Kamakhya Temple is one of the 52 ‘Shakti Peethas’ making it the most acclaimed Shakti shrines . Perched on the Nilachal Hill and overlooking the West of the Guwahati city, it is one of the most ancient temples in Assam. It is dedicated to goddess Sati, an embodiment of goddess Durga and the consort of Lord Shiva.
The Kamakhya temple is dedicated to goddess Sati , but at the same time one can see temples of tantric goddesses here. Apart from the deity Kamakhya Devi, compound of the temple houses 10 other avatars of Kali namely Dhumavati, Matangi, Bagola( bagala , her sadhana is more famous as Baglamukhi ) , Tara, Kamala, Bhairavi, Chinnamasta, Bhuvaneshwari and Tripuara Sundari.
The temple of Kamakhya has a very interesting story of its origin. It is one of the 52 Shakti peeths and surprisingly there is no image of Shakti in the temple. However, in a corner of a cave inside the temple, there is a sculptured image of the yoni of the goddess, which is the object of reverence. A natural spring keeps the stone moist.The story of the Shakti peeths goes like this.
Once Sati fought with her husband Shiva to attend her father’s great yagna. At the grand yagna, Sati’s father Daksha insulted her husband. Sati was angered and in her shame, she jumped into the fire and killed herself. When Shiva came to know that his beloved wife had committed suicide, he went insane with rage. He placed Sati’s dead body on his shoulders and did the tandav or dance of destruction. To calm him down, Vishnu cut the dead body with his chakra. The 108 places where Sati’s body parts fell are called Shakti peeths. Kamakhya temple is special because Sati’s womb and vagina fell here. The Name ‘Kamakhya’: The God of love, Kamadeva had lost his virility due to a curse. He sought out the Shakti’s womb and genitals and was freed from the curse. This is where ‘love’ gained his potency and thus, the deity ‘Kamakhya’ Devi was installed and worshipped here.
According to the eminent Assamese scholar and books available here ,
Many devotees who don’t believe in such bloodshed they just offer flowers , Kumkum and coconuts. Even today, during the festive season, this shrine attracts hundreds of ‘Hindu-tantra’ devotees.
The goddess of Kamakhya is worshipped in two different ways. The Vamachara way which strictly follows the practises 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.
There are so many stories related to Goddess Kamakhyan and Mantra Tantra Sadhna, which promises desired results. Our friend From Guwahati says its nothing but gimmick. A big Business going on the name of such ‘mantar tantar’ . One may a find Panda who may promise victory in the court case with a small sachet of Kumkum or may be in love , marriage and what not. There are so many so called Tantrik gurus who teaches Tantra sadhna. no need to say most of the Foreigners come on curiosity.
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. Kamakhya Devi is famous as the bleeding goddess in western world. The mythical womb and vagina of Shakti are supposedly installed in the ‘Garvagriha’ or sanctum of the temple. In the month of Ashaadh (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.
Of course, There is no scientific proof that the blood actually turns the river red. Some people say that the priests pour bright red colour into the waters.
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 ( in 2015 its in Oct, first day of Navratra today )to take part in the five day celebrations of Durga Puja. Only with one condition that please be ready for all types of inconvenience.
We visited this temple in month of September. The queue was nearly a Km long , even though it was not a festive season or Navratra time.
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.
By Air: The Guwahati airport is well-connected to the various metros from Delhi, Mumbai ,Chennai . ( From Mumbai there is a direct flight of Indigo to Guwahati , 2 hrs 45 mins)
By Train: The Paltan Bazaar Railway Station in Guwahati is one of the major railway junctions in the region that has trains coming in from different part of India .