Welcome to this spiritual and adventurous journey with me (Ameya A. Deshpande) – The Narmada Parikrama (circumambulate Narmada)

||नर्मदे हर||
Circumambulating river Narmada or as they say Narmada parikrama ... a spiritual cum adventurous journey !!
Sounds interesting...Isn't it ? So when my dad proposed for this , I volunteered almost immediately. As they say that by taking your parents for such spiritual tour helps one to gather some Good Karmas (Punya)  and I desperately needed some J
So off we started on nice winter morning from Pune by my i20 car......

I will be describing this fantastic journey day wise as I experienced it. Along with technical details of distances, times , road conditions ,few or many pictures , stories of the places and ofcourse my personal experiences.
Hopefully publishing one day experience of the Parikrama on each day.

Day 1 – 22nd January 2011

|| नर्मदे हर ||

A brief about Narmada Parikrama:
It is believed that walking around sources of positive energy would charge one with the same positive energy. So the system of doing a Parikrama - walking around in a clockwise circle – of elders, gurus, saints, temples, deities, holy sites like holy hills, holy lakes .
As Narmada is a river worrshipped in India parikrama(or pradakshina) around it charges us with the energy of river Narmada.
A parikrama is to go around the river without crossing it anytime and keeping the river always to right hand side.
Ideally it is done walking , but since it take couple of months , so we decided to do it by my car.

Our route of Parikrama
Day 1-
Date : 22nd January 2011
Start : Pune
End  : Jalgaon
Distance : 400 km

Started our journey from Pune on 22nd January 2011 , first halt to Jalgaon at my Granny place.
This was to take blessings from her.

 On 23rd Jan my relatives bid us a farewell and helped us make a grand start.

Date : 23rd January 2011
Start  : Jalgaon (Maharashtra)
End : Omkareshwar (Madhya Pradesh)
Distance : 229km

Our Narmada Parikrama start was supposed to be from Omkareshwar. On the way from Jalgaon to Omkareshwar we decided to visit a holy place called "Muktai Nagar"
There are 2 temples , old and the new one. These are of Muktai , the sister of saint Dyaneshwar.The new temple is in a large and very pleasant area. Felt quite pleasant to start with the 1st temple of our journey.

Old and New Muktai temple


From Omkareshwar - Bhusawal - MuktaiNagar via Indore road - Barhanpur - Sanawad to Omkareshwar.
A drive of 230km from Jalgaon to Omkareshwar.

At Omkareshwar we stayed in "Gajanan Maharaj Bhakta Niwas".
A fantastic dharmashala. Spacious , clean and very pleasant.
The Gajanan Maharaj temple is beautiful.

Mamleshwar-Omkareshwar is 4th of the 12 JYOTIRLINGAS.
A very sacred place for Hindus.

Here there are 2 Shiv temples viz.Mamleshwar on south cost of Narmada river and Omkareswar on the island in the river. There is a debate as to which is the actual Jyotirlinga ,Mamleshwar or Omkareshwar. Hence 1st everyone has to worship Mamleshwar and then across the bank to Omkareshwar.
There is a huge dam here on Narmada river.
Its a nice place with several 'ghats' (steps to reach the river) , many shops selling Narmadeshwar and different worship items.

On 24th Jan '11 early morning along with Jitendra shastri (a learned hindu scholar) we did Jalabhishek to Omkareshwar and then on south coast at Gomukh ghat did Sankalpa pooja to start our parikrama.
I shaved off my head and beared then bathed in the cold river water.
Now this was quite a different experience for me . My head suddenly felt chilly cold in morning times while burning hot during afternoon sun :)

During the sankalpa pooja we also worshipped the 'Kumarika's' (unmarried girls)
and offered sweet Sheera as prasad.

By 11am we left Omkareshwar for Badwani

Day 2 – 24th January 2011

|| नर्मदे हर ||

Date : 24th January 2011
Start : Omkareshwar (Madhya Pradesh)
End  : Badwani
Distance : 182 km
After completing the 'Sankalpa' pooja at Omkareshwar we left for our next halt , Badwani.
Route :- Omkareshwar - Sanawad - Bedia - Khargon - Julbania - Badwani.

The road was quite good

Bedia is 4th largest red chilli producer...the whole land was completely red covered with chillies left for drying.

Some 11km after Bedia there is a small village named 'Uun'.

We saw a very old 'Hemadpanthi' Shiv temple.It was in quite a broken state

We reached Badwani by 5pm.

At Badwani we went to see Raj Ghat on the banks of river narmada.

The river bank here is not so clean.

There are temples of Ekmukhi Dutta (एकमुखी दत्त) and

Panchamukhi Ganesha (पंचमुखी गणपती ).

Had a quite pleasant evening on the banks of Narmada.
Overnight stay was in a Gurudwara (temple of Sikh)

Day 3 – 25th January 2011

|| नर्मदे हर ||

Date : 25th January 2011
Start : Badwani
End  : Shahada
Distance :  166 km
Stay at Badwani in the Gurudwara was a nice one.It was 1st time I was in a Gurudwara. It was clean and peaceful.
We also attended the evening prayer there.
Then early morning started from Badwani.

Around 10km from Badwani there is
a place called Bawan Gaj (बावन गज ).

There is a 84 feet tall idol of Jain lord Adinath.

 Quite a beautiful place to visit with multicoloured

 (बोगनवेल) flowers blossmed.

Our today's rout was Badwani - Shahada Naka - Niwali - Khetia - Shahada.
Some patch of the road was extremely bad and at times drove at snails pace.

By noon we parked near a small rivlet to cook food
 (चुलीवर जेवण)

By afternoon reached Prakasha which is a religious place in Nardurbar district.

Here is a Shiv temple which is also known as
Dakshin Kaashi (दक्षिण काशी). Also Pushpadanteshwar (पुष्पदंतेश्वर) temple.

It is believed that whoever does Kaashi Yaatra (काशी यात्रा) completes it by finally visiting these 2 temples.
There is also a 27 gate dam built on the river here. At Prakasha it is a sangam of 3 rivers (त्रिवेणी संगम) Taapi, Pulinda and Gomati.

Overnight stay was at Shahada at Jain palace.

Day 4 – 26th January 2011

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Date : 26th January 2011
Start : Shahada
End  : Katpor
Distance :  218 km

Route : Shahada - Ankaleshwar - Katpor. The road is new and excellent.

Left Shahada early morning . Now we entered Gujarat state
and we could immediately see Industrialised India.

Heavy truck traffic , various industries all around ,
 super road conditions was prominently noted.

Katpor is a very small village which is on sea coast where Narmada meets the sea.
It is here where Parikramawasi catches a boat and travels through the sea to embark on Northen bank of river Narmada. This way the river is not crossed.
Had some trouble finding the Dharmashala run by Gopal Krishna Swami.
Infact when I saw it from some distance
I felt it was some kinnda storage godown .
It is a single floor building built out of nowhere
amidst barren land which resembled a salt pan.
Some 6 bare halls with just one bulb in each hall.
In front of this building a small temporary shed which was made for cooking.
Thats it - no more facilities and it all seemed nothing intresting.

On top when we reached we came to know that the boat had not left since 3 days and had no idea how long we will need to stay here till the boat takes us to other shore.
As per the local rules the boats won't start till they have around 80 passengers to fill the 2 boats. And apart from the Parikrama people (परिक्रमावासी) no other people venture this route.
Strange and over talkative people all over.All Saadhu Santa Babas around.
Shock shock shock to someone impatient like me.

We spread our mats in one of the hall. I was in my thoughts as what would I do till the time of stay here.
Some time passed and when I came out of my thoughts I saw that my mom was already in between the ladies in the so called kitchen making rotis and singing bhajan along wth them. I saw my dad along with other parikramawasi's helping in construction work.
This gave me lots of hope and i decided to come out of my shell and mingle with all these people.
I enthusiastically went to help in the construction work.
Since I was the only one with mobile (and luckily having network range) the other parikramawasi's who wished to talk with there families lined up to me :)
It was a sweet feeling helping them talk to there families and see cute smile on there faces.

We then walked upto the sea(creek) to have a review of situation

We saw the boats anchored in the marshy land.
I kept wondering how these big boats will be finally floating carrying the parikramawasi with it.

Back to our den , the food was ready.
Everyone said prayers of Narmada (नर्मदाष्टक व नर्मदा आरती).
The dinner consisted of liquid Dal cum vegetable , rice , thick rotis and a sweet sheera. Very spicy hot.

Since we were carrying only paper plates , one of the Sadhu sweetly offered us 3 spare thalis.

All together with other parikramawasi we had dinner in open under the dark sky densly packed with stars.

Then came the good news which I was waiting for ; the quota of 80 people was complete and 2 boats were ready to leave the next morning during high tide.
I took up the responsibility of making 2 list of people for the 2 boats.
Then arrived the main Swami Gopal Krishna. All of us lined up and paid the boat fees and our papers stamped for record purpose.
Rs.90/- for Parikramawasi travelling by foot and Rs.120/- for Parikramawasi like us doing it by vehicle.
Once all this completed went to my space of the mat to sleep.
Had to get up at 4.00am as the boats were supposed to leave by 5am.
Tired by hard work in the day it was matter of few minutes before sleep took over :)

Day 5 – 27th January 2011

Date : 27th January 2011
Start : Katpor - Mithitalai
End  : Nareshwar
Distance :  202 km

Day started at 4.00am at the Gopal krishna Dharmashala. Everyone was getting ready to catch the boat.
Taking bath in open in the cold was a fun.
Till rest members got ready , I accompanied Narendra swami to Koteshwar temple as he wanted to visit his Guru before leaving.

By 5.30am all were at the sea shore. The water in creek was slowly rising at it was quite some time till the tide reaches the boats.
Everyone was shivering with cold. Narendra swami , myself and one more young member decided to walk back to the aashram to prepare some hot tea for all.
By now I was experienced in lighting the chul (चूल) :)

On getting some hot tea all gave us good blessings. Some people gathered dry bushes and made a campfire to fight the cold.
It was almost 8am when the tide was at a good level. Now was the daunting task to push these large 2 boats in the waters. The mud was quite slippery and the boats were heavy.
All men joined and with a chorus of Narmade Har (नर्मदे हर च्या जालोशात) we pushed the boats in water.

I was standing almost in feet deep mud and helping mom and dad and rest all to get into the boats.
Standing there I clicked lots of snaps of these Parikramawasis traveling by boat.
I knew I was gonna miss the fun and thrill of the boat , but I had to get my car across to other end before the boat reached.
The boats sailed through the sea almost a distance of 70km in around 4.5 hours.

After dispatching the boats I cleaned myself of the mud and the drove to Mithitalai which is on the North bank of the creek where Narmada river meets the sea.
Route : Katpor - Ankaleshwar - (then over the long Narmada bridge) to Baruch - Jageshwar - Mithitalab or Mithitalai.

Mithitalai is a small temple and has a well near it. Once these parikramawasi embark on this bank they have to again cross the knee deep mud to come to the shore. They all got cleaned themselves up at this well.
I pulled water by bucket from the well to help all clean themselves.

Mom and dad really enjoyed the boat journey. Mom also offered prayer (ओटी भरली) during the boat journey.
After having lunch there we drove to Nareshwar which is around 150km.
Route : Mithitalai - Baruch ( Badoda highway ) till Pillaz and take a right under the bridge to go to Nareshwar.

Nareshwar is a scenic place on banks of Narmada.
The river here is wide calm and clean.
We stayed in the beautiful Aashrama of Rangavdhoot Swami (रंगावधूत स्वामींचा मठ).
It was a very calm peaceful place. Beautiful garden.Very quite and calm.
Many parrots ,owls , squirrles around.

There were many flower shops selling thick garlands of fresh roses.
On enquiring came to know that there were large fields of roses around.
The place was filled with fragnance of roses.
I brought a nice garland of rose for the car :)

Day 6 – 28th January 2011

|| नर्मदे हर ||

Date : 28th January 2011
Start : Nareshwar
End  : Kukshi
Distance :  287 km

Now early morning bath in cold river water was a normal start of the day :)
The scenice beauty was awsome.My camera had a good feast of the scenice beauty ; the still water , the rising golden yellow sun. Just amazing !!

We left for Kukshi . On the way at a small town Kayavarohan we visited a amazing Bhrahmeshwar temple.
It is 1st time I saw a temple with 3 layers/floors each depicting one era (लोक).
On the top most (or ground level) is Shiv lok (शिव लोक) ,
Below it is Brahma Lok (ब्रह्मं लोक)
At lowermost level is Vishnu lok (विष्णू लोक).

On the Shiv lok floor there is a Shiv ling (शिवलिंग).
There are paintings all around explaining various Yoga postures and Hand Mudras (हस्त मुद्रा).
Also statues of Gayatri Devi, Suryanarayan, Lakulish etc. which are forms of Shiva.
On the below level is Brahma Lok (ब्रह्मं लोक)
with beautiful statues of his forms (अवतार) viz.Narada Muni (नारद मुनी),Kamalasan ,Viranchi etc.
And lower most level of  Vishnu Lok (विष्णू लोक)  with his forms - Lord Ram, Lord Krishna,His sons -Pradyumna,Anirrudha etc.
A very informative temple , beautiful and very clean. Made it a point to revisit this place once again some day later in life.

On the way then went to Tembeswami Kuti (टेंबे स्वामी कुटी) at Tilakwada and then to Garudeshwar.
Here is a famous Dutta temple (दत्त  मंदिर) on the banks of river Narmada ,a panaromic place.
Sardar Sarovar a famous dam on the river
Narmada is very near from this place.
At sardar sarovar there is a Hydro electric generation. Had a short visit to this dam.

Then drove to a small town called Kukshi via Alirajpur. Nothing worth mentioning about Kukshi. Just as any other small town you will find in India.