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Rivers of India: The Narmada

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Narmada River
| Amarkantak | Bhedaghat | Omkareshwar | Maheshwar |

The Legend: Once Lord Shiva meditated so hard that he started perspiring. Shiva’s sweat accumulated in a tank and started flowing in the form of a river – the Narmada. Another legend has it that two teardrops that fell from the eyes of Lord Brahma, yielded two rivers – the Narmada and the Sone.

Narmada River map

Covering a distance of 1,312 km, the Narmada makes its journey from Narmada Kund in Amarkantak (Madhya Pradesh) to the Arabian Sea. The most sacred river after the Ganga, Narmada is the fifth largest river in the Indian subcontinent. It divides the country into two; separating North India and the Deccan plateau. The river flows westwards charting its course to Mandla and then winding through the silvery marble rocks gorge of Bhedaghat.

The river then meanders through Omkareshwar and Maheshwar in Madhya Pradesh before entering Gujarat where it merges into the Gulf of Cambay (Khambat), 50 km west of Bharuch.  

Narmada is one of the sacred rivers and is believed that by taking a dip in the holy river, a person is freed from the sins of his life and he attains salvation. The Narmada finds mention in ancient texts and is one of the seven most sacred rivers in the country. The river is considered as the Goddess and is worshiped in India. There are numerous places of tourist and religious importance on the banks of the river. Here are some of the important places of tourist interest located along the banks of the Narmada.


Amarkantak in Madhya Pradesh is the source of the Narmada and Sone rivers. It is situated at an altitude of 1065 meters at the junction of the Vindhya and the Satpura mountain ranges. Amarkantak is a popular pilgrim centre for the Hindus in the central India. Amarkantak is located on the highest hill of the area and offers stunning views.

No wonder Amarkantak is blessed by Nature. Holy ponds, forested surroundings, lofty hills, breathtakingly beautiful waterfalls and an ever-pervading air of serenity make Amarkantak a popular destination for the religiously inclined as well as for the nature-lover. The famous poet Kalidasa mentions Amarkantak as Amarkoot, where he instructs the cloud messenger to visit it on his way to Mt. Kailasa.

Amarkantak is also known as Teerthraj or the ‘the king of pilgrimage’. It was once the home of Gods. Today a large number of temples dot the area. Guru Gorakhnath Temple, Sri Shuryanarayan Temple, Vangeshwar Mahadev Temple, Durga Temple, Siddheswar Mahadev Temple and Sri Radha Krishna Temple are situated at the base of the Narmada Kund. Not too far from Narmada Kund is Sonmuda, which is the origin of river Sone. Sonmuda is also popular as a sunset point. Just one kilometer away from Narmada Kund is the beautiful garden of Mai ki Bagiya from where Goddess Narmada is said to have plucked flowers.

Reaching Amarkantak: Jabalpur, 228 km and Raipur, 230 km away are nearest airports. Pendra Road on the KatniBilaspur section of the South-Eastern Railway is the nearest railway station, which 42 km away. Regular bus services connect Amarkantak with Shahdol, Umaria, Rewa, Jabalpur and Bilaspur.

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Bhedaghat is an important town on the banks of the Narmada. After cascading down the Amarkantak, the holy river passes through Bhedaghat, which is known for its marble rocks. The marble rocks at Bhedaghat rise to more than hundred feet on either side of the Narmada. These white rocks with views of black and dark green volcanic seams offer a majestic view. It is such a pleasure to enjoy the sight of the rocks during moonlit nights when they produce a magical effect.

No wonder, Marble Rocks are the main attraction in Bhedaghat. One can enjoy the fascinating sight of these limestone rocks on a moonlit night. Boating on a moonlit night is of especial interest when the whole stretch of water is transformed into a sheet of liquid silver. Boating facilities are available from November to May. Dhuandhar Falls is another tourist attraction that one can visit. Chausat Yogini Temple atop a hillock commands a beautiful view of the Narmada. The temple is dedicated to goddess Durga.

Reaching Bhedaghat: Jabalpur, 23 km has an airport as well as a railway station. Transport in the form of buses, tempos and taxi is easily available from Jabalpur.

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Omkareshwar is about 77 km from Indore and is the confluence of the Narmada and Cauvery. It is a sacred island, shaped like the holiest of all Hindu symbols 'Om'. It is famous pilgrimage for the Hindus. Omkareshwar is located in Khandwa district of Madhya Pradesh. It is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga of Shiva. Omkareshwar is about 20 km from Mortakka in Madhya Pradesh. There are two temples here - Omkareshwar and Amareshwar.

The Omkareshwar Temple at Shri Omkar Mandhata stands on a one mile long, half mile wide island formed by the fork of the Narmada. The temple is built in soft stone and is intricately designed. Encircling the shrine are verandahs with columns which are carved in circles, polygons and squares. Siddhanath Temple is another important landmark in Omkareshwar. The temple is a fine example of early medieval Brahminic architecture.

Satmatrika Temples, a group of 10th century temples are located 6 km from Omkareshwar. Kajal Rani Cave is 9 km from Omkareshwar. It is a picturesque scenic spot with a panoramic view of the surroundings.

Reaching Omkareshwar: Indore, 77 km is the nearest airport. Nearest railhead is Omkareshwar Road (12 km) on the Ratlam-Khandwa section of the Western Railway. Omkareshwar is connected to Indore, Ujjain, Khandwa and Omkareshwar Road by regular bus services.

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Maha Kaleshwar Temple, Maheshwar

Besides being well known as a pilgrimage site, Maheshwar is also famous for handwoven Maheshwari sarees. Located on the banks of the Narmada, Maheshwar is about 100 km from Indore. The town is built on the site of the ancient city of Mahesvari. It was once the capital of king Kartavirya Arjuna, who is mentioned in the epic Ramayana. Maheshwar was known as Mahissati in ancient times and was the capital of Southern Avanti.

In the 18th century, Maheshwar came under the rule of Rajmata Ahilya Devi Holkar, ruler of the state of Indore. She built many buildings as well as numerous temples, a fort, and ghats on the banks of the Narmada.

The fort is the main attraction in Maheshwar. A life-size statue of Rani Ahilyabai sits on a throne in the Rajgaddi within the fort complex. One can get a glimpse of the fascinating relics and heirlooms of the Holkar dynasty in the other rooms which are open to the public. Within the complex is an exquisite small shrine which is a starting point of the ancient Dussehra ceremony.

Temples are other attractions in Maheshwar one can explore the multi-storied and intricately worked doorways and overhanging balconies of the temples. Some of the important temples in Maheshwar include the Kaleshwara, Rajaraheshwara, Vithaleshwara and Ahileshwara temples.

Reaching Maheshwar: Indore is the nearest airport. The nearest railhead is Barwaha, 39 km away. Regular buses are available from Barwah, Khandwa, Dhar and Dhamnod.

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