Guwahati, the capital city of the
northeastern state of Assam, was formerly known as Pragjyotishpur (the City of Eastern Light). Its etymological root is derived from two Assamese words, "Guwa," meaning areca nut and "Haat," meaning market. Couched between the picturesque hills of the eastern flanks of the Himalayan mountain range, Guwahati houses the political capital of the state, Dispur. The gateway to the seven other northeastern states, Guwahati is a vital tourist link point, besides being an attraction in itself.
Tourist Attractions in Guwahati
There are several places to see and visit in and around Guwahati.
Guwahati is particularly famous for its Kamakhya temple situated atop the Nilachal hill, at a distance of 10 km from the railway station. Noted to be the most sacred among the tantrik shrines of Shakti worship in the world, Kamakhya, was built in the 10th century by the Koch king, Naranarayan. It is a common practice here to offer animal sacrifice to appease the Goddess. Above Kamakhya is another small temple, Bhubaneshwari, from where one can have a bird's eye view of the city.
The Shiva temple of Umananda, reached by motor boats and public ferries from Umananda Ghat, stands on an island in the middle of the Brahmaputra.
A top another hill in east Guwahati is the Navagraha temple-the "temple of the nine planets,"-an ancient seat of astrology and astronomy. Housed in a red beehive-shaped dome, the central lingam is encircled by further nine representing the planets (graha)-Sun (Surya, Ravi), Moon (Chandra, Soma), Mercury (Buddh), Venus (Sukra), Mars (Mangal), Jupiter (Brhaspati) and Saturn (Sani). Two more were added, Rahu and Ketu, the dragon's head and the dragon's tail, or the ascending and descending nodes of the moon.
Nearby, there is the Vashistha Ashram, an interesting old shrine, with plenty of verdure and three beautiful streams, Lalita, Kanta and Sandhya. It is at a distance of 12 km from the railway station and is said to have been the abode of sage Vashistha. Several other temples like the Ugratara temple, famous for its golden idol and buffalo sacrifices, are also strewn across the city.
Besides these religious sites, one must visit the Guwahati Zoo, which is the largest natural zoo of the country. The various museums-the State Museum, Anthropological Museum, Forest Museum, and Cottage Industries Museum-are treasure houses of Assam's rich cultural past. The Guwahati planetarium, located on MG Road, is one of the finest in the country.
To complete one's tour of Guwahati, one must visit the Srimanta Sankardev Kalakshetra. Built in the 1990's, this modern complex at Panjabari provides a one-stop review of the artistic excellence of the region.
Accommodation in Guwahati
There are enough decent accommodation options in Guwahati and the scene is getting better every passing day. There are a number of star category hotels catering to the needs of tourists coming to explore Guwahati or interesting in exploring the scenic region around.
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