Guwahati has always been a transit town for us. Living in Shillong, it, after all, provided us with both rail and air connection to the rest of the country. We have been going to Guwahati forever now in order to hop into a train or an airplane.
Much later did we decide to ‘stop over’ in Guwahati and check out some of it’s important places. And pleasantly discovered that it is not entirely without its share of charms. I will list down below what I like most about the place. Experiences that you shouldn’t miss
Cruise along the Brahmaputra River. Most boats along the banks of the Brahmaputra river take you for short sunset ‘cruises’. You must go for the rides that come with live music and dinner. It is divine. Serene and refreshing.
Kamakhya Mandir. Perched atop the Neelachal hill about 10 kms from the main city of Guwahati, Kamakhya Temple has been made a pilgrimage of sorts for all those who come here to make wishes, especially that of a child. For, folklore has it that dead Sati’s genitalia (yoni) fell on this hill while her husband Shiva was carrying her corpse. This made the hill turn blue, and hence the name Neelachal (blue). What I like most about the temple is the main sanctorum (garbhagriha) that is located in a cave below the ground level. A narrow flight of steps lead to this structure. An underground perennial spring fills the little temple-space with water all year round. History has it that the temple was built in the 16th century. When I come to Kamakhya, I marvel how men have been driven by faith to discover/make things in the name of God from such ancient times. Do go there just to see what faith can do to man.
Assam Silk and/or Muga Sarees: Well, I never let go of an opportunity to buy sarees. And since every region in India is so culturally rich, I absolutely make sure I have one of every state 😉 On a serious note, Guwahati is famous for its Muga and Assam silk sarees. Here, you will get them at just the ‘right’ prices and the variety on display can drive you to buy more than what you planned. Not without worth though. Wear the darned saree in any other part of the country, and you are sure to make heads turn!! Head to Paltan Bazar or Pan Bazar for a bountiful choice.
Assamese Hand-woven Stoles: Oh, I love these stoles. Part silk, part cotton, they look very sophisticated. Team it with your salwar-suit, jeans, skirt or saree in the right weather and you won’t go wrong. Promise. They do give that ‘intellectual’ look. Not for the frivolous definitely.