A travel Guide to Guwahati

Guwahati Tourism

Guwahati, also known as the Gateway of Northeastern India, is the largest city of Assam. It is a cosmopolitan city located along the southern banks of the mighty Brahmaputra river and the foothills of the Shillong plateau. As such, Guwahati India is alluring to visitors throughout the year, thanks to its scenic beauty. Erstwhile called Pragjyotishpura, or the ‘Light of the East’, the name Guwahati can be traced back to the Assamese words ‘Guva’ and ‘Hati’ meaning areca nut and market respectively. Dispur, the capital of Assam and the seat of Assam legislature is located inside Guwahati. A major riverine port city, Guwahati is surrounded by verdant hills and its adjacent areas are also home to a diverse range of flora and fauna like one-horned rhinoceros, elephants, tigers, gaurs, etc.

Every year, Guwahati tourism attracts a large number of Hindu pilgrims as the Kamakhya temple, the most sacred of the shrines of Maa Shakti is located here. Apart from Kamakhya, Guwahati tourist attractions include Navagraha Temple, Umananda Temple, Basistha Ashram, etc. These are important places of spirituality and give it the title of ‘City of Temples’. People include them in their Guwahati tours itinerary. Also, there are numerous hotels in Guwahati to suit the budget of all types of travellers where they can enjoy a comfortable stay.

Places to Visit in Guwahati

1. Kamakhya Temple

One of the primary Guwahati attractions is the Kamakhya Temple situated atop the Nilachal Hills. It is the shrine of Devi Kamakhya, another form of goddess Durga and is the oldest of the 51 Shakti Peethas in India. The auspicious temple has many fascinating legends associated with it. Every year during monsoon, around mid-June, the Ambubachi Mela is held here when it is believed that the Devi goes through her annual menstrual cycle. The temple remains closed for devotees for five days and is opened on the sixth day after the bathing and cleansing rituals have been performed. A spectacular fair is organised and thousands of people from all across India throng at the site.

2. Assam State Zoo

Established in 1958, the Assam State Zoo is one of the most popular Guwahati tourist places sprawling across 432 acres and is located within the Hengrabari Reserve Forest area. Being the largest zoo in northeastern India that is home to a great variety of animals, birds and reptiles; it is a natural paradise for wildlife explorers. It is often called the ‘Green Lung’ of Guwahati as people come here to relax, rejuvenate and participate in animal awareness and welfare programs. Some of the major exhibits at the zoo include the one-horned rhino, royal Bengal tiger, clouded leopard, black panther, elephant, Asiatic lion, brow-antlered deer, hoolock gibbon, sambar, etc.

3. Assam Rajyik State Museum

A Guwahati travel guide remains incomplete without the mention of the Assam Rajyik State Museum Situated in the heart of the city in the Dighalipukhuri area, this museum is a must-visit place, especially for history buffs as it takes the visitors through a fascinating journey through different sections like epigraphy, folk art and craft, sculpture, natural history, etc. Established in 1940 by the Kamrupa Anusandhan Samiti, this old museum is a treasure house of magnificent ivory painting, royal garments, coins, musical instruments, etc. It also includes a library that has a collection of rare books, journals and periodicals which provide an insight into the ancient as well as the modern history of northeast India.

4. Umananda Temple

Umananda Temple is located on the serene Umananda Island, also known as the Peacock Island, which is one of the smallest inhabited riverine islands of the world. Located in the midst of the Brahmaputra river, this Guwahati attraction can be easily reached by country boats or ferry rides which take around fifteen minutes. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this iconic place of worship sees a lot of tourist footfalls, especially during Maha Shivratri. The temple was built by King Gangadhar Singh of the Tah Ahom dynasty in 1694 AD. The magnificent engravings and sculptures that adorn the temple bear testimony to the skilful craftsmanship of the Assamese people.

5. Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary

Among Guwahati tourist places, Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary deserves a special mention for the wildlife photography enthusiasts. It is located 30 kms away from the city and spreads across 38 kms. Pobitora takes pride in its great biodiversity and is best known for the one-horned Indian rhinoceros. Jeep safaris and elephant rides give one plenty of opportunities to click amazing photos of groups of rhinos roaming around in the wetlands. Other animals found here include the golden jackal, wild boar, Asiatic buffalo, rhesus macaque, river dolphin, etc. More than 2000 migratory bird species flock to this sanctuary every year and lend Pobitora its name ‘Bharatpur of the East’. One can also enjoy several excursions from here like a trip to Sualkuch and Hajo.

Things To Do in Guwahati

Any visitor to Guwahati has a multitude of exciting options in which he can indulge. In this Guwahati travel guide let’s explore a few things to do in Guwahati.

Alfresco Cruise on Brahmaputra

One of the most notable Guwahati attractions is the spectacular Alfresco Cruise through the Brahmaputra river. It is a memorable experience indeed as the cool breeze and stunning views of the grand Brahmaputra enthral you when you stand on the multi-level decks. One can choose from the party cruise, dinner cruise, lunch cruise or the most romantic sunset cruise depending upon the suitability of time. The multicuisine restaurants on the yachts serve mouthwatering food and drinks. In the evenings, the twinkling lights of Guwahati city bewitch you from a distance as one sways away to the live music and folk dance that is performed on board.

Stargazing at Guwahati Planetarium

Guwahati tourism boasts of an international level planetarium located at M G Road. Guwahati Planetarium is a desirable destination for astronomy lovers and stargazers who wish to spend some time gazing at the celestial bodies far above our infinite horizon. Here tourists can enhance their knowledge of the universe by attending special sky watching shows which are projected on a dome-shaped overhead screen. These shows are held at regular intervals in Hindi, English and Assamese languages. Children can enjoy the thrill of watching an eclipse or a meteor shower. The planetarium also organises workshops, seminars, conferences and quizzes from time to time and aims to spread awareness among the youth regarding space and astronomy.

Shopping at Fancy Bazar

For those who love to splurge on shopping when on a vacation, Fancy Bazar is the place to be in. Flea market goods to top fashion brands are all available here. It is always a great idea to bargain for that piece of antique or handicraft item or the silk saree which stole your heart. After indulging in shopping one can satiate the hunger pangs by enjoying chilled beverages and gorge on some authentic Assamese or northeastern food at any of the roadside street food stalls.

Bike Ride over Saraighat Bridge

The first rail-cum-road bridge in Assam, the Saraighat Bridge is an engineering miracle with two decks, a highway on top and a railway line below. Built over the vast Brahmaputra river at Saraighat, the bridge is an important link between the northeast and the rest of India. One can enjoy a pleasant bike ride going through the bridge at night and take some captivating photos of the Guwahati cityscape. A notable fact to remember is that the historical battle of Saraighat took place here in 1671 between the Mughal Empire and Ahom rulers in which the Ahoms defeated the Mughals.

Best Time to Visit Guwahati

Situated at an altitude of 55 metres above sea level, Guwahati has a humid subtropical climate with summer temperatures hovering between 22 to 38 degree and mild winters ranging between 10- to 25-degree centigrades. As such, the best time to visit Guwahati is between October to April. Assam experiences heavy monsoon rainfall so it is advisable to avoid visiting during the peak rainy season.

One may like to plan their visit in April to witness the Bihu festivals which are native festivals of Assam and northeastern states and provide a taste of the Assamese culture and tradition. For the religious-minded, the best season to visit Guwahati can be during the Ambubachi Mela observed every year in June.

How to Reach Guwahati

Being the most important city in northeastern India, Guwahati is well connected with the rest of India through a large network of airways, railways and roadways.  Every year a lot of travellers reach Guwahati from all across India.

By Airways

You can easily take a flight to reach Guwahati. Guwahati Airport, also called Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, is located at a distance of 25 kms from the city centre. All the leading carriers operate regular flights to Guwahati from other Indian cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Bagdogra, Imphal, Agartala, Bangalore, Mumbai among others. Passengers can avail local buses or prepaid taxis to reach their hotels from the airport.

By Railways

Guwahati Railway Station is a major railhead of Assam and is located just 5 kms away from the city centre. It is quite well connected to other Indian cities through a broad network of railways. Rajdhani Express, the exclusive train, takes around 34 hours to reach the national capital New Delhi from here. Visitors opt for buses or hire cabs to move around the city from the station.

By Roadways

Guwahati is linked with other nearby cities and towns through Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC) and other private buses. Travellers can also choose from Volvo, air-conditioned and luxury buses. There are a number of national highways passing through Guwahati so one can easily drive from places like Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland and West Bengal.

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