Guwahati is the gateway to the Northeast of India and the largest city in the region. Guwahati holds the main international airport for the Northeast making it the starting point for a sojourn to the lesser travelled and tourist area of India. The city sits along the south bank of the Brahmaputra River. The city is sprawling with people, traffic, honking horns, cows in the street and goats and pigs running on the side of the road. This city is full of color, noise and life in full speed ahead. There are many temples, idols on the roadways, single-story traditional houses and colonial-era mansions. This whole area of India is overwhelming and beautiful all at the same time. The markets line the street as well as monkeys in the trees. I lived in Guwahati for a season and it was my first introduction to India so it will always hold a special place in my heart. The people invited us in as family and our neighbor women would invite us in to sit on their bed and drink chai and brush our hair. Even though we couldn’t communicate in the same language we would laugh and sit and pray together. I love this country and this city is a special place to explore the majesty that is India.
How to get there
Fly into Guwahati
The Gopinath Bordoloi airport in Guwahati is located on NH-40 right on the way to Shillong. A right turn on the main road outside the airport will take you to Shillong and the left one will take you to Guwahati. Guwahati is the capital of Assam state in Northeast India. The airport is about a 50 minute drive outside the city center.
Guwahati Airport to City Center Transportation
Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC) runs a Volvo bus service from Guwahati city to the Borjhar Airport (same as Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport) for a nominal fare of Rs.130. This is the best and cheapest way to travel to the airport if you have time on your hands, as normal taxi fare for a one-way trip is minimum Rs.500.
Guwahati airport, named Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport has 1 terminal for both arrival and departure (both international and domestic).
Bus Route – Paltan Bazar > AT Road > Bharalumukh > Maligoan > Jalukbari > Borjhar Airport
6:15 AM 6:45 AM 8:00 AM 9:00 AM 10:00 AM 11:00 AM 11:30 AM 12:00 PM 12:30 PM 1:00 PM 2:00 PM 2:30 PM 3:30 PM 4:00 PM 4:30 PM (tentative)
Bus Cost – Rs. 130
Booking Counter phone number +91 99540 7788
There are tuk tuks throughout the city as well as public busses that run throughout the day. The busses can be caught at main city points like the bazaars. Tuk tuks can be found all along the street and you can tell them where you want to go and barter the price before you get in.
For busses and where they go in the city look here.
When to visit
In order to experience monsoon, you can visit July to September. Most people try to avoid monsoon season so this is definitely the low season where you will not experience the city as crowded. From October to March is the best time to visit Guwahati. The summer is the most busy and filled with people.
Things to do
This is a Hilltop, Hindu temple complex with distinctive domed roofs, originally dating from the 7th century. It is a very sacred temple for The Hindus and counted among the 51 Shakti Peethas of Hindu Mythology. For the many pilgrims, this temple is the main reason to visit Guwahati. It is thought to be 2000 years old, but in such a long existence, it was destroyed and built several times. The current structure is about 500 years old. This temple is dedicated to Mata Kamakhya Devi (also known as Shakti). It is also a major pilgrimage center for Tantric Worshippers in India. It is on the Nilachal Hill, away from the traffic of Guwahati, the temple is visited by thousands of pilgrims throughout the year. This temple regularly has live offerings of goats and the color red is sacred. This temple is the center of Tantric rituals in India. A large number of rituals with animal (particularly goats) sacrifices take place everyday. Devotees come every morning with goats to offer to Devi Shakti. Devotees can also buy these animals from the temple premises. There is a big hall in the temple, where this ritual takes place. A wooden slab fitted with the tool to cut the head of the animals is clearly visible in the hall. In the morning, when the temple was being washed, we could see the blood everywhere, in every corner of the drains spread around the sacrifice hall and main temple building.
Temple Hours: Daily open from 8am-1pm and from 2:30pm-5:30pm. We visited in the afternoon and it was very crowded.
Price: General Queue (Free of Cost), Defense Queue ( INR 10, INR 50 and INR 101 depending on the time of the day) and Direct Queue (INR 501 and VIP Passes)
How to get there: Kamakhya Temple is on the edge of the Nilachal hill at the height of approx. 800 feet and is about 9 kms from the railway station. Direct Public Buses are available from many points in Guwahati like Paltan Bazaar, Pan Bazaar, Chandmari, Dispur, Six Miles etc. These public buses drop you at the base of the hill. From there, a shared jeep available to the temple (fare INR 10), that is about 3 kms away from the base. Shared taxis ply regularly from the base of Hill to the temple (INR 20).
- You must take off your shoes before entering and be dressed modestly fully covered arms and legs especially women.
- Cameras are allowed in the temple premises, but photography is not allowed inside the main temple as well as in inner sanctum. Backpacks are not allowed, women’s’ purses will be allowed. Shoes are not allowed, even in the temple premises. Better to remove them at one of the prasad shop outside the temple.
- Performing a Special Prayer: There are lot of people known as Pandas are available in temple complex to perform a special pooja or ritual for the devotees. In their orange clothing, they are clearly visible near the main entrance. Pandas generally charge a heavy fee to perform the pooja. Better to negotiate the price in advance before hiring them for a special pooja.
- Prasad and other Souvenirs: There are lots of shops outside of the temple lane that starts at least 300 meters before temple. From the first shop itself, the shopkeepers who will ask you to remove the shoes and buy the prasad and other offerings, but we found a shop near the temple gate to buy those items. Typical offerings include a coconut, a packet of lachidana, a chunri, a small box of sindoor and some incenses.
- Place for Lighting Diyas: A marked place is the there to light diyas and incense. There are 7-8 rows of stands available for this purpose.
- Place to Offer Coconut: A separate place is there to offer coconuts. A metal cylinder is fixed on a wooden cylinder where people breaks their coconut and offer it to the goddess.
- Place to Tie the Thread: There is also a tree to tie the thread, that people generally do in the case of some mannat (wish).
This is a historical city landmark of hills outside the city holding the holy temple site Kamakhya Temple where thousands of devotees flock daily to sacrifice in the temple. These hills are a beautiful and serene place of nature and tranquility from the rush of the city. There are many walkways and overlook points to have the best view of the city and of the surrounding temples in the hills. This is a great spot to go for a walk and find some overlook views once you have visited the most holy temple in the city and region. This is a great day trip to do together when you visit the city.
This is a quaint Hindu temple known for its domed roof, picturesque forest setting & cave pilgrimage site. It is about 6 miles from Dispur. It is a quiet and scenic place away from the hustle of Guwahati City. This place has a temple of Lord Shiva and it is believed that the great Sage Bashishtha (Vashishtha) lived here in a cave and had set up the ashram. A small river flows along the temple. People wash in the river running through the temple to be purified. This is a beautiful scenic spot to get a picture of village life surrounded by plenty of green palm and banana trees in the Sandhyachal Hills. It is fun to watch the monkeys because they live all over this temple. It is fascinating to be quiet and respectful but watch the Hindu practices of the locals especially the river washings and the other ceremonies they hold in the open courts that can be observed.
Temple Hours: Sunrise to sunset open to the public
Price: Free of Cost, lots of monkeys here and it is best to bring bananas when you come to give to them.
Dress Code: This is not the big city or tourist areas of India and is very conservative and small village area. Dress modestly with legs covered and arms for women. Leggings and curtas or shirt dresses are the standard dress for women.
How to Get there: Direct Public buses from Dispur to Bashistha run daily. The buses stop outside the temple market, 200 meters away from the temple.
Walk Along the Brahmaputra River to watch the Sunset or take a ferry to Umananda Temple
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The Umananda Temple is located in the small Peacock Island amidst the mighty Brahmaputra. This quiet place of worship is named after and dedicated to Lord Shiva. The name 'Umananda' comes from the two Hindi words 'uma' – Lord Shiva's wife and 'ananda' meaning happiness. The Peacock Island is the smallest inhabited riverine in the world and possibly one of the most beautiful too. The Umananda temple is nestled in the laps of this serene island whose shores are washed by the mighty Brahmaputras. It is a heaven for nature lovers. The surroundings of the temple are undisturbed and serene and thus prove to be a perfect place just to sit and enjoy the beauty of the area. #destinatia #destinatianforever #happydestinatian #umananda #umanandatemple #guwahati #awesomeassam #assamtourism #assam #incredibleindia
The most accessible part of Brahmaputra River is near Pan Bazaar around the Surkeshwar Ghat. This is an amazing place to watch the sunset from the bank of the river. A good walkway is not there, just a sandy river bed. You can go to Umananda Temple by ferry that is a floating Hindu temple on the river on an island. This is an awesome local experience as well.
Ferry Prices: The easily accessible ferry is available from Surkeshwar Ghat from early morning to late evening. The usual one way price in a government ferry is INR 8 per person.
Bazaars & Markets
The famous Bazaars of Guwahati are Paltan Bazaar, Uzan Bazaar, Pan Bazaar and Fancy Bazaar. The small local markets that line neighborhood streets are great to experience the local culture of India.
Paltan Bazaar is a center of cheap hotels and private/shared vehicles for the sightseeing in North-East India, as it is located close to the Railway Station.
Uzan Bazaar had its origin from the word Uzan (upper) in Assamese. It is a famous market for fresh river fishes.
Pan Bazaar is famous for its fabric market and book shops. The famous Cotton College and Don Bosco School is located in this area of Pan Bazaar.
Fancy Bazaar was originally known as Fansi Bazaar, because The British used to hang criminals here in a tree. That tree was located at the site of present day Guwahati Central Jail. Over time Fansi Bazaar became Fancy Bazaar and today, it is known as the best place to shop in the city! It is the center of retail and wholesale commercial market. You can buy quality Assam Tea, Darjeeling Tea and Green Tea from here and also some packets of Bamboo Achar and Olive Achar. There are lots of fresh local products and artisan crafts to purchase for souvenirs.
Where to stay
Vishwaratna Hotel Guwahati (city center)
This is a city center 3 star hotel with modern western rooms and amenities with a rooftop lounge pool overlooking the city and Brahmaputra River. This hotel is right outside Panbazar and in the heart of all the action. It is surrounded by shops in the city centre and is only 3 miles from the famous Kamakhya Temple. Breakfast and parking are complimentary. Other amenities include an international restaurant, a bar, and a bakery offering freshly baked bread and pastries. There’s also a rooftop pool, a chic lobby lounge and a spa.
Price: $33USD starting per night
Brahmaputra Jungle Resort (river side)
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Located on top of a hilltop with a waterfall and a mini- Lake, surrounded by tea gardens in the front and Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary at the back, Brahmaputra Jungle Resort is an ideal destination to enjoy holidays. HolidayIQ Traveller Gaurav Bharali shares, "Nice welcome by the hosts of the resort. Good food too, loved the stay at the resort." #nature #assam #brahmaputra #brahmaputrajungleresort #resort #resorts #naturelover #naturelovers #holiday #holidays #HolidayIQ #nature_perfection #natureza #natures #naturel #homestay #homestays
Brahmaputra Jungle Resort offers incredible views with soothing tranquillity near the lush river. The resort is centrally located to downtown Guwahati and the markets as well as access to Peacock Island. The nearest airport is also only half an hour drive. The resort has 14 rooms with a restaurant and a bar. This is a luxury jungle resort stay for only $47USD a night!
Price: $47USD per night starting
Activities: Boating, water games, trekking and shooting games, elephants, pool
Zizina Resort (outside the city near a national park)
This resort is at the edge of Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary where you can see the rare one horned Rhinos of India. This is a safari like eco lodge camping in glamping huts. The hotel has a coffee bar, restaurant, bar and aesthetically designed rooms. The resort is nestled in a beautiful property away from the noisy city but the sites are only a short drive outside the city.
Price: INR 5022 or $71USD a night
Activities: Close to Pobitora wildlife sanctuary, offers jeep safaris and bicycle rentals. The accommodation includes tent-style spaces and mud houses.