Guwahati is a sprawling city beside the Brahmputra River in the North Eastern State Assam in India. It is popularly known as Gateway to North East India. If one is travelling to North East, one may cross this city on the way.The city has ancient history and it is considered one of the ancient cities in Asia named Pragjyotishpura and today’s Guwahati.
Guwahati is one of the major cities of Assam. There are so many ancient Hindu temples in the city names as the “City of Temples” and Dispur – the capital of Assam is in the circuit city region located within Guwahati.
During my trip to Manas National park, I spent half day in this city and explored few places before catching flight back to home. Here is the list of places I visited in half day which you can also do if you just have to pass through this city.
Kamkhya Temple Guwahati:
The most sought out site in the Guwahati is Kamkhya Temple. It is hindu temple dedicated to goddess Kamkhya and is one of the oldest of the 51 Shakti Pithas according to hindu mythology and so many people specially visit Guwahati to visit it. The temple is said to be 2000 years old (destroyed and built several times) and considered to be sacred among Hindu Pilgrims.
Legends says that Kamakhya Temple denotes the spot where Sati used to retire in secret to satisfy her amour with Lord Shiva, and it was also the place where her yoni(vagina) fell after Shiva danced with the corpse of Sati.
Located on the Nilachal hill in Guwahati, the deity of the temple, Kamkhya Devi is revered as the ‘Bleeding Goddess’. It is believed that the ‘Garbhgriha‘ (sanctum) of the temple houses the mythical womb and vagina of the Hindu goddess Shakti.
Contrary to the shaming treatment that menstruation gets elsewhere in India, here it is revered as the ability of a woman to conceive. In a Country like India where menstruation is referred as unholy it is to note that Kamkhya temple has progressive approach to celebrate woman hood.
There is No statute of Shakti in the temple Complex, it is ‘Yoni’ (vagina) located in the corner of the cave which is the object of reverence. This is very unique temple which one must visit while in Guwahati.
It is also major centre for Tantric practices in India and attracts thousands of tantra devotees in an annual festival known as the Ambubachi Mela. Therefore you may like it or not you will see many sacrifices in the temple.
Temple Timings: There is No defined visiting hours for the Pilgrims and Tourists. They can visit whenever the Temple Remains open, which is from 5:30 in the morning to 10:00 PM in the night. On Special Occasions, these timings get extended. To avoid rush it is suggested to visit during afternoon and there is separate entry gate where you can have Darshan from far away.
How to Reach:
Kamkhya temple is located at hill top which is 9 KMs from railway station. You can easily get public buses from many points in Guwahati and it will drop you at the base of hill. From there, shared jeeps are available to the temple (INR 10) which is approx 3 kms from the base.
Umandanda Temple/Peacock Island:
Umananda is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva located in the middle of Brahmputra river. The temple is said to be built in 17th century by Ahom King Gadapani on this picturesque Brahmaputra isle, also called Peacock island.
It is said that worship here on the Amavasya day when it falls on Monday brings the highest bliss. The temple has inherited some rock-cut figures, which speak passionately of the masterly skill of the Assamese craftsmen. This is one of the mostly visited temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. The island is also a sanctuary for an endangered population of Golden Langurs.
Apart from visiting the temple it is good place to get a nice view of Brahmputra River which flows around it.
How to Reach: To reach Umananda island, one has to cross the river in a boat. The ferry service is available from 7 AM in morning to 5 PM in evening. One can hire Private ferry [INR 120 per person] from Sukreshwar Ghat or Fancy Bazaar Ghat. You can take Public ferry [INR 10] from Kachari Ghat. It takes 10-15 minutes to reach here and Sunset is the best time to take ferry ride here.
Walk along the Brahmaputra River Side:
Picture Credit: Ketki Gadre from Ecokats blog
The waterway side is a majestic spot to view in the morning or evenings with boats travelling between main Guwahati and North Guwahati. You can access the river from Pan Bazaar around sukreshwar Ghat.The peaceful surrounding will make you to sit under a tree and watch the boats travel along the way.Sunset is the best time to be here.
Visit Quirky Cafes when in Guwahati:
If you are tired from whole day’s exploration, this place will give you relaxation while having delicious Lunch or dinner. We bunch of girls visited ‘Cafe Craft’ and we loved the food here. There is handicraft store inside the cafe which may tempt you to buy some local crafts.I loved the interiors and decorations at this place which gives worth the name of it. Other than this you can check 11th Avenue cafe Bistro in Digholi Pukhuri which is also famous for its music and yumilicious food.
Apart from all listed places if you have full day with you ; you can explore below mentioned places in Guwahati:
- Shankardeva Kalashetra: It is a place mostly for various performances performed by artists and a pretty good place to visit for some peaceful time.
- Local Bazaars: There are few famous Bazaars for shopping in Guwahati which are Fancy Bazaar, Pan Bazaar and Paltan Bazaar. You can buy Assam handicrafts, Silk and Assam tea from here as souvenirs.
- Pobitora Wildlife Sanctury: It is wildlife reserve 48 Kms from Guwahati and famous for its one horn Rhino with its highest Populations in the world. It is landlocked by Assamese villages from every side of it with the traditional Assamese culture.Read more about safari experience here.
- Hajo City: Just 30 Kms from Guwahati, this Place is visited by Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims due to its ancient History. One of the major attraction is Hayagriva Mahadev Temple. There is a Muslim mosque located in the Hajo city known as the Poa Mecca. The town is also famous throughout Asia for its bell metal industry and one of the largest producers of silk clothes in Assam.
- Sual kuchi: The town is famous for the Assam silk; located 10 kms from Hajo/30 Kms from Guwahati. It is a weaving village where you can see the rhythm of looms by men and women at work.If you are textile lover, this is must visit Place.
- Madan Kamdev- Located nearby Guwahati on the north-bank of the Brahmaputra and dedicated to the Lord Shiva, the temple is the largest part of a complex surrounded by lush greenery and based on top of a hill. The place is under ASI as so many erotic sculptures are found and it houses in the museum built there.
Guwahati is probably just remains as a base to explore nearby other places of Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh. Certainly Guwahati doesn’t deserve for pure sightseeing purpose but one can combine it with other nearby trips.
Let me know your views in the Comments.