Guwahati is a major city in Northeastern India, with a population of 818,809 (2001 census). It is the largest city in the Northeast region of India. It is said to be the "Gateway of the Northeast Region". Guwahati is one of the most rapidly growing cities in India. During the past few decades it has experienced expansion and also a steep rise in population. According to a survey done by a UK media outlet, Guwahati is among the 100 fastest growing cities of the world, and is the 5th fastest growing Indian cities. This erstwhile capital of the demon king, "Narakasura", finds mention in the great Indian epic "Mahabharata". It is also the ancient land of "Kamrupa" from which the present day name of the Kamrup Administration District (under which is Guwahati) has been derived. "Kama - Rupa" was the land where the Hindu God of beauty, fertility and life was reborn!
Gauhati was the original name in English; which was later changed to Guwahati, keeping in consonance with the local Assamese dialect of pronouncing it as "Guwahati". It is said that in the olden days a beetle-nut market existed here and hence the name "Guwa" meaning beetle-nut and "hati" (or "haat" meaning market). The city is situated between the southern bank of the River Brahmaputra and the foothills of the Shillong plateau, with Loka Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport to the west, and the town of Narengi to the east. River Brahmaputra is the only river in India with a male name. "Brahmaputra" means the son of "Lord Brahma". The city is gradually being expanded at North Guwahati on the northern bank of the River Brahmaputra. The Guwahati Municipal Corporation, the city's local municipal government, administers an area of 216 km², while the Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority, the planning and development department, administers an area of 340 km².
Guwahati is a major commercial and educational center of North-East India and is the home to world renowned institutions such as the Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati. The city is a major center for cultural activities and sports in the North Eastern region and for the administrative and political activities of Assam. International cricket matches are held in the city from time to time. The city is also an important hub for transportation in the North East Region. Guwahati is the principal centre of socio-cultural, political, industrial, trade and commerce of the entire region; where Dispur, the capital of Assam is situated in the heart of the city. The world's largest Tea Auction Centre is located in Dispur.
There are several interesting and lively places in the city. These areas provide the city with hotels, restaurants, shopping and business areas, the most lively being the city center. Momos and chicken rolls are a popular form of fast-food available in almost every restaurant. Moreover, there are several good restaurants offering North Indian, South Indian, traditional Assamese, Chinese and Continental food. There are also several good book shops and music stores. A few of these areas are:
Pan Bazaar: A lively part of the city center on the southern bank of the River Brahmaputra. The Cotton College, Digholipukhuri, State Museum, Reserve Bank of India, District Court (Kamrup District), etc. are all major landmarks. Moreover, the area also possesses many libraries, major government offices, and shopping malls. Restaurants and bookshops in the area provide an unique environment. It also contains a major wholesale market for drugs and pharmaceutical products, and is a hub for printing and publication. Close to Digholipukhuri there are many stores with traditional arts and crafts from Assam and other parts of the Northeastern region. Kachari Ghat, next to the district court is an important local river port.
Fancy Bazaar: Situated in the western part of the city-center is a busy commercial district for both wholesale and retail. Originally called Fansi Bazaar after the district jail that executed criminals by fansi, ( or hanging in the local language). The name has slowly transformed to Fancy Bazaar to denote the retail stores for clothes and garments. The place is also the hub for various wholesale products ranging from food and beverages, garments, to hardware and building materials.
Paltan Bazaar: In the central part of the city-center is the hub for transportation and hotels. With Guwahati Railway Station, the regional bus stand (ASTC), numerous hotels, restaurants and offices and stops for numerous private regional bus service providers, this area is the busiest and most congested. There are also many small shops selling traditional garments from various parts of the Northeast region.
Ganeshguri: A developed commercial area in the south, outside of the city-center. Its proximity to the state capital complex and rapidly growing southern residential areas have made it an important city sub-center. Ganeshguri is a busy part of the city with retail shopping areas, hotels and restaurants, and small businesses.
Beltola Bazaar: A traditional weekly fruits and vegetables market with historic importance. The market has existed since its historic past and is an important traditional trading point between the people from the Khasi hills (Meghalaya) and local people. It is a rich market with various types of local food products. It is located in Beltola, a predominantly residential area in the south.
G S Road: A long stretch of road between Ganeshguri and Paltan Bazaar, G S Road has emerged as the new commercial hub of Guwahati. G S Road boasts of some of the finest malls and restaurants Guwahati has to offer, and is considered by many to displace Fancy Bazaar and Pan Bazaar as the major shopping centers in the years to come. This area also includes one of the most important and expensive land holdings of Guwahati, containing some of the most commercially important buildings.
Guwahati War Cemetery: A World War II war cemetery, maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
River Cruise: One of the major attractions of Guwahati is the River Cruise on the Brahmaputra river.To go a cruise on the mighty river is thrilling experience.There cruise vessels like 'Jolporee','Charaidew', 'Alfresco' , 'Baginadi' etc. that will take the visitors on joy rides on the Brahmaputra river.Sitting abroad these luxurious cruise vessels tourists can relax and enjoy the beautiful view of the sunset in the evening hours
Umananda Temple: Situated on the peacock island in the middle of the Brahmaputra,this temple was built in 1664.This is a Shiva temple.It is believed that Lord Shiva by using his third eye burnt Kamdeva at this place.Every year Shivaratri is celebrated in this temple in great way.This temple island is believed to be the worlds smallest human inhabited island.
Accoland: Accoland Family fun kingdom is North-East's only amusement park.named after Acco,the mythological king of amusement.This 'Family Fun Kingdom' is located at Rani.
Srimanta Shankardev Kalakshetra: Shankardev Kalakshetra is a place that visitors should never miss in Guwahati. Shankardev Khalakshetra name synonymous with the great Vaishnava saint and scholar of Assam Srimanta Shankardeva.It is a multipurpose cultural complex in Assam that has fulfilled its aim in protecting, promoting and preserving the cultural heritage of the different communities and tribes of Assam and the entire country.
Guwahati Planetarium: Situated in Uzanbazar this planetarium is the only one of its kind in the entire North-Eastern region and a centre of astronomical research.
Assam State Museum: Assam State Museum is situated near Dighali Pukhuri. This state museum houses many rare, specimen of Ahom Dynasty.Many articles equipment, dress materials belonging to the Glorious past of Assam are found here. Many antiques, statues, manuscripts, written on Shashi-paat and other valuable articles are preserved and displayed here.
Kamakhya Temple: Situated some 5 km. away from the main city on the Nilachal Hill, the Kamakhya Temple is one of the most sacred Hindu Shrines of India. Goddess Kamakhya is worshipped here.'Ambubachi Mela' is celebrated every year in the middle of June in this temple.Lots of devotees from across the country gathered here during this mela.
Nehru Park: Situated at heart of the city at Panbazar by the side of Cotton College. Nehru Park is another place that visitors should never miss.The highlights of the park are the concrete statues of Bihu dance, Ojapali dance, Deodhani dance, Jhumur dance, Bhoor tal dance etc. There are altogether 45 concrete statues depicting these various aspects of Assamese life and culture.
NEDFi Haat: NEDFi Haat is located at a leased building of Industries & Commerce Department Govt. of Assam.In NEDFi Haat visitors can buy various handicraft & handloom products . As well as they can buy varieties of traditional food items produced by the Self Help Groups of the State in the Bihu seasons.
Assam State Zoo Cum Botanical Garden ( Guwahati Zoo): Assam State Zoo is located at Hengerabari Reserved Forrest in the city.
Basistha Temple: Basistha Temple is situated on Sandhyachal Hill,on the southern part of the city, this beautiful tourist spot was once the ashram (harmitage) of sage Basistha.
Sukreswar Temple: Sukreswar Temple is an ancient Shiva temple built by Ahom king Pramatta Singha on Dakini Jogini hill by the side of river Brahmaputra.
Navagraha Temple: Situated on the Chitranchal hill, this temple of nine planets (Navagraha) was built by Ahom king Rajeswar Singha. There is a stone imprint of solar system inside the temple.
Digholi Pukhuri: Situated at the heart of the city at Uzanbazar and surrounded by the High Court on the north and the State Museum and District Library on the south. This is a huge man made tank.It was excavated by the mighty king Bhagadatta to celebrated the 'sayambar' of his daughter Bhanumati who was married off to Kourava prince Druyadhana.There is boating club on the Dighali Pukhuri.
Ugro Tara Temple: Situated at the heart of the city banks of Jurpukhuri(twin ponds).The Ugro Tara Temple is another shkati peeth temple where the eyes of sati were believed to have fallen.
Balaji Temple, Guwahati: This temple is a recent addition to the religious places of Guwahati.It is situated at Betkuchi area of the city.Balaji temple with striking South Indian architecgture is unlike the other temples of this place.In the evening illuminated by electric lights the temple looks very beautiful.