Guwahati ( , , previously
spelled Gauhati) is a major city in eastern India, with a
population of 818,809 (2001 census).
The largest city in the
Region of India, it is
considered by some to be the "gateway" to the region. Dispur, the capital
of the Indian state of Assam, is located
within the city.
Guwahati is one of the most rapidly growing
cities in India; during the past few decades it has experienced
expansion and also a steep rise in population. According to a
survey done by a UK media outlet, Guwahati is among the 100 fastest
growing cities of the world, and is the 5th fastest growing among
sits between the southern bank of the Brahmaputra river and the foothills of the Shillong plateau, with LGB International Airport to the west, and the town of Narengi to the
east. The city is gradually being expanded to the
northern bank of the Brahmaputra (see North Guwahati).
The Guwahati Municipal
, the city's local government, administers an area
of 216 km², while the Guwahati
Metropolitan Development Authority
, the planning and
development has for an area of 340 km².
It is a
major commercial and educational center of eastern India and is
home to world class institutions such as the Indian
Institute of Technology Guwahati.
The city is also a major center for
cultural activities and sports in the North Eastern Region and for
the administrative and political activities of Assam. The city is
also an important hub for transportation in the North East Region
As a river port, Guwahati has traditionally been an important
administrative and trading center. The name Guwahati is derived
from two Assamese
) and 'haat' (market place). The
name used to be spelled as Gowhatty
colonial), standardized to Gauhati
which was then changed to the present form in the late 1980s to
conform to the local pronunciation.
Guwahati's myths and history go back several thousands of years.
Although the date of the city's beginning is unknown, references in
the epics, puranas, and other traditional histories, lead many to
assume that it is one of the ancient cities of Asia
Epigraphic sources place the capitals of many ancient kingdoms in
Guwahati. It was the capital of the mythological kings Naraka and
Bhagadatta according to the Mahabharata
ancient sakti temple of Kamakhya located in
Nilachal hill (also important seat of Tantric and Vajrayana
Buddhism), the ancient and unique
astrological temple Navagraha located in Chitrachal Hill, and
archaeological remains in Basista and other locations support the
mythological assertions of the city's ancient past.
The Ambari excavations trace the city to the 6th century AD. The
city was known as Pragjyotishpura and Durjoya in different time
periods, and was the capital under the Varman
and the Pala
dynasties of the Kamarupa
kingdom. Descriptions by Xuanzang
(Hiuen Tsang) reveal that during the
greatest Varman king Bhaskaravarma (7th century AD), the city
stretched 19 km and was probably the principal base for his strong
naval force (30,000 war-boats, with officers who were knowledgeable
of the sea-routes from the Indian Ocean to China - Xuanzang
). The city remained as the capital of
Assam till the 10-11th century AD under the rulers of the Pala
dynasty. Excavations in Ambari, and the brick walls and houses
excavated during construction of the present Cotton College
's auditorium suggest
that it was a city of great size with economic and strategic
importance until the 9-11th century AD.
Digholy Pukhury, Guwahati
During medieval times between the 12-15th century AD, after the
destruction of the Kamata kingdom
the city lost its earlier glory and became mainly a strategic
outpost of the Koch Hajo
and Ahom Kingdom
of western and eastern Assam.
western part of the Koch Kingdom (Koch Bihar) fell to the Mughals, the
eastern half (Koch Hajo) eventually became a protectorate of
Although the actual border between both powers (Ahoms
and Mughals) fluctuated between the Kartoya river (now in North
Bengal) to the Manas and Barnadi rivers, Guwahati remained an
The city was the seat of the Borphukan
the civil and military authority of the lower Assam region
appointed by the Ahom kings. The Borphukan's residence was in the
present Fansi Bazaar area, and his council-hall, called
, was situated about to the west of the Bharalu
stream. The Majindar Baruah, the personal secretary of the
Borphukan, had his residence in the present-day Deputy
Commissioner's residence .
The Mughals attacked Assam 17 times and Guwahati was captured many
times. The Battle of Saraighat
fought close to Guwahati in 1671 is the most well known war, in
which the Mughals were over-run due to the strong leadership of
Lachit Borphukan and hard work of the Assamese Army.
There are a number of historic features in Guwahati. The Dighali
Pukhuri is a rectangular lake that was connected to the
Brahmaputra, and was an ancient boat yard probably used by the
Ahoms in medieval times. Moreover, there are many tanks, temples,
ramparts, etc. in the city. The most important archaeological site
is the Ambari excavation site close to Dighali Pukhuri.
Geomorphologically, the city is located in the
area where the Shillong Plateau and
the Floodplains of the Brahmaputra meet.
Bor-Sola Beel, Guwahati
Landforms within the city are
therefore unique, with dissected hills (originally part of the
Shillong Plateau), plain areas, natural lakes (the beels), swamps,
and the mighty river Brahmaputra.
The main city is situated on the southern bank of the Brahmaputra.
At places the width of the river is 6 to 8 km, while its narrowest
portion (1.8 km) is where the famous bridge of Saraighat is
located. There are many permanent and temporary islands and beaches
in the river. Umananda, a permanent island situated close to the
city-center, provides a unique picturesque environment. The natural
drainage system consists of the Bharalu River (a tributary - the
Brahmaputra) and its inter-linkages to the beels and to the
Brahmaputra river. Apart from Bharalu, many small rivers
(Morabharalu, Bahini, and Basista) flow within the city,
interconnected with the feeder drains of the city.
There are numerous lakes spread throughout the city, which
contribute to the aesthetic and natural environment. Deepor Beel, listed as a wetland of international importance by
the Ramsar Convention, is the
largest water reserve for Guwahati, as well as an addition to its
It became a famous site for bird fans after
being declared a bird sanctuary by officials. Other water
bodies/wetlands within the city are Soru Sola Beel and Bor Sola
Beel. The Bor-Sola Beel, which about four times the length of
Dighalipukhuri, stretches from behind the Meghadoot Cinema hall and
the Nepali Mandir in the Paltan Bazaar locality of the north end,
to Sarabhatti locality in the south end, and is the biggest water
body within the city.
There are several hills of different sizes and shapes in Guwahati.
The hills in the northern areas (Nilachal or Kamakhya Hill in the
north-west, Chitrasala or Kharghuli Hill in the north) lie close to
the bank of Brahmaputra. The hills of Guwahati's south-central
areas (Narakasur Hill, Kalapahar and Fatasil Hill) and eastern
areas (Narengi, Hengerabari, etc) have in fact guided Guwahati's
footprint into three elongated corridors of the plain areas. Many
of these hills (such as the Nilachal, Chitrachal, Narakasur, etc.)
are famous of their legendary, religious and historic
Guwahati's climate is mildly sub-tropical
with warm, dry summers from April
to late May, a strong monsoon from June to September and cool, dry
winters from late October to March. The city's average yearly
is recorded at 24 degree
Celsius (76 °F). Average high temperature is recorded at 29 degree
Celsius (85 °F), while the average low at 19 degree Celsius (67
°F). The highest recorded yearly temperature is 40 degree Celsius
(104 °F), while the lowest recorded yearly temperature is 5 degree
Celsius (41 °F). December, January and February are the coldest and
June, July, August and September are the hottest. Average yearly
cm (63.5inches) with an average number of 77.3 rainy days. June and
July are the wettest months. Extreme high level of humidity
, many a times at more than 80/90 percent
often creates discomfort during summer.
Guwahati's Urban Morphology
Guwahati's 'urban form' is somewhat like a starfish. With a core in
the central areas, the city has tentacles extending in the form of
growth corridors towards south, east and west. In the past few
decades, southern Guwahati areas such as Ganeshguri, Beltola,
Panjabari, etc. began forming a southern sub-center surrounding the
capital complex at Dispur, principally
depending on the GS Road corridor.
area consists of the old city with Pan Bazaar, Paltan
Bazaar, Fansi Bazaar and Ujan Bazaar, each one facilitating unique urban
While Paltan Bazaar is the hub for
transportation and hotels, Pan Bazaar is centered around
educational, administrative, cultural activities, offices and
restaurants. Fansi Bazaar is the hub for retail and wholesale
commercial activities, and Ujan Bazaar mainly contains
administrative, retail and residential areas. With these bustling
areas, the city core is a busy and lively part of the Guwahati.
Ulubari, Lachit Nagar, Chandmari
and Zoo Road (R.G. Baruah Road), which have a mix of
retail-commercial and residential areas, can be considered an
additional part of the core.
Among the city corridors, the most important is the corridor formed
along the Guwahati-Shillong
towards the south (almost 15 km from the city-center). The
GS Road corridor is an important commercial area with retail,
wholesale and offices developed along the main road, and it is also
a densely-built residential area in the inner parts. The capital complex
of Assam at Dispur is situated
in this corridor.
This corridor has facilitated the growth
of a southern city sub-center at Ganeshguri, along with other
residential areas to the south developed during the past few
The corridor extending towards the west (around 30 km from the
city-center) contains a rail-road linking not only Guwahati but
also other parts of the North Eastern
east of Guwahati to western Assam and the rest of India.
corridor links residential and historically important areas such as
Nilachal Hill (Kamakhya), Pandu, and Maligaon (headquarters of Northeast Frontier
Railways) before it separates into two - one towards North Guwahati and the other continuing west towards LGB International Airport via the University of
There are also many river
ports/jetties along this corridor.
The third major corridor extends towards the east (around 15 km
from the city-center) linking Noonmati (Guwahati Oil Refinery -
.) and Narengi, and has facilitated
residential growth along it.
Highway NH 37
, which encircles the city's
southern parts and links the southern corridor in Nomile to the
western corridor in Jalukbari is currently supporting rapid
development. Similarly, the VIP Road linking Zoo Road with the
eastern corridor and recently completed Hengerabari-Narengi Road
are also supporting massive residential development to the
In brief, the major components of Guwahati's urban structure are:
core or the 'city center' with Pan Bazaar, Paltan
Bazaar, Fansi Bazaar and Ujan Bazaar
- The extended core with Chandmari, Zoo Road and Ulubari
- The north-southeast Guwahati-Shillong (GS) Road Corridor
- The southern sub-center of Ganeshguri
- The western corridor towards Kamakhya, Jalukbari and LGBI
- The eastern corridor towards Noonmati and Narengi
But the city is having notable changes in its morphology with rapid
expansion. The Khanapara road is being converted into 4 lanes and
it will be extended upto a place called Changsari in near future.
Various projects are undertaken on the outskirts like the water
park in Rani, which has brought those far flung areas under city
reach by continous visit by tourists. Also, two five star hotels
are on the verge of being set up, arising hopes that by a decade or
so, the city will be twice it's size now.
(GMC) is the local body responsible for governing,
developing and managing the city. GMC has sub-divided the city into
60 municipal wards. The Guwahati
Metropolitan Development Authority
(GMDA) is a state parastatal
agency currently responsible for planning and development of the
greater Guwahati Metropolitan Area, which is currently revising the
Guwahati Master Plan and Building Bylaws.
The Guwahati Development Department, a special department of the
Government of Assam, has been recently formed for Guwahati's
Gauhati consists of two assembly constituencies: Gauhati East and
Gauhati West, both of which are part of Gauhati
Guwahati is one of the most rapidly growing cities in India. The
city's population grew from just two-hundred thousand in 1971 to
more than five-hundred thousand in 1991, and in the census of 2001
the city's population was found to be 808,021. By 2011, it is
estimated that Guwahati will boast more than a million
In 2001, males constituted 55 percent and females at 45 percent of
Guwahati's residents. It was found that 10 percent of the
population is under 6 years of age. Guwahati has an average
literacy rate of 78 percent, with male literacy at 81 and female
literacy at 74 percent.
Separate income estimates for the city are not yet available as
city-level income estimation is not a traditional practice in
India, and is not practiced in a systematic and continual manner.
However, by looking at the agglomeration of activities and
employment patterns it can be easily understandable that the city
contributes a lion's share of the state's income.
The major economic activities are trade and commerce,
transportation and services. Guwahati is the most important trade
hub in the North Eastern Region. It is a major wholesale
distribution center, a marketing hub, and also a retail hub of the
region. The Guwahati Tea
is one of the largest in the world. As in other
cities, 'mall culture' is slowly invading Guwahati. Manufacturing
is also an important activity, although it is not comparable to
those of India's rapidly growing industrial cities. The most
important manufacturing industry in the city is the petroleum
refinery of IOCL
at Noonmati. The city is
contains the headquarters or regional offices of several
manufacturing and business establishments, e.g. Numaligarh Refinery Limited
(NRL). Guwahati is also important for printing and publishing, as
well as businesses related to electronic and print media. During
the past two decades, businesses such as real estate development,
finance, etc. have also intensified.
Tourism and recreation, education, research, cultural activities,
etc. are also slowly increasing and contributing to city's
Quality of Life
Although being a medium sized city, ranking around 50th (in terms
of population) in India, the city's quality of life is
comparatively higher. A recent survey (2006) by a popular Indian
magazine - Outlook
Guwahati 17th among all the major and medium sized Indian
The city provides competitive residential and working environments
with beautiful landscapes, pleasant climate, modern shopping areas,
modern apartments and bungalows, and considerably good social
Yet infrastructure in the city still requires extensive attention,
which can increase and revolutionize the city's reputation,
investment environment, and overall growth pattern. Major
investments in infrastructure are being planned in the city,
covering many aspects of the utilities and transportation
infrastructures, with financial assistance from the Asian Development Bank
Guwahati is to also to receive substantial city development funds
(Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban
Renewal Mission) - the Government of India's recently conceived
comission for urban development, and a development plan for the
city has been recently finalized.
Terrorism and insurgency
There is a fair amount of ethnic and religious diversity in
Guwahati, but the city has been plagued by terrorism
in recent years. Several bombings were carried out in 2008 and
2009, claiming a total of at least 96 lives and wounding around 600
Terrorist groups believed to be active in and around Guwahati and
Utilities and Transportation Infrastructure
The city suffers from the lack of sufficient utilities
infrastructure. The existing water supply system is inadequate,
depending largely on ground water resources (higher water level).
It also lacks a comprehensive underground sewage system. Septic
tanks at individual houses are popular. The storm drainage system
is comparatively good, although many areas experience water logging
due to heavy rainfall in the monsoon season. Extensive soil erosion
from the hills and clogging of the drainage system is frequent and
expensive for the city. Solid waste is being managed by the local
authority with private partners. It lacks modern equipment, methods
Lack of sufficient road space is also a major problem. The length
of surfaced road within the city is presently at 218 km (ARSAC).
The major corridor roads suffer from insufficient right of way,
illegal construction methods, and improper planning and design. The
roads in the residential neighborhoods are extremely narrow (lack
of proper regulations) causing problems related to both traffic and
infrastructure installations. Cul-de-sacs are neither planned nor
Guwahati has a good public transit system. A government agency -
ASTC (Assam State Transport Corporation) and many private operators
provide a considerably good city-bus system. It requires further
modernization and integration with city planning and management
initiatives. Guwahati is the first city in northeast where low
floored buses were introduced.
is serviced by the Lokopriya Gopinath Bordoloi International
Airport at Borjhar, about 20 km west of the city
Air connectivity has improved considerably in the
last couple of years and all major domestic airlines fly into
Guwahati. Helicopter services are operated from
Guwahati to Shillong (30 min), Tura (50 min),
Naharlagun (Itanagar), Tawang (75 min) by Pawan
Hans, a helicopter service.
Guwahati airport averages about 20 arrivals and departures a day.
Guwahati is serviced with direct flights to Delhi, Jaipur, Mumbai,
Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bangalore,Chennai and other major cities in
India by different airlines. Indian
connects Guwahati internationally to Bangkok once a week.
A modernization plan is
underway at Guwahati airport right now and once it is completed,
plans to make
Guwahati a hub of air connectivity.
Guwahati has three railway stations serving it. The major station
. Two minor stations are Kamakhya (adjacent to the NF
Railways headquarters) and New Guwahati (for freight services)
located towards west and east respectively. Major trains serving
Guwahati are Guwahati Rajdhani
Express, Saraighat Express, North-East Express,
Guwahati is very well connected with adjoining regions via bus
services. Two nodal points, Adabari and Paltan Bazaar, provide bus
services to towns and cities in Assam and adjoining states. Some of
these services are run by the government agency ASTC, whereas a
vast majority of them are run by private companies. "Night supers",
or buses that run overnight, and luxury coaches, are very
A huge bus terminus known as ISBT is set up at the outskirts,
providing buses for almost all locations possible, and equipped
with all the modern facilities one can have.
Educational and Health Infrastructure
IIT Guwahati Academic and
The city is home to Gauhati
in Jalukbari. The century-old Cotton College
is one of the most
reputed colleges in eastern India, and possesses great scholastic
and cultural value.
Institute of Technology Guwahati is the sixth member of the high-profile world's
renowned IITs in India.
Since its establishment in 1994,
IIT-G has proven itself as an excellent institution for research
and education, evidenced by its high ranking among the IITs in
India as reported by a variety of national surveys such as India
Today and Dataquest.
The Assam Engineering
and the Gauhati Medical College and
are the two important institutions for science and
technology and medical education.
Among the city's many other institutions of higher learning are the
Gauhati Commerce College, College of Veterinary Science, Government
Ayurvedic College, Arya Vidyapeeth College,B. Borooah College,
Handique Girls College (the latter two have both Arts and Science
streams), Assam Engineering Institute (engineering diploma
courses), Pandu College, LCB College, West Guwahati Commerce
College, and K.C.Das Commerce College (1983).
The city is an important center for health facilities in eastern
India, featuring many government and private specialty hospitals.
The most important are the Guwahati Medical College and Hospital,
Guwahati Neurological Research Centre (GNRC), Down Town Hospital,
B. Baruah Cancer Institute, and Sankardev Netralaya. Medical
education and research are also important activities.
Guwahati also has branches of the Institute of Chartered
Accountants of India (ICAI), and the Institute of Company
Secretaries of India (ICSI).
Guwahati has considerably good sporting facilities, boasting the
Nehru Stadium, while the Kanaklata Indoor Stadium in the R.G.
Baruah Sport Complex (in the Ulubari locality) is older sports
complex of the city.
There are smaller stadiums in Maligaon (the N.F. Railway Stadium)
and in Paltan Bazaar area where the SAI Sports complex is
completed sporting facilities specially constructed for the 33rd
National Games include a large stadium at Sarusajai--the Indira
Gandhi Athletic Stadium, the Dr. Zakir Hussain Aquatic Complex, and the
Karmabir Nabin Chandra Bordoloi A.C.
sports structures include the Maulana Md. Tayabullah Hockey Stadium
in Bhetapara, the Deshbhakta Tarun Ram
Phookan Indoor Stadium at Ulubari, Rajib Gandhi Indoor Stadium in
Amingaon, and Chachal Tennis Complex.
The other renovated sports complexes include--Ganesh Mandir Indoor
Stadium, Khanapara, Rudra Singha Sports Complex, Dispur and Gauhati
University sports stadium.
along with the Brahmaputra river, there are many lakes and rocky hills in the
city suitable for various water and adventure sports.
Places of Interests
Guwahati possesses many places of interests with it's lively urban
activities, ancient temples, numerous scenic natural features, and
the recreational activities they provide. Guwahati is also situated
at the center of an attractive region (within 200 km radius) with
natural parks, wildlife sanctuaries, hill stations of different
types, and a colourful cultural landscape.
There are several interesting and lively places in the city. These
areas provide the city with hotels, restaurants, shopping and
business areas, the most lively being the city center. Momos and
chicken rolls are a popular form of fast-food available in almost
every restaurant. Moreover, there are several good restaurants
offering Indian, South Indian, traditional Assamese, Chinese, and
continental food. There are also several good book shops and music
stores. A few of these areas are:
Brahmaputra with Ferry; Fancy
A lively part of the city center on
the southern bank of the Brahmaputra. Cotton College,
Digholy Pukhury (Dighali Pukhuri), The State Museum, RBI, District Court (Kamrup District), etc. are all major landmarks.
the area also possesses many libraries, major government offices,
and a shopping district. Restaurants and bookshops in the area
provide a unique environment. It also contains a major wholesale
market for drugs and pharmaceutical products, and a hub for
printing and publication. Close to Digholy Pukhury, there are many
stores with traditional arts and crafts from Assam and other parts
of the NER
. Kacari Ghat, next to
the district court is an important local river port.
Situated in the western part of the
city-center is a busy commercial district for both wholesale and
retail. Fancy Bazaar is the hub for various wholesale products
ranging from food and beverages, garments, to hardware and building
materials. It is also known for its retail shopping areas for
clothes and garments.
(Because of the existence of a district jail, hangings used to
take place here during the British regime, which is responsible for
the prefix 'Phasi', i.e., hanging, which later got mispronounced as
In the central part of the
city-center is the hub for transportation and hotels. With Guwahati
railway station, the regional bus stand (ASTC), numerous hotels,
restaurants and offices and stops of numerous private regional bus
service providers, this area is the busiest and most congested.
There are also many small shops selling traditional garments from
various parts of the NER
A newly developed commercial area in
the south, outside of the city-center. Its proximity to the state
capital complex and rapidly growing southern residential areas have
made it an important city sub-center. Ganeshguri is a busy part of
the city with retail shopping areas, hotels and restaurants, and
A traditional weekly fruits and
vegetables market with historic importance. The market has
existed since its historic past and is an important traditional
trading point between the people from the Khasi hills (Meghalaya) and local people.
It is a rich market with
various types of local food products. It is located in Beltola, a
predominantly residential area in the south.
Guwahati War Cemetery
A World War II war cemetery,
maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves
The key attractions are:
- Assam blast toll rises to 81
- Death toll in Guwahati serial bombings rises to
- Terror blasts ahead of PM's visit rock Assam, kill
- Hewson, Eileen (2007). Guwahati War Cemetery Assam
India, ISBN 1906276056 9781906276058