Location: Peculiar of its kind, the tantric temple ‘Kamakhya’ is renowned as a ‘Shakti-peetha’ that is located on the Nilachal hill in the western part of Guwahati in Assam, India.
Prime deity: Goddess Kamakhya
Historical era of its foundation: 1564-65
Testimonial scripture: Kalika Purana
Revamped by: Chilarai of Koch Empire (medieval India)
Pious occasion to visit the shrine:
- Ambubachi festival
- Manas Puja
- Durga Puja during Navaratri in autumn season.
- The mystic scriptures revealing Indian mythology has a mention in context of Kamakhya temple that an ancient ruler of Himalayan region went in refuge of a Vedic Saint ‘Vatsayana’ for seeking a righteous solution of transforming tribal people living in his territory as locales being accepted unanimously by the society along with the acceptance of their rituals of human-immolation. The saint suggested him to appease Tantric goddess Tara presiding in the eastern Himalayan belt that was stretched unto Garo hills. Tribal people used to worship a fertility ‘yoni’ goddess ‘Kameke’.
Kalika purana confirms that Goddess Parvati used to binge with her husband lord Shiva in serene & captivating lap of nature. This is the very spot where her ‘yoni’ was assumed to be fallen right after the dancing of lord Shiva with the corpse of Devi Sati.
Contradicting to the genesis of Devi Kamakhya scripted in Kalika Purana, Yogini Tantra (a scripture) associated Devi Kamakhya with goddess Kali while emphasizing ‘Yoni’.
- Another legend briefs the story of ban imposed on Koch Bihar royal family in order to restrict it from offering any ritual at the feet of goddess Kamakhya by the Devi herself. Since then, no one from the same family has gathered courage to move toward the temple.
Few years later, Ahom king namely ‘Jayadhvaj Singha’ invaded the region of lower Assam and grew fonder to become a Shaivite devout or shakta. The heir of the similar dynasty known as ‘Rudra Singha’ embraced Hindu religion and became an orthodox Hindu. He passionately searched for a spiritual guru among Hindus. On finding himself incapable of bowing down before Brahmin who used to be his subjects, he sent a messenger to Krishnaram Bhattacharyya, a famous mahant of Shakta sect who used to live in Malipota, near Santipur in Nadia district. But the tempting desire of undertaking the charge of Kamakhya temple brought him there. Unlike himself, Rudra Singh sent his sons under the refuge of foregoing spiritual guru.
Now, his eldest son ‘Siba Singha’ deployed Krishnaram Bhattacharyya as the temple’s caretaker later.
Description of the temple:
- Architectural style: Stone architecture
- Structure of the shikharam resembles as: Beehive.
- Garbhagriha: It is a cave below ground level which forms the most inner part of the shrine. The garbhagrihas of adjoining temples share the same architecture in which a ‘yoni-shaped’ stone is enshrined which is filled with water.
- Exteriors of the shrine: There is enchanting divine sculpted artistic view outside the temple. The carved images of lord Ganesha along with other deities are manifesting majestic.
- Western chamber: This part of the shrine has been restricted for common people expanding in a large rectangular area.
- Middle chamber: The square shaped chamber of this shrine has marvelous and iconic replicas of Hindu deities, as lord Narnarayana, carved on its panels and walls elaborating the legends of related scriptures.
- Sanctum Sanctorum: This zone of the shrine has no image of god but a spring that streams through a yoni like cleft in the bedrock. During annual religious ceremony, the water of this spring appears red representing the menstruation of goddess Kamakhya. Scientifically, it happens due to iron oxide.
- Sacrificial site: Women are prohibited to offer any ritual and people often visit to sacrifice their animal as holy offering to the goddess with pure reverence.