Guwahati: Assam with its diverse culture embedded with many archaeological structures that speak about its myriad past. Its temples are great examples of artistic creativity and far more progressive than society admits.
Madan Kamdev Temple, situated southeast of Baihata Chariali, Kamrup district amidst the hills of Dewangiri hills is one of its kind. Its erotic sculptures in the Madan Kamdev temple have made it known as the Mini Khajuraho of Northeast India.
The temple dedicated to Lord Shiva with his consort Parvati underlining its erotic nature in the ruined garbhagriha (sanctum sanctorum), displayed sculpted images of nymphs, dancing fairies, griffin, and other gods and goddesses in erotic position. You can 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 fulfillment.
The other sculptors which depict its rich archeological history are four-headed Shiva, six-sided Bhairava, serpents, demons, men, women and animals in its erotic position.
The place was unknown to the outside world for more than a century, but it was only in 1970 when upon clearing the forest area people stumbled upon more than twenty smaller temples made from stone. In 1977 after it was taken under the jurisdiction of the Archaeological Directorate of Assam, excavations discovered 12 ruins of historical value besides the main one.
Further, scientific study of the ruins of the temple says that the temple belongs to the 10th and 12th centuries AD when the Pala dynasty ruled Kamrupa. The sculptures in the temple portray expressions of erotic acts which can be seen only in the famous Khajuraho temples of Madhya Pradesh.
According to Hindu mythology, Kamdeva ‘God of Love’ comes under the wrath of Lord Shiva on disturbing his meditation. Shiva unable to control his anger opened his third eye that turned Kamdeva into ashes. Rati, who was Kandeva’s consort prayed to the Shiva asking her husband back. Moved by her grief Shiva brought back Kamdeva back to life at this particular place where the temple of Madan Kamdev is now located. Kamdeva then reunite with his consort Rati Devi here and thus it came to be known as Madan Kamdev dedicated to Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati.
Madan Kamdev is a paradigm of archeological findings, which have some of the most beautiful stone sculpted figures of medieval India.
What makes it different from the rest of the temples is that in Madan Kamdev devotees pray to the deity facing the opposite direction, generally east is considered the holy direction.
Except for Madan Kamdev, we will not get to see the erotic idols beautifully sculpted in stones at any other temples of Assam.
Moreover, the lush green forest, Mandankuri River flowing below it and its silent environment add to the beauty of the site. One can revive itself from the hectic life of the city. The site is a proud edifice for Assam which is surrounded by many mysteries that add to the beauty and importance of the place.