Best Weekend Vacation

I could feel a sense of childish excitement washing over me as I boarded the early morning flight out of Delhi to alluring Assam. With the feeling that this was going to be the best weekend vacation in a long time,  I was headed to Guwahati with my bestie on a three-day trip of sightseeing around the city and Kaziranga. After landing and grabbing a quick bite, we headed to our hotel in a local cab. After unpacking, we started our trip on a holy note – we visited the famous Kamakhya mandir, a mythical tantric temple. Even at such an early hour, devotees jostled to get in and offer their prayers. We were lucky to get in after about half an hour of waiting. The hillock where the temple is situated, lends an undulating panoramic view of entire Guwahati. After the prasad, we hopped off to relieve our hunger pangs and happily gorged on Joha rice, dal, xaag (saag), Chicken bamboo shoot, Masor tenga (a fish curry) and gul nemu (fragrant lemon).

Sankardev Kalashetra in Panjabari was up next. The place, a cultural institution in itself, is steeped in Assamese culture and artefacts – tasteful paintings, rare artefacts, antique artworks and manuscripts – it is no less than a visual treat! The place was alive with locals and tourists alike taking in the majesty of the Kalashetra. We specially had fun feeding the colourful fish in the pond. The spacious canvas accommodates several open air theatres, emporiums and eateries too, among other things. After some refreshing cultural sessions here, we drove over for some more history hunting at the Assam State Museum in the Ambari area. Here we were greeted by the illustrious yesteryears in the form of weapons, vehicles etc, used in wars. The enormous wooden boats used in battle against the Mughals and the Bor Top (big canon) stood out grandly. Next, we walked over to the nearby govt. Handicraft stalls – Jagaran, Artfed, Pragjyotika and a craft mela at NedFi Haat – and claimed some of the beautiful handicfat as our own.  Pleased with the purchases, we headed over to sample some of the local snacks. We hit jackpot with the juicy momo, luchi bhaji (puri subji) and some Assam sah(chai/tea).

Evening was gradually setting in and it is the best time to witness the might Brahmaputra in all its glory. We took the most enjoyable way to do so – a ferry cruise which we boarded from the river bank near Fancy Bazaar. Guwahati located on the southern bank of the river, looked all the more mesmerising in the evening glow, from the middle of the Brahmaputra. The sun glowed a deep red before it dipped down to the river, making the water golden red. As the city lights specked the darkening view, a soothing cool breeze blew across the water and the faint strains of flute music drifting from afar added a magical note to the mood.

Getting our feet back to solid ground, we opted for some fun shopping at the nearby Pan Bazaar. We came across some rare books in the numerous book stores dotting this market. This place is a treasure trove for students and book lovers alike with the wide literary selections it has to offer. On my friend’s insistence, we then visited Fancy Bazaar, a heaven for fashion lovers. My tip to travellers – be sure to have ample time to explore and always bargain. As our pockets began to feel considerably light, we decided to call it a day and tucked into a royal dinner. This time, we sampled the various smoked and steamed items – pura maas (smoked fish), bhapot dia maas (steamed fish), Chicken in sesame seed – mashed potato and brinjal, along with rice. We polished it off with a bowl of black rice payokh (kheer). Thus, we headed off to our hotel for some rest and respite, in preparation for another exciting day – Kaziranga beckons, which I’ll be soon sharing in my next blog.