Kamakhya Temple (Goddess Durga), Guwahati, Assam

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An ancient centre of Shakti or Tantric worship. The Yoni or Vagina of Goddess Sati is believed to have fallen here. The Devi is known as Kamakhya- ‘‘one who fulfil desires’’. The present temple, on a hill top called Nilachal, dates back to 1565 AD.

The famous Hindu temple has three main chambers. The sanctum sanctorum is on the middle chamber. It has no idol, but a natural underground spring that flows through a Yoni-shaped cleft in the bed rock.

There are many other temples within the temple complex. These include a temple to Lord Vishnu and five other temples dedicated to Lord Shiva.

According to the legend, Narakasur- the mighty demon king of Pragjyotisha, wanted to marry Goddess Kamakhya. The Goddess, out of fun, promised to marry him if he can construct a staircase from the base of Nilachal hill up to the place where the temple stands now in one night. The demon King accepted the challenge; he almost completed the work. Seeing this Devi Kamakhya became weary as she cannot even imagine marrying the demon.

So she sent a cock to cry in front of Narakasur to mislead him. The Cock did so. The demon believed that the Sun rise had happened. He stopped the work as he cannot complete the work within a night. The incomplete staircase is now known as Mekhalauja path.

The well-visited temple celebrates many festivals throughout the year; the Ambabachi Mela, held usually in the third week of June is unique among them. Many believe that Goddess Kamakhya goes through her menstrual cycle during the Amba Bachi days. The temple remains closed for three days-the menstruation period.

When the temple opens on the fourth day, there is a mad rush of devotees to get the darshan of Devi Kamakhya. During this time, the water in the main Shrine runs red resembling the menstrual fluid. A small bit of wet cloth, supposedly moist with the menstrual fluid of the goddess Kamakhya, is given as Prasad.

The temple is situated at the heart of Guwahati city. The railway station is six kilometers and the airport is 20 kilometers away.

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