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 Dhekhiakhowa Bornamghar. A Tribute to the founder of the Ahom Dynasty ‘Swargadeo Suikapha’ 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. Margheita 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 Minestary 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!
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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 Monestary 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