Kamakhya Temple (Kamrup-kamakhya) is a famous Hindu Pilgrimage situated at Guwahati, Assam, India. It is located on the Nilachal Hill in Guwahati. The Kamakhya Temple is dedicated to Devi Kamakhya (goddesses). The main temple compound consists of 10 others individual temples of 10 different avatars of Devi kali namely Dhumavati, Matangi, Bagola, Tara, Kamala, Bhairavi, Chinnamasta, Bhuvaneshwari and Tripuara Sundari. It is an important Hindu temple destination for Tantric worshipers. As the Sanskrit word for lovemaking is ‘kama’, the place was named Kamakhya.
Mythical History of the Temple:
Kamakhya Temple is an ancient temple. It is one of the 108 Shakti Peeths. According to the mythical history, the Kamakhya Temple is said to be the secret place where Sati and Shiva used to meet. Another story also states that it was the exact place where Sati’s ‘Yuni’ fell when Lord Shiva carrying back her body.
Kamakhya Temple is an ancient temple built around 7th Century CE. The king of Gupta Emperor Samudragupta is one of the earliest references which mentions about the temple located in Assam. During that period, the temple was considered as a marvel of architecture. The temple was built during the rule of Pal dynasty.
The temple was damaged in the 11th- 12th Centuries by Nasiruddin in 1227 and Malik Uzbek Tughril Khan in 1225 and 1257. These rulers plundered almost all the temples starting from Bihar, Bengal, and Assam. During these expeditions, Devi Kamakhya temple was severely damaged.
Then the King Chilarai erected the temple structures of the Koch family in 1565. In 1658, when King Jayadhvaj Singha (of the Ahom dynasty), seized the lower half of the city, the temple received the attention of these rulers who restored the place to its present form.
In the following years, successors of this dynasty became ardent devotees of Shaktism and Shaivism. In 1714, when Siba Singha came into power, he handed over the responsibility of temple supervision to Krishnaram Bhattacharyya who was the head priest then.
Architecture of the Temple:
The architecture of the temple is very unique. The main temple has seven bee hived shaped Shikaras (gopuras), with each shikara having a golden Trishula. The Kamakhya Temple also consists of three chambers known as Calanta, Pancaratna, and Natamandira. The large and rectangular chamber facing west has an idol of Naga Mata, which the devotees seldom worship. In the South, a chamber is the idol of Devi Chamundeshwari.
The Pancaratna or the middle chamber leads to the Garba Griha or the Sanctum Santorum. The Garba Griha is in the form of a cave with narrow steps dimly lit by oil lamps leading to the Yoni, where the fissure of rock is found and worshipped.
The temple complex has three other temples dedicated to Lord Kedara (Kamaleswara), situated near the northern side of the main temple. On the north- western direction is located the Gadadhara temple and on the eastern foothills is located the temple of Lord Pandunath, also known as Pandu.
The Bleeding Goddess:
The temple is also popular as the bleeding goddess or the menstruating goddess. In the month of Ashaad (June), the goddess bleeds or menstruates, the Brahmaputra river turns into red. The temple then remains closed for 3 days and holy water is distributed among the devotees of Kamakhya Devi.
The Ambubachi Mela:
The major attraction of Kamakhya Temple is Ambubachi Mela, also known as a fertility festival. It is held in the month of June for five days. During this time, the temple remains closed for 3 days. In this time many devotees, as well as tourist come from various parts of worship.