A Day in Guwahati – Gateway to North-East India

Guwahati is the largest city of Assam and North-Eastern India. It is one of the fast growing cities situated on the banks of river Brahmaputra and considered to be the gateway to North-East India. You can cover the city in just a day and is one of the popular weekend getaways for the population in neighboring states.  Here is a detailed itinerary of how you can spend a day in Guwahati.

A day in Guwahati - Bells in the Kamakhya Temple
Bells in the Kamakhya Temple

A Day in Guwahati: An Introduction

Best time to VisitOctober – March, one can visit in April as well but the temperatures are on the higher side.
ClimateSubtropical humid climate with average temperature ranging between 19° C and 28° C
Getting there (By Road)National Highway 31 connects Guwahati to the states of Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
National Highway 37 connects Guwahati with almost all the major cities of Assam.
Getting there (By Flight)Direct Flights from Kolkata, New Delhi, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Bagdogra, Agartala and Imphal
Getting there (By Train)Well connected to all the major cities in India by train
Places to VisitKamakhya Temple, Assam State Museum, Umananda Devaloi, Brahmaputra Sunset River Cruise

Just as you leave the airport and move towards the city, you will see a statue of the famous singer and Padmabhushan awardee Bhupen Hazarika. A basic characteristic of the ethnic music of Assam is its descending scale which distinguishes it from the raga-based or folk music from the rest of India.

A Day in Guwahati: Places to Visit

Kamakhya Temple

Exterior of the Kamakhya Temple
Exterior of the Kamakhya Temple

Kamakhya Temple, located at a distance of 18 km from the Guwahati airport,is the ancient Shakti temple of Goddess Kamakhya in Nilachal hill Made by Ahoms (an important seat of Tantric and Vajrayana Buddhism). The temple consists of four chambers: garbhagriha and three mandapas locally called calanta, pancharatna and natamandira aligned from east to west. Symbolic to this temple is a very special form of Sindoor, available here, made from rock and called Kamakhya Sindoor, which is believed to be a blessing bestowed by Kamakhya Devi herself, to the wearer.

A carved statue of the Goddess Kamakhya in the temple premises
A carved statue of the Goddess Kamakhya in the temple premises
A day in Guwahati - Intricate carvings on the outer walls of the temple
A day in Guwahati – Intricate carvings on the outer walls of the temple

Note: You can visit this temple early in the morning to avoid long queues. Also, the sun sets around 5-5:30 pm in the evening, so better to start early. You will have to climb a fleet of steps to reach the Kamakhya temple which are flanked by small shops that sell Pooja items and Prasad.

Assam State Museum

A day in Guwahati - Assam State Museum
Assam State Museum
Sculptures in Assam State Museum
Sculptures in Assam State Museum
Image Source

After taking blessings of Goddess Kamakhya, you can visit the Assam State Museum which is at 9 km distance. It was established by the Kamarupa Anusandhan Samiti (Assam Research Society) in 1940. You can witness a wide range of exhibits displayed viz., Epigraphy, Sculptures, Miscellaneous, Natural History, Crafts, Anthropology & Folk Art & Arms section. The sculptures from the Assam region fall into four principal categories – stone, wood, metal and terracotta. The collections which are on display here, are very rare.

Assam State Museum - Traditional Assamese Musical Instruments
Assam State Museum – Traditional Assamese Musical Instruments
Earthen Mask - Assam State Museum
Earthen Mask – Assam State Museum
Image Source
Timings: Summers: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM, Winters: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM 
(Closed on Mondays, 2nd, and 4th Saturday and Government Holidays)
Entry Fee: Rs. 20/- for Adults, Rs. 10/- for Students, Children below 10 years – free, Rs. 100/- for Foreigners

Umananda Devaloi

A day in Guwahati - Peacock Island
Peacock Island – Guwahati
Umananda Temple - Guwahati
Umananda Temple – Guwahati
Image Source

Next you can visit the Umananda Devaloi, a Shiva temple located at the Peacock Island in the middle of river Brahmaputra just opposite the office of the Deputy Commissioner of Kamrup or the Kachari Ghat in Guwahati. It is about 1.3 km from the Assam State Museum. This is the smallest inhabited river island in the world. Country boats or ferries are available at the banks of the Brahmaputra river that will take you to the island. The round trip takes about 2.5 – 3 hours from the river bank. You need climb up few steps to reach the main temple.

Timings : 5:30 AM – 6:00 PM
Government Ferry charges: Rs. 20/- per head to and fro

Brahmaputra Sunset River Cruise

Beautiful Sunset from the River Cruise
Beautiful Sunset from the River Cruise

Once you return back from the Umananda Temple, enjoy a peaceful Brahmaputra Sunset River Cruise. Grab a ticket and head to the upper deck which will give you a breathtaking view of the sunset. The cruise gives you a mesmerizing and relaxing experience when it takes you around in the Brahmaputra. The live music on the deck coupled with the cool breeze blowing across gives you a great time with your family and friends.

Namami Brahmaputra River Festival 2017
Namami Brahmaputra River Festival 2017
A day in Guwahati - View of the riverfront from the deck
View of the riverfront from the deck

When I visited Guwahati in April, 2017, it was hosting the Namami Brahmaputra festival which celebrated the beauty of the Brahmaputra river. The five day programme hosted activities to showcase Assam’s art, heritage and culture.

Timings: 5 PM and 7 PM
Ticket Cost: Alfresco Grand runs the cruise service and charges about Rs. 350 /- per head. Extra charges for food on the deck.
Duration: 1 hour

Purva Tirupati Balaji Temple

Purva Balaji Temple - Guwahati
Purva Balaji Temple – Guwahati

In the end, if time permits, do visit the Balaji Temple which is a replica of the Tirupati Venkateswara Temple in Southern India. It is also known as the Purva Tirupati Balaji Temple as it is located in Eastern India. It is located at a distance of 10 km from the city center and on your way to the Guwahati Airport.

Guwahati is also known as the “city of temples” due to the existence of many ancient temples here, a few of which we already saw. Shopaholics will also find this city a hub for shopping both contemporary and traditional items especially the “pat silk” and “muga silk”, traditional Assamese jewellery, etc.

Everything about this city makes it a most sought-after place and is becoming a must visit for tourists in India and abroad.

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