Since the pandemic forced the world into lockdown last year, the Guwahati streets and tourist attractions that were once buzzing had suddenly become eerily silent. The lockdown had put a temporary halt to the fun activities, for tourists and locals alike. While staying safe at home, most of us missed going out and exploring the city more than anything. But the good news is now public spots are open and the strict rules have now been relaxed. Put your mask on, carry the hand sanitiser, maintain social distance, and hit these spots this weekend with a whole new appreciation for the city’s magic.
Located 18 km southwest of Guwahati city, Deepor Beel is a freshwater lake in the former channel of the Brahmaputra river. Sprawling over a vast area of 40 sq. km, the lake was declared as a Bird Sanctuary in 1989 owing to its rich biodiversity and heritage. Well known for its pristine beauty and biodiversity, the area offers a spectacular view of the fascinating wetland and rich forest ecosystem. The lakeside has divergent species of plants – water hyacinths, water lilies, aquatic grasses, marshy lands and vegetation patches. As per research, 18 varieties of phytoplanktons have been found at the site. Also, rare plants like euryale ferox and potamogeton crispus have been spotted.
As many as 19,000 different species of rare and endangered birds can be seen every day at Deepor Bill. Some endangered birds found here include spot billed pelican, lesser adjutant stork, white bellied eagle, and Siberian crane among others. A total of 20 amphibians, 12 lizards, 18 snakes, 6 turtle and tortoise species have also been listed here. It is believed that the lakeside was once an important dockyard for the Tai- Ahom and the Mughals. Visit early in the morning to watch beautiful birds basking in the sun and dancing on the tunes of the lake’s ripples. Boat rides are available, too!
Cost of a boat ride: Rs 100 onwards
Assam State Zoo Cum Botanical Garden
Spread across 432 acre (175 hectare), the Assam State Zoo Cum Botanical Garden is the largest in its league in the North Eastern part of India. Home to about 895 animals, birds and reptiles representing almost 113 species of animals and birds from around the world, the zoo, established in 1957, is located inside the Hengrabari Reserved Forest. Some of the animals worth seeing are tiger, clouded leopard, one-horned rhinoceros, Himalayan black bear, jungle cat, hoolock gibbon, black panther, and hornbill among others. The Botanical Garden is a sight to behold with diverse species of herbs, palms, shrubs and conifers. The Orchid House in the garden boasts of more than 40 varieties of rare orchids gathered from the entire North East region of the country.
For kids, there is a park inside the zoo with several recreational tools. In addition to that, there is a forest museum, lake, tower house, and a reptile house displaying different species of snakes in individual enclosures. When hungry, treat yourself to some lips-smacking grubs, street delights, and juices at the outlets and fast food corners in the zoo premises.
Timings: 7.00 AM – 4.30 PM in summer & 8.00 AM – 4.00 PM in winter. Fridays closed.
Entry Fee: Rs 30 per person
Get up close and personal with the stars. Fly to the heart of the Sun, go to distant galaxies, see the birth of a star or land on Mars. Take a tour of the Universe and experience the wonders of the night sky with expert commentary at Guwahati Planetarium – an astronomical research and science centre. It uses the Japanese Goto GX instrument – which includes the starfield projector – the theatre’s sound system and special-effects. There are daily shows in Hindi, English and Assamese. Apart from the regular visits, the planetarium also organises exhibitions, outdoor viewing of solar eclipses, quizzes and conferences as well. Research is a major business of this planetarium and there often are educational programs and presentations as well. Sky watching sessions are also held regularly.
Timing: 11:00 AM – 07:00 PM
Price: Rs 30
Regional Science Centre
Located in Jawaharnagar Khanapara, Regional Science Centre, is one of the 27 centres maintained and administered by Government of India’s National Council of Science Museums. The Science Museum, as locally known, is a wonderful initiative established in 1994, by the science fraternity to educate, enlighten and entertain the visitors through the medium of science and technology. The museum houses rare instruments, machinery, science equipment, demo experiment setups etc. The centre also boasts of interactive displays to learn from, both for kids and adults, ranging from everyday activities to prehistoric exhibits and non-formal science education.
In addition to the permanent galleries showcasing various exhibits, the museum also has a dynamic science park, a mock prehistoric park, a stellar 3D animation theatre, a spacious auditorium, and an inbuilt aquarium. Besides, the centre conducts regulated science shows, workshops and lectures for students and interested adults. The indoor and outdoor experiments, fun mirrors, and science games together make the experience all the more interesting.
Pricing: Single Visitor – Rs 25; group of 25 people or more – Rs 20/head
Built in the 10th century, the Kamakhya temple, dedicated to Goddess Kamkhya, in the Nilachal hills, is the oldest of the 51 Shakti Pithas. There are four Garbhagrihas and three mandapas inside the temple, and the walls are adorned with stunning sculptures. One of the most interesting facts is here the ‘yoni’ or vagina of the Goddess Kamakhya is worshipped, instead of the idol, in the inner sanctum of the temple. Apart from the main temple of Maa Kamakhya, there are temples of the Dasamahavidya (ten incarnations of the deity) namely Kamakhya (i.e. Tripura Sundari, alongwith Matangi and Kamala), Kali, Tara, Bhuvaneshvari, Bagalamukhi, Chinnamasta, Bhairavi, Dhumavati, and five temples of Lord Shiva namely Kameswara, Siddheswara, Kedareswara, Amratokeswara, Aghora, and Kautilinga.
Ambubachi Mela is the most important festival of the temple that takes place for 4 days each year. This is the time when the Goddess Kamakhya is believed to be undergoing her yearly menstrual cycle.
If you love hiking, explore the trekking routes nearby. It is going to be a surreal experience.
Timings: 5:30 AM to 10:00 PM
The two-hour dinner cruise aboard the Alfresco Grand is the perfect way to take in Guwahati’s beautiful river scenery. Unwind with a cool mocktail as you set off for a relaxing and peaceful tour along Guwahati’s riverline. Soak up the city atmosphere and glide past the city as it lights up. Witness spectacular traditional folk dance forms and live music, while relishing a sumptuous three-course meal in the air-conditioned dining area at the lower deck of the cruise. We bet this is going to be an experience to cherish for a long, long time.
Price: Adults – Rs 1300, Children (3-12 years) – Rs 900
Pre-booking is a must (https://www.alfrescogrand.com/cruise-booking/)