Location: Manikuta Hill, Hajo
Dedicated To: Hayagriva incarnation of Lord Vishnu
Around 30 km to west of Guwahati, in the town of Hajo, is situated one of the most sacred pilgrimage spot in Assam - Hayagriva Madhava Temple. Highly revered by the Hindus as well as the Buddhists, the temple enshrines an image of Lord Vishnu, which resembles the image of Lord Jagannath at Puri (Orissa). The temple is also considered as a major pilgrimage spot by Buddhist Lamas and Bhutiyas who follow Buddhism. They believe that Lord Buddha acquired Nirvana or Moksha in this place and that the image inside the temple is that of the Lord.
Hayagriva Madhava Temple, located on a hill called Manikuta, is dedicated to Lord ishnu. Hayagriva (Vishnu with a horse head) is one of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu. Legend has it that once, two demons, Madhu and Kaitabha, took away the Vedas from Lord Brahma, while He was on the lotus. Upset and offended by this, Brahma awoke Lord Vishnu while He was sleeping and requested for the recovery of the Vedas. It was then that the Lord assumed the form of Hayagriva, went to Rasatala (where the demons had kept the Vedas), recovered them and gave them back to Brahma.
After recovering the Vedas, Lord Vishnu went to the north-east corner of the great sea and slept in His Hayagriva form. While he was sleeping, the demons came back and challenged the Lord to a fight. A big war commenced and the demons were finally killed by the Lord. According to another legend, Hayagriva was the name of the demon that stole the Vedas from Brahma and was finally killed by Vishnu. However, the first legends find much more popularity than the latter.
The entire Hayagriva Madhava Temple is divided into three parts - the basement, the center and the Sikhara. The Sikhara has a pyramid like structure, which continues right up to an apex point. This entire structure rests over enormous brick pillars and is considered as an addition to the original structure of the temple, possibly constructed by the Koch king of the 15th era, King Naranarayan. There is a huge entrance hall made of bricks and measuring about 40 feet by 20 feet. A flight of stone steps leads you into the 14 sq ft Garbhagriha, which contains image of the residing deity and its podium.
The entrance to this shrine is made of four blocks of granite and is about 10 feet high and 5 feet wide. This opens into an anteroom, made of stone and about 10 feet by 10 feet. Two stone screens, cut in the form of lotus flowers, lay on either side of the room with apertures for the entry of light and air. The exterior of the temple has huge sculptured figures, representing the 10 Avataras, with Buddha as the ninth. Hayagriva Temple was initially demolished by Kalapahar and rebuilt by the Koch King Raghudev in 1543. Just close to this temple, a smaller temple was constructed by the Ahom King Pramatta Singh, where Doul (or Holi) is celebrated on a large scale every year.