Tourist Spots

Assam State Museum
Archaeological and ethnographic displays are one of the major attractions in Assam's state museum, situated near the centre of city. The collection includes stone and copper plate inscriptions dating from the 5th century, a 12th century sculpture of 'Surya', terracotta pieces and costumes.

Umananda Temple
The Shiva temple of Umananda stands on an island bluff in the middle of the Brahmaputra. Its location, at the top of a flight of steep steps up from the beach, is more dramatic than the temple itself. Ferries and motor launches leave from Umananda Ghat, on the shore between the State Bank of India and the Ashok Hotel.

Kamakhya Temple
On the commanding Nilachal hill, overlooking the river 8-km west of the centre, the important Kali temple of Kamakhya, with its beehive-shaped 'Shikhara', is a fine example of the distinctive Assamese style of architecture. As one of the 'Shaktipiths', it marks the place where Sati's 'Yoni' (vulva) landed when her body fell to earth in 51 pieces, and is one of the three most important tantric temples in India. A short walk up the hill brings one to a smaller and emptier temple with great views of Guwahati and the Brahmaputra.

Navagraha Temple
East of the town centre, atop another hill, is the atmospheric Navagraha temple popularly known as the "Temple of the Nine Planets", an ancient seat of astrology and astronomy - surrounded by large trees that shelter tribes of monkeys. Housed in a single red dome, again in the beehive style, the central lingam is encircled by a further nine representing the planets.

Srimanta Sankaradeva Kalashetra
Further from the centre of the town, the Srimanta Sankaradeva Kalakshetra, on Shillong road in the Panjabari district, was opened in late 1998 in order to celebrate the cultural identity of the Assamese by promoting dance, drama, music and art. Sankaradeva was a saint, poet, scholar, social reformer and preacher largely responsible for the 15th century Assamese renaissance. It houses a museum, art gallery, open-air theatre and traditional Vaishnavite temple.

Janardan Temple
Janardan Temple, built in the style of Hindu and Buddhist architecture, at Shukaleswar hillock near Shukaleswar Ghat of Brahmaputra, the heart of town, is worth seeing. It was renovated anew in 17th century.

Assam State Zoo
Guwahati's leafy and well-managed zoo and botanical gardens are 5-km east of the centre. Animals include the one-horned rhino, the state symbol of Assam, as well as tigers and leopards.

Pandu
A little further is the Railway Township of Pandu, named after the King Pandu. There is a temple of Pandunath situated on the hillock. While in forest exile, Pandavas came and lived here in the guise of Ganesha. The images of Lord Ganesha and 'Pancha Pandava' brothers are present in the temple besides other images. The image of Nrisingha (also spelt as 'Nrusimha') incarnation maintains a difference from others. Further west, the sunset at Brahmaputra is simply touching.

Basistha
Besides a picturesque waterfall 11-km southeast of Guwahati, two small red-domed temples at Basistha (also spelt as Vashistha), in Assamese beehive style, commemorate Vashistha Muni, the author of the Ramayana.

Hajo
The small town of Hajo, 32-km northwest of Guwahati, has a special place in Assamese culture. It attracts pilgrims from all faiths, in apparent harmony. A long palm tree-lined stone staircase climbs a hill to the small Hindu temple of Hayagriba Madhab where, locals claim Lord Buddha gained Nirvana. Praying at the mosque of Pao Mecca situated nearby grants Muslims a quarter (Pao) of the spiritual benefit of Mecca.

Sualkuchi
Hajo's nearby village of Sualkuchi is known for the production of golden Muga silk, that involves virtually every household and for which Assam is famous.

Madan Kamdev
Some 40-km north of Guwahati, Madan Kamdev was the site of a tantric temple of 'Shakti' (Durga) dating back to the Pallava dynasty (11th and 12th centuries). The temple, mentioned in the tantric scriptures known as the "Yogini Tantra", was evidently destroyed, though the cause is unknown. Much of the site remains unexcavated, but a museum preserves many findings including figures in various erotic postures, indeed some archeologists claim only Khajuraho rivals the expressiveness of its erotica.

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