Kamakhya Mandir Will Get A Kashi-Vishwanath Type Makeover, Here Are The Salient Features

Jaideep Mazumdar

May 10, 2023, 05:00 AM | Updated 10:46 PM IST

The proposed map of the Kamakhya corridor
The proposed map of the Kamakhya corridor
  • In a project being piloted by the Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma himself, the Assam government seeks to give a complete makeover to the ancient Kamakhya temple.
  • The ancient Kamakhya Mandir complex located on Nilachal Parvat in Guwahati is set to get a massive makeover on the lines of the Kashi-Vishwanath dham in Varanasi. 

    The entire exercise is aimed at not only beautifying the mandir complex, but also facilitating an easy flow of pilgrims, creating wide open spaces and facilities for them, and making a visit to and darshan of the prime shakti peeth a divine and memorable experience. 

    According to the Kamakhya Debutter Board which is conceptualising the massive project that is expected to cost over Rs 500 crore, the blueprint for the ‘Kamakhya corridor’ and makeover of the mandir complex will be firmed up in a couple of months. 

    The Board is currently holding consultations with all stakeholders, including priests, pandas and other sebaits (servitors) as well as shopkeepers and residents of Nilachal Parvat to get them on board. 

    That’s because a number of shops selling religious items required for puja and religious memorabilia, and private residences of priests, pandas, sebaits (servitors) and others connected to the mandir, will have to be demolished for the construction of the expansive and grand ‘Kamakhya corridor’. 

    The central part of this makeover plan, Kamakhya Debutter Board member Bhaskar Sarma told Swarajya, is the ‘Kamakhya corridor’. 

    “A devotee, on reaching the first entrance to the mandir complex, will get a clear and unobstructed view of the primary Kamakhya mandir. This view is now completely obstructed by buildings housing shops and residences that have come up over the decades. All these buildings will be demolished and their occupants and tenants rehabilitated elsewhere,” said Sarma. 

    From the primary entrance to the temple beside the present-day car park, devotees need to walk a few metres and then ascend a few flight of stairs to reach the baghduar (a stone archway that’s adorned with the sculptures of two tigers, called ‘bagh’ in Assamese) that is the main entrance to the mandir complex from the east. 

    “A number of facilities, including restrooms, air-conditioned waiting halls, a museum depicting the history of Kamakhya and legends associated with the shakti peeth and other conveniences aimed at providing pilgrims a very comfortable and pleasant experience will line the corridor,” said Sarma. 

    All the ten other mandirs dedicated to the Devi’s dasa mahavidyas, or the ten forms of Kamakhya--Mahakali, Tara, Surashi, Bhubaneshwari, Bhairabi, Chhinnamasta, Dhumawati, Bagalamukhi, Matangi and Kamala--that are spread over Nilachal Parvat (where the Kamakhya mandir is located) will also be made part of the pilgrim circuit for easy and comfortable access. 

    Sarma said that apart from these mandirs, the five other mandirs in Nilachal Parvat--the Siddheswar, Kameshwar, Kotilinga, Amra Tokreshwar and Kedareshwar, all of them dedicated to Bhagwan Shiva--will also be made part of grand makeover plan. 

    Eight other mandirs and six ponds connected with Kamakhya devalaya on and beside Nilachal Parvat will also be included in the makeover plan. 

    Access to all these mandirs that dot the Nilachal Parvat will be made very easy and comfortable for pilgrims through shaded pathways that would also be made friendly for physically challenged people. 

    Moreover, escalators and autowalks or travelators (moving walkways) will be installed for the aged and infirm pilgrims.  

    Sarma pointed out that overcrowding has become a major issue and challenge. “The entire road up the hill (Nilachal Parvat) leading to the main temple complex gets very crowded all days of the week and frequent traffic pile-ups are witnessed. There is a severe shortage of parking space. All this will be addressed in the makeover plan,” he said. 

    A new parking space to accommodate 300 vehicles, and another road leading away from the main entrance to the temple complex to ensure faster dispersal of vehicles will be constructed. 

    “As of now, only about 4000 pilgrims can go inside the garbhagriha of Kamakhya mandir everyday for darshan and sparshan (viewing and touching the deity). We will segregate this into darshan for devotees who want to only view the deity, and sparshan for those who wish to offer prayers and touch the deity. That will ease the load to a large extent,” said Sarma. 

    Bhaskar Sarma, who is also a member of the Bordeuri Samaj (Bordeuris are the senior pujaris of Kamakhya Devalaya), said that pilgrims will also be offered an alternate route to reach the  main mandir complex. 

    Till the construction of the motorable road from the base of Nilachal Parvat to the mandir complex in 1958 and the construction of the Saraighat bridge connecting the north and south banks of the Brahmaputra in 1962, pilgrims used to take a ferry to reach Pandu ghat on the south bank and offer prayers at Pandunath Devalay

    “This is actually the proper path to be followed by pilgrims headed for Kamakhya. The first stop has to be Pandunath Devalaya where the Pancha Pandavas are said to have rested and prayed while they were in exile. Pilgrims then have to travel upstream by boat to the Umananda mandir located on a small river island on the Brahmaputra. Umananda is the bhairav of Devi Kamakhya,” explained Sarma. 

    This traditional route is being revived as an alternative to pilgrims driving straight up to the gates of the main mandir complex, as is the practice at present. The state government is upgrading the present road to Pandunath Devalaya that lies at the northwest base of Nilachal Parvat. A modern jetty will also be constructed near that mandir so that pilgrims can get into modern speedboats to travel to Umananda island. 

    From there, pilgrims will be able to return to the base of the Nilachal Parvat and disembark at Amrajuli ghat in the northeast base of Nilachal Parvat. A new road will be constructed from Amrajuli ghat to the main temple complex. The state government is also exploring the possibility of constructing a ropeway from this ghat to the main temple complex at the top of Nilachal Parvat. 

    “An entry from the northeast is always auspicious and we will encourage pilgrims to take this route so as to ease the pressure on the present road from the southern base of Nilachal Parvat,” said Sarma. 

    The Kamakhya Temple today
    The Kamakhya Temple today
    The proposed map of the Kamakhya corridor
    The proposed map of the Kamakhya corridor
    Different areas of the proposed Kamakhya corridor
    Different areas of the proposed Kamakhya corridor
    Different temples labelled in the plan for the Kamakhya corridor
    Different temples labelled in the plan for the Kamakhya corridor
    Aerial view of the proposed Kamakhya corridor
    Aerial view of the proposed Kamakhya corridor

    Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma is piloting this makeover project. “I am very excited and want to complete this in 2.5 years to 3 years. The Kamakhya corridor and the makeover with many facilities will offer devotees a very comfortable and satisfying experience The entire Nilachal Parvat will look fantastic and will then attract many more pilgrims and visitors. It will become a world class pilgrimage spot,” the chief minister told Swarajya

    The chief minister tweeted about this project last month with a video (watch this) of what the Kamakhya Devalaya and the Nilachal Parvat will look like after the makeover. 

    Chief Minister Sarma’s tweet was retweeted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the remark: “I am sure that the Maa Kamakhya corridor will be considered a revolutionary step. Kashi Vishwanath Dham and Sri Mahakal Mahalok now (after the Kashi Vishwanath corridor and makeover of Mahakal mandir complex) now offer great spiritual experiences. Importantly, those projects have boosted tourism and the local economy”. 

    Chief Minister Sarma said that after the completion of the Kamakhya Corridor and the makeover project, the flow of pilgrims to Nilachal Parvat will increase and that will provide a massive boost to the local economy. 

    Jaideep Mazumdar is an associate editor at Swarajya.

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