Stretching along the south bank of the mighty Brahmaputra River, Guwahati was once Pragjyotishpura, capital of the ancient state of Kamarupa or Assam, named after the local Ahom kings. The largest city of Assam, Guwahati is a major riverine port and the gateway 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 make it more than a strategic stopover.
Best time to visit: The best time to explore Guwahati is from October to March.
How to reach:
By Air: Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport or Guwahati International Airport is located 20km away from the west of the city center. IndiGo operates over 150 non-stop weekly flights between Guwahati and other vital locations.
By Train: Guwahati Junction is the main railway station in Guwahati, connecting all the major cities of the country through various rails.
By Bus: Guwahati is well-connected with neighbouring cities and towns through a number of private and public bus services
Getting around: Bus is the most economical means of transportation in Guwahati. Auto-rickshaws, taxis and rented motorbikes are other modes that you can use to travel around.
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.
Ganeshguri Market: Named after the Ganesh temple nearby, is close to the state capital Dispur and considered as the main commercial precinct (the two cities are only 8km apart). It’s an excellent place to buy Assam’s famed silk products like mekhela chadar.
Pan Bazaar: Guwahati’s academic hub Pan Bazaar sells everything from clothes, jewellery, furniture, souvenirs, home décor items to accessories.
Fancy Bazaar: Located in Old Guwahati, it is excellent for traditional Assamese items like jaapi, gamosa, tribal art, handicrafts and ethnic clothes.
Assam Silk’s Tatkala Outlet: While here, drop by at Assam Silk’s Tatkala Outlet on JC Das Road, Lakhtokia. River People at Mishra Building on AK Azad Road opposite Lahkar Guest House in Rehabari sells locally made cane and bamboo artefacts.
Guwahati is not known for its nightlife, but a clutch of new hotspots that give travellers something to look forward to enjoy their evening. Most of the lounge bars are inside upmarket hotels. Such as Octave is an eclectic bar at Vivanta by Taj - Guwahati, Gotanagar has a stylish bar called Reign that serves handcrafted cocktails and international beers. There’s also The Zone Liquid Lounge at Mayflower Hotel, Lords Bar at Hotel Nandan, The Lounge—a contemporary pub at Hotel Dynasty and Silver Streak, an upscale discotheque in Hotel Brahmaputra Ashok. Cafe Hendrix (or just Hendrix) is another popular hangout with live bands and good music. Topaz Lounge and Café, Lachit Nagar and Terra Mayaa at Anil Plaza 2 on GS Road are good spots to hang out.
Mocha, located on the ground floor of Anil Plaza 2, is a British-style café with sea green décor, hammock chairs and tasty snacks and beverages.
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.
Sualkuchi and Hajo: Guwahati city is an excellent base to cover nearby sights like the silk-weaving centre of Sualkuchi and Hajo, a pilgrim centre for Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims, where the Brahmaputra is at its narrowest (just 1km).
Heritage Walk: Go on a heritage walk of Old Guwahati–from the Courthouse shaped like a beehive dome to Dighulipukhuri Park, once the fortified jetty of the Ahom kings. Guwahati Planetarium nearby screens show on outer space projected on a dome-like screen. A short walk northwest leads to the riverbank, an excellent place to watch the sunrise or sunset.
Though steeped in tradition, there’s a quirky side to Guwahati too. Experience the beauty of the Brahmaputra; locals take great pains to explain that it is a ‘nad, not a nadi’ being a rare male river! See the sunrise across the Brahmaputra from Fancy Bazaar, enjoy boat rides or catch the serene sunset after a day’s explorations. Take a heritage walk through Old Guwahati and catch a Bihu performance. Share the local love for betel leaf as you try a paan. Try to time your visit in the monsoons to catch the Ambubachi Mela, a week-long fertility festival at Kamakhya Temple attended by mystics and tantriks. During the rainy season, when the Brahmaputra is in spate, the rivulet flowing over the stone shrine turns red with mud, which symbolises the menstruation of 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.