Narmada Parikrama Yatra : A spiritual journey beckons


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Narmada Parikrama Yatra

One of the five holy Indian rivers, Narmada, the fifth longest river and longest west-flowing river in India is highly revered by Hindu devotees. Originating in the holy town of Amarkantak in the heart of India, Madhya Pradesh, its religious significance dates back to ancient times and even finds mention in Hindu scriptures like the Matsya Purana. Legend has it that the sacred river sprung from Lord Shiva. Expanding in the Maikal hills of Madhya Pradesh, Narmada flows westwards through the heart of the country, all the way to Bharuch in Gujarat, where it empties into the Arabian Sea.

Along the banks of this holy river, which stretches across 2,600 km, are seated many significant religious sites. Pilgrims visit these sites for 'pradakshina' or 'parikrama,' a ceremonious journey around sacred shrines in the clockwise direction. River Narmada is hailed as the only river that boasts of the tradition of a pilgrimage or yatra by circumambulating the river from source to sea and back.

Narmada Yatra by Madhya Pradesh's Department of Tourism caters for two parikrama trails - one begins in Jabalpur while the other starts at Indore or Bhopal. Starting at Jabalpur, the pilgrims head to Amarkantak first, a renowned Hindu pilgrimage site, also home to Narmadeshwar temple, the holy spot from where the holy river Narmada originates. Another stop on the Narmada Yatra is at one of the holiest and most ancient cities in India, Ujjain, also popular for its mention in the epic Mahabharata and the Kumbh Mela. The yatra also takes one to Omkareshwar, the sacred city of the great Lord Shiva, and Maheshwar, a 2500-year-old historical city replete with temples dedicated to Lord Shiva before commencing the return journey.

The journey that begins in Indore-Bhopal takes you through a scenic route encompassing Omkareshwar, Barwani, Rajpipla, Vamleshwar, Mithi Talai, Jhabua, Mandu, Maheshwar, Ujjain, Salkanpur, Jabalpur, Amarkantak, Mandla, Kareli and Hoshangabad before circling back to its starting point at Omkareshwar. Completing the pilgrimage circuit is critical to the yatra, which takes a total of 14 days and 15 nights.

The Tourism Department of Madhya Pradesh has announced the Narmada Parikrama tour/ yatra with the purpose of establishing a religious journey throughout the state along the banks paying homage to the sacred river, Mother Narmada.

In the course of the tour, the holy river appears stronger, swelling in its width and breadth. While flowing through various settlements, hamlets, hills and forests, River Narmada bestows powerful blessings on both sides with richness and prosperity. Finally, it merges with the great Arabian Sea near Bharuch in Gujarat. For its abundant blessings, the river is hailed as the holy mother whom devotees come from far and wide to worship.

It is said that Lord Shiva blessed Narmada by granting all her wishes and also blessed her to remain maiden and flow freely and purely forever, making this river supremely sacred to Hindu devotees in India.