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Narmada Parikrama

Discussion in 'Destination Guides' started by Debapriya Deb, Apr 8, 2016.

  1. Debapriya Deb

    Debapriya Deb Active Member

    Narmada is one among the seven holy rivers according to Hindu beliefs. It is the fifth largest river in the Indian subcontinent. River Narmada originates from the Maikal Mountain ranges (Amarkantak Hills) in the state of Madhya Pradesh. It flows in the Western direction (East to West) through a length of 1312 KM along two different Indian states, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, before merging onto the Arabian sea through the Gulf of Cambay near the Bharuch city in Gujarat. From a geographical point of view, River Narmada is considered as the divider between North India and South India.

    Religious Significance of Narmada River

    Right from the days of mythological epics, including Ramayana and Mahabharata, the Narmada river has found numerous mentions for its religious significance. Narmada is believed to be the daughter of Lord Shiva and hence the people of India worship the river as a Goddess (Narmada Maiya).

    The Narmada Jayanti festival is regarded as a popular religious festival in India and it is celebrated with great reverence in the Central region of the country.

    What is Narmada Parikrama?

    'Parikrama' is a Sanskrit word which means circumambulation. Narmada Parikrama is essentially the circumambulation of River Narmada. Narmada Parikrama holds immense significance among the followers of Hinduism. It is considered to be a meritorious act that can help devotees in attaining purity and spirituality. Circumambulation of this Holy river is believed to wash away all the sins.

    How Narmada Parikrama is Performed?

    While doing Narmada Parikrama, the devotees perform a full round of the Narmada river from its point of origin to the point of confluence and then come around to the source again. The whole journey through Narmada's Source-Confluence-Source is known as Narmada Parikrama. Traditionally, the holy pilgrimage of Narmada Parikrama is done in a clockwise direction. During the trip, the pilgrims visit various sacred temples situated on the banks of River Narmada and offer their prayers to the divine Mother.

    There is no hard and fast rule that one has to begin his Parikrama of the Narmada river from its point of origin. One may decide to do it in the opposite direction from Confluence-Source-Confluence. In-fact, you can start from any random point, travel along the river and return to the same point again on the opposite bank to complete your Narmada Parikrama. Overall a pilgrim is required to travel for around 2600 KM to complete the Narmada Parikrama.

    Narmada Parikrama Tour

    Narmada Parikrama is an ancient tradition. Those days the pilgrims and sadhus (saints) used to walk barefoot along the banks of Narmada without carrying any money or food. One has to go out of his comfort zone to do the sacred journey. Common belief is that the more difficult the journey goes, the higher it is in terms of merit.
    Still there are a few devotees who prefer to do it in the old style, but the majority of pilgrims today make use of vehicles to move from one site to another. Now-a-days there are basically 4 different ways in which a person can perform the Parikrama of Narmada -

    1. The old style, that is by walking all the way.
    2. Using public transports like bus and jeep service.
    3. Package tours offered by the travel agent/tour organizer.
    4. Travelling by own vehicle.

    Narmada Parikrama by Walking:

    The first mode, quite obviously, is the most difficult. It also takes the highest amount of time. The journey on foot along the river to complete the Holy Parikrama can take as many as 90 - 120 days. In other words, one has to walk for around 30 KM per day on an average to complete the journey in a span of 3-4 months. This journey is a total of 2600KM.

    Narmada Parikrama by Public Transport:

    All the religious sites along the banks of River Narmada can be visited using public transport system. Bigger cities like Ujjain, Omkareshwar, Mandu, Bhopal, Jabalpur, Baroda, Bharuch and Pipariya has frequent bus services, while the smaller places like Khargone, Amarkantak and Dindori can also be visited by bus, although the frequency is on the lower side. Both Government-operated, as well as private buses are available. You may also opt for shared jeep services if traveling by bus gets too hectic for you. It can approximately take around 18-25 days to complete the Parikrama of Narmada using public transport system.

    Narmada Parikrama Package Tour Operators:

    There are a number of tour operators that arrange end-to-end Narmada Parikrama trip. The tour packages are usually inclusive of food, stay and temple darshans. This mode is way more comfortable than using the public transports, but the cost would be on the higher side. Typically the tour packages are for 12-15 days with night halts at major destinations along the route.

    There are various types of Narmada Parikrama packages to choose from. You can choose between budget package, standard package, deluxe package and Luxury package depending on your finances. The cheapest Narmada Parikrama package can cost you around INR 25,000, while if you go for luxury, then the price may easily shoot up to over INR 50,000.

    Narmada Parikrama by Own Vehicle:

    Many pilgrims travel in their own vehicles. All the places enroute Narmada Parikrama has motorable roads. It can be the most convenient option as far as the travel is concerned, but one has to plan and manage the other aspects, like accommodation and darshans, all by himself. In terms of finances, it would not be any cheaper than the package tours, but then again you would have the comfort of visiting the sites at your own pace. Planning is the key to successfully perform Narmada Parikrama using your own vehicle. You need to do your own research on the probable staying options and chalk out an itinerary based on that. It is possible to complete the entire Parikrama in 10-12 days if you are using your own transport.

    Narmada Parikrama Route

    As has been stated previously, one can start Narmada Parikrama from any point along the course of the Narmada river. Ujjain is a popular starting point. Most of the pilgrims start from Ujjain and move towards Omkareshwar along the flow of the Narmada river. A popular Narmada Parikrama route, when you start from Ujjain, is -

    Ujjain - Omkareshwar - Khargone - Shahada - Ankleshwar - Mithi Talai - Bharuch - Baroda - Jhabua - Mandu - Bhopal - Jabalpur - Umaria - Amarkantak - Dindori - Lakhnadon - Piparya.

    Narmada Parikrama Tour - Important Religious Places En-route

    1. Mahakaleshwar Temple, Ujjain.
    2. Kaal Bhairav Temple, Ujjain.
    3. Omkareshwar Temple, Omkareshwar.
    4. Triveni Sangam Ghat (Narmada-Kavery-Saraswati), Omkareshwar.
    5. Navgraha Temple, Khargone.
    6. Dakshin Kashi (Prakasha), Shahada.
    7. Shri Ankleshwar Tirth, Ankleshwar.
    8. Confluence of Narmada River with the Arabian Sea, Mithi Talai.
    9. Nareshwar Dham, Bharuch.
    10. Laxmi Narayan Temple, Bhopal.
    11. Shankaracharya Temple, Jabalpur.
    12. Tripura Sundari Temple, Jabalpur.
    13. Gwari Ghat and Beda Ghat, Jabalpur.
    14. Narmadakund, Amarkantak.
    15. Mai ki Bagiya, Amarkantak (one of the 51 Shakti Peetha).
    16. Jyoteshwar Mahadev Temple, Lakhnadon.

    Narmada Parikrama Rules

    There are a few unwritten norms or rules that a Parikramavasi (person doing the Parikrama) is expected to adhere to during his/her Narmada Parikrama yatra. These are -

    1. A pilgrim must follow Bramhacharya (celibacy) during the Parikrama. One should conduct himself/herself in a dignified manner and behave with humility to all.

    2. It is important to abstain from lies and wrong doings.

    3. Devi Narmada is the presiding deity during the Parikrama. A Parikramavasi must worship her twice at day - before and after a day's journey.

    4. It is a norm to carry a bottle of Narmada water from the Parikrama starting point.

    5. Due to the geographical conditions, if the Parikrama route deviates from the river, then the devotee should offer prayers to the bottle of Narmada water instead.

    6. One should not eat non-vegetarian food during the Parikrama.

    7. Consumption of alcohol is not allowed.

    8. The devotee is expected to shave the head and beard before the Parikrama starts.

    9. A devotee can take rest only on the floor. Chairs, cots or any other furnuture should not be used for taking rest.

    10. A devotee should walk along the shore of Narmada, but he is not allowed to cross the river.

    Popular Narmada Parikrama Tour Packages:

    Many travel agents and trip operators offer Narmada Parikrama tour packages for the devotees. If you are interested to undertake a guided Narmada Parikrama tour, then here is a list of reliable tour operators -

    1. India Pilgrim Tours : Contact +91 98731 89529.

    2. Indian Holiday Private Limited : Contact +91 11 4242 3100.

    3. Tour My India : Contact +91 87440 12051.

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  2. jnorth88

    jnorth88 Active Member

    This is very interesting. In another thread, we were discussing the holiness of certain rivers in India. Are these seven rivers equally holy, or is the Ganges the most holy? Or is it a different river, altogether. I was led to believe that the Ganges was the most holy, but some people suggested that was not the case.

  3. tabby

    tabby Member

    This is my first time to hear of this. I must admit it is very interesting. I wonder how and when this started. Was this kind of pilgrimage mentioned in the Mahabharata/Ramayana? Was that how it came to be and thus devotees followed it as in the ancient texts?
    In anyone's knowledge, are there still people who do the pilgrimage by walking? In the article that it would take between 3-4 months. A person must be truly an intense devotee if he/she decides to do it for that long of time. Just amazing.