Umananda Devaloi is a Shiva temple located at the Peacock Island in the middle of river Brahmaputra just opposite the office of the Deputy Commissioner of Kamrup or the Kachari Ghat in Guwahati.
Siva is said to have resided here in the form of Bhayananda. According to the Kalika Purana, in the beginning of the creation Siva sprinkled ashes (bhasma) at this place and imparted knowledge to Parvati (his consort). It is said that, when Siva was in meditation on this hillock, Kamadeva interrupted his yoga and was therefore burnt to ashes by the fire of Siva’s anger and hence the hillock got the name Bhasmacala.
This mountain is also called Bhasmakuta. The Kalika Purana states that Urvasikunda is situated here and here resides the goddess Urvasi who brings Amrit (nectar) for the enjoyment of Kamakhya and hence the island got the name Urvasi Island.
The temple of Umananda was built in 1694 A.D. by the Bar Phukan Garhganya Handique by the order of King Gadadhar Singh (1681–1696), one of the ablest and strongest rulers of the Ahom dynasty, who was a devout Shaivaite. The original temple was however immensely damaged by a devastating earthquake of 1897. Later, it was reconstructed by a rich local merchant who chose to inscribe the interior part of a Siva temple with Vaisnavite slogans.
The presiding deity of the temple is Umananda (Tatrasti bhagavan sambhu- ruma- nandakarah Prabhu). It is believed that, worship here on the Amavasya day when it falls on Monday brings the highest bliss. The Siva Chaturdasi is the most colourful festival that is held here annually. Many devotees come to the temple on this occasion for the worship of the deity.
The temple has inherited some rock-cut figures, which speak passionately of the masterly skill of the Assamese craftsmen. The sculptures here show that the worshippers there followed all the principal Hindu gods. Representations of Surya, Ganesha, Shiva and Devi (with a scorpion as emblem) in addition to those of Visnu and his ten incarnations (avatar) are found here. The main shrine is reached by a flight of steep steps.
The Peacock Island is known as smallest inhabited riverine island in the world. Country boats that are available on the bank of Brahmaputra take the visitors to the island.
It can also be accessed from Guwahati and North Guwahati by ferries and steamers. One can hire a ferry from Sukleshwar ghat or Fancy Bazar Ghat. This is expensive but one can get the feel of the river and its surroundings without any interventions. This is most ideal for couples and family trips. However, a much convenient and cheaper transport has been provided by Inland Water Transport, which connects the Peacock island to Guwahati from Uzanbazar Ferry Ghat.
Umananda island is home to few golden langur also. This one of the rarest species of monkeys found in Assam. A visit to Umananda will give you glimpse of this langur too.
Maha Shivaratri is the most celebrated hindu festival celebrated in Umananda. Monday is considered to be the holiest day in the temple and new moon brings bliss to the pilgrims.