The main city is situated on the southern bank of the Brahmaputra. At places the width of the river is 6 to 8 km, while its narrowest portion (1.8 km) is in the location of the famous bridge of Saraighat. There are many permanent and temporary islands and beaches in the river. Umananda a permanent island situated close to the city-center provides a unique picturesque environment. The natural drainage system consists of the Bharalu River (a tributary – the Brahmaputra) and its inter-linkages to the beels and to the Brahmaputra river. Apart from Bharalu, many small rivers Morabharalu, Bahini, and Basista flow within the city interconnected with the feeder drains of the city.
Guwahati straddles the valley of the river Bharalu, a small tributary of the river Brahmaputra. It is surrounded by hills, except where the Bharalu discharges into the Brahmaputra today is important because it is close to the seat of power in Assam, is a commercial centre, and is the node that connects six other northeastern Indian states of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Tripura.
Considered the gateway to the North-East region of India, Guwahati or ‘Gowhatty’ is the largest city in the region. An important administrative, trading center and a river port, Guwahati is an ancient town and an important place of veneration of Goddess Shakti. Kamakhya temple situated atop the Nilachal hill is an important site for tantric Hinduism.
Guwahati city is situated between the southern bank of Brahmaputra River and the foothills of the Shillong plateau. Dispur, situated within Guwahati, is the capital of Assam.
Guwahati, known as Pragjyotishpur (Light of the East) in olden days, was the erstwhile capital of kingdom of Kamrup which existed between 350 and 1140 CE. During past few decades it has experienced violent separatism from organizations like ULFA, but now situation is under control of the government of Assam.
Besides the most revered and popular Kamakhya Temple; the city has several ancient Hindu temples like the Umananda Temple, Navagraha Temple and Basistha Temple. The abundance of temples has earned Guwahati the sobriquet of “City of Temples.”
Guwahati and its surrounding areas are rich in wildlife. Kaziranga National Park, known for its famous resident the one-horned Indian rhinoceros, is 214 km away.
As capital of Assam, the second commercial tea production region besides southern China, Guwahati is also an important tea trading centre. Assam also has the distinction of being the only region in the world besides southern China, with native tea plants. Known for its body, briskness, malty flavor, and strong, bright color, Assam teas are often sold as “breakfast” teas. The Guwahati Tea Auction Centre (GTAC) is among the busiest tea trading facilities in the world.
Guwahati is among the 100 fastest growing cities of the world and the fifth fastest growing among Indian cities. It is a major commercial and educational centre of eastern India. The premier Indian Institute of Technology campus is also located in Guwahati.
Any mention of Guwahati is incomplete without reference to its prodigal son Bhupen Hazarika. Lyricist, film-maker, singer, musician and poet from Assam, Hazarika’s songs became popular in Assam, West Bengal and even Bangladesh. Hazarika is acknowledged for introducing folk music of Assam and Northeast India in Hindi films. The memorial to Hazarika at the Guwahati University campus is popular with tourists and locals.
Brahmaputra Cruises: A visit to Guwahati is complete only after a cruise on the Brahmaputra river. Luxurious vessels, some with AC upper decks, ply regularly to Dibrugarh. The cruise to Dibrugarh passes through Kaziranga and Tezpur.
If river cruise seems too long, try crossing the river on ferry. Ferries cross the river regularly for transporting locals. Ferries leave Fancy Bazaar jetty every half an hour. Round trip takes around 45 minutes.
Brahmaputra River is also the venue for annual boat race held at Sualkuchi. The annual boat race dates back to over 100 years and is is organized to commemorate death anniversary of Srimanta Sankardev, who revived Vaishnavism in Assam. The competition is held in three categories.
Best time to visit
The city enjoys moderate temperature throughout the year. October to April is considered the best time to visit the city.