PlacesAssamGuwahati: The Gateway to Northeast India

Guwahati: The Gateway to Northeast India

Guwahati, the largest city in the Indian state of Assam, is a bustling metropolis that serves as the gateway to the enchanting and diverse region of Northeast India. Nestled along the banks of the mighty Brahmaputra River, this city is a vibrant blend of modernity and tradition, with a rich history that dates back over two millennia.

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    Guwahati is not only the political and economic hub of Assam but also the cultural and spiritual center of the northeastern region.

    Historical Significance

    Guwahati, formerly known as Pragjyotishpura and later as Gauhati, holds a significant place in Indian history. It is believed to be one of the ancient cities mentioned in the Indian epics, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. According to legends, Lord Krishna is said to have made his first marriage proposal to Princess Rukmini of Vidarbha here, at the Kamakhya Temple, which remains one of the city’s most revered religious sites.

    The history of the city is tangled up with numerous dynasties and empires. It was ruled by the Kamrupa dynasty in ancient times and later became a part of the Mughal Empire. Guwahati also witnessed the Ahom rule, a dynasty that ruled Assam for six centuries, leaving a profound impact on the region’s culture and heritage. The city has seen its fair share of battles and conflicts, but it has always managed to retain its significance in the northeastern landscape.

    Cultural Diversity

    Guwahati is a melting pot of cultures, languages, and traditions. Assamese is the predominant language, but the city is home to a diverse population that speaks a multitude of languages, including Bengali, Bodo, Nepali, and various tribal dialects. This linguistic diversity reflects the rich tapestry of cultures that coexist in the city.

    The Bihu festival, celebrated with great enthusiasm, is a highlight of Assamese culture. It marks the Assamese New Year and is celebrated with dance, music, and feasting. Guwahati’s cultural diversity is also evident in its religious landscape. The city is home to numerous temples, mosques, and churches, making it a symbol of India’s religious pluralism.

    Landmarks and Tourist Attractions

    Guwahati offers a plethora of tourist attractions that cater to the interests of history buffs, nature enthusiasts, and spiritual seekers alike. Some of the must-visit places include:

    • Kamakhya Temple: This ancient Hindu temple dedicated to the goddess Kamakhya is one of the holiest sites in India. It is located atop the Nilachal Hill and draws pilgrims and tourists from all over the country.
    • Umananda Temple: Situated on the Peacock Island in the Brahmaputra River, this temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The island offers stunning views of the river and the city.
    • Assam State Museum: This museum is a treasure trove of Assamese history and culture, showcasing artifacts, sculptures, and manuscripts.
    • Assam State Zoo: Home to a wide variety of animals, this zoo is a perfect spot for families and wildlife enthusiasts.
    • Nehru Park: A serene park along the Brahmaputra River, it offers a picturesque view of the river and provides a peaceful retreat for visitors.
    • Srimanta Sankardev Kalakshetra: A cultural complex dedicated to the great Assamese polymath and saint, Srimanta Sankardev, this site features museums, a heritage village, and a cultural center.
    • Navagraha Temple: This temple, located on Chitrachal Hill, is dedicated to the nine celestial bodies or the Navagrahas in Hindu astrology.
    • Hajo: A small town near Guwahati, Hajo is known for its religious diversity, with sites like the Hayagriva Madhava Temple, Powa Mecca, and the Kedareswara Temple.

    Natural Beauty of Guwahati

    Guwahati is not just about its cultural heritage; it’s also blessed with breathtaking natural beauty. The Brahmaputra River, one of the world’s major rivers, flows through the city, providing a stunning backdrop to its landscapes. The city is surrounded by lush green hills, and its proximity to the Kaziranga National Park, Manas National Park, and Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary makes it an ideal base for exploring Assam’s wildlife and biodiversity.

    • Brahmaputra River Cruise: A cruise on the Brahmaputra River is an unforgettable experience. It allows you to witness the mesmerizing sunsets over the river and observe the diverse avian life that thrives in the riverine ecosystem.
    • Saraighat Bridge: This historical bridge over the Brahmaputra River is not only a marvel of engineering but also provides fantastic views of the river and the surrounding landscape.
    • Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary: Known as the “Mini Kaziranga,” this sanctuary is famous for its one-horned rhinoceros population and is a short drive from Guwahati.
    • Deepor Beel: A freshwater lake on the outskirts of Guwahati, Deepor Beel is a haven for birdwatchers, with over 220 species of birds documented.
    • Botanical Gardens: Guwahati boasts several beautiful botanical gardens where visitors can explore a wide variety of plant species.
    • Cherrapunji: While not in Guwahati itself, a day trip to Cherrapunji, famous for being one of the wettest places on Earth, is a popular excursion. The drive offers breathtaking views of the Khasi Hills and the Bangladesh plains.


    Assam, with its unique blend of flavors, offers a tantalizing culinary experience. Guwahati, as the state’s largest city, is a hub for Assamese cuisine and various other regional dishes. Some of the culinary highlights of Guwahati include:

    • Assam Tea: Assam is renowned for its world-famous tea. A visit to Guwahati is incomplete without savoring a cup of Assam tea, which is known for its strong, brisk flavor.
    • Assamese Thali: Try an Assamese thali to sample a variety of traditional dishes, including rice, dal, fish, and a range of chutneys and side dishes.
    • Fish Delicacies: Assam’s proximity to the Brahmaputra River ensures an abundance of fish in the cuisine. Assamese fish curry and fish preparations like Masor Tenga (sour fish curry) are a must-try.
    • Pitha: Assamese sweets made from rice flour, known as pitha, are a delightful treat. These come in various shapes and flavors and are often served during festivals.
    • Street Food: Guwahati’s streets are filled with vendors selling delicious snacks like momos, jhal muri, and various chaats.
    • Bamboo Shoots: Assam is famous for its use of bamboo shoots in various dishes. Bamboo shoot curry is a unique and flavorful dish to try.
    • Local Brews: Apong (rice beer) and Xaj (rice whiskey) are traditional Assamese alcoholic beverages that are worth a taste for those looking to explore local flavors.

    Shopping in Guwahati

    Guwahati offers a range of shopping experiences for tourists, from vibrant local markets to modern malls. Several well-liked locations for shopping include:

    • Fancy Bazaar: This bustling market is known for its wide variety of goods, including clothing, jewelry, handicrafts, and traditional Assamese products.
    • Pan Bazaar: This area is home to many bookstores and shops selling electronics and garments.
    • Ganesh Guri: A modern shopping hub with malls, this area offers the latest fashion, accessories, and entertainment options.
    • Assam Silk: Guwahati is known for its silk products, particularly Muga and Eri silk. Visitors can purchase exquisite silk sarees and fabrics from various outlets in the city.
    • Handicrafts: Local artisans create beautiful bamboo and cane products, masks, pottery, and traditional Assamese jewelry, making these perfect souvenirs.
    • Tea and Spices: Assam tea, spices like black pepper, and traditional Assamese spice mixes are popular items for those interested in culinary souvenirs.

    Transportation Facilities at Guwahati

    Guwahati is well-connected by air, rail, and road, making it accessible to travelers from all over the country.

    • Air: Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport is the primary airport serving Guwahati. It connects the city to major Indian cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, and Bangalore.
    • Rail: Guwahati Junction is a major railway station in the northeastern region and is well-connected to cities across India. Trains like the Rajdhani Express and the Northeast Express provide convenient connections to the city.
    • Road: Guwahati is well-connected by road, and National Highways 27 and 37 pass through the city. It is possible to drive to Guwahati from nearby states and major cities in the region.
    • Public Transport: The city has a well-developed public transport system, including buses and shared taxis. Auto-rickshaws and cycle rickshaws are also common modes of local transportation.

    Safety and Travel Tips for your next Guwahati visit

    Guwahati is a generally safe city for travelers, but it’s always wise to follow these tips for a smooth and enjoyable visit:

    • Respect Local Customs: Assam has its own set of traditions and customs. It’s important to respect local practices, especially when visiting religious sites.
    • Language: While Assamese is the predominant language, many people in Guwahati also speak English, Bengali, and Hindi. Learning a few basic Assamese phrases can be helpful.
    • Currency: The currency used in Guwahati is the Indian Rupee (INR). ATMs and banks are easily accessible for currency exchange.
    • Weather: Guwahati experiences a humid subtropical climate. Be prepared for monsoon rains between June and September, and plan your visit accordingly.
    • Health Precautions: Ensure you have adequate medical insurance and vaccinations if required. It’s advisable to drink bottled water and take necessary precautions against insect-borne diseases.
    • Wildlife: If you plan to visit wildlife sanctuaries in the region, follow the safety guidelines provided by park authorities.

    FAQs on Guwahati: The Gateway to Northeast India

    What is the best time to visit Guwahati?

    The ideal time to visit Guwahati is during the winter months, from October to March. The weather is pleasant and suitable for outdoor activities. However, if you are interested in witnessing the lush beauty of the region, you can plan your visit during the monsoon season (June to September). Be prepared for heavy rainfall during this period.

    How can I reach Guwahati from other major Indian cities?

    Guwahati is well-connected by air, rail, and road. You can reach Guwahati by taking a flight to Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, by train to Guwahati Junction, or by road via National Highways 27 and 37. The city is accessible from various major cities in India.

    Is it safe to explore Guwahati as a solo traveler or with family?

    Guwahati is generally a safe destination for both solo travelers and families. However, like any other place, it's important to take common-sense precautions. Respect local customs, be cautious with your belongings, and avoid venturing into isolated areas at night. Overall, Guwahati is known for its hospitality and friendliness toward tourists.

    What are the must-try dishes in Guwahati's cuisine?

    Guwahati offers a delightful culinary experience. Some of the must-try dishes include Assam tea, Assamese thali (featuring rice, dal, fish, and various chutneys), fish delicacies like Masor Tenga, pitha (Assamese sweets), and local brews such as Apong (rice beer) and Xaj (rice whiskey).

    Can I explore wildlife and nature near Guwahati?

    Yes, Guwahati is surrounded by natural beauty and wildlife sanctuaries. You can take a Brahmaputra River cruise, visit the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary for rhinoceros sightings, explore the serene Deepor Beel for birdwatching, and plan day trips to nearby national parks like Kaziranga and Manas to witness diverse wildlife and lush landscapes. Guwahati offers plenty of opportunities for nature enthusiasts

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