Last Sunday me along with two of my brothers and a friend planned for a trip to the famous yet not-so-popular Madan Kamdev temple. We didn’t research much before planning to go the place. The idea was to go there and discover the place ourselves. The distance from Guwahati City as per google map was 40 Kilometer via Baihata Chariali. So we planned to go on Motorcycle(Bike as we call it).
We started at around 10:30 from Guwahati. It was a bright and pleasant day without much heat and humidity. One we were out from the City’s dusty roads, the riding was fantastic. The four lane highway from Jalukabari, the entry point to Guwahati City, is good enough to handle the traffic and there is no more congestion as we faced a few years ago. Also the new three lane road bridge makes the crossing of mighty Brahmaputra much easier without any jam over the bridge. Once over the bridge one can have a view of the mighty Brahmaputra one both sides and a glimpse of the cityscape to the right.
It took around half an hour to reach Changsari from Jalukbari. We stopped there for a sip of cold water and then resumed journey for our destination. From Baihata we turned right towards Mangaldoi and after a kilometer or two a sandstone coloured gate to the right welcomed us towards the Madan Kamdev Temple with a signboard next to it.
The ambience changed to a calm and quiet village atmosphere as we moved on the paved road towards the temple. There were medium sized paddy fields that were yet to rice by the side of the clean paver block topped road. Madan Kamdev is around three kilometres from the gate that welcomes visitors. It is good to see a three kilometer stretch of Village Road without any potholes. The soothing greens of fields, hillocks and trees around were super dose of relaxation.
From the foothills of the hillock on top of which the temple is located, the road goes through villages and joins to State Highway 2 which connects Amingaon to Bezera. Outside the temple entrance below the stairs, there is picnic place in the lap of the hillock. groups from nearby places come to have a time together in a quiet place.
We rode upto the stairs that lead to the temple. We walked upto the temple premise. There were people working to renovate the stairs. Beside the temple lies the ruin of other temples of a complex that once had several temple it seems. But now only the base of the temple structures are intact. The ruins of pillars, arches, animal statues, Siva lingam, pillar bases and other architectural pieces are scattered in the site. The site is under Archeological Survey of India and is open except for public holidays and entry is free. Permission of ASI is required for photography and videography for documentary purpose.
The site is believed to be constructed around 1000 AD during the reign of Pala dynasty. Local legends say that Kalapahad destroyed the temples during his temple demolition campaign in which he demolished other famous temples like Kamakhya Temple and Puri Jagannath. Destruction by earthquake cannot be ignored either on a later date after a sabotage by the Muslim General.
Now there is no temple but only the ruins of ancient temple. The stone bases are still there. But no pillar is erect. ASI, it seems has kept the unearthed structure components on the stone base. There are some monolithic pillar structures with grooves for metal pieces for locking the blocks of stones with one another. Most of them are decorated with flowers, human figures, god and goddesses. There are scattered and damaged stone sculptures of animals mainly lion hunting prey. May be the sculptures once decorated the high pillars and arches of a majestic temple in distant past. Gazing over the ruins to distant trees may take ones thought to the time when the place was alive and beating.
The temple complex that is open for prayer these days for the devotees is right in front of the ruin complex. It contains one Shiva temple. One has to go downstairs to pay the offerings. With gable shaped shed in the front the larger temple contains sculptures of the Gods from the ruins. Surrounding area also contains different shapes and sizes of rocks from the temple ruin each showing fine stone cutting of some skilled artisan. Most of the stones contain ornamental design sculpted out of single rock once part of a huge temple and now lies with memoir sculpted on their chest.
Government took some interest in the place it seems and constructed a museum to preserve the antique sculptures. There are at least 30 statues of various sizes of different gods and some of human figures in display. Some are damaged and a good number are still in good condition considering their age. The sculptures are a marvel of ancient rock sculpting and baffled history lovers like me and my friend. Entry fee is a meagre 5 Rupee per person and it should not be missed.
It would have been good if there is someone who could tell the true history of the place. Without knowings true past of such a place that once could have been a bustling religious activities always scorches the mind. The archiologists could not find enough historical relics to definitely say which king constructed the temple though it is agreed that its been constructed during Pala Dynasty. The gentle Madankuri stream that flows below and the Gopeswar hill-chain may hide secrets that will never ever be known.
By the time we were done discovering the place, we were hungry and wanted to gulp anything in front. Baihata Chariali is not a great place for eating and dining. We had our lunch in a small restaurant and returned Guwahati by six.