Umananda Island- Make my trip to the most beautiful world
|Umananda Island |
Guwahati – Trip to the heart of beautiful Assamese unique culture
I had heard a lot about Umanand Island (Peacock Island) and kamakhya Temple from my parents. To me, Kamakhya was a synonym for Guwahati which is the capital of Assam state. My mother is a religious person. During the one of religious discourse, I heard about the mystic demure of Maa Shakti and Lord Shiva and importance of Kamakhya Temple and Umananda Temple. Kamakhya Temple is the living place of Maa Shakti and beautiful Shiva Temple (Umananda Temple is also called Shiva Temple) is the living place of Lord Shiva. The earliest story which I could remember about this place was blood seeping through the rock in a temple. Being a child, I was curious and at the same time, its mysticism made me have deep revere for this place in my early childhood. Despite this, I never got a chance to visit to explore Kamakhya and Umananda Island (Shiva Temple). By the grace of Maa (Mother) Kamakhya, last year winter, I got an opportunity to make my trip to Umananda Island (beautiful Shiva Temple) and Kamakhya Temple. My mother would like to visit Maa Kamakhaya Temple and the beautiful Shiva Temple, we all agreed. Especially Umananda Island is which is the most beautiful and the world smallest inhabited riverine island situated in the middle of the Brahmaputra river in the city of the Guwahati. Island in the world which I have explored in this Tour & Travel Blog. This Tour & Travel Blog is all about to make my trip to Kamakhya Temple and Umananda Island (Umananda Temple) with our family members. You can visit my photo gallery of Umananda trip, a link for Umananda Photo gallery- Photo Gallery – Umananda Island There are many cost-effective tour packages available by Tour & Travel agencies otherwise you can book hotels and other services through online. But before booking, please check the reviews of hotels and other services otherwise you can be cheated by them. I have book hotels and other main services through direct online.
Guwahati is popularly known for Maa Kamakhya Temple dedicated to the Hindu Goddess – Maa Kamakhya. It is the most sacred holy places for Shakti worship in Hindu religion. It is also popularly as a Shakti Peeth (Temple) among Saakt Sadhak (worshiper). Shakti Peetha is the place where the land is highly revered for self – enlightenment. It is considered that cosmic energy is vibrant at this place. This is a reason, why we see flocks of sadhus at these places. The mythological aspects of this temple will be covered in the next part of this Tour & Travel Blog.
This is the largest and the fastest-growing city in the state of Assam, India. It is situated on the south bank of the Brahmaputra river and the foothills of the Shilong plateaus. It is connected to other states via road, train and air route. Other countries around the world are connected to Guwahati via Air routes. There are many good and cost-effective hotels are available around Guwahati for tourist persons. As per the epics, it is one of the ancient cities during Mahabharata period. It was the capital of the kings Narakasura and Bhagadatta. In the very early existence of this city, it was known as Pragjyotishpura and was the capital of Assam under the Kamarupa Kingdom. Guwahati is on the neck of transit to the North-East Himalayan valley, it was always an important city. It is the centre of social, political, business and cultural activities in the mythological, medieval and modern periods. Though constructions from the early ancient period are not in existence anymore some of the Medieval eras of AHOM kingdom’s construction is still seen today. For example, today’s Fancybazaar was Bhorphukan residence of this kingdom. In the modern period, lots of temples, ramparts, etc. were constructed in and around Guwahati. And during the independence struggle, it was the main epic centre of activists- Tarun Ram Phukan, which was also of his birthplace.
There are lots of tourist spot in or around the Guwahati but most important tourist spots are following-
1) Kamakhaya Temple, 2) Umananda Island, 3) Guwahati Zoo, 4) Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, 5) Botanical Garden, 6) Hazo Temple, 7) Vashishtha Temple, 8) Bhubaneswari Temple, 9) Ugratara Temple.
We had only two days planned for our trip to Guwahati. Hence, we couldn’t cover all these places probably next time. Also, this was a religious trip and hence we covered only Kamakhaya Temple, Umananda Island and local markets for souvenirs and for local cuisine.
Trip to Guwahati, world most beautiful and unique temple-
In late December, my children’s school was closed. Also, my nephew college was also closed. Our plan was to go to Guwahati from Kolkata. My younger brother had also reached Patna from London via Delhi. After spending a few days in Patna, he along with my mother reached Kolkata. Two days before the scheduled Guwahati trip. I along with my family members also arrived at Kolkata. It was a great reunion; I think, we all were meeting after three years. It was a great moment; my mother was overwhelmed with affection and love. This type of moment is very memorable. Together we were nine people, more the merrier for this trip. Next day we booked two cars to reach Sealdah Railway station. We started our journey from Kalighat to Sealdah railway station. It was not a rush hour, so we expected to reach the destination in 30 min. Our train was supposed to leave in 1 hr., so we had 30 min buffer time at the station. Near Vidyapati Sethu, Raza Bazar our car stuck in a traffic jam. In the car, we were bitten anxious, as our train was scheduled to depart and we were stuck in the famous Kolkata jam. Looking at our anxiousness, our taxi driver investigated real-time traffic data from google and decided to detour via Bowbazar towards Sealdah station. Thanks to his presence of mind, we reached Sealdah Junction before the scheduled time in the evening.
Our train’s Kamroop express reaches the platform on time Travelling alone during college days is something, but the joy of travelling with family is something unforgettable. The train departs from the station on its scheduled time i.e, sharp 18:00 hrs. This journey is also a kind of special as this is going to be my son’s birthday trip with such a large group. During the whole trip, my son Chaitanya entertained us with his funny and innocent childish statements. It was a long journey, going to last for 19 hours. We booked a small corridor seat ( six main seats and two side seat of 3rd AC coach ), so it was almost like a family cabin. After having a light meal, we played some card games and played dumb charades. It was getting late and we felt that our co-passengers were getting disturbed, so we decided to go to bed. Anyway, the train is supposed to reach Guwahati next day afternoon, so we were relaxed. When we woke up the next day late in the morning, we noticed that our train is halted at a small station. I can’t recall where we were, but our train hasn’t reached Siliguri yet. Probably there was a superfast train on the route, and they halted our train to let this superfast train to pass. This is very common practice in India; preferences are given to superfast train over fast or passenger trains. Also, some stretch of the journey onwards from Siliguri has a single lane, so it also causes overloading of the track.
In India, we are building a bullet train track from Ahmedabad to Mumbai and another hand our normal train never reaches on time. I hope our government rather building new infrastructure; They upgrade the pre-existing infrastructures such that train never runs late. In Germany or Japan, if trains are late then department of transport issue refund and in India long journey trains if reaches within 4 hours of the scheduled journey then it is kind of achievement. Our train reached Guwahati station; two hours late from its scheduled time i.e., 15:00 hrs.
We pre-booked rooms in Hotel Dynasty, closed to the railway station. We checked the review of hotels on google and choose best to our needs and budget. We were quite tired after our journey. Therefore, after reaching the hotel, we decided to take rest rather than venturing out to see nearby Fancybazar. We refresh ourselves and then order in hotel room service for dinner from a local restaurant. The hotel manager and serviceman were very accommodative. On, their suggestions, we have chosen all local cuisine from the menu. There are lots of popular Assamese dishes, but we restrict ourselves to the vegetarian menu. So, we choose a popular local vegetarian dish.
After having dinner, we went to bed straight. We all were tired when we woke it was already dawn the next day. We freshes ourselves and then went downstairs for breakfast. In breakfast, we have also given the priority for a local dish-
Breakfast was healthy and delicious; I will strongly advise for Panni Pitha, something special from Assamese Kitchen.
Uzanbazar- It is the most beautiful buzzing local market-
On our breakfast table, we all planned for the day trip. We all decided to explore Umananda Island and its adjoining place first and next day we will explore Kamakhaya Temple. After we finished our breakfast, we talked to the hotel manager about our trip. He made a complete guide to Umananda Island and its beautiful surrounding area. The Island is 7.5 Km from our hotel to Umanand Island. There are two ways to reach Umananda Temple (Umananda Island); one is from Sukleshwar Ghat, also known by Fancybazar Ferry Ghat. It is very near to Umananda Island, another route is via Uzanbazar Ferry Ghat, also called Kachari Ghat. We choose the route via Uzanbazaar Ferry Ghat to reach Umananda Island. For this, we booked two three-wheeler taxi to Uzanbazar Ferry Ghat which is just opposite to Umanand Island. It took almost half an hour to reach the Kachari Ghat. The taxi driver charged us Rs. 20 Per head. It is a beautiful and buzzing market next to the bank of the Brahmaputra river. The view of Brahmaputra river and Umananda Island is mesmerizing, almost giving the feeling of the Island afloat on waters of Brahmaputra river.
It was almost past 9 AM in the morning when we reached Kachari Ghat. There is a small beautiful buzzing local market on this Ghat; called Uzanbazar. This market is small but very beautiful. All items of daily need are available here for the residents. We roamed in Uzanbazar market and bought some fruits and food items. It is necessary to buy food and water at the Bazar as on islands, only essential items are available and, they are priced a lot. Also, the island is a very delicate ecosystem; it is prohibited to litter on the island.
From Uzanbazar a convenient and cheaper transport is provided by ” Inland Water Transport” for visiting Umanand Island. They charge a few tens of rupees, probably Rs. 20 for the ferry. This is the cheapest and comfortable way to reach Umananda Island. There are few private boat services too but those are expensive. This official boat service is available from 10:30 AM in the morning to 4:00 PM in the afternoon. After this service time, one can also get a ferry service on payment of the extra amount.
Umananda – Make my trip to the most beautiful world Island
After taking the tickets, we went towards our scheduled water boat, departing at 10: 30 AM. There are some seats available. My mother decided to sit on a seat and the rest of us all decided to enjoy the journey while standing. We were thrilled to see the waves of Brahmaputra, seems to be like waves in a sea or ocean. The boat ride was not easy due to these waves, sometimes we exclaimed with joy and sometimes with fear, very tough to say which one gave us more adrenaline rush. From the centre of the river, view on both sides of the river was mesmerizing. Both main-land and island look unique. Our make my trip to the island lasted for twenty minutes.
The entrance to the Umananda was decorated with Nandi idol. The stairs were made up of stones and are painted white colour. According to Hinduism, Nandi is considered the ride of Lord Shiva. This staircase was very steep and led to the temple premise. At some places. rocks were loose. On way to temple, there were offering and flower shops next to the stair. Also, there were few shops for tea, biscuits and sweets. My mother has a knee problem, so we decided to stop next to one tea stall and decided to sip tea and have some snacks before taking the next stairs up. This resting place also had a nice view of the bank of the river and lush green surroundings which very captivating.
At this stop, we also bought flowers and offering for a deity. After taking a few more stairs, the view of the temple becomes visible on the horizon. There was a small gate to the temple, giving a feeling of a small fortress. It is not wrong to say that the Umananda Island is the abode of the supreme authority of the universe and this temple is the seat of this almighty. Finally, after some walk, we reached the temple.
There was a long queue to enter the temple. There is a small temple of God Lord Ganesha next to the main temple complex. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Ganesha needs to worship before paying respect to any other deity. Hence we went to Lord Ganesha temple first. It took almost one hour to enter to Lord Brahamma and Lord Vishnu sanctum. The temple complex is like a hallway and the idols of Lord Brahamma and Lord Vishnu in the complex. We all pay our respect to them and walked towards the main underground sanctum adjacent to this complex where Lord Shiva is seated named Umananda. This is also the reason why is the island is called Umananda.
At the entrance of the sanctum, metal engraving of Lord Shiva is on the gate. Monday is special for pay respect to Lord Shiva and we were visiting Umananda on Monday thus that explained the long queue. The atmosphere in the temple complex is full of devotion. In the sanctum there lies a linga a true form of Shiva. We worshipped Shivalinga. My mother burns a candle (also called a diya) and recited Shiva mantra. There was an oil lamp in sanctum which is believed to be burning since the temple was built.
Next, we visited a red coloured temple a seat of Lord Mahakaal, the god of destruction, also an incarnation of Shiva. This temple was built in 1720, Next to Mahakaal temple, we visited Lord Badrinath temple. This temple was white in colour. From this island, the Nilanchal Mountain is visible. This is the place where Maa Kamakhya, an incarnation of Maa Parvati has her adobe. The atmosphere in the temple gives you spiritual consciousness and revered for the almighty.
We decided to sit here for some time to enjoy the spiritual serenity of this Island. Though the rest of my family members were sitting on the rock at the edge of the island, I decided to walk around a bit to enjoy the natural scenery. Unconsciously I was also looking for a seer who could enlighten me on the mysticism of this island. I found a seer sitting at a corner of the temple complex. I decided to have some small talk. I was astonished to see the light on this face. He had very sharp features. I greeted him but he seems to be unfazed by my greeting. After seeing my persistent he greeted me with a smile. I was almost hypnotized by his smile. I asked perspective and reverence of this temple from him. He laughed at me and told me; it is beyond human comprehension. How one could measure which is infinite. One needs to be infinite to feel infinity. And again laughed at me, I feel his laugher very mysterious, but seeing the people around, had the courage to sit there. After that a mysterious voice came to my ears, asking about my yogini mother whom I met 10 years back at the bank of river Gangas in Benaras (Varanasi). I was a bit amazed by this, I felt that this seer is not a common seer. He is one who could see through you. I touched his feet and asked him to enlighten me more about my yogini mother. He told me that it is again up to her; when the time will come. she will meet you. Last time when I met her in Benaras, my yogini mother told me that she is retreating to Tibet for enlightenment and since then I am not in touch with her. Probably someday I will have discourse with her. He enlightened me about the reverence of this temple too. According to him, this island is full of Tantrik and Aghoris. The movement of high-level energy seekers always remains here. Especially during on Shivratri night and on the full dark moon (Amavasya) Monday’s night, this island revered by Shiva mantra. Common pilgrims and visitors cannot recognize them. While he was telling me the story of the Umananda and then I hear the voice of my mother. She was telling me lets go it is the time to leave. It is already three o’clock and the last boat would be leaving soon. I looked around and found that I was lying on the grass and the seer was nowhere around. Was I dreaming or was it real? I can’t say. As he said spirituality is something beyond common comprehension.
My younger brother said that there is a Lord Hanuman temple nearby and we should all visit that too; which was our last stop on this island. We reached there and worshipped Hanuman. This temple may have been built much later, looks different from other temples on this island. Because of the temple and people’s habit of feeding monkeys here, this temple complex is full of Trachpithecus gee also called golden langurs. They are one of most endangered species, we should conserve such species. My son was very excited to see them. He gave his banana to them. By this time, it was half-past three o’clock. We all decided to spend some time at the foothill, next to the river. We reached the bank of Brahmaputra in ten minutes, descending was easy. A cool breeze was blowing, Sun was shining at the horizon, the mystique beauty had removed us all fatigue. We stayed there for half an hour and enjoyed the natural scenery. We took a lot of photographs. We had our evening snacks which we brought with us.
All of us very happy. When Sun was about to set, we decided to take the last boat back to the mainland. The last boat was about to leave. We hurried to the boat. As boat left the shore of Umananda island, I muttered the words of Mana Dey (the song is written by Bangladeshi musician Jasimudin). ” You have set me adrift, you are drowning me, This endless river which has no shores…….Steer it cautiously, boatman, this tattered boat of mine with its broken rim...”.Soon we reached Kachari Ghat.
Below are the facts about Umananda Island in brief-
A) Mythological aspects of Umananda island-
B) Historical aspects of Umananda island-
C) Artefacts aspects of Umananda island-
D) Important facts for travellers-
In the evening, the Brahmaputra River was looking very beautiful. We decided to take a private boat for a few hours to make my trip to around Umananda Island and enjoy the serenity of the river and watch the sunset from the boat. There were many private boats offering tour services to make my trip to around Umananda Island. My mother negotiated with one of the private boat service providers. It is good to negotiate the price; boatman first asked Rs 1200 but after some persistent negotiation he agreed on Rs 700 for two hours boat ride. We had bought some snacks and drinks from a local hotel then we all boarded the boat. Our boatman started rowing our boat. The view around Umanada Island looked amazing due to this reason, I always to say that Umananda Island is the most beautiful island in the world. The waves of Brahmaputrawere rocking our boats, making it to swing along with it. We were sitting on the roof of the boat. From here, the view of the river was beautiful, especially the view of the sunset. When sunsets in the horizon of Brahmaputra River, its water turn golden and the sky was reddish-yellow, the view one must experience. The golden streaks on the Brahmaputra river give me feeling of the pathway to heaven. No wonder why there are lots of couplets on this mystique river. Maybe this is also the reason why Assam and Bangladesh have given so many poets.
My sister sang a beautiful couplet in Bangla: Mahabahu Brahmaputramahamilonor tirtha; Kata jug dhoriaahiseprakaxi, xomonnayarartha…..This couplet popularly known as Mahabahu Brahmaputra sang by Bupen Hazarika, most famous poet from Assam. In this couplet Bupen Da calls the Brahmaputra a pilgrimage at the confluence of Madhavadeva, Sankradeva, Fakir Ajan and Guru Teg Bhadur; preaching for monotheism. My sister is influenced by Bupen Da songs. She explained to me the meaning of the song. Also, she explained me a hideous form of Brahmaputra“Luitorboliya ban, toikunphaledhapolimeliso, hirhirxobolekalrupdhorikaknu bare barekhediso”, another couplet from Bhupen Da song. Here he highlights the dreadful floods of the Brahmaputra which happen every year. “O dreadful floods of Luit (Brahmaputra) where are you going with your frightful look with higher (sound of wave splashing the shore) sounds”. These two songs reminded me of Lord Shiva, who is tender and at the same time Mahakal, the dreadful god of destruction. Thought of the Brahmaputra being Shiva, I close my eyes and engulfed myself in His world of mysticism.