Athkheklia Namghar" is the famous institution of the past... from the days of Godapani Konwar of Ahom Kingdom. For the story behind the establishment of this historical naamghar we had to run after the folk-tales of the local people of that particular place.
Assam in North Eastern India is naturally endowed with Blue Mountains, Green Hills, Historical Monuments, Legendary Lakes, and Red rivers, Pristine Pilgrimage Sites, Luxurious Tea Gardens, Rich Wild life and above all so color full peoples. . Here in this page we are trying to paint a picture about an odyssey to Assam's religious past----Athkhelia Naamghar--the place where kuwor Godapani`s dream came true .
It's somewhere in the mid-April when we visited our destination----"Shri Shri Athkhelia Namghar".
As we all know this is the season when all the Assamese people become nostalgic for their motherland. This is the season when we tend to forget our own selves among the bright time of the year which brings all new prosperity to Mother Nature. Our reverend destination "Shri Shri Athkhelia Namghar" has also worn the color of festivals, color of cheering and beautiful spring. The touch of spring has added an ultimate picture of serenity to the illustrious namghar.
The newly constructed linking road to "Shri Shri Athkhelia Naamghar" and the nearest town Golaghat was welcoming us when it was pleasantly wet by the spring drizzle. Both the sides of the roads were covered with lush green paddy fields - it was so vivid a portrait of divine spring everywhere in the vicinity. Even a simple visit to the naamghar becomes an experience for a lifetime, but our visit especially in the spring has given us the chance to feel the sublime fusion of "bhakti" (spirituality) with nature. It was as if heaven was recreated in the world of "Shri Shri Athkhelia Namghar" with the prayers re-mixed in the "pagan" of Vaishnav Bhakatas (Vaishnav disciples).
Now let us walk down the lanes of history when the glorious origin of this famous institution was being present. But most interestingly we didn't get anything in written form in the pages of Assam history about this spiritually enriched place. It was all folk-tales after what we chased the past of this famous naamghar.
According to the local folklore the then prince Godapani Konwar reached the particular place where today this naamghar is situated in his escaping voyage from the fury of the king "Lora Roja" of the Ahom monarchy. Godapani Konwar had met a prophet in that place and being devoted to the religious soul-searching. It was told that one night he dreamt about his good fortunes were about to knock at his door. The dream became reality, in the year 1681, he became the king of Ahom kingdom. Then King Godapani formed a naamghar in that particular place where he had seen the dream in order to keep the memory alive. And his majesty had picked up eight different tribes of people or khel (kuri) to deputize the responsibility of that naamghar. Because of these eight different khels or tribes this naamghar became famous as Athkhelia or Athkhuria (ath i.e. eight in Assamese) naamghar.
Another folk-tale describes as when Lora Raja's soldiers were running after Godapani Konwar to capture him, immediately after he crossed that particular place, a thick cob-web had all-covered the road. When the soldier saw the flaw-less cob-web they thought that Godapani wouldn't have crossed the road and they went off in another way. For this supernatural incident Godapani, when became king to perpetuate the memory of this particular place had constitute the naamghar there. Then he accumulated eight different tribes or khel (kuri) or people to look after the namghar which became famous as Athkhelia Naamghar.
The eight different tribes (khel) of Shri Shri Athkhelia Naamghar who have been integrating all the required responsibilities from the day of Godapani Konwar till today are - 1) Brahman Kuri (2) Shalal Kuri (3) Bairagi Kuri (4) Nangal Kuri (5) Kachari Kuri (6) Bosa Kuri (7) Borahi Kuri and (8) Nata Kuri. According to some other view it is the Borchetia Kuri and the Kakoti Kuri in place of Borahi Kuri and Nata Kuri accordingly. It has been heard that in the beginning there was a sandlewood stand (thoga) and a bedi with a trishul. And because of this trishul the influence of Lord Shiva is quite clear.
From the year 1900 onward the Athkhelia Namghar Development Committee had been formed and in a systematic way this committee has been performing its many folded responsibilities till now. The list is quite a long with the permanent Namghar , electricity provision, guest house, rest room, concrete wall, gateway to the Namghar, new road, water supply, maintenance of the Namghar compound etc. The time even when we visited the Namghar we had noticed the all round development of the locality initiated by Ms. Ajanta Neog, PWD Minister, Assam State Govt . With her active participation the link road to the famous Namghar is taking a very brilliant silhouette. It is an extraordinary example of how the mode of transportation can add color to a particular place and even we had witnessed the dynamic contribution of the local public to the construction work.
The daily rituals of this famous institution is performed by the particular "acharyas" through the vaishnavite rule's "chadhya (fourteen) prasanga arhi (method)" .During the day at four times they observe the rituals--morning before six o'clock, noon at eleven o'clock, afternoon at two o'clock, evening after six o'clock. Specially the day ends in the midst of the religious synchronization of the traditional musical instruments like doba, shankh ,khol, tal etc. Only during the " Ambubashi nibritti" all the functions of the bhakatas in the naamghar remains closed. The local people observe lots of colorful festivals centering on "Athkhelia Naamghar". The main celebrations are" Bor sabah" -every year in the purnima tithi of spring season, "Panitola sabah"-every year in the shukla pakhya during may-June , "Naam luwa sabah"-every year during may-June ,"Na-saulor sabah"-every year during nov.-dec. ,"Pani bhaona"-in the purnima tithi of may-June ,they celebrate the whole bhado (aug.-sep) month as the" Abirbhav &Tirobhav" tithi of Shri Shankar Deo and Shri Madhav Deo. Another main festival of the Naamghar is the". Raas Utsav"--the fun loving people of the village paint a vivid colorful panorama of famous" Brindavan" there in the Naamghar itself with there so sublime prayers .
This esteemed institution is located in the border of two districts Golaghat and Jorhat, This famous assamese vaisnavite naamghar is surrounded from the north-west side by the picturesque Ghiladhari river. Another magnificent Mocrong river is purifying the western side of the institution through its everlasting waves. Eastern landscape of the Athkhelia Naamghar is decorated by the Kakodonga River.
So with the Ghiladhari, Mocrong and Kakodonga River this vaishnavite pilgrimage site directly represents the "Brindanaan" with its three rivers - Ganga,Yamuna and Swarashati..
We pray to this rich vaishnavite namghar for the growth and peace of nation, mankind and all living - being. Long live our revered destination ...... " Shri Shri Athkhelia Naamghar".
Athkhelia Naamghar at a glance:
Location: 20kms east of Golaghat Town ,Golaghat District, Assam.
Nearest airport:: is at Jorhat. 58 km from Jorhat.
Road: Buses regularly ply from Guwahati and every parts of Assam regularly to Golaghat.
Nearest Railway Station: Forkating Junction---12.8km.
Best time to Visit:: September to May and also during the festivals.
Where to stay: There are lots of comfortable hotels in Golaghat town. For luxurious staying you can experience - HOTEL NAAMBOR.
What to wear: Preferably cotton and during winter woolen.
About Author / Additional Info:
This is a travel story about an interior religious place of the State of Assam in the North Eastern part of India.