The Umananda temple, located on the Peacock Island, is one of the important temples of Guwahati. Situated in the middle of River Brahmaputra, this temple is dedicated to the worship of Lord Shiva. During the festival of Shivratri, every year, a large number of devotees visit this temple.
On the instructions from King Gadadhar Singh of the Tai-Ahom dynasty, the temple was constructed in 1694 AD by Bar Phukan Garhganya Handique. There are plenty of engravings and sculptures that adorn the rock walls of this temple. These engravings and sculptures depict the craftsmanship of the local Assamese artisans.
The engravings done on the walls include Hindu gods like Surya, Shiva, Ganesha and Devi. Apart from these, sculptures of Lord Vishnu and his ten incarnations can also be found in the vicinity of this temple.
The area where this temple has been raised is known as Bhasmachala. According to a legend, once Lord Shiva was meditating on this hillock, when he was interrupted by Kamadeva. As a result of this interruption, Kamadeva was burnt to ashes by the fire of his anger.
According to the Kalika Purana, it was believed that Goddess Urvashi who brought nectar for the pleasure of Kamakhya, resided here. Therefore, the island on which this temple is constructed is also known as Urvashi Island.
In 1897, a considerable portion of this temple was damaged owing to the effects of a devastating earthquake. However, the damaged portion was later reconstructed by a rich local merchant. On reconstruction, he also added Vaisnavite inscriptions to the interior part of this temple.
According to a popular belief, it is said that worshipping here on an Amavasya day, especially falling on Monday, brings highest bliss to the worshipper. Apart from this, Shiva Chaturdashi is another important festival which is held here annually.
The only way to reach this temple is to board ferries and motor launches available at the Umananda Ghat. This Ghat is located between the State Bank of India and the Ashoka Hotel.