air. This continued for a while. Slowly we left city limits and entered a highway. After a while, bus stopped near a local hotel so that travelers can have some food. Right after leaving from there we quickly came to a grinding halt. It took some two hours to traverse next three kilometers in super slow motion. If this traffic jam continues, then I might have to get down there and head back to Indore. Finally, after three long hours bus crossed that stretch and we regained the speed. 

We continued our journey through not so populated, dry areas. Around lunch time our bus reached Omkareshwar bus stand. From there shared autos were available to reach temple. I also jumped in to one such auto, travelled couple of kilometers and got down at river side. 

Omkareshwar jyotirlinga is located on the other bank of Narmada. I walked towards the river and reached boat jetty. From here pilgrims can take boats to reach the other side. I approached one such boat and enquired about the cost. Just to travel a small stretch (here river is very narrow), that also in a fully loaded boat they are charging 100!!! 

Suddenly I saw a bridge a little downstream. Used that one to reach the other side and walked towards the temple. What I saw next was a little disappointing – a long queue. If I joined the queue, there was no way I could reach Indore on time. Unexpectedly, I met one priest and he asked whether I want to go in directly without standing in the queue? I said yes. Then he told about special ticket and asked me to go along with him. I don’t remember how much I paid for that special ticket (in fact I didn’t get any printed ticket, so the money might have gone to his pocket).

On the way, he gave me a bucket full of water and walked fast towards sanctum. I followed. After reaching sanctum, he went to one side and asked me to go in. I was confused - whether to go inside or not? Because the entry queue was on the other side, and where I am standing was the exit. He told me to go on and pour the water on Jyotirlinga. I went in and did exactly as he told and came back. Suddenly, I had a doubt; did I see Jyotirlinga properly? Certainly not. After coming all the way – I don’t know whether I go to Indore again – going back without seeing the idol didn’t sound good. Hence, I went back and after a struggle saw Omkareshwar Mahadev and came back. By the way, even without paying him I think I could have gone through that way!!!
It won’t be true If I said I came back. In fact, I met that priest again, and he asked me to come to another side. I followed. He asked me to sit at a place. I did. He also sat there and started pooja. During the pooja he asked so many questions. 

If any priest from North/ Central/ East/ West India is reading this article, let me tell you something. Most of us from South (I don’t claim all) hardly have any concept of gothram and certainly we don’t remember the stars and months in Saka Calendar. We have our own calendars (even that we hardly remember!!!)  May be an astrologer might be able to tell. Hence, I ended up saying many ‘I don’t know’ as answers. 

Let me remind you about another incident which happened in Baroda railway station. Here I met a guy coming from Mumbai. He studied in BITS and currently working in Tata Chemicals. He was on his way to Delhi and stopped at Baroda to board another train. There he asked my name, I told. Then he asked my second name. I was a bit confused, to that day apart from filling government forms no one specifically asked for my second name. I always used initials. Well, I told him. He was more confused after hearing that. To this day I don’t know why he asked. Only logical explanation I can think of is, he wants to know about my caste. Well, I never used caste name, and from my second name one can’t figure out the caste. I may be wrong but that was the only explanation I was able to come up with, considering the context.
After pooja’s he asked me for dakshina. I enquired how much. He told me whatever I like. Then he suggested some figure close to thousand. That was another shock. Finally, dakshina came down to couple of hundreds. To this day, I don’t even know what that pooja was for. However, I am thankful to for showing a way to see the Jyotirlinga. 

Using bridge, I crossed back and went to temples on other side. Fortunately, there was a bus about to depart to Indore.  

On the way back, traffic came to a halt when we reached ghat section. It took hours to cross that stretch. 

Right after getting down at Indore bus stand, I ran towards railway station. Clock struck 8.20 PM. The person in charge of retiring rooms was very angry. As per him another customer was waiting and already complained about the delay in getting the room to higher ups. I didn’t see any one waiting there for the room. In any case I apologized for taking extra 20 minutes and vacated it immediately. 

While walking towards platform I wondered; due to delays by railways I lost one day in this journey, had to stay in a city which was not in plan, put my Jaipur trip in jeopardy. Millions of Indians are losing so many hours every day. Shouldn’t we also be angry with Railways? Anyway, it’s for another day another time.


Notes: Omkareshwar

Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga temple is in an island known as Mandhata in Narmada River. This place falls in Khandwa district of Madya Pradesh (approximately 80 kms from Indore town; 20 km from Mortakka). The island is 2.6 km2 in area and can be reached by boats and a narrow bridge.

Jyotirlinga temples are the most important Shiva temples. There are 12 Jyotirlinga temples,

1.   Viswanath (Varanasi- UP),
2.   Somnath (Gujarat),
3.   Nageswar (Dwarka - Gujarat)
4.   Mallikarjuna (Srisailam - Andhra Pradesh)
5.   Mahakaleswar (Ujjain -MP)
6.   Omkareshwar (Khandwa- MP)
7.   Kedarnath (Uttrakhand)
8.   Bhimashankar (Maharashtra)
9.   Grishneshwar (Aurangabad - Maharashtra),
10. Triambakeshwar (Nashik- Maharashtra),
11. Vaidyanath (Deogarh - Jharkhand)
12. Rameshwaram (Tamil Nadu).

Other temples located here are,
Adi Shankara's Cave - Omkareshwar is said to be the place where Sri Adi Sankara met his Guru Govindapada in a cave. This cave can be found just below Shiva temple where an image of Adi Shankara has been installed