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Guwahati is considered the site of Pragjyotishpura, a semi-mythical town founded by Asura King Naraka who was later killed by Lord Krishna for a pair of magical earrings. The city was a vibrant cultural centre well before the Ahoms arrived, and later the theatre of intense Ahom-Mughal fighting, changing hands eight times in the 50 years before 1681. Most of the old city was wiped out by a huge 1897 earthquake followed by a series of devastating floods.

Capital of Assam since 1972, the Asom State Government is ensconced in a Disneyesque new secretariat complex 6km south of the train station in the Dispur district.