PILGRIMíS STOP

The lush green island of Umananda, in the middle of the river Brahmaputra off Guwahati, has since time eternal been a part of the town and added to its beauty. According to legends, this island is so named since it was once the abode of Shiva and therefore the delight (ananda) of Goddess Uma, another name of Goddess Kamakhya.

There is an old Shiva temple on the inland that is considered to be one of the five main pilgrim centers (mukhya panchatirtha) of Kamrupa. The temple is believed to have come up around the same time as the Kamakhya and pilgrims used to proceed to Kamakhya only having offered prayers at the Umanada temple.

The temple must have been built and rebuilt several times, but it is learnt from inscriptions that in the Sake era 1616, it was rebuilt by Sandique Phukanon the orders of Ahom king Gadadhar Singha. In the year 1820 AD Ahom ruler Chandrakanta Singha also built a small temple on the island.

Oral traditional and legends say that Umananda was known by different names -- Natakasaila, Bhasmakuta, Bhasmachal, etc. -- at different times. Its beauty also led the British to call it Peacock Island. Today, Umanada is an important center of pilgrimage and throughout the year thousands of devotees throng the island. Apart from the Shiva shrine there are five more temples on the island -- the Ganesha, Haragauri, Chalantika, Chandrashekhar and Vaidyanath temples.