A bow to my very own city of Guwahati

Well, almost two decades away from home..yes that’s the number of years I am been away, right from my college days..So much has changed since then.The city of Guwahati almost brimming now with
a new found change..Modern, technologically advanced,great architecture, modern amenities , almost at par with a high flying metro city. I dont see a reason for not calling it a metro.
Never mind, the fact of the matter here is that this is my very own native city, my city of birth. The old city has grown manifolds into a beautifully bustling city with not only a lot of newer things but also now its more exposed  to the o the world. The old heritages of the state, the silk industry, the bamboo industry, the tea industry ,the oil industry , the hospitality and warmth of the people, the revered kamakhya temple, the greens and valleys ,kaziranga are more open and exposed to the outside world.. Very few knew about the arts ,history and the great natural resources and the incredible silk industry from Assam.
And I am so glad that I can actually write about these facts through this post ,Thankyou www.indiblogger.com firstly, for even having a theme like this and encourage bloogers to write about one’s native own city.
Its not just writing about one”s city but a view into one of the most beautiful rich in natural resources, incredible talent and resources of the state and the city which is still unknown to many Indians, forget the global audience. But actually on a second thought, the global audience is perhaps more aware of Assam as a state for the high rich silk industry ,since a huge number of exports take place from this handwoven Industry. So is the case with Tea and Oil,. Its the global audience perhaps which have better knowledge about these resource since large export deals and transactions take place
Its an irony and a poignant affair that the rest of the  country are not even aware of the city called Guwahati and its beauty, or the land of Assam. For the record, we all now that the North East has been of the most neglected states. And you will be surprised at its bounty, rich resources, and abundance of heritage, food and culture, not to mention of the beautiful and incredible geographic landspace that it can boast of.
So today, here I am writing down a few facts that I think constitutes the city of Guwahati and  land of Assam and also some of the most possible activities that I or any tourist would love to do while on their visit to  Guwahati. So its actually an oscillation between facts and things to do here.
Fact No 1- the Assam silk industry
The silk industry is one of the most incredible resources of the state. Unmatched and handwoven, beautifully intricate designs by handloom, these are unique and exquisite the the state. that cant be found anywhere in the planet. sadly,its very poorly promoted even within the country. While the kanchipurams, and the bhagalpuri silks, the Lucknowi suits are well known, this silk (pat and muga) or the traditional “mekhela sador” that is the traditional two peice saree made of assam silk is never heard of. But now with the advent of new designers and social media, we do get to see it gaining some importance even in fashion shows. The colours and the silk with its beautiful handwoven motiffs are extraordinary and for me they are one the most beautiful peice of garment produced from the country. You will need to see its beauty to believe it. The “mekhela sador” is a two peice garment worn like  a saree made of pure silk from Assam. Originally there are two types of silk, “Pat” (white silk) and “Muga” ( brown or beige). The color difference is due to the type of silkworms that they are produced from. In fact the area of ‘Suwalkuchi’ is the hub of silk in Assam so are different places.You need to see the entire process of thread making and the handloms to understand the intricacy and detailing that goes into each peice which is unique and exclusive. In short Assam has one of the largest handloom/handwoven industry in the country. You can see and buy beautiful variants from the varied shops in Guwahati. I have mentioned them in the to- do list

 

 

The assam silk woven on handlooms

Fact No 2- the Tea industry
Obviously Tea industry is very famous unanimously. The world’s largest Tea growing region, yes you heard it right..I dont  need to write much .  The beauty of the tea gardens is something that you need to witness to understand the largeness of the tea industry in Assam. You can buy yourself some beautiful packs from the super markets in guwahati and also perhaps visit the offices of Tata tea and Williamson Magor in Guwahati
Beautiful, surreal and heavenly, they are to be witnessed. The tea workers, their intricate art of plucking and the entire process from cut to finish is something that you can witness if you visit any of the tea gardens. Mostly spread over Upper Assam, as you cross by, you can see tea gardens on both sides of the road that which is divine and heavenly
                                             Tea Gardens, courtesy google images
Fact no 3- The most revered Kamakhya temple
One of the famous temples of the country, Kamakhya is a very majestic temple of Assam and dedicated to Mother goddess Kamakhya .Goat sacrifice is one of the most common practices here. People from across the country visit Kamakhya temple to seek her blessings.In fact it is a pilgrimage place for hindus .Beautifully placed up on Nilachal  hill, it has a conjoin of many small temples as well that are dedicated to different Gods and Goddesses. Also seen are tantrik activities in a large scale, which is somethig to be witnessed if you feel like.
                        The majestic Kamakhya temple, courtesy google images
Famous in the world for one horned rhinos,it is a world heritage site and houses two thirds of the world’s one horned Rhinos.This is pure bliss.A little away form the city of Guwahati,hevenly abode is what you experience while staying at one of the beuatiful wooden resorts.Take  an elephant ride and look aorund the jungle or stay atop a tree house and see the jungle by night , its beauty and the life of the wide animals.. In fact ,you can see a throng of foreigners at Kaziranga during season time, which is a fact that while the global audience are well aware of this place, we Indians  havent explored..Sad

 

Fact no 5- BohahBihu, the cultural festival of assam

 

Bihu ideally comprises of three different types of Bihu. Bohag orrongali bihu that celebrates the agricultural season in mid april, Magh Bihu that coincides with Lohri and kati Bihu durin october. Amongst these bohag bihu is the most joyous cultural festival of assam bringing in peace, lve harmony and brotherhood amongst all caste andreligions . The hustle bustle of pre bihu shopping, the markets are crowded an households are busy preparing the pithas and larus. While the young and old get ready to visit all the cultural programms across the city which host some of the famous singers and bihu dancers, its all a beautiful feeling around..Love and peace ,good food and fun combined.The climate is at it best too wooing you to love the city and the festive air.

Bihu dance 





Fact no 6- the bamboo and cane industry
Another big industry is the cane and bamboo industry.  Intricate designs ,the best in bamboo and cane is what you get there. You can go upto any shop or emporium and pick up some fine bamboo and cane products that could be used at home. Every assamese household will boast of artistic cane and bamboo items
Fact no 7-  The river Brahmaputra
A famous river of Asia, Assam can  boast of paternity claims of this mighty brahmaputra as a one of its highlight.Originating from Tibet and flowing through the himalayas this river rests in Assam and follows through to Arunachal Pradesh which is known as dihang there.
The very famous brahmaputra bridge is a pride of Guwahati and it showcaces the width and breadth of the river.
                                                The Brahmaputra Bridge

Fact no 8- Pithas and larus- sweet savories from Assam

Savories from Assamese culture. Like every city has their own list of goodies, so Assam boasts of the larus and pithas. Mostly made with riceflour and jaggery or seasme seeds, these are sweet delicacies prepared at home during the festival of Bihus originally. Quite a taxing process, hence they appeared only during festivals.But nowadays, with modern technique and a way to popularize the delicacies you also get them at grocery stores and super markets finely packed. the narikol laru, and pitha and the ghila pithas are widely available
Fcat no 9-Bhut jolokia(Ghost Chilli)- In 2007 the bhut jolokia ( bhut means ghost , jolokia refers to chilly in Assamese)was rated as the spiciest chilly in the world.Currently it is the second most spiciest chilly. Not known to many Indians, this is found in the state of Assam.Was never very popular across the country, however I am so glad to see a bhut jolokia sauce in grocery stores and other recipes made with bhut jolokia. Its a welcome change really. for the spice lovers you cannot miss tasting this chilly.Am sure it will blow your heads off with the first bite

 

                                                         Bhut Jolokia / Ghost Chilly







Fact no 10-Khar,a speciality from Assam and Kazi nemu

 

Made from burned banana leaves this is a typical dish from Assam that which has a pungent effect, It comes in a liquid form that which is used to make a specific type of dish either with raw papaya or whole green lentils and kabuli or black chanas mixed. Both  the dishes are called khar.’Omitar'(raw papaya) khar or boot maah(green whole lentils and black chanas) khar. You could also relish khar with fish head
Another speciality from Assam.This is a kind of lemon but in a oval shaped which is grown in the land of Assam. You wouldnt find that in the north, west or south of the country
So while I oscillate between facts and what we should do, here are some things that you definitely need to do based on the facts aboveFact no 11- Durga Puja,
As much as it is celebrated in the state of West Bangel, so is it is in Assam. Durga Puja forms an integral part of the annual calender of festivities. Just like Bihu there is  a certain charm in the air. the worship of Maa Durga coupled with with good food and new clothes brings in a lot of fun and happiness. The city of Guwahati is flooded with an indomitable  number of puja pandals that people go to seek Maa Durga”s blessings.

In fact I can vouch for every Assamese across the globe that they would make it a point to visit at least one Durga Puja Pandal whichever city they reside in be in India or abroad. My cousins are regulars at some of the Durga Puja functions in US. So is the case with me.I never fail to visit the numerous durga puja pandals in Mumbai

 

With the above umbrella of facts that is a small synopses of the city and the culture, you will end up doing  a list of things that speak and associate with these facts. a list to do things below gives a fairy good idea for a tourist of how he should spend his days if he lands up in Guwahati
1. Relish an authentic Assamese meal at “delicacy” restaurant
A traditional Assamese meal is a must for any visitor. In fact when I am on a vacation back in Guwahati, the first thing that I do is rush to the nearest restaurant that serves authentic and indeginious foods from the land of Assam.Guess its how every assamese going home for a vacation feels. A plate full of the most ethnic and traditional recipes with a bowl of rice is worth trying. Thankfully, there are a avalance of such restaurants that serves assamese food, so its absolutely great. Delicacy, Maan Dhaniya, Paradise, Bhut Jolokia, Akhol all of them serve the most authentic recipes from Assam. My favourite pick is the restaurant Delicacy tucked at the corner of Ganeshguri.
Chicken , Duck, Pork, Mutton and pigeon apart from fish recipes is what the menus will include. Made with ethnic herbs and spices these are worth a try. Duck with lentils, pigeon meat with banana flower, fish with sesame seeds, chicken with lai xaax, pork with bamboo shoots etc are some of the most popular dishes
                                      A plate of Assamese thali at Delicacy
2.Carry your bagful of assam silk gamrmnets from Silkalay (mekhela chadar)
You have to buy a piece of an Assamese “mekhela sador”. If not then a saree of Assam Silk for sure. The only industry in the world to make Assam silk, you will fall in love with the wide range available in stores, is my promise. You can shop from a few prominent stores like Silkalay, Assam Silk house, Nedfi Hut, Baishya Silk house, Assam Emporium , Purbashree to name a few
                                            A beautiful range of makhela chadars

 

3.Dont fail to visit Maa kamakhya, andthe most revered navagraha temple.

 

Even celebs are often seen seekng blessing from Maa kamakya. You need to visit the temple to see it”s power and belief of the people
4.Kaziranga, the land of one horned rhinos, cant miss.Stay in a beautiful resort and watch the beauty of the jungle atop a treehouse
5. Go for a picnic during winters by a river side
6. Go out clubbing to Teramaya and Cafe hendrix. Hoards of new find places are vaialable if you need to party. Teramaya and Cafe hendrix tops the list. Followed by Topaz
7.Witness one Bihu, either ‘Bohag’ or ‘Magh”. Bihu .Bohag bihu is the best time if you need to see Assamese culture at its best. April 15th is when the new year and Bohag Bihu starts. Celebrating the harvesting season and welcoming the new year(that starts on 15th April), the entire city and the state is marked by bihu festivities, cultural program mes and huge savories, you will witness the entire culture in a gist if you happen to tour during this time. Magh bihu coincides with lohri, which is celebrated with a great feat on 14th jan
8. Carry back your packs  of fresh assam tea leaves
Obviously you will by default come back with fresh tea leaves straight from the tea gardens. Cant miss that.Strong flavor dominated by the fresh leaves, it leaves with behind a lingering effect. But tea in Assamese style is always had strong with very little milk unlike the rest of the Indians. I have seen people outside Assam consuming tea with equal quantity or even more of milk then water. That in reality is not how tea is made. Just little milk so as to savor the flavor of the strong tea. Additionally tea is never boiled and kept simmering. Just when the water boils, the tee leaves are immersed and removed in less then a minute.. This is what gives out the flavor of Assam tea
9.Take a ride on a cruise by the Brahmaputra
There are various cruises that even cruise restaurants that would take you through a ride of the Brahmaputra in Guwahati at night. Beautiful way to show you through the city of Guwahati
12.Visit Greenwood Resort or any other resorts by the highway and enjoy the whole day relaxing and angling .
Green wood according to me is by far the best that rests atop a hill.A beautiful resort by the highway, this is like a weekend gateway. Placed against a hillside, the entire resort is spread out into various pars. the retsaurants are made of wood ,in fact the entire resort is wooden base, it also has a small emporium where you can withness the handloom process and technique of making mekhela sadors from Assam silk. You can even buy one for your self. Lakes and Angling as options you can laze around the entire day admiring nature and beauty with a small sanctuary as well that’s inside the premises.
                                                       Greenwood resort, courtesy google images

 

13 Take  a round of Cotton College, the first and the best college of the entire north east and the highlight of Guwahati, built by Mr Henry cotton, a British officer during the British Rule

 

14. Gauhati University– One of the most revered university of the Country, it is very widely and vastly located geographically. The different departments, administrative office, the huge auditorium that hosts the North east youth festivals , the boys and girls hostels and the professor resident quarters all merge together to decipher a beautiful community in itself that is beautifully tucked away from the city. Surrounded by hills and mountains you will be welcomed and witness a variety of animals that sway along the hills  like monkeys, jackals etc.Ha ha not to be worried of course, but we are used to seeing them trotting round .
14. Spend a day at the guwahati zoo, one of the best zoos I think
For me it so far is one of the best zoos..beautiful and widely laid out in a geographical area it is an ideal place for picnic goers, I have many memories of having had picnics in the zoo. Huge and astounding, it s worth a visit.
15 If you are a shopping freak then apart from picking up your mekhela chadar, you can rush off to Fancy Bazaar and Panbazar, the very old crux of local shopping. Fancy Bazaar is one of the oldest markets for shopping. You will get almost everything here in the bylanes and small shops.Drop by at the most amazing restaurants or just relish the very popular street made Chicken Rolls(frankies for the unknown) and momos(or dimsums) or a plate of Chow Chow ( as noodles are called in Guwahati/Assam).Or just grab a plate of piping hot Singras (Samosas as they are called so in Assamese) or Aloo chops and a cup of tea at the famous Lakhi Cabin restaurant.
16.Travel upwards to upper Assam to the city of Digboi which boasts of the first oil refinery in Asia. The carvings on the monuments showcase the history of the refinery. The British had found oil for the first time while digging and that was how they realized that the soil was composed of great oil. So that’s how  first oil refinery was invented and developed. Digboi was a hub for the Britishers during their rule
                                   Digboi Oil refinery, courtesy google images
15.if you want a luxurious stay, you can book yourself at the renaissance, Marriot, Pragati manor, Brahmaputra ashok or the upcomig Taj vivanta.

16. Dont miss the larus and pithas, the sweet savories from Assam. They are widely available across the supermarkets nowadays.

                    Pithas and larus- delicacies from Assam, courtesy google images

18. And if you still have time , then just take a boat ride by Silpukhuri lake and bask in the glory of the city.

 

And much more actually, while the facts are a part of the Assamese culture, the to -do list of things are just a few of what a tourist can complete perhaps in a span of few days. There are a list of other things that obviously are there considering the rich heritage, art, culture and natural resources available. You would always be pressed of time to see and do things.Mostly coz of the wide natural resources available and the travelling distance , it is impossible to see everything but yet, from what I think are the best that one should do, this note summarizes it all.
In fact I myself havent been to many places which I would love to see someday. For me its always  a span of a few days on a vacation and i do the best i can during the time. So either eating out at an authentic restaurant, or visiting kamakhya temple or planning an outing to a luscious, green scenic place for a picnic always is  a part of the plan.And of course buying a fresh new Assam silk mekhela a sador.
You can pick and choose what you would love to do. Whatever you choose ,you will only come back refreshed and enriched with memories to last for a long time.
And yes, to sum it up , a recent fact and update from the Indian government about the time change or rather having two time zones in the country. Assam will in future have a different time zone then the rest of the country. Being placed in the extreme east of the country, the day starts very early, in fact by 4 am. primarily coz the sun rises by then. While its night for the rest of the country, people in Assam are up and running for the day. So the day ends early as well. To save on time hence, the govt of Indian has now decided on a different time zone for this state. That is so needed and is a very welcome change ,although my guess is that it will take a while before coming into place formally

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