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The Kamakhya Temple Shakti Peeth

Maa Kamakhya Temple located at Guwahati, Assam is a Hindu temple dedicated to the mother goddess Kamakhya. It is considered most sacred and oldest of the 52 Shakti Peethas on earth.
Kamakhya Temple is located on Nilachal Hills in western part of Guwahati on adjoining banks of Brahmaputra river. There is a complex consisting of several temples around Maa Kamakhya Temple. Apart from this, there are also the temples of 10 Mahavidyas in and around temple. These include Bhuvaneshvari, Bagalamukhi, Chinnamasta,Tripura Sundari, Tara, Kali, Bhairavi, Dhumavati, Matangi and Kamala Temples. Among these, Tripurasundari, Matangi and Kamala reside inside the main temple whereas the other seven are individual temples located on Nilachal Hills.
Kamakhya Temple is an important pilgrimage destination for all sects of Hindus and especially for Tantric worshipers.

The Mythical Story
According to mythical legends, Sati married Lord Shiva against the wishes of her father, King Daksha. Once, the king had organised a great yajna in his kingdom and he did not invite Sati and Shiva. Sati was very upset but still went to her father’s kingdom to attend the yajna, much against the wish of Lord Shiva. There, she was insulted by her father. King Daksha also insulted Lord Shiva, which made her so angry that she jumped into the yajna fire and killed herself. Hearing this, Lord Shiva got very angry and took Sati’s body on his shoulders and wandered all around the universe with rage. He started the Tandav dance or dance of destruction of the universe out of anger. Lord Vishnu, in order to calm Shiva down and save the universe, cut the body of Sati into several pieces with his Sudarshan chakra. Her body parts fell in 108 different places which came to be known as the Shakti peeths. In Kamakhya temple, the womb and the yoni or the vagina of the Goddess fell.

According to legend, the Kamakhya Temple is said to be the secret place where Sati and Shiva used to meet. Another story states that it was the exact place where Sati's 'yoni' fell when Shiva was carrying back her body. The word 'Kamakhya' is mentioned in the ancient Sanskrit text, Kalika Purana and it cites that this is a representation of Kali's vulva. On the other hand, the temple's structure was said to be erected by King Chilarai, a descendant of the Koch family, in 1565. But after its construction, it was believed that the Koch Bihar Royal members were expelled from entering the temple by the goddess herself. In parts of the Nilachal Hill, the Kamakhya temple is said to have undergone many changes without the royal family's patronage. In 1658, when King Jayadhvaj Singha (of the Ahom dynasty), seized the lower half of the city, the temple received the attention of these rulers who restored the place to its present form. In the following years, successors of this dynasty became ardent devotees of Shaktism and Shaivism. In 1714, when Siba Singha came into power, he handed over the responsibility of temple supervision to Krishnaram Bhattacharyya who was the head priest then.

Major Attractions 
The major attraction of the Kamakhya temple is the method of worship which is peculiar compared to other shrines in India. This holy place is a synthesis of both Aryan and non-Aryan practices adopted by the temple. The goddess of Kamakhya is worshipped in two different ways: the Vamachara way which strictly follows the practices of the Vedas and the Dakshinachara way which do not follow the heterodox methods. Offerings such as flowers, fruits and animal scarifies are an important part of worship. The Kamakhya shrine has a unique structural style that is shaped in the form of a beehive surrounded by different sculptures of different gods. The edifices are said to be built in the medieval style. The temple consist of three shrines, one has the main deity while the other two have idols of the gods. The main chamber where the worship is carried out is said to be a rock in the shape of a 'yoni' with natural spring water passing through it. During the Ambuvaci festival, the water is said to be red resembling the menstrual fluid of a woman. The best time to visit the temple is in the festive month of June to celebrate the fertility of the goddess. You can also visit the place between the months of September and October to take part in the five day celebrations of Durga Puja. 

Some Interesting Facts
The incomplete staircase to the temple: An Asura or demon named Naraka fell in love with Goddess Kamakhya. He wanted to marry her. Goddess Kamakhya who was not interested in Naraka put forward a condition to him that he should build a staircase within one night from the bottom of the Nilachal hill to the temple. If the staircase was built then she would surely marry him. Naraka accepted the condition and tried by all means to get a staircase constructed within one night. Just as it was about to get complete, Maa Kamakhya became tense and decided to play a trick. She strangled a cock and made it to cry so that it appeared that the night had ended. Naraka thought that he could not complete the staircase before morning and left it half-done. Even today, the staircase is incomplete and is known as Mekhelauja path. Most of the pilgrims use this staircase to reach the temple, though there is also a finely paved and pitched road to reach the temple by cars and buses.
No image of the Shakti: This is one temple where you won’t find any sculpture of Maa Shakti. You will simply find the sculptured image of the yoni of the goddess in a corner of the cave in the temple, and this is the main object of reverence.
Natural spring: It is strange that even today, a natural spring keeps the yoni moist. The spring water flows through the yoni-shaped cleft in the bedrock.
The bleeding goddess: The Kamakhya temple is also popular as the bleeding goddess or the menstruating goddess. It is said that in the month of June or Ashaad, the goddess bleeds or menstruates. The natural spring water in the yoni or the sanctum turns red during this time.
The Main Shrine
The main shrine or the yoni is installed in the middle chamber of the temple. Pilgrims move slowly into the dark sanctum sanctorum, which is a narrow alley. After taking few flights of stairs in the alley, you will find a very small-sized pool, where natural spring water flows. Pilgrims squat by the pool’s edge and offer their prayers here. There you can see the symbolic yoni organ that remains covered with a red cloth.
The Great Ambubachi Mela
The great Ambubachi mela, also known as the fertility festival, takes place in the Kamakhya temple in the month of June for five days. During this time, the temple remains closed for three days and it is believed that the Goddess menstruates. In fact, the devotees from various parts of the country start staying in the temple premises from the first day itself, singing songs of glory in praise of the Goddess. They wait for three days and nights and when the doors of the temple open on the fourth day, thousands of devotees come inside to offer their prayers. Holy water is then distributed among the devotees of Kamakhya devi.
No Scientific Proof
Till today, there is no scientific evidence why the water actually turns red. But menstruation is the symbol of a woman’s power to give birth. So, whatever the cause, the Kamakhya temple celebrates this ‘shakti’ or power within every woman.

How to Reach
To visit the Kamakhya temple, you have to reach the Guwahati city in the state of Assam. This can be done by various means of transport. 
By Air: The Guwahati airport is well-connected to the various metros from Delhi, Agartala, Aizwal, Kolkata and Imphal. 
By Train: The Paltan Bazaar Railway Station in Guwahati is one of the major railway junctions in the region that has trains coming in from different cities like Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai. 
By Road: If you plan to commute by road then passengers can be assured that there are more than a few bus services, both private and public, that travel to Guwahati. The Kamakhya temple in Guwahati is a big landmark among the other religious shrines in the city. Seated amongst the landscape of the Nilachal Hill, this temple of the goddess Kamakhya promises to bring inner peace and salvation to its visitors.

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