Brahmaputra River Cruise Day 8
Brahmaputra River Cruise Day 8 - Debark, Kamakhya Temple and cruise summary
We woke early as the sun was up, and headed upstairs as we had been advised we would be sailing past the smallest inhabited river island in the world. As we reached the sun deck we could see it arriving in the distance, emerging through the early morning haze. The island is called Peacock Island, and on the top of it is a Shiva temple built in 1694, dedicated to the deity Umananda.
Peacock Island emerging through the mist
Closer you can make out the temple
The Umananda Temple, Peacock Island
Sunrise on the Brahmaputra River
The sun rise was beautiful, creating a lovely pink haze in the sky.
After the island passed we soon approached the Saraighat Bridge, the first rail and road bridge built to cross the Brahmaputra River. Constructed in 1962, the bridge is just over 3,000 metres long and features 12 spans. Even at this early hour the bridge was busy with traffic crossing it, and of course we could hear the obligatory car and truck horns beeping!
Saraighat Bridge, Brahmaputra River
Soon after sailing under the bridge, we arrived at Guwahati, and tied up to a floating dock. Even here the crew had to construct a bamboo gangway! We watched as they carried our luggage off the ship where it was placed into numbered Jeeps. After saying farewell to the wonderful crew, we made our way across the floating dock and located our transport.
Disembarking at Guwahati, India
As our flight from Guwahati to Delhi was not until later, we had a sight-seeing tour of a local temple.
After driving through very busy traffic, we arrived at the Kamakhya Temple. It is an important pilgrimage temple for Hindus and especially Tantric worshipers, and it was very busy! The Kamakhya Temple is dedicated to the Goddess Kamakhya who is worshiped according to both the Left-Hand Path and the Right-Hand Path forms of worship. Offerings to the goddess are usually flowers, but can include animal sacrifices too.
As we left the Jeeps, there were many stalls selling all sorts of incense and brightly coloured cloth, predominately red in colour, which represented the menstrual blood of the goddess. There were also doves for sell, that could be offered as sacrifices, and we saw many kid goats being led to towards the temple, again to be offered as sacrifice.
Sacrificial doves, Kamakhya Temple, Guwahati
The noise, sights, smells and general hustle and bustle were quite a contrast to the past few relaxing days, and it was a bit over whelming. We were quite the attraction as locals took our pictures!
We were guided through the crowds, passing beggars and more stalls, until we reached the entrance of the temple. Here we removed our shoes, and one of the guides looked after them for us and and gave us foot protectors to spare our feet from the mess on the ground - remember the goats?
Inside the temple walls we stood to one side as Shagzil explained about the temple and what we could see. As he talked we spotted a couple of mischievous monkeys running around, eating the leftover remains of the coconuts that worshipers had brought with them as offerings.
Kamakhya Temple, Guwahati
The domed main temple was decorated in strings of marigold flowers, and featured elaborate stone carvings.
Stone carvings, Kamakhya Temple, Guwahati
Many of the worshipers were dressed in red, and had red markings on their forehead, again to represent the blood of the goddess.
Stone wall carving, Kamakhya Temple, Guwahati
As we walked around, we could hear the cries of the goats as they were led to be sacrificed - some of our group found this a bit upsetting.
Kamakhya Temple, Guwahati
After we had time to explore the temple, we were escorted back to our shoes and Jeeps, then onward to Guwahati Airport for our flight to Delhi.
This was a wonderful exploration cruise experience that I thoroughly enjoyed. All the places we had visited were well off the beaten track and some virtually impossible to get to by land. The visit to the Mishing Village and Kaziranga National Park were just some of my highlights, and of course spotting the Royal Bengal Tiger was the icing on the cake. We were very well looked after and escorted everywhere, with guides on hand to answer any questions we had. We saw abundant bird and wildlife and met the lovely local people, who offered a fascinating insight into their way of life.
The MV Mahabaahu is a delightful boat that offers comfortable accommodation in good sized cabins with great showers and air conditioning. We had a balcony which was nice to stand out on and watch the scenery pass by (it’s not deep enough to sit out on). You could also smoke on the balcony if you wanted. The public rooms (bar, reception and restaurant/lounge) were all very clean and well maintained. Food on board was really tasty and we never had the same dish twice, offering predominantly Indian cuisine with two European dishes always served alongside. This is the best ship on which to cruise the Brahmaputra River. What really made our experience on board were the charming crew, who provided great service in a relaxed and informal style - nothing was ever too much trouble for them and they were genuinely happy to help.
I would recommend this cruise for those that want to see a different side to India, or who have already done the main Indian tourist hot-spots and want to get off the beaten track. North East India is very much untouched by tourism, and even Indians don’t really know what is up in this part of their country. Expect dirt tracks and bumpy terrain, jeeps, sand, and bamboo gangways! You need to be fairly steady on your feet, however having said that some of our fellow guests were well into their senior years, and they all coped fine!
As Sanjay Basu, Managing Director of Far Horizon Tours said "India is its people, its nature, its culture, and to experience that you need to get off the beaten path"
This cruise holiday has to be one of the best experiences I have had, combining living culture with amazing wildlife all on board a very comfortable ship, ran by a charming crew.
- For more information or to book this trip see here - Brahmaputra River Cruise
Links to the rest of the blogs
- Brahmaputra River Cruise - Day 1 - Local market and embarkation
- Bramaputra River Cruise - Day 2 - Sibasaga, Assam, India
- Bramaputra River Cruise - Day 3 - Majuli Island
- Bramaputra River Cruise - Day 4 - Mishing Village & Kaziranga boat safari
- Brahmaputra River Cruise Day 5 - Bishwanath Ghat & Tea estate
- Brahmaputra River Cruise Day 6 - Kaziranga National Park
- Brahmaputra River Cruise Day 7 - On board & island BBQ
- Brahmaputra River Cruise Day 8 - Kamakhya Temple & summary
MV Mahabaahu Video - showing cabins, public rooms and destinations
All images and text (c) Scott Anderson - The Luxury Cruise Company 2014.