Northeast India is famous for its appealing beauty, abundance of natural assets, and a rich cultural heritage that makes it a favourite holiday destination among the tourists, not only in India but from all over the globe. Among all the states, Assam which share its border with other six state, is the picturesque state in the northeast of India. Along with Assam’s famous tea gardens and rice, there are many places in Assam which secured their position as the famous tourists spot in the visitors list. Among these many beautiful locations in Assam, one more place that is captivating tourist’s attention is the world’s smallest inhabited fresh water island in Assam, the Umananda Island.
Located in the middle of mighty Brahmaputra river in Guwahati, Umananda island is the tiny and smallest inhabited river island in the world. The island holds a spiritual as well as historical background. As per the Hindu mythology, lord Shiva created this island for his wife, goddess Parvati for her happiness. Hence, it got its name as Umananda as in Uma, another name for Parvati and Ananda means happiness. So, Umananda literally means Parvati’s happiness. It is also believed that lord Shiva used to live there and opened his third eye to burn Kamadeva when he interrupted his deep meditation. So the place is also known as Bhasmachal , which literally means “hill of ash”.
Whereas, British used to call Umananda island as the Peacock Island because of its unique shape which looks like the feather of peacock.
As per the history, during 1964 the Ahom king named Gadadhar Singha built the Hindu temple dedicated to lord Shiva, known as Umananda temple. However, it was badly destroyed by an earthquake and it was later reconstructed. Located on top of hill, Umananda temple is one of the main and famous location in Guwahati. The temple is also one of the five principal pilgrim centres of Kamrup.
The Umananda Island is also known as the home to Golden Langurs, which is an endangered species that can be found only in some parts of Assam and Bhutan. Even this has a story which says that two youths, around 35 years ago left two golden langurs here and they have survive since then. This endangered species which is believed to be very aggressive has been mingling with humans easily because of the regular visitors visiting the place.
The Maha Shivratri is the most colourful and widely celebrated festival here. Especially on Monday’s, many devotees visit the temple for the worship of the idol.
Cuisines of Umananda Island
Don’t miss to try some delightful Assamese cuisines in Guwahati. It is a great place to buy and taste cuisine not only from Assam but from some other part of Northeast India as well.
How to reach to Umananda Island:
By Air: Nearest airport is at Guwahati. One can get flight of Guwahati and from here, catch a ferry to reach to the island.
By Rail: The nearest well connected railway station is at Guwahati.
By Road: Hire a cab or take a bus to reach to Kachari Ghat and from there, you can get ferries to the Island.
Umananda Island is a complete package of cultural heritage ,mythological beliefs, historical evidences, nature’s best setup, biodiversity, photogenic landscapes and incomparable wonder.
Photo by Subhodip Biswas