No. Guwahati is NOT the capital of Assam. But it is in fact one of the most visited places in northeast India. The strategically placed city is an important corridor to most northeastern states. With an Inter State Bus Terminal, a major railway station, an international airport and a riverine port, Guwahati is without a doubt a city in the midst of it all. Whether you are visiting the city or just transiting and have just 24 hours to spend, following may help you to experience the city the way it should be experienced. It goes without saying—when in Guwahati, do as the locals do.

STAY
Guwahati is a city with good stay options that won’t burn holes in your pocket. Apart from stand-alone hotels and some luxury options, there are plenty of ‘lodges’ in the city. For budget travellers, these lodges are the best options as they are there in almost all major localities, making shopping or simply dining out an easy option. Hotel Dispur Lodge, Tranqville, The Riverside Lodge are some lodges you can give a try. Price ranging from 1000 to 2500, good and clean lodges are aplenty in Guwahati. OYO Rooms are also convenient and are perfect for a short transit stay.

EAT

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Traditional Assamese thali
Traditional Assamese thali

Start your day with a good local breakfast. Nothing beats a hearty and a very ‘local’ breakfast of paratha and ghoogni . Start your day early by taking a walk around; you are most likely to find a couple, if not more, breakfast joints that sell these. Or get a brunch. Restaurants like 11th Avenue Cafe and Bistro in Dhigalipukhri (opp Assam State Museum), Hotel Sagar Ratna in Paltan Bazaar and Mocha Guwahati in Bhangaghar, GS Road, are some of the best places for a hearty brunch. Gam’s Delicacy Restaurant, Paradise Restaurant, Ambrosia, Heritage Khorika and King Chilly are some of the best places for a traditional Assamese meal—from pork curry, aloo pitika, omita khar (young papaya curry), maas pura (roasted fish) to haa kumora (duck cooked with white gourd). Special mention goes to Ambrosia’s famous traditional dish of pigeon cooked with banana flower. A must-not-miss food experience. Also, when in Guwahati, be it Bihu season or not, find time for some pitha (you will find these traditional Assamese sweet and savoury snacks in local sweet-shops. Personal favourite: local lemon—this is a compulsory item in every Assamese kitchen.

SEE & DO

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The very popular Kamakhya Temple
The very popular Kamakhya Temple
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Muga silk mekhela chador
Muga silk mekhela chador

It’s best to combine sightseeing and shopping when in Guwahati as shops don’t stay open till late night. Your first destination should be Fancy Bazaar—a one-stop destination for all your shopping needs. Be it silk mekhela chadar or hand-crafted items, Fancy Bazaar has it all. Indigenous musical instruments, bamboo products and Assamese gamosa are must-buy items and they make for very good souvenirs. For discerning travellers, Kamakhya Temple and a ferry ride to Umananda Temple in Peacock Island (6 and 7 km respectively from Guwahati) can be great experiences. Whereas, the Guwahati Planetorium, Guwahati Zoo and Assam State Museum can be educational trips. If you are keen on spending time amidst folk and traditional arts and crafts, head to Maati Centre in Uzan Bazaar. Here you will find fantastic mix of local and regional art, a mini heritage tour in the form of handicrafts and artefacts created by local artisans. The centre also promotes work by Tihar Jail and Dastakar Ranthambore. Now you know from where to get your gorgeous souvenirs!

KICK BACK
You are in the land of the mighty Brahmaputra, might as well pay the riverside a visit. From Kachari Ghat, there are ferries to Peacock Island; or you can just pick a quiet spot along the banks of the river and enjoy a beautiful sunset. Café Hendrix, a live blues bar and cafe, The Lounge, Kitchen Bar & Restaurant, the quirky Zero Mile are some of the places for a sundowner and a good time with music and food.

These 24-hour teasers will leave you wanting for more as Guwahati is definitely not a one-time kind of affair.