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The gateway to northeast India, Assam, is the land of the mighty Brahmaputra river, verdant tea gardens, wildlife parks, and numerous cultural sites. With a recorded history that goes back to the 4th century BC, Assam is full of ancient monuments, temples, and religious centres. From the revered Kamakhya Temple to the spiritual haven of the city of Hajo, these holy places provide a serene and peaceful atmosphere that enables one to purify their soul and body. By Upasana Singh

1. Kamakhya Temple

Dedicated to the Hindu goddess, Kamakhya, a visit to Assam is incomplete without seeking blessings at this temple. It is one of the oldest Shakti Pithas and is an important pilgrimage destination for Tantric worshippers. According to an ancient legend, the temple denotes the spot where Sati’s ‘yoni’ (symbol of the goddess Shakti and the feminine generative power) fell after Shiva performed a dance of destruction called the Tandava with her corpse. The creative symbolism of the yoni is present in sculptures on the temple.

 

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Getting There

Located 6 km away from the Guwahati railway station and 8 km away from the city, the best way to reach the Kamakhya temple is by a cab or taxi. You can visit this religious site any time of the year, although it is closed for three days during the Ambubachi Mela wherein the menstruation course of the goddess begins and no female deities are worshipped. After spending a day out at the temple, get comfortable and opt for a stay at the nearby Radisson Blu Hotel.

2. Umananda Temple

Located at the Peacock Island that lies in the middle of the Brahmaputra river, the Umananda Temple is devoted to Lord Shiva. Although the temple is divine with its beautiful handcrafted carvings by the Assamese, it is known for its serene surroundings that are quiet and away from the cacophony of the busy city.

 

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Getting There

Many devotees visit the temple during the annual Siva Chaturdasi festival and Maha Shivratri. It is also believed to be especially blissful to worship here on Monday during Amavasya. Travelling to this religious destination is an experience in itself. To reach the temple, you need to take a short ferry ride from the Fancy Bazaar ghat or the Sukleshwar ghat. With top-notch service, Vivanta by Taj in Guwahati is the closest luxury hotel, about 10 km from this place of worship.

3. Hayagriva Madhava Temple

The ancient pilgrimage site of Hajo is a centre for three religions—Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. Home to the Hayagriva Madhava temple that was constructed in 1583, Buddhists believe that this is where Buddha attained nirvana (the ultimate state of liberation from the cycle of rebirth). A beautiful pool called Madhab Mandir pool leads to the temple that is made of stone in octagonal shape and a pyramidal roof, with the Man Lion incarnation of Lord Vishnu as the presiding deity. Powa Makkah, a place of pilgrimage for Muslims is also situated right next to this temple.

 

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Getting There

Visit this temple and other religious centres in Hajo between October to November when the weather is perfect. The nearest railway station to the sacred town is located in Paltan Bazaar, Guwahati. From there, you can take a bus or a taxi. There are numerous budget hotels and homestays in Hajo, but we would recommend you stay in Guwahati at Novotel and cover the 44 km distance by road.

4. Dakshinpat Xatra

The well-known xatra (a socio-religious institution associated with the Ekasarana tradition of Vaishnavism) is located on the Majauli island in the Brahmaputra River. An adorned gateway engraved with religious motifs, flowers, and animals welcomes visitors to the sacred precinct where the idol of Mahaprabhu Jadavarai is worshipped. Currently, around 90-100 monks, known as bhakats reside in the Dakshinpat Xatra under the supervision of a Satradhikar.

Getting There

During Rasleela, thousands of devotees from the country visit the holy xatra to observe the occasion and revel in the festivities. You can take a bus or cab ride to the destination or travel on a ferry from Nimati Ghat that takes about an hour and a half. There are no luxury hotels in Majauli, but a few decent governments and private accommodations such as the Circuit House in Garmur, La Maison de Anand, the Ygdrasil bamboo cottage, and the Dekasong Resort are available.

5. Panbari Mosque

Built in the 15th-16th century, this is the oldest mosque in Assam. It is said that about 200 years ago, locals found the mosque in Panbari covered in thick foliage. After cleaning the site, they started to offer namaz (prayers) here. Today, the Panbari mosque is a holy shrine for the people of western Assam. The unique location of the sanctum is enhanced by the scenic beauty of the hills and the rich flora, as well as its striking domes and pillars.

 

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Getting There

Located on the national highway 17, you can stay at Dynasty Hotel in Fancy Bazaar, Guwahati, and take a car or a bus to the site. Usually, people gather here for the weekly Friday noon Jumu’ah prayers. During the annual Eid-up Fitr and Eid ul-Adha, the mosque comes alive with devotees from all around the world. Enjoy the festivities and witness the Panbari mosque in its full glory during this time.

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