Etymology of Umananda Temple
As per the records from sacred Hindu texts, the other name for the consort of Lord Shiva, the Hindu Goddess Parvati is Uma. While the word ‘ananda’ means happiness and together the name Umananda is formed. This is one of the most visited temples in the state which is devoted to Lord Shiva.
Legend of Umananda Temple
According to the Kalika Purana, it is said that during the beginning of creation, Lord Shiva sprinkled ashes at the site of the Umananda Temple and shared some divine knowledge with his consort, Goddess Parvati. On the hillock where the Umananda Temple is currently located is the place where Lord Shiva meditated. Once during Shiva’s meditation, Kamadeva interrupted him and was faced with God’s wrath as he was burnt to ashes. And hence, the hillock was called ‘Bhasmacala’ or ‘Bhasmamukta’.
The Kalika Purana also states that the Urvashi Kunda is situated in this region with Goddess Urvashi as the presiding deity. It is said that the goddess used to bring ‘amrit’ or nectar for the enjoyment of Goddess Kamakhya and hence the island got the name Urvasi Island.
History of Umananda Temple
The temple was built by the Ahom king Gadadhar Singha in 1694 AD. King Gadadhar Singha was one of the ablest and strongest rulers of the Ahom dynasty. The Umananda Temple was immensely damaged by the devastating Assam earthquake of 1897. Eventually later, it was reconstructed by a rich merchant with Vaishnavite inscriptions on the interior walls of the Shiva Temple.
And later during the reign of the Mughal Empire, when Kamarupa was under them for a short period, the priests of the Umananda Temple received financial grants from Mughal Emperors like Jahangir and Aurangzeb.
Design of Umananda Temple
The Umananda Temple is known for its exquisite architecture which depicts the art of Assamese craftsmen. The temple is decorated with fine rock cut sculptures that include all the major Hindu God and Goddesses represented in the forms of Lord Surya, Lord Ganesha, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati with the emblem of a scorpion along with the sculptures of Lord Vishnu and his ten incarnations which are known as ‘Das Avatars of Lord Vishnu’.
The temple is reached by a series of steep staircases. The presiding deity of the temple is Lord Shiva and it believed that worshipping here on the days of Amavasya and Shiva Chaturdashi brings in good luck and fortune. Besides religion, this temple is also known as one of the historical sites in Assam.
The Umananda Temple is one of the ancient temples in Guwahati which depict Lord Shiva in his Rudra form. The temple celebrates a number of festivals which are mainly oriented to appease the anger of Lord Shiva.
Visiting Information on Umananda Temple
The Peacock Island can be accessed from Guwahati and North Guwahati by ferries and steamers, while the nearest railway station in the city is at a distance of 1.5 km. Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport is the closest at about 22 km from the temple.