Kamakhya Temple, Assam

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The Kamakhya Temple in Assam is one of the most venerated Shakti shrines in India, and is regarded as one of the Shakti Peetha associated with the legend of Shiva and Daksha Yagna.

Kamakhya is located on a hill known as Neelachala Parvat or Kamagiri near the city of Guwahati in Assam. Shakti, residing on the Kamagiri hill is known as Kamakhya, the granter of desires. Assam traditionally has been known as the Kamarupa Desa and has been associated with Tantric practices and Shakti worship.

This temple was destroyed in early 16th century, and then rebuilt in the 17th century by King Nara Narayana, of Cooch Bihar. Images of the builder and related inscriptions are seen in the temple. The Kalika Purana, an ancient work in Sanskrit describes Kamakhya as the yielder of all desires, the young bride of Shiva, and the giver of salvation.

Legends

Most Popular legend –

Once when Parvati’s father King Daksha organised a yagna, he did not invite his daughter and son-in-law to participate in it. Parvati, who was angry at this treatment of her father, went to her father’s place to ask the reason for it. Daksha insulted Parvati again by calling Shiva poor and wild. Being the ideal consort of Shiva, Parvati could not bear the fact that her husband was being insulted in front of the guests. She immediately jumped into the yagna fire out of shame and anger and killed herself. Knowing this, Lord Shiva, became very angry and came to Daksha’s palace. On seeing the dead body of his wife, he was so enraged that, he lifted the body on his shoulder and started dancing the tandav (the dance of destruction). The dance continued for several days and the earth was on the brink of being destroyed.Then, on the appeal of all the other gods and goddesses, Lord Vishnu with the help of his chakra, started cutting Goddess Parvati’s body. It is said that the parts of Parvati’s body fell at different parts of the country, which are all considered centers of power or Shakti peeth. The reproductive organ of Goddess Parvati is said to have fallen atop the Neelachal hill in Guwahati and that is where the Kamakhya temple stands now.

Another legend –

The demon Narakasura fell in love with Goddess Kamakhya once and he wanted to marry her. But as a goddess cannot marry a demon or asura, Goddess Kamakhya played a trick to save herself. She laid a condition that she would marry him only if he builds a temple for her within one night. Narakasura agreed to it and almost finished building the temple overnight. This scared Goddess Kamakhya and before the final steps of the temple were completed, a cock was sent to cry cock-a-doodle-do to announce the arrival of the morning, before it was actually dawn. This made Narakasura very angry and he killed the cock on that spot. But according to the condition Narakasura couldn’t marry Goddess Kamakhya after that. It is said that the present Kamakhya temple is the same that Narakasura had made for the Goddess.

One More legend –

The supreme creative power of Bhrahma was challenged by Shakti, the mother Goddess, and that Bhrahma could thereafter create, only with the blessings of the Yoni, as the sole creative principle. After much penance, Bhrahma brought down a luminous body of light from heaven and placed it within the Yoni circle, which was created by the Goddess and placed at Kamarupa Kamakhya in Guwahati

Places of Interest

Shiva Temple –

The Shiva temple of Umananda, reached by motor boats and public ferries from Umananda Ghat, stands on an island in the middle of the Brahmaputra.

Navagraha Temple –

Atop a hill in east Guwahati is the Navagraha temple – the “temple of nine planets,” – an ancient seat of astrology and astronomy. Housed in a red beehive-shaped dome, the central lingam is encircled by further nine representing the planets (graha) – Sun (Surya, Ravi), Moon (Chandra, Soma), Mercury (Buddh), Venus (Shukra), Mars (Mangal), Jupiter (Brihaspati) and Saturn (Shani). Two more were added, Rahu and Ketu, the dragon’s head and the dragon’s tail, or the ascending and descending nodes of the moon.

Vashistha Ashram –

At a distance of 12 km from the railway station is the Vashistha Ashram (the abode of sage Vashistha), an interesting old shrine, with plenty of greenness and three beautiful streams, Lalita, Kanta and Sandhya. Several other temples like the Ugratara temple, famous for its golden idol and buffalo sacrifices, are also spread across the city.

Bhubaneshwari Temple –

Above Kamakhya is another small temple, Bhubaneshwari, from where one can have a bird’s eye view of the Guwahati.

Getting there and Around

By  Air:

The nearest airport is Guwahati.

By Rail:

The nearest railhead is situated at Guwahati.

By Road:

Guwahati is well connected with regular bus services from all the major cities in and around the state.

Accommodation

Accommodation facilities are available at reasonable prices in Guwahati with options varying from luxury to budget hotels.

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