Guwahati, in Assam, is a bustling business town divided into half by the temperamental Brahmaputra River. The nerve centre of north-eastern India and also the gateway to the North east, Guwahati is well connected by air, road, and rail. It is home to the intellectual elite of Assam and has seen days of strife and bloodshed in the early 1990s when the educated and vocal took to militancy to protect interests of the indigenous Assamese people. Guwahati also has a thriving business class, comprising of people from all over India. The skyline of the city of Guwahati is similar to that of any Indian metropolis – a riot of buildings of all shapes and sizes arching upwards in a desperate attempt to get a piece of the sky. So travel to Guwahati and explore its charms yourself.
How to Reach Guwahati?
By Air : There are daily flights to Borjhar Airport, Guwahati, from Delhi and Calcutta. Flights also operate from Agartala, Dibrugarh, Dimapur, Imphal and Silchar to Guwahati. Taxis and coaches take you in to the city, which is 25 km away.
By Rail : There are several trains connecting various Indian cities to Guwahati. The Rajdhani Express, the Northeast Express and Brahmaputra Mail from New Delhi; Kamrup Express and Saraighat Express from Kolkata; Dadar Express from Bombay; Bangalore Express from Bangalore which takes 61 hours; Trivandrum Express from Trivandrum takes 72 hours - and all these trains run at least twice a week to Guwahati. Within northeast India, the Brahmaputra Mail gets you to Guwahati from Dimapur in 10 hours, Tinsukhia in 17 hours and Dibrugarh in 19 hours.
By Road : Guwahati is the nodal point for road transport in northeast India. Four national highways meet in this city. You can drive into Guwahati from Agartala (Tripura), Aizawl (Mizoram), Bomdila (Arunachal Pradesh), Cooch Behar (West Bengal),Dimapur (Nagaland), Itanagar (Arunachal Pradesh), Imphal (Manipur), Kohima (Nagaland), Shillong andTura (Meghalaya)and Dibrugarh, Digboi, Sibsagar, Silchar, Tinsukhia and Tezpur (Assam).
Best Time to Visit Guwahati
The best time to visit Guwahati is November to March when the heat and humidity are tempered by the cool winds blowing in from the Himalayan foothills. June brings the onslaught of heavy rains and it lasts until September. Guwahati has a fairly good drainage system leaving communication relatively unaffected by the rains. Air traffic does get affected though. So it may be best if you avoid visiting here during the monsoon season.
Things to do in Guwahati
In Guwahati, the list of things to do is not very long as this is primarily a business town. There are a couple of temples to visit and some of these temples are set in the hills so one can get stupendous views of the city from them.
Take a boat ride on the mighty Brahmaputra river, head out for short excursions to nearby places of interest and before you leave Guwahati, do try some authentic Assamese food – the sweet and sour combination of spices and ingredients will probably be very different from what you have ever tasted before.
Places Near Guwahati
There are many interesting places near Guwahati the gateway to unsung and untamed northeast India. The wild life sanctuaries in Assam and the quaint red-roofed hill capital of Meghalaya, Shillong, are the most well known. Pabitora Wildlife Sanctuary is located 65km from Guwahati. The wildlife includes the one-horned rhinoceros, leopards, tigers, and varieties of migratory and non-migratory birds. Accommodation available is forest bungalows – contact the Range Forest Officer, Pabitora, Assam. Driving here from Guwahati is the best option – it is close by and the roads are good.
Kaziranga National Park is one of the most well known tourist destinations in Assam, covering an area of 430 km. Home to the nearly extinct one-horned rhino, one can also spot elephants, sloth bears, tigers, leopard cats, jungle cats, hog badgers, capped langurs, hoolock gibbons, pigs, jackals, porcupines, pythons, buffaloes, Indian bisons, swamp deer, sambhars and hog deer from very close quarters. Trips into the sanctuary are taken at dawn on elephants that wade through the tall elephant-grass and give you a vantage view of animals waking up to the day. The sight of the one-horned rhino bathing in ponds with its offspring on its back is one you just cannot afford to miss. Do wear trousers that fully cover your legs to avoid abrasions from the elephant-grass. The best season to visit this park is November to April. Avoid the monsoons (June to September) that bring heavy rainfall and often flood the park. There is a wide range of accommodation available at the park ranging from luxury hotels to rest houses and dormitories. The nearest airport is Jorhat but Guwahati is connected by many more flights. Kaziranga is 96km from Jorhat and 239km from Guwahati. Cars are available on rent at Guwahati and Jorhat airports. Taxis and buses from these cities will also get you to Kaziranga.
Manas Wildlife Sanctuary is 176 km from Guwahati it is the only tiger reserve in Assam and also famous for the rare golden Langur and red Panda, Manas is one of the best-kept national parks in India. The wildlife is best seen on elephant back at dawn. The best months to visit are October to April. Avoid the monsoons (June to September) when heavy rains can flood the park and wildlife stay away. For accommodation there are two lodges maintained and run by the tourist department. The state department has two bungalows located at Mathanguri inside the forest. It makes a lot of sense to drive down to Manas because the roads are very motorable. State transport authorities and private operators have bus services to Manas from Guwahati. You can also hire taxis to Manas from Guwahati.
Shillong is described as ''Scotland of the East'' because of its striking similarity to the Scottish highlands, situated at an altitude of 1500 meters above sea level, romantic and picturesque with an abundance of natural beauty, Although it is a bustling city today, its striking waterfalls and caves are just a breath away. Shillong also boasts of Asia’s first 18 holes golf course. Within the city is the flower bedecked Ward’s Lake encircled by whispering pine groves. Take a boat ride if you want to or feed the multihued fish standing on the bridge across the lake. You’ll love the walks in this city although it does get a little crowded with cars in the afternoon.
Lady Hydari Park doubles up as a miniature zoo and is a short distance away from Ward’s Lake. A visit to the cathedral at Dhankheti is a must – it has beautiful stained glass windows and the grotto is carved out of a single rock. The bells of the cathedral resonate across the city at dawn, in the afternoon and dusk. You can hire a taxi or take a conducted bus tour of the sights around the city – the cascading Elephant Falls, the twin Beadon and Bishop Falls, Sweet Falls, Crinoline Falls, the Shillong Peak, the Cherrapunjee limestone caves and the Barapani Lake could all be a part of your itinerary.
Hotels in Guwahati – Choice is Yours
There are numerous hotels in Guwahati ranging from 3-star, 4-star and 5-star deluxe to budget hotels.