2018 India – Assam

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 dust. 

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 days.

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