Often referred to as the Land of “Blue Hills and Red River”, Assam is a land of diverse natural beauty. Assam is the gateway to North East India and has been described as the Sentinel of Northeast India. Seven Indian states and two countries, Bhutan and Bangladesh, surround Assam which is also at close proximity to India’s International borders with China and Myanmar. Surrounded by hills, crisscrossed by major rivers such as the mighty Brahmaputra and Barak and their tributaries, thick forest cover, lush green tea gardens enhance the scenic beauty of Assam. Its rich cultural heritage makes Assam a tourism hotspot in the region.
While the history of Assam goes back deep into the ancient times, the mention of this place is found in various Tantric, Vedic, Buddhist and Puranic literature. Assam figures prominently in the Mahabharata and Ramayana. The earliest study of the planets was supposed to have been carried out here, in Pragjyotishpur, the city of eastern lights as Guwahati used to be once known. Kamarupa on the other hand is said to be the original home of Devi, the Mother Goddess. Several Hindu deities including Lord Shiva and Krishna are said to have frequently visited this land and the relationship is so deep that while Krishna’s wife Rukmini was from a place near Sadiya, the private parts of the Shiva’s wife Parvati fell in Guwahati where the Kamakhya Temple later came up.
Assam has been a highway of migration from the time immemorial. While the earliest human footprints have been traced back to the early Stone Age, the roots of various communities belonging to Assam are linked to Ausric aborigines, pre-Dravidians, Eurasians, Australoids, Mongoloids, Alpines or Armenoids, Mediterraneans, Indo-Aryans and Irano-Scythians as well. Assam now, is home to various ethnic tribes and tribal groups, adding to over 3.3 million, about 12.4 percent of the total population. Each has its own cultural heritage, socio-cultural customs, religious beliefs, language, attire, festivals, culinary tradition, songs and dances. Such diversity attracts and offers opportunities for domestic and international tourists to engage with communities through homestays, participation in festivals, etc. Assam is home to several major tribal communities. Because of sharing borders with many countries, Assam was the gateway to India for many nations; hence the state became the settling ground for many civilizations coming here through different routes at different routes at different points in history. Assam opened its heart to everyone and everyone adopted the land with mind, body and soul! The list of ethnic communities in Assam include Bodo, Rabha, Mishing, Deori, Dimasa, Sonowal, Karbi, Tiwa, Mech, Hajong, Barman, Zemi, Rengma, Kuki, Hmar, Khasi, Jaintia, Garo, Tai-Phake, Tai-Aiton and Tai-Khamyang, some of them also having presence in different adjoining states. Most of them belong to the Mongoloid race; while the Bodo, Dimasa-Kachari, Sonowal-Kachari, Mech, Barman-Kachari, Tiwa and Rabha communities came from the Bodo group of Indo-Mongoloid family, the Jaintias and Khasis are said to be of the Mon-Khmer family, all believed to have entered from the east. The Koch-Rajbongshi community too comes from the Mongoloid stock and is believed to have arrived through the Nepal route. Again, while the Hmars and Kukis belong to the Kuki-Chin group, the Rengmas and Zemes belong to the Naga family. Aryan culture on the other hand was brought to Assam by the Alpines (Kalita community) and Brahmins who had very rapidly mixed up with other racial elements soon after their migration.
Muslims on the other hand first arrived in Assam in the early 13th century, with a series of invasions from adjoining Bengal leading to settlements of people who came as invaders, as well as conversion of local people of Assam. In 1630 came Shah Milan, a muslim saint from far away Baghdad, who not only preached Islam but also created wonderful literature in the form of zikir and zari songs.
Yet another inseparable part of Assamese society and culture is the Tea Tribe community – combination of several groups of people, majority of whom were brought by the British to Assam in the 19th century from the Chotanagpur plateau and adjoining areas of central India to work in the tea plantations. These people today not only belong to Assam, but have also enriched Assamese art, culture, literature and social life.
Fairs and festivals like Bihu (Bhogali bihu in January, Rongali Bihu in April), Ambubachi Mela in June, Jonbeel Mela which brings together various tribes of Assam, Majuli’s Raas festival in November, Kaziranga’s Elephant festival in February, Assam tea festival, Doul Utsav during the festival of colors, Brahmaputra river festival, Ali-Ai-ligang a spring dance festival in february attract tourist from all around the world across the year in Assam. The state is also famous for its music and dance forms like Bihu, Sattriya Nritya, Jhumur dance, Bhortal Nritya, Bagurumba, Deodhani, etc. Food is an integral part of the various festivities of Assam and Assamese cuisine is characterized by the extensive use of exotic herbs and plant products and very less use of spices. Fish, meat and poultry are consumed with rice.
Assam is home to Five National Parks and Eighteen Wildlife Sanctuaries, the highest concentration in India which are host to 25 percent of India’s floristic wealth and enormous faunal diversity including One Horned Rhinoceros, Pygmy Hog, Hoolock Gibbons, Tigers, etc. Manas National Park, also a World Heritage Site, is a constituent unit of the Eastern Himalayan Biodiversity region and is one of the two biodiversity ‘Hotspots’ in the country. With more than 950 species of birds, the state is home to 50% of the total bird species found in the Indian subcontinent. The mystery of Birds’ suicide at Jatinga, is a subject of interest of all nature lovers and researchers. The main rivers of Assam are the mighty Brahmaputra and Barak. Further, there is a network of over 100 large and small tributaries and distributaries that criss cross the State.
Details of National Parks in Assam:
|Name of National Park||Main Attractions||Name of District|
|Kaziranga National Park||One Horned Rhino, Elephant, Tiger, Wild Buffalo, Swamp Deer, Sambar, Wild Boar||Golaghat, Nagaon and Biswanath|
|Manas National Park||Tiger, Leopard, One Horned Rhino, Elephant, Red Panda, Assam Roofed Turtle, Hispid Hare, Golden Langur, Pygmy Hog, Wild Water Buffalo||Baksa|
|Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park||One Horned Rhino, Tiger, Leopard, Elephant, Barking Deer, Swamp Deer, Hog Deer, Wild Boar||Sonitpur|
|Nameri National Park||Tigers, Asian Elephants, Gaur, Dhole, Himalayan Black Bear, Sloth Bear, Giant Indian Squirrel||Sonitpur|
|Dibru-Saikhowa National Park||Large variety of Birds, Feral Horses, Elephant, Asiatic Water Buffalo, River Dolphin||Tinsukia|
The melting pot that Assam is today, has a culture that again has been enriched of contributions of diverse races, ethnicity and traditions, making the communities here most secular in character. Though a sizeable section of the Assamese people are Vaishnavites – who revere Vishnu and Krishna in the way shown by Srimanta Shankardeva, another major section practice Shaktism, with their rituals also including animal sacrifice. Different tribal communities on the other hand practice their own traditional methods of worship. These practices and traditions in turn have shaped different cultures in Assam, with the most wonderful aspect being that each one of them has also contributes various elements to the others. This has made the culture of various communities of Assam inter-related, and more importantly, inseparable from one another. Majuli is the largest river island in the World and has several Satras – vaishnavite monasteries, some dating back to the 16th century. The Satras of Majuli also offer guest accomodation where devotees and visitors not only take part in the worship of Vishnu and Krishna, but also watch traditional Bhauna performances. Young bhakats – celibates – are wonderful artisans and make masks, musical instruments as well as hand-fans and door frames. These Satras of Assam play an important role in the socio-cultural and literary development of Assam. While it was Srimanta Shankardeva, the 16th century saint-reformer who led the neo-vaishnavite movement of Assam, the Satra institution that he developed no only became religious centers but also the most important cultural epicenter that promoted literature, music, art, dance, drama and other related activities including manufacture of musical instruments, masks and other items required in various performances. Saint reformer Srimanta Shankardeva not only gave a new meaning to Assamese life by propagating the Neo-vaishnavite way of worship and a society free of caste restrictions, but also brought about a renaissance by way of unleashing a whole new tradition of literature, music, dance, drama and related cultural activities. These continue to be the heart and soul of the Assamese society six centuries on. Villagers generally associate with a Satra on the basis of membership of a local center of devotional worship of the Satra called as Namghar – which also functions, whenever necessary, as the village court, meeting place, women’s club and theater for dance, music and plays. Thanks to the socio-cultural movement of Srimanta Shankardeva, the caste system, though it exists, is not as prominent in Assam as in other parts of India. Preecedings in Namghar can be presided over by a member of the so-called ‘lower caste too. Some of the Satras of Assam worth visiting are Auniati, Kamalabari, Dakhinpat, Garamur, Samaguri, Bengenati and Natun Kamalabari. The best time to visit Majuli is during the Raas Festival – a three day festival usually held in mid-November that celebrates the legendary love of Radha and Krishna as well as the devotion of the Gopis to Krishna.
History of Assam ~
Although it is not exactly precise as to how the State derived its name as Assam, some historians believe that it came from the Tai word (A-Cham) and Bodo word (Ha-sam). Some historians relate the name to the Sanskrit word Asama meaning unequaled, peerless, etc. Assam up to the 12th century was called Kamarupa and alternatively Pragjyotisha. Perhaps the first written records about Assam is dated back to 7th century, when Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsang had visited Assam. His visit was during the reign of King Bhaskar Varman whom Hiuen Tsang described as the ‘Aristocratic king of Eastern India’ and devotee of Lord Shiva.
The State of Assam and its adjoining areas have evidences of human settlement from the period of Stone Ages. As per records, earliest ruler of Assam was Maharinge Danav from the Danava dynasty. Later the Gupta Empire under Samudragupta ruled Assam. The medieval era of Assam is marked by the invasion of the Tai Ahoms from Myanmar who ruled continuously over Assam for over 600 years. The culture and heritage of Assam today, is much linked to the practices of the Tai Ahoms.It was finally in the 19th century that the British East India Company arrived in Assam and colonized the region. The British administration merged the plains of the Brahmaputra valley with the surrounding hills and the tribal areas and eventually named the State as Assam, deriving the name from the Ahom word ‘Axom’, meaning ‘the land like no other’.
Geography and Climate of Assam ~
The State of Assam is located in the North East region of India extending from 89 to 96 degree longitude and 24 to 28 degree latitude covering a total area of around 78,500 sq. km. Assam has three of the six physiographic divisions of India viz. the Northern Himalayas (Eastern Hills), Northern Plains (Brahmaputra Plain) and Deccan Plateau (Karbi Anglong). The river Brahmaputra is the lifeline of Assam flowing in from Arunachal Pradesh and eventually merging with the River Ganges to flow into the Bay of Bengal. Apart from the Brahmaputra, some 60 other of its tributaries and rivers flow across Assam. The Brahmaputra river is among the widest rivers in the World and owing to this, Assam is home to India’s longest bridges both road and rail cum road at the Dr. Bhupen Hazarika Bridge and the Bogibeel Bridge. This characteristic of the river Brahmaputra in Assam has allowed the growth of many river islands in the State of Assam. Majuli Island in Assam is the largest river island in the World and the Umananda Island is the smallest river island in the World.
Assam has some of the densest forests in the World owing to its location in the tropics with abundant rainfall. These forests of Assam are home to a wide variety of Flora, Fauna and Avifauna. The grasslands of the river Brahmaputra of Assam form part of the major National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries of Assam. The tropical forests of Assam are mostly filled with broadleaf evergreen trees and a wide variety of orchids.
Assam has a moderate climate around the year apart from a few hot and humid days across July and August. Assam’s climate has four seasons viz. Summer from June to September where temperatures are hot and humid but accompanied by abundant rainfall especially across July to September. The winters in Assam sets in from November to March characterized by sunny and dry days with cold nights. The spring season is from April to May with a favorable climate in April which is also the month where we celebrate the Assamese New Year – the Rongali Bihu festival. The spring season in Assam sees a varied growth of beautiful flowers across the State. The autumn in Assam sets in October and extends to mid November characterized with pleasant day and night temperatures along with occasional post monsoon showers.
Culture of Assam ~
Owing to the fact that many indigenous tribes and communities inhabit Assam, their culture, traditions and practices make Assam a land of diverse culture. To be seen historically, the roots of the culture of the State of Assam dates back to almost 200 years when the first cultural assimilation took place among the Tibeto-Burman tribes, Indo-Aryans and the Ahoms who contributed greatly to the culture and traditions of Assam today. Assamese culture can be said to be an integration of various kingdoms that ruled powerfully over the ages with prime importance of the Ahom Kingdom who ruled continuously for 600 years and gave Assam the colorful Bihu Festival and the Bihu Dance. The Vaishnavite movement led by the great Saint and reformer Srimanta Shankardeva also contributed a great value to the culture of Assam. Supported greatly by the Koch and Ahom Kingdom of Assam, the movement resulted in adding social institutions like the Namghar and Satras to the Assamese way of life. Festivals and Fairs form an integral part of the communities of Assam with a majority of them being linked to the agrarian practices of Assam as agriculture is the primary occupation of the people of Assam. The three major festivals of Assam viz. the Rongali Bihu, the Magh Bihu and the Kati Bihu are based upon the harvest seasons of Assam. The Bihu dance performed during the traditional new year celebration is one of the most colorful dance forms of India. Coupled with the classical Sattriya dance of the Vaishnavite Monks and the mystical Deodhani dance make the culture of Assam an unforgettable experience to any visitor to the State!
Some of the prominent indigenous tribes of Assam are the Bodo tribe in western Assam, the Mishing tribe in Majuli Island, the Tai Ahoms, Tai Khamyangs, Tai Phakes, Tai Turungs, Tai Khamtis and the Tai Aitons tribes of Upper Assam, the Karbi tribe of Karbi Anglong, the Dimasa Kachari tribe of Dimasa Hasao Hills, the Sonowal Kachari and the Moran tribes of Upper Assam. Other tribes of Assam are the Rabha tribe, the Tiwa tribe, the Hajong tribe and the Tea Garden tribes.
Each of these tribes of Assam have their own eating habits and traditional liquor. The cuisine might taste different but the major ingredient across the recipes of each of the tribes of Assam are very similar. A traditional Assamese meal comprises of rice, lentils, fish and meat curry with vegetables and herbs. The two main characteristics of a traditional meal in Assam are ‘Khar’ (an alkaline made from dried out banana stem) and a sour dish called as ‘Tenga’. Another important ingredient of an Assamese meal is fermented bamboo shoots known as ‘Khorisa’. Many tribal households of Assam brew their traditional liquor variously called as Laupani, Apong, Sai Mod, Xaaj, Zudima, etc. The sumptuous Assamese cuisine if often served in Bell metal dishes and in platters like ‘Kahi’ and ‘Maihang’.
Economy of Assam ~
The economy of Assam is primarily dependent on Agriculture, Tea and Oil. The heritage Tea gardens are a pride of Assam and Assam is the largest exporter of Tea in India. Crude Oil is another important contributor to the economy of Assam owing to the fact that the first Oil well in Asia was drilled at Digboi in Assam. Agriculture still remains a primary occupation of the people of Assam accounting to more than a third of Assam’s income and employing 69% of the workforce of Assam.
Other contributors to the economy of Assam are tourism, minerals, handicrafts and handlooms. The people of the tribes of Assam are expert craftsmen and weavers. The traditional bamboo/cane crafts and handlooms of Assam are renowned across the World. The people of Assam are well known for their excellence in weaving clearly to be seen in the Muga silk ‘Mekhela Chadors’ of Assam. A traditional loom can be spotted at most tribal households of Assam and these weave out exclusive silk costumes and the traditional towel of Assam called the ‘Gamusa’. The decorative farmer hat called as ‘Jaapi’ is found in all Assamese households. Bell metal crafts is also an important handicraft of western Assam where the craftsmen prepare the Xorai utensil, Bell metal plates, Bell metal saucers, etc. The island of Majuli has been able to preserve one of the classical crafts of Assam viz. the lost art of traditional mask making.
Tourism in Assam is a fast evolving economy and visitors from India and across the World visit Assam every year to spot the varied Wildlife at the National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries of Assam. The Island of Majuli in Assam is a place of prime historical importance and the hub of the Neo Vaishnavite movement of Assam. The culture and traditions of the tribes of Assam also make Assam a must visit place that awaits to make its mark as a global tourist destination. We welcome you the State of Awesome Assam and strive to ensure that “Once you visit Assam, it stays with you forever”!
Tourism in Assam can be categorized under the following diverse verticals ~
Ethnicity and Culture:
Assam is home to various ethnic tribes and groups, adding to over 3.3 million people, about 12.4 % of the total population of Assam. Each tribe has its own cultural heritage, socio-cultural customs, religious beliefs, language, attire, festivals, culinary tradition, songs and dances. Such diversity attracts and offers opportunities for domestic and international tourists to engage with communities through homestays, participation in festivals, etc.
Wildlife and Ecotourism:
Assam’s five National Parks and 18 Wildlife Sanctuaries, the highest concentration in India, are host to over 25 % of India’s floristic wealth and enormous faunal diversity including the One horned Rhinoceros, pygmy hog, hoolock gibbon, tigers, etc. Manas National Park in Assam, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a constituent unit of the Eastern Himalayan Biodiversity region – one of the two biodiversity “Hot Spots” in India. The mystery of birds’ suicide at Jatinga, is a subject of all nature lover and researchers.
Spiritual and Pilgrimage:
Focussing on Kamakhya Temple (most famous Shakti-peeth) in Guwahati city, its four day annually held Ambubachi Mela (also known as Mahakumbh of the East) and mysticism of Mayong, the religious/spiritual tourism gives Assam a significant place in spiritual tourism destination in the country. Hajo is another spiritual center where people from three religions; Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims congregate for pilgrimage.
The mighty Brahmaputra river decorates the geography of the State of Assam and one can take a cruise along this river with A class facilities experiencing marine life and wildlife, tradition and adventure tourism on the way. Immense opportunities to experience water sports, river safari and leisure activities encompassing canal barges, taxi services between banks, boating, luxury cruisers, motor boats, dolphin shows, underwater exploration, parasailing, river rafting and other amusements can be experienced here in Assam.
The challenging terrain, valleys, pristine hill and lush green forests and fast rivers offer ideal opportunities for tourists interested in experiencing an adrenaline rush here in Assam. Visitors to Assam can experience adventure sports like mountaineering, trekking, bike safari, rock climbing, rafting, camping, etc.
Tea and Golf Tourism:
Tea gardens are an integral segment of Assam’s landscape. Around 20 tea gardens across Assam have developed and maintained golf courses within the tea garden areas of Assam while some even have polo fields. Further, there are at least 30 tea garden managed airstrips and helipads which are near the golf courses. Assam also boasts of Jorhat Gymkhana, Asia’s oldest and World’s third oldest Golf Course.
Medical and Health Tourism:
The rapidly growing healthcare sector in Assam’s main city of Guwahati has gradually started to attract international patients from neighbouring countries of Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, etc. Assam is home to over 300 types of medicinal herbs and plants which are found in abundance with the Brahmaputra valley alone having 150 varieties of herbs and plants of commercial value.
The State of Awesome Assam is the central state in the North-East Region of India and serves as the gateway to North East India and is a jewel in the crown of the Seven Sister States. The land of red river, blue hills & lush green tea gardens, Assam comprises of three main geographical areas: the Brahmaputra Valley, the Barak Valley and the intervening Karbi Plateau and North Cachar Hills. Assam is bounded on the north by the eastern section of the great Himalayan range, the frontier tribes front west to cast being Daflas, Miris, Abors and Mishmis on the east by the Patkai Hills, inhabited by the various ‘Naga Warrior’ tribes and the Burmese frontier; on the south by the Chin hills and the frontier of Bangladesh; and on the west by the Jalpaiguri District of West Bengal. From east to west stretches the fertile valley of the Brahmaputra, an alluvial plain about 450 miles long with an average breadth of 50 miles interrupted halfway by the Mikir hills and by low hills on both sides of the river in the neighborhood of Guwahati and Goalpara. South of the valley are the Garo and Khasi hills. From east to west stretches the fertile valley of the Brahmaputra, an alluvial plain about 450 miles long with an average breadth of 50 miles interrupted halfway by the Mikir hills and by low hills on both sides of the river in the neighborhood of Guwahati and Goalpara. South of the valley are the Garo and Khasi hills. Assam is renowned across the World for its fine quality of Tea, indigenous Silk products of Muga, Eri and Pat and varied Wildlife across the National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries of Assam. The first oil well in Asia was drilled at the town of Digboi in Assam. Assam has played a key role in the conservation of many fauna species from extinction of the likes of the Indian one horned rhinoceros, tigers, wild water buffaloes, river dolphins, golden langur and varied species of Asiatic birds. Assam is home to the most number of indigenous tribes of North East India who have a rich culture and heritage. India’s longest bridges viz. road and rail cum road are located in Assam. A visit to Assam should be in the list of every traveler interested in wildlife, culture, history and food! Quoting from the Assam tourism campaign of ‘Awesome Assam’, “Once you visit Assam, it stays with you forever!“
Dispur is the capital of Awesome Assam and the largest city of the state is Guwahati, which is also one of the fastest growing cities of the world. Famous for its freshening world class tea, the Muga (Golden) and Eri (Ahimsa) silk, Natural resources like Coal, Petroleum products and minerals, Assam can truly be described as a state bestowed with breathtaking natural beauty, vast reserves of natural resources and a rich bio diversity. Assam is also home to the endangered one horned rhino species and the Kaziranga National Park is home to two-third of this species in the world. The river Brahmaputra (the only male river in India) flow across the heart of the state and is a lifeline to the people of Assam just as Nile is to Egypt. The Brahmaputra river in Assam is also host to the World’s largest inhabited river island ‘Majuli’ and the World’s smallest inhabited river island ‘Umananda’. The second hottest pepper in the world, the ‘Bhut Jolokia’ is also native to Assam and is grown extensively by the village folks across the State.
The State of Assam is also becoming a hot spot for Eco tourism across North East India. From Tourist villages to Eco Cottages and homestays, you will find a variety of retreats to experience the culture of the Indigenous Tribes of Assam. And being home to many tribes the festivities across the State refuse to cease throughout the year. The various Festivals of Assam in North East India are the Magh Bihu, the Namami Brahmaputra Festival, the Jonbeel Mela Festival, the Rongali Bihu, the Ambubachi Mela, the Kati Bihu, the Raas Leela Festival, etc. And across these festivals, you will get to savor delicious local cuisines and drink locally brewed alcohol from natural ingredients. Your homestays with these tribes will allow you to indulge in their traditional practices and witness their culture and traditions that they have been preserving from times immemorial.
The State of Assam is located in the North Eastern region of India and is one among the Eight Sister States of India. Assam covers a total area of around 78,500 sq. km. The mighty river Brahmaputra flows across the State and is the lifeline to the State of Assam entering through Arunachal Pradesh and finally merging with the river Ganges to flow into the Bay of Bengal. River Brahmaputra is home to the largest and smallest river islands in the World at Majuli and Umananda respectively. The longest bridges in India i.e. road and road cum rail span over the river Brahmaputra. Assam has some of the densest forests in the World which harbour a varied flora, fauna and avifauna species. Geographically, Assam is in close proximity with countries such as Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia. Owing to its locational advantage, Assam is popularly termed as the Gateway to the Northeast and also to ASEAN and the South East Asian nations. The state of Assam is covered by approximately 69,000 kms of roads including 3096 kms of national highways connecting all major towns. Railway lines traverse a length of 2435 kms across Assam and navigable waterways of 4065 kms on the two major rivers of Brahmaputra and Barak.
Assam enjoys a moderate climate around the year spread across four seasons viz. Summers from June to September, Winters from November to March, Spring from April to May and Autumn from October to mid November. Assam has an early onset of monsoon, generally beginning from 15th May, compared to most other parts of India where monsoon arrives only in late June or early July. Maximum day temperatures remain around a comfortable 27-34 degrees Centigrade with plenty of rain when large part of western India simmers under successive heat waves with temperatures soaring as high as 38-45 degrees. ‘The Monsoon County’ tag and proximity to Cherrapunji, the second wettest place on planet Earth obliterates seasonality of tourism in Assam.
Assam has a varied and diverse culture owing to the various tribes of the State. The Ahoms kingdom that ruled Assam for over 600 years played a major role in shaping the culture of present day Assam. Festivals and fairs form an integral part of the communities of Assam. The three principal festivals of Assam are the Rongali Bihu, Magh Bihu and the Kaati Bihu. The Bihu dance of Assam is one of the most colorful dance forms in India. Assam is home to many tribes of North East India with the principal ones being the Bodo tribe, the Mishing tribe, the Tai Ahoms, the Karbi tribes, the Sonowal Kachari and many more. These tribes have their own distinct culture and traditions and each can be observed at the traditional festival of these tribes which are mostly based upon their agrarian practices. They also have their own distinct cuisine and traditional liquor. Although however, the ingredients across the recipes remains the same mostly of Rice, Lentils, Meat, Fish, Vegetables and Herbs. The tribal liquor of Assam are variously called as Laupani, Apong, Sai Mod, Zudima, etc.
The primary economy of Assam is based on Agriculture, Tea and Oil. Assam is the largest exporter of Tea in India and the first Oil well in Asia was dug at Digboi in Assam. Agriculture still remains a primary occupation of the workforce of Assam employing 69% of the workforce and contributing to more than a third of the economy of Assam. Handicrafts and Handlooms are also an important occupation of the people of Assam and the tribes of Assam are well renowned across the World for their exquisite Bamboo and Cane Handicrafts and traditional handlooms of the silks of Assam viz. the Muga, the Eri and the Pat silks of Assam.
Tourist hot-spots in the State of Awesome Assam are:
Guwahati: The largest and the fastest growing city of Assam ‘Guwahati’ is also a popular tourist attraction. The city is host to many tourist attractions in the region the like of:
Kamakhya Temple: The holy shrine of Goddess Kamakhya, this place is one of the most sacred Hindu shrine in India. The Ambubachi Mela, hosted in the month of June to celebrate the end of the Goddesses’ menstrual cycle, attracts devotees from across India and abroad.
Umananda Temple: Situated in Umananda, the World’s Smallest River Island, this is the place where people believe that Lord Shiva by using his third eye burnt Kamdeva
Balaji Temple, Assam: Balaji temple is situated at Betkuchi in Guwahati. The Balaji Temple with its striking South Indian architecture, is unlike the other temples
Doul Govinda Temple: One of the most Revered Shrines of Lord Krishna, the Doul Govinda Temple is located by the banks of the River Brahmaputra at North Guwahati
Dipor Bil and Chandubi Lake: Bird lovers paradise as hundreds of birds species local and migratory can be spotted at these places during the winter season.
North East Crafts Museum and Showroom of Handicrafts & Handlooms: An undertaking of North Eastern Handicrafts and Handlooms Development Corporation Limited (A Govt. of India Enterprise) this showroom has a wide variety of Bamboo & Cane handicrafts from across the North East India. Visitors can buy these indigenous handicraft products from the showroom. The showroom is situated at Garchuk in Guwahati
Mayong: The Black Magic Capital of India during earlier times where the ‘Bezes’ or the Sorcerers had the magical powers of converting a man to a sheep or a tiger, transforming leaves into fishes, hypnotizing a tiger, converting bullets of a gun into water, etc.
In addition, the other tourist spots in Guwahati are Assam State Museum, the Srimanta Shankardev Kalakshetra, Nehru Park, Sukreswar Temple, Navagraha Temple, the Guwahati War Cemetery, the Basistha Temple, River Cruise, Fancy Bazaar and the many Malls & Shopping centers across the city.
The National Parks & Wildlife Sanctuaries of Awesome Assam:
The State of Awesome Assam is home to five (5) National Parks of India namely Kaziranga National Park, Manas National Park, Nameri National Park, Dibru-Saikhowa National Park and Orang National Park. There are also a total of fourteen (14) Wildlife Sanctuaries click here to see the list. Each of these National Parks boasts of wide variety of Flora, Fauna and Avifauna. One horned Rhino of Assam, Royal Bengal Tiger, Hoolock Gibbon, Elephants, Capped Langur, Pig-tailed Macaque, Slow Loris and Rhesus Macaque, Leopard, Clouded leopard, Barking deer, Pygmy hog, Golden langur, etc. have made these National Parks and Wildlife Sanctaries their home in the state of Assam. The bird species include the likes of Peafowl, Hornbill, Swamp partridge, Bengal florican, Kingfisher, Woodpecker, White-backed vulture, Slender-billed vulture, Partridge, Pheasant, etc.
Other important cities and towns of the State of Assam with specific interests are:
Sivasagar – the Land of the mighty ‘Ahom Kings’ of Assam, Sivasagar has many ancient monuments built during the reign of the Ahom Kings of the likes of the Rang Ghar – Asia’s first Amphitheater, Talatal Ghar, Kareng Ghar, Siva Dol and the Joysagar Pukhuri
Sualkuchi – Better known as the ‘Manchester of the East‘, Sualkuchi is famous for its production of the three (3) varieties of the indigenous Silks of Assam i.e. MUGA (Golden Silk), ERI (Warm Silk) and PAT (White Silk). It is said that in this tinsel village sericulture flourished 400 years before the birth of Christ! Sualkuchi, the beautiful village of silk weavers and traders, is also called as the Manchester of Assam. Sualkuchi has been weaving magic from ancient times when it was called Swarnakuchi, which means golden zone because of the golden muga silk woven here. While weaving comes naturally to the natives of Sualkuchi village, artisans from other districts also flock here for a livelihood in weaving. It is ingrained in their lifestyle. The women weavers outnumber the male weavers. A paradise for shoppers, visitors to Sualkuchi can go for the exquisite golden Muga, or silvery white Paat or light beige Eri silk. Each has its own magic, with its own patterns. The Eri Silk is also known as the ‘Ahimsa Silk’ as its production allows the development of the pupae into adults and then only the open-ended cocoon is utilized for silk manufacturing. When Mahatma Gandhi visited Sualkuchi, he was so touched by the expertise of women here that he said “Assamese women can weave dreams on their looms!”
Jorhat & Dibrugarh – the Major tea growing towns of Assam. Jorhat is also known as the Tea Capital of the World as it produces the highest quantity of Tea in the World. Jorhat is also home to the Oldest Burning Oil Lamp in the World at the Dhekiakhowa Bornamghar. A Tribute to the founder of the Ahom Dynasty ‘Swargadeo Sukapha’ is also located at Jorhat. The town of Dibrugarh has the first X-Ray setup of India and is also home to India’s longest Rail-cum-Road Bridge the Bogibeel Bridge
Tezpur – Located at 175 kilometers northeast of Guwahati is the Town of Tezpur (sometimes referred to as the City of Blood due to the mythological belief that once a war ensued between the Hari (Lord Krishna and his followers) and the Hars (Lord Shiva and his followers) where rivers of blood flowed). Tezpur at present, is considered to be the “Cultural Capital of Assam”. Tezpur is also known as the Most Clean City of Assam because of its clean and green view. Tezpur attracts every visitor who comes here with its beautiful parks, hillocks, the flow of River Brahmaputra and Scenic beauty.
Tezpur is famous for the Agnigarh – ‘the Fortress of Fire’
Tourism in Dima Hasao district of Assam provides a beautiful voyage around the mesmerizing natural beauty. The exquisite hues of nature in the district blend beautifully with the hospitality of the local folks and makes the tourist experience highly alluring in Assam. Lush greenery, majestic hills and wandering clouds obscuring the mountains are a treat to the eyes. The rich cultural heritage of the district and its colorful festivals add to the essence of tourism and makes the place immensely inviting.
The Karbi Anglong hills of Dima Hasao in Assam are divided into two districts and is home to the colorful Karbi tribe, with ka denoting light or radiance and bi means work; as Bhupen Hazarika (the legendary singer of Assam) had sung – Karbi means work is worship! The Karbis of Assam belong to the Mongoloid stock and visitors are not only struck by their wonderful way of life, but also their food, music, handloom and handicraft. The Jirkedam or bachelors’ dormitory in the heart of every Karbi village is worth visiting. Very rich in folklore and oral literature, the Karbi Ramayana is said to be the first tribal Ramayana in the world. As already mentioned, Hacha-kekan and Rongker are their most important festivals.
While Diphu – headquarter of Karbi Anglong itself is a town worth visiting, tourists are generally attracted by the village lifestyle, food, music and handicraft. The low hills, meandering streams and the Koka fall at Panimur – where an angling festival is held in November – are other attractions. The Taralangso Youth Festival takes place in February, while those interested in adventure can go trekking to the Singhason Peak in December. The Buddhist villages of Silonijan and Balipathar right on the National highway from Kazirnagato Bokajan are also worth visiting.
Places of interest
Haflong – Haflong is a town and headquarters of Dima Hasao in Awesome Assam. Haflong is the only hill station in Assam. Garland like Barail hills, extending from north to east build up an impervious wall almost around Haflong and the serpentine like the Diyung river flows down below with two majestic railway bridges towering over it.
Jatinga Valley – The Jatinga valley is a quaint village in the district of Dima Hasao. It is here that we get to observe one of the most curious subject that has been a mystery to ornithologists from across the world – the phenomenon of birds committing mass ‘suicide’. At the end of the monsoons during the months of September and October, during moonless and foggy dark nights between 7pm and 10pm, drawn by some mysterious alchemy of the earth and sky, flying birds come crashing to the ground with no prior warning whatsoever. This phenomenon is not confined to a single species, with Tiger Bittern, Black Bittern, Little Egret, Pond Heron, Indian Pitta and Kingfishers all being affected.
Doiheng – A relatively new destination for the mysterious bird’s phenomenon in Assam. It is located on a hilltop, higher in altitude than Jatinga and about 15 km from it and can be reached by a Jeppable road from NH-54 (E) at Retzawl.
Maibang – 53 km from Haflong, Maibang once flourished as the capital of the Dimasa Kingdom. Stone house, stone sculptures and a heritage museum are major attractions to have a glance at the history and culture of the Dimasa people of Assam.
Semkhor – Semkhor is a combination of two words, ‘Sem’ and ‘Dikhor’ which mean salt and well. About 29 km from Maibang, Semkhor is the only Dimasa village situated on a hilltop and not near a river like other villages. As legend goes, a Dimasa King had stationed his elite warriors at this vantage point to guard the saline water wells here. By boiling the brine of these wells, salt could be made. The people of Semkhor are known as ‘Semsa’ which mean ‘Son of Salt’ or the salt people. After the fall of Maibang and the subsequent departure of the Dimasa kingdom to Cachar, the Semkhor people continue to live in this self contained village without much contact with the outside world. Even today things haven’t changed much although saline water wells have fallen to disuse. The village administration of Semkhor is interesting and a truly democratic. Semkhor has not only historical importance, but it also provides scope of studying the structure of the Dimasa society of Assam.
Laisong – Largest Zeme Naga village cultural center, located at 110 km from Haflong with the biggest traditional bachelor’s dormitory ‘Hangseuki’ – symbol of their culture and heritage. Preservation of the culture and tradition is the sole objective of the dormitory.
Umrongso – 112 km from Haflong, famous for its huge hydel plant – North East Electric Power Corporation with dams over the Kopili river as well as for its Amur Falcon Roosting hub where these birds of prey make a brief stopover during their long flight from Siberia to South Africa in October-November. Also known forits 18 hole natural golf course and fantastic lake view.
Tinsukia – the Commercial capital of Assam and home to India’s Longest Bridge (the Dhola-Sadiya Bridge). Tinsukia also is home to the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park, the Heritage Railway Park and Museum and the Tilinga Mandir or the Bell Temple where it is believed your wishes are granted true!
Digboi – Digboi is the Legendary Oil town of Assam. Digboi has Asia’s Oldest Oil Refinery and the Oldest Operational Oil well in the World. The Centenary Oil Museum at Digboi illustrates the detailed history of the Oil Industry in India. The World War II Cemetery at Digboi has burials of over 200 soldiers of the British Army. The Digboi Golf Course is one the finest Golf Courses in the Country and the many Heritage Bungalows of British Era at Digboi speaks of its glorious past during the British Regime.
Margherita – The Coal Queen of Assam, Margherita is surrounded by hills, tea gardens, forest and the Dihing River. It has a beautiful golf course at the foot of the hills and a small stream running through. Margherita was named after Queen Margherita, the reigning Queen Consort of Italy. Margherita is home to India’s only Coal Museum, Asia’s Oldest Plywood Factory, the Oldest Operational Coal Mines in India, the Major Tribes of Assam, the Singpho Eco-Lodge and the remains of the Finest Hospitals of the American Army – the 20th General Hospital from World War II
Ledo – The Town of Ledo is the Land of the Historic Stilwell Road. Built by the American Army during World War II, the Stilwell Road aka the Ledo Road played a pivotal role for the victory of the Allied Forces over the Imperial Japanese Army. Ledo is also home to the Historic Ledo Airstrip, the International Meditation Center at the Mounglang Buddhist Monastery of Bhante Baba’s fame and the Legend of the Dehing-Patkai. Little away from Ledo is the Lekhapani Railway Station– Indian Railway’s Final Frontier. Tipong Colliery near Ledo has the oldest Operational Steam Locomotives in the World of the likes of DAVID and & 796. Tipong is also home to the Sumi Naga Tribes
So why wait?! Plan your visit to the Land of the Red Rivers and Blue Hills, a State whose beauty will mesmerize you and leave you awestruck! We welcome you to our Homeland, the State of Awesome Assam, Incredible India!
Recommended Itinerary to cover major Tourist Hotspots and Unexplored destinations of Awesome Assam: The Grand Tour of Awesome Assam!
Phone: +91 7086009708
The majestic bird species of Assam – the great Indian Hornbill. Image – Diganta Talukdar
Sample Itinerary Details to cover the major Tourist Hotspots in Assam – North East India
Day 1 ~
Arrive at Guwahati Airport. On arrival you will be received by our representative at the airport offering a warm welcome in traditional Assamese style. From the Airport drive the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary to spot the One Horned Rhinoceros of Assam, an endangered rhino breed indigenous to Assam. The Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary has the highest density of one horned rhinoceros population anywhere in the world. Also, visit the Mayong Museum. Mayong is the famous land of black magic in India. Although black magic is no longer practiced, you will find relics in the museum showcasing these practices that were prevalent earlier. Also visit the Stone inscription at Burha-Mayong. This stone inscription is the longest in Asia at a length of 3.85 meters.
Night Stay: Jungle Resort at Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary
Meals Included: Dinner
Day 2 ~
Early morning go for a thrilling Jeep Safari into the interiors of the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary to spot the flora and fauna at Pobitora. Later in the day we will visit the ancient temples and Satras of North Guwahati. At first, we will visit the Dol Govinda temple that is one of the most revered shrines of Lord Krishna. Historical reference to this temple dates back to more than two centuries ago. Later we will visit the Assamese Vaishnavite Monestary ‘the Auniati Satra’. In the afternoon we will visit the Architectural Marvel of the Mighty Ahom Dynasty under the regime of King Shiva Singha – the ‘Aswaklanta Temple’ built in 1720 AD. Our visit will end at the Dirgheswari Temple that has rock cut images that can be traced to 11th to 12th century AD. Return to Guwahati.
Night Stay: Comfortable Hotel/Homestay at Guwahati
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 3 ~
Early morning we will visit the Holy Shrine of Goddess Kamakhya on the revered Shakti Peetha on the Nilachal Hills – the Kamakhya Temple. Offer your worship at the holiest Temple Shrine of North East India. After breakfast we will depart to the Holy Land of Hajo where we will visit the Hayagriva Madhava Temple and the Poa Makka shrine. After lunch we will drive to Suwalkuchi – ‘The Manchester of the East’ and the Silk Town of Assam. Appreciate the Grandeur of the Assam Silk at Suwalkuchi.
Night Stay: Comfortable Hotel/Homestay at Guwahati
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 4 ~
Today we will embark on our journey to Barpeta to visit the Neo Vaishnavite Monastery of the Barpeta Satra and then will halt at the Manas National Park. Evening will be free at Leisure to visit the nearby Tea gardens.
Night Stay: Jungle Resort/Cottages at Manas National Park
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 5 ~
Early morning take a ride into the dense jungles of the Manas National Park aboard an Elephant Safari. Later in the day we will depart to the Nameri National Park.
Night Stay: Jungle Resort/Cottages at Nameri National Park
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 6 ~
Early morning trek to the interiors of the Nameri National Park along with a forest gaurd to admire the varied avi fauna of the National Park. Later in the day depart to the Kaziranga National Park.
Night Stay: Bonroja Motel at Kaziranga National Park
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 7 ~
Early morning we will go for an Elephant Safari into the interiors of the Kaziranga National Park . A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Kaziranga National Park is home to the highest population of one horned Rhinoceros anywhere in the world. Later visit the Orchid park at Kaziranga. Depart to Majuli Island.
Night Stay: Eco Resort/Homestay at Majuli Island
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 8 ~
Spend the day at Majuli visiting the Neo-Vaishnavite Satras of Majuli Island. Spend time birdwatching and also learn about the lost art of Mask making. Return to Jorhat and on the way visit the ‘Dhekiakhua Bornamghor – home to the oldest burning oil lamp in the World’.
Night Stay: Hotel MDs Continental at Jorhat
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 9 ~
After breakfast depart to Sivasagar – the land of the Mighty Ahom Kings. Spend your day admiring the Engineering marvels of the Talatal Ghar and the Rang Ghar at Sibasagar. Later depart to Naharkatia to the Tai Phake Ecotourism Camp.
Night Stay: Tai Phake Eco tourism Camp at Naharakatia
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 10 ~
Spend your day with the tribal community of the Tai Phake people and learn about their age old traditional practices. Trek along the forests and the beautiful countryside of the Ecocamp. Later in the afternoon we will depart to Tinsukia. In the evening we will visit the Railway Heritage Park and Museum at Tinsukia. Arrive at the Dibru Saikhowa National Park.
Night Stay: Banashree Eco Camp at Dibru Saikhowa National Park
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 11 ~
Early morning we will take a tour of the Dibru Saikhowa National Park aboard a River Cruise. Breakfast/Lunch will be served aboard the River Cruise. After the River Cruise we will visit the Nao Pukhuri at Tinsukia and depart to the Legendary Oil town of Assam at Digboi .
Night Stay: Namdang Guest House at Digboi
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 12 ~
After breakfast visit the War Cemetery at Digboi and visit Digboi Oil town – ‘Home to the oldest operational oil refinery in the World’. Later Depart to Tipong Colliery to see the Steam Locomotives here. We will visit the historic Lekhapani Railway Station and tread along the Stilwell Road to visit the border of the State of Arunachal Pradesh. Later we will return to Margherita.
Night Stay: Singpho Eco Lodge at Margherita
Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner
Day 13 ~
Today we will visit the Histoic Ledo Airstrip and the International Meditation Center at the Mounglang Buddhist Monestary. Later experience open cast coal mining at Tirap Colliery. Afternon we will visit the Namdang Bibi Majhar and discover the exotic tea gardens at Namdang. The day will end with your visit to Asia’s oldest plywood factory at Margherita.
Night Stay: Singpho Eco Lodge at Margherita
Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner
Day 14 ~
In the morning we will visit the Singpho village near the Eco Lodge and learn about the practices and culture of the Singpho tribal people of Assam. Indulge in their daily activities of live like weaving on the Loom. Afternoon enjoy a traditonal cuisine at the Singpho Villa Restaurant in Baragolai and visit India’s only Coal Museum at Margherita. This museum has many historical artefacts from the Second World War. Night halt at the Singpho Eco Lodge at Margherita.
Night Stay: Singpho Eco Lodge at Margherita
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 15 ~
Early morning visit the Buddhist Monastery near the Eco Lodge and after breakfast we will enjoy a short trek across the nearby tea gardens. Later you will depart to Dibrugarh Airport for your onward destination. Trip Ends. Bid Adieu.
Meals Included: Breakfast
Exploring Assam ~
I spent my entire childhood and teenage years in the beautiful valleys of the Dehing Patkai mountain ranges and by the banks of the river Dehing at the Margherita area of Upper Assam. My father had worked as a government employee at NECF (CIL) after graduating as a mining engineer from BHU (IIT) upto his retirement as the CGM of NECF in the year 2013. He started from a trainee engineer to heading the entire operations of the places which was one of the leading subsidiaries of CIL from negative revenues to over 200 crores profit across his years of tenure as CGM. So during his tenure I had the opportunity to explore the major underground coal mines at Baragolai, Namdang, Ledo and Tipong located in Upper Assam as he was posted across each of these coalfields during his tenure. As a tennager I did not happen to like a place that did not have much of a happening life and I often thought of leaving Assam and heading on to some other state where life would be fast and there would be ample amount of money and resources to party (might have been an influence of the countless hours spent on TV watching bollywood movies).
I did my schooling at Digboi which was the place where oil was first discovered in Asia during the British era and the refinery here is the oldest in Asia and the oldest operational oil well in the World is located here at Digboi in Assam. I studied in the same school upto my standard X and so is I knew most of Digboi as I spent time travelling across the place with my friends. Across my academics I was a bright student scoring good marks in most of my subjects apart from mathematics that was one of my weak subjects. Yet, however I was still managing to score good ranks across my academics. During my times here I got the opportunity to explore much of the places in Upper Assam as my father used to talk to me about the rich history of the place we were staying as I was always complaining of staying in a remote area and not being a part of a major growing city. He always tried to make it up by taking us out on sundays to explore naturally beautiful places like the river banks, the Namdapha National Park, Deban, Miao, the Stilwell Road, the Dibru Saikhowa National Park, the historic tea city of Dibrugarh, etc. but these places were not of interest to me as I was growing up. I always wanted to be a part of a big metro city and live the glamorous life there.
Nature to me was a waste of time and only thing that would intrigue me were the tall skyscrapers and modern cars that whiz across the city streets. Assam was like a chapter in my life I wished to forget and never return to and fill my life with the pleasures that money could buy. Finally my time to leave the gift of nature, its bounties, fresh pure air to breathe in, lovely weather of Upper Assam perched in the Dehing Patkai mountain ranges came to an end as to pursue my Std XI and Std Xii my parents agreed to send me to Guwahati in Assam. The largest city of Assam, Guwahati is the fastest growing cities in the World at present but it was not the case in the early 2000s when it could be considered as a town only. The fat govt. pay structure was not yet in place and the city did not appeal much to me apart from the fact that I now stayed away from home and could easily buy booze and cigarettes without having to worry about my parents finding out about it. After 2 years my opportunity finally came calling and I got a chance to leave Assam to travel to Bangalore in Karnataka to pursue my degree in Engineering. The excitement showed up clearly on my face and I finally bid goodbye to Assam to pursue my studies and career in the fastest growing metro cities in India – Bangalore.
Engineering turned out to be a nightmare to me as I already dreaded mathematics and also I was least bothered in my studies during the first 2 years of my course spending most of my time enjoying the life in Bangalore. The college was located a little outside of the city in the outskirts and so the fun of riding on a bike visiting Bangalore and enjoying the life here, wasting money on booze and unhealthy food had become a routine. It was all fun until I had failed in 2 of my subjects in the 3rd semester and it was time I realized I had to concentrate on my studies. Somehow I managed to clear my backlogs and the city life was gradually getting to my nerves. The same drive across the heavy traffic, the same booze, the same burgers and pizzas, I felt this decision of mine to come here was not a total wise one after all. I started focussing on my studies and gradually emerged top in my college scoring a first class degree with distinction scoring campus placements at 2 companies at a time when half of my college mates couldn’t unfortunately make it to the campus placements. The joy was there in my heart but then I realized if this was a life I had to choose to study hard, get a job, work my life paying my bills, have a family and later die then why the hell did I leave my home place of Assam. I could have done everything there without choking my lungs with the traffic pollution.
I was now stuck in a place where I was not local and termed as an outsider, I did not properly understand nor speak the language, didn’t like the food and I started hating the noise, pollution, traffic and pretty much there was nothing at all I liked about the place and this kept constantly reminding of my life in Assam and how peaceful it was there. Shortly I joined a huge MNC – a software company from US where I worked as a network engineer and my job was to ensure I kept the network up and running and also help the project members with technical issues they would incur during their day to day activities. Life got busy and as I was into a support function I had to work on 24/7 shifts to attend to the needs of the project. Time passed away quickly as I was very much engrossed in my work trying to make a name for myself earning accolades life best employee awards and the so called corporate culture was deeply into me. The friday nights would be spent at pubs and bars where we would gulp down liquor and crib about our lives and curse our bosses and after spending the weekend mostly in a drunken stupor we would get back to work on Mondays eagerly waiting for the friday again.
I though that this would be my life until I started a family but one day I realized that my life my going nowhere. Promotions were hard to come by and climbing up the corporate ladder was possible with a lot of internal politics and the boss decided who would go up. Switching jobs was an option but then again this would mean shifting your place of stay as well. I did not want to wait for long and then finally be on top of the ladder at an older age so I decided to leave all this and pursue my Masters in Business Administration. I quit my job and started preparations for the competitive examinations like CAT, MAT, XAT that was the first step towards your admission to the management colleges across India followed by group discussion, personal interviews rounds that help the colleges to select the right candidates for these courses. I managed to clear the exams and get through few business schools but I chose to stay close to Bangalore and avoid the trouble and hassles of having to travel to a new city and adjust to the new conditions there. Also I was much happier staying closer to Bangalore to where I had adjusted and was sure that I would need to return back here to start my corporate life again. Also the location of the college I choose to study was very scenic at the foothills of a Chamundi Hills in Mysore and also on the outskirts of the city. The days passed and I finally became a post graduate and landed a job as a Business Development Manager at premier IT sales company in Bangalore.
To be frank I was not looking out for a sales profile and I wanted to work as a consultant instead. But as luck would have it I couldn’t get through job openings for consultant roles and so I went ahead to join my new profile as a Business Development Manager Life is tough working in a sales environment – everyday you travel from home to office in the morning and then after logging in you need to go out into the field hunting for new sales opportunities. Then come back in the evening and report to your office and prepare the reports. I hated my job but as it paid my bills in a city like Bangalore so I had to continue to work here. There was also the pressure of closing sales and getting revenue for the company and also follow up on the payment process as well. The constant follow up by my bosses and superiors was enough for me to get into a stage of hypertension. I switched to another sales company and life got a little easier here as I had to work with existing accounts and also acquire new accounts as well. The new boss was very supportive ans work was a bit of pleasure here.
Across these years I kept travelling back home to Assam once a year for about 10 days and I would take this opportunity to explore more of the beautiful places in Assam. From now on the places I had earlier hated transformed to my dream destinations. From visiting the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kaziranga National Park in Assam to the second UNESCO site of Manas National Park in Lower Assam, from visiting to the historic land of Sivasagar of the fame of the mighty Ahom Kingdom of Assam to the majestic tea estates of Dibrugarh and Jorhat districts. From visiting the largest and the smallest river islands of the World spanning across the mighty Brahmaputra river at Majuli and Umanand and to the bustling Maa Kamakhya temple in Guwahati, I dreamed of coming back home to Assam again because it is rightly said “Once you visit Assam, it stays with you forever.” The longing to return back to my state was always at the back of my mind but I never got the right opportunity to return. Then as luck would favour me I was called for an interview with a leading computer hardware and distributor of India and upon appearing for the interview I was offered a role to work in Assa, based out of Guwahati. The position was actually for bangalore but the HR team looking at my profile offered me a position in Assam and I gladly accepted it.
I thanked my good fortune and after serving a notice of 15 days in my present company I packed my belongings and headed back to Assam to start my life here. My corporate sales life started now in Guwahati and I got the opportunity to travel and visit many other places in Assam and North East India during this time. For example across these years I had never been to Cherrapunji, Dawki, Jowai in Meghalaya and while working I visited these places some on business calls while some during leisure. I visited Ziro Valley in Arunachal Pradesh along with it many other beautiful destinations in Assam and Nagaland as well. I started to think as to why God sent me back to Assam and it was surely not an opportunity to serve my life working in a corporate and definitely not in the sales profile of a company for sure. There was a divine message in this transition in my career and I had to pay advice to it. I used to wonder while travelling and looking at the visitors especially in Kaziranga National Park as to who were arranging for their tours in assam and North East India. There were certain tour companies operating tours and I wanted to know how many of them belonged to Assam.
I took the help of the internet and search engines to find out more about these companies and after some research I was able to find that most of these companies were big conglomerates based out of Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida, Mumbai, etc. While some were International travel companies based out of UK and USA but from Assam there were only a handful of travel companies. It took me to a surprise that local people were not exploiting this opportunity of helping people from outside see their own place. Just a handful of travel companies from Assam were successful in making a name for themselves in the tour and travel industry of Assam and it stuck me as to why are people not being able to run a better travel company. I then thought of one day being able to run a travel company of my own that would provide personal attention to visitors to Assam and North East India where one knowledgeable individual would be travelling along with the guests and showing them the places of interest and not leaving the visitors who come from far across India and across the World in the apathy of the drivers only. I wanted visitors to explore my land that is blessed with the bounties of nature and is home to the top biodiversity hotspots in the World. A place that is renowned for its abundance of flora, fauna and avifauna and indigenous people who have a rich and glorious past and system of cultures and traditions that is sure to leave any visitor here spellbound.
But I belong to a family that has no history of business and entrepreneurship. Each and every member of my family have always worked in jobs and mostly under the central and state governments. To my family members business is not supposed to be done by people who educated and instead people who do not get jobs end up setting up their business. Business to them is like a grocery store or a small scale restaurant. Little do they know and understand the people or members of my family who are working in private firms drawing a fat salary are in turn working for a successful business enterprise that was established by some thoughtful person. Can’t blame them because that is how they were taught and no wonder the only career option I was allowed to pursue was either engineering or a medical course. It was in the back of my mind that my parents would never approve my decision of quitting a job to start my own business but I had to find a way of conveying them that I was processing an idea to start a company and not just a brick and mortar shop.
While I was researching to start my own travel company but I had not quit my job yet. I hated the work culture in this new organization where people did not respect time. While the office hours started at 9 AM no one came on time and they used to happily arrive at leisure during 10 AM and the only sight that irritated me the most was that people had no real ambitions in life here. For them life was to come to office, spend the day at leisure doing least work possible, no thinking or using of their mind,wait for their salary, go back home to their families, wat, drink, sleep. This was not only the occurrence in this organization, but the many of the people in Assam are lazy and they don’t think of getting to big positions in life. They are happy with their government jobs and other jobs and no wonder that there are no major industries in the state run by the local people. The major industries are mostly from outside of the state or businesses being handled buy the Marwari community. I realized that this was not why God sent me all the way from Bangalore to Guwahati. If it was a job I was supposed to work for then I could have stayed in Bangalore and got myself into higher positions across various MNCs and earn a big fat salary. But in my life money haven’t always been the priority. It was about being able to do things on my own and at my will successfully not having to seek constant approval of my boss that mattered to me.
Keeping all this in mind one fine day I decided to quit my life as a corporate slave and finally start a small establishment of my own here in Assam. The day finally arrived when I spoke to my parents about it who literally went into a state of shock on hearing my decision. It was so hard for them to accept the fact that I would not be drawing a salary home any further and how would I manage to attend to my expenses. To be frank my family is well to do and they have sufficient monetary reserves so that even I didn’t work a day in my life yet I could lead a comfortable life but to them the social stigma is always a problem as it is across India and the dialogue of “Log kya kahenge – what are people going to day” bothers them a lot which frankly doesn’t bother me at all. So here started my entrepreneurship journey to begin my own travel company based out of Assam and help promote responsible tourism across Assam and North East India. The day of the last working day at my company everyone wished me success in my endeavours and I walked out of the office to begin with a fresh start.
My friend had joined me at the parking lot to celebrate my freedom from corporate life and we bought booze and pork to be cooked back home and to celebrate this moment. It was the last day in the month of August and the temperature was soaring high in Assam but thankfully it had rained that evening and so it was a pleasant evening. Another reason for my friend to join me was because once he had discussed about the black magic powers of the sorcerers of Mayong with me and I was so enthralled by these tales that I had requested him to accompany me to Mayong and help me look around the place so that I could start my travel blog and build content for my travel website and also it would help me to travel with visitors around the place and show them around. My friend had agreed to accompany me to Mayong and Pobitora and so he joined me today as he was free the next day. He also cooked the pork back home with a certain sour herb and it tasted delicious. We sat down and over our drinks we discussed my travel company further as to what I would name it and how would I go about building the website and blog and other social media related activities.
My friend was not into travel much and had his own enterprise of running stalls at exhibitions that earned him a good revenue to sustain himself. He agreed to help me set up my venture and so the next day we started on our work of exploring Assam to help build my travel company. We started at 8 AM to drive to Mayong at Morigaon district in Assam. It is beautiful drive across the city of Guwahati then reaching Narengi area and further driving to Mayong. In addition to being the cradle of the black magic capital of India, the area around Mayong in Assam is home to the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary – Home to the Highest Population Density of the Indian One Horned Rhinoceros anywhere in the World. Often dubbed as the mini Kaziranga National Park, Pobitora is gradually becoming an important tourist area near Guwahati and for people who do not want to travel all the way to Kaziranga National Park from Guwahati. Pobitora becomes a place of interest if you are planning to visit the natural beauty of Meghalaya and also want a chance to sight the famed One Horned Rhinoceros of Assam.
We refuelled on our way at Panikhaiti and then continued to drive to Mayong and Pobitora. As the monsoon season was not yet over we could see the waters of the Brahmaputra river flooding the area along the roads and the paddy fields were looking lush green. we admired the beauty of Assam along the way and finally reached Mayong at around 9.30 AM. The soulful touch of the mountains covering the area is a peace to the one’s eyes, My friend called his friend who is basically a resident of Guwahati but has an ancestral home in Mayong and keeps coming here. He asked us to meet him at a shop on the way and we reached the spot where he greeted us. He took us home and offered us tea while we discussed our plan of visit to Mayong and Pobitora. He asked his uncle to join us who was earlier associated with the magic practice but now is a professor at one of the leading institutions at Guwahati in Assam. As it was a sunday the entire family had gathered at their ancestral home for a lunch feast before they continued to Guwahati to get back to their jobs the next day. Uncle spoke to us about the rich history and past of Mayong and as to why it came to be termed as the Black Magic capital of India here in Assam.
During the earlier times, sorcerers of Mayong were very powerful people patronized by the kings of Assam who spent their time in deep meditation in the dense forests of the area practicing the black magic art. They had powers to convert men to goats, tame wild beasts, make army of men disappear, etc. They could harm someone with the black magic and even cure various ailments of the human body with their powers of magic. They were revered among the people of Assam as well and no one dared to speak against them. But gradually the practices faded away with time and people did not have the time and resources to continue practice this art and over time the led to the complete abolishment of black magic. Today there are only a few sorcerers left who practice magic but most of their powers are to help people with body ailments like back pain, arthritis, etc. They use their powers only to heal and not to cause any harm to anyone. We listened to him with patience and eagerness and asked him if we could visit some place to witness this magic in action. He informed us that he knew people who practice such healing practices but they do not do it everyday. People seeking their assistance need to inform them much priorly and then they would arrange these healing sessions for a small fee and as we had come unplanned it would be tough to witness this practice in action.
However, if we wanted to explore the history of Mayong and its black magic practices then we could visit the Mayong museum of Black magic at Pobitora where the various relics used in the black magic art are now preserved here. We though this to be a good opportunity and we went out to explore the museum as well as the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary in Assam. The family asked us to join them for lunch and we happily agreed. We set out to explore the Mayong museum of magic. It is a small house where the artefacts are preserved and the new museum building was being built nearby. We went to a small shop where an old man guided us to the place and he was the caretaker of this place. The Mayong museum was not in a proper shape when we had visited with the artefacts just kept here and yet there was a certain awe factor in the place. Once you enter you can see there are various artefacts kept from the ancient era used in black magic practices. there were also various pictures hung on the walls of the museum displaying the sorcerers in practice and also the King of Morigaon.
The system of governance in the Morigaon district in Assam is a modern one but to preserve the ancient traditions they do have a nominated King. The King of Morigaon presides over some matters of daily governance and is mostly seen during special occasions and festivals when the entire villages gather to celebrate the festival and pay their respects to the King of Morigaon. One notable festival is that of the Jonbeel Mela – the festival of Barter trade that is held every year in the month of January at Morigaon district in Assam. This festival preserves the ancient form of barter trade that was practiced across the World where instead of paying money to buy goods the people used to exchange goods in return for other goods. At the Jonbeel Mela festival of Assam this tradition has been kept alive and across the 3 days of this festival the local people engage in barter trade while the King of Morigaon comes and visits the festival along with his courtiers to collect taxes from the local traders who happily oblige and pay the taxes to the king. It was really interesting to see this practice of Monarchy still existing in mayong and we kept exploring the Mayong musuem furhter.
Towards the end of the room there is a nice display case that has on display the artefacts which were of most importance of the black magic era. These were the scriptures of black magic written on ‘Sachi Pat’ – a bark of a special tree where ancient scriptures were written. In the earlier times most of the ancient Hindu scriptures were written in this form itself as there was no pen and paper then. The paper was the bark of the tree used while the pen used to be the feather of a peacock that would be used as a felt tip and dipped in ink and then scriptures written. There is a good collection of this ancient black magic scriptures at the Mayong museum of magic at Mayong in Assam. There are also elephant tusks and bones preserved at the museum along with various ancient fish traps and other artefacts as well. We thanked the caretaker for allowing us to visit the museum of magic and then came out to visit few of the resorts at the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary in Assam. During our time of visit as it was the monsoon season, the safaris (both Elephant and Jeep) into the interiors of the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary was closed and so we did not have much of an otion to go inside the Sanctuary.
Since we had come all the way we thought of visiting the resorts and homestays around here so that we could guide our visitors here as well. The caretaker of the Mayong museum informed us that if we went a little ahead there was a viewpoint there from where we might have chances of sighting the Indian One Horned Rhinoceros of Pobitora in Assam. It was a not a very long drive from the museum so we thought we would try our luck and visit the place. The roads had broken because of the torrential downpour during the monsoons of Assam so we had to drive our small car carefully to avoid landing into potholes. We reached the viewpoint and at first we couldn’t see anything more than the paddy fields and the rain cover around it. But then upon close observation we found a highland where we could spot four rhinoceros standing on this highland. It was a like a dream sight in front of our eyes watching this endangered species in the wild especially during the monsoon season when they generally travel to higher grounds deep into the mountains. We stood there admiring this magnificent beast and clicked our pictures for a while and later moved back to visit the various Resorts and Homestays at Pobitora in Assam.
We first headed to the Prashanti Tourist Lodge at Pobitora to check out the place. This is a Government run tourist lodge under PPP scheme and it is spread across a sprawling campus. There are two complexes built here that can accommodate around 40 – 50 guests at a time. The rooms are classified into Deluxe A/C and Non A/C Rooms and are very huge and spacious with King size double beds for the comfortable stay of the guests here at Pobitora in Assam. A huge lawn area is also present at the Prashanti tourist lodge where various get togethers and group meets can be organized. We interacted with the staff of the Prashanti tourist lodge at Pobitora enquired about the tariffs of the rooms, the details of the Safari timings into the interiors of the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary and they were very eager to help us out with the details. We finished visiting the place and then headed to check out the most luxurious resort for stay at Pobitora in Assam – the Zizina resort. The Zizina resort is located next to the Prashanti Tourist lodge at Pobitora and offers various accommodation options from Deluxe Swiss tents to concrete rooms. All rooms are air conditioned and have luxurious interiors. Unfortunately as it was the offseason here at Pobitora we couldn’t check out the place from inside as the entrance gate at the Zizina resort was locked. So we moved on ahead to visit the next place the Maibong Eco Reosrt at Pobitora in Assam.
Maibong Eco Resort is the first resort that welcomes you once you are at Pobitora in Assam. The entrance gate to the interior is located from this area itself. But before going there we visited the Maibong Eco Resort to check out the place. This is one of the most reasonably priced accomodation options at Pobitora in Assam and offers accommodation under two categories – Deluxe individual cottages and standard concrete rooms. The owner of the place Mr. Nripen nath was at the premises of the Maibong Eco Resort and he welcomed us to his place. At the front there is a small reception area cum souvenir rooms where various handicrafts are put up on display and sale and behind is the resort located. On one side of the small road there are the Deluxe cottages while on the other side of the road there is the restaurant, the concrete rooms and a small pond as well where there are fishes and the restaurant freshly catches fish from here and churns out delicious fish curry recipes for the guests. Mr. Nath showed us around the place and the cottages were really quaint with TV sets, nice beds and bath attached. Just behind the place there is a bird observation site as well and Mr. Nath told us that during the migratory season of winters in Assam various birds from across the World would come to Pobitora and they came to feed here at the bird observatory site at the Maibong Eco Resort at Pobitora in Assam. He offered us tea at the restaurant and we looked around the place. There were numerous accolades awarded to Mr. Nath and the Maibong Eco Resort by the Tourism Department (Govt. of Assam) for helping to promote the tourism industry at Pobitora and Mayong. He spoke to us about the various tourists from countries from across the World who had come to visit Pobitora and Assam as well. We thanked Mr. Nath for the tea and then headed to the Arya Eco Resort at Pobitora.
Located just a little distance ahead of the Maibong Eco Resort, the Arya Eco Resort is the closest accommodation option at the entrance of the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary. There are four deluxe cottages here that can accommodate upto 12 guests comfortably here at the Arya Eco Resort at Pobitora in Assam. Mr. Pankaj the manager greeted us and helped us look around the place. Along with the deluxe accommodation options, the Arya Eco Resort also has an inhouse restaurant that offers visitors delicious traditional cuisine. Each of the rooms are fitted with A/C, TV sets with cable, King size beds and an attached bathroom with elegant bath fittings as well. Being at the proximity of the forest office of Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, the Arya Eco Resort is just a minute’s walk from the Jeep and Elephant safari ride points of Pobitora in Assam.
After visiting the Arya Eco Resort we headed to the forest office at Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary where the jungle safaris are booked and operated. At the entrance of the forest office there is a board that details the prices of Elephant and Jeep safari rides into Pobitora. Also there is a separate counter from where visitors to Pobitora in Assam can book boat safari rides that will take you to a location near the Brahmaputra river where you can so some exciting river dolphin sighting. We noted down the safari timings and rates and then bid goodbye to the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary to head to the friend’s home for lunch. It was around 1.30 PM and the lunch was almost ready. More family members had gathered and it was nice to see the family bonding together this way which is hard to find in a city life. The family members had come from Jagiroad, Guwahati, Morigaon and nearby places and all of them either had their business establishments or jobs at these places in Assam. It was a traditional Assamese meal being prepared for the family with the menu having pork cooked with black lentils, fish cooked with a sour herb, pork sticks roasted, local herbs fried, country chicken for the members who did not eat pork, salad, rice, etc.
Some of the adults were having rice beer and my friend offered us some of it as well. It tasted really good and we asked for a refill as well. As we had to drive back we restricted the quantity to only 2 glasses while the others continued. Nice discussions happened where people spoke about business, politics, developments, rising pollution levels in the city, etc. We listened quietly and them were called for lunch. All the ladies got busy serving lunch to the children and guests and the meal was indeed very delicious. The pork had a smoky flavour to it as it was cooked over fire and so did the fish and chicken. Traditional cooking over fire is a custom followed by many families in Assam and this imparts a flavorful tate to the curry. After our lunch we thanked the entire family for their love and help and bid goodbye to them and started on our drive back to Guwahati to arrive by evening. I dropped my friend at Narengi and came back home thereby ending a fruitful day of exploring Pobitora and Mayong in Assam.
It was a fruitful visit to Pobitora and Mayong and sighting the One Horned Rhinoceros was a fruitful moment for me and my friend as well. After reaching back to Guwahati I took time to write about the visit to Pobitora and set up my blog and website after this. It was a tough time trying to figure out what to name my travel company as it had to relate to the travel across Assam and as well have a connection with the place. I thought as to what is the main service we are trying to sell to our customers and it was mostly the beautiful bounties of nature, unadulterated landscapes, natural waterfalls, caves, living root bridges, the beautiful National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries, abundant and diverse flora and fauna. So I thought as most of the service we provided would be related to jungles therefore I would name my venture as Jungleideas. So I started the blog and website and started looking out for content to be put up. I had pictures and videos from my earlier visits to various places in Assam and North East India so I started to build content and arrange my pictures to be put up on the website. Next up I planned on exploring Guwahati and get to write about the experiences of travelling across the fastest growing city of North East India.
I started my exploration of Guwahati in Assam by first visiting the Holy temple shrine of Maa Kamakhya temple and seeking the blessings of Goddess Kamakhya on starting my new venture. It so happened that my parents had also visited Guwahati during this time and they too wanted to visit the Maa Kamakhya Temple in Guwahati so one sunday we decided to visit the temple. My father when he was serving as the CGM of NECF (CIL) he had spoken to the Temple management committee and as a part of the CSR activities of NECF CIL) had offered to build a well structured place in the Temple premises where the devotees could sit and eat the prasadam that is served at the Holy temple everyday here at Guwahati in Assam. So most of the temple priests who are referred to ‘Pandas’ knew him and entry to the temple to seek the blessings of Goddess Kamakhya wouldn’t be much of a challenge to us as during sundays thousands of devotees come to the temple shrine to seek the blessings of the holy goddess of Maa Kamakhya. People reach as early as 4 AM to get into the queue that leads to the entrance doors of the Kamakhya temple.
There are two ways fo entrance to the main entry doors of Kamakhya temple – one is to get into the long queue of the Temple while the other is the VIP entrance where devotees need to pay INR 500 per head and purchase the tickets to the entry into the temple. We reached the foothills of the Nilachal hills where on top the Kamakhya Temple is situated at Guwahati in Assam. The drive is uphill and it’s a two way road so the drive is a little challenging as you need to keep vigil to the cars coming towards you and also the cars behind. I managed to drive easily as I am used to driving in the mountain conditions during my numerous tripe to Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh. We came to a viewpoint from where we can get a bird’s eye view of the entire city of Guwahati overlooking the river Brahmaputra and we halted here for a while. Next up we reached the parking spot where I parked my car and we went into the temple premises of the Maa Kamakhya temple. My father led us to the Bhog Ghar that was constructed during his tenure as CGM of NECF and there we saw his name written on the temple walls along with the NECF family. The Panda who was supposed to help us with the temple darshan came to meet us and led us to the main temple shrine entrance of the Maa Kamakhya Temple at Guwahati in Assam.
The Panda led us on top to the entry gate where at first we had to remove our footwear/slippers befores stepping into the main premises of the Holy Maa Kamakhya Temple at Guwahati in Assam. One of the important temple priest who generally guides around VIPs and VVIPs around the temple came to meet my father as he was earlier entrusted with showing around top officials from CIL who used to visit the Kamakhya Temple. They exchanged their greetings and then we were taken to the counter where we had to purchase our entrance tickets to go inside the Kamakhya Temple shrine. Next we had to go to the water tank at the Kamakhya Temple premises where the water is brought in from the Brahmaputra river and the water is considered as a purifier and cleaner and people use this water to cleanse their hands and feet before stepping into the Kamakhya Temple. The ‘Panda’ bought us a Puja Thali that had flowers, garlands, sweets, and a full coconut to be served as an offering to the deity here and then we were guided to the VIP entrance from where we had to make our entry to the temple shrine. We could see hundreds of visitors waiting in the queue to get their turn to enter inside the temple shrine.
The entry for us was from a seperate entrance gate and we bypassed the queue and reached a little ahead of the main entrance to the temple shrine. Here we had to wait as both the queues converge together and there is only one entrance to the temple shrine. It took us about 20 minutes to enter the shrine. The main temple shrine is carved out of a single rock and it leads down to the shrine of Goddess Kamakhya that is a stone on which continuous water is seeping naturally and the devotees are offered this water by the temple priests. It is quite dark inside here and the earthen lamps that are lit here provides a source of light. When we entered there were hundreds of devotees already inside the place and awaiting their turn to sprinkle the holy water on them. It is a really interesting sight to see the devotion among the people towards Goddess Kamakhya. The Kamakhya Temple at Guwahati in Assam is one of among the most revered temple shrines in India and is one among the 51 Shakti Peethas across the Subcontinent. The Shakti Peethas are holy spots where it is believed that Goddess Sati’s body parts fell when Lord Shiva was carrying her.
The legend goes that Goddess Parvati’s father did not like Lord Shiva and often rebuked him in front of his daughter. Once he had arranged for a maha Yagya at his place and did not invite Lord Shiva for the prayers. Goddess Parvati confronted him and asked him the reason for not inviting Lord Shiva. Her father rebuked him again and Parvati was furious and she jumped into the fire performing a Sati. Lord Shiva came to hear about this and he rushed to the place and picked up Goddess Sati’s body from the fire in his hands and started performing the Tandav nritya. All the Gods and devotees gathered to control Lord Shiva’s temper but couldn’t do it. This is when Lord Vishnu used his sudarshan chakra to cut down Goddess Sati’s body into 51 pieces hoping this would bring down Lord Shiva’s under control. Lord Shiva not knowing what to do in a fit of rage carried the parts of her body and started to travel across the World. One by one the parts of Goddess Sati’s body fell on the ground and the 51 parts fell on seperate location.
Today all these places are called as Shakti Peethas and have a temple shrine constructed over them. At the Kamakhya Temple it is said that the female genitals/womb of Goddess Sati fell and hence this temple celebrates the spirit of womanhood every year during the month of June the Temple hosts the Ambubachi Mela at Guwahati in Assam. In the month of Asad (June) it is believed that the Goddess menstruates and during the 3 days of the month the temple doors are closed for it devotees. It is believed that the goddess menstruate during this time and the waters of the Brahmaputra river near the temple turns red symbolizing it. This spirit of womanhood is celebrated and lakhs of devotees come to the Maa Kamakhya Temple in Assam to witness this phenomenon. The congregation attracts the holy sadhus who travel from far and near to witness the Ambubachi Mela that is often referred to as the ‘Mahakumbh of the East’. Kamakhya Temple is a spirit of celebration of the mother’s ability to give birth to a child.
The next Wednesday I decided to go and explore the Chandubi lake area near Guwahati in Assam. Along the way I would be crossing the Deepor Beel lake and Wildlife Sanctuary as well. I started home early as I had never visited the place before and didn’t know the time needed to the place and the road conditions. I had decided to take my bike along and leave the car behind for this drive. I started at 7 AM from my home at Lokhra in Guwahati (Assam) and decided to have breakfast along the way to the pristine and picturesque Chandubi lake. I reached Gorchuk area in Guwahati from where I took a left to drive further to Pamohi and then arrive soon at the Deepor Beel lake and Wildlife Sanctuary. The Deepor Beel is a natural lake on the outskirts of Guwahati city in Assam and is a beautiful location overlooking the hills of Guwahati. During winters this place is flooded with migratory birds and it is a good destination for bird watching near Guwahati city in Assam. However the groups of people who come here during the months of December and January for family picnics on saturdays and sundays makes the place a little noisy and crowded thereby scaring away the birds who come here to feed. Fortunately it was a wednesday when I had visited so the place was calm.
The entire place was looking green and beautiful but owing to the winter season the water level in the lake had gone down. During the monsoons of Assam, the water level goes up quite a bit and the lake becomes a paradise for the local fishermen who can be seen plying the lake waters with their country boats trying to catch the fish for sale at the nearby markets iat azara area in Guwahati. I got down to watch the waters of the Deepor Beel and the birds that were here. Beautiful birds were to be seen all across the lake and there were also fishermen who were catching fish at the Deepor Beel. There is also a watch tower here from where visitors can get a bird’s eye views of the lake as well as the outskirts of Guwahati city. I spent some time admiring the natural beauty of the place and breathing in the fresh air of the place and as I was getting hungry I decided to continue on my drive to Rani and further to Chandubi near Guwahati in Assam. I arrived at Rani shortly sand this road is along the Assam Meghalaya road and is known to be a developing area near Guwahati in Assam. The proximity to the airport is making local residents from Guwahati buy land in this area and therefore it has a developing market today.
I stopped at a small restaurant here and ordered my breakfast. They had roti sabji and along with it I ordered an egg omelette and black tea to go along. It was a basic place and the food was alright. After this I started on my drive to Chandubi. I had to cross a reserve forest here and thankfully it was during the daytime because there were stories of Wild elephant herds crossing the roads across these forests during dark and so I was a little scared while crossing the place. I finally reached a place where I could start to see human habitation and so I felt safe after this. Although there were people around but the area is sparsely populated. The Chandubi area is inhabited by the Rabha tribes of Assam who are adept hunters and expert craftsmen in bamboo and handlooms. I reached a big market area here and from here it was another 20 minute drive to Chandubi lake. The beautiful countryside of Assam was like a feast to my eyes after coming from a crowded city like Guwahati and no wonder people from the city flock to this place during the weekends to enjoy a time of calm amidst nature.
Chandubi lake is another popular tourist spot near Guwahati city and during the winter months of December and January thousands of people from the city and other parts of Assam come here to celebrate a day of picnic. I finally reached the Chandubi lake and it was long drive indeed. My back started to hurt a bit but the beauty of the place made me forget it and I walked towards the lake to admire the natural landscape. Chandubi lake is natural lagoon formed during the earthquake of 1897 and the lake borders the states of Assam and Meghalaya and has a scenic backdrop of the Rani Reserve forest and high rise mountains. The forests here are abundant in flora, fauna and avifauna and species like tigers, leopards, wild elephants, hoolock gibbons, slow loris, pythons, etc inhabit the pristine forests of Chandubi. While I was standing there I could hear the cries of the hoolock gibbons of Assam and the various other bird species. At a point I even heard the roar of the wild elephants herd from the forests. I stood there admiring the beauty of the Chandubi lake and as it was a weekday not many visitors were around and mostly the local people were present.
Chandubi lake is a popular place in the music industry of Assam and many music videos have been shot here with the Chandubi lake as the backdrop. Next I went to visit the tourist lodges and eco camps around the area to help me send tourists to this wonderful place. Located very close to the Chandubi lake in Assam is the Government run Assam Tourism lodge at Chandubi. A nicely built place it had around 8 deluxe rooms and 2 deluxe Swiss tents for visitors who come for night halt to admire the natural beauty of the place. All the rooms are fitted with air conditioning and deluxe bathrooms but a little more maintenance was necessary to make the place more attractive. I spoke to the caretaker of the place who guided me with the room tariffs and whom to contact for the room bookings. After this I hired a boat to cross the lake and go to the Chandubi Jungle Camp whose co owner later became a close friend and accompanied me on several trips across North East India. The Chandubi Jungle Camp is an eco friendly property built with mud houses with thatch roofs, cottages with attached bathrooms and Dome tents for stay of the guests. The entire place doesn’t allow the use of plastics and food is cooked in a traditional way making use of firewood. As it was a weekday there weren’t many guests around here but weekends here see a lot of footfalls from guests from Guwahati and other parts of Assam.
Another of the co owner of the place Mr. Diganta Rabha was at the premises and the land where the camp was set up belonged to him. He welcomed me to his place and helped me to look around. A beautiful and green campus the front half of the place is where the camp is set up while behind was Diganta’s house where he lived with his family. He told me that there was a trekking route behind the village from where one could climb up to the mountains to admire the forest reserves of Chandubi and sight various flora, fauna and avifauna. There are also two beautiful waterfalls in the Chandubi area near Guwahati in Assam as well. At their kitchen the family members were preparing an ethnic rabha cuisine lunch for the visitors who were at the camp and Diganta asked me if I would like to have lunch at their place. The meal costed INR 300 for non veg meal and I was hungry as well so I agreed to have lunch at the place. It was an elaborate lunch that had chicken cooked with banana flower, fish curry with sour herb, dal, mashed potato chutney, roasted brinjal chutney, some other variety of chutney, salad, papad, pickle, etc. The meal was very delicious and rabha cuisine of Assam tasted quite good as I had it for the first time. I thanked Diganta for offering me the lunch and then bid farewell to the Chandubi Jungle Camp and Chandubi lake to start on my drive back to Guwahati.
By the time I reached Garchuk area it was 3.30 PM and so I decided to make another stop at the North East Museum of Handicrafts and handlooms before heading back home. This museum is owned and operated by the Government and has on display the various arts and craft forms of the people if Assam and North East India. There are manufacturing units here as well where the weavers weave out exquisite handlooms and bamboo crafts as well. There is a huge display hall where there are models depicting the rural life of Assam. There are model villages that have a complete home setup of a village of Assam and demonstrate how people lead a life in their village. In one of these models it even depicts a typical Assam village kitchen, a storehouse for grains called as Bhoral, etc. Also there are models of the tribal folks of the region dressed in their traditional attires. I admired the rich culture and heritage of the people of Assam and North East India and then visited the handloom production unit and there were women weavers engaged in the traditional looms of Assam weaving out exquisite traditional handlooms of Assam. They were weaving ‘Gamochas’ that are the traditional towels of Assam and along with it traditional clothes that are adorned by the tribal people of Assam.
There was another manufacturing unit here that prepared sticks out of bamboo for incense sticks manufacturing. Assam is known to have a good resource of bamboo plantations and bamboo is an integral part of the lives of the people of Assam mostly in the rural areas where people use bamboo to build homes, to construct bridges over streams, as fences for their houses, as an alternative to wood, to light fire in theri kitchen and even use the bamboo shoot for preparations in the kitchen. It was a wonderful sight to visit the place and I really enjoyed my time here visiting the glory of the indigenous people of Assam and how they used natural resources to sustain themselves. After finishing my visit at the museum at Garchuk area in Assam I headed back home thereby ending another eventful day in Assam exploring the Deepor beel, Chandubi lake and North East Museum of Handicrafts and handlooms at Guwahati in Assam.
On the next Saturday I made a plan to visit the Hajo and Suwalkuchi areas of Assam. My parents were still in Guwahati and so they accompanied me along as they had never been to the holy land of Hajo earlier. Therefore we started from home after breakfast to at first visit Hajo and then come to Sualkuchi in Assam to witness the glory of the indigenous silks of Assam at the largest silk weaving village in the World here in Assam. We crossed the Brahmaputra river over the Saraighat bridge to drive towards Amingaon area near Guwahati and from here we took a left diversion to head to Hajo in Assam. On the way we reached the Saraighat war memorial and my father wanted to stop here to take a look at the place. Saraighat is the place where the great battle between the Ahoms and the mughals was fought. The Ahoms were brave kings who ruled the entire region of North East India that was collectively Assam then. And Assam was the only part of India that the Mughals couldn’t conquer. The resiliency of the Ahom army and its brave generals made the mighty Mughals retreat from Assam and it was mostly the interesting war tactics used by the Ahoms that helped them to stop the Mughals from invading and conquering Assam.
Saraighat was the place chosen for war as it was a tactical grounds surrounded by the Brahmaputra river and the rolling mountains of Assam so the Mughals had to first cross the Brahmaputra and then face the smaller Ahom army who strategically placed themselves along the mountains and waded war on the mighty Mughal army who couldn’t work with these war tactics as long range guns were not present during that time. It is also believed that the Ahoms made use of the powers of the Black magic sorcerers of Mayong who made an entire army of men disappear. Today a war memorial has been constructed here to commemorate this battle of the Ahoms of Assam. Inside the Saraighat War Memorial there are beautifully sculpted sculpture of the Ahom General Lachit Borphukan commanding the soldiers of the Ahom army in battle and one can feel proud being a part of this legacy of the brave Ahoms of Assam. We admired the place and later started on our drive again to Hajo in Assam.
We reached a junction from where we had to head straight towards Hajo while a left would take us to Suwalkuchi. We continued further and the beautiful countryside of Assam greeted us at the outskirts of the Hajo town. Hajo holds a sacred place among the people of three faiths of Assam – Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists. The muslims of Hajo are descendants of the Mughal dynasty. When the Mughals had come to invade Assam although they couldn’t conquer the region but many of the mughals generals and soldiers fell in love with Assam and decided to stay back here. However as they couldn’t go past Saraighat they decided to settle in the places around the Hajo. They gradually started to mingle with the local people and settled themselves here in Assam. Hajo today is the place where you can see the Hindus and Muslims living in total harmony. The Hindus attend Muslim rituals and festivals while the muslims can be seen attending the Assamese functions and singing praises of the Lord along with the Hindus. The Hayagriva Madhava temple at Hajo in Assam holds a special place in the faiths of the Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists while the Poa Makka shrine at Hajo in Assam is visited both by the Muslims and Hindus.
We arrived at Hajo town shortly and much of the town is settled along the highway and one can find various shops across each side of the highway of Assam. At first we made a stop to have tea at the Hajo market before proceeding to visit the Hayagriva Madhava temple at Hajo in Assam. We reached the temple shrine at 9.30 AM and there were many devotees today at the Temple as it was a weekend. Outside the temple premises is a huge pond and this place holds a very important significance in the Wildlife story of Assam and the World as in this pond many species of turtles are kept alive that has helped these species from the brink of extinction. As these turtles when in the rivers fell in the hands of excessive hunting and breeding was reduced to nil thereby bringing their numbers to almost zero. With the active work of an NGO today the temple pond of Hayagriva Madhava temple is home to numerous turtles including the very rare Assam Roofed top turtle species as well. Devotees come to the temple pond to provide turtle friendly food to the animals and they happily come to feed. The pond is also home to various freshwater fishes as well.
We cleansed our hands and feet with the waters of this pond and then bought a puja thali and started our walk to the top of the fleet of stairs leading to the Hayagriva Madhava temple at Hajo in Assam. We managed to climb the stairway with ease and the temple priest later informed us that there is a divine power that attracts you to the temple thereby making the climb easier. The smae priest helped us offer our prayers at the temple and he took us into the deity room where we could see the idols of the Gods kept inside the Hayagriva Madhava temple. He showed us around the temple at first by taking us to a point from where it is said that this place is facing the Jagannath temple at puri in Orissa. The priest told us that the visit and pilgrimage to the Jagannath temple is complete only after you come to the Hayagriva Madhava temple at Hajo in Assam and offer your worship. He also took us to the grounds where informed us that during the Magh Bihu festival of Assam in January a huge congregation is held here and cock fights are arranged here which is now abolished as per directions of the Hon. Supreme Court of India.
We offered our prayers at the temple and the pujari took our donation for the temple at the end. After this we bid goodbye to the Hayagriva Madhava Temple at Hajo in Assam to go to the Poa Makka shrine is Hajo. The Poa Makka shrine at hajo is the holiest muslim shrine across Assam and North East India. It is said that Pir Gias Uddin Aulia a muslim saint decided to bring back 250 gms of soil (1 Pua) from the holy land of Mecca as many poor people couldn’t afford to go to Mecca on Hajj. So by bringing in the soil he would allow such people to have a chance to perform their holy rites of praying on the soil of Mecca here at Hajo in Assam. His thoughts seemed to be a blessing in disguise for the people of Assam and neighboring areas and today thousands of pilgrims come here every year to pay their worship. In the years a Dargah was constructed at this place and muslims and hindus both come here to offer their prayers and offer a chadar on the Dargah as a sign of worship. We too bought the holy chadar outside at the shops that are present and then went in to offer our prayers at the Poa Makka shrine at hajo in Assam. After winding up our visit here we bid farewell to Hajo when we saw a local market here selling fishes caught from the nearby lakes and fisheries. There were a variety of fish from Rohu, Borali, Sital, etc of Assam at the market.
We bought a big Sital fish for INR 500 per kg and the fish weighed around 3 kgs so it costed us INR 1500 and the vendor packed the fish to be carried in the car. After this we left Hajo to drive to Suwalkuchi in Assam. It was noon and we had to eat lunch so we first stepped at a roadside dhaba for lunch. Across Assam one can find numerous roadside food outlets called as Dhabas that serve the Assamese staple meal of rice,d al, sabji, salad, an ethnic curry, fish curry, chicken curry, mutton curry, a spicy chutney, etc. along with carious other Chinese and North Indian dishes. This dhaba culture is popular across the entire state of Assam and many youths of the state are engaged in this food business. While some of the Dhabas are very very popular like the ones in Nagaon Bypass, Numaligarh, Jhanji, Makum, etc. some of them do not catch up with the guests and eventually close shop. One way of identifying a popular dhaba is to look at the parking area of the place. The more number of cars would mean the food is good and hence the full parking place. The place we went to along the Hajo Guwahati road although didn’t have many cars waiting outside yet the cleanliness of the place tempted us to have our food here.
The food was nice and the thali had various offerings along with it. We ordered fish curry for us along with the vegetarian thali. After lunch we started on our drive to Suwalkuchi in Assam. We took a right diversion from the road to drive to Suwalkuchi and reached the market area here in sometime. Suwalkuchi is known across Assam as the village weaving the finest quality silk fabrics of Assam and there are numerous weaving installments and showrooms across the small town. Often referred to as the ‘Manchester of the East’ – Suwalkuchi is the largest silk weaving village in the World. We went to visit a silk showroom here at Suwalkuchi in Assam and it belonged to a person named Gautam Da. He is one of the influential businessmen of Suwalkuchi town and the silks woven at his establishment is sent across Assam to various places where they are sold. He welcomed us to his showroom and his employees showed us the various materials weaved out of the silks of Assam.
There were fabrics woven from the various silk varieties of Assam like Muga, Eri and Pat. There were also another variety called as Tassar that is a varied silk because the silk worms in this type of silk doesn’t feed on the mulberry leaves and instead on some jungle leaves. While the Muga silk mekhela chadors were very expensive with prices starting from INR 20,000 the Pat and Tassar silk were slightly in budget with prices starting from INR 2,500 based on the quality of handwork done on the mekhela chadors. There were also various handbags and purses also made with silk and these items were looking very attractive. My mother bought a pat silk mekhela chador from the shop and Gautam Da invited us to come to see how these silk fabrics are woven at his factory. We wanted to witness this silk weaving of Assam in person at Suwalkuchi. Although we had witnessed it several times across various village homes in Assam but witnessing this here at Suwalkuchi would be a once in a lifetime opportunity. But as my parents had to attend to a dinner event at one of their friends place so we decided to come over some other time to Suwalkuchi in Assam and witness the intricate process of silk weaving here.
We thanked Gautam Da for his eagerness to help us see the various silks of Assam here at Suwalkuchi and finally bid farewell to Suwalkuchi to head back to Guwahati in Assam. On the way back we came across a market area where vendors were selling organically grown vegetables along the Guwahati road and we stopped here to pick up some vegetables. These vegetables are brought in from the nearby villages by the vendors and we could identify the vegetables have not been grown with the use of fertilizers and pesticides. This is a good sign because in today’s world adulterated food being a growing concern and a cause for many diseases in humans. Alongside there were few more vendors who were selling various rice varieties of Assam like Bora Saul, Joha Saul, Aijong Saul, etc and another vendor was selling eggs of duck and county chicken. We couldn’t resist buying such healthy food to take home and so we picked up all such items in less quantities and finally started on our drive to our home in Guwahati. We reached back at 4,30 PM and my parents took rest for sometime and in the evening at 7 PM they went to Beltola area at Guwahati in Assam to attend to a dinner while I sat back pondering about the visit to Hajo and Sualkuchi and wondering as to why these beautiful places of Assam have not yet gained popularity in the tourist circuit of Assam.
The next morning as it was a Sunday my family and I decided to visit the Umananda Temple and the Sukreswar temple in Guwahati. Umananda Temple is located at the Umananda Island – the smallest inhabited river island in the World and is situated in the midst of the mighty Brahmaputra river located near the Uzan Bazar Ghat in Guwahati. As it was a sunday there was less traffic on the roads of Guwahati and we reached the Uzan Bazar Ghat at around 9 AM. From the Uzan Bazar ghat at Guwahati in Assam we had to take a ferry boat to cross the Brahmaputra river to go to the Umananda Island. There are options of private and govt. operated ferries to take you to the Umananda Island. While the govt. ferry starts operating at 9 AM and before that the private boats take you to the Umananda Island in Guwahati in Assam. The govt. ferry charges INR 20 per head for a to and fro ride while the private ones charge INR 50 and it is fair enough based on the operating costs. As we had reached after 9 AM we had to take the govt. ferry to Umananda. We had to wait until the ferry was full and by the time we started it was around 9.45 AM. It is a short 15 minute ferry ride to reach the Umananda Island at Guwahati in Assam.
The Umananda island is known for the presence of the Umananda Temple and also for the surviving population of the highly endangered Golden Langur primate species. Once we reached the island we had to climb a fleet of 150 stairs to go to the top of the small hillock called as the Bhasmachal hills where the Umananda Temple is located here in Assam. As per historic legends, Lord Shiva and Parvati stayed here at the Umananda Island where Lord Shiva taught discourses to Parvati. Once when Lord Shiva was in deep meditation, Kamadeva was trying to interrupt his meditation by distracting him. Lord Shiva had gotten so furious at Kamadeva that he opened his third eye and burnt Kamadeva into ashes. In Sanskrit this is called as ‘Bhasma’ and hence the hillock came to be known as the Bhasmachal hills. Upon entry the temple premises there is a huge tree here and at our time of visit we got lucky to sight many golden langur species (around 5 of them) perched atop the tree. But across the years, this population has dwindled and during my recent visit I came to know that only 1 of the members are now present here at the Umananda Island in Assam.
It was beautiful sight to watch these beautiful primate species here at the Umananda Island. After this we bought a puja thali and went inside the premises of the Umananda temple to offer our worship. the main temple shrine is located down from the main temple top and once we have finished offering our worship on top we have to walk down a small stairway where the temple deity are kept and pujaris site here offering worship on behalf of the devotees. The puja thali was offered to the temple priest here at the Umananda temple who took some of the items from the thali mostly the flowers and offered it to the Gods while returned the other items back to us. The temple priest offered prayers on our behalf and showed us two small idols that were sculpted on the stone of Lord Shiva and Parvati. He also told us that the Umananda temple was built by an Ahom king who was a devoted follower of Lord Shiva and the temple was damaged in the great Assam earthquake of 1897 and was later rebuilt by a local businessman.
He also told us that here Lord Shiva and Parvati used to have ‘Ananda’ and hence the named ‘Umananda’. We listened to his discourses with interest and then after paying a little donation in the place we came out of the temple shine of the umananda temple at Guwahati in Assam. we took a walk around the temple premises and also offered worship at the Kali temple that is located close to the main temple shrine. After this we came put to go to the Hanuman mandir that is located downstairs. As the ferry was approaching again we walked down the stairs to board it and return back to the Uzan bazar ghat thereby completing our visit to the Umananda temple and the smallest river island in the World of Umanada at Guwahati in Assam. Next we continued on our drive to the Sukreswar temple at Panbazar area in Assam. On the way we crossed the Assam State Museum and my father is an ardent fan of history and museums. Although it was a sunday and the Assam State Museum at Guwahati in generally closed but it was open today as there was some event being organized.
I parked my car and went to enquire is the place was open and the guard replied in positive and so I purchased my tickets and called my family to start exploring the Assam State Museum. My mother was not very much interested to explore the place but as my father was very keen to visit and explore the Assam State Museum she did not disapprove of it. We started by exploring the first floor on the left hand side of the Assam State Museum where there is a huge display room of various legendary freedom fighters of Assam and India as well. My father and mother got to discussing about the role each of these freedom fighters played during the freedom struggle of India. As I was educated in an english medium school our text books did not contain much about the freedom fighters of Assam so I took interest in what my parents were discussing about the history of Assam. Next up we went to another display hall that illustrated the life and traditions of the indigenous people of Assam. Upon entrance there was the depiction of the sattriya culture of Majuli Island – the largest river island on the World in Assam. The place depicted a Satra and its Namghar premises and these were also kept on display the various traditional masks created by the artisans of the Samaguri Satra in Majuli that are mostly used in the Bhaona performances.
Then came a section of the indigenous people of Assam like Mishings, Bodos, karbis, etc and models of how they lead their lives in the villages of Assam. There were depiction of how these indigenous people of Assam indulge in silk weaving right from weaving out the silk yarn from the cocoon of the silk worms upto the final process of weaving. There were models adorned with the traditional attires and jewellery as well. There was a construction of a model village home of Assam as well that elaborates how people lead their life in a village environment. There was a model kitchen with various traditional utensils of Assam as well. The Assam State Museum is a perfect place to be for visitors who are interested in culture and are intrigued by the life of the indigenous people.