From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Onkaresvara, OJkAreZvara, Oykaareshvara

Significance of Oṅkāreśvara

Places of pilgrimage are a source of inspiration and symbols of cultural unity. Among the well-known places of pilgrimage associated with lord Śiva, those containing the Jyotirliṅgas[1] are considered extremely sacred. The Oṅkāreśvara[2] is classed among these twelve.

Location of Oṅkāreśvara

The Oṅkāreśvara temple is situated on the Māndhātā island inside the Narmadā river, the two streams that surround it being known as Narmadā and Kāverī, not the Kāverī of South India. The area of this island is about 2.6 sq. kms.[3] The shape of the island resembles that of 35 Om. Hence it is named as ‘Oṅkāreśvara’. Inside it there are actually two Śivaliñgas, Oṅkāreśvara and Amaleśvara, both considered as ‘Jyotirliṅgas’ but calculated as one only.

Historical Significance of Oṅkāreśvara

The emperor Māndhātā of the Ikṣvāku race[4] is said to have realized Lord Śiva here. It is said that the god Vindhya[5] once propitiated Lord Śiva here through a yantra[6] and a liṅga of sand or clay. Pleased with his worship, Śiva appeared before him and agreed to stay in those two forms. These two forms are the yantra and the earthen image. These forms later on became the two liṅgas present now.

Oṅkāreśvara Temple

The Oṅkāreśvara liṅga is a natural[7] emblem surrounded by water. Entrance to the temple is small. Images of Pārvati and five-faced Gaṇapati are also established inside the temple. The temple can be approached by boat. There are quite a few temples around the Oṅkāreśvara shrine, on the island.


  1. It literally means ‘liṅgas of light’, twelve in number, spread all over India.
  2. Oṅkāreśvara means the liñga and the temple containing it.
  3. It is approximate 1 sq. mile.
  4. It is same as the Raghu-race.
  5. Vindhya means the supervising deity of the Vindhya mountains.
  6. Yantra means sacred geometrical diagram.
  7. Natural one means svayambhu or udbhava liṅga.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore