Welcome to Guwahati
The gateway to the northeast and the largest and most cosmopolitan city in the region, Guwahati serves as the starting block for most Northeast itineraries. It’s a somewhat featureless city – a prosaic heap of glass and concrete for the most part – but there are a scattering of interesting temples to explore. Walk its back alleys and old quarters, however, and you will be able to salvage a generous amount of local flavour that lingers amid its suburban sprawl of ponds, palm trees, small single-storey traditional houses and old colonial-era mansions.
State : Assam.
Best time to Travel :
October to April makes up for the best time for Guwahati city tour.
Weather Conditions :
The city experienc s an annual rainfall of 180 cm (from May to September). While summer temperatures range from 22 to 38°C, in winters the mercury ranges from 10 to 25°C.
Situated on the banks of the mighty Brahmaputra, Guwahati is the junction of three important roads, National Highways 31, 37 and 40 can be used for Guwahati tourism as well.
Places To Visit
Umananda Mandir :
The temple complex sits on a small forested river island, accessed by a 15-minute ride on a ferry (half hourly 8am to 4.30pm) from Kachari Ghat , which itself offers attractive afternoon river views. Many visitors feel the Shiva temple, which sits atop the island, is less interesting than the boat ride out to it.
Urvashi Kunda :
This kunda (pond) no longer exists and is said to have been taken over by Brahmaputra after it changed its course, But the tiny rock island in which this pond was located still stands south of Umananda, or between Umananda and the south bank of the Brahmaputra. According to ancient texts, the proper procedure for pilgrims bound for Kamakhya was to bathe at Urvashi kunda before Umananda darshan, Pandushila sparshan and Nilachal arohan. Following this darshan-spearshan-arohan sequence before climbing Nilachal Parvat for Devi puja is believed to take one out of the cycle of birth and re-birth.
This temple is in the northern bank of the Brahmaputra across Guwahati. There are actually two temples here: one where Vishnu is in His incarnation as a tortoise and the other when Narayan (Vishnu) is in ananta sajya'—resting on a bed formed by a giant serpent with a thousand heads that shield Narayan. The serpent, a symbol of eternity, is said to hold the universe on its head. The serpent is called anant-nag. According to the Yogini Tantra, Lord Janardhan (a Devata) emerged from Naglok (land of snakes) and bathed at the Ashwakranta kunda. Other texts say that Lord Krshna's horse, tired after a long journey, drank water from Ashwakranta (also called Ashwaklanta) and that's how the kunda—it no longer exists and is said to have been taken by the Brahmaputra—gets its name (`Ashwa' for horse and `klanta' for tired). There are footprints of Vishnu (known as `Vishnu-padas') on the banks of the Brahmaputra leading to the temple. Pindas are offered here and it is said that the souls of the departed whose `pindas' are offered here have a smooth journey to heaven. `Ashokasthami' day in the month of Chaitra is an auspicious day for worship here and draws thousands of pilgrims.
This temple is on the north bank of the Brahmaputra across Guwahati and near the confluence of the Barnadi and Brahmaputra rivers. The Yogini Tantra says there was a pond called Manikarnika just outside the temple. This pond no longer exists and is believed to have been taken up by the Brahmaputra. A rock inscription here says that the present brick temple was built by Ahom King Rajeswara Singha in the mid-18th century. The temple is on a hillock and offers a panoramic view of the Brahmaputra. The original stone base of the temple is octagonal in shape. The later brick structure built by Rajeshwara Singha also emulated the octagonal shape.
Ten miles south of Kamakhya, the Basistha Ashram is set in a hilly tract called Sandhyachal which is a popular picnic spot as well. According to the Kalika Puran, when sage Basistha, one of Brahma's ten manas-putras, lost his physical form after a curse inflicted on him by one King Nimi, who was also a Rajarshi, a hapless Basistha went to Brahma for help. Brahma advised Basistha to pray to Vishnu at this spot. After long years of meditation, Vishnu appeared before Basistha and told him to invoke Devi's blessings and get three streams of the Ganga there. Basistha did so and after the three streams of the Ganga called Sandhya, Lalita and Kanta started flowing through Sandhyachal. Basistha took a dip at the confluence of these three streams and regained his physical form. Basistha used to bathe at this confluence every day and perform tri-sandhya here.
Nabagraha Mandir :
Atop a hill in east Guwahati is the Navagraha temple - the "temple of 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.
Dedicated to Ugratara, another form of Devi Kali, this temple stands on the banks of twin ponds called Jorpukhuri in the Uzanbazar area of Guwahati. It is one of the primary shakti shrines in this region. Ugratara is also identified with Tikhsnakanta and Ekajata of the Buddhist pantheon; She is called Ekajata because She has one `Data' (mane of hair). There are conflicting versions about the origin of this temple. Some historians refer to the Buddhist text Siddhantamala to claim that the temple was built by either King Ratnapala or his successor Indrapala after the introduction of the worship of `Ekajata' or Ugratara in Kamarupa by Nagarjuna, a prominent Buddhist sage, in the 10th or 11th century AD. But other researchers refer to a rock inscription on a wall of the temple that says the temple was built by Ahom king Shiva Singha who also made a grant of land to the temple and provided priests to conduct the daily worship of Devi.
Devi Mangalchandi is the presiding deity at this temple. The temple stands on a small hillock on the south bank of the Brahmaputra in the Uzanbazar area of Guwahati. This is also an important place of the Shakti cult and goats, pigeons, ducks, gourds etc are sacrificed here. All important festivals are observed and the Basanti puja here draws thousands of devotees. Archaeological evidence points to the existence of an ancient temple made of stone. The hilltop was octagonal in shape and its edges were enclosed by an octagonal brick rampart that gave it the shape of an umbrella (called `chhatra' in Assamese) and hence the name Chhatrakar. The Yogini Tantra refers to this temple as Chhatrakagiri; it has two more names—Sagari and Paripatraka. An old text of Assam called Kamrupar Buranji refers to this temple as Dwitiya Madanasala where Devi Mangalchandi was worshipped. A rock edict in the temple's walls says the temple was built by Ahom king Kamaleshwara Singha in 1799 AD. Another temple adjacent to this, where both Shiva and Visnhnu were worshipped, was built the same year.
Sage Shukracharya consecrated Shiva here in the form of a linga measuring half a `dhanu' and Shiva is thus the presiding deity here. The temple stands on a hillock on the south bank of the Brahmaputra in the Panbazar area of Guwahati. Kalika Puran says that the sage had his hermitage on this hillock called Hasti Parvat. An ancient stone temple that stood here was destroyed, probably by Kalapahar. Subsequently, Ahom king Pramatta Singha built a brick temple on the ruins of the old stone temple. King Shiva Singha has also extended royal patronage to the temple with grants of land and priests. This is one of the most important Shiva temples in this region and attracts tens of thousands of devotees on Shiva Ratri. It is said that if Shiva is propitiated here, one gets released from Maya. The temple is also known as Sukleshwar.
This temple is on the same hillock as Sukreshwar. The Yogini Tantra calls this hillock `Mandara Parvat' (but it is called `Hasti Parbat' in Kalika Puran). According to a legend, Prahlad worshipped Vishnu on this hillock and prayed to Him for protection from Hiranyakasipu, who was said to be ruling Kamarupa then. Vishnu appeared, killed Hiranyakasipu and installed Prahlad on the throne of Kamarupa. After becoming king, Prahlad constructed the temple to Vishnu. The temple is laid out in a cruciform ground plan that is typical of late medieval temples of this region. Though nothing is known about this temple till the beginning of the 18th century AD, some stone sculptures here point to the existence of a temple here in the 10th or 11th century AD. A stone slab on the wall of this temple has inscriptions which state that the temple was built by Ahom king Pramatta Singha sometime in the mid-18th century. Another inscription that's now housed at the Assam State Museum states that that a subsidiary structure known as Phalgutsava Dol was also built by Pramatta Singha around the same time.
Srimanta Shankardev Kalakshetra :
Srimanta Sankaradev Kalakshetra commonly Kalakshetra is a cultural institution in the Panjabari area of Guwahati, Assam, named after the medieval poet-playwright and reformer Srimanta Sankardev. It includes a cultural museum, library and various facilities for preserving, demonstrating and performing cultural items, besides a children's park. In addition to being Northeast India's largest cultural congregation, the Kalakshetra is also a major tourist spot in Guwahati.
Guwahati Planetarium :
The Guwahati Planetarium looks somewhere between a mosque and a landed UFO, but has impressive shows peeking into the universe.
Assam State Museum :
Housed in an imposing colonial-era building, this museum has a large sculpture collection, with the upper floors being devoted to informative tribal culture displays. In the anthropological galleries, you can walk through reconstructed tribal homes that give a glimpse into everyday rural life. Time permitting, it’s worth a visit.
Guwahati Zoo :
One must visit the Guwahati Zoo during Guwahati tourism, which is the largest natural zoo of the country
This small temple at Chaygaon, about 45 kilometres south-west of Guwahati, has Chandika as its presiding deity. The temple is said to have been built by Kando Saudagar, an affluent merchant who lived in that area in the later part of the 16th century. Popular beliefs and folksongs link this temple to Behula and Lakshmindar.
This is one of the 51 `peeths'. Sati's left uru (thigh) is said to have fallen here. But nothing remains of the original temple. The present brick temple is said to have been built by Panidihingiya Barphukan on the orders of King Shiva Singha. Devi here is Dirgeshwari and is also said to be one of the eight Yoginis of Kamakhya. Built on a hillock about five kilometers north-east of North Guwahati, the presiding deity is also known as Bagheshwari and is said to fulfill the wishes of Her devotees. Some say that since this area was full of wild animals including tigers (called tagh' in Assamese), the Devi adopted a tiger as Her mount and is thus called Bagheshwari.
This temple at Belsor, a small town eight kilometers southwest of Nalbari which lies about 47 kilometres from Guwahati, is a shrine to Vishnu though many accounts say it was a Shiva shrine. According to popular folklore, Rupnarayan, a Brahmin from Deuripara village of that area, noticed that one of his cows was lactating over a thicket of reeds. He cleared the reeds and discovered a Shiva linga at the spot. He built a small shrine at the spot and it came to be known as Binneshwara (derived from `binna', or reed) and later became Billeshwar. King Nagaksa of unknown genealogy is said to have built a proper temple here in Saka 1443. The temple was improved by Nagaksa's successor Dharmapala. Kamtapur's Maharaja Naranarayana (who reconstructed the portions of the Kamakhya temple damaged by Kalapahar) also made arrangements for the worship of the deity and the management of the temple. But a stone inscription in the temple says that the present temple was built by Ahom king Lakshmi Singha in the seventh decade of the 18th century. His father, King Shiva Singha, also gifted lands and deputed priests and sebaits to this temple.
Madan Kamdev :
Uma-Maheshwara was once the presiding deity of this temple, which is now in ruins. The ruins of the temple are located on a hillock called Dewangiri about 30 kilometres from Guwahati on the north bank of the Brahmaputra. The relics of the old temple have been preserved in an open-air museum that draws many visitors. Many exquisite stone sculptures that can be seen here indicate the high class of workmanship that existed when the temple was built. A stone slab with a sculpture of a naked couple locked in a passionate embrace is worshipped as Uma¬Maheshwara. Eighteen plinths have been discovered at this site, thus indicating the existence of 18 temples, the most important of which is the one referred to as Madan-Kamdev. Just below the hillock is the trace of a dead river that was known as Madan Kuri. The temple, say experts, was built in the 9th century AD. The Yogini Tantra has mention of a hillock called Madanasala on which a temple of Kedareshwara was established and a festival called Kamtrayodasi used to be celebrated. Many believe this site is linked to Kamdev, who was also known as Madan.
This temple is situated in a village by the same name about 45 kilometres from Guwahati in the north bank of the Brahmaputra. It has a Shiva linga. An interesting aspect of the Puja here is that along with grains, raw vegetables and fruits, offerings of fish, pigeon and duck are also made to the Lord. A Rudra Yagna, or sacrifice to Rudra (Shiva) in the month of Phalgun every years draws a large number of pilgrims. The original stone temple here dates back to the 10th and 11th centuries AD. The temple is believed to have been built by Ahom King Suhugmung in Saka 1461. King Shiva Singha gifted land to this temple. The relics of this old temple are on display here. The present brick and mortar temple is of recent origin.
The presiding deity is Shiva in the form of a phallic symbol that is reffered to as `Buragosain' by locals. Situated at Dubi village about 105 kilometres north-east of Guwahati and only about three kilometers from Pathshala town that's famous now as the place of origin of the popular Brahmyaman (traveling) theatres of Assam, this small temple attracts large crowds during the month of Baisakh. This temple was once famous for the dances of its devadasis (temple nautch girls). It is claimed that the original temple was built by Bhaskaravarman in the 7th century AD. An ancient copperplate of Bhaskaravarman gifted to a Brahmin was discovered here, lending credence to this claim. The ancient temple lay in ruins for centuries and the Shivalinga was discovered by one Raghubar in much the same way the one at Billeshwar was discovered by Rupnarayan there. Ahom King Shiva Singha is said to have built the later temple and made arrangements for the worship of the deity.
This is another Shiva temple at Rangmahal in North Guwahati. The name of this temple is perhaps derived from Ahom King Rudra Singha who passed away at this place while preparing for the invasion of Gaur (Bengal). A stone inscription says that Pramatta Singha, the second son of Rudra Singha who succeeded Shiva Singha (1744¬1751) established a Shiva linga here by the name of Rudreshwara Shiva and another inscription says he built a brick wall around the temple. This brick temple is strikingly beautiful and has a series of underground tunnels and chambers.
This Shiva temple is at Sualkuchi, the hub of the famed handloom industry of Assam, at a distance of 30 kilometres from Guwahati. The Yogini Tantra puts it as the abode of Siddheshwara. The archaeological ruins around the present temple suggest to the existence of an earlier stone temple dating back to the 10th to 11th century AD. The present temple was built by Ahom King Rajeshwara Singha in the mid-18th century. This temple received generous royal patronage in the days of the Ahom kings.
Hoygrib Madhav :
This magnificent temple is at Hajo, about 23 kilometres north east of Guwahati. Four small temples-Kameshwar, Kedareshwar, Kamaleshwar, all dedicated to Shiva, and a Ganesh temple--stand in the vicinity of the main temple and the five are collectively known as Iloygrib Madhavadi Panchatirtha'. Around these temples are sacred sports like Gokarna, Vikarna, Swargaduar and the Apurnabhav kunda (pond). Two sages, Gokarna and Vikarna, meditated here. A dip in the kunda followed by a `darshan' of the five temples as well as the spots where the two sages had meditated is said to help attain mukti. The main temple stands on a hill known as Manikut Parvat. Legend has it that a sage, Aurbba Rishi, was meditating on this hill when five asuras, two of them being Zarasur and Hoyasur, started tormenting him. The sage prayed to Vishnu for help and the Lord appeared on the hill. Seeing Him, Hoyasur fled to the Vishwanath Shiva temple and hid there, but Vishnu followed and killed him before before killing the other four as well. Vishnu is the presiding deity at the main temple in the form of Hoygrib. To Hoygrib's left is another Madhab (or form of Vishnu) and to this Madhab's left is Garuda (Vishnu's mount). To His right are Govinda Madhab and Vasudev.