All India Seminar in Guwahati
 

About Guwahati :

Guwahati is a city in India, often considered to be the gateway to the north-eastern part of the country. A Guwahati suburb, Dispur, is the capital of the Indian state of Assam. The city is between the southern bank of the Brahmaputra river and the foothills of the Shillong plateau. It is also the home to the Institute of Technology, Guwahati.

The name Guwahati is derived from two Assamese words: guwa (betel nut) and hut (market place). It was situated midway between two powerful kingdoms: the Ahom and the Koch kingdoms. Later when the Koch regions were overrun by the Mughals, Guwahati would intermittently be the seat of a forward Mughal commander. Neither the Mughals nor the Koch could maintain power at Guwahati, however, and it became better known as the seat of the Borphukan, the civil and military authority of the region appointed by the Ahom king.

There is another story of where the name Guwahati had come from. This city is surrounded by hills and from the top, it looks like a cave (Guha in Assamese). Many people believe the name was Guwahati which later took the form of Guwahati (under British dynasty) and then changed to Guwahati.

Geographically, Guwahati straddeles the valley of the river Bharalu, a small tributary of the river Brahmaputra. It is surrounded by hills, except where the Bharalu discharges into the Brahmaputra. To its west the Nilachal hill is said to be the home of the goddess Kamakhya, a shakta temple. In the past, this was an important seat of tantric and Vajrayana Buddhism. To the north, on top of Chitranchal hill, is the Navagraha (nine planets) temple, a unique astrological temple. To the south of the city lie the Narakasur hills, named after a legendary king of ancient Assam. An ancient name of this city is said to be 'Pragjyotishpur'.

Guwahati today is important because it is close to the seat of power in Assam, is a commercial centre, and is the node that connects six other north-eastern Indian states of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Tripura.

History:

The Ambari excavations trace habitation in the city to the sixth century. Epigraphic sources place capitals of historical kingdoms, like, Pragjyotishpurnagara, in the Guwahati area. Guwahati was a Mughal administrative and military centre for lower Assam, and it became the seat of the Borphukan, the Ahom viceroy for the western part of the Ahom kingdom.

There are a number of historical features in Guwahati. The Dighalipukhuri is a rectangular lake that was connected to the Brahmaputra, and was probably dug for naval reasons by the Ahoms.

Communication:

How to get there

Guwahati iswell connected by air, train and road with the rest of the country. There are direct train services to and from New Delhi and Kolkata with connectivity to mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Jodhpur etc.

Guwahati is well connected by air with New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai. Air Lines like Indian, Sahara and Jet Airways operate regular flights to Guwahati. The other towns to which these airways operate flights are Jorhat, Dibrugarh, Tezpur, North Lakhimpur and Silchar. Air India operate direct flight between Guwahati and Bangkok on Mondays and Thursdays.

A network of National Highways and other roads connect Guwahati with all the important places of Assam. Both Government and private buses ply from Guwahati to all the major towns of Assam. These buses also ply from Guwahati to the capitals of the neighboring states.

What to see

Kamakhya Temple

Situated atop the Nilachal hills, the foremost shrine of Assam, Kamakhya is an ancient seat of tantric and shakti cults of Hinduism. A little distance from Kamakhya temple is Bhubaneshwari temple from where one can have a panoramic view of the Brahmaputra river and the city.

Navagraha Temple

Situated atop Chitrachal hills this 'Temple of Nine Planets' was a great centre for the study of Astroloy and Astronomy.

Umananda Temple

This Shiva Temple is situated on the Peacock island in the middle of the Brahmaputra river.

This temple island is believed to be the world's smallest human inhabited river island.

Tirupati Balaji Temple

This temple with striking south Indian Archtecture is situated about 11 km from the city.

Basistha Ashram

Set in idyllic surroundings about 12 km from the city centre, this ashram was established by Rishi Basistha in the remote past. It is now a pilgrim centre as well as a picnic spot for visitors.

Srimanta Sankaradev Kalakshetra

A modern cultural complex situated at Panjabari. Regular cultural events, musical recitals and dance performances are held every weekend. It is open to visitors on all days except Mondays.

Assam State Museum

It is a well laid out complex displaying various aspects of Assam's culture, history andcrafts. the various sections are epigraphy, sculpture, natural history, crafts, arms, manuscript village ethnography and a miscellaneous section.

Assam State Zoo-cum-Botanical Garden

Covering a huge area of 175 hectares of land, this Zoo-cum- Botanical Garden is a house for endangered and rare species of wildlife and plants. Among the main attractions are the one horned rhino, giraffe, zebra, chimpanzee etc. It is open on all days except Friday.

Science Museum (Regional Science Centre)

Many exhibits and models depict various natural phenomena and modern technological advancements, a great learning experience for students and professionals alike. It is open on all days except public holidays.

Planetarium

Situated in Guwahati is the only one of its kind in the entire north-eastern region. The mysterious aspects of the universe are brought alive and explained in the dark domed structure inside the planetarium. It is open for visitors on all days except the first of every month.

The Cup that Cheers

Tea helped place Assam on the world map- naturally, it is an industry that occupies an important place in Assam's economy. Tea plants are known to grow naturally in the Upper Brahmaputra valley, Credit goes to Robert Bruce, an official of the British Empire, for publishing, in 1823, the existence of the tea plant in Assam.

Assam grows tea in many places in the Brahmaputra and Barak plains, Dibrugarh, Sivasagar, Jorhat, Golaghat, Nagaon, Sonitpur etc. About 51% of India's tea production comes from Assam and it can boast of the oldest and largest Tea Research Centre. This research centre was started in 1911 and is located at Toklai in Jorhat. The Guwahati Tea Auction Centre, which started in 1970, is said to be the second largest tea auction centre in the world.

Flora

The Green state of Assam abounds with different types of flora. Perhaps the loveliest is an orchid that grows across Assam. Familiar to the westerner as the 'Foxtail' orchid (it hangs down like a fox's tail), in Assam it known as "Kopou Ful". Along with floral beauty, Assam has a variety of trees and plants that grow to a height of 150 ft in the upper Assam regions. Along the banks of the northern regions of the Brahmaputra are extensive Khair-Sisoo forest; the Segun (Assam Teak) also grows here. In the Golpara and Kamrup districts of western Assam, the Sal tree grows extensively.

Bamboo grooves can be found in several parts of the state. So endemic is the plant to the region, there is even as Assamese proverb that refers to it: 'Bamboo is courage'. The areca nut palm and the jackfruit tree, as also the beetle-nut plant, are found here in abundance.

Fauna

Assam's incredibly varied wildlife brings in visitors from around the world. Adjoining the Brahmaputra is the Kaziranga National Park, which covers the area of 430 sq. km. This national park plays host to Assam's pride and glory, the one-horned rhinoceros. Among the tall elephant grass, tough reeds and shallow pools of the park live a whole host of other animals: elephants, Indian bison, hog deer, jungle cat, tigers, leopards and a number of other spices. This wild congregation is increased, at different parts of the year, by migratory birds, making this park a scene of beauty year-round for lovers of wildlife.

The Manas National Park covers an area of 519.77 sq. km. and is located near sub-Himalayan hills. Some of the rare wildlife species found here are the golden langur, the hispid hare and pigmy hog. During winter, migratory birds also flock to  this national park.

The Orang Wildlife Sanctuary, officialy Rajiv Gandhi National Park, is another wildlife arena that sometimes reffered to as the 'mini-Kaziranga'. The sanctuary covers 78.81 sq. km. and is located towards the Brahmaputra's northern banks. Orang is 31 km. from Tezpur.

Handlooms and Handicrafts

Handloom weaving is integral to life in Assam. Little surprise, then, that the state can boast of several special kinds of hand-woven cloth. The most prized is the fine golden 'Muga' silk. Traditional garments include the two-piece 'Mekhela Chadar' worn by women.

Assam is also known for its cane and bamboo products. These raw materials go into the production of not just handicraft items, such as a variety of baskets, mats and musical instruments, but are also used to make household items and furniture.

Bell-metal products and brassware from part of the Assamese people's daily life. The 'xorai and bota', receptacles for beetle-nut and paan leaves, have been traditionally used for centuries. Two whole townships near Guwahati, Hajo and Sarthebari, are entirely devoted to the production of traditional metal-ware.

 

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