UMANANDA TEMPLE

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Location : Guwahti, Kamrupa District, Assam
Presiding Deity : Goddess Umananda
Main Festivity : Shiva Chaturdashi
Built In: 1694 AD


The temple of Umananda is situated on the "Peacock Island" (so named by some poetic British Administrator) in the midst of the river Brahmaputra off the office of the Deputy Commissioner of the Kamarupa district at Guwahati.

The Legend

Another name of the mountain on which the temple has been built is "Bhasmacala". Shiva is said to have dwelt here in the form of Bhayananda. According to the Kalika Purana, at the beginning of creation Shiva sprinkled here ashes ('Bhasma') and imparted knowledge to Parvati. The Puranic tradition is that when Shiva was in mediation on this hillock Kamadeva interrupted his yoga and was therefore burnt to ashes by the fire of Shiva's anger and hence the hillock got the name Bhasmacala.

Bhasmacala is also called "Bhasmakuta". The Kalika Purana states that 'Urvasikunda' is situated here and here dwells the goddess Urvasi who brings nectar for the enjoyment of Kamakhya and hence the island got the name Urvasi Island. Country boats that are available at this place take the visitors to the island.

The Festivity & Rituals

The presiding deity of the temple is Umananda. Worship here on the Amavasya day when it falls on Monday brings the highest bliss. The Shiva Chaturdasi is the most colourful festival that is held here every year. Many devotees gather at the temple on this occasion for the worship of the deity.

The small temple of Umananda was built in 1694 AD by the Bar Phukan Garhganya Handique by the order of King Gadadhar Singh (1681- 1696), one of the strongest and best rulers of the Ahom dynasty. The original temple was however badly damaged by the great earthquake of 1897. Later, it was repaired and reconstructed by a rich local merchant who chose to inscribe the inner part of a Shiva temple with Vaisnavite slogans.

The Rock-Cut Figurines

The temple has bequeathed some rock-cut figures, which speak eloquently of the masterly skill of the Assamese craftsmen. The sculptures also show that the worshippers there followed all the principal Hindu gods, as one finds representations there of Surya, Ganesha, Shiva and Devi (with a scorpion as emblem) in addition to those of Vishnu and his ten incarnations. The temple derives its income from the lands settled in the temple by the kings. The lands are placed in charge of the managers of the temple called "Dalais".



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