Kamakhya Mandir (Temple), Guwahati Assam
The Kamakhya Temple is an ancient Shakti Peeth temple situated on the Nilachal Hill in western part of Guwahati city in Assam, India. It is the main temple, dedicated to Kamakhya, in a complex of individual temples dedicated to the ten Mahavidyas:Bhuvaneshvari, Bagalamukhi, Chinnamasta, Tripura Sundari and Tara, Kali,Bhairavi, Dhumavati, Matangi and Kamala. Among these Tripurasundari,Matangi and Kamala reside inside the main temple whereas the other seven reside in individual temples. It is an important pilgrimage destination for general Hindu and especially for Tantric worshipers.
The most important part of the temple is the inner sanctorum, the garbhagriha, a cave below ground level.
The garbhagriha is small, dark and reached by narrow steep stone steps. Inside the cave there is a sheet of stone that slopes downwards from both sides meeting in a yoni-like depression some 10 inches deep. This hallow is constantly filled with water from an underground perennial spring. It is the vulva-shaped depression that is worshiped as the goddess Kamakhya herself and considered as most important pitha (abode) of the Devi.
The garbhaghrihas of the other temples follow the same structure—a yoni-shaped stone, filled with water and below ground level.
The current structure has been built during the Ahom times with remnants of the earlier Koch temple carefully preserved. Temple was destroyed during the middle of second millennium and revised temple structure was constructed in 1565 by Chilarai of the Koch dynasty in the style of medieval temples. The current structure has a beehive-like shikhara characteristic of lower Assam 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 that flows through a yoni-shaped cleft in the bedrock. During the Ambubachi festival each summer,the menstruation of the Goddess Kamakhya is celebrated. During this time, the water in the main shrine runs red with iron oxide resembling menstrual fluid.
It is likely that this 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.