Amarkantak – 1. Garden of the goddess

Amarkantak is the place that fascinated me the most during our tour of Madhya Pradesh.

Sunrise over Amarkantak

Amarkantak is the place of origin of the holy river Narmada and also river Sone. It is a pilgrim town with many ancient places of worship. Surprisingly many of the temple structures here look fairly recent, yet the age old religious sentiment pervades the entire place. It touches your heart whether or not you believe in religion. Once you enter this town you feel your soul has been purified whether or not you take a dip in the holy Narmada kund.

Mai ki Bagia literally means Garden of Goddess Narmada. The legend says that as a child Narmada played in this garden. There are Mango, Banana and other fruit trees in this natural garden along with Gulbakavli, roses and other flower plants.

Temple Complex at Mai ki Bagiya

The temple on the left in photo above is built around the spring of water which is beginning of Narmada. The temple on the right is “Mekaleshwar Mahadev Taposthal”.

Enclosure around origin of Narmada

This is the place where Narmada River originates in form of a very small stream. It then vanishes in the ground and re-emerges one km away at a place which is known as Narmada Kund and then its flow can be traced as river Narmada till it meets the sea.

Goddess Narmada
Narmada Parikrama pilgrims offerring prayers to Goddess Narmada

Narmada Parikrama is the pilgrimage that circumambulates the Narmada River. Pilgrims begin their journey by worshipping the goddess Narmada in Amarkantak and they come back to this place to end their pilgrimage.

Right opposite this temple, there was a small hut with some Sadhus inside. The sign on the hut said it was Siddha Dhuni meaning fire place of Sadhus. Another sign said that the Sadhus seen inside were Mauni Sadhus, that is, Sadhus who have taken vow of silence. The young priests of Narmada temple were advertising the existence of Mauni Sadhus to everyone and suggesting getting their personal difficulties solved by Mauni Sadhus. There was indeed a small crowd in front of the hut and the Mauni baba was answering questions of the crowd by writing on a slate by chalk.

I had great difficulty in understanding what all was not covered under the vow of silence of the Mauni babas as they were freely communicating with everyone in every other form except talking. But I decided against asking them my difficulties.

I quietly offered my prayers to goddess Narmada and walked away.

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