The Kamakhya temple in Assam is one of the most venerated Shakti Shrines in India and is regarded as one of the Shakti Peethams associated with the legend of Shiva and Daksha Yagna. According to Kalika Puran, Kamakhya is the yielder of all desires and giver of salvation. Although little is known about the early history of the temple, the first reference to this place has been traced back to the Allahabad inscription of Emperor Samudragupta. The Kamakhya temple is very significant for Assam and its indigenous people, not only for its religious significance but for being an epitome of historical, cultural, social and spiritual traditions and scenic beauty. The main shrine of the temple is situated at the top of the Nilachal Hill, which is situated at the heart of Guwahati and surrounded by the mighty Brahmaputra on one side. The main temple compound is surrounded by several mini temples and shrines which are somehow related to the Shakti cult.
Apart from the religious aspects, what is significant of the Kamakhya temple is that it’s a living document of Assam history, being one of the oldest temples of the state. In the past many ancient dynasties, which ruled over Assam in different time period were somehow related to this temple and has left significant evidences of their existence. Besides, this temple once used to be the hub of many practices, which are now no more in practice. The practice of human sacrifice can be mentioned in this regard. In course of time, Kamakhya has turned into a hub of aural traditions and history.
The history of this temple has matured with the contribution of different rulers, starting from the ancient times. The aural history about this temple is mostly comprised of different mythological believes as well as historical evidences, which have their root in ancient Sanskrit texts. But what is interesting to see is the strong attachment between the local people and this mythological believes. Due to this attachment, Kamakhya is forbidden for some people while it has become a mystic centre for some others. Now coming to the present day situation, one has to admit that a different way of living style has developed around this temple.
The locality is mostly dominated by the Brahmins who are the Pandas or priest of this temple by profession. Their society revolves around the temple only and henceforth in spite of being situated at the heart of a modern city, one can still perceive a spiritual way of living. So it can be summed up that, Kamakhya can be easily termed as an institution, which is a centre of social, cultural, religious and spiritual practices of Assam and in the same time safeguarding many dying traditions of Assam.