The Temple Macaques of Tukreswari

Text & photos by Rupjyoti Rabha

An Assamese macaque receiving fruit from a visitor

at Tukreswari Temple

The temple at a hilltop

Built by Bijni King Kumud Narayan in 17th century, Tukreswari temple is located in Goalpara district of Assam by the side of National Highway 37 at a place called Tukra, about 25km from Goalpara town. The hill as well as the temple got their names from the religious belief that a portion(‘Tukura’ in Assamese language) of goddess Sati fell at the site where the temple is located. Tukreswari hill is an outlying part of the Meghalaya plateau and the entire hill is formed with hard Pre-Cambrian igneous rocks and falls under the subtropical semi deciduous forest.

The main temple is at the edge of a boulder at the hilltop enshrining the spot of the fallen piece of goddess Sati and one has to climb up steep staircases to reach the shrine. The temple situated at the down hill was constructed so as to make it accessible to all devotees without having to trek uphill. Devotees from different corners of Assam come to visit the temple and the number reaches a peak every year during Durga puja. The temple also conducts marriage ceremonies according to Hindu customs and rites that attracts even more devotees to the temple throughout the year.

A view of the Tukreswari hill & temple

The non-human Primates of Tukreswari

Tukreswari is also known for its unique non-human primates in the temple and the hillock. Assamese macaque (Macaca assamensis) are permanently living there since long and they are adapted in a way to the temple environment that they can even recognize the voices and calls of the priests and other staffs engaged with daily routine jobs of the temple!