The way back to Guwahati was largely the
same as yesterday so I closed my eyes and woke up as there were only 30
kilometers left of the 100 kilometer journey. Coming close to Guwahati
we drove through a polluting industrial area and it did not take long
before the blue sky was gone and everything was covered in a layer of
Traffic was dense so we
slowly made our way through the outskirts of Guwahati. It looked like we
were leaving Guwahati again but then we made a u-turn followed by a
spiraling side road that lead to the Kamakhya Mandir Hindhu temple.
According to Hindu legend, when an enraged Shiva divided his deceased
wife Sati’s body into 108 pieces and scattered them across the land, her
yoni (vagina) fell on Kamakhya Hill. This makes Kamakhya Mandir one of
the most hallowed shrines for practitioners of shakti (tantric worship
of female spiritual power). So far the legend, the experience itself
might even be more confusing.
This is one of those
temples where I really could not get hold of what was going on ( Like
the Katagarama temple in Sri Lanka). Brightly coloured pilgrims carried
baskets with offerings. There were several prayer halls and some smaller
shrines and each God got their fair share of attention. At one of the
temples talis were given to the people after which they were offered
free food. I skipped as the queue was horrendous.
At other places people followed a fenced corridor to another place I could not get my thoughts around, they just seemed to be waiting there, but for what?
Priests helped the
religious gathering with their prayers, incense was burnt and the whole
place breathed a strange, chaotic, but still a very serene atmosphere.
I saw two slaughtered
buffaloes in a pool of blood and pigeons were being sold everywhere. Not
much later I noticed their wings were broken on the spot (terrible
noise as it happened directly next to me) and they were thrown towards a
temple where a lot to of them seeked shelter under one day of the
overhangs. Goats and sheep fed themselves on the chaos of marigolds used
for the offerings, it all was so extremely surreal.
One holy man made a quick
tour of the several temples, did even quicker prayers at each of them
after he took all the time so his companion could make pictures of him
in front of every shrine, it was hilarious.
I was having issues making
photos as I was carrying two lenses, my bag I had left behind with
Rubul as it was not allowed inside, nor were my shoes.
An unearthly experience
and as I picked up my shoes again I did still not know what to think of
it. But then, perhaps Westerners are not supposed to understand it and
are to remain confused.
The temple was the perfect
place to finish of my tour. After checkin at my hotel I released Rubul
so he could spend some time with his family who he had not seen for 8
The next morning he
brought me to the airport. Assam and Arunacha Pradesh had been exactly
what I had hoped for. Remote, exciting and relatively unexplored. The
roads had not always been in the best condition and at times I could
have done without the freezing cold, but that all added to the
adventure. The variation of landscape and attractions definitely made it
a place worth visiting and I had already noticed there was even more to
explore than what would have fitted in my nine day visit.
But for now it was time to
say goodbye to Rubul, my driver and companion for the last nine days,
and board the short flight from Guawahati to Bagdogra. By now I had
spent three weeks in India and I was ready for another experience in
Darjeeling and Sikkim.
Continue to the Darjeeling Experience