Guwahati is the state capital of Assam.
Guwahati is the business centre of the state
and the gateway to the north-eastern states.
Most of state Government offices and certain
offices are located in the city. Guwahati is
a historical place and several ancient
monuments and structures, ancient Hindu
temples and places of tourist attractions
are located in and around Guwahati. Once
known as "Pragiyotishpura" or Light of the
East, the most striking feature of Guwahati
(also spelt as Gauhati), is the Brahmaputra,
whose swollen sandy channel is so wide that
the far shore is often rendered invisible.
Of its many mysterious temples, 'Kamakhya'
and 'Navagraha' both occupy commanding
positions on hilltops while 'Umananda' sits
on a small island in the middle of the
A Tea City
Guwahati's main business, tea is booming with the
new Assam tea auction centre holding auctions that
previously took place as far away as Calcutta and
London. The large oil refinery at Noonmati, on the
northern outskirts, symbolizes Guwahati's recent
growth and prosperity. The busy central market area
contrasts sharply with the almost rural riverside
feel northeast of the centre, and the surrounding
hills rising beyond the coconut palms give Guwahati
a fairly appealing atmosphere.
Although strictly speaking Guwahati is split
in two by the Brahmaputra - only crossed by
the Saraighat Bridge and the ferries - "Guwahati"
is taken to refer to the main town south of
the river, while north Guwahati is virtually
a separate town. The main roads out of town
are the Assam trunk road, to upper Assam and
the Guwahati - Shillong road to Meghalaya.
Assam State Museum
Archaeological and ethnographic displays are
one of the major attractions in Assam's
state museum, situated near the centre of
city. The collection includes stone and
copper plate inscriptions dating from the
5th century, a 12th century sculpture of 'Surya',
terracotta pieces and costumes.
The Shiva temple of Umananda stands on an
island bluff in the middle of the
Brahmaputra. Its location, at the top of a
flight of steep steps up from the beach, is
more dramatic than the temple itself.
Ferries and motor launches leave from
Umananda Ghat, on the shore between the
State Bank of India and the Ashok Hotel.
On the commanding Nilachal hill, overlooking the
river 8-km west of the centre, the important Kali
temple of Kamakhya, with its beehive-shaped 'Shikhara',
is a fine example of the distinctive Assamese style
of architecture. As one of the 'Shaktipiths', it
marks the place where Sati's 'Yoni' (vulva) landed
when her body fell to earth in 51 pieces, and is one
of the three most important tantric temples in
India. A short walk up the hill brings one to a
smaller and emptier temple with great views of
Guwahati and the Brahmaputra.
East of the town centre, atop another hill, is the
atmospheric Navagraha temple popularly known as the
"Temple of the Nine Planets", an ancient seat of
astrology and astronomy - surrounded by large trees
that shelter tribes of monkeys. Housed in a single
red dome, again in the beehive style, the central
lingam is encircled by a further nine representing
Tirupati Balaji Temple
The holy Ancient Temple of Lord Tirupati Balaji in
Tirupati, Tamil Nadu has recently constructed a
Temple at Betkuchi, Beltola (Guwahati). It's a holy
place for the pilgrims from the entire North East.
Its a unique piece aristically designed having
temples of Lord Ganesha, Lord Balaji, Goddess Durga
and a beautiful park with a holy atmosphere.
Further from the centre of the town, the Srimanta
Sankardeva Kalakshetra, on Shillong road in the
Panjabari district, was opened in late 1998 in order
to celebrate the cultural identity of the Assamese
by promoting dance, drama, music and art.
Sankaradeva was a saint, poet, scholar, social
reformer and preacher largely responsible for the
15th century Assamese renaissance. It houses a
museum, art gallery, open-air theatre and
traditional Vaishnavite temple.
Janardan Temple, built in the style of Hindu and
Buddhist architecture, at Shukaleswar hillock near
Shukaleswar Ghat of Brahmaputra, the heart of town,
is worth seeing. It was renovated anew in 17th
Assam State Zoo
Guwahati's leafy and well-managed zoo and botanical
gardens are 5-km east of the centre. Animals include
the one-horned rhino, the state symbol of Assam, as
well as tigers and leopards.
A little further is the Railway Township of Pandu,
named after the King Pandu. Over here is situated
the temple of Pandunath on the hillock. While in
forest exile, Pandavas came and lived here in the
guise of Ganesha. The images of Lord Ganesha and 'Pancha
Pandava' brothers are present in the temple besides
other images. The image of Nrisingha (also spelt as
'Nrusimha') incarnation maintains a difference from
others. Further west, the sunset at Brahmaputra is
Besides a picturesque waterfall 11-km southeast of
Guwahati, two small red-domed temples at Basistha
(also spelt as Vashistha), in Assamese beehive
style, commemorate Vashistha Muni, the author of the
Ramayana. Nestling within an impressive grove of
trees, with rock carvings in the stream to add to
the air of antiquity.
Some 40-km north of Guwahati, Madan Kamdev was the
site of a tantric temple of 'Shakti' (Durga) dating
back to the Pallava dynasty (11th and 12th
centuries). The temple, mentioned in the tantric
scriptures known as the "Yogini Tantra", was
evidently destroyed, though the cause is unknown.
Much of the site remains unexcavated, but a museum
preserves many finds including figures in various
erotic postures, indeed some archeologists claim
only Khajuraho rivals the expressiveness of its
HOW TO GET THERE
Air: Guwahati airport is situated 18-km east of the
centre, and is served by taxis and airport buses,
including those run by Indian airlines.
Rail: The railway station is in the centre of town
with the state bus stand right behind and operates a
very useful left luggage service. The back of the
railway station leads into the Paltan Bazaar area,
from which most of the private bus companies
Road: Guwahati is the connector city of NH - 31, 37
and 40 with the other cities of India by road. Buses
ply from Guwahati around the cities of Northeast
India by National Highways. State Transport Express
and Super Express buses of Assam, Meghalaya,
Arunachal, Nagaland, and North Bengal ply from
Local Transport: Guwahati has an efficient and
extensive system of minibuses too. Cycle rickshaws
are easy to find around the centre of the town. The
main terminal for river ferries is available at
Temperature: Summer Max. 35°C - 22°C
Winter Max. 26°C - 10°C
Rainfall: 182 cms. (May - September)
Clothing: Cottons - Summer & Wollens - Winter
STD Code: 0361
Madan Kamdev: 40-km