Kamakhya Temple, Assam – India

As India struggles on with the huge tally of over 5 million COVID cases, I am reminded how even on the gloomiest of overcast days the colour, vibrancy and sense of celebration are never far away in India.

No more so than during any visit to a local temple as highlighted in these images taken on a wet dull day when I visited Kamakhya Temple, Guwahati, Assam. Following Mark Twain’s observation that “India has two million gods, and worships them all”, any visitor observing local religious practises is immediately inspired by the sense of spirituality, respect to the gods and how essential they are in people’s everyday lives. Propped up by such cacophonies of colour and smells, even the humblest of temple visits leaves one with a sense of hope and happiness.

In Kamakhya Temple, sitting on Nilachal hill above Assam’s largest city, the gentle and relatively under-visited (by tourists) shrine offers a bright and effervescent insight into how exciting this ‘Gateway to North East India’ is, offering a trapdoor view into some of the remotest and most impenetrable indigenous areas of Asia.

The feeling of calm, especially on a wet and relatively gloomy day, is endorsed by the temple’s considerable collection of lovingly coloured stone carvings, gold-sprinkled shrines and brightly dressed pilgrims alongside families and friends coming to worship.

Offering a collection of individual temples, dedicated to Bhuvaneshwari, Chhinnamasta, Chhinnamasta, Dhhumavati, Kamalatmika, Kali, Matangi Sodashi and Tara (the ten Mahavidyas of Saktism), the overall complex is an important site for Hindus and in particular Tantric believers.

In my case, the overwhelming sense of calm and colour remain paramount in memory, giving a real sense of resilience, particularly during testing times such as these.

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