Shillong is the abode of clouds or as we know the capital city of Meghalaya. A city where I was pre occupied absorbing every drop of the beauty nature could hold together. We left early to be able to make it to one of the most mystical temple of its kind. None other than the majestic Kamakhya Mandir/temple, one of the oldest Shaktipeeth out of 51 and an important place of worship in India, enveloped with a source of unknown power and energy. This temple is dedicated to Goddess Sati, an incarnation of Goddess Durga.
The Best Time to Visit Kamakhya Mandir
The Temple doors close at 6.30 pm, and so if you are planning to visit this holy shrine anytime soon, I would recommend morning or afternoon to have enough time in hand. We reached the Temple at 4pm, and on our way spotted plenty of local vendors in small shops selling local items. It ranged from traditional handicraft, to flavoured local cuisine. Worth stopping by, if you are a food and shopping lover. I folded my hands (hindu tradition), with my eyes closed, to focus on the chants. Thereafter, a priest approached us and explained the history and glory of the place.
History of Kamakhya Mandir
Despite Lord Shiva’s disapproval, his wife Sati chose to attend the universal ‘yajna’ organised by her father Daksha. To her dismay, Shiva was not invited! Sati could not bear the insult, and sacrificed her life. Upon hearing the news, Shiv arrived and picked up the body of his deceased wife, and began a dance of destruction. Vishnu tried to pacify Shiva, and the Goddesses’s body was split into 51 parts. The spots where each part fell has been identified as ‘Peetha’. However the place where her genitalia fell, was unknown till the god of love, Lord Kamadeva searched for it. He found it to rid himself of a certain curse by Brahma. Lord Kama regained his body here, hence the place became popular as ‘Kamarup’ and the presiding deity as ‘Kamakhya’ – one worshipped by Kama.
Ancient Traditions of the Temple
Every year on the seventh day of Ashaad, the pool containing the female genitalia, turns red for three days. Lack of scientific evidence, leads to believe that vermillion powder is poured into the water. Either way, the holy water is distributed by the priests amongst the pilgrims. The temple remains closed for three days thereafter, and reopens on the fourth day to pilgrims with much fanfare.
- This is also one Temple, that accepts sacrifices in abundance. Many people bring with them goats and chickens, however if you believe in simple offerings then there are plenty of shops outside the Temple selling dry fruits and other potential benefactions.
- The secondary alter flaunts the head of a Bull, and we were asked to touch the same and seek blessings.
- Take a few steps downwards, to visit the alter of the main deity or in this case, the mural of Sati’s yoni.
- One can touch the running water here, and seek blessings.
Top 9 Facts of Kamakhya Mandir in Guwahati
1 – Kamakhya Mandir, in Assam is the oldest amongst the 51 “Shakti Peeths” of India. This Temple is situated in the Western part of Guwahati City, at the top of Nilachal Hill.
2 – There is no image of Shakti or Goddess Sati here. Within a corner of the cave, you will find a sculptured image of the yoni of the goddess, which is the object of reverence.
3 – A natural spring mysteriously keeps the stone moist, throughout the year.
4 – The temple was destroyed in early 16th century, and then rebuilt in the 17th century by king Nara Narayana of Cooch Bihar.
5 – Kamakhya’s “Kamya Sindoor” or wish fulfilling Vermillion against evil protection & litigation, is the most powerful of it’s kind, and brings good luck to the designated user. Legends and Pandits suggest that if one marks a tilak on their forehead for 43 consecutive days, the person can experience the magic themselves.
6 – Kamakhya vermillion is ritually energised by Kamakhya Devi mantra, and works actively for fulfilling one’s desires.
7 – The temple consists of three major chambers. The chamber in the West, is a rectangular room which is not open to general pilgrims for worship. The middle chamber is square with a small idol of the Goddess, a later addition. Furthermore, this middle chamber leads to the sanctum of the temple in the form of a cave. The cave consists of no image, but a natural underground spring that flows through a yoni-shaped cleft in the bedrock.
Story of Naraka in Kamakhya Temple
8 – A demon called ‘Naraka’ once fell in love with Goddess Kamakhya and wanted to marry her. Goddess demanded that if only he could build a staircase, then she would gladly oblige. She asked for it to be from the bottom of the Nilachal Hill, to the entrance of the temple within one night. All in all, Naraka accepted the challenge. While he was almost about to complete the job, Kamakhya decided to play a trick on him. She slightly strangled a rooster, to give the untimely impression of dawn. Deceived by the trick of Devi, Naraka left his work and returned. Later when he found out, he chased the rooster and killed it at a place, now known as Kukurakata, situated in Darrang District in Assam.
9 – Today, the incomplete staircase is known by the name of “Mekhelauja path.”
While the ancient dome like structure stands apart, I would say the Temple’s atmosphere seems charged with consistent mysticism.