Kamakha Devi temple, Assam Photo journal
Kamakhya temple was rebuilt in the 17th century by King Nara Narayana of Cooch Bihar.
Jai Ma Kamakhya
Kamakhya Devi temple on Neelachal Hill in Guwahati, Assam celebrates the creative force Shakti. Kamakhya Devi is named so as she is a giver of desired wishes.
The deity inside is ageless. Three natural stones depicting Kali, Lakshmi and Saraswati are in an underground chamber beneath this dome. The temple's architecture is unique, especially the dome. It is unlike the familiar North Indian tapering Shikhara. And certainly unlike any South Indian Gopuram style temple shikhara :-)
The temple dates to the Pauranic period when Shiva danced the Tandav, enraged at his wife's demise. This temple was destroyed in the 16th century and rebuilt in the 17th century by King Nara Narayana of Cooch Bihar.
The drive up the hill was reminiscent of the Himalayas :-) Even the foliage looked so Himalayan!
Hibiscus and marigold flower garlands, incense, ghee lamps, coconuts, vermillion among other articles of worship and memorabilia were a colourful display in shops outside the temple.
Colours of celebration
Kamakhya is a railway station barely 10 minutes before Guwahati.
Weddings seemed to be the order of the day! I saw at least 10 wedding processions in a span of 5 hours in the temple premises. Dolled up brides and grooms with a retinue of relatives and drummers came to receive Ma Kamakha's blessings.
At sundown, pigeons that had been cooing and flying in starts above, inside and around the temple, took to carved eves in the temple walls to rest for the night.
Pigeons took to carved eves in the temple walls to rest for the night.
Ma Kamakhya's shayan arti
The temple closes at sunset for visitors. The temple priests conduct worship inside the temple, while members of priests' families gather at the side entrance room to the temple and sing songs to Ma Kamakhya until the goodnight shayan arti.
Shayan arti at Kamakhya Devi temple...
Not exactly an amphitheatre, but close. A set of stairs opposite the temple is where people take their seats for the evening arti. This black kid seemed a regular as he sat in this corner seat for a good 2 hours, getting up to leave only after the singing and arti was over!
Temple parikrama at night
Pulok Sarma Barpuzari (right), a priest at the Kamakhya Devi temple, had arranged for us to stay on for the shayan arti and experience the temple in the quiet hours of night.
Interestingly, the Barpuzari surname is a family legacy from the period Ahom kings from Thailand ruled Assam. Ahoms being Buddhists appointed a learned Brahmin from Kannauj to be their royal priest for Ma Kamakhya's worship. 'Barpuzari' stands for royal/senior priest in Assamese.
Travel guide: Kamakhya
Map to Kamakhya Devi temple, Guwahati, Assam
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Kamakhya is a railway station barely 10 minutes before Guwahati in the state of Assam, India. A magnificent view of river Brahmaputra is a bonus on the train route :-)
[Photo credit: Anisha Sharma]