Recently I visited Guwahati. The journey was long, the distance from Aizawl is only around 500 kms but it took around 20 hours to reach. The traffic is always slow moving in the hills but the non-existent roads of mud and gravel just tested my patience. It was a roller coaster ride where of course the speed was absent, but the thrill of jumping to new heights, with every bump in the road, while sitting on your seat, let me stay awake through the night. Guwahati is the biggest city in Assam, the largest economic and educational center for the state. It’s also called the entry point or gateway to the north eastern states. The railways connecting the mainland and the northeastern states end at Guwahati (and some other cities of Assam) and after that the journey is by road. The city is a mix of a lot of things, the Hindu practices and ways of life, the temples and relics of the Asom dynasty, the presence of Christian institutions, the food which seems to be a mix of Bengali cuisine and other north eastern states’ cuisine and of course the people who come from different parts of north eastern India to work, study and settle there. One thing which enamored me was the mighty Brahmaputra which flowed through the city. There are actually islands in the river which are popular picnic spots.[caption id="attachment_1975" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] The mighty Brahmaputra[/caption]Travelling through the city in a short span of 2 days I realized that there are three short-cut ways to discover a city rather than going the traditional ways1.Visit the bus stand or the railway stationThis gives you the first glimpse into the city. No matter how modern a structure it may look from inside but the people on the railway station or bus stand are rooted to their traditional ways of life. As I got off the ISBT (Inter State Bus Terminal) at Guwahati, there were people not only from Assam and different north eastern states, but the whole of the country trying to figure out the next bus they needed to catch. It was interesting to see how each was dressed differently from the other and were either sitting patiently or arguing with one another. There were taxi drivers and auto rickshaw drivers buzzing around and promising to take these people to their destinations at the best price. There is something unique about every bus stand and railway station in every city. Just sitting there silently could teach you a lot of things. 2.Visit the local bazaarThe bazaar is the hot pot of all activity in the city. You’ll find everything from food to clothes. People are either in hurry or taking their own time to glance through things. The smell of the local street food and the sight of it made me so hungry that I landed up eating almost everything I saw. The wonderfully lit shops, the loud cries of street vendors calling upon customers to buy and bargain just add to the beauty in the chaos. I went to Paltan Bazaar in the city and ate non- vegetarian rolls, kebabs, ice cream and loads of things which I can’t recall now. The spirit of the bazaar made me feel alive.[caption id="attachment_1974" align="aligncenter" width="768"] The tasty rolls in the bazaar[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1973" align="aligncenter" width="768"] A great coffee chocolate shake[/caption]3.The rivers, temples and other places of WorshipI think these are the intersection points of modernity and history in the city. The river which has been the life line of the city may have old temples on its banks. It may also have fancy restaurants or picnic spots overlooking the beautiful view. The temples or other places of worship may get thousands of devotees in a day. That is where you’ll find people who are still rooted in their traditional beliefs and living a modern life. I was unable to visit the famous Kamakhya temple in the city but was captivated by the sun set on the banks of Brahmaputra.
3 Shortcut ways to discover a city.