Northeast India is famous for its amazing beauty, rich culture and natural resources. The Seven Sisters are full of national parks and famous tourist destinations, as well as religious sanctuaries and monasteries. Situated, not too far from the city of Guwahati in the state of Assam, you can find the tiny island of Umananda. This river island is encompassed by the majestic Brahmaputra river and is the smallest inhabited island in the world.
Umananda Island, Assam – The Smallest Inhabited River Island of the World
Umananda is also known as the peacock island, owing to its uncommon shape. It is said that Lord Shiva spent time here with his “ananda” or joy, Goddess Parvati as Bhayananda. The island is also known as “Bhasmachala” because of another legend stated in the Kalika Puran. It says that when Kamadeva tried to interrupt Lord Shiva’s meditation, while on the island, Lord Shiva burned him to ashes.
Bowing to the Brahmaputra
The Brahmaputra river brings huge amounts of flood waters into Assam during monsoons every year. Even with this fact, the island of Umananda has survived devastating floods because of the Umananda Temple, built to glorify Lord Shiva. The Umananda Devaloi, as the temple is named, was built under the famous Ahom King Gadadhar Singha in the 1690’s.
The Umananda Island houses a mountain known as the Bhasmakuta. It is stated in the Kalika Puran that the Uravashikunda is kept safe under the island and that Goddess Urvashi resides here. She brings “Amruta” or the sacred nectar for salvation. Hence, the island is also known as Urvashi Island.
Tourism Amidst The Brahmaputra
The beautiful Unananda Temple attracts a lot of tourists from Guwahati. A lot of tourists come to visit the Lord after the state has started regular ferries through its Inland Water Transport system. These motor ferries are locally known as “Bhutbhuti” which take almost 10 minutes to reach the island.
Many others come here to experience the serenity and tranquility of of the gigantic river that refrains itself from consuming the island.
Age Old Traditions
It is believed that when Lord Shiva carried the completely incinerated corpse of Maa Sati, he sprinkled the ashes on the blessed island of Umananda. Hence, the island and its temple, both stand significant.
The main deity of the temple called Lord Umananda. To worship in the temple on a no mood day, when it falls on a Monday is the most auspicious one. The Shiva Chaturdashi is a festival which is held here annually.
The isolated island of Umananada is famous for the rare Golden Langurs, which is a species of monkeys, which are specially found only here. It is sad that some tourists had left a couple of Golden Langurs here on the island, after which the species has survive the environment of the island. The rare sight of the arboreal primitives also attracts tourists and photographers all year round.
It is appreciated that the rich cultural heritage of the Umananda temple and the tiny river island has been able to preserve the old heritage. People from overseas come to seek blessings from the Lord on the world’s smallest inhabited island.
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