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During my schooldays, Madan Kamdev was considered to be a poetic rendezvous point for amorous couples trying to escape the puritanical and killjoy society. Probably it still is. As the name suggests, it possesses characteristics that makes it a claimant of the title “Khajuraho of Assam”. Like most of the uncool kids, I never reached a state where I would require such a desolated yet suggestive point and so never made it there although it was barely 40 KMs from my hometown. Anyways, last December when I was home, I decided to visit it anyways in order to explore the history associated with it.
An Underwhelming Entity
The Madan Kamdev complex is located atop a hill covered amidst forests. There are villages nearby and the road is decent nowadays. At the end you have to climb up a few stairs to reach the location. But the first point to note here is that you have to keep your expectations in check. If you have been to all those UNESCO protected, gigantic temple complexes in other parts of India, this will surely look underwhelming. Basically there is a small live temple where people still offer prayers. Other archaeological remains have just been gathered from nearby areas and placed around the small area surrounding the temple. The original temples were believed to have been built by the Pala dynasty (not to be confused with the Palas from neighbouring Bengal) and they date back to 9th or 10 century.
Kingdom of Lions
The royal emblem of the dynasty seemed to be a lion. So, lion statues are the largest and they are visible everywhere. Some of the scattered pieces of pillars also reminded me of similar ones from some other ruins in Assam. It must have influenced the later constructions.
Erotica: Where Art Thou?
But what was bothering me was the lack of those glorious, inspiring and educative kamasutra sculptures one expects in a temple dedicated to Kamdev. But after a closer inspection, I managed to locate some of them. Basically they are much smaller in size and can be missed if you do not look for them keenly.
The Sun… or is it?
Another interesting piece of sculpture I noticed there is that of the sun, or so I thought. Or maybe it was the back of a stegosaurus.
Overall, I came back satisfied after the initial disappointment. You cannot expect the grandeur of Hampi or Sanchi here but if you care about forgotten history and neglected archaeology, this is a good place to spend an afternoon. In case you observe anything in these photographs regarding stylistic similarity or influence coming from some other important archaeological sites, do share your thoughts with a comment below.
Reaching Madan Kamdev
It is situated near a small town called Baihata Chariali 37 KM northwards of Guwahati. Cross the Saraighat Bridge over the Brahmaputra and keep moving northwards till you reach the place. Take a right turn (ask someone for directions) and after some yards you will see a gate mentioning Madan Kamdev (Written in Assamese). Enter the gate and keep going till you reach the place. The road passes through villages and farmlands. No entry fees required.