While most of us are aware of the Khajuraho temple, not many of us know that we have a similar temple in Assam. In fact, the erotic sculptures in the Madan Kamdev temple have made it known as the Mini Khajuraho of the Northeast India. This temple, just 40 km away from Guwahati, is situated atop a hill by the name of Dewangiri in Kamrup district. The Madan Kamdev temple is a place of utmost scenic beauty with abundance of greenery all around and carved images and sculptures, that speak volumes of the grandeur of Assam’s architecture in the medieval era.
Discovery of Kamdev Temple
This place was not known to the outside world till 1970s. It was in the year 1977, an excavation project conducted by the Indian Archaeological Department led to the discovery of the ruins of the temple that displayed a mysterious medieval world of rich art, architecture and culture.
What Makes it Similar to Khajuraho Temple?
It is said that the archaeologists had discovered ruins of more than 13 temples, dedicated to Lord Shiva, including the main temple in a vast area under the Dewangiri hill. The main temple is the Madan Kamdev temple, which displayed a sculpture of Lord Shiva or Maheshwar with his consort Parvati or Uma. The entire region had been built in five sections or “Pancharath” . It displays the glorious years of a lost medieval kingdom. The ruins of the temples displayed images of griffin, a creature with a lion’s body and the head and wings of an eagle, sculptures of nymphs, dancing fairies, Shiva and Parvati and other gods and goddesses in grandiose appearance. You also see well-decorated and beautifully carved door frames, walls, pillars. Some of these have been engraved with images of flowers and animals, including the Kalpa-vriksha tree or the tree of fulfilment.
Some other interesting architecture seen in this area are the four-headed Shiva, six-sided Bhairava, serpents, demons, and men, women and animals in every form of erotic postures, which made the region look more like the Khajuraho temples. Another highlight of the Kamdev temple is the gigantic proportion of the ruin of Madan Kamdev, popularly known as the God of Love in Hindu mythology. The art and architecture, which vividly depict the acts of love and passion, have a close similarity with the art of Khajuraho temple. Thus, the Madan Kamdev temple is popularly known as the mini Khajuraho.
- According to various historical studies, this is the place of rebirth of Kama or Madan, the God of Love, after he was turned into ashes by angry Lord Shiva with His ‘Third Eye’.
- Another group of historians believed that Madan united with his wife Rati in this tiny hillock after he was reborn.
- Some believe that the place was known as the Madan Kamdev because of the numerous erotic sculptures.
What Makes It Different From Other Temples?
- Though in Hindu religion, east is considered the holy direction and we pray to God facing it, in Madan Kamdev temple, devotees pray facing the opposite direction.
- In no temples in Assam, we see nudity in the deities. In fact, there are no temples in Assam that are anywhere similar to the erotic idols or sculptures found at the Madan Kamdev temple.
The archaeological experts from Assam say that the ruins of the temple belonged to the 10th to 12th centuries AD, when the Pala dynasty ruled Kamrupa. However, even today, archaeologists and historians have failed to find out the real causes that led to destruction of the temple. People visit this temple to offer prayers and have a fun-filled day out.
The lush green forests of the Dewangiri hill, Madankuri river flowing below it, along with the vast expanse of swampy land till the Gopeswar hill on the west make this region all the more beautiful.The archaeologists believe that there is still more scope of excavation and discoveries to be unveiled in and around the temple that still remains an enigma.