The Kamakhya Temple is one of the 108 'Shakti Peethas' making it the most acclaimed Shakti shrines in the country. Perched on the Nilachal Hill and overlooking the West of the Guwahati city, it is one of the most ancient temples in the state. It is dedicated to goddess Sati, an embodiment of goddess Durga and the consort of Lord Shiva. The temple boasts of having medieval style structure that represents contributions of the Koch Royal Family. Owing to an old fable, the temple was neglected but it gained popularity during the rule of the Ahom kings, who were ardent devotees of Shakti. A unique part of this temple is the method of worship, which involves both traditional practices as well as a local indigenous manner. According to the eminent Assamese scholar, Banikanta Kakati, the temple continues to follow ancient practices of pig sacrifices that were an important part of the 'Gora' tribes in the region. Even today, during the festive season, this shrine attracts hundreds of 'Hindu-tantra' devotees. The article below gives you a detailed description on the history and significance of the Kamakhya Temple.
According to legend, the Kamakhya Temple is said to be the secret place where Sati and Shiva used to meet. Another story states that it was the exact place where Sati's 'yoni' fell when Shiva was carrying back her body. The word 'Kamakhya' is mentioned in the ancient Sanskrit text, Kalika Purana and it cites that this is a representation of Kali's vulva.
On the other hand, the temple's structure was said to be erected by King Chilarai, a descendant of the Koch family, in 1565. But after its construction, it was believed that the Koch Bihar Royal members were expelled from entering the temple by the goddess herself. In parts of the Nilachal Hill, the Kamakhya temple is said to have undergone many changes without the royal family's patronage.
In 1658, when King Jayadhvaj Singha (of the Ahom dynasty), seized the lower half of the city, the temple received the attention of these rulers who restored the place to its present form. In the following years, successors of this dynasty became ardent devotees of Shaktism and Shaivism. In 1714, when Siba Singha came into power, he handed over the responsibility of temple supervision to Krishnaram Bhattacharyya who was the head priest then.
The major attraction of the Kamakhya temple is the method of worship which is peculiar compared to other shrines in India. This holy place is a synthesis of both Aryan and non-Aryan practices adopted by the temple. The goddess of Kamakhya is worshipped in two different ways: the Vamachara way which strictly follows the practices of the Vedas and the Dakshinachara way which do not follow the heterodox methods. Offerings such as flowers, fruits and animal scarifies are an important part of worship.
The Kamakhya shrine has a unique structural style that is shaped in the form of a beehive surrounded by different sculptures of different gods. The edifices are said to be built in the medieval style. The temple consist of three shrines, one has the main deity while the other two have idols of the gods. The main chamber where the worship is carried out is said to be a rock in the shape of a 'yoni' with natural spring water passing through it. During the Ambuvaci festival, the water is said to be red resembling the menstrual fluid of a woman.
The best time to visit the temple is in the festive month of June to celebrate the fertility of the goddess. You can also visit the place between the months of September and October to take part in the five day celebrations of Durga Puja.
How to Get There
To visit the Kamakhya temple, you have to reach the Guwahati city in the state of Assam. This can be done by various means of transport.
The Guwahati airport is well-connected to the various metros from Delhi, Agartala, Aizwal, Kolkata and Imphal.
The Paltan Bazaar Railway Station in Guwahati is one of the major railway junctions in the region that has trains coming in from different cities like Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai.
If you plan to commute by road then passengers can be assured that there are more than a few bus services, both private and public, that travel to Guwahati.
The Kamakhya temple in Guwahati is a big landmark among the other religious shrines in the city. Seated amongst the landscape of the Nilachal Hill, this temple of the goddess Kamakhya promises to bring inner peace and salvation to its visitors.