Guwahati, formerly known as Pragjyotishpur, is situated between the southern bank of the Brahmaputra river and the foothills of the Shillong plateau. It is popularly known as the "Gateway" to the North-east Region and is also an important hub for transportation in the region. It is also regarded as the third largest city in eastern India after Kolkata and Patna respectively.
Guwahati is one of the ancient cities in Asia. Based on engraved inscriptions, capitals of many ancient kingdoms can be placed in Guwahati. According to the Mahabharata, it was the capital of the mythical kings Naraka and Bhagadatta.
The Ambari excavations trace habitation in the city to the 6th century AD. The city referred as Pragjyotishpura and Durjoya at different times, was the capital under the Varman and the Pala dynasties. The traveller Hiuen Tsang in his account of the city said that under king Bhaskaravarma in the 7th century AD, the city was probably the most important base for his powerful naval force. It remained the capital of the Pala dynasty till 1th century AD. Excavations in Ambari have unearthed the fact that it was an economic and strategic powerhouse till the 11th century AD.
The destruction of the Kamata kingdom between the 12th -15th century AD, led to the city losing its glory and becoming only a strategic enclave of the Koch Hajo and Ahom kingdoms of western and eastern Assam, respectively. When the Western part fell to the Mughals, the Eastern half became an Ahom autonomous state.
The city then became the seat of the Borphukan, the Ahom viceroy for the Western part of the Ahom kingdom. Guwahati was seized many times by the Mughals. The famous battle of Saraighat fought near Guwahati in 1671 in which the Mughals were overwhelmed speaks volumes of (encapsulates) the leadership of Lachit Borphukan and toughness of the Assamese army.
Guwahati has the only airport in entire North East India named Lokopriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport. Indian Airways, Jet Airways and Air Deccan are the main flight operators in Guwahati. From here you have to either travel by train or road to other cities of Assam. Guwahati Airport receives international flights as well.
Paltan Bazaar Station is the busiest station in Assam. It is the only station in Assam that is connected to other states by train. To travel to other parts of Assam, you have to get down at Guwahati and catch a connecting train. There are ample of trains to interiors of Assam.
Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC) provides buses for inter state travel starting from the main bus stand. The road network to all parts of Assam and to other states is really impressive. The cost of travel is quite cheap affordable. It operates different types of buses like Deluxe, Super Fast Deluxe and Night Super fast Deluxe.
Guwahati offers wide and varied choices to shopper's. Shopping in Guwahati is a delightful experience and any trip to the city is incomplete without shopping. Guwahati has several markets where you can buy a variety of items. Famous traditional buys in Guwahati include silks, you may take them as souvenirs to your home. Opt from the varieties like Endi, Munga and Pat. You may also check a wide range of furniture, handicrafts and decorative items, made from bamboo and cane. Main shopping areas in the city are Fancy Bazar, Paltan Bazar and Pan Bazar. Here you can find items ranging from clothes, shoes and toys to the furniture and flowers of different varieties. Most of the emporium are located in Fancy Bazar and Pan Bazar area. You may also visit the roadside evening markets in these areas for traditional handicrafts.
Muga, pat and endi silks; bamboo and cane decorative items are things you could shop for. There are plenty of government emporiums that sell these at reasonable prices. The main shopping areas are Paltan Bazaar, GNB Road and Fancy Bazaar, and since you are out shopping, you could also visit the glitzy new shopping mall.
One of the must-haves on a shopping expedition to Guwahati is the exquisitely made bamboo and cane products. A number of items are made from bamboo and cane, right from household furniture to hairclips and other fashion accessories. Being rich in traditional handloom products, Guwahati offers a delightful range of exclusive silk sarees and mekhela chaddar (traditional attire), in the innumerous indigenous shops and emporiums. There is also a huge variety of other gift items, like wall hangings, caps and shawls. Other items include handmade toys from clay, pith, wood, and bamboo; Laichampi (a quilt like material); bell metal & brass utensils and tribal arts, like masks.
Right from domestic to international brands, the shopping areas in Guwahati offer you a wide selection in goods. If it is traditional silk products that you are looking for, then the local bazaars are the best place to shop. The market areas in Pan Bazaar and Fancy Bazaar are excellent for purchasing bamboo and cane products at very reasonable price. The major malls in the city are the Hub, Bhangagarh, Dona Planet, G.S. Road, Vishal Megamart, the Cube Mall and Sohum Shoppe, Kolkata Bazaar and Salasar. Recent additions to this list of shopping centers are Pantaloons, Big Bazaar and other malls in the FFORT Mall at Kachari Basti, G.S. Road.
Guwahati has good accommodation facilities, the best in northeast India. There are at least ten standard hotels and numerous small hotels in Paltan Bazaar area to choose from. The Brahmaputra Ashok Hotel and the Dynasty Hotel are popular options in the upper category.
Accommodation in not at all a problem in Guwahati, as the city has a number of hotels ranging from deluxe to budget hotels. Some of the famous hotels of the town are Hotel Brahmputra Ashok, Hotel Belle Vue, Hotel Landmark, Hotel Dynasty, Hotel Raj Mahal, Hotel Nandan, Hotel Vishwaratna etc.
Brahmaputra Beach Festival : Every year in the middle of January, the Brahmaputra Beach Festival is organized for five days, by the Assam Boat Racing and Rowing Association, in association with the Department if Tourism, Government of Assam. The beach festival is held on the sandy beach of the mighty Brahmaputra river and various colourful cultural activities are organized during the festival. The Indian Airforce organises adventure sports of para-trouping and paragliding during the festival. Besides, elephant rides, cultural programmes, a traditional north east fashion show and traditional Bihu food festival are major attractions of the festival.
River Cruises : River Cruises across the Brahmaputra is the most dominating feature of Guwahati. At present two type of cruising options are available that include the shot duration pleasure tour and longer excursions. Catch the ferry travelling between Sukheswar Ghat and North Guwahati or cruise a little more stylishly in one of the state tourism-rin vessels. Apart from these, take an hour's drive to Sualkuchi to explore the dazzling world of Assam.