One of the most outstanding examples of iconography along the Rewa River (Narmada River) is the Datta Guru Temple also known as Garudeshwar Datta Mandir in Garudeshwar village. Garudeswar village lies to the south of Tilakwada and east of Rajpipla and is a part of the important Narmada Parikrama. Thousands of devotees walk barefoot visiting sacred shrines along the sacrosanct Narmada River as part of their 3,300-km Narmada Parikrama.
Garudeshwar village has two temples that are revered for their religious and spiritual potency. The ancient Garudeshwar Mahadev Temple that is at least two thousand years old if not more is situated on the northern bank of the Narmada River. Legend has it that the people of this village came under attack from evil elements. Anguished and frightened, the devout villagers took refuge in Lord Mahadev. Lord Shiva took the form of a Garuda and saved his devotees and since then, has been consecrated in this site as Garudeshwar Mahadev.
The Datta Guru Temple is a few minutes from Garudeshwar Mahadev Temple and is venerated by all as the spot where the pious Shreemad Vasudevanand Saraswati Swami Maharaj also known as Tembe Swami Maharaj took samadhi in 1914. Swami was considered to be an incarnation of Lord Dattatreya and arrived in Garudeshwar in 1913 after traversing the country for twenty-three years on foot. An ancient site where Lord Garuda was supposed to have performed penance was identified by Swami and soon thousands thronged this place.
Legend has it that Lord Dattatreya bathes in the divine waters of Narmada River first and then goes to Varanasi. Hence, padukas of the Lord have been placed on the bank and puja is done every day. Swami used to offer prayers daily to Lord Dattatreya and make an offering of jaggery and groundnuts. This practice is still followed with puja to the idols of Lord Dattatreya and Swami and prasad of jaggery and groundnuts.
Locals say that if one prays to Lord Dattatreya here for fifty-two Thursdays and also fasts, then his wishes are bestowed. It is also recommended to make an offering of jaggery and groundnuts for seven days. Those plagued with skin ailments, mental anguish, trauma and grief have found immense relief after having darshan of the Lord and Swami here. Devotees from nearby villages attend the morning and evening aarti in large numbers.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
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