Magnificently stretched by the mighty Brahmaputra River, bordered by hills and clad in pockets of forests, the town of Guwahati is an invitation to discover the mystical beauty of northeast India. The de facto capital of Assam may be known as the gateway to the northeast, but this metropolis – the region’s largest and one of India’s most vibrant – is a destination for explore in its own right. Inevitable development aside, it is a charming town of idyllic riverside walks lined with quaint cafes, parks and lakes that provide a break away from the mundane, old temples and new museums that showcase the rich culture and heritage of its warm and welcoming people; and a vibrant food and nightlife scene that is accentuated by the flavors of native cuisines. This is your guide to discovering the delicacies of Guwahati.
Where to stay:
The main thoroughfare on Guwahati-Shillong Road, more commonly GS Road, is the section here to stay in to experience the city at its best. Several high-end hotel chains have made their foray into the northeast with outposts in Guwahati, most of which are conveniently located on GS Road.
Occupying a prime estate just beyond the buzz and bustle of this stretch, where malls, restaurants and pubs brighten up against a landscape of green fields, coconut palms and Assam-style houses – reminiscent of a Guwahati of ancient times – stands the urban retreat Vivanta by Taj. Spread over five acres, this 5-star address features open lawns, a spa and fitness center, plus a choice of rooms and suites with city or hill views. An all-day multi-cuisine restaurant called Seven borrows heavily from regional specialties; the Zen-like Umami serves some of the best Japanese in town; and the young Octave lounge bar is perfect for relaxing with a drink or two.
If you’d rather be in the thick of it but still have a comfortable room with first-class modern amenities to come back to, then the Novotel Guwahati is an excellent choice. It offers 118 well-appointed rooms and suites, a spa, a 24/7 fitness center, and a rooftop infinity pool with stunning city views. The all-day global buffet restaurant, The Square, with live cooking and a selection of regional cuisines is a big draw for guests and locals alike. The chic cocktail studio, Malt offers a wide selection of single malts, smoked cocktails and the finest cigars.
Strategically located on NH-37, with easy access to the airport and downtown, the Radisson Blu Guwahati offers 196 spacious rooms and suites with contemporary decor, plush bedding and rainfall showers. If you’re traveling for business, you may want to book the Business Class Room or Suite, which includes additional perks like exclusive access to the Business Class Lounge, airport transfers, and free breakfast. A bouquet of six restaurants offers a range of cuisines, while room service is also available 24 hours a day.
For those who like their stay to be steeped in local flavors, the Guwahati address with its distinctive vernacular design is the best choice. A high stone-walled entrance leads to a pyramidal glass porch, while a forest of beautiful wooden columns guard the hall with a stained-glass ceiling. The janitor is made of Cherrapunji stones, with a large painting of Bihu dancers rendered in a graphic art style. The rooms echo the sentimentality of traditional design with handcrafted Assam teak furniture and a certain old world charm. In the dining room with an adjoining bar, a collage of frames depicting various textiles from the region vie for attention with an exquisite copper chandelier. A stay here is all the nuances of serenity, enhanced by a treatment session at the in-house spa.
Where to eat:
The hotels on-site restaurants do their part to offer a sample of local cuisines, but if you want to delve deeper into the authentic tastes of the region, then the no-frills Michinga in the upscale neighborhood of Uzan Bazaar is where you should head. . The thalis here, whether Assamese, Naga, Upper Assam Mughlai or Meghalaya Khasi, present the easiest and tastiest way to taste the best of the region’s culinary heritage.
On a related note, Taii Sinpho’s casual dinner which makes arguably the best pork dishes in town, including local favorites of pork with bamboo shoots and pork at Akhuni. The city is also full of Asian restaurants and the Red Hot Chili Pepper is among the best. For world cuisines, try Piazza for Italian, Shanghai Salsa for Mexican – and their highly recommended Bhut Jolokia Hot Wings – and 11th Avenue Bistro for American.
Also Read: Best Tourist Places in Assam
Where to drink:
Guwahati loves to indulge herself with good drinks and music, and there are plenty of water points in the city for this purpose. Microbreweries are the trend right now, and you’ll find some of the best home brews at Freemason’s Brewworks and Nuts & Brew. The largest property of its kind in the area, Freemason’s boasts a magnificent two-story wood and brick interior with a spectacular bar. Nuts & Brew, meanwhile, is frequented for its warm, laid-back rooftop vibe and lively parties.
Voted best Guwahati lounge last year, the European-themed Exoro offers some of the best cocktails in town alongside great food in every kitchen. The Root Barrel is a fun choice for a night out with friends, with great hilltop and city views from their cabin-style rooftop seats and great drink deals.
Where to shop:
If you had to buy just one thing during your stay in Guwahati, it would be a garment made from the exquisite silk of Assam. Available in three varieties: the white colored paw, the warm eri and the famous golden hued muga, Assam silk is known to be ethically produced by weavers who have been involved in the craft for generations.
A number of shops in Pan Bazaar are uniquely dedicated to beautiful Assam silk sarees, mekhala chadors (traditional Assamese attire) and fabrics, while Silkalay is one of the most popular places to mark a part of this. cultural heritage for Rs 2000 and up. For other local handicrafts such as bamboo and jute items, visit the government-run Pragjyoti Assam Emporium and NEDFi Haat, which showcase and promote the ethnic products of the northeast.
Visit the Chai Bar at the Guwahati Tea Auction Center to purchase a wide range of Assam teas. The various shopping malls including the city center and the central mall, as well as old markets such as Fancy Bazaar, will meet all your other retail therapy needs.
What to do:
One of the oldest of the 51 Shakti Pithas, Kamakhya Temple is the most important place to visit in Guwahati. Located on Nilachal Hill, this is where Sati’s yoni is believed to have fallen when Shiva danced with his corpse, according to the Kalika Purana. The feminine powers of fertility and menstruation are therefore revered here, and the goddess Kamakhya is a celebration of this “shakti” in every woman. The other big attraction right now is the newly installed cable car across the majestic Brahmaputra which takes you to the much quieter and greener north of Guwahati, dotted with old temples and quaint villages.
Another way to experience the charm of the river is to take a ferry to the smallest inhabited river island in the world, Umananda. This small landmass hump in the middle of the Brahmaputra includes a revered temple of Shiva, a few shops and restaurants, and a lovely walking path around the island.
To learn more about Assamese traditions and culture, a visit to the Shankardev Kalashetra Museum and Library is recommended. For a taste of Assam’s rich forests and wildlife, take a day trip to Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary. Just an hour from Guwahati, it has one of the highest concentrations of one-horned rhinos, in addition to being home to wild buffaloes, wild boars and thousands of migrating birds – a hobbyist’s paradise of sorts. of wildlife!