Guwahati is known for its many mandirs (temples); hence, it is also known as the “city of temples.” It is a popular pilgrimage site for thousands of devotees every year. Each mandir differs in structural beauty and history which only makes them fascinating revered religious sites in Guwahati, Assam.
Kamakhya Mandir is an important Hindu mandir dedicated to the mother goddess Kamakhya. It is an important pilgrimage destination for Hindus, especially for tantric worshipers. Kamakhya Mandir is one of the oldest of the 51 Shakti Peethas (shrines) and is situated on Nilachal Hill in the western part of Guwahati city in Assam, India.
- The place where Kamakhya Mandir stands today is also considered to be where Shiva first courted Sati.
- It is believed that Kamakhya Mandir houses the mythical womb and vagina of the Hindu goddess Shakti.
- Every year during the month of June, the Brahmaputra River near Kamakhya turns red. It is believed that the goddess ‘menstruates’ during this period.
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Outside view of Kamakhya Mandir, Guwahati, Assam
Structure and Architecture of Kamakhya Mandir
Kamakhya Mandir is the main mandir among a complex of individual mandirs dedicated to the ten Mahavidyas: Bhuvaneshvari, Bagalamukhi, Chinnamasta, Tripura Sundari Tara, Kali, Bhairavi, Dhumavati, Matangi, and Kamala. Among these, Tripurasundari, Matangi, and Kamala actually reside inside the main Kamakhya Mandir, whereas the other seven reside in other individual mandirs in close proximity to Kamakhya Mandir.
The current structure of Kamakhya Mandir, which has been built and renovated many times during the 8th-17th century, gave rise to a hybrid indigenous style that is sometimes called the Nilachal type. The structure of Kamakhya Mandir is a hemispherical dome on top of a cruciform base. Kamakhya Mandir consists of 4 chambers: garbhagriha and 3 mandapas locally called calanta, pancaratna, and natamandira aligned from east to west.
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History of Kamakhya Mandir, Guwahati
It has been assumed, that Kamakhya Mandir in Guwahati was destroyed by Kalapahar, a general of Sulaiman Karrani (1566–1572); however, the latest historical findings point out earlier destruction of Kamakhya Mandir during Hussein Shah’s invasion of the Kamata kingdom (1498) then under Nilambar. The ruins of Kamakhya Mandir were generally said to have been discovered by Vishwasingha, the founder of the Koch dynasty, who revived worship at the site, but it was during the reign of his son Naranarayan in 1565 that the reconstruction of Kamakhya Mandir in Guwahati finally reached completion.
In the reconstruction of Kamakhya Mandir, Guwahati, the materials used were from original mandirs that were lying scattered about. Banerji (1925) records that the structure of Kamakhya Mandir was further built over by the rulers of the Ahom kingdom, which is quite significant. The other structures in Kamakhya Mandir, Guwahati, have been added at a later stage. These kinds of structures have been built during the Ahom times, with remnants of the earlier Koch Mandir, which are carefully preserved. Kamakhya Mandir was destroyed during the middle of the second millennium and the revised Kamakhya Mandir structure was constructed in 1565 by Chilarai of the Koch dynasty in the style replicating medieval mandirs.
Rudra Singha (reign 1696 to 1714) was a devout Hindu and as he grew older he actually decided to formally embrace the religion and become an orthodox Hindu by taking sharan of a guru, who would teach him the mantras and become his spiritual guide. But he could not bear the thought of humbling himself in front of a Brahmin who was his subject. So he sent envoys to Bengal and summoned Krishnaram Bhattacharyya, a famous mahant of Shakta sect who lived in Malipota, near Santipur in Nadia district. Legend suggests that the mahant was unwilling to come but consented to be given the care of Kamakhya Mandir, Guwahati. Though the king did not take sharan, he satisfied the mahant by ordering his sons and the Brahmins to accept him as their spiritual guru.
When Rudra Singha died, his eldest son Siba Singha (reign 1714 to 1744) became the king and handed over the management of Kamakhya Mandir, Guwahati along with large areas of land (Debottar land) to Mahant Krishnaram Bhattacharyya. The mahant and his successors came to be known as Parbatiya Gosains, as they resided on top of Nilachal Hill. Many Kamakhya priests of Assam are either disciples or descendants of the Parbatiya Gosains, or of the Nati and Na Gosains.
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Carvings on Kamakhya Mandir
How to Reach Guwahati
By air: Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport in Guwahati is well connected to all major cities in India.
By rail: Guwahati Junction is the main railway station in Guwahati. It is connected to all major train stations in India. Other railway stations in Guwahati are Kamakhya Junction, Azara Railway Station, and New Guwahati Junction.
By bus: Guwahati is connected with Bihar, Jharkhand, and West Bengal via NH 31. Guwahati is also connected with major cities of Assam such as Jorhat and Dibrugarh.
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Frequently Asked Questions:
Q. What is the best time to visit Kamakhya Mandir?
October to March are the best months to visit Kamakhya Mandir in Guwahati. To get the best experience, visit the temple during the Ambubachi Mela held in June. However, the temple remains closed for 3 days during the festival.
Q. What are the entry timings of Kamakhya Mandir?
Kamakhya Mandir remains open from 5:30 am – 1:00 pm and 2:30 pm – 5:30 pm.
Q. How do we reach Kamakhya Mandir from Guwahati?
Kamakhya Mandir is situated 8 km from Guwahati city. It is 6 km away from the Guwahati railway station and 20 km away from the airport. Many cabs go to Kamakhya Mandir every day.