Kamakhya Devi temple, Guwahati

Northeast Vol. 1 | Guwahati A Welcoming City of Ancient Temples on the Bank of Brahmaputra

It would not be fair to say that Guwahati was never in my wishlist, but certainly not on top, since I expected it to be yet another city. It remained such until I decided to visit Meghalaya and started checking for flights; I researched more on it. As rightly said, Guwahati is an entry point, a vanguard to the rest of the northeast of India and thankfully, I did visit this progressive city which has got some beautiful touristic destinations and especially the temples that make for a pleasant sight.

I covered the aerial distance of approximately 1400 km, travelling from Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi to Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, Guwahati; approximately 2 hrs. and 30 mins. journey. You’ll not see much scenic beauty while landing but do not get disappointed as Guwahati withholds multiple layers that it unfolds the more you spend time here. I wanted to start my journey from Guwahati because of the much famous Kamakhya Devi Temple.

Kamakhya Devi Temple in Guwahati, Assam is known for its Black Magic Art and Tantrism.

The Kamakhya Devi Temple is an ancient and renowned Hindu temple and is one of the oldest of 51 Shakti Pithas. Situated on Nilanchal Hills, the temple witnesses thousands of pilgrims and devotees daily. Its construction dates back to the 8th-17th century and it is said that the temple has undergone renovation a couple of times. Though the temple holds its significance because of its Black Magic and Tantrism, there’s an air of tranquil and positivity in the ambiance in and around this temple. Devotees visit this temple with a lot of faith which is seen when they patiently wait for their turn in endless queues for hours. These queues are to reach to the kund, believed to have dropped Goddess genital parts after she chose to become Sati and burn herself in a pyre. India, as we all know, is a land of rich culture and heritage and has lots of interesting and mystique stories from the historical period and this is one of them. One disturbing yet important activity is the animal sacrifice within the temple complex that happens on a frequent basis. Nonetheless, as every religion and culture have a story of its own, this is one of those. You may hold faith or just visit this temple to learn about its architecture, beautiful surroundings, management of thousands of devotees; certainly, there are multiple reasons not to miss visiting the Kamakhya Devi Temple if you are staying at Guwahati or nearby destinations. Best time to visit is 6.00 AM or even early. The temple’s visiting hours are 6.00 AM – 6.00 PM, however, to avoid the long queues one must visit at the earliest.  

Basisth Temple dates back to Vedic age and is built on Saint Vasistha’s Ashram

Basisth Temple or Vasistha Temple as one would like to call this saffron colour nicely built temple at the outskirts of Guwahati in a small town of Beltola. It is a 45 min. long drive from the city centre and is advised to visit during the daylight. The route, however, is completely safe and housed by local residents so I did not personally see any issue. On way to this temple are Garbhanga Reserve Forest and Asia’s biggest proposed Butterfly Reserve. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and as the name suggests it dates back to Vedic Era, situated on Saint Vasistha’s Ashram where he used to spend time meditating. In addition to Lord Shiva, the temple also houses Lord Ganesha, Goddess Durga and a standing statue of Vasistha. It is said that carvings of Lord Ganesha and Goddess Durga emerged on rocks on its own. Surrounded by lush green trees, this temple has magnificent and natural water streams originating from Meghalaya mountains. These streams gush through huge picturesque rocks, contributing to River Basisth and Bharalu flowing through the city. You will find people soaking themselves in the sun, water or simply sitting under the trees, unwinding themselves after visiting the temple. Basisth Temple for me is the kind of divine place where I can spend hours peacefully and energize my senses. Since Basisth Temple is a nice, quaint and not so crowded temple, the best time to visit is anytime during the visiting hours i.e. 6.00 AM – 9.00 PM.

Some other popular temples in Guwahati are Bhuvaneshwari Temple and Umananda Temple.

Bhuvaneshwari Temple is famous because of its world acclaimed Ambubachi fair. It is dedicated to Goddess Bhuvaneshwari and people travel to participate in this fair from far and wide as it has a huge religious significance. The temple gates are always open during the day, however, the best time to visit this temple is during the Ambubachi fair or Navratri.

Umananda Temple is situated on Umananda Island or Peacock Island on Brahmaputra River for which the last ferry leaves around 4.00 PM so you must try reaching on time. The temple is open all days of the week between 5.30 AM to 6.00 PM. Depending on your wish to see the sunrise or sunset, or maybe both if time permits, you can plan your ferry rides to this temple. It is known to be one of the best temples in Guwahati so do not miss it.  I missed the opportunity to visit Umananda Temple by a fraction of seconds so I don’t want you to miss a chance, hoping to cover the details to its fullest.

I wish I had more time to explore the city of ancient temples, sited in the lap of nature. It’s a rare combination and Guwahati is a perfect destination to experience this.

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