Umananda Temple, Assam

Hindu religion has immense legends providing great insights and principles of life. Hindu temples are given prime importance in observing religious rituals and practices. It is fascinating to know that temples or shrine of any deity is built on places of serene atmosphere. Hilltops, seashores, rocks, river banks are places were most of the temples are built that obviously shows the connectivity of human beings with nature. Among these there are unique temples that are built on rare places. Umananda Temple in Assam is built in mountain in the peacock island in the middle of river Brahmaputra that makes it extra ordinary among other temples in Assam. In Assamese language the temple is pronounced as “Umananda Deva Loi” worshipping lord Shiva as the main deity. Lord Shiva is worshipped in many forms and in Umananda temple he is worshipped in the form of “Bhayananda”.

According to the religious belief, Lord Shiva was meditating in this place and his yoga meditation was broken by the intervention of Kamadeva, deity of love and desire in Hindu legends. Annoyed by the interruption in his yoga meditation, Lord Shiva became angry. He opened his third eye and the energy from it set fire on Kamadeva and reduced him into ashes. The ashes are known as “Bhasma” and the mountain were the temple is constructed also got the name as “bhasmakuta”. This legend is known in several Hindu religious texts. In kalika purana, Shiva’s anger resulted in the destruction of Kamadeva is elaborately described. This text also affirms that in the beginning of the creation in the world, Lord Shiva sprinkled Holy Ashes to purify the world and to impart knowledge to his wife Parvathy Devi. Uma is another name of Parvathy Devi who is considered as the mother of universe.

The origin of the island’s name is also attributed to another description in Kalika purana that another deity, Goddess Urvasi resided in the Urvasi kund in this island who’s duty was to bring elixir or Heavenly nectar to Kamakhya Devi and the island  was also known as Urvasi Island.

Apart from different legends the prominent deity being worshiped here is Lord Shiva along with the manifestations of other Hindu deities including Lord Ganesha, Surya, Lord Vishnu with his ten incarnations, and Parvathy Devi with a scorpion symbol. Several festive occasions are also observed during particular days like amavasi falls on Monday or in the absence of moon and Shiva Chaturdasi with grandeur as it is believed that worshiping Lord Shiva on these Days will bring great Blessings and prosperity to the true devotees. Shiva Chaturdasi is conducted every year and devotees from every part of the country will participate in this great colorful annual festival.

It is believed that temple was originally constructed in 1694 AD according to the archeological and historical evidences. It was built during the reign of King Gadadhar Singh who was a staunch Shaivaite. For the execution of the order of the king to build this temple, Bar Phukan Garhganya Handique completed the construction of temple in the peacock island with the help of excellent Assamese sculptors and crafts men. In 1897 the temple was completely destructed due to an earthquake. After a long period an immensely wealthy vaishnavaite merchant rebuilt the temple in the present form with Vaishnavaite inscriptions in the interior of the temple. Being built on the top of the mountain one has to take the steep steps of rock to see the Lord Shiva’s manifest in the main shrine. Exceptional rock carving with precise artistic pursuit can be seen around the temple.

North Guwahati and Guwahati are nearest to this island. Access from Guwahati to the temple is possible only through ferries and steamers. Country boats from the bank of Brahmaputra are another option to reach. Inland water transport is also available from Guwahati Uzanbazar Ferry Ghat that is more economical than the ferry from Sukleshwar Ghat or Fancy Bazar Ghat that are quite expensive.

Water transport through the Brahmaputra River to the temple is a definite exciting travel experience for any one who wants to Visit Umananda Temple.