When all you have is 8 hours in Guwahati, what do you do? I am not sure how I missed writing a post about my stop-over in Guwahati but there can never be a better time than now. In the last one year when travelling has not been as easy as it used to be, I have realised that the most memorable trips were not the perfect ones but those which were quirky and unplanned. Instead of exotic places, I loved discovering hidden gems in not so popular corners of India. The trips that happened at the spur of the moment turned out more enjoyable and joyous than the ones which had loads of expectations riding on their back. The impromptu trip to Guwahati was one of the sorts which just happened because I had an option to delay my flight and get a feel of the city. I had no itinerary and I had no pre-conceived notions about the city. All I wanted was to experience the intangible warmth of its people, culture and everyday life. I had a chance to see a new city and I did not want to miss it. The trip happened in 2019 when social distancing were not a thing.
8 Hours in Guwahati – 5 pit stops!
I was on my way back from Itanagar to Delhi via Guwahati. In the normal circumstances, my train was supposed to reach Guwahati at 4:30 in the morning and I had a flight to Delhi at 8 a.m. But I opted for a late evening flight instead of the morning one. I had exactly 10 hours to move around in Guwahati and I made the best of it. I had a partner in crime and together we explored the city in chauffeur driven car.
By the time, we were out of the station, it was already 5 a.m. and the first thing I wanted to do in Guwahati was to see the mighty Brahmaputra river. I was not sure what the sunrise views were but I wanted to be there when the sun spread its rays. Brahmaputra is one of the largest rivers in the world that runs through Tibet, China, India and Bangladesh. Brahmaputra river flows right through the city, not very far from the station. Sunsets make for picturesque captures but I knew I couldn’t stay, thus I made the best of the misty morning. In the year 2020, Brahmaputra has been adorned with the biggest ropeway in India, so next time whenever you are there, you must not miss it.
Morning markets -Fish, veggies and bamboo craft
From there, I took a break in a local hotel, changed clothes and booked a cab for the rest of the day. The driver was a smart chap and he did not waste a minute in showing us all that he could. He immediately drove down to the morning fish market by the river bank, vegetables market and the boat stand where one could take boat rides to Umananda Temple (the one that stands in the middle of the river). Just next to it is a small crafts market too. Assam has been traditionally rich in bamboo and I brought some of its cane and bamboo products.
From there, he drove down to the south eastern part of the city to show us the temple of the nine celestial bodies – Navgraha Temple. It is located on top of Chitrasal Hill, which is also known as Navagraha Hill. Navgraha means nine planets. It is among the popular places of pilgrimage of Assam. The temple stands unique with its red colored dome shaped temple and the nine lingas that it houses inside the sanctum sanctorum.
Museum, Street Art, Fancy Bazaar and Flowers Market
Guwahati has three lovely museums – Assam State Museum, Regional Science Museum and Treasured Wheels. I did not have enough time because it was already afternoon but I I insisted on Assam State Museum. It was a Monday and the museum was closed as per schedule. Well, I used the time to take some shots of the street art of Assam and check out the old markets of Guwahati. I think I visited Fancy Bazaar and even touched upon the Paltan Bazaar road. Pandu railway bazaar is the market around the railway station. Fancy bazaar had a whole street dedicated to flowers.
After indulging in the local markets and shopping, I asked the driver to take me to Kamakhya Temple. No visit to Guwahati is complete without visiting this popular and unique temple dedicated to the mother goddess Kamakhya. The temple celebrates the ability of a woman to conceive. There is no taboo about the menstrual days. The bleeding Goddess resides on the Nilachal hill in Guwahati. It is one of the Shakti peeths of India. To my bad luck, the queue was very long and I could not go inside but I did spend an hour around the area to soak in the enigmatic vibes.
Dr Bhupen Hazarika Samadhi Khetra Memorial
Last but not the least, on my way to the airport, I caught a glimpse of the Dr Bhupen Hazarika Samadhi Khetra Memorial. This place offers a tribute to the famous Assamese singer Bhupen Hazarika. In 2018, a museum was also opened at the same place to celebrate the life and works of the renowned singer. Not to forget, I also met some artists making Durga idols for the upcoming Durga Puja festival.
This is how I spent 8 hours in Guwahati. You can also use this post as a one day itinerary. Hope you find it useful. I had a great day. I thanked the driver. Paid him a little more than the bill for being patient with our demands. I had been awake since 4 in the morning, so I slept in the flight.