Venice-Like Water Transportation Dominated Ancient Guwahati
Not just road traffic, the city's administration, once upon a time, had river traffic to worry about.
Strange as it might sound to the citizens of today, our beloved city was once (yes, once upon a time) filled with lakes (jaan in Assamese) and all were interconnected, facilitating river transportation.
Well, that explains the flood situation of Guwahati, as most jaans have now been buried and there is not enough drainage.
Guwahati had around 40 lakes. So, there were also water or river transportation stations or “panisoki.” Uzan Bazar Ghat was one such, then known as Latasil Panisoki.
The Dighalipukhuri was initially used as a port where boats were docked. To the north, it was connected with the Brahmaputra and to the south with the Solabeel near Rehabari. Solabeel, in turn, was connected with the Bharalu River. One could also travel from the Brahmaputra River to Jorpukhuri (then a single water body until the construction of the road bifurcated it into two) via the Naujaan Canal, then reach Solabeel and move further west to Deepor Beel and again reach the Brahmaputra passing through the Khandajaan (near Garigoan).
Almost all water bodies were interconnected and there was a city-wide closed-circuit water route.
The Khandajaan was dug by the Mughal army to attack the Ahom kingdom. So the Ahom commander, Lachit Borphukan built a 'garh' or rampart on the west and south ends of the Bharalu River to prevent passage.
Did you know that Silpukhuri was originally connected to the Navagraha temple? The nonagon shaped lake had small streams at each of its nine corners that were directly connected with the temple.
Water and milk poured during rituals at the nine celestial representations at the temple flowed into the lake.
Locals claimed that when the lake was dried out a few years back for reconstruction, traces of the old streams could be seen.