Considered the gateway to the North-East region of India, Guwahati or ‘Gowhatty’ is the largest city in the region. An important administrative, trading center and a river port, Guwahati is an ancient town and an important place of veneration of Goddess Shakti. Kamakhya temple situated atop the Nilachal hill is an important site for tantric Hinduism.
Guwahati city is situated between the southern bank of Brahmaputra River and the foothills of the Shillong plateau. Dispur, situated within Guwahati, is the capital of Assam.
Guwahati, known as Pragjyotishpur (Light of the East) in olden days, was the erstwhile capital of kingdom of Kamrup which existed between 350 and 1140 CE. During past few decades it has experienced violent separatism from organizations like ULFA, but now situation is under control of the government of Assam.
Besides the most revered and popular Kamakhya Temple; the city has several ancient Hindu temples like the Umananda Temple, Navagraha Temple and Basistha Temple. The abundance of temples has earned Guwahati the sobriquet of “City of Temples.”
Guwahati and its surrounding areas are rich in wildlife. Kaziranga National Park, known for its famous resident the one-horned Indian rhinoceros, is 214 km away.
As capital of Assam, the second commercial tea production region besides southern China, Guwahati is also an important tea trading centre. Assam also has the distinction of being the only region in the world besides southern China, with native tea plants. Known for its body, briskness, malty flavor, and strong, bright color, Assam teas are often sold as “breakfast” teas. The Guwahati Tea Auction Centre (GTAC) is among the busiest tea trading facilities in the world.
Guwahati is among the 100 fastest growing cities of the world and the fifth fastest growing among Indian cities. It is a major commercial and educational centre of eastern India. The premier Indian Institute of Technology campus is also located in Guwahati.
Any mention of Guwahati is incomplete without reference to its prodigal son Bhupen Hazarika. Lyricist, film-maker, singer, musician and poet from Assam, Hazarika’s songs became popular in Assam, West Bengal and even Bangladesh. Hazarika is acknowledged for introducing folk music of Assam and Northeast India in Hindi films. The memorial to Hazarika at the Guwahati University campus is popular with tourists and locals.
Brahmaputra Cruises: A visit to Guwahati is complete only after a cruise on the Brahmaputra river. Luxurious vessels, some with AC upper decks, ply regularly to Dibrugarh. The cruise to Dibrugarh passes through Kaziranga and Tezpur.
If river cruise seems too long, try crossing the river on ferry. Ferries cross the river regularly for transporting locals. Ferries leave Fancy Bazaar jetty every half an hour. Round trip takes around 45 minutes.
Brahmaputra River is also the venue for annual boat race held at Sualkuchi. The annual boat race dates back to over 100 years and is is organized to commemorate death anniversary of Srimanta Sankardev, who revived Vaishnavism in Assam. The competition is held in three categories.
WHERE TO STAY
Guwahati offers a wide variety of options for staying. From budget and small hotels to star hotels, the city has it all. It would be wise to book room in advance especially if planning to visit the city during peak season.
Several budget hotels are situated in Paltan Bazaar and G S Road areas.
Most mid-range hotels have multi-cuisine restaurant and costs between Rs 1,400-Rs 2,200.
Star hotels could cost between Rs 4,000 to Rs 6,500.
WHERE TO EAT
North-East India’s food differs from the typical Indian food. North-East food is flavoured with herbs indigenous to the region. Assamese food is deliciously mild and finely pH-balanced using a unique banana-alkaline extract called khar. Rice is the staple food.
From budget options to fine dining restaurants, Guwahati has it all. Several dhabas situated on the highways offer the best food at affordable prices.
A visit to Guwahati can’t be complete without trying Assamese food. Guwahati, being the most important city of North-East, offers several restaurants specializing in cuisines of the north-eastern states.
The average minimum and maximum temperature of Guwahati is as given below. The best time to visit Guwahati is also specified.