We were finally back to a relative’s home in Guwahati, Assam. Thankfully. After a seven days long trip across Kaziranga, Shillong, Cherapunjee and the Umaim Lake, it felt relieving to be at home, instead of a hotel. Though, it might be worth mentioning that our hotel “The Habitat – Shillong” was absolutely fabulous. You can read a detailed review here.
At Guwahati, we had a mountain of interesting plans stretching over the next couple of days. This included yet another jungle safari, a family picnic of sorts, some local sightseeing and a 31st December night house-party.
The Religious Grandeur, Traditions, and numerous Hindu Temples
Assam offers such rich natural diversity, that a 10-12 days trip might not be remotely sufficient to do justice to your travel plans. So without further delay, next on our wish list were the absolutely famous temples in Guwahati. Assam, in particular, is known for the religious grandeur, traditions, and numerous Hindu temples. For example, the Kamakhya temple, situated on the Nilachal hills is dedicated to the legend of Kamakhya, the bleeding Mother Goddess. The temple is visited by millions every year to offer prayers to the tantric Goddess – Maa Kamakhya. This is one of the oldest of the 51 Shakti Pithas, a spot where the Yoni of the Goddess supposedly landed when Lord Shiva started the dance of destruction with the corpse of Sati.
The Kamakhya Temple: A Mix of Mystery, Legends and Preternatural Aura
The mystery, legend and preternatural aura surrounding the prevalent customs of animal sacrifice, the ‘red’ water spring originating from garbhagraha, the myths of the menstruating God and a history of black magic (Vashikaran Tantra) attracts an unimaginable influx of tourists around the year. You can carry out some internet research if you intend to delve into the historical details. What I present here is a simple picture blog. Nothing too fancy, but honest firsthand eerie experience. I loved the extensive stone sculpture and dark underground passages leading to the inner sanctum. Fascinating yet thrilling.
The Blood Smeared Bhubaneswari Temple on Nilachal Hills
The Bhubaneswari Temple situated on top of the same Nilachal Hills is another unconventional temple. We took a hired cab for 100 bucks from the Taxi stand right in front of the Kamakhya temple entrance. The cab took us up to the Bhubaneswari temple (elevation 690 Ft.), waited for us and got us back. As per legends, childless couples with marital problems seek divine blessings here from Goddess Bhubaneswari, the feminine rules of the universe. We tried our best to avoid eye contact with the numerous scary looking pandas and babas, most of whom supposedly possess tantric powers. The Bhubaneswari temple too had a mysterious uncanny aura. The red shades everywhere symbolize blood. In reality, they could be red vermillion smeared on the rocks and puja areas. The hill-top offers a pristine view of the Guwahati town. I was told, that the spiritual forces reigning this temple are stronger than any of the other temples. An obvious feeling, because the Bhubaneswari Temple was emptier and tad quieter.
A Quick Stop at The Basistha Temple
The Basistha Temple is another famous destination at the South East Corner of Guwahati. Dating back to 1764, this is one of the oldest temples in India. Dedicated to Lord Shiva and founded by the great sage Basistha, this one too had a similar strange eeriness to it. The air was so heavy with smoke from yajnas, incense sticks, and ghee. With the visitors gone, the commotion gradually transforms into an uncanny blanket of silence, that welcomes the dark night ahead. All you hear is the gurgling water stream running by the temple. Spending a night at this temple would surely be a thrilling experience. But beware of the numerous and notorious monkeys.
Ending the Trip at Shri Balaji Temple
Next, we headed out to the Shri Balaji Temple, spread out across a vast well-decorated area. Unlike the other temples we visited so far, this one looked distinctively cleaner and emptier. Lots of open gardens and parking space. According to locals, Shri Balaji temple is undoubtedly one of the key attractions in Guwahati, featuring right at the second position after the Kamakhya temple. Personally, this temple seemed more aligned with “life”. As compared to Bhubaneswari and Basistha Temples, which seemingly highlighted a certain “darkness”.
Our Guwahati Day-Tour Comes to an End
With this, our day tour finally came to a tiring end. Nothing to be crestfallen though. We got invited to the Family get-together at Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary the next morning. Pobitora was a smaller and controlled version of the Kaziranga National Forests. Located around 47 KM east if Guwahati, this stretch of grassland is one of the dwelling places of the world famous One-Horned Rhinoceroses. While Kaziranga surely had a significantly higher count, it takes some luck to spot the Rhinos, considering the dense wilderness. At Pobitora, you could find dozens of them dawdling around, silently grazing or staring. Here are a few pictures to keep you hooked.