Maa Kamakhya Temple is a holy Temple Shrine located in the city of Guwahati in Assam. Kamakhya Temple is one among the 51 Shakti Peethas in India and is dedicated to Mother Goddess Kamakhya. The Kamakhya Temple is considered most sacred and is the oldest among the 51 Shakti Peethas in the World.
The Kamakhya Temple is located atop the Nilachal Hills in the western part of the city of Guwahati along the banks of the River Brahmaputra. The Kamakhya Temple is the main temple in a complex of individual temples dedicated to the ten Mahavidyas: Kali, Tara, Sodashi, Bhuvaneshwari, Bhairavi, Chhinnamasta, Dhumavati, Bagalamukhi, Matangi and Kamala. Among these, the Tripurasundari, Matangi and Kamala reside inside the main temple whereas the other seven reside in individual temples. The Kamakhya Temple is an important pilgrimage destination for the general Hinduism practicing community and especially for Tantric worshipers.
Kamakhya Temple is surrounded by many other temples dedicated to several other deities like Bhuvaneshwari, Kali, Tara, Chinnamasta, Bagala, Bhairavi, Dhoomavati, Matangi and Kamala. All of them together with the Kamakhya Temple are collectively known as the Dasamahavidya. Apart from the Shakti temples, the Nilachal Hill also has five Shiva Temples – Kameshwar, Siddheshwar, Amratokeshwar, Aghor and Kautilinga on it.
Architecture of the Kamakhya Temple ~
The ancient structure of the Kamakhya temple built by Lord Kamdeva with the assistance of Lord Vishwakarma was a huge temple complex much larger than the present day structure. But over the years as the Kamakhya temple started to lose patronage mostly to the kings who were the followers of Shaivism, the temple structure started falling into ruins and at one point of time the entire upper portion of the temple was destroyed and the lower portion got buried in the mud. The Kamakhya temple was rediscovered by the Koch kings in the 16th century when they had come to invade the Brahmaputra valley and somehow the King brothers lost their way and they ended up at the Nilachal hills where they met an old lady who took them to the ‘Yoni’ of the Kamakhya temple ruins and told them that if they pray here and ask for a wish it would surely be granted true on a condition that they assure to rebuild the Kamakhya temple completely in gold. The King Biswa Singha prayed and gave his word to rebuild the site of the Kamakhya temple if his wish was granted true. And in time the King’s wish was granted true by Goddess Kamakhya but he rebuilt the temple only with brick and stone and no gold. This didn’t work and the Kamakhya temple then started falling into ruins again and so did the King’s wish as he gradually started to lose control of his kingdom.
The king discussed the matter with the old lady again and she told him it was because he didn’t keep his promise to which the king accepted that he didn’t have the resources to rebuild the entire temple in gold only. So the old lady came up with a solution and asked the king to rebuild the Kamakhya temple shrine with a piece of gold in between the bricks and this worked and the temple architecture stayed and is very much similar to what was rebuilt by the King Biswa Singha in 1654-55. Today, the Kamakhya temple stands tall atop the Nilachal hills (Blue hill) at Guwahati in Assam. The structure of the Kamakhya temple had been adapted from two styles of designs – 1. The traditional ‘Nagara’ or North Indian & 2. ‘Saracenic’ or Mughal. This was unique fusion of architectural styles and was a first of its kind that came into existence at the Kamakhya temple. The experts came to call this style as the Nilachala style of architecture and this design came to be a benchmark for the building of temples across Assam subsequently with the royal patronage. But as to why this style came into the picture speaks of a different story all together. King Naranarayana who took up the task to rebuild the Kamakhya temple in 1565 after it was destroyed by a Muslim invader Kalapahar, had sent artisans from Cooch Behar who failed to rebuild the temple to its original form with the existing stone blocks and hence they had to find another way to rebuild this temple structure and they changed the shape of the round dome into a sixteen sided polygon shaped structure that was decorated ornately with horizontal bands and this resulted in the birth of a new style of architecture that gradually gained popularity across the construction of future temples across Assam.
The uniqueness of the architecture of Kamakhya temple can be derived from the fact that the temple construction had a fully developed ground plan. The Kamakhya temple has five chambers namely Garbhagriha (Sanctum), Antarala (Vestibule), Jaganmohan (principal chamber), Bhog Mandir (ritual chamber) and Nat Mandir (hall for the various traditional dance and music performances). Each of these chamber exhibits various features of architecture. The characteristic difference across each of these cambers is the dome structure and the number of domes present in these chambers. Say for example, the Bhog Mandir has five domes in total while the main temple consists of one huge dome that is saracenic. The Nat Mandir chamber of the Kamakhya temple had a shelf roof with a structure similar to the Namghars or prayer halls found in Assam linking the design of this structure to the Ahom period as the Ahom kings patronized the principles of Eksarana propagated by the Holy Guru and Saint reformer Srimanta Shankardeva and they also patronized the Kamakhya temple as well thereby mixing the architecture of both these forms. With the striking resemblance in the structure of the various temples of Assam built during the Ahom era it can be considered that the Ahoms had a lot of contribution towards the architectural monuments of Assam and they derived inspiration from the structure of the Kamakhya temple as the five types of superstructures found in the Kamakhya temple was used to design the Shikharas of the various temple in Assam during the Ahom era.
The Kamakhya temple complex in Guwahati contains several temples that date back to the times of the ten aspects of Goddess Kamakhya called as ‘Dasamahavidya’. In addition to the Kamakhya temple one can find five temples of Lord Shiva, Vishnu temple and various other shrines as well. Continuing with the architecture of the Kamakhya temple, the Garbhagriha chamber inside the Kamakhya temple rests of plinth mouldings that speaks of a time of the later period of Khajuraho and has sunken panels. The inner sanctum of the Garbhagriha where the devotees actually go in to complete their worship by touching the water that is fed by a continuous underwater spring has a rock fissure and no idol of the Goddess as such. The structure is in a form of a cave that has steep stairs walking devotees to the inner sanctum of the Kamakhya temple. The actual ‘Yoni’ is in the form of a rock that is some 10 inches deep inside the ground and fed continuously with water by an underground stream. Interestingly the stone is in the form of a vulva-shape and the devotees worship this as Goddess Kamakhya. Also the inner sanctum of the other temples at the Kamakhya temple complex have a similar architecture viz. a stone ‘Yoni’ fed with water and below the ground. The walls of the Kamakhya temple are decorated with stone sculptures of Ganesha and various other Hindu Gods and Goddesses. The three main chambers of the Kamakhya temple are western – Rectangular in shape and not used by general pilgrims for worship, the middle chamber in the form of a square with small idols of the Goddess and the chamber leading to the inner sanctum that is in the form of a cave that had no image of the Goddess but a natural spring that feeds water to the ‘Yoni’ shaped bedrock worshipped as Goddess Kamakhya.
Kamakhya Temple Timings ~
5:30 AM ~
Snana of the Pithasthana.
6:00 AM ~
8:00 AM ~
Temple door open for devotees.
1:00 PM –
Temple door 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 ~
Aarati of Goddess followed by closing of the temple door for the night.
There is no defined Visiting Hours for the Pilgrims and Tourists. They can visit whenever the Temple Remains open, which is from 5:30 in the morning to 10:00 PM in the night. On Special Occasions, these timings get extended.
To plan your Visit to Kamakhya Temple with Kaziranga National Park please fill the form below ~
Prominent Festivals celebrated at the Maa Kamakhya Temple ~
Ambubachi Mela ~
Being the center for Tantra worship this temple attracts thousands of tantra devotees in an annual festival known as the Ambubachi Mela. Another annual celebration is the Manasha Puja. Durga Puja is also celebrated annually at Kamakhya during Navaratri in the autumn. This five-day festival attracts several thousand visitors.
The Ambubachi Mela celebrated at the Kamakhya temple is also called as the ‘Ameti’ or ‘Amoti’ and is the biggest religious congregation that happens in North East India every year in the month of ‘Asad’ or ‘Asara’ as per the Assamese/Bengali calendar and begins on the seventh day (generally around 21st or 22nd of June) of the Gregorian calendar and see lakhs of devotees coming to the Kamakhya temple from across India and abroad to worship the holy Goddess of Maa Kamakhya. The term ‘Ambubachi’ means – ‘Ambu’ meaning water and ‘Vasi’/’Bachi’ meaning flowing. The deep roots of the Ambubachi Mela celebrated at the Kamakhya temple is linked to an ancient agricultural concept as per the Hindu mythology that compares Mother Earth to a fertile woman.
Deodhani Puja (Manasa Puja) ~
Another important festival celebrated at the Kamakhya temple at Guwahati in Assam is the Deodhani or the Manasa Puja. The festival days falls on the Sravana Sankranti and the Manasa Puja is celebrated for three days at the Kamakhya temple in Guwahati. During this puja festival a special dance (Deodhani Nritya) is performed by the people who are said to be possessed with the powers of Gods and Goddesses. These dance performers are called as Deodhas by the local people and each year during the Manasa Puja thousands of people gather at the Kamakhya temple Nat mandir to witness the Deodhani Nritya performance.
Durga Puja ~
The most prominent festival of Eastern India is the Durga Puja festival that is celebrated on a large scale in West Bengal and Assam. It is the most important festival of the Bengali people and the same is celebrated here at the Kamakhya temple as well. The celebration of Durga Puja at the Kamakhya temple is slightly different as the festival is observed for a fortnight beginning from the Krishna Navami and ending at the Sukla Navami and hence it is also called as the Pakhra Puja. The ritualistic bathing of the deity is done and animal sacrifices are done at the Kamakhya temple.
Kumari Puja ~
Another prominent festival celebrated at the Kamakhya temple is that of the Kumari puja that in ancient times was to commemorate the killing of Kolasur by Goddess Kali. During these festival young girls are worshipped as a manifestation of Goddess Kamakhya and these girls are dressed up in new saree, garland, sindur, jewellery, etc. It is said that these Kumaris have a strong gift and they can grant many blessings to the devotees to remove all dangers. The basic philosophy of this festival is to value women and their great ability to give birth to a child.
History of the Temple Shrine of Kamakhya Temple ~
The Kamakhya Temple in addition to being a revered Shrine among its devotees has an interesting history.
As per the historical belief, Goddess Uma (Sati), unable to bear the ridicules hurled at her husband, Lord Shiva, by her father, King Daksha, when she went uninvited to attend the auspicious Daksha Yagna solemnized by her father in his abode, gave up her body. On hearing the news of his beloveds death, an enraged Shiva, lifted Goddess Uma’s corpse on his shoulder and resorted to Tandava. The three worlds shook in its reverberation. The Gods assembled but no one could amass the courage to go near Lord Shiva and calm him down. Lord Vishnu launched his celestial weapon, the Sudarshana Chakra, which cut Goddess Uma’s corpse into fifty one (51) pieces. These pieces fell down to earth and wherever they fell gave rise to ‘Peethas’ or places of pilgrimage. The creative part i.e. the Holy Mother’s Yoni fell in the blue stone i.e. the Nilachal Hill. Lord Kama, engaging the services of the celestial architect Viswakarma, sculpted Sixty Four (64) Jogini and Eighteen (18) Bhairava idols on the walls of the Temple and named the Temple as Anandakhya Mandir.
After that for various reasons elaborated in the Holy books, the Kamakhya Temple started getting ruined and gradually the Holy Temple of Maa Kamakhya got engulfed by a dense forest. Once, the King of Cooch Behar, Maharaja Shivasingha came to Assam to fight the Ahoms. During their journey, one night they fell thirsty and in search of water they lost their way from the midst of their soldiers and wandered in the Neelachal Hills. Here they saw a beacon of light and followed it and found an old woman worshipping a waterfall within the ruins of a temple. Following the advice of the old woman, the King quenched his thirst with the water from the waterfall. They also came to know from the old woman, the Magnificence of the Temple whose ruins were situated there. They prayed to the Holy Mother to bless them to reunite with their soldiers and fulfill their wishes an proclaimed to the Mother that if their wishes got fulfilled, they will rebuild the Kamakhya Temple on the ruins with Gold.
Very soon the King’s wishes got fulfilled and after consultation with the Learned Pundits, the King started rebuilding the Kamakhya Temple. But since they could not make the Kamakhya Temple with Gold, going by their earlier assent, the Kamakhya Temple started crumbling down. The Holy Mother then appeared in their dreams and instructed the Kings to rebuild the Kamakhya Temple with one ‘Rati’ of Gold between every stone, going by their earlier submission. Abiding by the instructions of the Holy Mother, Maharaja started reconstructing the Temple in the year 1555 A.D. The construction was completed by his son Maharaja Narayanan in the year 1565 A.D. Going by another scripture, Narakasura had constructed the four pathways from the foot of the Neelachal Hills leading to the Kamakhya temple on the four corners of the Hill within one night, which exists even today!
Ambubachi Mela ~ the Eastern Mahakumbh
‘Kamakhya Devi’ is famous as the ‘Bleeding Goddess’. The mythical womb and vagina of Shakti are supposedly installed in the ‘Garvagriha’ or Sanctum of the Temple. In the month of Ashaad (June), the Goddess bleeds or menstruates. At this time, the Brahmaputra River near Kamakhya turns red. The Temple then remains closed for 3 days and holy water is distributed among the devotees of Kamakhya devi. There is no scientific proof that the blood actually turns the river red. Some people say that the priests pour vermilion into the waters. But symbolically, menstruation is the symbol of a woman’s creativity and power to give birth. So, the deity and temple of ‘Kamakhya’ celebrates this ‘Shakti’ or power within every woman.
It is during these three days that the festival of ‘Ambubachi Mela’ is celebrated with great pomp and show. The ‘Ambubachi Mela’ is one of the prominent festivals of Assam and it is held in Guwahati. Kamakhya temple of Guwahati acts as the host of this event and this festival has also been fondly called the ‘Eastern Mahakumbh’. The Gates of the temple remain closed though devotees populate the temple in high numbers to seek the blessings of the Goddess. The ‘Ambubachi Mela’ will hold special interest for you if you are interested in the occult or the ‘tantric’ sciences. The Kamakhya Temple is also an important center for practice and study of Tantra and Shaktism.
The weeklong Ambubachi Mela is the most popular festival held every June in the Kamakhya Temple complex. The temple celebrates the harmony between the feminine reproductive energy and fertility and the power of nature. The holy temple and all other temples across Assam remain closed for three days. The Temple doors open after three days and amid great festivity. The devout from far and near come to the Shakti Peetha to worship the Mother Goddess for fertility during this period. While sadhus and saints chant outside the temple, the devotees sing kirtan through the whole night in order to allow the Divine Mother to relax in her privacy and solitude. It marks the Divine Mother’s retreat from the demand of her devotees.
The Ambubachi Mela is organized in the Assamese month of Aahar during the monsoon season when the sun transits to the zodiac of Mithuna. This generally falls around the middle of June as per the English Calendar. The prasad distributed at the Ambubachi Mela after the temple doors are thrown open are Angodak and Angabastra. Angodak means the red fluid of the body – which refers to the water from the spring and Angabastra means the cloth covering the body – a piece of red cloth used to cover the stone (yoni) during the days of divine menstruation which is distributed in tiny bits to every devotee.
Being celebrated every year with great pomp and festivities, the Ambubachi Mela at the Kamakhya Temple annually draws over 25 lakh pilgrims. Ambubachi Mela is a major attraction for the pilgrims and the State Government launches massive campaigns every year to ensure a hassle free and comfortable ritual duration of the pilgrims.
As per the numerology it is believed that the sun is in the Zodiac of the Mithun and enters into a Pala of constellation so this festival is celebrated with a traditional belief that, Kamakhya Devi who is worshipped as Mother Earth during the time of this festival enters her annual mensuration period. Celebrated with great pomp and vigour, the Ambubachi Mela festival in the month of June draws lakhs of devotes to the Kamakhya temple shrine including the famous Naga Sadhus of India and this festival is compared to the Mahakumbh and is often referred to as the Eastern Mahakumbh Mela. In addition to the Naga Sadhus many other Sadhus and common men come to the Kamakhya temple shrine at Guwahati during the Ambubachi Mela festival. Sanyasis, Aghori Babas and various other tantric and Sadhus come to the Kamakhya temple with their trademark matted hair. Foreign Nationals from countries like USA, UK, Germany, France, and Australia come to this four day long festival as well. As per the data recorded by the authorities around 10 lakh devotees grace the Ambubachi Mela festival every year at the Kamakhya temple premise and during the period from the beginning of June the district authorities start to begin the preparations to welcome the devotees and make adequate arrangements for them to stay and their food requirements as well.
Each year the district authorities setup many camps at the Kamakhya temple premises, the Kamakhya railway station, the Pandu port and the Sonaram field a little away from the Kamakhya temple so that the devotees can find a place to sleep. The food arrangements for the pilgrims to the Ambubachi Mela and the Kamakhya temple are arranged in 16 ‘Bhandaras’ that are setup and food is served free of cost all with the help of noble Samaritans who donate sufficient amount of money to these Bhandaras. Hundreds of volunteers are asked to join the services of the district authorities to manage a smooth flow of the devotees to and from the Kamakhya temple shrine to the designated camps. The vehicular movement is banned along the roads from Maligaon to Bharalumukh in Guwahati during the Ambubachi Mela festival days and a complete halt of vehicles to the top of Nilachal hills from the foothills. Only a few busses run that ferry elderly devotees to the temple top while all the others have to take a walk to go to the Nilachal hilltop at the Kamakhya temple shrine. As lakhs of devotees congregate at Guwahati during the festival so it is advisable to book the accommodation at the area near the Kamakhya temple much in advance to avoid the last minute rush.
If one cannot find accommodation at the nearby hotels and lodges then they can look around the city as well as Guwahati is a fast growing city and has numerous accommodation options from 5 Star hotels to budget hotels and hostels as well. With various modes of transport that can be availed within the city like UBER, OLA, Rapido one can easily use the smart phone to call one these vehicles hire options and travel to the Kamakhya temple from anywhere in the city to witness the Ambubachi Mela festival at the Kamakhya temple. These vehicles can only drop you to a point where the traffic is allowed to move and from that point onwards one has to walk to the foothills of the Nilachal hills and from there one can find busses to drive you to the top of the Nilachal hills where you can visit the Kamakhya temple and witness the festivities of the Ambubachi Mela but mostly one has to take a long walk itself because vehicle movements are mostly restricted. The walk doesn’t seem much tough during the Ambubachi Mela festival as thousands of devotees keep walking to the Kamakhya temple premises and once you walk with such a group and your devotion towards Maa Kamakhya, a spiritual power will automatically provide you with physical strength and draw you to the doors of the Kamakhya temple. Also it is the time of the monsoon in Assam and so one has to be prepared to face the rains at any point of time during one’s visit to the Ambubachi Mela festival at the Kamakhya temple in Guwahati.
Sample Itinerary for your visit to the Maa Kamakhya Temple in Guwahati ~
Day 1 ~ Guwahati – Kaziranga National Park
Arrive at Guwahati Airport. On arrival you will be received by our representative at the airport offering a warm welcome in traditional Assamese style. From the Airport drive to the Kaziranga National Park. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Kaziranga National Park is home to the highest population of the Endangered One Horned Rhinoceros species anywhere in the world. On arrival check into a Comfortable hotel/Guest House. Visit the nearby tea gardens in the late afternoon. Evening Bon fire and cultural performances (Bihu Dance of Assam) on request.
Night Stay: Comfortable Hotel at the Kaziranga National Park
Meals Included: NA
Day 2 ~ Kaziranga National Park – Kaziranga Orchid Park – Guwahati
Early morning go for a Jeep Safari into the Kaziranga National Park from the Bagodi/Kohora Safari Range at the National Park. Later in the day visit the Kaziranga Orchid and Bio-Diversity Park at Kaziranga National Park. The Kaziranga Orchid and Bio-Diveristy Park is the Largest Orchid Park in India. Depart to Guwahati.
Night Stay: Comfortable Hotel at Guwahati
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 3 ~ Kamakhya Temple – Depart
Early morning visit the holy Kamakhya Temple at Guwahati. After breakfast you will depart to Guwahati Airport for your onward destination. Trip Ends. Bid Adieu!
Meals Included: Breakfast
To plan your Visit to Kamkahya Temple from Kaziranga National Park please fill the form
Exploring Maa Kamakhya Temple ~
In the year 2015 when I had just planned on starting my travel company to help tourists explore Assam and North East India, my parents had come to Guwahati from Margherita and we had planned on visiting the Holy Maa Kamakhya Temple. The Kamakhya temple shrine of Goddess Kamakhya is the most revered temple shrine in North East India and every day hundreds of devotees come to the Kamakhya temple to offer their worship and seek blessings of the Goddess. Maa Kamakhya temple is the temple shrine built on the hilltop where it is believed that Goddess Sati’s womb fell when Lord Shiva was carrying her severed body across the subcontinent in his hands after Lord Vishnu had used his Sudarshan Chakra to cut Sati’s body after Lord Shiva had started to perform the Tandav Nritya carrying the body in his arms and this move was to pacify Lord Shiva. Wherever the parts of Sati’s body fell (51 parts), today there is a temple shrine on each of these places and these temples are called as Shakti Peethas. Kamakhya temple is one among the 51 Shakti Peethas in India and people revere the Kamakhya temple as this temple had a unique history of tantric practices. Various rituals were undertaken by the holy sadhus here at the Kamakhya temple based on these tantric practices even to an extent that animals and human sacrifices were performed here. Even though the act of human sacrifices has been abolished long back animal sacrifices in order to fulfil one’s wished is still offered to Goddess Kamakhya and everyday devotees bring goats to be sacrifices and offered to Goddess Kamakhya.
I am not an ardent supporter of this practice but people’s faith in Goddess Kamakhya is utmost and they believe that sacrifice of an animal would appease the Goddess. For me Kamakhya temple is a place to seek solace in my faith and belief and also a place to admire the unique medieval architecture that can be seen on the walls of the Kamakhya temple at Guwahati in Assam. My father is a staunch devotee of Goddess Kamakhya and he ensures to visit the Kamakhya temple shrine at the Nilachal hills in Guwahati once in every six months or rather whenever he comes to visit Guwahati. My father had worked in the underground coal mines at Makum Coalfields since 1976. Being a mining engineer he had graduated from the IIT-BHU in 1976 and since then he joined CIL as a trainee engineer and worked up the ladder to retire as the Chief General Manager of NECF where he headed the operations of Makum coalfields. Having to go deep underground every day to supervise the workers and foreman and also to find new means of coal excavation he used to risk his life everyday along with the other workers who went deep (almost 3 km) into the earth’s surface to excavate coal and send it outside the mine in coal tubs. To be brave and to remove fear from their minds the coal miners were devoted Bhakats of Goddess Kali and every underground coal mine has a Kali temple where the workers prayed to the Goddess before entering the mines.
Goddess Kali is believed to be the destroyer of evil forces and she is the most powerful form of Shakti and the tantrics believe and worship Goddess Kali to gain supreme powers to eradicate evil forces. Over the years my father started rising in ranks and he was accredited with building several temple dedicated to Goddess Kali at Baragolai, Tipong and Margherita in Upper Assam and he started worshiping Goddess Kamakhya. Whenever he found time from work as his main office was not based in Guwahati he took time to pay a visit to the Kamakhya temple and bring back home a holy cloth, the holy water and the Prasad that was offered to him at the temple. Kamakhya temple is a renowned temple in India and many people from across India and abroad come here just to pay a visit at the Kamakhya temple and offer their prayers here. On many of my visits to the Kamakhya temple along with a group of tourists I have seen many foreigners coming here as well as a part of their tour package or as staunch devotees as well. So as my father was heading the operations of CIL for north east he used to host various delegates from the HO of CIL and various ministries as well who would come to stay at the NECF guest house in Guwahati and as they were prominent persons (VIPs) at the ministry level so my father had to ensure that they were offered a first class pass to visit the Kamakhya temple inner sanctum and he was known to many ‘Pandas’ at the temple and he even offered to construct a huge ‘Bhog Ghar’ (where the Prasad is served to the devotees of the Kamakhya temple) and this place at the Kamakhya temple was donated by him on behalf of the members of the NECF family as a part of the CSR activities of NECF. When you visit the Kamakhya temple shrine just at the entrance you can see the ‘Bhog Ghar’ premise and it can be seen to be donated by NECF printed on the top. For entry to the Kamakhya temple inner sanctum there are two possible ways – one is to enter the general queue that starts filling from 5 AM in the morning and the devotees go in line to enter the inner sanctum of the Kamakhya temple while on the other end there is another VIP entry where the devotees are charged INR 501 per ticket and once can bypass the queue and enter the inner sanctum much more quickly. The money collected is used towards the maintenance and development of the temple and this allows the devotees who do not have much time to wait in the queue to seek the blessings of Goddess Kamakhya and touch the holy water at the inner sanctum. However people prefer to use the first means to enter the inner sanctum of the Kamakhya temple as they believe that one has to wait to seek the solace and seek the blessings of the Goddess and so even many rich people who can afford to pay for the ticket also wait in the long queue. The touch of the holy water at the inner sanctum of the Maa Kamakhya temple is a form of blessing as it is believed.
Before a devotee visits the Holy Maa Kamakhya temple located atop the Nilachal hills at Guwahati in Assam it is better to know about the various legends associated with the Maa Kamakhya temple. I did asked my parents about as to why the Kamakhya temple is so famous and revered but they didn’t have answers to as to who established the Kamakhya temple, when the temple was constructed, what are the various legends of mythology associated with the temple, etc. So I decided to look up the internet for such details and I could find a lot about the legends, history and architecture about the Maa Kamakhya temple from the temple website http://maakamakhya.org. After learning about these legends I thought I would try to narrate it to my readers in my own words. Various myths and mysteries surround the history of the Kamakhya temple prevalent on the various tantric practices that were earlier practiced here at the temple and this has made the devotees from across the World very curious about the Maa Kamakhya temple. The sacred powers that were possessed by the tantrics who were strict devotees of Maa Kamakhya made the devotees fear the powers of this Holy Goddess and hence they try to appease the Goddess with their offerings. Most of the history of the Kamakhya temple are believe and documented on the oral records from the past times. Though various oral legends surround the Kamakhya temple, the oldest and the concrete example is the one that led to the establishment of the Maa Kamakhya temple which states that Sati (wife of Lord Shiva) went to the great ‘Yagna’ that was performed at her father’s house ‘Prajapati Daksha’ even though she and Lord Shiva were not invited by her father to this ceremony. Lord Shiva forbade Sati from visiting the Yagna but she still went and visited because it was arranged by her father. Sati’s presence at the Yagna angered her father and he insulted Lord Shiva and the followers of Tribhuvana gravely which obviously angered Sati to a great extent and she was so furious at her father that she gave up her life by jumping in the fire that was lit for the performance of the Yagna.
And when Lord Shiva heard about this he got extremely furious and he started performing the Tandav Nritya (a vigorous dance that is believed to be the source of creation, preservation and dissolution). Holding Sati’s body in his hands, Lord Shiva started performing the Tandav Nritya and the whole universe started to reverberate that became a cause of concern for the other Gods and Goddess. Lord Vishnu stepped in in order to pacify Lord Shiva and he spun his Sudarshan Chakra and this Chakra chopped Sati’s body into 51 pieces. Still Lord Shiva couldn’t be pacified and he kept performing the Tandav Nritya and travelling across the World. However, each of the body parts started falling from Lord Shiva’s arms and it fell to the ground. The places where each of these body parts fell became to be called as the Shakti Peethas totalling to 51 in number equal to the number of body parts. It is believed that here at the Kamakhya temple (as mentioned in the Kubjika Pitha) is the place where the female genitals or the vulva of Goddess Sati fell. It was not known for quite long until Lord Kamdeva (the Hindu God of love) who was assigned a task as a part of the ritual to relive his of his curse by Lord Brahma found the womb of Goddess Sati here at Kamakhya. Lord Kamdeva regained his beauty after worshipping here at the Kamakhya Shakti Peetha and hence the entire place came to be known as Kamrupa (the place where Lord Kamdeva regained his beauty). The deity or the Goddess came to be known as Kamakhya Devi (the one that was worshipped by Kamdeva).
Continuing the legend of Kamdeva, another story states that when Lord Shiva was meditating at the Umananda Island it so happened that Lord Kamdeva was trying to speak out a message to Lord Shiva and Lord Shiva got angry upon this distraction and he opened his third eye and burnt Lord Kamdeva into ashes. The hillock on which this happened came to be known as the Bhasmachal hills. Later Rati (Kamdeva’ s wife) pleaded to Lord Shiva stating that this was not Kamdev’s fault as he had tried to convey the message to Lord Shiva as it was a message sent by the other Gods and Goddess. To this Lord Shiva gladly accepted to revive Lord Kamdeva from the ashes and Lord Kamdeva was restored back to life and original self but with one thing missing, Lord Kamdeva had lost his earlier beauty. To get back the original form of beauty Lord Kamdeva and his wife Rati prayed to Lord Siva again and Lord Shiva instructed Kamdeva to find the Yoni Mudra that was located somewhere in the Nilachal Hills and to worship it with utmost devotion to regain back his original beauty. Kamdeva agreed to work towards this and for many years he spent time in meditation and finally got the Devi’s blessing and his original beauty was restored. Lord Kamdeva remained highly grateful to the Devi because of this and with Lord Vishwakarma’s help erected a temple shrine at this place. The entire region later came to be known as Kamrupa or the place where Kama regained his rup (beauty).
As per the legend stated in the Kalika Purana, Naraka the son of Lord Vishnu and Dharitri had to visit Pragjyotisha on the order of his father Lord Vishnu. Naraka had led an army to defeat the Kiratas under King Ghatak who happened to be a follower of Goddess Kamakhya. After winning the war Naraka too became a follower of Goddess Kamakhya but later developed negative qualities towards the Goddess when he became friends with Banasura the King of Sonitpur to an extent that Naraka even forbade the Holy sage Basistha to worship the deity to which Basistha was enraged and he even cursed the Goddess and Naraka. Lord Vishnu had to finally intervene and kill Naraka once his atrocities became too much to bear.
In another mention of the Kamakhya temple in the Yogini Tantra, it is believed that Lord Brahma who is said to have created the universe became extremely arrogant after realizing his wonderful creation and Goddess Sanatani kali decided to teach him a lesson of modesty. The Goddess carved out a demon called as Kesi from Lord Brahma’s body and as soon as the demon was born it rushed to swallow up Lord Brahma who ultimately had to flee with Lord Vishnu. Lord Brahma realized his mistake and he seeked out to ask for forgiveness from Sanatani Kali who killed the Demon. The goddess ultimately asked Brahma and Vishnu to visit the sacred place of Kamrupa and they were asked to create a mountain over the demon’s dead body and this place would have a lot of grass for the cattle to graze upon. This place later came to be called as Nilakuta Parvat or Nilachala.
In another more recent story the Koch King brothers Viswa Singha and Siva Singha during their battle with the Ahoms lost their way and reached the Nilachal hills where an old woman showed them the Pithasthan of Goddess Kamakhya and asked them to build a temple of gold here. The King offered his prayers and stated that if his wishes were fulfilled he would create a temple of gold here. Once his wishes were fulfilled the king however couldn’t fulfil his promise of building a temple with gold and instead he built it with stones and bricks and that didn’t work out as the place fell in ruins. On speaking to the old lady she asked him to build a temple again with a little amount of gold in the bricks.
The Kamakhya temple is located at the western part of the city of Guwahati in Assam and is a renowned temple shrine dedicated to Goddess Kamakhya or Kameshwari (Goddess of Desire). Among the 51 Shakti Peethas that are present across the World, the Holy Maa Kamakhya temple is situated atop the Nilachal hills at Guwahati is considered to be the oldest and the most sacred among these 51 Shakti Peethas and this temple is renowned across the World for the widely practiced cult of Tantric Shaktism of India. The Kamakhya temple complex that is located atop the Nilachal hills in ancient Kamrupa (one of the most sacred places) houses the temple of the Goddess Kamakhya along with the various forms (10 incarnations) of the deity and also five more temple shrines dedicated to the Hindu God Lord Shiva. The Maa Kamakhya temple is located in the city of Guwahati whose mentioned has been in various ancient manuscripts and literatures as Pragjyotishpura. Today, Guwahati has become the largest and fastest growing cities in Assam and North East India. Guwahati city also houses numerous ancient temples and the famous Nilachal hills where the Kamakhya temple complex is located. Today the Nilachal hills from where one can get a panoramic view of the city of Guwahati is mostly comprised of three parts namely the Brahma hill, Vishnu hill and Shiva hill, all named after the famous Hindu mythological Gods.
The Kamakhya temple complex is located approximately 600m above the plains and has the river Brahmaputra flowing along the northern side of the hill. In addition to the Maa Kamakhya temple, the Nilachal hills also has various other temples like the Bhuvaneshwari temple, Hanuman temple, Pandunath temple, Dwarpala Ganesha temple, Banadurga temple, Jaya Durga temple, Lalita Kata temple, Smasanakali temple, Gadadhar temple, Ghantakarna temple, Trianth temple and Sankeshwari temple. In addition to the many other legends surrounding the Kamakhya temple another legend states that, the King of the erstwhile Himalayan Kingdom had approached a holy sage from Varanasi by the name Vatsayana to help him find a solution to change the mind-set of the tribal population of the Himalayan Kingdom to change their rituals of human sacrifice into a more socially acceptable worship form. To this proposition the holy sage suggested it to be in the better interest for the people of the Himalayan kingdom to worship the tantric Goddess Tara whose devotion was spread across the Himalayan belt up to the Garo hills and across this belt the tribal people worshipped a fertility ‘Yoni’ Goddess names ‘Kameka’. It was later known from the Kalika Purana (Brahminical period) that the legend of ‘Shakti’ was associated with the various tantric Goddesses and this Tantric Goddess started to be worshipped as ‘Devi’ by the followers of Hinduism.
The Kalika Purana also states that the Kamakhya temple at Guwahati is a place of mention where Lord Shiva and Sati used to meet in secret and expressed their love for each other. The place where the Kamakhya temple is located is also the place where the ‘Yoni’ of Sati’s corpse fell during the time Lord Shiva was performing the Tandav ad carrying here severed body across the World. The mention of the ‘Yoni’ of Sati falling at the site of the Kamakhya temple finds a mention in the Kalika Puranand and this associated Kamakhya with Goddess Kali and lays specific importance in the creative symbolism of the Yoni. As far as the origin of the Kamakhya temple goes, this temple shrine finds a mention in various mythological texts like Devi Purana, Kalika Purana, Yogini tantra, etc. and it is believed that the origin of the Kamakhya temple is pre Aryan. As per mythology the main shrine of the Kamakhya temple was constructed by Lord Kamdeva with the help of Lord Vishwakarma and the gigantic structure of the Kamakhya temple was much bigger that what it is today.
When King Naraka had conquered the entire area of the Brahmaputra valley he became a staunch devotee of Goddess Kamakhya and he did much for the temple but after becoming friends with Banasura – the King of Sonitpur, Naraka started developing negative feelings towards Goddess Kamakhya and his atrocities led to him being killed by his father Lord Vishnu. Since the Kamakhya temple started to lose its patronage and most of the rulers practiced Shaivism and this led to the Upper portion of temple being completely destroyed over time. The Patronage towards the temple shrine started again in the mid-16th century when the Koch kingdom established itself across the Brahmaputra valet and its brother kings patronage of Goddess Kamakhya and the Kamakhya temple. The rulers of the Koch kingdom Biswa Singha is said to have rebuilt the Kamakhya temple shrine with a piece of gold among the bricks that was used to build the temple structure. As per one research, the temple shrine of the Maa Kamakhya temple was erected in 500 CE atop the Nilachal hills and due to certain natural calamities the Upper structure of the Kamakhya temple was completely destroyed and the lower portion got buried in the mud.
During the medieval period when the Koch king came to Assam their ruler Biswa Singha discovered the temple shrine again as per the wishes of an old woman who showed him the ‘Yoni’ here and he rebuilt the temple in 1553-54. However an invasion by the Muslim king Kalapahar destroyed the temple again. The great Koch king Naranarayana who succeeded Biswa Singha to the throne found the ruin while exploring along with his brother Chilarai and the King decided to rebuild the ruins and the Kamakhya temple was renovated in 1565 and the temple was followed with royal patronage. Later in the 17th century when the Ahoms took control of the entire Brahmaputra valley, their rulers were patrons of art and architecture and not only did the Ahom kings build many remarkable architectures and temples across Assam , they also took great interest in the principles of ‘Shakti’ and patronized the Kamakhya temple. Many stone inscriptions and sculptures around the Kamakhya temple shrine can be found depicting the Ahom patronization of the Kamakhya temple. The legacy continued and in 1897, a huge earthquake struck Assam and certain damages occurred on the temple structure and the King of Cooch Behar contributed a lot to repair the damage done to the Kamakhya temple. The legacy continues today and thousands of pilgrims visit the Holy shrine of the Maa Kamakhya temple.
It was in 2015 when I had planned to quit my job and start my own venture that would focus on creating customized tours for tourists who plan on an offbeat travel experience across North East India with major focus on promoting the unexplored destinations of Assam. Of late North East India has become a favoured tourist destination in the map of India and the age old times of the region being marred with insurgency is now over and tourists are coming in large numbers from across India and abroad. I created many customized itineraries for visitors and as a practice in my house no new venture or things happen without seeking the blessings of Goddess Kamakhya and so when my parents had come over from Margherita to Guwahati we planned on our visit to the holy temple shrine of Maa Kamakhya temple at the Nilachal hills in Guwahati. My parents were yet to shift to Guwahati post my father’s retirement as my mother was still at her service as a doctor at NECF and so it meant they had a few more years to shift here and I could go about building my venture. We planned on our visit to the Kamakhya temple in the morning post which we would visit my uncle’s house at Pan Bazar area in Guwahati for lunch. It was planned on a Sunday as my uncle would be free from work as he was heading operations of a large telecom company and he was quite a busy person and as he was my mother’s younger brother so it was necessary for my family to meet him.
During that time I was driving a small car Tata Nano and even though people call it a toy car but only the people who have driven this car can bet on the power of this vehicle. Because it was promoted as a family car with a low price tag so many people did not buy this vehicle thinking it to be below their standard but I fell in love with the car on my test drive itself and purchased it when I was working in Bangalore and later when I got a job in Guwahati brought it here and travelled to various places across Assam and Meghalaya in the Tata Nano even driving it all the way from Guwahati to Margherita and back as well. My father was not sure whether the vehicle could climb the mountain top at Nilachal hills with three people sitting in it and I had to gain his confidence that surely my car could travel across any terrain without much problem and so we set out on the Sunday to visit the Maa Kamakhya temple from our home in Guwahati at Lokhra. As it was a Sunday, the Lokhra weekly market was on and it is a very vibrant market that happens every Sunday and traders from far and near come here to sell their produce. The tribal people like the Karbi and Garo people come here carrying all their organic produce and the vegetables found here on Sunday are the ones to look out for as they are completely organic (without the use of any pesticides and fertilizers) and so are the various other fish and meat produce brought as well. I stopped the vehicle near the market to pick up some fresh vegetables and later start again to go to the Kamakhya temple in Guwahati.
We took the highway instead of going by the city even though it was a Sunday and traffic would be less but it meant going a complete round and encountering the occasional Sunday markets. The highway is generally free from traffic in the morning hours and only in the evenings the traffic frequency increases once the various busses and trucks start plying on the roads. We reached towards the Betkuchi and Garchuk areas here to proceed further towards Boragaon and Jalukbari. At Jalukbari the construction of a flyover was going on to ease the traffic and we took a right to head towards the Adabari area to continue further to Maligaon and Kamakhya gate. The straight road from Jalukbari leads to lower Assam connecting further to Bongaigaon and further to other parts of the country via Cooch Behar in West Bengal. The left diversion leads to the Guwahati airport further towards Tura in Meghalaya and connecting Goalpara to Bongaigaon to West Bengal. We took a right and headed towards Adabari that is a busy city bus terminus and continued to Maligaon that is the headquarters of the North East Frontier Railway. After crossing Maligaon we travelled to the Kamakhya gate stop from where we had to drive up the Nilachal hills. The foot of the Nilachal hills is called as the Kamakhya gate and this is where devotees using public transport who want to visit the Kamakhya temple can travel in the many shared taxis that wait here at the Kamakhya gate to transport passengers to the top of the hill where the Maa Kamakhya temple is located.
Long back earlier there was no road connecting to the Kamakhya temple top and devotees had to climb stairs to reach the Kamakhya temple but owing to the difficulties and to make the temple shrine accessible to more number of devotes who were aged the government had constructed a road to allow vehicles to travel up the mountain top so that everyone could visit the Kamakhya temple. The gradient is steep and so my father was sceptical whether or not my car could travel up the top but I proved him wrong as my vehicle breezed past the mountain gradient. We kept driving up the hill and the view from here was breath taking. There is a view point here as well from where one could get an aerial view of certain parts of Guwahati city and the view was stunning. My mother is very particular about visiting temple and she ensures to visit during the early morning time with an empty stomach. A clean body is how one should enter the temple premise (especially the Kamakhya temple) is what she believes even though she is a medical doctor by profession, So when we started today even though my father and I had a breakfast of bread and butter my mother just had a cup of black tea and she came on an empty stomach and would only eat after our Darshan at the Kamakhya temple was over. We finally reached the top of the Nilachal hills and went to the parking area of the Kamakhya temple to halt our car and head towards the Kamakhya temple entrance.
A road further connects vehicles on the top of the hill where there are more temples like the Maa Bagala Devi temple. After the Kamakhya temple another very important temple shrine is that of the Maa Bagala temple a little further up. I had heard about the Maa Bagala temple from a few of my friends and the unique offerings for worship that are provided by the devotees to this temple shrine. My friends told me that in order to appease the Goddess at the Maa Bagala temple, the devotees offer alcohol and fish to the pujari at the temple who consume a part of it and provide it back to the devotees that in turn is the Prasad from the temple. At first I thought that my friends were just joking about this but later I was confirmed about this ritual practice and yes off course the devotees in order to appease the Goddess offered alcohol and fish here and this ritual is a common practice on Tuesdays at the Maa Bagala temple that sees a huge rush on this day of the week. I wanted to witness this practice in person but perhaps on another day as today we were here to seek the blessings of Goddess Kamakhya. At the temple entry of the senior Pandas of the Kamakhya temple greeted and welcomes us and he was known to my father from long ago. As there was another VIP dignitary visiting the temple today and the Panda was supposed to help them with the temple Darshan so he entrusted our Darshan to another of the Panda who took us inside the Kamakhya temple premise. It was a kind gesture for the Panda to at least welcome us and tell us that he was entrusted with this other Darshan and that time I realized that my father held a respectable position here at the Kamakhya temple.
He showed me the Bhog Ghar that was constructed at the Kamakhya temple premises during his tenure at NECF and at that time I felt proud to be a part of this. Once you enter the Kamakhya temple there are many shops selling puja items to be carried inside the temple and also there are small restaurants and sweets shops as well. I could see few devotees carrying a goat along with them for the sacrifice rituals and I felt a little uncomfortable during that time. But it was a belief of the people who come to the Maa Kamakhya temple and to be frank I was no one to question their belief and I too am a non-vegetarian who loves to eat mutton. There is a flight of stairs that leads to the temple shrine and we started to walk towards the main entrance gate of the Kamakhya temple. As it was a Sunday and off day so many devotees had come to offer their worship at the Kamakhya temple shrine. My father wanted to purchase the offerings to be provided at the temple shrine at one of the shops but the Panda told us that he would arrange for everything and so we followed him. These Pandas are holy men at the temple and they help the devotees to offer their prayers at the Kamakhya temple shrine and some of them are highly educated as well leaving their jobs to work at the temple. The Panda who had met us earlier my father told me had an engineering degree from a prestigious college and of late he had left his job to become a Panda at the Kamakhya temple.
The Panda asked us to wait and he went to speak to someone. In the meantime he asked us to remove our footwear at a place in front of the temple main entrance gate as it is a practice for every devotee here at the Kamakhya temple to remove their shoes and then enter the temple premises after washing their feet at the pond area as told to me by the Panda. We removed our footwear and we were provided with a paper token number and on return we had to give back the paper token and pay a nominal amount towards the safe keeping of our shoes and collect them back. Many of the shops below also offer to keep the shoes of the devotees at their shops on a condition that a person makes purchase of the puja items at the shop. The Panda came back and he took us to the VIP counter pass where he had arranged for our pass and we had to show our faces to confirm that he was taking the three of us inside itself at the counter. We finally made it to the main courtyard area of the Maa Kamakhya temple and the place was full of devotees some preparing to enter the temple inner sanctum, some burning incense at the altar outside, some taking a round of the temple area, some feeding the pigeons. The Panda took us to cleanse out feet and hands at the holy pond that is located towards the right of the temple and the water here is pumped in from the Brahmaputra river. The many devotees who were preparing to enter the inner sanctum of the Maa Kamakhya temple were one by one taking turns to wash their feet at this pond.
There is an idol of Lord Ganesha kept near the pond and the Panda told us that is believed that one must seek the blessings of Lord Ganesha before doing something auspicious so we seeked the blessings of the Lord. I could see the long queue of people who didn’t purchase the VIP ticket and instead were lining up at the queue to get ready to visit the inner sanctum of the Kamakhya temple shrine. I admired the architecture around the Maa Kamakhya temple walls and the beautiful stone carved statues looked very wonderful. The Panda told me that once we area out of the inner sanctum of the temple he would take me around the temple as a part of the ritual and show me the idols that are present at the Maa Kamakhya temple. We were taken to a door opening and led towards the entrance of the inner sanctum. There are two rows to the entrance and one row is the general queue and the other is the VIP pass queue. We were directed via this queue to go to the Kamakhya temple inner sanctum and both the queues merge at the inner sanctum entry door. We passed through the passage way and reached the entry door and here we had to wait for a while as both the queues had merged and a person was allowing people to pass through the door one by one once the inner sanctum of the Kamakhya temple was getting free from the devotees. After a short wait we finally entered the holy shrine of the Kamakhya temple and here again one has to queue and follow the people ahead of them to go under the sanctum to touch the holy water that is fed from an underground stream and touch the holy water that is a symbol of blessings for the devotees who come to the Kamakhya temple.
It was dark inside with the various lit earthen lamps providing light along with certain light bulbs and we had to wait for our turn to visit the inner sanctum. There were various idols of Gods and Goddesses kept inside and there were provisions for the devotees to make a donation here as well. It was a circular round formation of people who were all waiting to go underground to touch the holy water at the Kamakhya temple and we slowly kept inching forward to reach towards the place. This is where the Kamakhya temple Darshan take a lot of time and for a complete Darshan one has to spare at least three hours with the VIP pass or else one has to spare almost a day to enter and complete the Darshan of Goddess Kamakhya. Finally we managed to go underground to the shrine of the holy water and it was completely dark inside and there were many devotees inside who were going in dipping their hands in the holy water and sprinkling some water on their heads and some were even drinking the water as Prasad. I couldn’t see a thing and there was only a stone present there and no idol of the Goddess and this stone itself is believed to be blessed by Kamakhya Devi Maa here at the Kamakhya temple.
The ventilation was almost nil and I was already feeling claustrophobic and thankfully with the touching of the water our Darshan here at the inner sanctum of the Kamakhya temple was over. We headed out of the shrine and the Panda was waiting for us at the gate and he had bought along with him a puja offering that had flowers, sindur, a piece of cloth, Prasad, a coconut, incense, earthen lamp and a few other things including the holy water packed in a plastic bag. The next step of Darshan here at the Kamakhya temple was to break the coconut at a worship spot and I went with the coconut in my hand and the Panda asked me to hit it on a hard surface at the spot and pour the coconut water at the statue that was present and I obliged. It was no so easy as it looked and about twice the coconut just bounced back without the shell breaking and I got lucky the third time and whatever water remained inside the fruit I poured it on the statue and came back and handed it over to the Panda. My parents lit the candle and the dias at a spot where it is to be lit and also incense at a spot where there is a huge statue of the Goddess. After this we were offered the Prasad to eat and the Panda packed the remaining items in a bag and handed it back to us. The final step of the Darshan was to take five rounds around the temple and this would complete the Darshan.
While my mother sat behind my father and I started to make our rounds around the temple shrine and this was when I got to admire the beautiful stone carved structure of the Maa Kamakhya temple and the beautiful idols here as well. Behind the temple there is a place where the animal sacrifice happens and I could see the devotees carrying their goats to this place for sacrificial offering. I did not want to look into this practice but the place was visible and only I could see a huge sword like structure that was seen. I quickly walked past the spot and continued on my five rounds to end our Darshan at the Kamakhya temple. The Panda offered his final blessings and we paid him some donation as our gratitude of thanks for helping us to explore the beautiful Kamakhya temple. Post this we came out of the temple shrine and went to collect our shoes and later we went to a restaurant downstairs to have our breakfast. The place was selling hot puri sabji and we ordered it to have it with tea. My mother was now famished and she quickly finished her breakfast and we headed back towards the exit before my father took me to the Bhog Ghar to show me his name inscribed on the walls on a marble slab. With this our visit to the Kamakhya temple ended and we boarded our car to drive to my uncle’s house at Panbazar in Guwahati.
Exploring Kamakhya Temple with our guests from USA
In November 2019 I had the opportunity to host my guests from USA who toured with me across Assam and Meghalaya. A visit to Kamakhya temple was a priority as their group leader was a certified Yoga instructor and he appreciated the various aspects of the cult of Shakti and the tantric practices that were prevalent in the older times across the temples of India especially the Maa Kamakhya temple. Josh was the founder and promoter of Tapta Marg productions – a unique Yoga studio based out of New Mexico in USA and over the years he had travelled across India and had also led several groups to the unique historical places of worship in India. When he visited the Kamakhya temple in 2017 he knew that he had to lead a group to tour across Assam and Meghalaya and especially at the Kamakhya temple, Kaziranga National Park and the Living Root Bridge in Meghalaya. He contacted me through the internet and asked me if I could arrange for his tour and I agreed as I was free during his time of visit and the fact that he had planned almost 10 months prior to his tour. I planned the entire tour arrangements and before their arrival at Guwahati all the travel and stay arrangements were complete. To arrange for the VIP pass for their entry to the Inner Sanctum I visited the Kamakhya temple once priorly and held a meeting with a Panda who assured me that all arrangements for the Darshan of our group of 12 members he would take care of. The group was scheduled to arrive on November 12th and we would be ending our tour on November 19th.
So in the first week of November I verified all the arrangements and cross checked with the Panda at the Kamakhya temple who assured me again that he will take care of all the arrangements and so I was rest assured that nothing could go wrong. On driving across Guwahati city during the first week of November I could see huge signage’s welcoming visitors to the Pushkar festival and when I enquired about it was a celebration of the mighty Brahmaputra river and visitors would be coming to celebrate this river of Assam and its various bounties. What I didn’t realize was the flow of tourists would be so heavy and I realized this as calls to my phone kept on increasing with people enquiring about arranging safari rides and tours to Kaziranga National Park at the last moment. This was when I realized that there would be a large rush at the Kamakhya temple as well and I called the Panda again who threw a bomb at me stating that arranging of 12 VIP Passes will not be possible. I felt a fit of rage running inside me and I spoke to him harshly as to why he couldn’t make the arrangements much priorly when I had contacted him about two months ago to which he had a prompt reply that VIP passes are issued only a day before the entry of the visitors at the Inner sanctum of the Kamakhya temple. I still asked him to figure a way to arrange for the passes and the next day he came up with the idea for our group’s entry to the inner sanctum of the Maa Kamakhya temple. It seemed that per local visitors two passes were being issued and so I had to arrange for 6 people to whom passes would be issued.
So I planned that there would be myself, four of the Innova taxi drivers and one of my colleagues on whose name the pass would be issued and so this thing was sorted out. Finally the day of the group’s arrival came and I headed to the airport along with the four Innova vehicles to pick them up from the airport. I welcomed the group of 12 members who were an aged group (but looked all excited to be here) with a Gamusa for each of them and we started on our drive to the Vivanta by Taj Hotel at Khanapara in Guwahati. The traffic was bad at Garchuk area and we required almost an hour and forty five minutes to cover the drive. The visitors checked into their rooms and only 8 of them come out to have dinner at the Maihang restaurant while the others stayed back and ordered the food at the Hotel itself. Our day ended at 8.30 PM and we headed back home to begin our day at 7.30 AM the next day. Today we were scheduled to visit the Kamakhya temple in the morning and later in the day travel to Sualkuchi the silk village of Assam and the largest silk weaving village in the world. Our group was scheduled to leave the hotel at 8 AM and I would drive directly to the Kamakhya temple instructing the taxi drivers to pick the group from the hotel on time and bring them to the Kamakhya temple premises. The moment I reached Kamakhya temple I could see the rush of the devotees who had come from across India and mostly they were from South India.
I spoke to Josh the prior evening about the rush in our situation and he agreed not to visit the inner sanctum owing to the rush and to maintain our timing and so I conveyed the same to our Panda who was ok with it but he had made all the arrangements and even if they wanted to enter the inner sanctum of the Kamakhya temple he could have arranged it. I asked the Panda to continue with his work and I would call him once the group arrived at the Kamakhya temple premises. There was a huge crowd gathering and it was possible at that time before the outbreak of COVID 19 and this was one major tour I could complete before the pandemic struck across the World. The tourism industry of Assam suffered hard in 2019 and 2020 at first due to the Citizenship Amendment Bill that was places and passed into an act to become the Citizenship Amendment Act, the clashes between the tribal and non-tribal communities in Meghalaya and finally the COVID 19 that completely crippled the tourism industry around the World. Looking back at this time when I was waiting at the Kamakhya temple I think as to how different times were just a few months back when we had the independence to do anything and travel around the World peacefully and for the misdeeds of a certain ethnic group the entire World had to suffer. Anyways I was waiting for the group at the entrance of the Kamakhya temple and in sometime I spotted the Innovas coming and the group got down from the vehicle and I led them to the entrance gate of the Kamakhya temple.
The Panda caught up with us and he welcomed everyone to the holy temple shrine of Maa Kamakhya temple. As it was decided that we won’t be entering the inner sanctum of the Kamakhya temple so the Panda would take us for a tour around the temple and show us the deity from the space outside of the temple from where it can be viewed. The Panda led the group and I followed him translating what he was telling me to inform the group. Our group had visited few of the temples in Kolkata and so they were not much surprised with the rush of the people who were here and they were rather enjoying the vibrancy of life here in India. The group walked slowly through the stairs and we reached the spot where we had to remove our shoes for safe keeping and then proceed inside the main entrance gate of the Kamakhya temple. Owing to the huge rush of devotees adequate security measures were deployed at the Kamakhya temple and visitors were being screened with a metal detector and the purses of the ladies being checked as well. After all the formalities we finally entered the main courtyard of the Kamakhya temple at Guwahati in Assam. The long queue of the devotees could be seen and they had come as early as 4 AM in the morning to wait in the queue to have a glimpse of the holy Goddess and to touch the water at the Inner sanctum of the Maa Kamakhya temple.
The group members were led to the Kamakhya temple pond to cleanse their feet and hands before we started on our temple Darshan and I had to lead them as the stairway was slippery and carefully they climbed down the stairway and held the water in their hands to cleanse their feet. They were surprised to see the other devotees pouring some water over their head and that when the panda told me to tell them that this pond water is considered very auspicious by the devotees who come to the Kamakhya temple as it is the waters of the Brahmaputra river and many devotees consider this river to be sacred one especially when it is associated with a powerful Goddess like Maa Kamakhya. The statue of Lord Ganesha is present here and another Panda told our group as to why this idol of Lord Ganesha is present here because as per Hindu customs it is considered to be sacred to start with the blessings of Lord Ganesha whenever you are out to do something good or buy something new and what could be better than seeking the blessings of Goddess Kamakhya at the Kamakhya temple itself. We went back on top and Josh assemble d the group and he spoke to them about the temple and why it is so revered in the Hindu mythology and he asked me to add to it and I explained to the group members about the significance of the Holy Maa Kamakhya temple. Josh explained about the Shakti Peethas and told that out of the 51 Shakti Peethas in India, Kamakhya temple is one among them and how when Sati’s body was cut into 51 pieces and how Lord Shiva carried her cut body in his arms flying around the Indian Subcontinent performing the Tandav Nritya and how the 51 body pieces fell each on a mountain top and a temple shrine was constructed at each of the 51 sites and how womb part fell on the Nilachal hills in Guwahati where the Kamakhya temple is situated today.
I added about the Ambubachi Mela festival that is held here at the Kamakhya temple every year in the month of Asad (June) and how this festival is considered as a celebration of womanhood. During these three days of celebration of the Ambubachi Mela thousands of Naga Sadhus and thousands of devotees congregate at the Kamakhya temple to celebrate the pride of being a woman – the ability to give birth to a life. It is believed that in this auspicious occasion month Goddess Kamakhya menstruates and the Kamakhya temple doors are closed for three days. During these three days it is believed that the waters of the Brahmaputra river turns red in the area near the Kamakhya temple and this is actually because the Pandas add vermillion to the water that symbolizes that the Goddess is menstruating and the waters has turned red because of this. On the fourth day the Kamakhya temple doors are opened to the devotees who throng the temple premises in thousands to touch the holy water and seek blessings of Goddess Kamakhya. The devotees are offered a red piece of cloth after their Darshan that symbolizes the cloth being coloured with the blood of the Goddess and this cloth is tied at the entrance of the house to ward off any evil.
The power of faith in God can be witnessed here at the Kamakhya temple and with this we started on our Darshan of the Kamakhya temple at Guwahati in Assam. As we were not entering the inner sanctum so the Panda took us around the temple to a shrine where we could witness the inner sanctum but couldn’t touch the holy water and he assured me that we would get the holy water packed in a plastic bag to be offered to our group members to complete the Darshan. Owning to the heavy rush we had to walk slowly and follow the queue of devotees who were ahead of us. The Panda put his efforts to drive the crowd early from the shrine as the devotees were taking too long to offer their prayers and there was another Panda asking the devotees to quickly each their prayers because the arrival of devotees were continuing in huge numbers. The faith of the devotees is so intense towards Goddess Kamakhya that even though they were forcefully being asked to vacant the shrine they hung onto the walls refusing to leave the spot and spend their time in the worship of Goddess Kamakhya. Anyways we too reached the shrine in the sanctum and our group members viewed the idol here and we came out to a prayer hall where we offered our prayers to be blessed by another Panda and later we came out of the Kamakhya temple shrine at the temple courtyard. Here we clicked our pictures and the Panda offered his final prayers to us. He arrived carried with him a bunch of holy thread that he helped tie on the hands of the members of our group.
Every member wanted to contribute some donation towards the Panda and I collected the money on behalf of the group and handed it to the Panda who thanked everyone for visiting the Kamakhya temple and later he left showering his final blessings. The group members were allowed 45 minutes to explore the area of the Kamakhya temple on their own before we headed out of the temple to go on our drive to have our lunch at the Borluit restaurant at North Guwahati and then head further to Sualkuchi. Some of the members wanted to use the toilet and so I took them to the public washroom to freshen up and later we assembled back on top to collect our shoes and came back down where I called the Innova vehicles and we started on our 30 min drive to North Guwahati to have our early lunch thereby ending our Darshan at the Maa Kamakhya temple with our guests from USA.
The Kamakhya temple is no doubt the most visited temple shrine in North East India and attracts hundreds of devotees each day from India and across the World. These devotees of Maa Kamakhya come here either to seek blessings of the divine Goddess and help them, to get rid of the difficulties in life or to achieve a certain wish they have in mind. Some visitors come here to admire the architecture of this magnificent temple shrine and to be a part of the various mysteries surrounding the Kamakhya temple shrine. During certain festivals like the Ambubachi Mela, each day lakhs of devotees throng to the Kamakhya temple to seek blessings of the Goddess and to manage a smooth Darshan process a strong management team is needed to be present at the administration of the Kamakhya temple at Guwahati in Assam. These efficient members and priests of the administration of the Kamakhya temple trust ensure that the day to day functions at the Kamakhya temple go on in a smooth fashion. The Kamakhya temple shrine distributes Prasad in the form of afternoon meals at the huge Bhog Ghar area of the temple complex and to control the food preparations and distribution for hundreds of devotees everyday such an efficient administration is absolutely necessary.
These members of the Kamakhya temple trust are called as Shebaits and the division of the day to day routine for the efficient running of the services of the Kamakhya temple are distributed among these Shebaits at the temple. The Shebaits at the Kamakhya temple are divided into two major categories namely the Brahmin Shebaits who are the Bardeuris, Chandipathaks and Supakars. The Bordeuris are the Five Pandas of the Holy Kamakhya temple shrine who are primarily responsible for the entire administration and the puja rituals of the Kamakhya temple. The Bardeuris who are the main priests are responsible for the main prayer rituals of Goddess Kamakhya and they also perform the puja rituals at the other temples that are present at the Kamakhya temple complex. The Bidhipathaks are responsible for the recital of the sacred mantras that are to be recited during the puja rituals performed by the Bordeuris. The Chandipathaks are responsible for the recitation of the chandi during other special puja rituals at the Kamakhya temple viz. the Durga puja, Deodhani puja, etc. The Supakars on the other hand are responsible to overlook the operations at the Bhog Ghar and the entire cooking process at the Bhog Ghar of the Kamakhya temple because as per Hindu customs it is believed that the Brahmins are the holy people (people of God) and it is auspicious to have food cooked by the hands of these Brahmins.
Apart from the Brahmin Shebaits at the Kamakhya temple who look after the puja rituals and the food preparations for the devotees there are a number of non-Brahmin Shebaits as well who look after various other operations at the Kamakhya temple apart from the main puja rituals. For example, at the Kamakhya temple devotees bring in goats for sacrifice and someone has to look after the rituals of the sacrifice of these animals at the Kamakhya temple and this task is executed by the ‘Balikata’ people at the Kamakhya temple. In order to maintain decorum of the devotees who enter the main gate to visit the main shrine of the Kamakhya temple and to maintain the entry timings of the devotees to the temple someone has to take responsibility of opening and closing the main entrance gate of the Kamakhya temple premise and this task is performed by the ‘Duari’ people of the Kamakhya temple. The puja rituals are an elaborate process and it is considered very sacred and so utmost cleanliness of the puja shrine has to be maintained before and after the puja is performed of Goddess Kamakhya and this task of keeping the shrine premises neat and clean is performed by the ‘Athpara’ people of the Kamakhya temple. To prepare food for the hundreds of devotees each day and efficient warehouse has to be maintained to keep stock of the food grains and vegetables and this task of maintaining the warehouse or Bhandar premise of the Kamakhya temple is maintained by the ‘Bharalnath’ people of the Kamakhya temple. With hundreds and thousands of devotees coming in, the accounts of the temple have to be strictly maintained with the donations and expenditures flowing in and out of the Kamakhya temple along with the various purchase for food grains and other stuff and the task of maintaining the accounts of the Kamakhya temple is entrusted to the ‘Bharali’ people of the temple. The Kamakhya temple shrine has numerous metal idols of the various Hindu Gods and Goddess and some are made of gold as well. These statues lose their shine because of the accumulation of dust and weather conditions and so in order to bring back the shrine of these idols and statues there are a group of dedicated goldsmith working at the Kamakhya temple and these people are called as the ‘Sonaris’. Tamul Paan or Betel nut and leaves are an important part of the offerings of puja and it is often consumed by the people of the Kamakhya temple administration as an offerings of after food that aids in digestion and the supply of these betel nuts and leaves to the members of the Kamakhya temple administration was entrusted to the ‘Tamuli’ people. Water is a very important resource that is needed to maintain the smooth operations of the Kamakhya temple as it is used for all cooking and cleaning related activities. The duty of offering water to the Bhog Ghar and the Pithasthan of the Kamakhya temple is entrusted to the ‘Bhog-Panei’ people. The ‘Chaulkare’ people are responsible for measuring the quantities of rice needed for the Bhog preparations. Though it might not sound like a huge task but when you are preparing food for hundreds and thousands of devotees this proves to be a major temple task.
The Kamakhya temple administration had entrusted people the work on various tasks and for even minute tasks a group of people were assigned so that the administration was utmost and efficient. For example, numerous crows come to the temple and often cause disturbance during the puja and food preparations and the task to drive away these crows are entrusted to the ‘Khetania’ people. The ‘Gayan/Bayan’ people of the Kamakhya temple perform singing and dancing at the temple premises during special occasions and the ‘Dandadhora’ people are entrusted to hold the royal insignia called as the ‘Danda’ during the Durga puja festival. The ‘Jagamukali’ people clear the place of sacrifice at the Kamakhya temple premises after a sacrifice is performed and the ‘Dadharua’ people are responsible to sharpen the various sacrificial knives used during the sacrifice rituals at the Kamakhya temple. The daily routine that is followed by the members of the Kamakhya temple administration wherein early in the morning the cleaning of the Pithasthana is done followed by a puja. A little later the Kamakhya temple doors are opened to the devotees. The temple doors are closed in the afternoon to be followed by distribution of food and the doors are reopened later afternoon to close again in the evening followed by the final Aarti of the Goddess in the evening.
Where to stay and eat during your visit to the Kamakhya temple ~
The Kamakhya temple is the most visited temple shrine in Assam and North East India and everyday hundreds of devotees come to the Kamakhya temple from across India and abroad as well to seek the Darshan/blessings of the Holy Goddess. Because the temple complex is located atop a hill on a level surface so the feasibility to construct many hotels or guest houses is not possible on an inclined surface of the mountain and whatever stay option are present near the Kamakhya temple are mostly at the top of the Nilachal hills near the temple complex. Though one cannot find any luxurious accommodations here, basic hotels/guest houses with clean rooms and bathrooms are available and the devotees can make their reservations at these hotels via a travel service company. Also there is a Prashanti Tourist Lodge that is a guest house facility operated by the Assam Tourism Development Corporation and this is a decent place to stay. But as hundreds of visitors come to the Kamakhya temple each day and most of these from outside the state so these hotels and guesthouses at the vicinity of the Kamakhya temple are mostly booked much prior so one has to ensure to make their travel plans early and keep their reservations confirmed at these hotels.
But even if you are not able to find a place to stay at the vicinity of the Kamakhya temple shrine you can always chose to stay in the Guwahati city that has numerous hotels, lodges, guesthouses, homestays and hostels. With the availability of operations of various taxi aggregators UBER and OLA and the bike sharing services like Rapido and UBER Moto commuting across Guwahati city has become a hassle free process these days from earlier when one had to rely on the services of the mischievous auto rickshaws drivers who used to charge a lot of money to travel even short distances. The various city busses both private and government owned ply regularly across the city roads to connect from one end of the city to the other either from Khanapara/Basistha to Adabari bus stop and thankfully the Kamakhya temple foothills is located near to the Adabari bus stop and so visitors can also hire the services of these city busses and come to the Kamakhya temple foothill by coming and boarding these busses from any of the designated bus stops. From the foothills of the Nilachal hills to the top where the Kamakhya temple is located one can find many trekkers and small vans that drive to the hill top ferrying passengers including a series of the govt. operated ASTC busses. However if you are hiring the services of UBER and OLA taxis then these vehicles will bring you directly to the Nilachal hills top and stop you in front of the entrance and you can walk towards the Kamakhya temple shrine.
So even if a devotee doesn’t find a place to stay near the temple shrine one can find numerous stay options in Guwahati city as well. Right from the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport one can find various accommodation options like the Kiranshree Portico and Treebo hotels and from Jalukbari to Khanapara one can find the luxury hotels like Radisson Blu, Vivanta by Taj and Novotel hotels. Other luxury hotels in Guwahati city are Hotel Lily, Hotel Palacio, Hotel Tokyo Towers, Hotel Nakshatra, Hotel Rajdhani, Hotel Gateway Grandeur, Guwahati Address, Hotel Grand Starline, Hotel Awesome Palace, Hotel Dynasty, Hotel Nandan, Landmark Hotels, etc. These hotels range from 2 Star to 5 Star categories. In addition to the taxi aggregators these hotels offer the taxi hire services as well and you can approach the front desk for making the reservations. The taxi aggregators in Guwahati mostly have smaller cars like Alto and Wagon R and so in case you are a big family or group you can approach the hotel desk to make luxury taxi reservations like the Toyota Innova. The best way to visit the Kamakhya temple and other places in Assam and nearby states is to hire the services of a tour operator who can handle all your needs like taxi booking, hotel bookings, Kamakhya temple VIP entry pass, other entry permits, safari bookings, river cruise bookings and many other activities related to your entire tour of the Kamakhya temple at Guwahati in Assam.
In addition to the various hotels and guest houses the concept of homestays is coming up as well and one can find accommodation options at various mobile apps like AIRBNB and Booking to book these accommodation options at Guwahati in Assam. So the bottom line is that even if you do not find an accommodation option near Kamakhya temple there is nothing to worry because you can find many other places to stay and have a successful Darshan of Goddess Kamakhya at the temple. As far as food goes it is recommended that one has to visit the Kamakhya temple shrine early in the morning on an empty stomach because this is as per rituals. So after you finish your Darshan you can eat breakfast at many small eateries that are nearby the Kamakhya temple shrine and off course do not miss out the Bhog that is served at the Bhog Ghar of the Kamakhya temple and is prepared by the Pandas of Kamakhya. Just at the entrance when you start climbing the stairs there are three to four small restaurants that serve a varied cuisine like puri sabji, aalo paratha, dosas, idli, etc. At the temple complex downstairs too there are two restaurants that serve hot puri sabji, sweets and tea. So once you finish your Darshan at the temple you do not have to worry about you food and just come over and take you seat at these restaurants and food will be served to you. After finishing your Darshan at the Kamakhya temple you can visit various restaurants in Guwahati cityu to savour delicious cuisines.
Guwahati is a fast growing city and is the hub of the business activities of North East India and so many students and workmen come to Guwahati for various states of North East India to pursue higher studies and for job as well and so the city has become a centre of cuisine and Assamese cuisine itself is much various due to the indigenous people of Assam and other tribes of North Eastern states also have started various food outlets in Guwahati and so once you finish your complete Darshan at the Kamakhya temple and plan to venture to other destinations nearby Guwahati city you can spend an evening relinquishing the various cuisines of the people of Assam and North East India here in Guwahati. Various restaurants and pubs offering varied cuisine and fast food are to be found in Guwahati and one can witness the rich taste of the food here. The Assamese thali is one of the must try for every visitor to the state and the thali comes in a vegetarian platter and non-veg accompaniments can be ordered along with it if you prefer to eat non veg food or else the plain thali itself is very delicious and has various offerings from dal, rice, sabjis, chutney, pitikas, pickles, salad, etc. and is served on bell metal plates and saucers. Another must try option is the momos that is a signature dish for many people in Assam and one can find various fillings inside the momo from vegetables to meat as well.
If you are interested in authentic Bengali cuisine then you can visit Maligaon which is near to the Kamakhya temple and there is a restaurant here named as Maa Manasha that serves some ethnic Bengali cuisine and one can savour a vegetarian thali that comes along with rice, dal, sabji, chutney, pickle, vorta, etc. and along with it one can order a plethora of non-veg dishes ranging from various varieties of fish along with chicken and mutton. Such food joint are to be found in abundance across the city of Guwahati and also the modern cuisines from the top fast food brands also have their outlets across the city ranging from KFC, Pizza Hut, Dominos, Subway, etc. Some of the other cuisines you can try are the Manipuri, Naga, Khasi, Punjabi, Malayali and Tamil because a lot of people from these communities reside in Guwahati and the need to have a food of their taste has always been their liking. The stretch from Paltan Bazar to Khanapara has numerous restaurants of varied cuisines and after your Darshan at the Kamakhya temple you can surely visit these places to savour some of their traditional food. Numerous tribes of Assam also stay in and around Guwahati like the Mishings, Rabha, Bodo, Karbi, Towa, Ahoms, etc. and even their cuisine is very much different from other cuisines in India and their food is mostly boiled or roasted with a lot of natural ingredients and herbs and one can try their food at any of the authentic tribal restaurants in Guwahati after their visit to the Maa Kamakhya temple.
To sum up some of the popular Hotels to stay in Guwahati after your visit to the Kamakhya temple are:
- Vivanta by Taj at Khanapara
- Radisson Blu at Boragaon
- Novotel Hotel at Six Mile
- Gateway Grandeur at GS Road
- Grand Starline at GS Road
- Kiranshree Grand at Paltan Bazar
- Kiranshree Puertico at Azara
- Hotel Nakshatra at Beltola
- Hotel Royal De Casa at Survey
- Hotel Lily at Khanapara
- Hotel Palacio at Khanapara
- Hotel Shoolin Grand at Six Mile
- Guwahati Address at Zoo Road
- Hotel Nandan at Paltan Bazar
- Hotel Dynasty at Fancy Bazar
- Bhargav Grand at Betkuchi
- Awesome Palace at GS Road
- Hotel Ambarish at Ganeshguri
- Hotel Landmark at B Barooah Rod
- Hotel VIP at Kalapahar
Some of the popular restaurants in Guwahati city are:
- Hotel Paradise – Silpukhuri for Assamese Cuisine
- Heritage Khorika – Silpukhuri for Assamse Cusine
- Momo Ghar – Ambari for Momos and fast food
- Maa Manasha – Maligaon for Bengali cuisine
- City Dhaba – Ulubari for Indian cuisine
- Rang De Bansanti Dhaba – GS Road for Punjabi cuisine
- KFC – Ulubari for fast food
- Barbecue Nation – Ulubari for barbecue buffet
- Pizza Hut – GS road for Pizza
- Subway – GS road for subs
- John’s Naga Kitchen – GS road for Naga cuisine
- Mishing Kitchen – Hengrabari – Mishing tribe cuisine
- Gam’s Delicacy – Ganeshguri for Assamese and Mishing cuisine
- Kareng the Ahom Kitchen – Zoo Road for Ahom cuisine
- Manipuri Hotels at Paltan Bazar for Manipuri cuisine
Places to visit after Kamakhya temple Darshan ~
1. Kaziranga National Park
The famous tourist place of Assam which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a Project Tiger Reserve and IBA (Important Bird Area) – Kaziranga National Park is a must visit for any tourist to Assam after their Darshan at the Kamakhya temple. Kaziranga National Park is famous for being home to the highest population of the Indian One Horned Rhinoceros anywhere in the World along with many other animals like Tigers, Wild Elephants, Leopards, Hog Deer’s, Asiatic Wild Water Buffaloes, Gibbons, Hoolock Gibbons, many Bird species, Reptiles, etc. The drive from Kamakhya temple to Kaziranga National Park takes about 4 hours and one can hire the services of a local tour operator to plan their visit to the Kaziranga National Park from Kamakhya temple in Guwahati. Various hotels, resorts and guest houses are available for all the comfortable stay of tourists at Kaziranga and to go for jungle safari into the interiors of Kaziranga to sight the numerous animal species there are two optio viz. Elephant Safari and Jeep Safari. The elephant safari ride takes about an hour to complete and happens only in the morning at 5 AM and 6.30 AM slots. The Jeep ride happens throughout the day in the morning hours up to 10 AM and afain in the afternoon from 1.30 to 2.30 PM (last entry time). So after you finish the visit to Kamakhya temple make sure to drive to Kaziranga National Park for a wildlife experidnce of a lifetime. To sum up:
Kaziranga National Park:
- Is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Home to the highest population of Indian One Horned Rhinoceros anywhere in the World and the highest population density of Royal Bengal tigers
- A successful conservation story of the Indian Rhinoceros and tigers and visited by dignitaries including Prince William and Kate Middleton. Presently Kevin Peterson is here filming a documentary on rhino conservation
- Has a huge population of Asiatic Elephants, Asiatic wild water buffaloes, swamp deer’s along with the only Ape found in India the Hoolock gibbon
- An Important Bird Area IBA classified by IUCN
- Kaziranga Orchid and Biodiversity Park cum Bamboo Garden is the largest Orchid Park in India
- The vast diversity of the core area of the Park (430 sq. km) can be covered across on Elephant and Jeep Safari rides in one of the four ranges
2. Majuli Island ~
The largest river island in the World and the hub of the Neo Vaishnavite cult of Assam, Majuli island is another popular tourist destination of Assam one should visit after the Darshan at the Kamakhya temple. About two hours of drive from Kaziranga will take you to the Neemati Ghat from where another hour’s ferry ride will take you to Majuli. The great Saint reformer of Assam Srimanta Shankardeva had established numerous Satras in Majuli that promoted the spirit of ‘Eksarna’ that all human beings are alike and should not be discriminated on the basis of caste, creed or colour. The Satras of Majuli Island are now a popular tourist attraction and one can learn a lot about the culture of Assam here. Various arts and crafts are practiced in these Satras of Majuli and one noteworthy art to mention is that of the Art of Mask Making with hand and the art of traditional pottery making with hands. The Mishing people of Majuli Island are an indigenous tribe inhabiting the island who have since long preserved their ancient culture and traditions. Their traditional bamboo houses built on an elevated platform is a must visit along with the traditional tribal kitchen that churns out some exquisite cuisines and their handlooms work is the finest in Assam.
- Majuli is the largest river island in the world and the hub of the Neovaishnavite cult of Assam and home to the legendary Mishing tribes of Assam
- The Neovaishnavite Satras are the Assamese Monasteries where the monks practice religious discourses and practice various arts and crafts like bamboo handicrafts, boat making, traditional mask making, traditional pottery making, etc. The handloom weaving of the Mishing people are renowned across the World
- The Sattriya Nritya practiced at the Uttar Kamalabari Satra is one of the eight classical dance forms of India performed only by the male members of the Satra.
- The Republic Day tableau of Assam that has been winning the 1st prize for the past 2 years is based on the art and crafts of Majuli
- Mishing people belong the greater Tani group who migrated from Northern China to the plains of Assam and have a rich and varied culture with numerous festivals centred around harvest.
3. Sivasagar ~
If the architecture of the Kamakhya temple impressed you (which surely will) then a visit to Sivasagar after your Darshan at the Kamakhya temple is a must. The capital of the Ahom Kingdom (ancient Rongpur, Sivasagar today is an important town in Assam known for its oil drilling operations at Nazira and has some remnants of the finest architecture of the Ahoms. The Ahom kings were renowned for their love for architecture and they had built many temples across Assam that was a design borrowed from the Kamakhya temple and their architectural finesse can be seen in the monuments at Sivasagar. The Ahoms also believed in burial of their kings and queens and along with the body remains all their royal ornaments were also buried along with them reminding one of the Pharaohs of Egypt and the Pyramids. These burials can be seen at the Charaideo Maidam near Sivasagar. Another very famous temple of Assam is the Sivadoul at Sivasagar and this temple shrine is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple dome structure will remind you of the Kamakhya temple and the top of the temple dome has a huge gold idol. The Kareng Ghar or the Royal Palace is another one of the grand Ahom architecture along with the fort of the Talatal Ghar and the Asia’s Oldest Amphitheatre of the Rang Ghar.
4. Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary ~
Located about two hours’ drive from the Kamakhya temple is the pristine forests of the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary – home to the highest population density of the Indian One Horned Rhinoceros. This Wildlife Sanctuary is located at the heart of Mayong – the Black Magic capital of India and during earlier time the sorcerers of Mayong had great powers of Black magic to cause great magic tricks to either benefit or harm humans. The sorcerers of Mayong were believers of tantra and were devout devotees of Maa Kamakhya as the Kamakhya temple was a centre of the practice of Shakti and Tantra. The sorcerers of Mayong had the ability to tame a wild tiger, convert man into a goat, and make dead fishes come alive, treat a wide variety of human body ailments and even cause immense damage (both health and wealth) of a person just by using a strand of hair of the person. It is said that the sorcerers of Mayong had so much power of the tantra and the Ahom kings used their power to make an entire army of Mughal soldiers disappear with their magic. These practices have now been abolished and the remnants of the past can be viewed at the Mayong museum of Black Magic. But the place is now known for its grand viewing of the Indian One Horned Rhinoceros that can be spotted from up close here at the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary. So after your Darshan at the Kamakhya temple ensure to pay a visit to the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary to catch an Elephant or a Jeep Safari ride and spot the majestic Indian One Horned Rhinoceros along with various bird species here and also visit the Mayong museum of Black magic to witness the age old practices of Tantra and Shakti practices at the Kamakhya temple.
5. Shillong ~
After your Darshan at the Kamakhya temple a three hour drive to visit the Scotland of the East at Shillong should be a must on your visit to Assam and Meghalaya. The capital city of the state of Meghalaya, Shillong is the perfect blend of the modern and ancient World. From the time the British came and established Shillong as the capital of the erstwhile Assam (all North Eastern States combined) Shillong has still kept the glorious colonial charm alive and this can be witnessed in the landscapes of the city and the various houses and cathedrals of the city. The life and culture of the Khasi people of Meghalaya will remind you of the rich colonial past at Shillong as well. Inhabited by the Khasi people who follow a matrilineal society where the family lineage is taken from the mother’s side and the ancestral property is inherited by the daughter of the family, Shillong is a perfect example of women empowerment in the country. Some of the places of interest to explore in Shillong are the Polo grounds, Police Bazaar, Shillong Teer (ancient betting game), Shillong Golf course, Bara Bazar, Don Bosco Museum, Laitlum canyons, Ward’s lake, Smit Village, the Cathedrals and Churches of Shillong, Umiam Lake, Abbey Falls, Air Force Museum, Numerous Cafes and restaurants of Shillong, etc.
6. Cherrapunji ~
After you Darshan at the Kamakhya temple and your visit to Shillong you must proceed to visit one of the very pristine and green locations in Meghalaya at Cherrapunji. Cherrapunji once held the record of being the wettest place in Earth which it lost to Mawsynram (also in Meghalaya) and today Cherrapunji records the second highest rainfall in the World. This has led to the creation of numerous waterfalls across the place and Cherrapunji has two of the tallest waterfalls in India –the Nohkalikai and Mawsmai Falls. Also the place is home to numerous caves and two of these are available for public viewing viz. the Mawsmai and Arwah caves. Due to the immense amount of rainfall that pours here there are numerous small and remote villages inhabited by the local Khasi people and to connect these remote villages the locals came up with an indigenous idea of allowing roots of rubber trees to grow in a particular direction and this in turn created bridges that allowed them to cross to these village over the perennial streams. These living structures came to be known as the Living Root Bridges and Cherrapunji is home to some of these Living Root Bridges including the World famous Double Decker Living Root Bridge at Nongriat village. So when you visit Cherrapunji ensure to take the hike to Nongriat village to view this Bio Engineering marvel.
7. Mawlynnong and Dawki ~
After your Darshan at the Kamakhya temple and winding up your visit at Shillong and Cherrapunji head to the pristine village of Mawlynnong in Meghalaya and continue further to the border of India and Bangladesh at Dawki. Mawlynnong is known as the cleanest village in Asia and it is a quaint Khasi village of around 100 households and is a very popular tourist destination in Meghalaya mostly because it has the most easily accessible living root bridge in Meghalaya. The Riwai Living Root Bridge is a single decker living root bridge and the widest among all the living root bridges in Meghalaya as well and a short 5 minute walk from the vehicle parking will lead you to the Riwai Living Root bridge because all the other root bridges are at remote location and need a long walk across a flight of steep stairway to reach and is not accessible to middle age people who form a bulk of tourists visiting Meghalaya. Mawlynnong serves as a perfect rest over for lunch and the village offers beautiful views of the plains of Bangladesh as well. The border of India and Bangladesh at Dawki is famous for the crystal clear waters of the Umngot river at Dawki and the experience of boating on the waters here. One can also cross the Indian side of the border in between Bangladesh at the no man’s land at pillar 1275.
8. Shnongpdeng, Pynursla and Mawphlang ~
Few other less visited and less touristy places in Meghalaya are Shnongpdeng that is located near Dawki and is a prime village ecotourism destination that also offers adventure sports activities to its visitors. From boating on the Umngot river to snorkelling, kayaking, diving, etc. one can experience the thrill of adrenaline on the clear waters of the Umngot river at Shnongpdeng and even catch fish and cook it at any of the homestays and campsites available here. After winding up your visit on the way back to Guwahati make a halt at Pynursla village that is another clean village of Meghalaya and home to the longest living root bridge in the World. The longest living root bridge spans over 50 m and is about a 30 minute hike downstairs by a fleet of cemented stairs from Pynursla village and this is grandeur to view. The hike back takes quite some energy as the stairway is steep. Continue to Mawphlang to visit the Khasi hills sacred groves that is a forest pocket considered sacred by the local people and no tree is allowed to be cut from this pristine forest as many ancient rituals and prayers are performed here to the Gods and Goddesses. Later on embark on the David Scott trail trek that takes you on a thrilling hiking experience across the beautiful forests of Meghalaya on a trail that was once a very important trade route.
9. Mawsynram and Jowai ~
Another two popular destinations to explore after your Darshan at the Kamakhya temple and exploring the tourist destinations of Meghalaya are Mawsynram and Jowai. While Mawsynram is located in the East Khasi hills district about two hours’ drive from Shillong, Jowai is located in the Jaintia hills district of Meghalaya. Mawsynram is the place that records the highest rainfall anywhere in the World and is a place that has some amazing hot springs and World’s longest sandstone caves of Krem Puri. Mawsynram is famous for its caves and is gradually becoming an adventure tourism destination in Meghalaya along with the place of Mawlyngbna. The Jakrem hot springs at Mawsynram is said to have waters that are loaded with minerals and it is very good for the health of the body. Jowai is another popular destination in Meghalaya mostly because of the Krang Shuri waterfalls, few other waterfalls and the place that hosts the Bacardi Weekender festival in Meghalaya. Jowai is inhabited by the Jaintia people of Meghalaya who are the third largest tribes of Meghalaya after the Khasis and Garos. The local market at Jowai is a place to witness the various organic produce and the dried fish chutneys that are eaten as a part of their cuisine. The Krang Shuri falls and the Pitcher plant lake are a must visit at Jowai as well.
10. Manas National Park ~
After your Darshan at the Kamakhya temple plan your visit to the 2nd World Heritage Site of Assam at Manas National Park. A forest reserve filled with some of the most endangered animal and bird species, Manas National Park is the perfect example of how humans had once degraded an entire forest land and wiped it out of various species but later realized his mistake and took successful conservation measures to restore back the flora and fauna of the region. Today Manas National Park boasts of a significant population of Tigers, Indian One Horned Rhinoceros, Clouded Leopards, the Golden Langur and numerous species of birds that makes it an Important Bird Area (IBA) as well. The area of Manas National Park is inhabited by the Bodo tribes of Assam and these people are the oldest indigenous inhabitants of Assam and they have carried on their ancient culture since many long years and at Manas National Park you get to witness ecotourism at its best when you get to stay with these people and witness their lifestyle and culture. While at Manas National Park take the opportunity of going for an early morning Elephant safari ride to spot the beautiful flora and fauna of Manas National Park and rejuvenate in the wild. Take a full day Jeep safari ride to experience the magic of the birds of Manas National Park. Various hotels, resorts and guest houses are present in the park outskirts and you can choose to have a comfortable stay here.
11. Chandubi Lake ~
Another prime location to visit near Guwahati after your Darshan at Maa Kamakhya temple is the Chandubi Lake. Located at around an hour and half drive from the Kamakhya temple, the Chandubi Lake and forest is an ecotourism hotspot near Guwahati that draws thousands of visitors to the lake every year. A famous picnic spot among the people of Guwahati and the people throng here during the winter months of December and January to enjoy a day of picnic with their family and loved ones. This natural lagoon was created after the earthquake of 1897 and the lake harbours various form of aquatic life. Fishing has become a source of livelihood for the local Rabha community of Chandubi who have joined hands with youth of Guwahati to setup eco camps at the vicinity of the lake to promote ecotourism. From the Kamakhya temple one can hire the services of a local taxi to take you to Chandubi lake and a night halt here is a must to catch the glimpse of the early morning sunrise and a hike to the nearby Chandubi Reserve Forest that harbours a rich wildlife of the likes of Tigers, Wild Elephants, Pythons, Hoolock Gibbons, Sloth, Himalayan Black Bear, etc. There are three stay options nearby the Chandubi lake viz. Chandubi Jungle Camp, Chandubi Tourist Lodge and the Chandubi Eco Camp where you can halt for the night and savour some delicious local cuisine of the Rabha people of Assam.
12. Sualkuchi ~
From the Kamakhya temple ensure to make a visit to Sualkuchi. The largest silk weaving village in the World, Sualkuchi is often referred to as the Manchester of the East and the weavers here are known to weave out some of the finest fabrics from the indigenous silk varieties of Assam – Muga, Eri and Pat silk. It is about an hour’s drive from the Kamakhya temple to reach Sualkuchi and once your enter the Sualkuchi town you can find numerous small silk emporiums that have on display various Mekhela Chadors and other accessories weaved out with silk. While Pat is the moderately prices fabric, the Mekhela Chadors made from Muga silk are very expensive (above INR 20,000) and it is said to be the most prized possession of any assamese girl who wears this Mekhela Chador on the most important occasion of her life viz. her marriage. After you make a purchase at any of the silk emporiums you can perhaps request the owner to take you to their workshop and witness the first-hand experience of how these beautiful silk handlooms are made with hands including the extraction of the fibre from the silk worms and the weaving on the traditional looms of Sualkuchi by the local people as well and this is a once in a lifetime experience.
13. Hajo ~
After winding up your Darshan at the Kamakhya temple you can take a drive to another holy land of Hajo that has some of the very beautiful temples and Mazhars of Assam. Hajo is a holy land sacred to the Hindus, Muslims and the Buddhists. It is said that when the Mughals had come to invade Assam, they were unsuccessful in defeating the Ahom kings and had to retreat but some of the Mughal generals and soldiers fell in love with Assam and they decided to stay back and today the Muslims of Hajo are the descendants of the mighty Mughals. Hajo is one place in India where you can see the Hindus and Muslims living in complete harmony. At Hajo, a Muslim person attends rituals at a Hindu house and also a Hindu person attends a Muslim ritual at their home as well. The Hayagriva Madhava temple at Hajo is a temple shrine visited by Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists alike who consider this temple shrine to be very sacred. These days the temple pond has another attraction of being home to various turtle species that were at the brink of extinction but have been saved from extinction at this pond. Also visit the Poa Mecca shrine at Hajo that is the Dargah of Pir Giassuddin Aulia who is said to have constructed this premise with 250 gm. of land brought from the holy land of Mecca and it is said that the people who cannot afford to go to Mecca for Haj can come and offer their worship here.
14. Tezpur ~
If you could recollect the mythology of ‘Naraka’ (son of Lord Vishnu), who had come to conquer Kamrupa at first became a devout devotee of Maa Kamakhya but later started to develop negative feelings towards Goddess Kamakhya after his friendship with ‘Banasura’ – the King of Sonitpur, then you must visit the town of Tezpur (in Sonitpur district) from the Kamakhya temple to relive this part of ancient Hindu mythology. Banasura who was the King of Sonitpur was against Lord Krishna and he even carried a boon blessed upon him by Lord Shiva. He had imprisoned his daughter Usha in a fort because she fell in love with Anniruddha (grandson of Lord Krishna) and this fort was called as the Agnigarh (fortress of fire) because the fort was lit with fire all around to prevent Usha from escaping and anyone from entering. A big battle was raged between the followers of Lord Krishna and the followers of Lord Shiva here at Agnigarh and blood followed like a river and hence the name ‘Tezpur’. Ultimately Lord Krishna made Lod Shiva understand about the atrocities of Banasura and fearing his death in the hands of lord Shiva, Banasura had agreed to the marriage of Usha and Anniruddha. So Tezpur is a renowned town of this epic battle and today this is the cleanest town in Assam and also the knowledge town of Assam. At Tezpur visit the Agnigarh fort, take a river cruise on a boat at the Brahmaputra to sight the endangered river dolphins and also visit the Cole’s park in the evening.
15. Nameri National Park ~
Another among the five prominent National Parks of Assam, Nameri National Park is project Tiger Reserve as well and is located about an hour’s drive from Tezpur. So after completing your Darshan at the Kamakhya temple and winding your visit at Tezpur head to Nameri National Park for a night of jungle stay experience and the next day go for a jungle trek into the forest reserves of Nameri National Park. Originally couldn’t as a habitat to protect the population of the endangered white winged wood duck, Nameri National Park has come a long way today with over hundreds of bird species making Nameri their home especially during the migratory winter season along with various animal species as well. Nameri National Park is a popular bird watching circuit in Assam combined with the Pakke Reserve forest in Arunachal Pradesh and continuing up to the Eagle Nest Wildlife Sanctuary in Arunachal Pradesh. Nameri National Park is one National park in India that allows visitors to go for a trek into the forest reserves escorted by a forest guard. Reports of tourists sighting tigers and encountering wild elephant herds are to be heard here at Nameri and the experience of witnessing wildlife this way is a must visit. The Jia Bhoreli river flows across the Nameri National Park and this is a diverse river harbouring some of the most exquisite fresh water aquatic life. River rafting is conducted on the waters of the Jia Bhoreli river and one can take the opportunity of going for a day of river rating after the jungle trek as well.
Temples of Guwahati ~
In addition to the holy temple shrine of Maa Kamakhya temple situated atop the Nilachal hills, Guwahati is also home to numerous other temples dating back several hundred years and including the recently built Balaji temple as well. A short 30 min drive from Kamakhya temple in Guwahati will take you to North Guwahati that has two very famous temple shrines as well. The Doul Govinda temple at North Guwahati is a temples shrine dedicated to Lord Krishna and was built in the 1600s. Today this temple shrine sees thousands of visitors coming here especially during the festivals of Janmastmi (birth of Lord Krishna) and the festival of Falgutsav (Holi). The Doul Govinda temple is a must visit after your Darshan at the Kamakhya temple to offer your worship and savour the Prasadam of the sweet Payas (kheer) that is served to all devotees in the afternoon.
Another famous temple at North Guwahati is the Sri Sri Dirgheshwari temple dedicated to Goddess Dirgheshwari (a form of Goddess Durga). It is said that this is also a Shakti Peetha as another part of Goddess Sati fell on the hill where this temple is located. So it is believed that is a second sacred temple site after the Kamakhya temple and only after your visit to the Dirgheshwari temple you complete Darshan of the Kamakhya temple is over. The Dirgheshwari temple was built during the Ahom era and is a dedicated temple for worship of Goddess Durga and the Durga Puja festival is celebrated with grandeur here.
Umananda Temple ~
Located at the smallest inhabited river island in the World of Umananda in the midst of the river Brahmaputra in the heart of Guwahati city, Umananda temple is a temple shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is said that Lord Shiva and Parvati resided here in this island and they spent their time in meditation at the Umananda Island. It is on this island that Lord Shiva burnt Lord Kamdeva to ashes using his third eye and hence the hill that is present on the island is called as the Bhasmachal hillock. A mention of the Umananda Island is mentioned in the Kalika Purana as well. A temple shrine was built here during the Ahom era which was however destroyed during the earthquake of 1897 and had to be rebuilt by a local merchant of Guwahati. To reach the Umananda temple from the Kamakhya temple one has to come to Uzan bazar ferry ghat to board a short 10 min ferry ride to reach the Umananda island and climb a fleet of 150 stairs to reach the temple shrine located at the Umananda island. The primary Goddess worshipped at the Umananda temple is that of Goddess Umananda and this is a must visit place in Guwahati after your Darshan at the Kamakhya temple. There is a Hanuman temple as well as a Kali temple on the premises of this island and earlier this was a habitat of the Golden Langur species.
Basistha Temple ~
Another popular temple shrine in Guwahati after the Kamakhya temple is the Basistha temple. Located at the Basistha area of Guwahati the temple was built by the holy sage Basistha who had spent a lot of time in meditation in the forest reserves mostly in the area and the Basistha ashram. Three rivers merge and flow as the Bharalu river from this temple site. The Basistha temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and a newly constructed Ganesha temple is also present here. Many devotees believe that bathing on the Bharalu river here at Basistha temple is a sign of penance and they come here to take a dip in the water of the river here as well. Make sure to visit the Basistha temple after your visti to the Kamakhya temple.
Balaji temple ~
Another beautiful and must visit temple in Guwahati after the Kamakhya temple is the Balaji temple that is a recently built temple to promote peace and harmony in the North Eastern Region of India. Built under the instructions of the trust of the Tirupati Balaji temple of South India, the Balaji temple is a very beautiful temple campus built with white marble and looks splendid the evening lights. Many devotees come here in the evening to spend time with their family and seek the blessings of the God. The temple resembles the architecture of the main temple shrine of Tirupati Balaji in Andhra Pradesh and the pujari are also from the South. The major attraction is the Prasada Ladoo that is cooked in pure ghee. Ensure to pay a visit to the Balaji temple after your Darshan at the Kamakhya temple in Guwahati.
Sukreshwar Temple ~
Located in between the places of Kamakhya temple and the Umananda temple there is another very old temple shrine (constructed during the time of the Ahom era) dedicated to Lord Shiva – the Sukreshwar temple. Located by the banks of the Brahmaputra river, overlooking the Umananda Island and the beautiful Saraighat Bridge, the Sukreshwar temple is located near the Fancy Bazar area of Guwahati and is a very popular temple shrine that is frequented by hundreds of devotees. It is said that the largest built Shivalinga is here at the Sukreshwar temple and this is a prime attraction of this temple and young girls come to the temple and pour milk over the Shivalinga hoping that God will bless them with a suitable match for marriage. The Sukreshwar temple was built in 1744 during the rule of the Ahom dynasty by King Pramatta Singha. A visit to the Sukreshwar temple after your Darshan at the Kamakhya temple is a must as this place was where Sukra (the Guru of the Asuras) worshipped Lord Shiva on the hillock here. As per the Hindu mythological literature of the Kalika Purana, it identifies this hillock in the form of an elephant hump and hence it is named as the Hastigiri hillock. From the Kamakhya temple you can hire the services of a local taxi to also catch a bus to reach the Sukreshwar temple and spend an evening here by the banks of the river Brahmaputra and watch the beautiful sunset.
Navagraha temple ~
Another must visit temple shrine in Guwahati after your visit to the Kamakhya temple is the Navagraha temple located at the Chitrachal hills in Guwahati city. The Navagraha (Nava meaning nine and Graha meaning planets) is the temple of nine planets in Guwahati that was a centre of astronomy and astrology during the time of the Ahoms. A better known fact might be as to because of the presence of the Navagraha temple, the city of Guwahati was earlier called as Pragjyotishpura meaning the city of astrology and this must be planned after your visit to the Kamakhya temple. From the Nilachal hills where the Kamakhya temple is located you can hire the services of a local taxi to take you to the Chitrachal hills where the Navagraha temple is located. Once you are at the Navagraha temple you will find an architecture that was built during the late 18th century by the great Ahom king of Assam Rajeshwar Simhain. Inside the temple shrine you can find nine stone Shiva Lingas that are believed to represent the nine planets of the Solar System and each of these are ornately decorated. At the centre there is another structure that replicates the sun speaking of the knowledge of the Ahom Kings of the Solar system during the time itself. Make sure to plan you visit to the Navagraha temple after the Kamakhya temple Darshan.
Aswaklanta temple ~
Another important temple shrine built during the Ahom era is the Aswaklanta temple at North Guwahati. The drive from Kamakhya temple to Aswaklanta temple would take about thirty minutes and you will cross the mighty Brahmaputra river over the Saraighat bridge and the Aswaklanta temple is located just at the banks of the Brahmaputra river and one gets a clear view of the Umananda temple and island from, here as well. The Aswaklanta temple shrine was built during the Ahom reign of King Siva Singha in 1720 AD. This temple was built here as it is believed that this was the resting ground of Lord Krishna’s horse when Lord Krishna was on a mission to kill Narakasur. The horse on which Lord Krishna was riding fell tired at this place and sat down here giving a much needed break to Lord Krishna as well. Once you reach the temple spot parking there is a fleet of stairs that takes you to the top of the hill where the Aswaklanta temple is situated. There are two temple shrines here while one is located at the foothill, the other is on the hill top. Inside the Aswaklanta temple shrine there are two images of ‘Janardhana’ and ‘Anantasai Vishnu’. Though the temple was destroyed in the great earthquake of 1897 it was rebuilt by Lord Curzon. A must visit place after your Darshan at the Kamakhya temple in Guwahati.
Places to visit in Guwahati:
Garbhanga Reserve Forest ~
Located on the outskirts of Guwahati city near the Lokhra forest camp is one of the most pristine forest areas that extends up to Basistha and continues up to the Garo hills in Meghalaya. Known to be a habitat of various wild animals like wild elephants, tigers, leopards, deer’s, black bears, various reptiles, birds and butterfly species, etc. Owing to the lack of human habitation across the forest area, the wildlife there is at this forest area and especially the butterflies have made this place a perfect site for their observation. This is also one of the drives that can be called as a physical endurance drive and of late the Garbhanga area is becoming a site for adventure driving and cycling and hiking among the residents of Guwahati. But if you are a tourist and have come to explore Assam and after you Darshan at the Kamakhya temple ensure to make a visit to Garbhanga area for a day of bird watching and butterfly sighting and also visit the local village of Garbhanga that is inhabited by the local Karbi people of Assam and also a few Garo people of Meghalaya as this place is located at the border of Assam and Meghalaya.
These local people of Garbhanga live in harmony with nature using the soil to grow food and the stream flowing across their village for all their daily needs. They grow fresh vegetables and fruits as per the season and they bring it all the way to the Lokhra market on Sundays to sell their produce. There is a school here called as the ‘Parijat Academy’ that is run by a local Karbi man named as Uttam Teron and his deeds were noted by an Australian person who helped him provide education the this remote village. Garbhanga is a perfect place to enjoy ecotourism at its best. You can visit the village in the morning after you Kamakhya temple Darshan and spend the day here in the lap of nature with the varied birds and butterflies and savouring some traditional Karbi food and wine and later return back to Guwahati city by evening.
Assam State Museum and Dighalipukhuri ~
After your Darshan at the Kamakhya temple you can make a visit to Assam State Museum at the Ambari area in Guwahati. The Assam State Museum houses some very ancient relics from Assam and the North Eastern region as well. The major attraction of the Assam State Museum is a section dedicated to the stone sculptures that were excavated from the region of Assam and the erstwhile Kamarupa speaking highly of the presence of this area in history since long ago and some of these ancient stone sculptures date back to the BC era as well and it mostly consists of the various mythological Gods and Goddesses. There is a section in the museum that is dedicated to the World War II – Burma Campaign that was fought in parts of North East India at Assam, Nagaland and Manipur and it was mostly of the Japanese invasion and the Allied Forces pushing them out including the construction of the Historic Stilwell Road extending from Ledo in Assam to Kunming in China that allowed the Allied Forces to resume their supply of equipment’s and forces to China after the Japanese had cut off the alternate route in Myanmar. A section of various ancient discoveries from the times of the Aryan and Dravidian period is also present here and also a section depicting the various relics of the Ahom era of Assam. After your Darshan at the Kamakhya temple ensure to pay a visit to the Assam State Museum to relive the glorious past of the history of Assam.
Situated next to the museum is the Dighalipukhuri lake and park that is a hang out joint for youngsters and the elderly as well who come here for their evening walk experience. The Dighalipukhuri lake is Guwahati’s answer to the Ward’s lake in Shillong and the lake offers boating facilities as well on the clear waters. In the evening the locals of the Pan Bazar area come here to spend their time walking across the massive area of this lake and there is also a War Memorial behind the lake area that commemorates the various brave soldiers who laid down their lives in the protection of their country. There is an Air Force Aircraft (MIG 21) on display along with a Military Tank as well. Located across the street is the Guwahati Planetarium that is a place of interest for the locals who are interested in astronomy and the Solar System and the Guwahati Planetarium hosts various sessions that allows visitors to get more knowledge about the Solar System. A visit to these places after the Darshan at Kamakhya temple is a must for any tourist coming to the Kamakhya temple at Guwahati and who also want to explore more of Assam.
Fancy Bazaar ~
The famous market area of Guwahati is what any tourist who is interested in shopping and looking at a true essence of any city should visit. Located about a 10 min drive from the Kamakhya temple is Guwahati city’s most popular, old and vibrant market areas. From street vendors, wholesalers to retailer’s one can find each and every thing here at the Fancy Bazar market. If you get tired of shopping then there are some of the most popular restaurants and street food joints also present here. The famous and oldest luxury hotel of Guwahati – Hotel Dynasty id also present at the Fancy Bazar. The area is mostly inhabited by the Marwari community including Bengali and Muslim shopkeepers as well. This is a very popular market for all the young college girls of Guwahati as one can find clothing and accessories at very affordable prices here. The food joints at Fancy Bazar are mostly vegetarian as the Marwari and Jain communities here are vegetarians. Do try the chat at the Talukdar Chat house, the Dosa at Khusboo restaurant and the Pani Puri at the various stalls here. A very old Pan shop is also present near the premises of the old jail here and do visit for some delicious sweet pan here. A must visit shopping destination in Guwahati after your Darshan at the Kamakhya temple.
Alfesco River Cruise ~
When you are in the land of the mighty Brahmaputra River then a luxurious river cruise across this river is a must to do activity to watch the evening sunset and enjoy a lovely dinner on board it. After you day long Darshan at the Kamakhya temple this is a must to do activity in the evening and end your day at leisure. The Alfresco river cruise at the Fancy bazar area in Guwahati is the perfect option to go out for this luxury river cruise experience over the mighty Brahmaputra and savour some ethnic Assamese cuisine for dinner as well. There is a two hour cruise in the evening and the night and various cultural performances are arranged on-board this river cruise as well. As must to do experience after your Darshan at the Kamakhya temple in Guwahati.
G S Road ~
The centre of Guwahati city and the commercial hub of the city is a must visit place after your Darshan at the Kamakhya temple. In the evening when the lights come out, GS Road is easily comparable to the MG Road and the Brigade Road of Bangalore and the main modern commercial zones of any metro city in India with high rise malls, department and office buildings, KFCs, Dominos, high end hotels and restaurants, designer clothes, pubs and bars, etc. The complete name of the GS Road is the Guwahati-Shillong road and this connects the cities of Guwahati to the city of Shillong in Meghalaya. The experience of modern life and the richness of the city one must make a visit to this place in the evening. You can visit some of the popular Pubs here like Terra Maya, Xtreme Sports Bar and Grill, Underdoggs Sports Bar and Grill, etc. Popular restaurants are Nehars, Recipes train restaurant, City dhaba, JBs, Chennai Kitchen, Dispur Dhaba, Gam’s delicacy, Rang De Basanti Dhaba, etc. Fast food chains present are KFC, Dominos, Pizza Hut, Subway, J14, etc. Explore the numerous malls around the GS Road to either go for shopping or visiting one of the Multiplexes to catch a movie with your family while in Guwahati. Popular Malls are Dona Planet, City Center, Hub, Central Guwahati, etc.
Regional Science Museum ~
Another popular place to visit in Guwahati after your Darshan at the Kamakhya temple is the Regional Science Museum that is located in Khanapara near the IAS colony. The Science Museum was originally planned as a one stop destination for the kids to learn more about science in a playful way because YouTube was not present at that time and rather at that time there was no mobile phones and internet connectivity in Guwahati as well. So I remember we used to enjoy our day here at the Regional Science Museum trying to decode certain puzzles and playing certain games here. With the advent of the internet and other technologies people thought that the eagerness of young children towards this museum would decline but instead it has gone up especially as parents who are tired of seeing their children gaze at the mobile phones and laptop screens bring them here to spend a nice Saturday and the Science Museum today has a planetarium, movie hall and even a small restaurant and the symmetric big lawn outside people can visit the museum and spend their day teaching children of the better form of education we had earlier. So if you have time after your Darshan at the Kamakhya temple then do visit the Regional Science Museum at Khanapara in Guwahati for a fine learning experience for your children.
Srimanta Shankardeva Kalakshetra and Auniati Satra ~
Located at the Punjabari area at Guwahati in Assam, the Srimanta Shankardeva Kalakshetra is a heritage monument built to showcase the rich culture, heritage and traditions of the indigenous people of Assam. Named after the Holy Saint reformer Srimanta Shankardeva who promoted the principles of Neovaishnavism and helped people to realize that all human beings are equal irrespective of religion, caste and colour and he went around establishing various Satras and Namghars that promoted the principles of Neovaishnavism. The Srimanta Shankardeva Kalakshetra is a huge park area that houses lawns, display emporiums, art theatre, dance theatre, etc. The must visit area is the museum where the liestyle, practices and customs of the various indigenous people of Assam like Karbi, Bodo, Mishings, Tiwa, Rabha, Khamtis, Phake people are displayed in the form of models. For example, in a Mishing village depicted in a model the small models of men and women are dressed in their traditional attires and show how these people do farming, catching fish, weave handicrafts and handlooms, etc. Majuli is also known for the various Satras and in case you don’t have time to visit Majuli after your Darshan at the Kamakhya temple you can visit the Sri Sri Auniati Satra at North Guwahati that is a branch of the main Satra in Majuli and catch a glimpse of the built of this Satra and how the Neovaishnavite monks here lead their life dedicated to the praise of the Lord.
Dr Bhupen Hazarika Samadhikshetra ~
One of the greatest sons of Assam the Legendary singer Dr. Bhupen Hazarika was laid to rest after his death on 5th November 2011 in Guwahati. In order to pay tribute to this legendary singer and son of Assam a monument was built at the Jalukbari area in Guwahati just about 5 min drive from the Kamakhya temple foothills and this place is a must visit if you are a fan of Bollywood and all the great musicians who have provided their noted works in the form of music and songs over the years in the Bollywood movies. Dr Bhupen Hazarika was renowned for his noted works that were declared classics of Bollywood. The Bhupen Hazarika Samadhikshetra is a huge park area with various art galleries depicting the life of this legendary singer. There is a hall area where songs of him keep playing across the day and these pictures are kept with fresh flowers garlands. There is also a huge statue of the legendary singer in this place. From here you can travel to the Pandu port that can be accessed by the Adabari tinali and this is an area that was built during the colonial era when the Pandu port was a favoured waterway for inland transport of people and goods. One can get beautiful glimpse of the river Brahmaputra and the Kamakhya temple hills from here as well.
How to reach Kamakhya temple ~
Kamakhya temple is located at the Nilachal Hills in the city of Guwahati in Assam. Guwahati city is well connected with the rest of the country via airways, railways and roadways. The Guwahati airport is located around 30 minutes’ drive from the Kamakhya temple and one can find numerous flights connecting to Kolkata, New Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Bangalore from Guwahati airport. From Kolkata if you want to visit the Kamakhya temple then there are numerous flights from the Dum Dum airport at Kolkata to Guwahati airport to do a Kolkata, Kamakhya and Kaziranga tour. Also from the Howrah Railway junction in Kolkata there are numerous trains connecting Kolkata to Guwahati at the Kamakhya station and the Guwahati railway station. So you can book a train from the Howrah railway station and come to the Kamakhya railway station from where you can hire an auto to the Kamakhya temple and later a taxi to Kaziranga National park and back to Kamakhya temple in Guwahati. Roadways is also present from Kolkata to Guwahati and the Kamakhya temple and further to Kaziranga National park and some tourists even hire busses all the way from Kolkata and come to Guwahati via Cooch Behar and visit the Kamakhya temple and later to go to Kaziranga National Park for safari ride and return to Guwahati to go back to Kolkata.
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