Sandwiched between the Brahmaputra river and the Shillong plateau, Guwahati is said to be the “Gateway” of the North East Region. Whether you are heading to see the One-Horned Rhinos of Kaziranga in Assam or the Tattooed Tribes of Ziro in Arunachal Pradesh, Guwahati is your major connecting city!
Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport also called Guwahati International Airport, is the main international airport of the North-Eastern States of India.
So if you are in Guwahati waiting for your connecting train or flight, here are a couple of destinations you can cover in those few hours.
Dipor Bil (Deepor Beel) is a permanent freshwater lake, in a former channel of the Brahmaputra River in Guwahati.
It is about 5 km from the Guwahati Airport (GNB Int. Airport).
The name Dipor Beel has its origin in the Sanskrit word ‘Dipa’ which means Elephant. In the Assamese language, ‘Beel’ means wetland. Thus, Dipor Beel essentially means a large aquatic body inhabited by an elephant.
Scores of aquatic vegetation like water hyacinth, aquatic grasses, and water lilies are found in the lake. Elephants frequent the Beel to feed on the floating plants.
On this mosaic of diverse shades of green and brown were camouflaged hundreds of birds, both local and migratory.
The early bird catches the worm and the early visitor catches a good glimpse of the birds.
One gets to see the likes of the Potbilled pelican, lesser Adjutant stork, Baer’s pochard, Pallas’ sea eagle, greater Adjutant stork, the Siberian crane and a host of other species of birds.
The birds start arriving towards the end of October and stay here until March.
The Dipor Bil provides livelihood by fishing to villagers living close to its boundaries.
When I was here in March 2018, I was informed that boating in the lake is no more allowed for tourists.
When to go:
October to March
- Guwahati, Kamrup district, Assam
- It is about 5 km from the Guwahati Airport (GNB Int. Airport).
Located on the Nilachal Hills, the Kamakhya temple was built between the 8th and 9th century during the Mleccha dynasty.
But the deity within is an ancient one, a Tantrik goddess predating Vedic culture some say, or even older.
A cleft in the rock, the goddess is worshipped in the form of a womb. (source).
Legend has it after the death of his wife, Sati, Shiva was inconsolable and clung to her corpse. Vishnu cut Sati’s body so that Shiva would finally let go.
The places on earth where the various body parts fell became Shakti Peethas or the seats of the Goddess.
The Kamakshi temple comprises of four chambers – one Garbhagriha and three mandapas.
The Garbhagriha is believed to contain her yoni (womb).
An interesting festival called Ambubasi (Ameti) fertility festival is observed here.
After the first rains, once every year, red fluid flows out from the cleft in the rock. This red color is believed to be goddess Kamakshi’s menstrual blood.
For those three days, the temple remains closed and opens with great festivity on the fourth day.
Kamaykhya Temple Timing:
5:30 AM to 10:00 PM
Kamakhya Mandir Road, Kamakhya, Guwahati.
- If you plan to visit the temple through general line be ready to spend 4-5 hours at least.
- If you pay ₹500 you will get through VIP entry but even that takes 2 to 2.5 hrs. Weekends are the most crowded days.
Shopping in Guwahati
For the local flavour of artefacts head to Paltan Bazar and/or Fancy Bazar.
I picked up Jaapi (a local traditional bamboo hat) and Gamocha (towel) as souvenirs.
If you love saris don’t forget to check out the Assamese Traditional Mekla Chadar(Sari). You will find beautiful embroidery in Muga Silk.
Breakfast? – Chisel Health Cafe
Who would want to visit a Gym while hopping between connecting trains right? Well if you reach too early and there are no eating joints open, a health Cafe is your only option.
With no Panty Car in the train, I was too famished to Explore Guwahati without eating anything and thankfully found Chisel Health Cafe with its healthy eating options available that early morning.
₹400 for two people (approx.)
Lunch / Dinner – Thali – Paradise Restaurant
For an authentic Non Vegeterian Assamese food order the Parampara or Vyanjan thali. For Asamese Vegeterian food you can order the vegerterian fixed meal.
Maniram Dewan Road, Silphukhri
₹1000 for two people (approx.)