The Kamakhya temple, located at a distance of 7 km from Guwahati, is one of the biggest Shakti shrines in the country. Situated on the Nilachal hills, this temple is an important pilgrimage centre for tantric worshippers and Hindus. It is also considered important as it is the temple where the beliefs and practices of the Aryan communities coincide with non-Aryan communities.
The former temple was destroyed by Kala Pahar, which was later reconstructed in 1565 by Chilarai, who was the reigning king of the Koch dynasty. This temple is dedicated to different forms of Mother Shakti, namely Sundari, Tripura, Tara, Bhuvaneshvari, Bagalamukhi and Chinnamasta. Comprising three major chambers, the present structure is considered as a sacred complex.
The western chamber is rectangular in shape, while the middle chamber is square in shape. The middle chamber consists of inscriptions and images of Naranarayana. The most sacred shrine is located within the temple, which is also the third chamber.
The third chamber with a yoni-like cleft in the bedrock is in the form of a cave. The temple also has a natural spring, which flows through the cleft. This spring helps in keeping the chamber moist.
Dedicated to different forms of Lord Shiva, there are five temples within the complex of Kamakhya temple. In addition, the temple complex also houses three temples of Lord Vishnu, present in the form of Kedara, Gadadhara and Pandunath.
There are several legends and myths associated with this temple. According to one of the popular legends, it is believed that the reproductive organ of Sati settled on the earth at this place, which was followed by her death. On the other hand, another popular belief states that this temple is associated with Goddess Kali.
Ambubachi Mela is one of the major festivals of this temple. The festival is held every year to commemorate the yearly menstruation of Goddess Kamakhya. It is also said that during the month of mid-June, which is also an Ahar, there is a natural spring which flows through the yoni.
Several other pujas are organised in this temple including Durga Puja, Durgadeul and Madandeul. Some of the other pujas performed in this temple include Manasa Puja, Pohan Biya and Vasanti Puja.
The Assam State Zoo and Botanical Garden is located near RG Baruah Road. Sprawling over an area of 130 hectares, it is the only zoo where there is a natural forest. On the other hand, the botanical garden is located within the same vicinity, which is also known as Guwahati’s green retreat.
Rich in flora and fauna, this zoo and botanical garden is also home to some of the rare and endangered species of wildlife. Swamp tapirs, white tigers, leopards and the great Indian one-horned rhinoceros are some of the animals that can be seen here. This zoo is also home to the African two-horned rhino and is rich in some of the rare species of birds.
Established in 1982, the Assam State Botanical Garden is home to approximately 44 different varieties of orchids. These orchids have been collected from the north-eastern zone of India. There are also some special varieties of orchids, which are typical to the mountainous region of the state. Apart from this, the garden also houses a variety of palm trees, conifers, herbs and shrubs. The garden sprawls over an area of 82 hectares.
Saraighat Bridge is the first of its kind a rail-cum-road bridge built over the river Brahmaputra in Assam. Saraighat Bridge is the vital link between North East region and the rest of the country. Built immediately after the Indo-Chinese war it has already completed 50 years of its existence in 2012.
The bridge has a national highway on top and railway tracks below. National highways 31 & 27 run on this Bridge to and from Guwahati. Total length of this bridge is 1492 meters (about 1.5 Km).
The Saraighat Bridge is one great place to hang-out if you wish to view the River Brahmaputra in all its glory. The pleasure of standing in the middle of the Bridge and view the Brahmaputra River in 360 degrees is unexplainable. For the photographers it is going to be a real treat since it provides awesome angles of the river, especially at sunset. After visiting the Saraighat Ghat, go on a ferry ride from Guwahati underneath the bridge.
In Guwahati River Cruises on River Brahmaputra is quite popular among tourists and locals. You have two main options, either venture out for a few hours on the river or take a full-blown cruise on the Brahmaputra.
The Umananda temple, located on the Peacock Island, is one of the important temples of Guwahati. Situated in the middle of River Brahmaputra, this temple is dedicated to the worship of Lord Shiva. During the festival of Shivratri, every year, a large number of devotees visit this temple.
On the instructions from King Gadadhar Singh of the Tai-Ahom dynasty, the temple was constructed in 1694 AD by Bar Phukan Garhganya Handique. There are plenty of engravings and sculptures that adorn the rock walls of this temple. These engravings and sculptures depict the craftsmanship of the local Assamese artisans.
The engravings done on the walls include Hindu gods like Surya, Shiva, Ganesha and Devi. Apart from these, sculptures of Lord Vishnu and his ten incarnations can also be found in the vicinity of this temple.
The area where this temple has been raised is known as Bhasmachala. According to a legend, once Lord Shiva was meditating on this hillock, when he was interrupted by Kamadeva. As a result of this interruption, Kamadeva was burnt to ashes by the fire of his anger.
According to the Kalika Purana, it was believed that Goddess Urvashi who brought nectar for the pleasure of Kamakhya, resided here. Therefore, the island on which this temple is constructed is also known as Urvashi Island.
In 1897, a considerable portion of this temple was damaged owing to the effects of a devastating earthquake. However, the damaged portion was later reconstructed by a rich local merchant. On reconstruction, he also added Vaisnavite inscriptions to the interior part of this temple.
According to a popular belief, it is said that worshipping here on an Amavasya day, especially falling on Monday, brings highest bliss to the worshipper. Apart from this, Shiva Chaturdashi is another important festival which is held here annually.
The only way to reach this temple is to board ferries and motor launches available at the Umananda Ghat. This Ghat is located between the State Bank of India and the Ashoka Hotel.
Vashistha Ashram, located in the Sandhychal hills, is an important pilgrimage centre. Constructed in the second half of the 18th century, the temple was built by the Ahom king, Raja Rajeswar.
This ashram is the last existing monument, which was constructed by the rulers of the Ahom dynasty. The ashram is the meeting point of three rivulets namely, Sandhya, Kanta and Lalita.
According to a popular belief, it is said that a dip in the water enhances a person’s life and also washes off the sins committed. In addition, there are several legends associated with sage Vashistha and this ashram.
According to one of the popular legends, it was said that the hermit Vashistha used to perform his ‘sandhya’ in a stream near his ashram, which was also his home. The sage became agitated due to the ardent games played by Lord Indra with his queen Shachi and other heavenly women in the stream, as the water became impure.
As a result of this, the sage cursed Indra that he would have sexual contact with a Daitya woman. This curse transformed Indra into a normal person and the curse of Vashistha also came true.
However, Lord Indra granted the Daitya woman with a blessing that her son would become a king. Her son later became the progenitor of the Ahom Kingdom and was the ruler of the entire region of Assam. According to another legend, it is believed that the sage gained spiritual success by dwelling into the secrets of Sakta practices.
The Assam State Museum, which showcases the unique culture and tradition of the north-eastern state, is located on the southern end of Dighalipukhuri Tank. Constructed in 1940, the museum features several sections such as archaeology, iconography, epigraphy and also numismatics. Visitors to the museum can see the various aspects of Assamese history and culture.
There is a huge showcase of ancient Assamese coins, fabrics, tribal arts and sculptures. The museum also organises exhibitions of the tribal huts, which have been reconstructed. Exhibitions are also organised displaying the traditional weaving along with several other handicraft products, like locally made cane and bamboo items, toys and pottery.
The archaeological and ethnographic displays of the museum include local costumes and terracotta. Apart from the sculptures of Surya, tourists can also see stone and copper plate inscriptions, which date back from the 5th century to the 12th century.
Srimanta Sankardeva Kalashetra, constructed in 1990, is one of the famous tourist attractions of Guwahati. It was built with an aim of exposing and exhibiting the exclusive culture and tradition of Assam to the outside world. Named after the saint of the Vaishnava culture, Srimanta Sankardeva, the Kalashetra is situated on the Shillong Road in the Panjabari district.
The central museum, an art gallery, an open-air theatre and a traditional Vaishnava temple are some of the major attractions located within this Kalashetra. There is also a library, Sahitya Bhavan Library. In this library, travellers can find a rare collection of famous Assamese books along with age-old manuscripts, which have been preserved.
Visitors can see a collection of the cultural articles and objects in the Central Museum, which were used by the indigenous tribes on daily basis. These have been preserved and showcased inside the central museum. In addition, there are articles made of bamboo and cane along with handmade weaving products, ethnic toys made of cloth and wood, etc. inside the Kalashetra.
The Lalit-Kala Bhavan, whici is located inside the Kalashetra has a large space available for exhibition, art and sculpture workshops.The open-air theatre inside serves as the venue of several cultural activities. With a total seating capacity of around 2,000, the theatre has hosted traditional dances, musical recitals, dramas and other cultural activities.
The most famous attraction of the Kalashetra is the artificial village, where the environment of a typical Assamese village has been recreated. There is also a Heritage park within the premises.
The Sukreswar temple, located at Sukreswar, is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is famous for housing the sixth Jyotirlinga of India.
According to one of the popular beliefs, it is said that a person performing post-death rituals at this temple will attain ‘moksha’ or peace for the dead. Constructed by the Ahom King Pramatta Singha, in 1744, this temple is believed to be the place where Sage Sukra resided and worshipped Lord Shiva.
ISKCON Temple is located on a hillock in Ulubari Chariali area, 2 km away from Guwahati railway station. The stark white exterior of the marble-floored Temple makes it a landmark of the locality. There are idols of Lord Krishna and his wife Rukmani, both dressed in beautiful attires. There is a flight of stairs leading to the temple and elders may need assistance to reach the temple.
Daily routines at ISKCON temple include Aarti, chanting, bhajans and Bhagavat Gita discourses. Devotees can attend the prayers irrespective of their religions and can have prasadam during mealtime at 1.30 pm. Best day to visit is Sunday when one can join prayers and can have Sunday bhogs (meals) for which INR 30/- is charged. Gita classes, personality development and stress management classes are also conducted here. There is a souvenir shop where one can buy ISKCON related badges, bhajan CDs, dresses and Tulsi malas.
Krishna Janmashtami, Jagannath Rath Yatra and Holi are celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm in the temple. Tourists can walk down or hire a taxi or rickshaw to reach the temple. ISKCON Temple Guwahati is a must-see destination for tourists, families and spiritual seekers.
The Bhubaneswari temple, a white shrine, is perched atop a hill adjacent to the city. Dedicated to Goddess Bhubaneshwari, the temple is visited by large number of tourists from across the country every year. From the temple, views of sunset on the Brahamputra River are available.
The temple is situated high upon a hill which takes a 20 minutes’ walk from the bus stand.
The Regional Science Centre, located at Khanapara in the Kamrup district, is one of the popular museums as well as science centres in Guwahati. Established in 1994, this science centre has interactive exhibits related to science education as well as pre historic life.
The major attractions of this science centre include magic tap, cliff lift, fun mirror and the colamin. The museum also provides an insight into the works of some of the renowned Indian and great scientists of the world.
The Navagraha temple, located on Chitrasal hills, is devoted to the nine planets of the solar system. Each of the nine planets in this temple is represented by a Shivalinga inside the temple. Covered by different coloured clothes, the nine lingas represent a different celestial body.
The origin of this temple dates back to the 18th century, which is supported by the inscriptions and recordings found on the walls of this temple. Belonging to the reign of Ahom King Rajeswar Singha, son of Rudra Singha or Sukhrungphaa, it is one of the most popular temples of Guwahati.
A considerable portion of this temple was destroyed by earthquake. However, a few centuries later, the temple was rebuilt with ridged iron sheets. There is a tank that was excavated at some distance from the temple. Known as Silpukhuri, this tank provides continuous water supply to devotees.
An important astrological and astronomical centre in the state of Assam, it is believed that the ancient name of Guwahati, Pragjyotishapura originated from this temple.
The Janardana temple is located on the Shukleshwar hillocks, which is nearby Shukleshwar Ghat of the River Brahmaputra. The temple dates back to the 17th century, when it is believed to have been renovated. However, according to popular belief, the Janardhana temple is believed to be much older.
The temple has an idol of Buddha, installed inside the main hall. The architecture as well as its construction style, both reflect a blend of Hinduism and Buddhism.
The Guwahati Planetarium, located on MG Road, is one of the major attractions of Guwahati. The aim of this planetarium is to spread awareness about astronomy. It also provides information about the universe along with several unsolved mysteries and queries.
Sky watching sessions and special programs are the major attractions of this planetarium. These are projected on a dome-shaped screen in a hall. At an interval of every two hours, these programs are conducted in different languages like English, Assamese and Hindi.
The Ugratara temple, located in the eastern part of Guwahati, in Uzan Bazaar, is an important Shakti shrine. Constructed by King Shiva Singh of the Ahom Kingdom in 1725, this temple serves as one of the most important pilgrimage centres of the state of Assam.
The temple has a tank, known as Jor Pukhuri, which is located in the east of this temple. Due to an earthquake, the upper section of the temple was destroyed, after which the present temple has undergone several renovations and modifications. These reconstructions were undertaken and managed by a private citizen.
Goddess Ugra Tara is the residing deity of this temple, who is considered to be another form of Parvati. According to a popular legend, this temple has been constructed on the same spot where the navel of Sati fell on the earth after she died.
The other legend related to this temple states that the temple has connection with Buddhism. In addition, it is also related to Eka Jata and Tiksna Kanta of the Buddhist pantheon.
Navratri is the main festival celebrated in this temple. During this festival, devotees from across the country visit to offer prayers and seek blessings of the Mother. An important ritual that can be witnessed during the festival is the sacrifice of animals like bulls, wild boars, goats and buffaloes. Another ritual linked to this temple includes offering one’s own blood to the Mother. However, the females of all the species are exempted from this sacrifice.