Margherita is a nose count town nestled by rolling hills and dotted by tea gardens in the Tinsukia district in the State of Assam. The small sub-division town has scenic beauty as one enters this immaculate town, cool and brumous air refreshes one’s senses and never ending lush greenery pleases the eyes. The name of the town Margherita was derived from the Italian queen ‘Margherita Teresa Giovanna Di Savoia’ and dates back to the late 19th century as a token of appreciation for the Italian Chief Engineer of rail section Chevalier R Paginini who supervised the construction of a rail bridge over river Dehing to facilitate transport of coal and tea from Margherita to across the world.
Margherita town is surrounded by hills, tea gardens, forests and the dehing river. If you seek ultimate solace from a fast paced city life then Margherita is the place to be. The town is an amalgamation of the various tribes of Assam and Ketetong village at Margherita has the highest concentration of tribes anywhere in North East India. From heritage Tea gardens to the legacy coal mines, Margherita is rich in natural resources. Margherita area is under the North Eastern Coalfields (NECF) a subsidiary of Coal India Limited (CIL), the largest coal producing company in the World and has some of the oldest underground coal mines in the country all set up during the British Era. NECF has major operations of coal extraction here and this is one of the prime industries in the area. Margherita has the distinction of having India’s only coal museum and Asia’s Oldest plywood factory.
During the Burma Campaign of the World War II, Margherita served as base for the Allied troops and it was from here that they started work on the Historic Stilwell Road across the Pangsau Pass. The remains of the 20th General Hospital at Margherita stands testament to this fact and it was among the finest military hospitals of the American Army to be set up here.
Margherita today is a hub of culture and traditions with the assimilation of the various tribes of Assam like the Ahoms, Singphos, Sutiyas, Morans, Mutticks, Tai khamyangs, Tai Phakes, Tea garden tribes, etc.
How to reach Margherita from Kaziranga National Park –
By Road – Margherita is located at a distance of around 320 kilometers from Kaziranga National Park. It takes around 7 hours by road to reach Margherita from Kaziranga. Private Bus operators ply from Guwahati to Margherita and can be boarded from Kaziranga National Park. We operate our Taxi Service to Margherita from Kaziranga National Park. Our well maintained fleet makes your journey from Kaziranga National Park to Margherita a comfortable one.
By Air – Margherita is well connected to the Dibrugarh Airport by road. You can choose to fly to Dibrugarh from the Guwahati Airport. We operate taxi service from Dibrugarh Airport to Margherita.
By Train – Margherita town has a railway Station and the Intercity Express arrives and departs daily from the Margherita Railway Station from Guwahati.
Places of Interest in Margherita –
1| India’s only Coal Museum Margherita
Situated near the Office of the General Manager of NECF, the Coal Museum at Margherita is the only coal museum in India and it has a huge collection of various artefacts from the era of World War II. This museum illustrates the practice of underground and open cast coal mining practices of India and also has a model of an underground coal mine. Various stages of the construction of Stilwell Road is depicted in the museum. The musuem has a collection of vintage Steam Locomotives, Stamp Collection, various methods of coal mining and much more.
2| Singpho Eco Lodge Margherita
Originally built to showcase the rich heritage and culture of the Singpho tribes of Assam, the Singpho Eco Lodge at the Inthong village in Margherita is now a prime tourist attraction of the Margherita area. People from across Assam, India and the World visit the Singpho Eco lodge to get a chance to witness ecotourism at its best here. Located very close to the Inthong village the Singpho Eco Lodge provides visitors with an experience to visit the real countryside of Assam and taste ethnic Singpho Cuisine. Their food comprises of herbs and meat which are cooked in traditional style of their people filled with a rich aroma of indigenous herbs and bamboo shoot. The Singpho meal is a true delight to savor. The Singphos were the first people to brew tea in Assam and their heritage tea called as Phalap is a true delight and is much in demand across the South East Asian countries due to its rich flavor. The Singpho Eco Lodge offers a true homestay experience where you get a chance to sit, eat, dine and celebrate the rich heritage and culture of the Singho people of Assam. While your visit to Margherita, the stay at Singpho Eco Lodge is a must for any traveller.
3| Tea Gardens and Tea Factories of Margherita
Margherita Area is surrounded by the lush tea gardens of Assam and beautiful tea gardens greet you along the journey across Margherita upto Jagun. The tea that is processed from the tea gardens of margherita is one of the finest in the World because of the beautiful atmosphere around the place. The Margherita tea factory that was established in the early 1900s is among the oldest in India.
4| Coal Mines of Margherita
The area around Margherita is rich in mineral content as coal reserves are found in abundance here. Also the town of Digboi is closeby that has rich reserves of Crude oil as well. The coal mines that are a part of Makum Coalfields of Margherita are some of the oldest in India set up during the British regime as well. When in Margherita, take time exploring these underground and opencast coal mines. Prior permission from authorities would be necessary to explore these coal mines.
5| Asia’s Oldest Plywood Factory at Margherita
Built during the regime of the British Raj under the AR&T Company, the plywood factory in Margherita is the oldest in Asia. Although no longer operational, you can visit this place to catch a glimpse of the various old machinery present here which were all brought from European countries and are still operational as well. Plywood was manufactures here to create huge boxes to transport tea across the World from Margherita.
6| Countryside of Margherita
With the highest concentration of tribal people, Margherita has a beautiful countryside with many village households especially around the Ketetong area here. Lush green paddy fields greet you on your visit here and the warmth and hospitality of the people here are unmatched. The Singpho people are the ones inhabiting this area and their culture and traditions can be witnessed here in Margherita.
7| The 20th General Hospital at Margherita
Built during the World War II by the American army, the 20th General Hospital treated the wounded soldiers of the Allied forces here. Many officers of the British army were treated at this hospital during the war. This was a Grade A hospital of the American army. Today however, the place has fallen in ruins and these ruins can be seen at Margherita.
8| The Margherita Market
The local market at Margherita is also a must visit on your tour of Margherita.
A day at Margherita with our guests from Japan ~
We narrate our experience of hosting our guests from Japan, Mr. Ken and Kaho at Margherita in Upper Assam. Both our guests were passionate photographers of Steam Locomotives from around the World and they had visited Margherita with a purpose of clicking pictures of ‘DAVID’ – the Oldest operational Steam Locomotive in the World which was present at Tipong Colliery near Margherita under the operations of NECF (CIL). They had come over on 31st December, 2017 and would be staying on 1st January, 2018 when we would explore Tipong and Margherita areas. I picked them up at the Dibrugarh airport at 3 PM and we proceeded on our drive to Margherita.
We made a stop at the Railway Heritage Park and Museum at Tinsukia as this place has on display various old steam locomotives that were operational at various coal mines along the British regime along with Steam engines that ran along the Dibru Saidiya railway. We explored the museum for about an hour and then started on our drive to Margherita again. We reached Hotel Royal treat at Margherita at around 6 PM. I helped them to check into their rooms and after the formalities I ordered for their dinner and later returned back to my home in Margherita. It was the new year’s eve so I had to go out for a society dinner at the CIL guest house in Margherita. After my dinner I returned home to retire to bed for the next day exploration at Tipong colliery and Margherita.
The next day morning viz. January 1st, 2018 I headed to the Hotel royal treat at 8 AM to pick up Ken and Kaho and start on our drive to Tipong Colliery. They finished their breakfast and we started at 8.20 AM. By 9.30 we reached Tipong and could hear the blowing of DAVID’s horn as we approached. Looking at DAVID powering up with burning coal and steaming up in front of our eyes was a wonderful experience. The employees helped us film and capture this rare feat of DAVID being operational for one last time. After finishing capturing the moments with DAVID we had an early lunch at Tipong Guest House and headed back to Margherita.
At Margherita we explored the India’s only Coal Museum, where there were other old Steam Locomotives on display of the likes of John, Shelly and Hassang. Next up we visited the lush tea gardens of Margherita. We also explored the banks of river Dehing at Margherita as well. We finished our tour by visiting the remains of Asia’s first plywood factory at Margherita and the Singpho Eco Lodge and later we returned to the Hotel. We celebrated our day with a bottle of Wine and fine Scotch. The next day I dropped them off the Dibrugarh airport and they left to Japan.