Guwahati city has been the seat of several empires in the past. The ancient city was the most sorted location for empire building and gaining control over the eastern portions of Northeast India and Myanmar. Presently the city is the major administrative and political centre of Assam. It is also the home of many reputed educational institutes such as IIT Guwahati. The city is located on the southern banks of River Brahmaputra. The River serves as the National Waterways No 2 here. Regular ferry service to different cities on the banks of Brahmaputra is operational from Guwahati. Passenger and cargo vessels ply daily on this river and it’s a good feeling to watch them from the beach. Guwahati is the place of revered Kamakhya temple which is one of the most important Shakti Peeths of India.
Best Time to Visit Guwahati
Guwahati experiences hot summers (April-May) with temperatures going upto 35°C. Monsoon season (June-September) is moderate. Winters (November-February) are pleasant weather.
Guwahati has an international airport named Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport in Borjhar which is at a distance of 20 kilometers from Guwahati. It receives domestic flights from major cities of India and is internationally connected to Bangkok (Thailand) and Paro (Bhutan).
Guwahati has two railway stations at Kamakhya Junction and New Guwahati. The New Guwahati rail station is located close to the heart of the town. The area outside the rail station is known as Paltan Bazar and is the main hub of tourists in Guwahati.
River Brahmaputra is National Waterways No 2 starting from Pandu and connecting places like Dhubri, Jogighopa, Tezpur, Silghat, Dibrugarh and Sadiya.
Kamakhya Temple is the most important Hindu temple of Guwahati. It is situated on the Nilachal Hill in western part of Guwahati. The temple is one of the 51 Sati peethas and is dedicated to Goddess Kamakhya, who is a wish fulfilling deity. The origin of the temple is disputed but the evidence of its existence was recorded in 9th century Tezpur plates of Vanamala Varmadeva of Mlechchha dynasty. Later it became a seat of tantricism and mysticism under the rule of Kamrupa kings from Indra Pala and Dharma Pala. The temple was destroyed many times in the past by Koch and Ahom kings. The present structure owes its credit to Ahom Kingdom.
Kamakhya temple was constructed in alignment to Nilachal style of construction. It consists of a cruciform base covered with a hemispheric dome. The whole temple is divided into four chambers- garbhagriha, calanta, pancaratna and natamandira. Garbhagriha is the place where at ground is a depression accessed through staircase. This depression is by the most holy spot of the temple and called Shakti peetha. The underground stream is a part of Devi’s blessings.
When you get inside you’ll find priests (pandas) chant prayers in different corners of the temple. Tickets are available on different levels of entry- fast, little slow, and very slow. The temple walls are made up of big granite boulders and a series of steps take you to an open area shrine where a stream seems to be flowing from somewhere. The devotees are asked to drink the water of the stream and receive blessing from the idol and then take a U-turn through the ascending stairs on the same line. The inner temple has natural air conditioning. Once your puja is over, there is a gallery of steps just outside the entrance of the temple. You can sit there and watch the devotees offering prayers and burning diyas and clanking bells outside the temple.
Festivals of Kamakhya Temple
The main festival manifested in KamakhyaTemple is Durga Puja. A festival unique to this place is called Ambuvaci festival of fertility. The festival is celebrated on the occasion of the menstrual period of Goddess. The temple is closed for three days during this time and then opened with great pomp and festivity on the fourth day.
Legend behind the Shakti Peeth of Kamakhya Temple
According to the legend, Devi Sati, the daughter of King Daksha, married Lord Shiva against the wishes of her father. Daksha had forbidden her from coming back. Consequently, Lord Shiva and Devi Sati were not in good terms with King Daksha. One fine day King Daksha organized a big ‘yagna’ and purposely failed to invite Devi Sati and Lord Shiva for it. Sati offended by this move of her father, burned herself on the yagna fire with the intention to impure it. When Lord Shiva came to know about this accident, he beheaded King Daksha and carried the burnt body of Devi Sati on his shoulders all over the world and performed Tandav. Gods worried by the rising rage of Lord Shiva asked Lord Vishnu for help. Lord Vishnu secretly followed Lord Shiva everywhere and slowly cut the different parts of the Devi’s burned body lying on the shoulders of Shiva until the last one was gone. Wherever the body parts of Devi Sati fell, were confirmed as Shakti Peeths. According to myths, Nilachal Hill is the place where the ‘yoni’ (womb) of Devi Sati fell. The place where the body part fell became Kamakhya temple. The temple does not uphold an idol but a stone sculpture which symbolizes Goddess Sati.
Assam State Zoo
Assam State Museum is a multipurpose museum, established in 1940 depicting the cultural heritage of the city. It has distinct sections categorized under the field of archeology, epigraphy, numismatics and iconography. The artifacts put to display in the museum include paintings, old textiles, arms and weapons, stone sculptures and ethnographic objects.
Umananda Temple is the most picturesque temple of Guwahati, as it is located on Peacock Island which is in the middle of Brahmaputra River. The landscaped temple Umananda was constructed by By Phukan Garhganya Handique in 17th century. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva although beautiful sculptures and engravings depict other gods and goddesses including Ganesh, Surya and Devi to give company to him. The temple is accessible only through ferries and motor boat from Umananda Ghat.
Guwahati Zoo cum Botanical Garden
Guwahati Zoo cum Botanical Garden is five kilometers from Guwahati railway station. The zoo has excellent collection of mammals and vertebrates. The main attraction of the zoo is one-horned rhino. Other animals include leopards and tigers. The visiting hours are from 7:00 to 17:00 in summers and 8:00 to 16:30 in winters.
Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakshetra
Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakshetra was constructed with the objective to showcase the local Assamese culture and heritage. It was named after Srimanta Sankardeva, a Vaishanava saint of Assam. The building is a multi-Arts complex. It houses many sections dedicated to different aspects of Assamese culture ¬¬¬¬–Open Air Theatre, Central Museum, Artist’s Village, Sahitya Bhawan and Lalit-kala Bhawan. Central Museum exhibits day to day objects used by ethnic groups of Assam while Open Air Theatre is the ‘Globe’ of Guwahati. Folk dance, drama and music festivals are organized here for the spectators. Kalakshetra is the house of many rare books and manuscripts of Assamese culture. One will also find a section dedicated to sculptures. Complete Assamese culture endeavored to be portrayed in a single platform-Srimanta Sankardeva.
Pragjyotika Assam State Emporium
Pragjyotika Assam State Emporium is the shopping platform for cane and bamboo products in Guwahati. The Emporium is run by government to make the local bamboo artifacts and handloom products accessible to the tourists and visitors. The products of the emporium make tribal shawls baskets and brassware.
Kachapukhuri is a natural pond with large concentration of turtles situated in Guwahati. The presence of turtles in such an altitude is a baffling mystery for the scientists. The natural beauty and turtle presence makes Kachapukhuri one of the most attractive tourist sites of Guwahati.
‘Navgraha’ means nine planets in Hindi language. The temple is loyal to the name and we have a Navagraha Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva who is worshipped in the form of nine shivlings. Each shivling represents nine planetary gods of Hindus-Ravi, Chandra, Sutra, Mangal, Budd, Sani, Brihaspati, Surya and Soma, Rahu and Ketu (was added later). Each shivling is wrapped with different color cloth, representing the nine colors of nine planets.
The temple is believed to be constructed by King Rajeshwar Singh in 1752.
Cruising on Brahmaputra River
Visit to Guwahati is incomplete without exploring the mighty River which plays an important role in the geography of entire Assam. River Brahmaputra cross-sections Assam into two halves. Naturally the coastal regions thrive with important cities. Cruising on Brahmaputra will unite the Assam visiting experience as it will pass you through important cities of Assam without any extra effort of visiting each of them personally. There are many sanctuaries on the way.Customised tours are arranged for these sanctuaries while cruising.Ofcourse Brahmaputra holds surprises for its visitors. Islands bloom on its surface and some are of exquisite beauty. Majuli being one of them. Brahmaputra is the longest river of India and Himalayan too. One will find some astounding collection of aquatic species in the river.
Sualkuchi is weaving centre of Northeast. It is village which produces large quantity of silk fabric in whole Eastern India. Sometimes called the Manchester of East. Almost the entire population of the village is engaged in the activity of producing silk fabrics. They specialize in Muga silk. Sualkuchi is 32 kilometers away from Guwahati.
Chandubi Lake is a natural lagoon located 64 kilometers from Guwahati. Tourists treat the place as a picnic spot away from the hustle of Guwahati city. The lake is open to fishing and rowing.