Ugratara Temple, Assam

A lesser known Sakti Pῑtha of Devi Sati lies in the pious land of Kamrup, not far away from the famous Kamakhya temple. This Sakti Pῑtha is named Ugratara and according to legends it is said that the naval of Sati had fallen at this particular place where the temple is now situated.

Another legend associated with Ugratara temple says that when Uma, the Hindu goddess of fertility, love, devotion, divine strength and power, lodged a complaint with Brahma saying that all those who lived in Kamarupa went to heaven because of the sacredness of the place and nobody went to this realm, Brahma, then, discussed the matter with Vishnu and Shiva. Shiva agreed to the matter and after that ordered the hosts goddess Ugratara to drive away all the people of Kamrupa. (p 5, Saikia). “Goddess Ugratara and Aparajita expelled the twice-born and the people of the four orders. Saint Vasistha was at that time doing penances to Shiva on the Sandhyachala hill. As Ugratara and hosts laid hands on him also for expulsion, the ascetic pronounced a terrible curse on Ugratara, the hosts and Shiva himself – ‘O you woman,’ said he , ‘since you being a woman (vama) is expelling me also, you will henceforth be worshipped according to vamacara (left handed) rites” ( 1989, Kakati)

Also, there are other legends to the existence of this temple which connects the temple with Buddhism, identified to Eka Jata and Tiksna Kanta of the Buddhist pantheon. There are similarities between Buddhist and Hindu Tara Devi indicating some religious communications between both the religions.

Earliest reference of aniconic worship may be made of pithas at Nilachala hill, Ugratara and Basistha which represents non-anthropomorphic worship of non-Aryan cult subsequently Aryanised as sakti pithas. (P.99 , Chutiya )

Also Read: Kamakhya Shakti Peeth: A virtual walk-through

According to Kalika Purana, seven Sakti Pῑthas are concentrated in and around the famous Kamakhya temple. One of them is called Dikkara Vasini who has two forms, the Tiksna Kanta and Lalitha Kanta. The Tiksna Kanta is a black and pot bellied form which is also called Ugratara or Eka Jata. Thus, the Ugratara temple that lies in the present Uzanbazar area of Guwahati is dedicated to the form of Dikkara Vasini.

Besides legends and myths, history states that the present temple of Ugratara was built by Ahom King, Siva Singha in 1725 CE. Architecturally, the Ugratara temple is an octagonal brick temple with a polygonal Śikhara over it. The garbhagriha or sanctum sanctorum of the temple doesn’t have any image of an idol, instead, there is a small pit filled with water which is kept covered by a red cloth and considered to be the goddess and thus sacred. There is a Shivalay located beside the temple. On the eastern part of the temple complex is a water tank called Jor-Pukhuri, Jor meaning pair and Pukhuri meaning tank built by Siva Singha.

Historian K. L. Barua says that, though the present temple of Ugratara was built by Siva Singha, the old temple before the Ahoms was built either by King Ratnapala or his successor Indrapala of the Pala dynasty.

The Ugratara temple is situated in the eastern part of Guwahati in Uzaanbazar area. The structure of the temple was rebuilt in the modern era after it was completely damaged by a major earthquake in Assam.

 

References

  • Some observation on the aniconic symbols of the Navagraha temple at Guwahati, Dharmaswar Chutiya, in J.A.R.S., Vol-XVIII, 1968, P.99.
  • The comprehensive History of Assam, vol-I, Publication Board , H.K Barpujari, P.408.
  • History and Archaeology of North-East India, Agam Kala Prakashan , P. Das, P,38.
  • The Architecture of Assam, Agam Kala Prakashan, P. C. Sharma, 1988, P. 126.
  • Sacred Heritage of Temples of Guwahati- A Historical Analysis, Jahnobi Saikia, International Journal of Interdisciplinary Research in Science Society and Culture(IJIRSSC), Vol: 2, Issue:1, (June Issue), 2016.
  • The Mother Goddess Kamakhya, Publication Board Assam, Guwahati, 1st edition, Dr. Banikanta Kakati, 1989.