RITUPARNA GOSWAMI PANDE celebrates Guwahati city in her new coffee table book. She writes about the genesis of the book
If Venice can have its Gondolas then why can’t Guwahati have its Paani Canters? Obviously due to lack of proper initiative. For even after being blessed by the longest river — the Brahmaputra or the smallest island in the world in the form of the Umananda, we have failed to make our presence felt in the tourism sector. Things need to change and change fast. For Guwahati – the ever-growing metropolis is a treasure trove of tourist friendly places, but sadly even Guwahatians are unaware of these important assets.
The coffee table book Alluring Guwahati is a timely intervention to bring a positive change in the future of Guwahati’s tourism dreams. An initiative of Wordweaves India the book attempts to focus the spotlight on the city’s myriad treasures that have been hitherto relegated to the backseat. After being approached by ace journalist Wasbir Hussain to write the text of this promising book I set out to list the numerous highpoints of the city.
Every big city has a book about itself but Guwahati was an exception and we made it our purpose to change that and bring out a glossy coffee tabler about the myriad sights and sounds of our enchanting city. I consider myself extremely fortunate for having being chosen to do the task as Guwahati is very very close to my heart. And after having documented many a scenic spots and strategic places of the city in my erstwhile column “On the Spot” published in Melange (The Sentinel) I considered myself rightly suitable for the task at hand.
Guwahati is a fascinating city, with its accommodating nature, its laid-back attitude, a cosmopolitan atmosphere —- it’s only natural that people tend to fall in love with this lahe-lahe city of ours. In fact I have come across many individuals visiting Guwahati for various purposes eventually settling down in it for good. People say there is a certain power in its waters that pull people towards it.
It also has the potential to cater to every kind of tourists from wildlife enthusiasts to nature lovers, from connoisseurs of history to religious pilgrims, Guwahati has it all. Alluring Guwahati captures the pulse of the city and tries to portray its multifaceted trait to the rest of the world. People need to be made aware that Guwahati is not just about the Kamakhya Temple or that it is not just a gateway to the northeast. Usually people treat Guwahati as a transit city while getting to other places like the Kaziranga National Park or any other place in the northeast. Alluring Guwahati stands to change that. It’s a small step to make people realize that Guwahati has more to it than meets the eye, that there is more to it than the goddess in the Nilachal hills.
For the convenience of the reader the book has been divided into various categories. For instance in the segment covering History and Geography we have highlighted important monuments like the North Brook Gate, which is also known as the Gateway of Assam which was built way back in the year 1874 to commemorate the arrival of the British Viceroy in Guwahati. Then, the Gandhi Mandap atop the Sarania Hills where the Mahatma had left his footprints in the sands of time during his visit in the year 1921.
In the call of the wilds segment we have focused on Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary which has been in the spotlight for recording the highest density of rhinos in the world. Again, We have featured Deepor Beel which is a haven of migratory birds.
To crack the monotony we have also touched upon the eateries in and around our magnificient city which boasts of an enviable platter of culinary delights in the form of affordable street-food to the high end fine dining restaurants.
Guwahati has its fair share of religious landmarks. Everyone knows about the goddess of the Nilachal Hills but not many people are aware of the significance of the Ugratara temple, the Bura Masjid or the Buddha Vihar in Amingaon for that matter.
We have brought to note the legacy of the mighty Brahmaputra which lines our beautiful city as a star-studded tiara.
And like every developing city Guwahati has a throbbing night life which has become a lifeline for the young generation today. With the right information visitors can get a taste of the pulsating night life of this otherwise sleepy city. The book also guides the visitor looking for souvenirs and ethnic stuff.
Moreover, we have tried to give a peek into the Assamese way of life and the music scenario.
Readers can simply flip through the pages and choose the category of his choice for any relevant information.
The arresting feature of the book is its photography and for that we are grateful to Anupam Nath the man behind the lens to have captured the varied emotions of this shimmering city in the frame of his expert lenses. Where my words took a back seat, Anupam’s photography did the talking and expressed itself appropriately. Moreover, we have roped in eminent personalities from our society to pen down their experiences and reactions about the city.
In fact, we need to take lessons from our neighbouring countries like Thailand, Singapore etc who have used their rivers to the best use. Very few cities have the good fortune of having a beautiful river for constant company and Guwahati is one of them. Like our neighbours we can introduce Paani Canter cruises for tourists taking them to the different islets spread across the river like the Umananda, Karmanasha, Urvashi etc. People can also take a cruise to silk town Sualkuchi to get a first hand experience of the click clack of the looms in action or to Pobitora to view the one horned rhinos from close range. The right attitude and some positive steps can surely take Guwahati to a significant spot in the tourist map.
It has been our untiring effort to make Alluring Guwahati truly alluring by creating a mosaic of eclectic hues and texture to its contents. Be it the city guide map, or an interview with a distinctive personality, or be it a recipe of a popular and traditional sweet meat. The book is made attractive by the trivia in the form of tidbits and quick facts spread across its pages.
While doing the research for the book and after visiting the spots I realized that our city is truly a repository of beautiful places and with the right kind of guidance Guwahati can surely become a sought after tourist destination.
A freelance writer contributing to various news portals, regional english dailies and magazines, Rituparna Goswami Pande is a former columnist of Melange. She also works as a part-time content writer in Bookland Publishers, Guwahati.