Considered by scholars, yogis, tapasvis and saints to be one of the most important tirthasthalas of Akhanda Bharat, Maheshwar is a religious, cultural, intellectual, historical, artistic and architectural powerhouse. A local saying, ‘नर्मदा नदी से निकलने वाला हर कंकर (पत्थर) शंकर का रूप होता है |’ that literally translates to each and every pebble that emerges from the Narmada River is a form of Lord Shankara stands testimony to the spiritual potency of this ancient town.
Each temple in this town built along the sacrosanct Rewa River has been described in detail in the Puranas, scriptural texts, commentaries and poems. It is therefore unsurprising that devotees come from far-flung places to have darshan of Narmada Devi and Lord Shiva during the auspicious months of Shravan, Karthik, Margashirsha and Kumbha.
A beautiful temple of great antiquity that sits atop a hill is the Jaleshwar Mandir. Also called as Jwaleshwar Mahadev, this temple is accessed by a small path along the Narmada River. According to the Puranas, when Lord Shiva destroyed the fortified city of Tripura with a single arrow, he surrendered his weapons at this place to Narmada Devi. A Shiva Linga manifested at the spot that is symbolic of the Supreme Energy.
It has also been stated that Lord Shiva protected Ganga Mata during her descent from his locks manifesting as Jaleshwar Mahadev. This temple has been venerated by the forest dwellers and Rishis since the ancient times.
The temple seen today has been renovated somewhere in the 17th century under the guidance of the Marathas with the typical architectural details of elaborately carved shikharas, doors and windows and intricately carved panels. This temple offers a panoramic view of the exquisite ghats and Holkar architecture. One can also see the sangam of Maheshwar River and Narmada River from this vantage point.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian