GUWAHATI, July 5 – The Umananda Devalay – a Shiva temple located at the peacock island in the middle of the Brahmaputra just opposite the office of the Deputy Commissioner of Kamrup or the Kachari Ghat in Guwahati – is in urgent need of some positive intervention vis-a-vis facilities worth the name from the authorities concerned.
The Umananda Devalay is one of the oldest shrines of Assam and perhaps the smallest island with a temple in India. It was built by Ahom king Gadadhar Singha (1681-1696).
Pilgrims coming from different parts of the country and abroad, but mostly from West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar, etc. are regular visitors to the shrine. On a daily basis nearly 500 to 600 people visit the temple.
The peacock island can be accessed from Guwahati and North Guwahati by ferries and steamers. But the visitors while talking to The Assam Tribune alleged that the ferries and steamers ask more than what they should actually charge. Though in the government-operated steamers the fares are charged rationally, the private ones don’t follow the government rate.
In 2014, top district administration officials visited the shrine and took stock of the situation and promised a number of intervention, which are yet to be fulfilled, alleged the temple head priest Ashani Sarma. Sarma said that the administration promised clean and safe drinking water facility, but the people of the temple and the visitors have been compelled to drink unsafe water till today.
The district administration has built a water pump at the base of the temple. The temple gets water from Brahmaputra for intake but during rainy season the water pump gets jammed. There is a water reservoir which is in a deplorable condition. Though repairing work of the tank was done the leak is still visible.
He said that three toilets have been constructed by the administration those are not adequate and are in an awful condition due to non availability of water for toilets. There is only one toilet available for the tourists and the temple priests.
Electrification of the temple was done through solar system, the district administration has arranged the solar lights which are functioning properly but there is the need of more lights in the island. The Assam Power Distribution Company Limited hase installed a three kilowatt solar power plant at the temple premises.
Sarma said that the dented structures in an around the temple were supposed to be mended by the district administration in 2014. Some underpinning work are being carried out but the pace of development is very slow, he added .
The stockpile house of the temple where all donated gold, silvers are stored (Dhan Bhoral) is in a pathetic condition and needs immediate attention, appeals Sarma.
During the rainy season it becomes very difficult for some rituals to be performed and they have to complete the rituals with makeshift roof top.
The Pujari Sangha Samiti has appealed to the district administration and the Tourism department to build some waiting rooms for the visitors as during a natural calamity it may not be able for the visitors to cross the swelling river during rainy season.
A healthy eco-system is maintained in the entire temple premises. A person from Maharashtra had donated two golden langurs and at present there are eleven to twelve golden langurs in the temple which are of tourist attraction. Though there is plenty of food for the ape, during the winter season there is a lack of food. The visitors give cakes to consume, which is a health concern for the apes. Though there are a few signboards having information about the bio-diversity of the temple, those are not sufficient. There is a need for some more signboards to the effect, some visitors opined. During the winter season, migratory birds too flock the temple island. But their numbers have gone down of late, said Sarma.
The temple is being administered by two committees – the Pujari Sangha Samiti and a committee of the district administration i.e. the Mandir Prachar Samiti. The funds collected out of donations by the visitors are counted after every three to four months by the secretary of the temple. The funds are disseminated and spent for various developmental activities of the temple, said Sarma.