Surrounded by three mountain ranges, Amarkantak is a spectacular Hindu religious spot. It is located at a height of 1000 metres above the sea level in Madhya Pradesh. It is blessed with the title of ‘Tirth Raaj’ meaning the ‘King of Pilgrimage sites’. Narmada, one of the holiest rivers in India, is said to have its origin in the lofty mountains surrounding Amarkantak. The mystery of Sone River is also linked to this beautiful place.
Amarkantak is situated between The Vindhyachal Parvat, the Satpuras and the Maikal Parvatanchal. Amarkantak has been mentioned in the epic composition of Kalidasa. In Meghadutta, Kalidasa refers to the place as Amrakuta, meaning ‘Eternal Holiness’ or ‘Immortal Garden of Mangoes’. As per the legendary Puranas, When Lord Shiva destroyed Tripura (the three cities) by fire, the ashes of 1st city fell on Mount Kailash, the ashes of 2nd city fell on Amarkantak and the ashes of 3rd city were saved by Lord Shiva and kept in heaven. The ashes fell upon Amarkantak were turned in crores of Shivlingas. Out of the crores only one is visible and that Shivling is at Jwaleshwar in Amarkantak.
Amarkantak has some of the most revered holy places around in its vicinity. The Jwaleshwara Kund is known to wash off all the sins of a person. Puranas suggest how saints would make a trip to Amarkantak on eclipses. It announced attainment of Moksha. A person who takes a bath in the Kund will find a place in the Rudraloka. Amarkantak covers a convergence area of 1 yojana, which is roughly 12 kilometres. The meaning of the Yojanas changes every Yuga and it has been mentioned in the scriptures found from Amarkantak.
Narmada is considered to be the holiest of the Indian rivers. She is even more auspicious than Ganga and Yamuna. As per the legends, when Ganga was maligned and aspersed, she turned black. Hiding her true identity, she was forced to take the form of a black cow. She travelled from her abode in the Mansarovar and went to Amarkantak. She took a bath here in the holy waters of Narmada and cleansed herself. The river also finds its relevance in the Bhavishya purana. Narmada and Tapti are the two rivers that flow westwards and open into the Arabian Sea. All other Indian rivers have their finish line in the Bay of Bengal. Tapti is the daughter of Surya and Chaya. She is the sister of Shani Dev. Tapti was married to Samvarna, an asura. Since she was a rebel just like her brother, she took the westward course and chose to come to Earth from the Vindhyas. Narmada took her side and both flow westwards. Some scriptures suggest that Narmada and Tapti are tributaries of the same ancient river.
According to the Brahma Purana, Amarkantak is a holy place in all realms of Universe. There are more than sixty crores and sixty thousand holy Ghats in Narmada, surrounding Amarkantak. A mortal being that dies in Amarkantak is said to be freed from the cycle of life.Temples like Narmada Udgam, Kapil Dhara, Karna Matha, Machchhendranatha Temple and Pancha Math are revered sites in Amarkantak.