Once known as "Pragiyotishpura" or Light of the East, the most
striking feature of Guwahati (also spelt as Gauhati), is the
Brahmaputra, whose swollen sandy channel is so wide that the far
shore is often rendered invisible. Of its many mysterious temples, 'Kamakhya'
and 'Navagraha' both occupy commanding positions on hilltops while 'Umananda'
sits on a small island in the middle of the Brahmaputra.
Guwahati's main business, tea is booming with the new Assam tea auction
centre holding auctions. The large oil refinery at Noonmati, on the
northern outskirts, symbolizes Guwahati's recent growth and
prosperity. The busy central market area contrasts sharply with the
almost rural riverside feel northeast of the centre, and the
surrounding hills rising beyond the coconut palms give Guwahati a
fairly appealing atmosphere. Guwahati is split in two by the
Brahmaputra - only crossed by the Saraighat Bridge and the ferries -
"Guwahati" is taken to refer to the main town south of the river,
while north Guwahati is virtually a separate town. The main roads
out of town are the Assam trunk road, to upper Assam and the
Guwahati - Shillong road to Meghalaya.