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The Ultimate Source of Information on Indian Temples

Temples of Tamilnadu
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Manikoota Parvat
Temples of North Eastern India


The Hayagriva temple at Hajo in Assam, near Guwahati is an ancient one, and it enshrines Vishnu as Hayagriva (an incarnation of Vishnu in the form of a human being with a horse's head). The hillock on which this temple is housed is known as Manikoota Parvata.

Manikoota or Hajo has been a center of worship for both Hindus and Buddhists. While Buddhists regard the image of worship as that of Buddha, the Hindus regard it as that of Vishnu as Narasimha.

The present structure of the temple dates back to the period of King Raghudeva Narayana of the 16th century CE. The original temple that existed here was destroyed by Kalapahar who also destroyed the Kamakhya temple nearby.

The stone temple built on a hillock consists of a shikhara and interesting mouldings representing rows of elephants. The sanctum, the ardhamandapa and a mahamandapa said to have been constructed later by the ruler Nara Narayana constitute the temple structure. Seen carved on the exterior walls of the temple are life sized sculptures of the 10 avataras of Vishnu. In this representation, Buddha is also considered to be an incarnation of Vishnu.

Legend has it that during the process of creation, the demons Madhu and Kaitabha stole the Vedas from Bhramha and Vishnu took the Hayagriva form to recover the Vedas from the demons. Another legend has it that during the process of creation, Vishnu compiled the Vedas in the Hayagriva form and that the Hayagriva Avatara precedes the Matsya Avatara wherein he recovered the stolen Vedas from the demons Madhu and Kaitabha. Please also see the ancient Hayagriva temple near Cuddalore (Tiruvahindrapuram) in Tamilnadu.

Another legend testifiest to the strong link to the Vaishnava movement in Orissa. This legend has it that King Indradyumna of Orissa had a dream in which a big tree would come floating in the sea and that he would have to cut it up into 7 pieces. Indeed his dream came true, and two of the pieces were brought to Kamarupa Desa, one of which was fashioned into an image of Hayagriva and the other, Madhava (Matsya).