Temples are a symbolic body where the deity presides which is designed to bring humans and gods together. A temple reflects the innate beliefs and values of a person, a tribe and the society. In India, Hindu temples have a rich history that interconnects mythology, religious practices, temple architecture and historical analogues of the particular place where a temple is built. Similarly, Assam earlier known as Pragjyotishpura or Kamrupa has a wonderful history pertaining to the existence of many ancient temples and temple ruins. One of the areas which still glorifies with the richness of extraordinary legends behind some of the beautiful edifices of temple architecture is Uttar Kamrupa or present day North Guwahati.
The ancient city of Pragjyotishpura was one of the richest places in the ancient past. In the Hindu epic, Mahabharata Assam is mentioned as Pragjyotishpura and as Kamrupa in Puranas and Tantrās. Pragjyotishpura lies in the present day North Guwahati, and is one of the most historically fertile areas of Assam which beds numerous archaeological sites and temples.
Written documents say that this part of ancient Kamrupa was ruled by the kings belonging to Virata, Asura, Danava Dynasty. The area of North Guwahati came into limelight during the rule of Koch King Parikhit Narayan. The term Uttar Guwahati (North Guwahati) has been in use from the Ahom period. Archaeological traces indicate a majorchange and significant development in Uttar Guwahati during the time of the Ahoms. Soon, a new wave of change appeared with the influence of Vaihnavism with the preachings of the famous Vaishnavite saint, Sankardeva. Many temples and Namghars were built by both Koch and the Ahom rulers which were dedicated to Lord Vishnu as the rulers came under the influence of the Vaishnavite theory.
One of such temple edifice which is a very popular Vaishnavite pilgrim spot of Uttar Guwahati is Doul Govinda, a temple dedicated to Lord Krishna. The temple is situated on the North banks on the foothills of the Chandrabharati hill at Rajaduar, North Guwahati. Legend speaks of the miraculous finding of the idol of Lord Krishna which is consecrated at the sanctum sanctorum by Ganga Ram Barooah at a place called Sandhyasar near Nalbari. It is also said that, he has installed the Lord’s image during the month of Fagun when it was nearing Holi.
The Doul Govinda temple is said to have been one hundred and fifty years old but, the present structure of the Doul Govinda has been renovated in 1966. The architecture of the temple is simple not very complicated and has traces of modern elements because of its renovation. The present structure has a sanctum sanctorum, attached to a big hall for devotees to gather and offer prayers and for holding kirtans for special occasions. The temple is similar to a typical Vaishnavite Namghar.
The main significance and attraction of the Doul Govinda is the celebration of Holi festival at the temple premises. During normal days the worship of the temple begins with opening of the temple, bathing of the idol of Lord Krishna followed by archana and by noon offering bhog to the deity. The temple authority then distributes the bhog among the devotees. In the month of Fāgun (sometimes between February and March) Holi time the festivity at the Doul Govinda starts before five days with funfare and gaiety. Various programs are held in the vicinity of the temple. The idol of Lord Krishna is taken out in palanquin for processions across the place. More than five thousand devotees attend this celebration and sing and dance to the rhythm of cymbals, dhols and sing the prayers and songs in praise of the Lord. They throw Fākuwā (a colored powder also known as gulal) at each other, this is a site is to behold. The Doul Govinda temple celebrates other festivals like Janmashtami (birth celebration of Lord Krishna) and Maghi Purnima.
Every religious sites of our country is special and has various religious connotations prior to one’s locality and practices. Religious festivals have been a source of human interaction, bonding and happiness since long and temples gives that platform to serve God through the service of humanity.