Monday, 9 January 2012

Hajo, Assam

The ancient town of Hajo is one of the most interesting places in the state of Assam, situated on the banks of river Brahmaputra, around 24 km from the city of Guwahati. What makes Hajo an important tourist destination is that this is the only place in the state where there is a confluence of three major religions of the world - Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism. Shrines dedicated to Durga, Shiva, Vishnu, Buddha and major Muslim saints are found all over this place, making it an important pilgrimage center for people from all these three religions.

The history of the quiet and peaceful Hajo town is quite interesting. It is said that this town was once the capital of the Koch Dynasty, established by Raghudev, the son of legendary Koch hero Chilarai and nephew of the Kochbehar king, Narayana. The vast Koch Kingdom included Goalpara, North Kamrup, a portion of the former Darrang district and also the present day Mangaldoi subdivision. However, the dynasty came under the occupancy of the Mughals from 1639 to 1658. 

With the changing history, different names came to be associated with this region. Hajo was known as Apurnabhava and Manikuta in the 11th century A.D, while the 14th century had its name as Bhisnupuskar (as described in the Yoginitantra). During the 18th century, Hajo came to be known as Manikutgram, as found in the Darang Rangbonshabali by one Surjyakhari Daivajna. During the Mughal reign, the region was called Sujabad or Sujanagar. Some people link the place with ‘haj’, which is the most revered pilgrimage spot of the Muslim community in Mecca.

Scholars and followers of Buddhism have different opinions regarding the origin of the name Hajo. Some believe that Gautam Buddha died in this region and his death pained his disciples so much that they cried out aloud ‘Ha- ju’, which means 'setting of the sun' and thus the place came to be known as Hajo. However, Dr. Banikanta Kakati (a prominent scholar of Assam) believes that there is a Bodo connection to Hajo. He suspects that Hajo is a Bodo name (Ha means land and Gojou means high, according to Bodo dialect).

Places to See:

Around 30 km to west of Guwahati, in the town of Hajo, is situated one of the most sacred pilgrimage spot in Assam - Hayagriva Madhava Temple. Highly revered by the Hindus as well as the Buddhists, the temple enshrines an image of Lord Vishnu, which resembles the image of Lord Jagannath at Puri (Orissa).

Standing atop the Garurachal Hill, just adjacent to the Madhava Temple, is the much renowned shrine of the Muslims - Powa Mecca (1/4th Mecca). The most famous Muslim pilgrimage spot in Assam, it noted as the tomb of Pir Giasuddin Auliya, who was the pioneer of Islam in this part of the world.

Kamesware Temple

Kamesware Temple is a sacred area in Hajo, which was constructed by Ahom King Pramatta Singha, in the 18th century. With the passage of time, the original identity of the temple, as a centre of Madana Kam,a worship was lost and it was converted into a Lord Shiva Temple. The shivalingam located in this temple is similar to the calanta idol of Kedar Siva.

Joy Durga Temple

Joy Durga Temple is an important Hindu temple devoted to the worship of Goddess Durga. The temple was constructed in the year 1774 AD, by the then ruling king of Ahom Dynasty, King Lakshminath Singha. There is a ten armed stone image of the Goddess on the temple altar.

Ganesh Temple

Ganesh Temple is an important religious shrine of Hajo and is also called as Deva Bhavana, since it serves as a meeting point of all deities of the area.

Dhoparguri Satra

Dhoparguri Satra is a famous holy spot in the historic town of Hajo and was established by Madhavdeva in the year 1587. It was originally a three-room satra, at the time of its construction, but now is equipped with numerous holy spots, like Gokrana, Vikrana and Swargdwar. It is a highly revered shrine for the natives as well as the tourists.

Kedareswar Temple

A Shiva temple, Kedareswar Temple is located atop the Madanachala hill in Hajo. It is said that Kedareswar is one of the oldest temples in the country. It has a big linga made of stone as the main sanctum. This is known as a svayambhu linga and appears to be an Ardhanariswara form of Lord Shiva. The linga is always kept covered with a big metal bowl............

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