Out of the seven holy rivers in India, Narmada is the one river which flows in the Western direction. The word Narmada means loving and tender as a mother and indeed as a mother, she takes care and protects mankind and washes away all the sins and makes them pure. Narmada takes birth in Amarkantak Hills in Madhya Pradesh, in a small pond known as the Narmada Kund. From there, it flows from the East to West direction and finally merges with the Sea at the Gulf of Cambay at Gujarat.
The Skand Puran mentions the origin of the pious river. Narmada is considered to be the daughter of Bhagwan Shiv. Once, Bhagwan Shiv was meditating intensely and all his body started sweating and the drops got collected in a pond and overflowed from it as the River Narmada. Giving her a name of Shaankari as his daughter, Bhagwan Shiv blessed Narmada to be the most pious river of all, with a boon that whoever would take a holy dip in her waters would be free from all the sins. Hence, every pebble in her water bed is considered to be a Shivling which are known as the Banashivlingas.
Narmada is also believed to be one of the Rivers born from the tears of Brahma Ji, the other river being Sonbhadra River. It is believed that Sonbhadra was enchanted by the beauty of Narmada and wanted to marry her. But at the time of the auspicious marriage, he got smitten by her friend. Narmada was upset by this and left the place in a west direction which is the reason for her to flow westward. As she was along with the Sonbhadra River, she is called as Rewa.
Narmada is considered the most pious river of all the Rivers of India. It is believed that River Ganga comes in the form of a black cow and takes a dip in the holy waters to be free of all the impurities caused by the devotees. This visit of River Ganga is celebrated as a huge festival on the river banks of Narmada.
It is on this pious river bank that the coveted fight of Sahasrarjun and Ravan had happened. Sahasrarjun was a great warrior with thousand arms. Once his wives wanted to play water games in the river bed of Narmada and he stopped the flow of Rover Narmada with his thousand arms. Meanwhile on the other side of the bank, Ravan landed in his Pushpak Viman, made a Shivling and started worshipping it with the holy waters of Narmada. But as the river stopped flowing, it submerged the Shivling. Ravan was furious and challenged Sahasra Arjun for a fight. But he was defeated by the mighty warrior and taken as prisoner. However, when Rishi Pulasty came and requested to release his grandson, Sahasra Arjun obliged and befriended Ravan.
The banks of River Narmada were home for many of the divine sages like Rishi Bhrigu, Rishi Markandey, Rishi Kapil and many more. The Mahabharat mentions that the Pandavas stayed on the banks of River Narmada for a long time during their exile. There are many divine and holy temples on the banks of River Narmada and a visit to all these temples is famous as the Narmada Parikrama. Granted with a boon of eternal freedom by Bhagwan Shiv, Narmada flows in a way washing the sins of all and creating an aura of spirituality in all places where it flows.