Out of 51 Shakti peethas, Kamakhya Temple is one of the oldest peethas in India, residing at the peak of the Nilachal Parbat, about 8km west of Guwahati in Assam and near the banks of river Brahmaputra. This temple is dedicated to Devi Kamakhya, also known as ‘Mahamaya’; she takes multiple forms of herself depending on her mood.
Now let’s see some surprising and unknown facts about the temple.
1. Story of the Shakti Peethas
According to history, Devi Sati got married to Lord Shiva against the wish of her father, King Prajapati Daksha. Once King Daksha was performing a Yagna where he invited everybody but did not invite Lord Shiva and Devi Sati. Devi Sati was very upset but still went to her father’s place.
When she reached there, her father insulted her and Lord Shiva, and Devi Sati couldn’t bear the insult of her husband and out of anger she jumped into the yagna fire and killed herself.
When Lord Shiva learned about this incident, he got outraged. Enraged Shiva wandered while holding the dead body of Devi Sati in his arms. He started the Tandav Nritya which caused an imbalance in the universe leading to destruction. To protect the Universe, Lord Vishnu with his Sudarshan Chakra cut the body of Devi Sati into pieces.
The body parts of Devi Sati fell at different places and those places are known as ‘Shakti Peethas’. In Kamakhya Temple, the Yoni of the Goddess fell.
2. Temple Architecture
The temple was almost destroyed in the early 16th century by the Mughals, which was later rebuilt by Hindu King Nara Narayana of Cooch Bihar in the 17th century. The current temple has a beehive-like Shikhara with captivating sculptured panels of Lord Ganesh and other Hindu Devi and Devtas on the outside.
The Kamakhya Mandir is the main temple in a complex of individual temples dedicated to the 10 Mahavidyas: Kali, Tara, Tripura Sundari, Bhuvaneshwari, Bhairavi, Chhinnamasta, Dhumavati, Baglamukhi, Matangi and Kamala.
Among these, Tripura Sundari, Matangi, and Kamala reside inside the main temple whereas the other seven reside in individual temples. The temple consists of 3 major chambers- the Western Chamber is large and rectangular and is not used by pilgrims for worship.
The Middle Chamber is a square-shaped one with a small idol of the devi. The walls of the chamber have sculpted images of Nara Narayana, and other related inscriptions and Devtas. The middle chamber leads to the Garbagriha of the temple which is in the form of a cave, which has no idol but a natural underground spring that flows through a yoni-shaped cleft in the bedrock.
3. No Idol of the Goddess
The temple has no statue of Maa Ambe or Goddess Durga, instead, there is a pool that is always decorated with flowers, and the water always drains and remains energized.
Surprisingly here Kamakhya’s cosmic Yoni or vagina which is self-manifested in the form of a natural rock fissure is only worshipped as Goddess Kamakhya. It is covered with silk sarees and fresh flowers. This symbolizes the feminine energy of menstruation and birth-giving. The cosmic Yoni is constantly replenished with water from an existing underground spring.
4. Incomplete Stairs
Once upon a time, there was a demon called Naraka, who fell in love with Devi Kamakhya and wanted to marry her. So the Goddess asked him to build a staircase from the bottom of the Nilachal hill to the temple in one night, then only she would marry him.
Demon Naraka was almost able to complete the staircase when Goddess came to know this, she played a trick on him and then Naraka left it halfway, the incomplete staircase is known as the ‘Mekhelauja Path’.
5. Umanand Bhairav Temple
At some distance from the Kamakhya temple, Umanand Bhairav Temple is located, which is the Bhairav of the Kamakhya Shakti Peetha. It is believed that without the darshan of Umanand Bhairav, the yatra to Kamakhya temple is incomplete.
Hence for a successful yatra devotees visit this Bhairav temple after visiting the Kamakhya temple.
6. Festivals of the Temple
The temple organizes an annual fertility festival known as ‘Ambubasi Puja’, which is believed that the Goddess has her menstrual cycle in this period. The temple remains shut for three days and on the fourth day it reopens with celebrations.
During this festival, it is said that the Brahmaputra river changes to red color. Navratri or Durga Puja is celebrated in September and October when thousands of devotees visit the temple and offer prayers.
Vasanti Puja is celebrated during March and April, and Manasha Puja is some other annual festival celebrated in the temple. Pohan Biya is also another festival that marks the marriage of Lord Kamesvara with Goddess Kamesvari and is celebrated during December and January.
7. Tantra Vidya
Kamakhya Temple is known to be one of the highest places for Tantra Vidya and Sadhna. Every year during the Ambubasi Mela, Tantriks from all around the country visit the temple and during this festival, thousands of devotees also visit for Tantrik worship.
So the Kamakhya Temple with such unique and miraculous features respects Feminity. So if one wants to explore the history and culture of India, then it is one such place where one should go definitely.
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