Kamakhya Temple, Assam

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The Kamakhya Temple (Assamese: কামাখ্যা মন্দিৰ); also Kamrup-Kamakhya is a Hindu temple dedicated to the mother goddess Kamakhya. It is one of the oldest of the 51 Shakti Pithas. Situated on the Nilachal Hill in western part of Guwahati city in Assam, India, it is the main temple in a complex of individual temples dedicated to the ten Mahavidyas: Kali, Tara, Sodashi, Bhuvaneshwari, Bhairavi, Chhinnamasta, Dhumavati, Bagalamukhi, Matangi and Kamala. Among these, Tripurasundari, Matangi and Kamala reside inside the main temple whereas the other seven reside in individual temples. It is an important pilgrimage destination for general Hindu and especially for Tantric worshipers.

In July 2015, the Supreme Court of India transferred the administration of the Temple from the Kamakhya Debutter Board to the Bordewri Samaj.

The plan of the Kamakhya temple. The four chambers from the top are: garbhagriha, calanta, pancharatna and the nritya-mandapa.

The plan of the Kamakhya temple. The four chambers from the top are: garbhagriha, calanta, pancharatna and the nritya-mandapa.

The garbhagriha has a pancharatha plan that rests on plinth moldings that are similar to the Surya Temple at Tezpur. On top of the plinths are dados from a later period which are of the Khajuraho or the Central Indian type, consisting of sunken panels alternating with pilasters. The panels have delightful sculptured Ganesha and other Hindu gods and goddesses. Though the lower portion is of stone, the shikhara in the shape of a polygonal beehive-like dome is made of brick, which is characteristic of temples in Kamrup. The shikhara is circled by a number of minaret inspired angashikharas of Bengal type

charchala. The Shikhara, angashikharas and other chambers were built in the 16th century and after.

Kamakhya TempleThe inner sanctum, the garbhagriha, is below ground level and consists of no image but a rock fissure in the shape of a yoni:

The garbhagriha is small, dark and reached by narrow steep stone steps. Inside the cave there is a sheet of stone that slopes downwards from both sides meeting in a yoni-like depression some 10 inches deep. This hollow is constantly filled with water from an underground perennial spring. It is the vulva-shaped depression that is worshiped as the goddess Kamakhya herself and considered as most important pitha (abode) of the Devi.

The garbhaghrihas of the other temples in the Kamakhya complex follow the same structure—a yoni-shaped stone, filled with water and below ground level.

Vatsyayana,a Vedic Sage in Varanasi during the later first Century was approached by the King in the Himalayan region (now Nepal) to find a solution to convert the tribals and their rituals of human sacrifice to a more socially accepted worship. The Sage suggested the worship of a tantric goddess Tara that spread towards the eastern Himalayan belt till the Garo Hills where the tribals worshipped a fertility ‘yoni’ goddess ‘Kameke’. It was much later in the later Brahaminical period Kalika Purana that most tantric goddess were related to the legend of ‘Shakti’ and began to be erroneously worshipped as a ‘devi’ by the Hindus.

According to the Kalika Purana, Kamakhya Temple denotes the spot where Sati used to retire in secret to satisfy her amour with Shiva, and it was also the place where her yoni fell after Shiva danced with the corpse of Sati. This is not corroborated in the Devi Bhagavata, which lists 108 places associated with Sati’s body, though Kamakhya finds a mention in a supplementary list. The Yogini Tantra, a latter work, ignores the origin of Kamakhya given in Kalika Purana and associates Kamakhya with the goddess Kali and emphasizes the creative symbolism of the yoni.


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Address:
Kamakhya, Guwahati, Assam 781010
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26.1642713, 91.70766370000001

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