Stretching along the south bank of the mighty Brahmaputra River, Guwahati was once Pragjyotishpura, capital of Kamarupa or Assam's ancient state, named after the local Ahom kings. The largest city of Assam, Guwahati, is a major riverine port and entry to northeast India. The bustling capital takes its name from gua (areca nut) and haat (marketplace).
Its ancient temples, the Brahmaputra river and Assamese cuisine, makes it more than a strategic stopover.
Best time to visit: The best time to explore Guwahati is from October to March.
How to reach Guwahati
Most spoken languages in Guwahati
Parampara on Maniram Dewan Road, near Goswamy Service Petrol Pump offers authentic Assamese cuisine and excellent thalis served on a brass plate and utensils. Their chicken bamboo is delicious!
Named after the thin bamboo skewer (khorika) used to chargrill meats; the restaurant serves excellent thalis with side orders of pork, chicken, mutton, duck, pigeon meat and local fish, all served with piquant mustard chutney.
A northeast speciality restaurant serving mostly regional cuisine from Assam—pork patot diya, duck curry with kumura, black rice, fermented soya, smoked sesame pork, mutton curry, besides thalis.
Catering to a strong resident Bengali population, Crackling Mustard serves excellent vegetarian thalis and the classic Kosha Mangsho with Luchi (thick mutton curry with puri).
Serving excellent Dhakai or Bangladeshi cuisine of East Bengal, try unusual delicacies like kachu pata chingri (prawn with colocasia leaf), bhapa chingri (steamed prawns), posto, rice-fish kofta, bhetki paturi, chital and mishti doi (sweet curd). A must-visit if you are a fish lover.
While the location in the cramped market may not be great, it is one of the oldest food joints in Guwahati. Locals make a beeline for its pure vegetarian fare—yellow dal fry, paneer bhurji, tandoori roti and Gopal Maharaj Special Pulao.
A multi-cuisine restaurant that serves south Indian, north Indian, Chinese and the best masala dosa and vada in town.
There's a lot to shop in Assam's capital city—mekhela chadar, silk saris, local weaves to bamboo and cane handicrafts. The Guwahati-Shillong Road, or GS Road for short, runs through Guwahati and is lined with upscale shops and showrooms. Guwahati's traditional markets are popular with shoppers looking for good bargains.
Guwahati is not known for its nightlife but a clutch of new hotspots that give travellers something to look forward to enjoying their evening. Most of the lounge bars are inside upmarket hotels.
Vivanta by Taj Its location in the heart of the administrative district works well for corporate travellers, while tourists will enjoy its proximity to the Brahmaputra river cruise. The restaurants here offer pan-Asian cuisine, including Japanese, while Octave, the bar, has live music to help you unwind.
Prabhakar Homestay, Chandmari Set in the hills above the busy town, this charming B&B run by Shiela and Mahesh Bora comes with five en-suite bedrooms along with a peaceful environment. The property has an excellent collection of nearly 250 orchids.
Hotel Brahmaputra Ashok, MG Road A 3-star hotel opposite the High Court it has an excellent restaurant called Ushaban and a lounge named Kaziranga.
Mayflower Hotel, Paan Bazaar A budget luxury hotel close to the railway station, it has well-fitted rooms, a nice multi-cuisine restaurant called Aurora and an in-house bakery and confectionery.
Hotel Nandan, Paltan Bazaar Located in the city’s central business district, Nandan is a landmark hotel that started in 1981. The first certified 3-star hotel in the northeast, it offers multi-cuisine at Transcurry and international fare at Mexitthachi.
Try to time your visit in the monsoons to see the Ambubachi Mela, a week-long fertility festival at Kamakhya Temple attended by mystics and tantriks. When the Brahmaputra is in spate during the rainy season, the creek flowing over the stone shrine turns red with mud, symbolising the goddess Kamakhya. The sanctum is out of bounds for three days and reopens after the goddess gets purified with a ritual bath. Devotees collect holy spring water and shreds of the angabastra (stained red cloth) as prasad. It is one of a kind fair and the biggest carnival in the whole of Assam. In June, it is celebrated to commemorate a belief that Goddess Kamakhya undergoes her annual menstruation cycle during this time.
The Brahmaputra Beach Festival is an annual festival that falls during the spring season along the Brahmaputra river's shores. It is a three-day event and an assortment of cultural events, dancing, crafts, and water sports.