Umananda Temple is an extremely popular religious spot in the state of Assam in India. Umananda Devaloi is a Shiva temple that is located on the Peacock Island which is the smallest island that lies in the middle of the majestic river the Brahmaputra in Guwahati city of Assam. Umananda Temple was built in 1964 AD by the Ahom King Gadadhar Singha who used to be a devout Shaivaite.
The peacock island is the world’s smallest known inhabited riverine island with a minimal population and thus is a unique location for a temple. The island located amidst immense natural beauty is extremely blissful. It is reachable through country boats which are available on the River Brahmaputra’s bank and the boat takes the visitors to the temple on the island. Umananda Temple is built on the Bhasmacala Mountain in Guwahati. Umananda Temple is also sheltered by a small hill Bhasmacala.
Umananda Temple is dedicated to the worship of Lord Shiva and is the most revered temple of the entire state of Assam and thus, it entices tourists from many parts of the country who come here to worship the Lord as well as to enjoy the natural beauty of the place. Umananda Temple has been established and re-established many times in history to ensure a religious bliss for the devotees.
Umananda Temple History
According to popular legend, Shiva had resided on the location of the temple in the form of Bhayananda. Popular mythology according to Kalika Purana suggests that in the beginning of the creation Shiva had sprinkled ashes (Bhasma) on this location. Shiva had imparted knowledge to his consort Parvati here and when Shiva was in meditation here on a hillock, Kamadeva had interrupted his yoga. Thus, he was burnt to ashes by the fire of Shiva’s anger and the ashes were spread everywhere on the hilltop. Due to this, the hillock acquired the name Bhasmacala.
This mountain has another name Bhasmakuta as according to Kalika Purana, Urvasikunda was also situated here and the goddess Urvashi resides here who brings Amrit for the enjoyment of Devi Kamakhya and thus the island also acquired the name Urvashi Island.
Another legend says that Shiva lived here much to the Ananda (joy) of his consort Uma (Parvati) hence the name. Umananda is the presiding deity of the temple and it is believed that worshiping the Lord here on the day of the new moon or Amavasya day when it falls on Monday brings the devotee the highest bliss. One of the most colourful festivals here is the Shiva Chaturdashi. It is held here annually and many devotees visit the temple on the occasion to worship the deity. Maha Shivaratri is also a major festival celebrated here by the devotees.
Significance of Umananda Temple
The Umananda Temple was built in 1694 A.D. by Bar Phukan Garhganya Handique on the order of the King Gadadhar Singha who was one of the strongest and ablest rulers of Ahom dynasty. A devastating earthquake destroyed the original temple in 1897. Later Umananda Temple was reconstructed by some rich local merchant. He chose to inscribe interior part of the Shiva temple with Vaishnavite slogans.
When the Mughals occupied the region of Kamroopa, land, men and money were given to the priests of Umananda Temples from Mughal Emperors Jahangir and Aurangzeb and they used this to reconstruct the temple totally.
Structure of Umananda Temple
Umananda Temple has some rock-cut figures that are skilfully created by the master craftsmen of Assam and these figures speak passionately about the skill of these craftsmen. There are sculptures in the temple that show all the principal Hindu gods. The temple has representations of Shiva, Surya, Ganesha and Devi in addition to sculptures of Lord Vishnu and his ten incarnations. The main shrine can be reached by the flight of steep steps.
Apart from the mentioned ones, many sculptures of Lord Vishnu and his ten incarnations are also there in the vicinity of this temple.
Umananda Temple Timings
Umananda Temple is visited by devotees from all over the country and it remains open on all days of the week from 5:30 AM to 6:00 PM.
Festivals Celebrated At Umananda Temple
Every year, many devotees and worshipers come to the Umananda Temple during the yearly occasion of Shivratri. On this occasion every year, many worshipers especially visit the Peacock Island to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva. Shivratri is the occasion which is a very auspicious festival for Shaivites as this day marks the union of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.
Another popular belief in the region is that worshiping in the Umananda Temple on an Amavasya (New moon) day, especially if it is falling on a Monday, brings the highest bliss to the devotee. The day is marked by special Poojas and Havans that are performed to entice Lord Shiva and to attain all bliss and happiness in life.
Poojas and Rituals at Umananda Temple
Shivaratri is a major festival and many rituals are performed on this day in the Umananda temple. Many devotees visit the temple and perform Poojas for Lord Shiva. This includes extensive decoration in the temple and arrangement for worship as well as Prasad. The devotees celebrate in jubilation and offer special Bhoga (food offered to the deity) and fruits as well as flowers to their favourite deity.
The devotees perform special Bhajans (religious music) and the popular foods that are the favorite of Lord Shiva are consumed on this day in the temple.
How to Reach by Rail, Road and Air
The Umananda temple is located on the Peacock Island that can be accessed from the city of Guwahati as well as North Guwahati through ferries and steamers. A ferry can be hired from Sukleshwar Ghat or the Fancy Bazar Ghat. The ferry ride is a little expensive but it gives the feel of the river and also of its surroundings without interventions. The spot is most ideal for couples as well as family trips. However, the Inland Water Transport has provided a much convenient and cheaper transport which connects the Peacock Island to Guwahati from Uzanbazar Ferry Ghat. The temple lies just opposite the office of Deputy Commissioner of Kamrup or the Kachari Ghat in Guwahati. Thus to reach Umananda temple one can take a short ferry ride from Kachari Ghat, which lies near the D.C Office of Peacock Island.
Airways: The nearest airport from the temple is at Guwahati. One can take a ferry from Guwahati to reach the temple.
Railhead: The railway line closest to the temple is at Guwahati, The railhead of Guwahati is connected to all major cities of the country through day-night trains.
Road Transport: Guwahati is well connected to all the major cities of Assam as well as the nearby states through roadways. Guwahati can be reached by road from any part of the state.
Water Transport: As this temple resides on an Island which is amidst the Brahmaputra River, therefore one needs to take a ferry from the banks reach the temple. These ferries are arranged by state tourism department for all tourists who visit from all the parts of the country.
Guwahati being a major city has many eating hubs and restaurants. The popular food here is fish which is a major delicacy in Assam region and one can savour the mouth-watering curries in and around the popular Paltan Bazar at extremely cheap rates.
Hotels in Guwahati Where to Stay Where to Eat
Guwahati is a major city of Assam with all basic amenities in terms of lodging and boarding. There are many major hotels and guest houses in the city of Guwahati. The city also offers many private hotels which range from luxury to the budget-friendly ones. There are excellent accommodation facilities in and around Guwahati as well as in Assam.
The major hotels include Landmark Hotel, Hotel Prince B, Royale de Casa, Hotel Kalpa, Hotel Rajmahal, Hotel Atithi, Grand Bhabendra Alay, Hotel Tibet, Hotel Plaza Inn, Hotel Lilawati Grand, Fortune Hotel, Hotel Millennium, Hotel Aroma, Baruah Bhavan and Hotel Highway Palace. The hotels can be booked in advance as well as on visiting.
Guwahati is an excellent place for sightseeing as well as a popular pilgrimage due to the many important temples situated here. The city is situated on the banks of the holy Brahmaputra River and is a paradise for the nature lovers. The city lies amidst the majestic Himalayan ranges and the popular Brahmaputra River provides the stunning landscape to the city. It has a rich cultural background that is combined together to provide a unique experience to the visitors. The place will remain in the memory of the visitors forever. The place is never short of tourist attractions and places of significance. Guwahati is also never short of entertainment for the tourists. Thus, while visiting the city; it is a tough task to decide what to see
Here are some popular temples and sightseeing places in Guwahati:
Kamakhya Temple: Guwahati is extremely famous due to the Kamakhya temple which is located on the Nilachal hill which is located at a distance of about 10 km from railway station. This temple is known to be one of the most revered as it is a major Tantrik shrines for the worship of Shakti in the world. The temple was built in the 10th century by Koch king, Naranarayan. The temple has the ritual of animal sacrifice to appease the Goddess.
Bhubaneshwari Temple: Another small temple above the Kamakhya temple is the Bhubaneshwari which is also extremely popular. From this scenic temple, one can have a bird’s eye view of the city of Guwahati.
Navagraha Temple: This is a famous temple located atop a small hill in east Guwahati. The Navagraha temple meaning the “temple of nine planets” is an ancient seat and significant for practitioners of astrology and astronomy. The temple is housed in red beehive-shaped dome; the temple has a central lingam which is encircled by further nine representations of the planets (graha) – Sun (Surya, Ravi), Moon (Chandra, Soma), Mercury (Buddh), Venus (Sukra), Mars (Mangal), Jupiter (Brhaspati) and Saturn (Sani). Two more were added, Rahu and Ketu, the dragon’s head and the dragon’s tail, or the ascending and descending nodes of the moon.
Apart from the above temples, there are many other places for sightseeing in Assam:
Kaziranga National Park: Also dubbed as the Forest in Assam, the Kaziranga National park is famous for Rhinoceros unicorn which is a very common species in the forest. There are various kinds of bird species in the region and the place can be explored with Jeep safari and elephant safari is also available in the region in mornings.
Alfresco Grand Sunset Cruise: The sunset cruise is a fun place to visit in the region and the place is also famous for dinner cruises. There are also cultural programmes like Bihu dance that are performed on a cruise.
Purva Tirupati Shri Balaji temple: Located in Betkuchi, Guwahati, the Purva Tirupati Shri Balaji temple is a divine place in the city with the main deity Lord Balaji. The temple complex is located on 2 acres of prime land and has a clean and green environment.
The Umananda temple is extremely unique for not just one but many reasons. The environment that it lies in has been able to sustain one of the most endangered species of primates – the golden langoors. The langoors were long considered sacred by the people in the Himalayas. The golden langoors are mainly found in the parts of Western Assam and the neighbouring foothills in the Black mountains of the Bhutan region. The endangered species, otherwise hostile, totally adapted to the human beings especially the host of tourists who frequent the island. The number of these langoors increased to 13 earlier but now there are only 5 of them left.
Thus, the region and the temple are a wonderful place to spend a wonderful vacation. The wilderness, the species of natural birds and the wonderful natural environment make this place worth visiting; to enjoy all this on you need to be at Guwahati, Assam.