The picturesque city of Maheshwar, located on the banks of the sacrosanct Rewa River is synonymous with history, culture, art, architecture, faith, spirituality, courage, patriotism and romanticism. Every square inch of this ancient city has a story that will be leave you spellbound.
Maheshwar is one of the most important kshetras on the Narmada Parikrama and thousands of devotees come from far-flung places to have darshan of Narmada Devi and Lord Shiva during the holy months of Shravan, Karthik, Margashirsha and Kumbha. The common sights that you will see on auspicious occasions are pious people doing abhishekha to Shiva Lingas that have been installed at the bathing ghats, offering prayers in the beautiful old temples, seated under a tree deep in meditation and enthusiastically singing bhajans.
Maheshwar was made the capital of the Holkars by Punyashlok Ahilyabai Holkar whose contributions to India are phenomenal to say the least. During her reign, she built bathing ghats, temples, tanks and halls in Maheshwar, Kashi and many other places of worship. She has been credited with renovating the grand fort as well as centuries-old temples like the Baneshwar Mahadev Temple.
Baneshwar Temple is located on a small island right in the middle of the Narmada River. This temple is believed to have been commissioned in the 5th century and later renovated by Rajmata. Locals say that Rajmata used to come in the early hours of the morning in a special boat to worship Lord Shiva.
Legend has it that this temple has existed since the Dwapura Yuga. According to the Hindu scriptures, Banasura wished to please Lord Shiva and decided to consecrate a Shiva Linga at the centre point of the earth and perform tapas (penance and austerities). When he wished to know the location of the centre point of the earth, this spot was revealed to him by Prithvi Devi.
Banasura immediately installed a Shiva Linga at the spot shown to him and made the entire area into a small island. The interesting part of this story is that in the Dwapura Yuga, the depth and width of the Narmada River was at least 10 times more than what is seen today and yet, Banasura spent years in tapas on this island all by himself and not a drop of the mighty Narmada River even in spate fell on him and disturbed him! It is said that the Narmada River used to flow around the island or flow into nearby forests and streams.
The most fascinating aspect of this temple is that if you draw a line from the Dhruva Nakshatra (Pole Star or North Star) to the centre of the earth, it will pass through this temple! The temple is a single room structure built in stone. Though it is highly simplistic in design, the ethereal beauty and mysticism of this island temple takes your breath away.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
* Photos are only symbolic (Taken from public domain/internet and any copyright infringement is unintentional and regrettable)