Astick Kashyap, Umananda
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The smallest river island in the world, Umananda Island is a place with legends aplenty, a place where man and the wilderness co-habit in peace and serenity and the place that houses the majestic, pious and breathtaking Umananda Temple.
Umananda Island lies at the heart of the Mighty Brahmaputra River which flows through the middle of the city of Guwahati. An island with many legends associated with it. It was known as Peacock Island among the British Colonists who named it so based on its shape. The Island is home to a very rare and endangered species called Golden Langurs who are considered to be highly sacred among the people of the Himalayas.
The Umananda Temple is an enchanting piece of architecture that brightens the horizon of Guwahati city. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Not only is the temple imposing and beautiful but the sight of the River Brahmaputra around the temple is breath-taking.
A devastating earthquake destroyed the original temple in 1897 and later rebuilt.
Legend says that, Lord Shiva resided on this island as Bhayananda. It is said that at the beginning of creation, Lord Shiva sprinkled ashes here and imparted the supreme knowledge to his wife, Parvati. Another legend says that, once Lord Shiva was meditating on this hillock, and he was interrupted by Kamadeva. As a result of this interruption, Kamadeva was burnt to ashes by the fire of Lord Shiva's anger; hence the hillock got the name Bhasmakuta.
The sanctum sanctorum of the temple has a beautiful Shiva Linga. There are plenty of engravings and sculptures of Hindu gods like Surya, Shiva, Ganesha and Devi on the rock walls of the temple. Apart from these, sculptures of Lord Vishnu and his ten incarnations can also be found in the vicinity of this temple. There is a Hanuman Temple besides the main temple on the island.
The only way to reach this temple is to board ferries and motor launches available at the Umananda Ghat. Then, there is a small climb of 100 steps to reach the temple.
Maha Shivaratri is the major festival celebrated in this temple with great pomp which attracts large number of devotees. According to a popular belief, it is said that worshipping here on an Amavasya day, especially falling on Monday, brings highest bliss to the worshippers.
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