Guwahati is the largest and rapidly growing city in the state of Assam. In Assamese, Guwa means Areca nuts and Haat means market (courtesy-Google). We had the chance to go around Guwahati in July 2017. It was an enjoyable visit for us. Guwahati has good connectivity. We could make use of local transport to visit most places with some guidance from local people.
We stayed in Vivekananda Kendra Uzan Bazaar and just facing the Brahmaputra river and Umananda temple which is on the smallest island of Brahmaputra. Initially there were no boats plying to Umananda due to heavy water flow in Brahmaputra. So we had to wait for a week. The planetarium and Assam museum were at a walking distance from our place. We watched a show on stars in the planetarium. The museum was very informative and displayed culture, tradition, and life in the whole of north eastern region.
Having heard and read about Kamakhya, we were eagerly waiting to visit and get the blessings of the devi. The Kamakhya temple is one of the 52 shakthi peetams where Sati devi’s yoni (vagina) fell. There is actually no idol in the temple and only a triangular pit inside a cave where pujas are offered. This temple is an old one from 10th century but destroyed and later rebuilt in 16th century. The temple’s structure is very beautiful with a large dome and is situated on the Nilachal Hill. It was a fulfilling visit for us though the temple was crowded. Local people said it is always so and takes at least 3 to 4 hours to have darshan normally. There is another shrine above Kamakhya for Devi Bhuvaneswari which we could not visit. There is an idol of Adi Shankaracharya and also a museum in Kamakhya temple.
Once the boat service for Umananda resumed, we visited the temple one evening. Umananda is the consort of Kamakhya Devi. The temple is situated on the smallest island called Peacock Island on Brahmaputra and the boat journey was enjoyable in the mighty Brahmaputra. Luckily, the boat jetty was opposite to our place and we could see Umananda temple daily from there. The temple is also an old one with shrines for Shiva and other Gods.
Two more temples worth mentioning are Hajo Hayagriva madhav temple and Aswaklanta temple in the northern bank of Brahmaputra river. Both are very old temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
Srimanta Shankaradeva Kalakshetra is a cultural institution in Guwahati named after the great poet and reformer who founded the Satras and Naam ghars for worship. There is a library, a museum with collection of cultural items of the whole of north eastern region’s culture and tradition, a children’s park, eateries, open air theater, and also an Artist’s village depicting Assam’s village life. The Bhupen Hazarika museum is another attraction showcasing the life and history of the famous lyricist and playback singer of Assam. One should not miss visiting this place which gives a clear picture on Assam.
Doul Govinda temple on the northern bank of Brahmaputra devoted to Lord Krishna. The temple is known for its scenic beauty. The temple also has a namgarh where bhajans and songs are sung by devotees. We also enjoyed the prasadh called Bhoga served after the puja in the afternoon. They served delicious milk and rice kheer (like our paal payasam) that was piping hot and also some fruits and sprouts to each and every devotee seated in rows in the temple hall. It was a sight to see the pigeons which come in large numbers and take their share from the devotees.
Our next trip was to Bashista in the outskirts of Guwahati where it is believed sage Bashista (Vashista) had his ashram. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The view of the streams from the mountains behind the temple which flow as rivers Bashista and Barula. It is a treat to the eye with the lush greenery behind and the flowing water. There is a small temple for Manasa Devi across the river
We also visited Ugratara temple which is a famous temple in Guwahati dedicated to Sati Devi with a shrine for Lord Shiva. There is a small pond behind the temple. The Sukreswar temple in Pan Bazaar on the banks of Brahmaputra has a large shivalingam which is believed to one of the jothirlingas. The temple also has a shrine for Lord Vishnu.
Yet another beautiful temple was the Navagraha temple situated on the Chitrachal hill for the nine celestial bodies in the form of nine shivalingams. The Iskcon temple for Lord Krishna with pure white structure and marble floor is another attraction. We chose janmashtami day to visit this temple and it was very crowded as expected.
As we are from South India, we were delighted to learn about Purva Tirupathi Balaji temple built with the blessings of Kanchi Sankaracharya and eager to visit the temple. This is efficiently managed by people from south and all pujas are done as in Tirupathi and all priests are from south and they are given accommodation in the temple premises. The temple is built in south Indian style with a big gopuram. Very neat and well maintained temple, beautifully illuminated in the evenings.
The Dighalipukhuri park in Latasil is a beautiful manmade pond which has boating facilities and children’s park. We had an evening well spent here. On the northern bank of the pond lies Guwahati War Memorial which is built to respect our jawans who died for the sake of the nation. There are imitations of the famous Saraighat Battle in the memorial.
We very much wanted to visit the Kaziranga National Park but due to recent floods in Brahmaputra, there was water logging due to which the park was not open to the public during our stay there. So we had to miss that.
There was a small park and walking path alongside Brahmaputra where we used to go for evening walks and enjoy the setting sun.
Last but not the least, we went on a shopping spree in Fancy Bazaar before we left Guwahati which is a big market place and bought some dresses, Assam silk sarees, and mementos to be given to our friends and relatives back home. Fancy Bazaar reminded me of our Ranganathan Street and Pondy Bazaar shopping.
We returned to Chennai the next day with loads of memories of unforgettable days spent in Guwahati.