Kamakhya Mandir


According to Hindu legend, when a distraught Shiva scattered the 108 (or 51) pieces of his deceased wife Sati's body across the land, her yoni (vagina) fell on Nilachal Hill, 8km west of central Guwahati. This makes Kamakhya Mandir a specially hallowed shrine for practitioners of shakti (tantric worship of female spiritual power). The ₹501 'special ticket' allows you to jump the usual queues to reach the cave-like inner sanctum. Kamakhya is where the huge Ambubachi Mela festival takes place.

The temple is 5km west from the city along AT Rd then 3km up a spiralling side road. Some city buses (₹10, half-hourly) from the Kachari bus stop go up to the temple's parking area. Otherwise get any bus west along AT Rd and get off at the foot of the hill, where further transport waits.

The temple building dates from the 16th century, and there's evidence that its origins go back to the 6th century. Human sacrifice no longer happens here, but goats and pigeons still meet their doom every day in a sacrificial house at the temple's west end. During the Durga Puja festival in October, buffalos and ducks are also sacrificed.

On the hilltop a 10-minute walk up from the Kamakhya Mandir (with good views en route), the much less visited Bhubaneswari Mandir is where, it's believed, Sati's head landed.

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