Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Holy places In Assam


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Xatriya Dance




Balaji Temple in Guwahati (A replica of Tirupati's Temple)
Balaji Temple in Guwahati (A replica of Tirupati's Temple)Balaji Temple in Guwahati (A replica of Tirupati's Temple)
Balaji Temple in Guwahati (A replica of Tirupati's Temple)Balaji Temple in Guwahati (A replica of Tirupati's Temple)
Balaji Temple in Guwahati (A replica of Tirupati's Temple)Balaji Temple in Guwahati (Areplica of Tirupati's Temple)


Saraswati puja being solemonised

Beautiful Churches
Beautiful Churches
Ajan Fakir's Dargah at Sibsagar

Nestled in the Brahmaputra valley this state of Assam has Tantrik Shaktism, Shivaism and later Vaishnavism flourishing in its laps. From time to time people from different races, religion and culture have migrated to this place.The Mohmmedan invasions brought Islam into the state. Sikhism flourished here, Buddhist communities have kept the flag of Buddhism flying high. The famous Gurudwara at Dhubri established by the ninth Sikh Guru Teg Bahadur is held in the high veneration by the sikhs throughout the country.With the advent of new faith & religion many temples and monuments were built all over Assam. Most of these architectural graduers belong to the medieval period and represent the architectural style of the Koch, Kachari and Ahom royal courts. These temples and monuments, spread almost all over Assam, bear silent witness to a glorious past.



The most famous and sacred temple of Assam is the Kamakhya temple in Guwahati and counted among the 51 sacred Pithas. Situated in the Tezpur district, Dah Parbatiya merits a visit as it contains the remains of the oldest temple of the state. Hayagribha-Madhab Temple is a sacred shrine for both Hindus and Buddhists. Still, the most attractive temples of Assam are the Sattras of Majuli, which are not only a place of worship for the devotees but also a treasure house of performing arts.



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Centers of Shakti Worship - Assam



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Assam has been long associated with Tantric practices connected with Shakti worship.
The best known center of Shakti worship in Assam is the Kamakhya Devi Temple on the Neelachala Parvat near Guwahati. This temple is regarded as one of the Shakti Peetha shrines associated with the legend of Daksha's sacrifice - Shiva's Rudra Tandavam, and the fall of various parts of Sati's body on to the earth. Other temples on the Neelachala hill include those of Tara, Bhairavi, Bhuvaneswari and Ghantakarna.



The Hatimura Temple enshrining Mahishasuramardini is located at Silghat, in the district of Nowgong. Mahisamardini is portrayed as the destroyer of the demon Mahisha. This temple has been a center of Shakti worship for several centuries. The current structure built on the ruins of an ancient structure, dates back to the 18th century and was built by the Ahom ruler Pramatta Singh.



The Tamreswari temple, now mostly in ruins is one of the oldest centers of Shakti worship and is located at a distance of about 10 km from Sadiya. This was once a flourishing center of Tantric worship. Tamreswari is also referred to as Ugra Tara.



The Ugra Tara temple is located in Guwahati. Its current structure dates back to the period of the ruler Shiva Singh of the 18th century. The temple has undergone renovation since its damage by a devastating earthquake.



Interesting legends surround the origin of Tantric practices in Assam. It is believed that Kamaroopa Desa was the site of Vasishta's penances and that it was a center of great religious significance and that those who died attained immediate salvation. Yama, the God of righteousness, apparently disappointed at the fact that there were no souls entering his realm. Upon his request, Shiva sent Ugra Tara, who cleansed the region of its population. An enraged Sage Vasishta upon being driven away from the region placed a curse on the region. Thereafter, all Savia agamic forms of worship declined and the Vamachara (left handed) forms of worship involving animal and human sacrifices came into being.

Prominent temples and place of religious importance in Assam are:
Kamakhya Temple
Sukreswar Temple
Nabagraha Temple
Umananda Temple
Bhasmachala
Basisthashram
Janardhan Temple
Ugratara Temple
Ashvakranta Temple
Mahabhairab Temple
Rudreswar Temple
Madan Kamdev
### Vaishnavaite Satras ### (Unique symbol of Assamese Religious belief)
Lankeshwar Temple
Nauka Mandir
Doul Govinda Temple
Digheswari Temple
Agnigarh
Jaysagar Tank and Temples
Gaurisagar Tank and Temples
Ugra Tara Temple
Lankeshwar Temple
Hajo
Poa-Mecca

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Kamakhya Temple:
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The Kamakhya Temple is a shakti temple situated on the Nilachal Hill in western part of Guwahati city in Assam, India. It is the main temple in a complex of individual temples dedicated to different forms of the mother goddess that include Bhubaneshwari, Bagalamukhi, Chinnamasta, Tara, etc. It is an important pilgrimage destination for general Hindu and Tantric worshipers.
The Kamakhya Temple in Assam is one of the most venerated Shakti shrines in India, and is regarded as one of the Shakti Peethams associated with the legend of Shiva and Daksha Yagna.Kamakhya is located on a hill - Neelachala Parvat or Kamagiri near the city of Guwahati in Assam. Shakti, residing on the Kamagiri hill is known as Kamakhya, the granter of desires. Assam traditionally has been known as the Kamarupa Desa and has been associated with Tantric practices and Shakti worship.

The current temple structure was constructed in 1565 by Chilarai of the Koch dynasty in the style of medieval temples. The form of the earlier structure, destroyed by the Kala Pahar, is unknown. The current structure has a beehive-like shikhara with delightful sculptured panels and images of Ganesha and other Hindu gods and goddesses on the outside. The temple consists of three major chambers. The western chamber is large and rectangular and is not used by the general pilgrims for worship. The middle chamber is a square, with a small idol of the Goddess, a later addition. The walls of this chamber contain sculpted images of Naranarayana, related inscriptions and other gods. The middle chamber leads to the sanctum sanctorum of the temple in the form of a cave, which consists of no image but a natural underground spring. The spring emanates from a fissure in a large rock that symbolizes a yoni. In summertime the water runs red with iron oxide resembling menstrual fluid, an occasion for the Ambubasi festival. Though the temple is aligned facing east like most Hindu temples, the worship of the yoni is performed facing north.
However, its origins are much older. It is likely that it is an ancient Khasi sacrificial site, and worshiping here still includes sacrifices. Devotees come every morning with goats to offer to Shakti.
The Kalika Purana, an ancient work in Sanskrit describes Kamakhya as the yielder of all desires, the young bride of Shiva, and the giver of salvation.Shakti is known as Kamakhya.
The Kamakhya Temple in Assam symbolizes the "fusion of faiths and practices" of Aryan and non-Aryan elements in Assam. The different names associated with the goddess are names of local Aryan and non-Aryan goddesses .The Yogini Tantra mentions that the religion of the Yogini Pitha is of Kirata origin. According to Banikanta Kakati, there existed a tradition among the priests established by Naranarayana that the Garos, a matrilineal people, offered worship at the Kamakhya site by sacrificing pigs.
The goddess is worshiped according to both the Vamachara (Left-Hand Path) as well as the Dakshinachara (Right-Hand Path) modes of worship .Offerings to the goddess are usually flowers, but might include animal sacrifices. In general female animals are exempt from sacrifice, a rule that is relaxed during mass sacrifices.




Legends
According to the Kalika Purana, Kamakhya Temple denotes the spot where Sati used to retire in secret to satisfy her amour with Shiva, and it was also the place where her yoni fell after Shiva danced with the corpse of Sati. This is not corroborated in the Devi Bhagavata, which lists 108 places associated with Sati's body, though Kamakhya finds a mention in a supplementary list .The Yogini Tantra, a latter work, ignores the origin of Kamakhya given in Kalika Purana and associates Kamakhya with the goddess Kali and emphasizes the creative symbolism of the yoni .
Festivals:
Being the centre for Tantra worship this temple attracts thousands of tantra devotees in an annual festival known as the Ambubashi.Another annual celebration is the Manasha Puja. Durga Puja is celebrated annually during Navaratri in the fall. It is a five day festival attracting several thousand visitors.
This temple was destroyed in early 16th century, and then rebuilt in the 17th century by King Nara Narayana, of Cooch Bihar. Images of the builder and related inscriptions are seen in the temple. The Kalika Purana, an ancient work in Sanskrit describes Kamakhya as the yielder of all desires, the young bride of Shiva, and the giver of salvation.




The Legend Says



Most Popular LegendOnce when Parvati's father King Daksha organised a yagna, he did not invite his daughter and son-in-law to participate in it. Parvati, who was angry at this treatment of her father, went to her father's place to ask the reason for it. Daksha insulted Parvati again by calling Shiva poor and wild. Being the ideal consort of Shiva, Parvati could not bear the fact that her husband was being insulted in front of the guests. She immediately jumped into the yagna fire out of shame and anger and killed herself. Knowing this, Lord Shiva, became very angry and came to Daksha's palace. On seeing the dead body of his wife, he was so enraged that, he lifted the body on his shoulder and started dancing the tandav (the dance of destruction). The dance continued for several days and the earth was on the brink of being destroyed.Then, on the appeal of all the other gods and goddesses, Lord Vishnu with the help of his chakra, started cutting Goddess Parvati's body. It is said that the parts of Parvati's body fell at different parts of the country, which are all considered centers of power or Shakti peeth. The reproductive organ of Goddess Parvati is said to have fallen atop the Neelachal hill in Guwahati and that is where the Kamakhya temple stands now.



Another Legend Says



Another legend says that the demon Narakasura fell in love with Goddess Kamakhya once and he wanted to marry her. But as a goddess cannot marry a demon or asura, Goddess Kamakhya played a trick to save herself. She laid a condition that she would marry him only if he builds a temple for her within one night. Narakasura agreed to it and almost finished building the temple overnight. This scared Goddess Kamakhya and before the final steps of the temple were completed, a cock was sent to cry cock-a-doodle-do to announce the arrival of the morning, before it was actually dawn. This made Narakasura very angry and he killed the cock on that spot. But according to the condition Narakasura couldn't marry Goddess Kamakhya after that. It is said that the present Kamakhya temple is the same that Narakasura had made for the Goddess.



Still Another Legend Says



The supreme creative power of Bhrahma was challenged by Shakti, the mother Goddess, and that Bhrahma could thereafter create, only with the blessings of the Yoni, as the sole creative principle. After much penance, Bhrahma brought down a luminous body of light from heaven and placed it within the Yoni circle, which was created by the Goddess and placed at Kamarupa Kamakhya in Guwahati.



The Festivals at Kamakhya



Ambubasi / Ambubachi (Ameti)



A unique festival observed here is the Ambubasi (Ameti) fertility festival. It is believed that, the Goddess (mother Earth) undergoes her menstrual period during this period. At that time the temple is closed for three days and opened with great festivity on the fourth day. It is believed to be inauspicious to till the ground or to plant seeds, during this period.



Durga Puja



Durga Puja is celebrated annually during Navaratri (Durga Puja in West Bengal) in the month of September- October. It is a three day festival attracting several visitors.



Journey to Kamakhya



Airport : The temple is located at Guwahati. Guwahati has it own airport. Hence, reaching Kamakhya Temple by air is not a problem.



Railhead : Guwahati has it own railway station. It is well-connected to all the parts of the country.



Road Transport : Guwahati has well-defined roads connecting it to all the parts of the state and the copuntry.

Staying Near Kamakhya Temple



As the temple is located in Guwahtai, accommodation is not a problem. You can find all categories of accommodation here. The accommodations here ranges from luxury to budget.



Sightseeing near Kamakhya Temple in Guwahati



Guwahati Zoo:



One must visit the Guwahati Zoo, which is the largest natural zoo of the country.

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Sukreswar Temple
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The Sukreswar Temple is an important Shiva temple in the state of Assam in India and was constructed in 1744 by Ahom King Pramatta Singha (1744 -1751). King Rajeswar Singha (1751-69) who also promoted cause of the Saiva cult made financial provisions for the Sukreswar Temple in 1759. The temple is located on the Sukreswar or Itakhuli hill on the south bank of river Brahmaputra in the Panbazar locality of Guwahati city. Leading down from the temple compound is a long flight of steps to the river. Sitting on the steps of Sukreswar ghat one can enjoy the scenery of sun setting on the river, boats moving across the river, people performing puja in honour of their relatives who have left this world, children and older people bathing, far removed from the din and noise of the city.



The hillock in which the temple resides is called Hasti ( as in the the Kalika Purana), and is described as the ashrama (hermitage) of the sage Sukra. According to the Kalika Purana, Sukresvara Linga was set up here. The temple houses one of the largest Lingas (phallicemblems) of Siva to be found and worshiped in India. The temple is still intact though the roof of the Nat mandir (Nat temple) attached to it has been replaced with corrugated iron-sheets.

Journey to the Sukresvara Temple:



Airport : One can easily Guwahati from any part of the country by air. Guwahati is well-connected with all the major cities of India.



Railhead : Guwahati is easily approachable by train from any part of the country.



Road Transport : Guwahati has well-defined road routes connected with all the nearby major cities of the country. The roads of Guwahati is connected to almost all the parts of the north east India.

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Navagraha Temple
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The Navagraha Temple or the temple of the nine celestial bodies is located in the south eastern part of Guwahati in Assam, on a hill by name Citrasaala. The temple of nine planets situated on Chitra Chal Hill in Guwahati. It is 3 km away from the Railway Station. In ancient times, it was said to have been a great centre of study of astronomy and astrology. This is also one of the reasons why Guwahati is referred to as Pragjyotishpur or the city of eastern Astrology. It can be approached by taxi or auto-rickshaw.

Sun worship in Assam (as in other parts of India) goes back to ancient times. Assam has been referred to as Pragjyotishapura. According to the Kalika Purana of the 10th century CE, Bhrahma created Pragjyotishapura, as a city equal to the city of Indra the King of the Gods. The word Prag refers to the Eastern region and jyotisha refers to the word star-astrology. Pragjyotisha is also said to mean, 'eastern city of astrology'. Also near Guwahati is the Surya Mandir on the Surya Pahar hill.
Enshrined in this temple are nine Shivalingams, representing the nine Celestial bodies, each covered with a colored garment symbolic of each of the celestial bodies. A similar shrine exists in the grand Nataraja temple complex at Chidambaram in South India.
The Navagraha temple as it stands today was built by the ruler Rajeswar Singh in late 18th century. An earthquake destroyed the temple tower,and it was rebuilt later.
See also the Suryanaar Temple in Temple dating back to the 11th -12th century CE Chola ruler Kulottunga Cholan, with shrines to each of the nine celestial bodies.


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Umananda Temple
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The Umanand Temple is situated on the Pea cock Island in the midst of the river Brahmaputra at Guwahati. The temple of Umananda is located on the Pea cock Island (as named by some poetic British Administrator) in the middle of the river Brahmaputra at Guwahati. Country boats that are available at this place take the visitors to the island. The mountain on which the temple has been built is known as Bhasmacala.The Legend SaysSiva is said to have resided here in the form of Bhayananda. According to the Kalika Purana, in the beginning of the creation Siva sprinkled ashes (bhasma) at this place and imparted knowledge to Parvati (his consort). It is said that, when Siva was in meditation on this hillock, Kamadeva interrupted his yoga and was therefore burnt to ashes by the fire of Siva’s anger and hence the hillock got the name Bhasmacala. This mountain is also called Bhasmakuta. The Kalika Purana states that Urvasikunda is situated here and here resides the goddess Urvasi who brings Amrit (nectar) for the enjoyment of Kamakhya and hence the island got the name Urvasi Island.

The Presiding DeityThe presiding deity of the temple is Umananda (Tatrasti bhagavan sambhu- ruma- nandakarah Prabhu). It is believed that, worship here on the Amavasya day when it falls on Monday brings the highest bliss. The Siva Chaturdasi is the most colourful festival that is held here annually. Many devotees come to the temple on this occasion for the worship of the deity. History of the TempleThe temple of Umananda was built in 1694 A.D. by the Bar Phukan Garhganya Handique by the order of King Gadadhar Singh (1681- 1696), one of the ablest and strongest rulers of the Ahom dynasty. The original temple was however immensely damaged by a devastating earthquake of 1897. Later, it was reconstructed by a rich local merchant who chose to inscribe the interior part of a Siva temple with Vaisnavite slogans. The Strcuture of the Umanand TempleThe temple has inherited some rock-cut figures, which speak passionately of the masterly skill of the Assamese craftsmen. The sculptures here show that the worshippers there followed all the principal Hindu gods. We find representations of Surya, Ganesha, Shiva and Devi (with a scorpion as emblem) in addition to those of Visnu and his ten incarnations (avatar).




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Bhasmachala



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The Umananda Shiva temple at Guwahati is located atop the Bhasmachala Hill or the Hill of ashes in an island of the Bhramaputra river.
This hill is associated with the legend of Shiva burning Kaama, or the God of lust to ashes. Tirukkurukkai in Tamilnadu is associated with the same legend and is regarded as one of the eight Veeratta Stalams of Shiva.
The island is also known as Urvasi Island. Located here is the Urvasi Kund - where it is believed that Urvasi the celestial damsel brings nectar for the enjoyment of Kamakhya.
Shiva - Umanda or Bhayananda is worshipped with fanfare on full moon days especially on Mondays. Also celebrated here is the Shiva Chaturdasi.
This temple was built during the reign of the Ahom ruler Gadadhar Singh in late 17th century. It was renewed later in the 20th century following its destruction during an earthquake.
Also in Guwahati is the Hastigiri hill housing a temple to Sukreswara - Shiva believed to have been worshipped by sage Sukra. This temple with a large Shivalingam was built by the Ahom ruler Pramatta Singh in late 18th century CE.

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Hermitage of Vasistha (Vasisthasrama)
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Vasisthasrama in Assam is an important pilgrimage of Assam, situated about 10 miles to the east of the town of Guwahati. The hermitage of Vasistha (Vasisthasrama) is situated amidst a beautiful natural surroundings. There are three streams called Sandhya, Lalita and Kanta located at this place. A bath here is said to increase longevity. A temple of Siva is also attached to the hermitage of Vasistha. This is also an ideal picnic spot for the picnickers. The devotees visit Vasisthashrama and take bath in the stream nearby to wash off their sins. The present temple in Vasisthashrama, which is incidentally the last Ahom monument in the neighbourhood of Guwahati, was built in the second half of the 18th century by King Rajesvar Singh of the Ahom dynasty.

The Legend Says



There are many legends about sage Vasistha. There is also a legend that connects Vasistha with the origin of the Ahom kings. It is said that, Vasistha used to do his 'sandhya' (evening prayer) in a stream near his hermitage. One day, God Indra with his queen Shachi and other heavenly women came down from heaven and began playing in the same stream. As a result of this amorous sport the water of the stream became impure. Seeing all this sage Vasistha grew furious and cursed Indra, saying that he would have sexual intercourse with a Daitya woman. Indra was at once transformed into a normal man and had sexual intercourse with a woman. He, however, granted a boon to that woman saying that the son in her womb would become a king. He was the progenitor of the Ahom dynasty. According to some legends Vasistha was initiated into the secrets of the Sakta practices and got spiritual success. It is probable that Vasistha came down at Sandhya Kala (evening), after he was not allowed to enter the Kamakhya temple and meditated on Shiva.



Lankeswar Temple is an ancient Shiva temple on top of a hillock in the western part of the Guwahati city near Gauhati University campus.

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Janardhan Temple



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The Janardhan temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu is situated in the heart of the city at Shukaleswar hillock near Shukaleswar Ghat of the Brahmaputra river. The temple consecrated in the 10th century was rebuilt in the 17th century. It is a unique blend of Hindu and Buddhist style of architecture and has an image of the Lord Buddha.

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Ugratara Temple
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Location : The temple of Ugratara is situated in the Kamrupa district in the eastern part of Guwahati in Assam.The Ugratara Temple in Uzan Bazaar in the eastern part of Guwahati, Assam is an important Sakti shrine. Legend has it that the navel of Sati, the wife of Lord Shiva, is related to this temple. Ugratara in Assam is generally identified with Tiksna-Kanta, Eka-Jata, etc., of the Buddhist pantheon. The present temple of Ugra Tara was built by King Siva Singh in 1725 A.D. who had excavated a tank three years before. The tank known as Jorepukhuri is situated to the east, of the temple. The tank still exists, though the upper section of the temple was destroyed by a devastating earthquake. This was however rebuilt by a private citizen.


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Ashvakranta Temple



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The temple of Asvakranta in Assam is situated in North Guwahati. An important and one of the greatest Vishnu shrines of Assam, Asvakranta is located on a rocky stratum touching the waterfront of the Brahmaputra. Asvakranta Assam can be by motor boats that are available at Suklesvar Ghat (Guwahati). Asvakranta is favoured for its scenic beauty. From here one can enjoy the east-west expanse of Guwahati situated on the other bank of the river.

The Ashvakranta temple in Guwahati in Assam is an ancient one and is associated with the legend of Krishna slaying the demon Narakasura.It is believed that Ashvakranta ( literally meaning ‘ascended by horses) is the site at which Krishna camped with his horses and army before he killed the demon Narakasura, hence the name Ashvakranta.

Aswakranta is associated with Krishna-Rukamini episode. It is said that Krishna's Asva (horse) was encircled (akranta) by the enemies at this place. It is also believed by some people that the place should be caged as Asvaklanta indicating that Krishna on his way from Kundil Nagar to Dwaraka had to rest here as his horse became tired (klanta).

The temple enshrines an image of Krishna (Vishnu) in the Anantasayana or the reclining posture, where Vishnu is shown reclining on the serpent Adi Sesha, with Bhrahma seated on a lotus emanating from his navel. The four armed Vishnu is flanked by Mahalakshmi (or Mahamaaya) and the demons Madhu and Kaitabha. Two rows of Naaga Kanyas are portrayed as worshipping Vishnu. (resemblace with Indalur in Tamilnadu, portraying Anantasaayee associated with the legend of restoring the Vedas from the demons Madhu and Kaitabha).Legend has it that Naraka, the son of Krishna was appointed ruler of Assam. He fell into bad ways and began tormenting mortals and the Gods, especially under the influence of another demon Bana.
The sage Vashishta visited Kamarupa Desa with the intention of worshipping Kamakhya Devi. Naraka stopped him from doing so and hence the sage cursed him that he would be killed by his own father Vishnu.



As Narakasura's attrocities increased, Vishnu (Krishna) invaded Kamarupa (Pragjyotishapura) and vanquished the demon. Upon being slain, the remorseful demon pleaded with Krishna, that his death would be celebrated with fanfare by humanity, in the wee hours of the new moon morning in the month of Libra. This legend forms the basis of the grandest festival in India Deepavali - the festival of Lights. This legend is a popular one in South India.



Sightseeing near Asvakranta:



The Footprints of Lord Krishna



The rocky outcrop at the eastern side bordering the river allegedly contains a footprint, which is supposed to be that of Krishna. The devotees come to this place to perform 'Shraddha' ceremonies of the departed souls regularly.



Kurmajanardan and Anantasayi:



The hillock beside the river contains two historical temples enshrining th erein images of Vishnu, known as 'Kurmajanardan' and 'Anantasayi', A long flight of steps has survived from historical times, which link the Anantasayi temple with the foothills.



Aarparuat:



The Aarparuat or the flat-topped Screen-Hill is a small island, only a hundred metres off the bank of Brahmaputra River. Apart from its natural beauty, this island is the abode of thousands of white cranes, which offer added attraction to the visitors.



Journey to Asvakranta



Airport : The nearest airport is Guwahati. From here you can easily reach Asvakranta by road.



Railhead : The nearest railhead is situated at Guwahati.



Road Transport : Asvakranta is linked by road transport via the Saraighat Bridge across the Brahmaputra. Other option is Guwahati, which is well connected with regular bus services from all the major cities in and around the state.



Water Transport : Regular ferry services are available to Asvakranta from Guwahati.



Staying in Asvakranta:



Accommodation facilities are available at reasonable prices in Guwahati with options varying from luxury to budget hotels.

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Rudreswar Devaloy
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The Rudreswar Devaloy (Temple) was built by Ahom King Pramatta Singha (reign 1744 to 1751) in honour of his father Rudra Singha who died in August, 1714. It is located in North Guwahati in Mani Karneswar area on the northern bank of River Brahmaputra. The temple is located at the site where Rudra Singha was cremated as per Hindu last rites.




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Purva Tirupati Sri Balaji Temple
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The temple complex of the Purva Tirupati Sri Balaji sprawling on two acres of land is located in Betkuchi, Guwahati. At the entrance of the complex there is a Ganesha Temple. The main temple dedicated to Lord Balaji contain a idol of the deity carved out of a single stone weighing 4 tonnes. Adjacent to the main temple, there are temples dedicated to Goddess Padmavathi (Avatar of Mahalakshmi) and Garuda, the Vahana of Lord Balaji. The Temple of Lord Balaji has a rajagopuram, a maha mandapam, an ardha mandapam, and the sanctum. The gopurams are constructed in South Indian architectural style, its height ranges from 8 feet in the Ganesh Temple to 70 feet in the Rajagopuram. The famous Tirupati Laddu prepared by the experts from Tirupati is available in the Temple as prasadam.





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In HAJO (Near Guwahati)
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Manikoota Parvat - Madan Kamdev



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Barely 40 kms. away from the sprawling metropolis Guwahati, on N.H. 52 Madan Kamdev is an enigma, a mystery, a marvel and in the words of Omar Khayam, "a veil past which I could not see". Very little is known about the origin of this magnificient archaeological ruins.Written history is almost silent on it, leaving wide room for conjectures and hypothesis.



The Hayagriva temple at Hajo in Assam, near Guwahati is an ancient one, and it enshrines Vishnu as Hayagriva (an incarnation of Vishnu in the form of a human being with a horse's head). The hillock on which this temple is housed is known as Manikoota Parvata.
Manikoota or Hajo has been a center of worship for both Hindus and Buddhists. While Buddhists regard the image of worship as that of Buddha, the Hindus regard it as that of Vishnu as Narasimha.
The present structure of the temple dates back to the period of King Raghudeva Narayana of the 16th century CE. The original temple that existed here was destroyed by Kalapahar who also destroyed the Kamakhya temple nearby.
The stone temple built on a hillock consists of a shikhara and interesting mouldings representing rows of elephants. The sanctum, the ardhamandapa and a mahamandapa said to have been constructed later by the ruler Nara Narayana constitute the temple structure. Seen carved on the exterior walls of the temple are life sized sculptures of the 10 avataras of Vishnu. In this representation, Buddha is also considered to be an incarnation of Vishnu.
Legend has it that during the process of creation, the demons Madhu and Kaitabha stole the Vedas from Bhramha and Vishnu took the Hayagriva form to recover the Vedas from the demons. Another legend has it that during the process of creation, Vishnu compiled the Vedas in the Hayagriva form and that the Hayagriva Avatara precedes the Matsya Avatara wherein he recovered the stolen Vedas from the demons Madhu and Kaitabha. The ancient Hayagriva temple near Cuddalore (Tiruvahindrapuram) in Tamilnadu has a resemblace to it.
Another legend testifiest to the strong link to the Vaishnava movement in Orissa. This legend has it that King Indradyumna of Orissa had a dream in which a big tree would come floating in the sea and that he would have to cut it up into 7 pieces. Indeed his dream came true, and two of the pieces were brought to Kamarupa Desa, one of which was fashioned into an image of Hayagriva and the other, Madhava (Matsya).
The Hayagriva Madhava Temple at Hajo, 28km west of Guwahati is an important place of pilgrimage both for Hindus and the Buddhists. The temple is housed in the hillock known as Manikoota Parvata. A curious feature of this temple is that it is regarded as a Buddhist shrine by Buddhist Lamas and Butiyas, who profess Buddhism. They believe that Buddha attained Nirvana at this place and the image inside the temple is that of Buddha. But Hindus claim that the horse headed form of the image is of Vishnu and it resembles that of Jagannath at Puri in Orissa. This temple had been destroyed by Kalapahar and was rebuilt in 1543 by the Koch king Raghudev. A smaller temple was built nearby by Ahom king Pramatta Singh where Doul is celebrated on a grand scale every year

There is also a Kedareswara Temple in Hajo to worship lord Shiva.

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Poa Mecca
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Poa (Powa (1/4th) Mecca is the holy shrine of the Muslims situated near the Hayagriva Madhava Temple at Hajo. It is said that the foundation of the mosque partly consists of some earth brought from Mecca. There is also a belief that praying here will give one-fourth the sanctity of Mecca and hence the name. According to the inscription on the wall of the mosque, it was built by Mir Lutufullah-i- Shiraji, in 1657 during the reign of the Mughal emperor Shajahan. In front of the mosque lies the tomb of Pir Gyasuddin Aulia who made the first attempts to propagate Islam in this part of the world.


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In BARPETA
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Barpeta Satra and Kirtanghar :
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This famous Shrine and Kirtanghara attracts Vaishanavas from all over India. It was established by Madhadeva, the greatest discipleof Shankardeva.Raas festival is very famous here and is observed with mass public participation and enthusiasm.


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In GOALPARA
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Surya Pahar
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The Surya Pahar hill in the vicinity of Golapara (on the Dobapara road) in Assam is literally a art gallery of Indian sculpture. Ruins of several old temples are scattered all over the hill. This hill is also the seat of a small modern sun temple.
Sun worship in Assam (as in other parts of India) goes back to ancient times. Assam has been referred to as Pragjyotishapura. According to the Kalika Purana of the 10th century CE, Bhrahma created Pragjyotishapura, as a city equal to the city of Indra the King of the Gods. The word Prag refers to the Eastern region and jyotisha refers to the word star-astrology. Pragjyotisha is also said to mean, 'eastern city of astrology'. To the east of Guwahati, there is a hill temple known as Citracala, dedicated to the Navagrahams or the nine celestial bodies.
The Surya mandir on Surya Pahar is a modest structure and it enshrines a circular tablet, four and a half feet in circumference with carved images representing the various celestial bodies including Surya.
The centermost figure in this sculpture is enclosed within an inner circle. The centermost figure is surrounded by 12 miniature figures in a seated posture. The centermost figure is Kasyapa muni (also considered to be Prajapati or the creator) , and the 12 figures around this figure are referred to as the 12 Suryas - sons of Kasyapa and Aditi.
Surya Pahar is an interesting archeological site, as several rock cut figures are seen here. Several granite Shiva Lingams are seen in the vicinity of the hill. Legend has it that there were once about a 100 000 Shivalingams here, as they had been installed with a idea of making this town second to none other than Benaras as a pilgrimage site.

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In NAGAON
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Batadrawa Satra:
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It is the birthplace of the greatest Vaishnava Saint Srimanta Sankardev,a Shrine and a centre of Vaishnava art and culture. It is about 140 kms. from Guwahati and about 15 kms. from Nagaon town. (To read more about Satra and Vaishnavism please go down)

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Shiva Than
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Near Jagiroad, this temple was built to worship lord Shiva. People usually pray here before embarking on voyages from guwahati to long distances towards eastern Assam.



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Hatimura Temple
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Hatimura Temple at Silghat near Nagaon in Assam is a Mahisamardini temple, an important center of Sakti worship, a brick temple built over old stone temple ruins (17th century).It was built by King Pramatta Singh to worship Goddess Durga.

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In TEZPUR
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Mahabhairav Temple
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The ancient temple of Mahabhairav is located in Tezpur town, Assam. This temple is believed to have been established by king Bana in the pre-historical times. This Shiva temple was originally built of stone but the present one was renovated and built with concrete. During the Ahom rule, the kings especially of the Tungkhungiya dynasty donated large area of Devottar land to the Temple and pujaris and Paiks were appointed to look after the temple. The responsibility of management was in the hands of a Borthakur. The temple is now managed by the Government through a managing committee headed by the District Deputy Commissioner. Shivaratri is celebrated in the temple with big festivity and people from all over the country visit it.

Mahabhairab Temple
An ancient temple where King Bana worshipped Mahabhairab, another incarnation of Lord Shiva. A place of pilgrimage.This Shiva temple is regarded as the oldest Shiva shrine where thousands converge on "Shiv Ratri".



The Bhairabi Temple is located on the outskirts of Tezpur.
The Goddess Durga is worshipped here. The backdrop of the temple is a view looking towards the Kolia Bhomora Setu across the Brahmaputra River. The temple site is also locally known as Maithan and Bhairabi Devalaya. Legend has it that Usha (daughter of mighty Asura King Banasura) regularly came here for the worshipping of the Goddess.[1] About a couple of kilometres away lie the Bamuni Hills where one can view the ruins of the palace that stood many centuries ago. The art work on stone carvings that were used within the structure are from the 9th century.
The temple is now managed by the Government through the office of the District Deputy Commissioner. There are sacrificial offerings of goats and bulls that still occurs regularly here.
The entrance to the temple is through a very long staircase that leads up from the approach road to the temple itself. There are numerous facilities for the purchase of ghee lamps, incense sticks, sweets and fruits etc that are offered during prayers for blessings.

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Ketakeshwar Dewal
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Ketakeshwar Dewal (shrine) is a holy site in the Ketakibari area of Tezpur in Assam. It is reputed to have one of the largest Shiva lingas in the world.
The actual site has two parts - one part where the actual linga is located and another part a few metres away where the original base of the linga is located. Legend has it that during a severe earthquake in the past the linga was uprooted from its base and deposited where it currently stands.
This shrine is open to visitors and there is a local committee which oversees the development of the area around the site. Originally it was in the middle of bamboo groves with a small pathway for people to approach on foot. Recently there is a full shelter that has been built on the site for the protection of the holy area from the natural elements as well as fopr the devotees to assemble and offer their prayers.


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Da-Parbatia Temple
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Location : Situated at adistance of few Km from the Tezpur town of Assam. Tezpur is 180 km from Guwahati.
The ruins of the door frame of Da-Parbatia Temple a few kms. from Tezpur town, is perhaps the finest and oldest specimen of sculptural or iconoclastic art in Assam. It's carving has the characteristics of the style of early Gupta School of sculpture. The door-jambs having two goddesses, Ganga and Yamuna, standing below with garlands in their hands in artistic pose and elegance are decorated with beautiful ornamental foliage.Da-Parbatia in Tezpur Assam is the oldest and finest representation of sculptural or iconoclastic art in Assam in the form of the ruins of the door-frame of the Da-parbatia temple. The carvings of Da-Parbatia temple displays the characteristic style of the early Gupta School of sculpture. The two legs of the door-frame have the carvings of the two Goddesses Ganga and Yamuna. Both of them are standing at the bottom with garlands in their hands. The whole frame is elaborately decorated with beautiful ornamental foliage. Sightseeing near Da-ParbatiaAgnigarh Agnigarh, a hillock facing the river Brahmaputra, is famous as the site of the romance of Usha and Anirudha. The Brahmaputra and a view of Tezpur can be seen from this hillock Cole Park An important tourist destination of Tezpur, the Cole Park has two massive stone pillars. Its beauty is enhanced by the sculptural remnants of the famous Bamuni Hills.
Bamuni Hills Now in ruins, the Bamuni Hills still retain their charm. The sculptural remains date back to the ninth and tenth century A.D.



Journey to Da-ParbatiaAirport :



Tezpur is connected by air, rail and bus. Indian airlines NEPC airlines connect Tezpur with Calcutta & Guwahati. The nearest airport is Saloni (about 10 kms.)



Railhead : The nearest rail station is Rangapara. One can easily reach Da-Parbatia from here. Road Transport : Tezpur is 180 kms. from Guwahati, 82 kms. from Kaziranga, 60 kms. from Bhalukpung and 65 kms. from Orang Wildlife Sanctuary. One can easily reach Da-Parbatia from these places. Both Government and private buses and taxis ply from Guwahati.



Staying near Da-Parbatia



Assam Tourism Department has a well furnished tourist lodge with modern amenities. Tezpur offers excellent accommodation facilities for its tourist from all over the world, with reasonable tariff, offering comfortable accommodation. Tourists can avail of the modern amenities of Dak Bungalows, the Tourist Lodge and the Circuit House at reasonable rates. Some Important Destinations near Da-Parbatia (Tezpur)Tezpur, situated on the banks of the mighty Brahmaputra, is a city dipped in scenic beauty and archaeological ruins. The beauty of the city is replete with green valleys offering a view of the snow capped mountains. It was earlier known as Sonitpur. This town has numerous sights for its tourist to visit. If you are interested in river adventure activities then Eco camp is the place for you. Located near the Jia Bhoroli river at a distance of 50 Km from Tezpur, the camp offers various adventure activities like river-rafting, fishing and angling. The camp shelters the endangered golden Mhaseer fish. Also situated near the Jia Bhoroli river, the Nameri National Park spreads from Assam to Aruachal Pradesh. The best way to explore the Park is atop elephants. The Mithun or Indian Bison, the rare White Winged Wood Duck and other avian species can be found here. Guwahati is just 180 km form here.




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Agnigarh
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"Preserving the sweet memory of young lovers", Agnigarh or the rampart, surrounded by fire, is perhaps the most beautiful tourist spots in Tezpur. According to legend, Princess Usha, the only daughter of King Bana, was kept inside the palace which was surrounded by rampart of fire. The present Agnigarh, now only a hillock facing the mighty Brahmaputra, provides the tourist a soul touching panoramic view of both the river and Tezpur town.

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In GOLAGHAT
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Negriting Shiva Temple



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The historic Negriting Shiva temple is located on a hillock at a distance of about 20 km from Golaghat in Assam.
The present structure of the temple dates back to the 18th century ruler Rajeswar Singh, who rebuilt the temple after the destruction of the original temple (built by Pratap Singh of the 17th century) by floods. This temple was held in high regard by the Ahom rulers.
The Bana Lingam enshrined in the sanctum of the temple is embedded in the center of a large slab on which are carved a number of Shiva Lingams. The goshta images in the temple walls house well sculptured images. Also in this temple are four subsidiary shrines to Ganesha, Durga, Vishnu and Surya.
Legend has it that this temple was worshipped by a Sage by name Aurvya Muni. It is believed that there was a stone temple at the very site of the current temple, even during the remote past, and that Aurvya Muni, wanting to raise the status of Shivsagar to that of Varanasi, brought in a large number of Shivalingams and offered worship to them. It is believed that a number of them are still buried under the land.


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The Vaishnava Sattras :Unique symbols of Assam

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Location : Majuli, Bardowa, Barpeta, Madhupur etc. in Assam.



Satras are the unique features of Vaishnavism in Assam. Satras in Assam are basically monasteries which were established to propagate neo Vaishnavism. The Satras of Assam also became centers for education and dissemination of all kinds of art of harmonious living.



The Major Places of Satra Culture



Satra culture developed mainly at Majuli, Bardowa, Barpeta, Madhupur etc.. It was then, when the British invaded Assam in 19th century, followed by missionaries and churches were established all over Assam. Assam is an unique example of communal tolerance and religious harmony, which prevails amongst the believer of different faiths. Assamese society is remarkably free from communal conflict.



The Institution of Satra is a unique feature of Vaishnavism in Assam, founded by Sankardeva, the father of Assamese culture. Satras are basically monasteries which propogate neoVaishnavism. They also became centres for education and dissemination of the art of harmonius living.



In 15th century the first Satra was founded in Majuli. Since then sixty five Satras have come up for the propagation of ethics and socio-cultural ideals. However, at present there are only twenty two Satras in Majuli. The others had to be shifted to safer places due to the devastation of flood and erosion.



In 15th century Vaishnava Saint Sankardeva took shelter in Majuli and spent a couple of months at Beloguri (in west Majuli) which was a place of glory for the historic and auspicious; Manikanchan Sanjog' between Sankardeva and Mahavdeva. This was the first "Sattra" in Majuli. From "Manikanchan Sanjog" there had been sixty-five "Sattras growing up for propagation of ethics and socio-cultural ideals. But at present there are only twenty-two Sattras in Majuli. The other had to be shifted to other safer places due to devastation of flood and erosion.



Among the noteworthy Sattras existing in Majuli are:
(a) Dakhinpat Sattra,



(b) Garamurh Sattra,



(c) Auniati Sattra,



(d) Kamalabari Sattra,



(e) Bengenaati Sattra and



(f) Samaguri Sattra.



A Treasure House Of Performing Arts



These Sattra are the treasure house of "Borgeet", 'Matiakhara', 'Jumora' dance, 'Chali' Dance, 'Notua' Dance, 'Nande Vringee', 'Sutradhar', 'Oza-Pali', 'Apsara' Dance, 'Satria Krishna' Dance, 'Dasavater' Dance etc., which were contributed by Shri Sankardeva.



The Various Sattras



(a) Dakhinpat Sattra:



Dakhinpat is another well-known Sattra in the Majuli Island established by Vanamalideva, another disciple of Vamshigopal. Vanamalideva was very strong in faith and devotion and an exponent of Raasleela, which is now observed as one of the National Festivals of Assam. He was honoured and treated with much respect by the reigning Ahom monarch Jayadhvaj Singh who made liberal gifts to the Sattra., During Rasotsava several thousand devotees visit these holy Satras every year.



(b) Garamur Sattra:



Lakshminarayana, another saint of Damodaradeva sect and a passionate devotee, established the Garamur Sattra in the Majuli Island during the reign of Jayadhvaj Singh. It should be noted that under the patronage of the Ahom sovereigns, the Majuli Sattras became famous centres of the Vaishnava faith, cultural activity and piety of the monks. During autumn end, traditional Raasleela (co-acting) is shown with great enthusiasm. Some ancient weapons called "Bortop" (canons) are preserved here.



(c) Auniati Sattra:



It was founded by Niranjan Pathakdeva, a distinguished disciple of Vamshigopal. Niranianadeva's purity of character and devotion to God drew admiration even from the Ahom King Jayadhvaj Singh (1648-1663 AD) who himself became the saint's disciple and endowed the Sattra with suitable land grants for the maintenance of the monks and the monastery. This Sattra is famous for "Paalnaam" and Apsara Dance and also for its considerable collection of Assamese old utensils, jewellery and handicrafts.



(d) Kamalabari Sattra:



Padma Ata who was a Shudra set up Kamalabari Sattra in the Majuli Island. He led a very simple and saintly life and attained high spiritual eminence. In course of years, inessential rites and unrecognized observances crept into the faith which Padma Ata and Mathura Das of Barpeta Sattra reformed. They set up a refined sect called "Nikasainhati". Padma Ata stressed the teachings of Sankaradeva that external things such as yogic exercise, sacrifice, bathing in Holy River, pilgrimage, 'Sanyasa' and fasting do not purify a man as honest life, good company and love of all beings do. On the eve of his death, Padma Ata nominated his Brahman disciple Shriram to the Adhikarship of the Kamalabari Sattra. This is also an Udasin Sattra i.e., the head of the Sattra is a celibate. Kamalabari Sattra is a centre of art, cultural, literature and classical studies. Its branch Uttar Kamalabari Sattra has performed cultural programmes of Satria Art in several states of India and abroad.



(e) Bengenaati Sattra:



It is a storehouse of antiques of cultural importance and an advance centre of performing art. Muraridev, the grand son of Sankaradeva's stepmother has founded the Sattra. The royal robes belong to the Ahom king Swargadeo Gadadhar Singha, made of gold and an umbrella, which is also made of gold, are preserved over here.



(f) Samaguri Sattra:



This Sattra is resourced with the famous Mask-crafts in India.



Auniati, Dakhinpat and Garamur are the principal Brahmanical Sattras. The Sattradhikar's of these monasteries are strictly celibates. The Sattradhikar's for these Sattras are elected from other Sattras where married life is allowed. The chosen young man is brought into the Sattra during his teen age and trained up in Vaishnava religion, philosophy and life. During the period of training this young devotee is called "Deka-Adhikar", the young pontiff.



Institutions of Sattras



Besides Bardowa and Barpeta, Majuli Sattras along with Kuruabai Sattras exercise tremendous influence on the life of the Assamese people. They are even to-day the glorious religious institutions of Assam, and are not only the seat of religion, learning and education, but the very centre of traditional cultural activities like dance, drama, music and religious recitals. Judged by such external standards as landed estates, number of 'Sisvas' and 'Bhaktas', these Sattras still claim to be the biggest religious institutions. In the hey-day of their glory, the income of these Sattras went mainly to the welfare of the people by way of the promotion of learning, development of cultural activities and help to the needy. These are some of the important Sattras, which brought about a new orientation and salutary reformation in every aspect of Assamese life.

The Foundation of Satras:



In 15th century the first Satra was founded in Majuli Assam. Since then 65 Satras have come up for the propagation of ethics and socio-cultural ideals. However, at present there are only 22 Satras in Majuli. The others had to be transferred to safer places due to the devastation of flood and erosion.




Satras of Majuli



Majuli, the world's largest river island is one of the major seat of several Satras established by Vaishnava revivalist, Sankardeva. During Rasotsava, thousands of devotees visit these holy Satras every year. The shrine is held in high veneration by the Vaishnavites. Journey to Satras of AssamAirport : Guwahati, the commercial capital of Assam is connected to all the major cities of India. One can easily reach Guwahati from any part of the country, from where one can pick a bus, trains, taxi or boat to various Satras located at various parts of Assam.



Railhead : Rail lines connect Guwahati with all the major cities of India. From here one can easily reach the Satras.



Road Transport : Road routes are well defined in Assam . One can easily reach the Satras by road.



Water Transport : Water Transport is arranged by the tourism department of Assam to provide boats and launches to the tourists coming to the areas like Majuli.



Staying near Satras (Majuli) in AssamMajuli does not possess a developed infrastructure for tourism and accommodation. There are no hotels. Some satras have guestrooms. If you write in advance, they would certainly be available. In addition to the Satra facilities, there are Inspection Bungalows at some points on the island (the one at Kamalabari is well located), and a Circuit House at Garamur, which is the sub-divisional headquarters.

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In SIVASAGAR
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Siva dols:
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The Sivadol stands on the bank of Borpukhuri tank in the heart of Sivasagar, Assam. It was built in 1734 by Bar Raja Ambika, queen of Ahom king Swargadeo Siba Singha. The Sivadol (dol means temple in Assamese) is believed to be the tallest Shiva temple in India. Its height is 104 feet and the perimeter is 195 ft. at the base. It is capped by an eight feet high golden-dome. Each year during the Shivaratri, a huge mela (fair) is organised in the temple ground and pilgrims from all over India arrives here to offer puja.

Vishnu Temple at Shibsagar in Assam: A three acre temple dedicated to Vishnu on the banks of the Shibsagar tank.

Devi Temple at Shibsagar in Assam: A large temple dedicated to Devi on the banks of the Shibsagar tank.
Sib Dol Temple at Shibsagar in Assam: This Shiva temple on the banks of the Shibsagar Tank is an important landmark in the artistic history of Assam.

Devi Dol Temple at Gaurisagar near Sivasagar in Assam: This is a temple dedicated to Devi with interesting architectural and sculptural features.


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Dargah of Ajan Pir
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The dargah of Muslim saint Shah Aulia alias Ajan Fakir, who led a Muslim reform movement in Assam, is a revered place of pilgrimage for the Muslims and Hindus alike.This is in a place known as Sahaguri Chapari near Sibsagar.

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In North Lakhimpur
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Tamresvari Temple
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Tamresvari Temple at Sadiya in Assam: Ruins of this temple represent one of the oldest and important temples in the region - a center of tantric worship.

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In Eastern Assam
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Parasuram Kund
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Parasuram Kund is a shrine of all-India importance and now falls within N.E.F.A. Thousands of pilgrims, visit the place in winter every year, when a great fair used to be held to which wild cows, rare fur-rugs and other curios were brought down by the mountaineers. Besides the temple, Vaishnavite shrines started by Sankaradeva and his disciples in the sixteenth century onwards are numerous and a unique feature of the religious life of the Assamese. These shrines are called Satras in the charge of a gosain (preceptor ). The four most important Satras are Aumiatai, Dakhinpat, Kuruabahi and Garamur situated in the island formed by the river Brahmaputra and the Louyt (Lohit) called Majuli. In addition to the Satras, the most striking monument to the genius of Sankaradeva and his chief disciple Madhav Deva is the Kirtanghar at Barpeta in Kamrup district which was the centre of their activity for many years.

2 comments:

siva said...

Nice presentation about Gauhati.Photos are giving better understanding about gauhati.Tour to Kamakhya shaktipeeth gives us a wonderfull experience. kamkhya map giving us a good guidence showing exact locations of all important places

indhu M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.