Umananda Temple

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The mighty river Brahmaputra harbors many small islands in its fold. One of the smallest inhabited riverine island in the world is the peacock island of Umananda Temple. A shiva temple is located here. The mountain on which this temple has been built is known as Bhasmacala. Country boats on the bank of Brahmaputra ply visitors to and fro the island.

The island is diametrically opposite the office of the Deputy Commissioner of Kamrup or the Kachari Ghat in Guwahati. It was built by the Ahom King Gadadhar Singha, who was a devoted Shaivaite. The main deity of the temple is Umananda or Lord Shiva in the form of Bhayananda. There is a belief that, worship on the Amavasya day here when it falls on Monday brings the highest bliss. The Shiva Chaturdasi is the most significant and colourful festival held here annually. Many devotees visit the temple on this occasion to worship the deity with milk and water and seek His blessings. During Shiva Ratri people throng this temple at night even though it is in the middle of Brahmaputra.

Legend

Kalika Purana, a Sanskrit work has scripted that at the very initiation of the creation Siva has sprinkled ashes (bhasma) at this place and imparted knowledge to Parvati. It is believed that, when Siva was in meditation on this hillock, Kamadeva interrupted his yoga and was therefore burnt to ashes by the rage of Shiva and henceforth the hillock got the name Bhasmacala. This mountain is also called Bhasmakuta. The temple of Umananda was built by the Bar Phukan Garhganya Handique in 1694 A.D. by the order of Ahom King Gadadhar Singh, one of the ablest and strongest rulers of the Tai Ahom dynasty. The original temple however was immensely damaged by a devastating earthquake in the year 1897. But later, it was reconstructed by a rich local merchant.
Structure

The temple has some rock-cut figures, which speaks about the masterly skill of the Assamese craftsmen. The sculptures here reflect that the worshipers to this temple followed all the principal Hindu gods. Depictions of Surya, Ganesha, Shiva and Devi (with a scorpion as emblem) in addition to those of Vishnu and his ten incarnations (avatar) are found here. The main shrine can be reached by a flight of steep steps.

Nature’s fervor

The location of the temple itself is a wonderful manifest of nature. Ferrying across the one of the largest river in the world, Brahmaputra River is a unique experience. The island also has habitation of many monkeys and they have become so friendly with the locals there that these monkeys are given names of movie celebrities and surprising they reciprocate the call. It is indeed a one of its kind tourist spots of Assam. In the middle of mighty Brahmaputra one can find clusters of small islands and some can be visited. So one can even plan a family picnic in these islands but of course you must hire a personal boat to keep with you till you are done with your share of enjoyment. If you are lucky you may even get glimpse of the world famous golden langur.

How to Reach

This smallest river island can be accessed from Guwahati and North Guwahati by ferries and steamers. One can hire a ferry from Sukleshwar ghat or Fancy Bazar Ghat on the mainland to reach the temple. This mode of transportation though a bit expensive yet one can get the feel of the mighty Brahmaputra river and its surroundings without any interventions and most ideal for couples and family trips. However, a much convenient and cheaper means of transport has been provided by Inland Water Transport, which connects the Peacock Island to Guwahati from Uzanbazar Ferry Ghat. Best thing about this tourist site of Assam is that it can be reached from various part of the city.

While this abode of Lords Shiva satisfies the religious quest of the pilgrims, the Bramaputra with his calmness lives a lasting impression in the mind with a thought at the back of the mind to visit the shrine yet again.

JayB

A self-described travel enthusiast...

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