Namaskar friends! Welcome to Visa2explore! This is your host, Harish Bali. Right now we are in Guwahati, capital of the state of Assam. Day 1. We are going to start our day with a visit to the Kamakhya Temple. The place where we are staying in,… …from there we are going to walk about 800 meters to reach the temple. We will seek the Goddess’ blessings at the temple and then do local sightseeing in Guwahati.. Right now, we are at the Kamakhya Temple with Dheeraj da, the temple priest. Sir, please tell us something about the Ma Kamakhya Temple. Jai Ma Kamakhya! This avatar of the Goddess is considered the best and here the Bhagwati (Goddess) is in ‘Yoni’ Mudra. Inside the temple, water is offered to the Goddess by devotees. All the tourists who visit North-East India,… …first come to seek blessings at this temple,…. …and then continue their journey further. There are two lines of devotees who go in to the temple. One is the general line and the other is a VIP ticket line. The ticket in the latter line can be bought for Rs. 501 per person. There is a prayer ceremony for the Goddess after which…. …the Goddess Mother is also worshipped in the form of little Kanyas (girls). We have the Ambubachi Mela (fair) in the month of June. During that festival the temple remains closed for three days. Apart from those 3 days, the temple remains open throughout the year. It is believed that whatever you wish for from the Goddess, your wish is fulfilled. This is believed to be the best way to learn Tantra. We also hold a Tantric ceremony here regularly. Jai Ma Kamakhya Devi! Thank you! Jai Ma Kamakhya Devi! We are travelling about a kilometer up from the Kamakhya Temple. Just look at the magnificent scenic view from this place. There is the Brahmaputra river flowing right there. Beyond the river lies the city of Guwahati. A light, cold breeze is blowing. It is a great feeling to stand here and watch. If you come to the Kamakhya Temple,… …you must come to enjoy the scenic view from this point. Now, it is time for breakfast. To enjoy an Assamese breakfast, we have reached now a place called Bipanan Khetra. That is the restaurant. I was told that I would get to eat traditional Assamese food here. We have ordered three dishes for ourselves. What you see here is poha. We will eat this with curd. Sir, this is your traditional Assamese food. Great! It is called Pitha. Pitha is a famous breakfast dish of Assam. We saw it being cooked in the kitchen. Buddy, tell me one thing. What is it called? This is called Sandah Guri in Assamese. Sandah Guri! Great! We will eat it with gud (jaggery) and curd. Dahi (curd) is called Doi here. Thank you very much! First of all, I will eat Pitha. And after that, the rest of the two dishes. This is the stuffing that you are looking at. This is coconut filling inside. And its outer covering is made of rice powder. After my first bite,… …I found it to be a bit dry. As you can see on my finger… …it is dry rice powder. But after a few more bites,…. ….and eating into the coconut filling,… ….I enjoyed this combination and felt a different type of culinary experience. That was missing in the first two bites. So, this is an interesting dish to try. Mmm! I have to say… …eating curd out of this tiny little earthen pot (handi)…. …in which it is set and served,…. …makes for an amazing and tasty experience. I was told…. ….that to enhance its taste, I should add some gud to it. This is the gud (jaggery) served with our breakfast. The bowl in which I am eating this poha and curd,…. …it is made of Kansa (Bell Metal). Now let me tell you how I felt while eating it. First of all, you need to understand that the poha I ate was uncooked. It is just soaked for 5-10 minutes in water, to make it softer. To this soft poha, we added some curd and gud. What that means is that you are eating poha in a raw form. A lot of people eat it and enjoy it. And this combination is a first-time experience for me. Only thing is, you will have to chew it for some time…. …to get that feel and eat it properly. Let us do one thing…. ….let us taste Sandah Guri along with it. After that, we will eat the rest at leisure. Wow! I really enjoyed eating curd like this. Let us mix it up so that it tastes better. Brilliant! There is no better word to explain the taste of this dish. Since the rice in it is granular, I need to bite into it. It makes for a magical combination with curd. And to that I’ve added gud! Oh Wow! Just too good! This vegetable market is located right next to the restaurant. This market has a huge size. And by the look of it, I am sure we will get to see a number of vegetable varieties here. We’ve come to the Srimanta Sankaradeva Kalakshetra. This place is the cultural institution representing Assam as well as the whole of North east. There are several building complexes inside this compound. First of all, we went into the Purbajyoti Museum. Photography is prohibited inside the museum. Inside the museum, we enjoying looking at a lot of artefacts and antiques. All those art pieces are used by different ethnic groups in Assam. They do so even to this day. We also went to Dr. Bhupen Hazarika Museum here. The museum houses his personal belongings, creations, awards,…. …and presents his life history and key achievements. In the complex, we also visited the museum dedicated to Srimanta Sankaradev. A visit to this museum is helpful in understanding, in detail, the life and works of this great man. To watch and understand the Assamese culture was a knowledgeable experience for us. You can purchase the entry ticket as well as ticket for photography outside the museum complex. The detail regarding that is given in the description of this video. It is 5.30 pm now. It took me 2 hours during the day to gather permissions to shoot some videos here. Because of that delay, we are going to eat our lunch now. We’ve come to the Uruka restaurant. For your reference,… …Bihu, which is a major festival in Assam,… ….is preceded by a day, which is celebrated as Uruka. We are going to go upstairs. It is neither lunch time nor dinner time but we requested them to make arrangements for us….. …because we wanted to have a late lunch, so,…. …they have kindly obliged us. I will tell you about the system here. They serve snacks on the table itself. For the main course, you need to serve yourself from that buffet. They serve both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food varieties. Since I couldn’t clarify during my phone call, they have made arrangements for both varieties. But today, I want to eat just vegetarian food. Sir, this is rajma (kidney beans) vada. Okay! Fantastic! Rajma vada looks great! Mmmm! 3 types of chutneys! This is the pineapple chutney. It contains tomatoes too. This is mustard chutney. And the third one is the mix vegetable chutney. It is delicious! A bite with mustard chutney! Mmm! This chutney is meant to be relished properly. This vada is made with local herbs. You won’t get to eat it anywhere else, because it is made with locally available herbs. And this rajma vada, I had never heard of it. Slightly bitter… …and by adding a bit of chat masala on top of it…. …its taste has become a bit tangy. It also has onions and some ginger-garlic. Beautiful taste! I have to admit…. …these starters are excellent. They have a lot of options in starters, but I told them I won’t be eating all because…. …I don’t want to miss the main course. If I eat more of starters, I might have to miss a part of that. Here, we are being helped by this lady…. ….to understand the food items on the menu. I do not want to eat non-veg foods. As I already told you. So, we will have to skip this portion. Right! I will have rice. Great! Thanks! I will have some rice. Thank you so much! That is enough. I will take a second helping if I need it. Thanks! This is black dal, which we won’t be serving ourselves yet. Let us check out what else is in the vegetarian menu. I will have a bit of each dish. Great! Mix vegetable! This dish is made with a medicinal leaf. It is good for stomach and digestion process. This dish, which is made from a leaf,…. …what is that leaf called? In local language, we call it ‘Gadhai Lata.’ This is dal bada. Thank you! One more? No, a single piece is enough. This is another local dish. From what I have seen so far, you have a lot of naturally procured ingredients here. Great! Mashed potato and brinjal! This is traditional Assamese dish Sir! Fantastic! Homely food! I will also take some dal. Please help me with that! I want only dal. That is enough! Thank you! Sir, please taste this too! This is made with curry leaves and besan (chickpea flour). Great! This is a brilliant job done! Thank you so much! Just look at this dish! I couldn’t imagine it! I never thought that we could eat curry leaves in this shape. So, I am going to eat this first of all and then move on to the main course. I just have to call it brilliant! Sir, this is pumpkin vada. Ohh! Thank you so much! All these experiences are absolutely new for me. Like what you saw what they made with curry leaves! And now this pumpkin vada. It is delicious! Slightly sweet! And since it is deep fried, … …you can see the oil on my fingers. Absolutely simple preparation! It is feeling as if we are eating dal-rice at home. What I feel is that if I try to compare the taste of this green vegetable to something…. …then obviously, its taste is leafy, that is first and foremost. I can feel it as I am eating. Second thing…. …its taste is somewhat similar to that of methi leaves (fenugreek leaves). But this is bitter. A little bit bitter! And very tasty! This dish I am going to eat on its own. It is made with potatoes and eggplant. This eggplant tastes different. You know the smokey flavor in a dish,…. ….this eggplant has a good amount of smokey flavor in it And that eggplant has been cooked with potatoes, onions and some salt. Absolutely different taste! As for the spices, it has almost nothing, except for salt. Everything, it seems, here is cooked with a lot of love and…. …in a customised manner. And these recipes are absolutely different. I really don’t think I would get to eat such recipes anywhere else. I am talking about outside Assam. Or may be outside Northeast. Brilliant! Every dish has its own taste, own flavor! While eating my food, I didn’t realize what time it is. It is 6.30 pm. Our original plan was to go on a river cruise at 4 pm but we couldn’t do that. We also couldn’t go to the Umananda Temple. After replanning, we will now go for the night cruise at 7 pm, which is the dinner cruise. The cruise will start from Guwahati. Let us finish the food in 5 minutes and rush to catch the cruise. I am not sure whether we can catch the cruise or not. It depends. If we miss it…. …then maybe it would mean missing out on it completely during this journey. But we will try not to miss it. It is 6.35 pm. We are already very late. So, I will have to skip this. What is this? This is made with coconut and milk powder. This looks quite different. Please give me two pieces of these. Coconut with milk powder! Yes, yes! By the way what is this? This is rawa halwa (semolina pudding) Sir. Time doesn’t allow us otherwise… Taste some of it! Not some, I am thinking of eating whole of it. It is only that time is of essence right now. No, not curd! I think this is it. We need to leave in another minute. It is well cooked and my favorite too, this kind of rawa halwa, this consistency. I really liked it. Altogether different taste! It is amazing! Quite magnificent! Thank you! Where should I keep it? See there is the cruise, waiting to leave. We have bought the entry ticket for Rs. 1300 per person. The cruise will run from 7.30 pm to 9.30 pm. At 9.30 pm, we will come back here after dinner. Now let us go on. Announcer – And now, we will be showing you a short film. That part of India… …where the sun rises first and foremost. Northeast! 17th century. The time when the capital city of Northeast region was called ‘Rangpur Shibsagar.’ (Voice over) (Applause) Okay, seated inside, it doesn’t feel at all that this cruise ship is moving. It feels like we are stationery. But we are moving slowly and this 2-hour-long journey…. …is made enjoyable with the dance and cultural programs. Everybody is enjoying. Check out the dance performances and cultural show. They have just announced that the dance performance we are watching is called “Gayan Bayan.” (Applause) Now, what we are going to watch is called ‘Krishna Katha.’ Now, some glimpses from the famous Assamese dance form “Bihu.” If you want to partake alcoholic beverages while on board the cruise,… …you can purchase the same on cost. Dinner is part of the cost of Rs. 1300 ticket. If you want, you can go up and sit on the deck as well. Though you won’t see anything clear…. …but there is a pleasant breeze blowing so,… …and you can spend 30-45 minutes sitting here as well. From what we have seen so far on this cruise,… …as per that, I feel that,… ..the eveniing cruise, in which you can also watch the sunset,…. …that is a slightly better option. In comparison to the night cruise. It is a matter of personal choice. What I feel is that…. …during evening cruise, you can enjoy scenic views better. You can feel the river closer to you… …in comparison to the night time. Anyways, doing the evening cruise has its own amount of fun. This is also goo because….. …on this cruise, we are also enjoying the cultural programme. I am not very hungry. That is why I am serving myself limited quantity of food. Today, I want to avoid fish and chicken. Great! Let us go sit there! I am eating very little for dinner today. I am not at all hungry because I finished eating my lunch at 6.30 pm today. It is 9.10 pm and we are going to reach our destination at 9.30 pm. Simple food! Good! Let us take our food upstairs to the deck and enjoy our it along with the weather. It is your choice! This small sized potato that you see on my plate, I didn’t know about it. It is only here that I came to know that this small potato is quite popular here. A lot of people love to eat it. From whatever food I’ve eaten so far, spices are light. Easy to digest food! It won’t be wrong to say that it is ‘homely food.” Mmmm! There are two desserts to end the meal – Rawa Kesari (semolina pudding) and lemon pie. Let us try both. This I had during my lunch too. Just okay! I find this tastier! This is refrigerated and served chilled. Good taste! Mmmm! We end today’s journey with the end of this river cruise. At 9.45 pm! Tell us your views about this episode. As always, I will wait for your comments. Now, we have to do sight-seeing around Guwahati. After that I am very excited…. …to travel the Upper Assam area. I’ve heard a lot about travelling through Assam in detail…. …which brings one face-to-face with the natural beauty of this state. See you soon with a new episode. Till then, goodbye! See you soon!