“There is nothing here”, said my host, of Guwahati, while conceding it was the entry & exit point to most of the North East.
I was surprised.
The thought of not having seen the Brahmaputra had niggled a long time & set the adrenaline flowing. The entire NE trip had in fact been planned around it.
The mighty river & Kamakhya the ancient temple atop Nilachal hill. Two birds with one stone as I flitted across states by road, rail & air.
Guwahati is a B grade town, no doubt.
We drove through empty streets for the VIP ‘darshan’ scheduled for 08.30 am when the temple opens to the general public. The queues get inordinately long thereafter.
It was a distance of 30 kms from Narangi & took 45 mins by car.
Kamakhya Devi is 800’ above sea level & offers a stunning view of the town below. It is in fact a collection of temples dedicated to goddesses of the Hindu pantheon who are important to the tantric worshipper. The garbhgriha or sanctum sanctorum is ancient & prehistoric & lies in a cave below ground level. There is no image. It is simply a sheet of stone in the shape of a yoni washed by the fresh waters of a natural underground spring.
The structure above has frescoes & figurines reminiscent of Khajuraho. It is all about Shakti. Worshippers can be seen leading goats to the altar – not as a sacrifice anymore. The temple dates back early 4th century & has solid silver artifacts & doors. It was destroyed several times during foreign invasions & later reconstructed by an Ahom king in the 16th century.
On to the Brahmaputra.
It is breath taking in its sweep. It is awesome!
Stretching 2900 kms via Tibet, India & Bangladesh
Home to the endangered Gangetic Dolphin
Its monsoon waters muddy & brown.
The currents fast & furious
There are river cruises from Machkhowa Ghat, Fancy bazaar operated by ‘Al Fresco’. A sunset cruise at 1700hrs followed by the dinner cruise at 1930. At Rs 250 per person one gets to sail for an hour. The cruise ship has a restaurant & bar & crooners sing to a live band. There are weekend parties on board & extended tours further north to Kaziranga wild life sanctuary & Majuli, a large river island & world heritage site.
Nearby at Uzan Bazaar state owned motorboats give a ride for as little as Rs 10. Taking you to a small mid River Island that has a Shiv mandir & view of the swirling waters around busy Saraighat Bridge in the distance.