Guwahati, the gateway to Northeast India, boasts an eclectic charm that is rare to cities. A bustling cosmopolitan in the making, the city is a sweet symphony of delectable cuisine, natural marvels, and spirituality. Here’s how you can explore the best of it in 24 hours. By Kumar Shree
WITNESS THE RISING SUN FROM THE BRAHMAPUTRA’S SHORE
When in the land blessed by the majestic river, begin the day by heading to the banks of the River Brahmaputra to see a surreal sunrise. The chirping of birds, the calm of the river, and the transforming hues of the sky create a spectacle that will let you discover a new zest for life.
SOAK UP THE SPIRITUALITY AT THE KAMAKHYA TEMPLE
One of the most revered spiritual icons in India, the Kamakhya Temple sits atop the Nilachal Hills, and is one of the 51 shakti peethas of the Goddess Durga. A hub for those interested in the tradition of tantra, the temple is also the only one in the world where female genitalia is worshipped. Spirituality aside, the panoramic view of the city from the top is another reason to visit the Kamakhya Temple.
BREAKFAST AT MOCHA RESTAURANT
Before you try to wrap your taste buds around the splendours of Assamese cuisine, acclimatise at Mocha with a menu of more familiar global fare. With dishes like pao sliders and Keema Choutala on offer, your appetite will be more adequately satiated. Go easy, though, as the delights of an Assamese lunch await.
GET A DOSE OF CULTURE AT THE ASSAM STATE MUSEUM
One of the most prominent museums in the country, the Assam State Museum, chronicles the history and culture of the region. The collection here ranges from historic sculptures, metal works, royal garments, and paintings to a modern library with a wide array of books and periodicals. Another outstanding feature of the museum is the replicas of Assam’s tribal huts.
LUNCH AT THE ICONIC PARADISE RESTAURANT
One of the oldest restaurants in Guwahati, Paradise Restaurant (Maniram Dewan Rd, Krishna Nagar, Silphukuri) is a landmark, and warrants a visit. Despite its relatively simple and rustic setup depicting the simple lifestyle of the Assamese people, Paradise is always bustling with customers. Go for the Parampara Thali, which is an entire meal, to discover and understand the nuanced flavours of Assamese cuisine. Amlokhi—the amla soup, and Ohomiya Jolpan, a dessert made of hurum (puffed rice), cream, and melted jaggery, will tantalise your taste buds.
SHOP FOR HANDICRAFTS AT FANCY BAZAAR
The winding lanes of Fancy Bazaar house almost everything that Assam and its neighbouring Northeastern states pride themselves in. You’ll need a keen eye to filter through the myriad local crafts on offer here and a sharper tongue for bargaining. Look out for mekhela chadar (indigenous traditional Assamese dress), Assamese gamocha or gamusa (a towel with a red border on three sides), Muga silks, and a range of woven bamboo products.
TAKE A SUNSET CRUISE
Enjoy a magnificent sunset on a cruise. The restaurant cruise on board the Alfresco Grand takes you on a two-hour ride on the River Brahmaputra, complete with music, dance performances, and a spread of local delicacies. Take a seat on the open deck, and witness the landscape unfold.
EXPLORE THE CITY ON FOOT
Head to the Maati Centre on Lamb Road in Uzan Bazaar, and explore local art and crafts. Established with the objective of promoting the talents of local artisans from nonprofit organisations like Tihar Jail and Dastkar Ranthambore, the centre exhibits a wonderful blend of local culture and regional arts. It is a haven for art connoisseurs and history buffs— it documents and maps the long-lost oral, folk, and tribal arts of the state.
DINNER AT AMBROSIA
Located in the heart of the city, on G.S. Road, Ambrosia serves Assamese, Chinese, and North Indian cuisine in an elegant setting with tasteful decor and impeccable service. The thalis here are the pick of the menu, and the local Assamese delicacy of pigeon meat with banana flower is a winner.
DRINKS AND MUSIC AT CAFÉ HENDRIX
End the day at this laidback haunt, a first-of-its-kind live blues cafe dedicated to aspiring musicians from Northeast India. Sip on one of their many heady concoctions, and groove to music performed by a rich array of local talent.
All major domestic operators fly to Guwahati from Delhi and Mumbai. Train connectivity is available from major Indian cities.
Guwahati offers decent stay options for travellers of all tastes. Many five-star hotels like the Novotel Guwahati (starts from INR 6,500/ USD91) and Vivanta by Taj (starts from INR 4,800 / USD68) are located in the heart of the city, and offer relaxed stay options to travellers.
April through September is the ideal time to visit Guwahati as the region enjoys beautiful weather during these months.
Family vacations, solo trips, and adventure holidays.
Spot the one-horned rhino in Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary. Umananda Temple, sitting on the smallest inhabited river island in the world, is worth a visit. Assam State Zoo houses many animals that are endemic to Northeast India.