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  Home > Holiday Ideas > Pilgrimage India > Kamakhya Temple: The seat of Tantric Cult

Kamakhya Temple: The seat of Tantric Cult

 
One of the best known seats of Tantric Cult, the Kamakhya Temple is also one of the most venerated Shakti Peethas associated with Sati, an incarnation of Parvati and the wife of Shiva. According to the legend, the temple is built on the very spot where the reproductive organ of the Goddess Sati fell when her corpse being carried by Lord Shiva was cut to pieces by Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu apparently did it to stop the tandav (dance of destruction) of Lord Shiva who was angry following the death of his wife, Sati, who had committed suicide when her father abused Shiva and didn't invite him to the universal Yajna.
Kamakhya Temple, Assam
Another legend has it that the temple was built by the demon Narakasur who wanted to marry the Goddess but couldn't do so as the task assigned to build a staircase from the bottom of the Nilachal hill within a day couldn't be completed. The Goddess apparently becoming panic stricken on seeing him completing the task played a trick on him by strangling a cock to make it crow thereby giving the impression of dawn. Duped by the trick he chased the cock and killed it in a place which is now known as Kukurakata, situated in the district of Darrang and the incomplete staircase came to be known as Mekhelauja path.
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Perhaps no where in the world is a temple that houses and worships yoni - a symbolic reproductive organ of a Goddess. No matter how strange it may sound but the legend says so for the Kamakhya Temple in Assam. The Shakti Temple of Mother Goddess Kamakhya is situated on the top of Nilachal Hills overlooking the mighty Brahmaputra. Kamakhya Temple is 8 km away from the Guwahati railway station. One of the most venerated of the 51 Shakti Peeths, the temple dedicated to Goddess Kamakhya is considered to be an incarnation of Goddess Parvati. The temple is also one of the greatest shrines of tantric Shaktism whose antiquity is mentioned even in the inscription of the Allahabad pillar of Samudragupta.

Kamakhya Temple, Assam

According to the Puranas, the Shri Mahalaxmi Temple of Kolhapur is considered as one of the 108 Shakti Peethas. Associated with Shakti, the goddess of power, the Mahalakshmi temple also has a special significance as it is one of the six places where one can either obtain salvation from desires or have them fulfilled. And this probably explains why actor Sanjay Dutt visited the temple during his 1993 Mumbai Bomb Blast trials.

Kamakhya Temple
Though not much is known about the temple, the early history of the place was found in Allahabad inscriptions of Emperor Samudragupta. The temple was destroyed in early 16th century, and then rebuilt in the 17th century by King Nara Narayana of Cooch Bihar. The temple has a beehive like shikhara having 7 spires, 3 golden pitchers on blossoming lotus and a golden trident. The temple does not house an image of the Goddess but a sculptured image of the Yoni of the Goddess, which is worshipped with reverence. This image known as the "matra yoni" is draped in a silk sari and covered with flowers is kept deep down in a cave with a natural spring flowing nearby.

Daily Events
at Kamakhya Temple
5:30 am - Snana of the Pithasthana
6:00 am - Nitya Puja
8:00 am - Temple doors open for devotees
1:00 pm - Temple doors closed for cooked offerings to the Goddess followed by distribution among the devotees.
2:30 pm - Temple door reopens for the devotees.
5:30 pm - Aarti of Goddess followed by closing of the temple door for the night.

The temple complex houses apart from the two shrines of Laksmi and Sarasvati, those of Goddess Kali, Tara, Bagala, Chinnamasta, Bhuvanesvari, Bhairavi and Dhumavati as well. Other temples also within the Kamakhya Temple complex include the Sitala Temple, the Lalita Kanta Temple, the Vana Durga Temple, the Jaya Durga Temple, the Smasanakali Temple the Rajarajesvari Temple, and the Sankhesvari temple. Five temples dedicated to Shiva are also located within the temple precincts. In these Temples Lord Shiva is represented as Kamesvara (Umananda), Siddhesvara, Amratokesvara (Heruka), Aghpra, and Kotilinga (Tatpurusa).

Three temples in which Lord Vishnu is represented as Kedara (Kamalesvara), Gadadhara and Pandunath are located on the northern side of the main temple, the north-western direction of the Kamakhya temple and on the eastern foothills of Nilachal hills respectively. The temple wears a festive look during the Ambubashi and Manasha Puja when devotees in large numbers throng the place.

Kamakhya Devi is worshipped as the granter of all wishes and that is why the temple witnesses a steady flow of pilgrims every year. The Kalika Purana also describes Kamakhya as the yielder of all desires and the giver of salvation and it's said that blessing of Devi may help a barren woman to bear child.

Temple Timings: The temple remains open from 8.00 am to sunset, except for 2 hours at noon when the temple doors remain close.

Places of Interest
Guwahati-zoo, Assam

Guwahati Zoo: One of the largest natural zoos in the country, Guwahati Zoo is located on RG Baruah Road and is home to a lager number of animals and birds. Different animal and bird species including Assam's famed one -horned rhino can be seen in the zoo.

Shiva Temple: Situated on an island in the middle of the Brahmaputra, the Shiva Temple of Umananda is accessible only through motor boats and public ferries from Umananda Ghat.

Navagraha Temple: Located on top of the Chitrachal Hill, the Navagraha temple or the 'temple of nine planets,' is unique in India. The temple is shaped as a beehive-shaped dome and the central lingam is encircled by nine planets representing - Sun (Surya, Ravi), Moon (Chandra, Soma), Mercury (Buddh), Venus (Sukra), Mars (Mangal), Jupiter (Brhaspati) and Saturn (Sani) and also by Rahu and Ketu, the ascending and descending nodes of the moon and the sun. The temple is 3 km from the Guwahati.

Vashistha Ashram, Guwahati

Vashistha Ashram: Believed to have been the abode of Sage Vashistha, the ashram is 12 km from the Guwahati railway station. There is an interesting old shrine located amidst lush greenery 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 there.

Bhubaneshwari Temple: Not too far from Kamakhya Temple is another small temple, Bhubaneshwari Temple, from where one can have a bird's eye view of the Guwahati.

Places Nearby
Chandubi Lake, Guwahati

Chandubi Lake: A natural lagoon and fine picnic spot, Chandubi Lake is 64 km from Guwahati. It is an ideal place for fishing and rowing. The best season to visit the lake is from November to April.

Sualkuchi: The world's largest weaving village known for its silks- the Golden Muga, the White Pat and the warm Eri is located 32 km from Guwahati. Sualkuchi is also fondly called the Manchester of the East.

Hajo: Located 32 km from Guwahati Hajo is the place where three religions meet - Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism. While Hayagriva Madhab Temple holds a special significance for the Buddhist who believes that the temple houses a relic of Lord Buddha and was the place where the Sakhyamuni Buddha attained nirvana. For the Muslims, Hajo is a place of pilgrimage where by offering prayer at the mosque built by Pir Giasuddin Aulia a faithful can gain one-fourth of spiritual enlightenment of what could be gained at Mecca. For the Hindus, however, Hajo was the place where the Pandavas took shelter during their exile.

Ambuabachi Festival at Kamakhya Temple
The 3-day Ambubachi festival held in the month of June (every year in on the seventh day of Ashaad) witnesses thousands of devotees making a pilgrimage to the Kamakya temple. It is said that during this period the Goddess undergoes her menstrual period and the water pool turns red for these 3 days.  This holy water is distributed by the priests among the pilgrims. Though there is no scientific reasoning behind this, it is generally believed that the water turns red due to the large amount of vermillion (sindoor) that is poured into the water. However, during this period the temple remains closed with no pujas being performed. On the fourth day, the temple opens with lot of fanfare.

The Ambubachi festival is generally associated with tantrik cult and sacrifices form an integral part of this festival. In the earlier times, humans were sacrificed but this practice has now been done away with and it is usually a buffalo or goat which is sacrificed. In recent times King Gyanendra of Nepal performed the Panchabali rituals, in which he sacrificed a buffalo, a goat, a sheep, a pigeon and a duck.

The Ambubachi festival also marks the beginning of the harvesting season. Since, June -July are the monsoon season, it is believed that the rain purifies the earth, making it ready for harvesting and that one should start harvesting only after the festival is over since it is believed to be inauspicious to till the ground or to plant seeds during this period.

Stay Options

Since the temple is close to Guwahati, there are many hotels in Guwahati, which provide comfortable accommodation and serve as a good base to visit Kamakhya Temple. There are many hotels in Guwahati that range from luxury hotels to mid price and budget hotels.


How to reach

By Air: The nearest airport is at Guwahati.

By Rail: Guwahati has it own railway station. It is well-connected by rail to all the parts of the country.

By Road: Guwahati has well-defined roads connecting it to all the parts of the state and the country. Buses ply every 10 or 15 minutes from Guwahati to the foot of the hill from where one can go to the top by taxis that are readily available at the bus stop.


About Guwahati: Guwahati Information & Fact File
Altitude 95 meters
Temp
Summer 36 (Max) & 22 (Min) Degrees Celsius
Winter 25 (Max) & 8 (Min) Degrees Celsius
Best time to Go October – April
Monsoon June - September
Summer April – June
Winter November – February
Clothes Cottons in summer & light-woolens in winter
Nearest Airport Guwahati – Direct flights from Kolkata, Delhi
Nearest Railway Station Guwahati – Direct trains from Kolkata, Delhi
Bus Station Guwahati
Hospital & Doctor

Guwahati has both govt. and private hospitals fully equipped to handle medical emergencies

Places to see Guwahati Zoo, Shiva Temple, Navagraha Temple, Vashishtha Ashram, Bhubaneshwari Temple…
   
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