After visiting Goddess Kamakhya on first day, next day we kept for Guwahati sightseeing tour. Guwahati is a rambling city on the bank of The Brahmaputra River in Assam. Bounded by the small hills of The Himalayas, it is the largest city in North-East India. The city is also referred as the Gateway of the North-East India. This city has a great historical past starting its voyage from the ancient days Pragjyotishpur to the modern days Guwahati. I got a chance to visit Guwahati last year with my family. Guwahati is the biggest city of Assam and well connected by air, rail and road.
We stayed at Hotel Santinikatan in Guwahati. It is an average hotel. We have taken 2 AC rooms in the first floor. Rooms are clean with minimum amenities as required. Foods are fresh and tasty with pocket friendly prices but all items mentioned in the menu card are not available. After having our breakfast we got ready for Guwahati sightseeing tour. First we went to Umananda Temple.
1. Umananda Temple
First we went to an inhabited island i.e. the Umananda Island. It is known as the Peacock Island. The island is on the river Brahmaputra. It has a small and very old temple established by Ahom king. The 15th century Umananda temple is situated on a hillock and has Shiva as the presiding deity.
There were stairs to reach the main temple premises. One can have an attractive view from the temple. The surrounding forest and mighty river. We also observed few Golden Langurs, an endangered species of Langurs here. After offering our prayers, we came down the stairs and fetch a boat to return to the mainland. Sunsets are especially gorgeous when viewed from this island.
Ferry services are available from Kachari Ghat. Cheapest transportation is provided Inland Water Transport, which runs ferry services between Uzanbazar Ferry Ghat to Umananda Temple. The opening time of temple is at 5:30 AM and temple closes at 6 PM. Ferry Service available from 7 AM to 5 PM. Then we moved to Basistha Temple.
The temple is located at the base of a hill, where Basistha River passes over boulders creating different waterfalls. The temple includes different buildings. A red temple in typical Assamese style is located at a higher level, while closer to the river; there is a temple that carries different Ganesha statues on the outer walls. Across the river there is a sacred shrine under a tree, a small shrine of Shiva and on another small hill, a Manasha Devi temple with the story of Behula and Lakhinder.
The area is full of monkeys and squirrels that seem to live together with humans without any problems. In the rainy season, the streams of water gushing on the big dark boulders and the small waterfalls make it a wonderful place for nature lover. A small bridge over the stream usually has the monkeys jumping playfully on the ropes.
In the grounds around the stream, you can observe people doing ritual ceremonies for the dead family members such as pinda-daan in the water or getting the head shaved after the rituals, while monkeys wait to snatch the fruits and sweets.
Upstream, above another small bridge over the gushing waters takes you to an area where there were built many shiva-lingas in the stream. Then we went to Sankardeva Kalashetra which is situated in the Panjabari area of Guwahati.
For those who love to catch a glance of the traditional culture of the Assam, none can beat a visit to the Srimanta Sankaradeva Kalakshetra.
It is a cultural institution, which has been named after neo Vaishnavite guru – creative poet and plays righter Srimanta Sankardeva. He was born in the 15th century and has a deep impact on the Assamese culture.
The Kalakshetra complex houses a doll museum of different dance form of Northeast India. Srimanta Sankaradeva complex has a Study Centre, a vast library and an open-air theatre that can accommodate more than 2000 spectators and a small children park.
It also has Dr Bhupen Hazarika Museum which is another genius of Assam i.e. noted singer, composer and poet.
We also visited some beautiful stone statue depicting Assamese village life and culture. Then we visited Shilpagram located next to the cultural institution.
A crafts village displaying the conventional lifestyle of the people of villages in Assam, Shilpagram is a good place to visit.
Entry time of Srimanta Sankaradeva Kalakshetra is in between 10 AM to 7 PM. Entry Fee is Rs 30 for adults for Children Rs.10 (5-14yrs) and for Foreign Tourists: Rs 100.Parking Fees Rs. 5 for cycle, Rs. 10 for Two/ Three Wheelers, Rs. 20 for Four Wheelers and Rs. 40 for Six Wheelers.
Light & Sound Show starts at 05:30 PM in Assamese language and then at 06:15 PM in English Language. Light & Sound Show Tickets cost Rs. 30 per person (45 minute duration). If you want to enter with cameras then you have to pay Rs.10 for still Camera and Rs.100 for video Camera.
Our next spot of Guwahati sightseeing tour is Balaji Temple. The temple made up of white stone having shrines of Balaji, Laxmi and Durga. We offered our prayers, and simply marvel at the rambling campus with trees and flowering plants all around. Lighting around the campus and the stone scripture made the complex awesome.
The Tirupati Balaji Temple is a grand temple that incites admiration and sacredness among all its pilgrims. To give tribute to this temple of South India, a similar temple is built in Assam. This temple is acknowledged as Purva Tirupati Shri Balaji Temple. This wonderful temple is located in the city of Guwahati in Assam. The temple is dedicated to the Shri Venkateshwara.
The architecture of the temple is quite vast. It is built on a vast land spreading over a large area. The design and sculpture of the Purva Tirupati Shri Balaji Temple are very unique and it’s built up of stones. The main gate has the blessings of Lord Ganesha. Apart from the main sanctum, there are other temples also, which are devoted to Lady Padmavathi, the Lord’s consort and Garuda, the Lord’s carrier. Many tourists and pilgrims visit this Purva Tirupati Shri Balaji Temple from all over India. Purva Tirupati Shri Balaji Temple opens at 07:00 AM and closes at 11:00 AM and then again opens at 03:30 PM and closes at 08.00 PM. Then we went to Assam State Museum.
Assam State Museum
The Assam State Museum is situated within the southern end of Dighali tank which is in the heart of Guwahati city, Assam. The Museum was established by the Assam Research Society. Later, it was taken over by the Assam State Government.
The exhibits of the Museum are displayed under different sections comprises, Sculptures, Miscellaneous, Natural History, art and Crafts, Anthropology & Folk Art & Arms section. The collections which are on display here are very rare and unique.
The library in Assam State Museum is a good collection of varied periodicals, journals and books concerning art, culture, mythology, biography, encyclopedic works.