Assam’s history speaks of traditions and cultures of the oldest periods of human civilization. Historical monuments like the Rang Ghar, which is often referred to as the ‘Colosseum of the East’ or Asia’s first sports pavilion, Ahom-era palaces and huge man made tanks in Sivasagar, Maidams of Charaideo – India’s own pyramids are frequented by both domestic and international tourists. Equally important are the Madan Kamdev Temple (also called mini Khajuraho), Sri Surya Pahar in Goalpara, Agnigarh in Tezpur, Deoparbat in Golaghat, etc. Assam is dotted with numerous monuments built by the Ahom Dynasty – one that ruled the State for over 600 long years – also one that could not be subjugated by the mighty Mughal rulers. The legend is that, Chaulung Siu-ka-phaa, the first Ahom King, was a descendant of Lord Indra.
Some of the important Museums and Historical Monuments of Assam are ~
- India’s only Coal Museum at Margherita ~ Awesome Assam
Situated very close to the office of the General Manger of Coal India Ltd. at Margherita in Assam is India’s only Coal Museum. The brain child of the Ex. Chief General Manager of NECF Mr. A. K. Bora a coal mining professional and a war history enthusiast (he has never missed to watch any movie/documentary on the World Wars I & II), this museum of International standard was inaugurated on 29th October, 2012 and is opening for public viewing.
The coal museum contains Relics of the likes of the locomotives manufactured by W G Bagnall, Stafford, England (John, Hassng, David and Shelly), Memoirs of World War II (rare pictures of construction of Stilwell Road, Pangsau Pass and Ledo airstrip, empty shells of bombs used in WW II), the history of the Assam Railways & Trading Co. Ltd (AR &T Co. Ltd.), a rare collection of stamps from over the world, vintage Cyclostyle machines, etc.
- Centenary Oil Museum at the Legendary Oil Town of Digboi ~ Awesome Assam
This Legendary history of the Digboi Oil Story is well preserved at the Digboi Centenary Oil Museum which is built on the fringes of Digboi Well No.1 from which oil is still gently seeping. Inaugurated in January 2002, this museum is a treasure house of memorabilia of the past, tools and equipment of the yesteryear s and elegant wall panels depicting the history of Oil refining in India. While an air raid shelter of the World War II greets visitors at the entrance of the museum, the steel rig of Digboi Well No. 1 stands as a silent sentinel of excellence adjacent to the museum building.
- Treasured Wheels Museum at Sonapur ~ Awesome Assam
Perhaps the greatest example of a man’s power of dreaming, believing in his dream and working continuously to realize that dream is illustrated when you step foot into the ‘Treasured Wheels Museum’ near Guwahati in Assam. Mr. Piklu Deka or Piklu Da as everyone calls him is the man behind this dream. What started as a dream to own a vintage car thirty (30) years ago has finally transformed in the shape of a museum with a collection of over 50 vintage cars, 50 motorbikes and much more.
A short half an hour drive from Guwahati will reach you to the Treasured Wheels Museum. You are greeted at the Museum Entrance by a collection of helmets used by Soldiers during World War II announcing your expeditions across a huge campus filled with the memoirs of the War. From vintage Russian Army Trucks, American Motorbikes to Chinese Paratrooper Cycles you are sure to find them here. The amazing part is that all these Motorcars are in a perfect running condition.
- The Agnigarh Fortress at Tezpur ~ Awesome Assam
Agnigarh aka the Fortress of Fire is located is a hillock on the banks of the mighty River Brahmaputra at the city of Tezpur in the State of Assam. As per Hindu mythology, it is the site of the fortress which was built by ‘Banasura‘ to keep his daughter Usha in isolation. The name itself is derived from the words ‘Agni’ (meaning fire) and ‘Garh’ (meaning fortress or wall) in Sanskrit.
- The Rang Ghar at Sivasagar ~ Awesome Assam
The Rang Ghar (the House of Entertainment) is a two-storied building situated in Sivasagar, once served as the royal sports-pavilion for Ahom kings and nobles – particularly during the Rongali Bihu festival (the Assamese New Year in the month of April) in the Ahom capital of Rangpur. It is said to be the oldest amphitheater in the whole of Asia and has often been referred to as the ‘Colosseum of the East‘. The Rang Ghar is situated to the northeast of the Talatal Ghar, in the Joysagar area of the Sibsagar district. This ancient amphitheater was constructed by the Ahom ruler Swargadeo Pramutta Singha in 1744-1750.
- The Kareng Ghar at Sivasagar ~ Awesome Assam
The Kareng Ghar, also known as ‘the Garhgaon Palace’, is located at Garhgaon (15 kilometers) from present-day Sivasagar, in Upper Assam, India. The Kareng Ghar serves as one of the grandest examples of Ahom architecture to be ever built. The palace basically was made of wood and stones. In 1747 Pramatta Singha, son of Rudra Singha, constructed the brick wall of about 5 kilometers in length surrounding the ‘Garhgaon Palace’ and the masonry gate leading to it.
- The Talatal Ghar at Sivasagar ~ Awesome Assam
The Talatal Ghar is a palace located in Rangpur, 4 km from the city of Sivasagar, in Upper Assam. It has two secret tunnels and many floors below ground level which were used by the Ahom kings and soldiers as exit routes during the wars.
The Talatal Ghar is not a usual kind of a monument. It speaks of Architectural Expertise of the people of Assam several hundred years ago. The Talatal and the Kareng Ghar together constitutes the Rongpur palace. One end of the Talatal Ghar was situated below the Kareng Ghar which helped the kings and the army to escape during the war times. After Swargadeo Rudra Singha’s death, the Talatal Ghar, went through many architectural alterations to its structure, which resulted in its irregular shape.
- Heritage Railway Park and Museum at Tinsukia ~ Awesome Assam
Keeping in mind their objectives to reach the above mentioned mission statements the Assam Railways and Trading Company started the construction of the Dibru-Sadiya Railway and it was on the 15th of August, 1882 that the rail route was opened from the Dibrugarh Port to Dinjan. The construction continued and on 23rd December 1882, the rail route was opened ’til Chabua. The route for the passenger train from the Makum junction was opened to public on the 16th of July, 1883.
The memoirs of the Dibru-Sadiya Railway are well preserved at the Railway Heritage Park and Museum at Tinsukia where one can also view Steam Locomotives that built the success story of one the World’s largest Railway Organization – the Indian Railways!
- Digboi World War II Cemetery ~ Awesome Assam
During the Second World War, Digboi, in the north-eastern corner of the state of Assam, near the Burmese border and on the road to Ledo, was on the lines of communication, and a military hospital was established there. Digboi War Cemetery was started for burials from the hospital and at the end of the war contained 70 burials. Later, the Army Graves Service brought in further graves from burial grounds in Panitola, Jorhat, Margherita, Tinsukia, Ledo, and as well as from the US Military Cemetery at Shingvuoiyang in Burma where permanent maintenance could not be assured.
- The Guwahati World War II Cemetery ~ Awesome Assam
Guwahati War Cemetery, it was started during the World War II, for burials from several military hospitals in the region. Soldiers and workers who couldn’t make it after fighting the enemy and building the epic Stilwell road were laid to rest here. Later, other graves were brought in by the Army Graves service from military cemeteries in Sylhet and Amari Bari and civil cemeteries in Nagaon, Mohachara and Guwahati for permanent maintenance. Some graves were later also brought from isolated sites in present-day Mizoram, Coochbehar, Darjeeling, Shillong, Dibrugarh, Lumding, Dinjan, Dhubri etc.
Among the 9 world war cemeteries in India, Guwahati is the only cemetery which has graves of Japanese soldiers (11 of them). The graves were rested peacefully in the cemetery until the Japanese government decided to dig up the graves (on 19th January 2012) and fly them back to Japan so as to give them a formal burial in their native country.
- The Guwahati War Memorial ~ Awesome Assam
The War Memorial at Digholipukhuri in Guwahati is a one of a kind War Memorial of India. Built with motive of paying tribute to the brave hearts who laid down their lives for safeguarding the territorial integrity of the nation, the War Memorial perpetuates their hallowed memory and inspires and motivates the young generation to make sacrifices for the sake of the motherland.
- The Bordowa Satra Museum at Nagaon ~ Awesome Assam
The Museum at the Bordowa Satra in Nagaon has many relics of the Era of the Ahom Kingdom in Assam. The Ahoms being one of the most feared ruling dynasties of India has an elaborate warfare methodology and certain tactical weapons used in warfare are put up on display at this museum. One can also find artifacts used by the Great Saint Sri Sri Srimanta Shankardeva and Sri Sri Madhavadeva here at this museum
- The Lachit Maidam at Jorhat ~ Awesome Assam
Lachit Borphukan was the most respected General of the Ahom Dynasty. A man so dedicated towards his Motherland that he beheaded his own Uncle towards negligence of his duties in safeguarding his land. The National Defense Academy awards its best cadet with the Lachit Borphukan award. The Lachit Maidam at Jorhat is built in the premises of Lachit Borphukan’s home. The museum here has many relics of the Ahom Kingdom of Assam.
The Lachit Borphukan memorial at Jorhat in Assam
Recommended Itinerary for your visit to the Museums and Historical Monuments in Assam ~
Day 1: Dibrugarh Airport – Margherita
Day 2: Margherita – Ledo – Tipong – Margherita
Day 3: Margherita – Digboi – Sivasagar
Day 4: Sivasagar – Charaideo – Sivasagar
Day 5: Sivasagar – Jorhat – Kaziranga National Park
Day 6: Kaziranga National Park
Day 7: Kaziranga National Park – Tezpur – Guwahati
Day 8: Guwahati
Day 9: Guwahati – Guwahati Airport
Detailed Day wise Itinerary
Day 1: Dibrugarh Airport – Margherita
Arrive at the Mohanbari airport at Dibrugarh and upon arrival you will be welcomed by our representative offering you a warm welcome in traditional Assamese style. From the airport we will board our comfortable vehicles and we begin on our drive towards Tinsukia – the Commercial Capital of Assam. At Tinsukia we will make a stop at the Hijuguri area at the Railway Heritage Park and Museum that illustrates artefacts from the times of the establishment of the Dibru Sadiya railway that is one among the oldest rail routes across India. The British under the AR&T Company has discovered various natural resources like coal, petroleum, tea, timber in this area of Upper Assam and they understood that to successfully harvest and utilize these resources they had to be able to establish an efficient transportation system. The Brahmaputra river offered a good port facility at Dibrugarh and so it was decided to build a rail route from across Ledo to Dibrugarh to allow and facilitate the movement of the natural resources and this led to the establishment of the Dibru Sadiya railway and various steam locomotives were brought in here.
These Steam Locomotives were built by W G Bagnall in England and these steam locomotives allowed the transportation of goods across the rail route and with the British gone and these coal burning steam locomotives being abandoned to diesel and subsequently to electric, today these old steam locomotives that once ruled the railway tracks in this region are now put up on display at the Railway Heritage Park and Museum at Tinsukia. The Steam locomotive are well displayed across this museum and there is also a toy train here that runs across the area of the museum and families with their children take the experience of taking a joy ride in this toy train at the Railway Heritage Park and Museum at Tinsukia in Assam. After exploring this museum we will get back into our vehicles to begin on our drive to Margherita that is around a 2 hour drive from Tinsukia and we will take the route via Digboi to reach Margherita where we will check into the Hotel Royal treat at Margherita. This is one of the decent hotels around the place and we will have ourselves a nice air-conditioned room and we will have our dinner at the hotel itself and call it a day.
Night Halt: Hotel Royal Treat at Margherita
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 2: Margherita – Ledo – Tipong – Margherita
Today after breakfast we will proceed on our drive to Tipong Colliery where we will witness the oldest operational steam locomotive in the World on display of DAVID and we will drive along the historic Stilwell Road to Tipong. The Burma Campaign of World War II was fought in various parts of North East India and the Battle of Kohima and the battle of Imphal were part of this campaign itself. During the time of the war, the Japanese forces had cut on a very important supply route to China from India and so the Allied forces sorted a way to build the quickest road and this would pass from Ledo (India) to Kunming (China) via Myanmar. But the only problem was that these were some of the harshest terrains in the World and so building a road would be a mammoth task and that too in 1940s was not going to be easy at all. However the American Army under the able leadership of General Vinegar Joe Stilwell decided to take up this job and they would be assisted by the soldiers of the British forces, the Chinese forces and an army of locals as well.
The Mammoth task of construction of the Stilwell Road was successfully completed in a record time of a year across these treacherous terrains and this played a significant role in the Allied forces victory over the Japanese forces as they were able to successfully establish the supply lines from India to Chine via Myanmar. However the task was not simple and many soldiers and locals had to put down their lives braving the terrain and these brave soldiers were put to rest at the Digboi and Jairampur War Cemeteries and we will take the opportunity of visiting the Digboi World War Ii Cemetery tomorrow on our tour. We will cross Margherita to travel towards Ledo and we will start our day by seeking the blessings at the Namdang Bibi Majhar that is a burial site of two twin Muslim sisters who were known to predict the future accurately of the people from a very early age but they were suffering from a rare incurable disease. The baby sisters went on predicting the future of the people and they suddenly died and a Dargah was built here at Namdang in their memory and visitors from across the region come to pay their tributes here as they believe their wishes are granted true here.
We pay our respects at the Namdang Bibi Majhar and later continue on our drive to Ledo where at first we will stop at the historic Ledo airstrip that was once used as the prime landing strip by the Allied Forces during the Burma Campaign of World War II and this airstrip allowed the landing of choppers and aircrafts that brought in army men to build the Stilwell road and fight the Japanese forces. Today this place has been converted to a nice memorial site and we will witness a part of history here at the historic Ledo airstrip. Next we travel to the Mounglang Khamti Buddhist Monastery at Ledo that is a famous Buddhist Monastery of Bhante Baba’s fame. His holiness Bhante Baba was a renowned person who had spread the message of peace across South East Asia and was mostly known as a holy person who offered his devotees with a holy stone that was to be adorned in gold on the right hand ring finger of a person and this stone protected the person from any accidents or mishappenings. This message had spread across the region and people from various states in India used to visit the Mounglang Khamti Buddhist Monastery to seek the blessings of Bhante Baba.
This place is also an International Meditation Centre and visitors from across South East Asia come here to spend their time in meditation and learn from the various monks at this monastery as well. We will explore the Mounglang Khamti Buddhist Monastery and later continue on our drive to Lekhapani where we will witness the start of the historic Stilwell Road aka the Ledo road. There is a memorial site built here to commemorate the sacrifices made by all the soldiers during the construction of the Stilwell Road and explaining their story of might and saga and the huge billboard depicts the map of the Stilwell Road as well. The memorial also highlights about the Hollywood movie that was made on the Stilwell Road and we will take a moment to be a part of the historic Burma Campaign of World War II and pay our tributes to the brave soldiers who laid down their lives so that we could have a better tomorrow. Next up we will drive along the Stilwell Road to travel to Tipong Colliery area and once done with the security formalities we will travel to the Tipong Chalet area where we will get to witness the oldest operational Steam locomotives of DAVID on display.
Along with DAVID there is another old Steam locomotive named as the 796 and both these were manufactured by W G Bagnall in England. The steam locomotives were brought to Tipong by the British to help to pull the coal tubs from the underground mines openings and pull these coal tubs to a dumping site and to also carry officers from the place to the coal mining areas of Tipong. DAVID was built in 1851 and it is still in running condition and once fuelled up with a huge amount of coal and for this reason DAVID is not put to run these days as the underground coal mines of Tipong do not excavate any more coal and this would mean to bring in coal reserves from as far as Tirap Colliery and DAVID is made to run only during the visit of special dignitaries and VIPs. We will admire these age old machines of the industrial revolution and later continue to explore the Tipong Colliery and even visit the mouth of an underground coal mine as well and later we will depart from Tipong and travel back to Margherita. At Baragolai we will stop at the Singpho Villa restaurant to have our lunch and this place serves some of the very authentic Singpho tribe cuisine of Assam that is loaded with herbs and natural spices and most of the cuisine if food that is boiled and roasted over wood fire.
We savour a sumptuous thali meal of Tupula bhat, boiled country chicken curry, roast pork sticks, roasted and mashed brinjal and potatoes, etc. and after lunch we will go to explore the India’s only Coal Museum at Margherita. This coal museum was built with an aim to preserve the mining practices of both underground and opencast that prevailed across some of the oldest coal mines across India at the Makum Coalfields and along with this the place preserves some of the very old machines and artefacts from the Burma Campaign of World War II including construction of the Stilwell Road and various weapon shells used in bombings. At the entrance of the Coal Museum that is three more old steam locomotives on display of John, Shelly and Hassang. Next up there are various old machinery on display followed by two demo mines one each of the opencast coal mining and the other of the underground coal mine. The underground coal mine depicts the complete underground mine in a model form and visitors can walk inside this mine to witness the operation of coal mining here at the coal museum at Margherita.
There are displays of more old machinery here at the coal museum and later we enter the huge display hall that illustrates the details of the AR&T Company who were pioneers in the discovery of oil, coal and tea across this region of Assam and it also pays a tribute to Dr. John Barry White who headed the AR&T company and were also responsible for setting up the Assam Medical College at Dibrugarh and installing India’s first X-Ray machine here. Later there is a huge collection of old stamps on display here followed by the details of the Stilwell Road aka the Ledo Road and rare pictures from the times of its construction. Various artefacts from the underground coal mining practices are also to be seen displayed at the coal museum and to end there is a gallery with relics from the Burma Campaign of World War II and very old empty bomb shells and casings are also on display here. We wind up our visit at the Coal Museum and later head to visit the outskirts of the Margherita Tea factory and the tea gardens of Margherita Tea Estate that is little ahead and we admire some of the oldest tea garden areas and tea factory of the famed Assam tea. Next we head back towards our hotel to make a final stop at the remains of the 20th General Hospital at Margherita.
The construction of the Stilwell Road during the World War II had to bring in many soldiers and Generals to Margherita all the way from USA to supervise and work on the construction of the Stilwell Road and so it was obvious that injuries would be a part of this war. To treat the wounded soldiers the American army also setup an ‘A’ grade hospital called as the 20th General Hospital at Margherita and this hospital would cater to the needs of not only the soldiers of the American army but also to the soldiers of the Allied forces as well. Doctors and nurses took a long journey all the way from USA to finally reach Margherita and attend to the wounded soldiers and this was the 20th General Hospital at Margherita. The hospital was however decommissioned and later as no proper care was taken it fell into ruins and today only the remains stay at this place but we still take the opportunity to witness this historic place at Margherita in Assam and later we retire back to our hotel. We savour a nice dinner at the Hotel Royal treat and finally call it a day.
Night Halt: Hotel Royal Treat at Margherita
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 3: Margherita – Digboi – Sivasagar
Today we prepare on our drive to Sivasagar (the Land of the mighty Ahom Kings) from Margherita via Digboi where we will witness the Digboi War Cemetery and the Digboi Oil Museum. We start after breakfast and we will drive at first to the remains of the Margherita Plywood factory that was one of the first plywood factories established in Asia. The British had to transport the tea across to Europe and they realized that they could do so easily by building big boxes of plywood and this would allow the tea not to get spoilt during transportation. The area around Margherita is filled with the virgin forests of the Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary and this place is also referred to as the ‘Amazon of the East’ due to its dense tropical rainforests and so the timber supply for making of plywood was not a problem to be found and so they established this AR&T plywood factory at Margherita to begin operations to create plywood from timber with machinery brought in all the way from Germany and Italy. But once the forest laws came into force and felling of tree for timber was declared as a criminal offence this factory had to eventually shut down in the early 200s but the machinery present here are still in working condition.
We will explore another part of history at this huge plywood factory at Margherita and later commence on our drive to Digboi that is a short 30 minute drive and we arrive at Digboi and travel to visit the area of the Digboi World War II Cemetery. As mentioned earlier, during the construction of the Stilwell Road, the injured soldiers were treated at the 20th General Hospital at Margherita and the soldiers who couldn’t make it alive were formally buried at this cemetery and today the Digboi war Cemetery has burials of over 200 soldiers of the Allied Forces and this war cemetery was built and in maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Mission. The burials are neatly aligned and across each burial there are rose and other flowers plants paying tribute to these brave soldiers. The place has a beautifully kept lawn and a caretaker attends to keeping the place neat and well maintained. A centre holy cross overlooks the burials at the Digboi War Cemetery and we will pay our respects and tributes to these brave soldiers who laid down their lives for our better tomorrow.
We will next travel to the site of the Digboi Centenary Oil museum that illustrates the history of the oil industry in India. When the British discovered the presence of tea in these areas of Upper Assam that were being grown by the Singpho people of Assam they came with the AR&T Company and started to establish the various resources needed to cultivate and manufacture the CTC tea in Upper Assam and they started exploring the area across Upper Assam for lands to grow more tea gardens and in one such expedition a few of the British Officers who were working with the local people happened to accidently step on some liquid substance and his clothes were filled with this viscous liquid and a unique odour started coming out and immediately the officer realized that they had struck liquid gold and they asked the locals to start digging up the place and they yelled ‘Dig Boy Dig’ and from this term the place came to be known as Digboi and the British discovered liquid gold of crude petroleum at this place. To refine this crude oil they had to establish an oil refinery here and so Digboi was where the British built Asia’s first oil refinery and Digboi came to be known as India’s legendary oil town.
The Digboi Oil museum was built to mark the centenary celebrations of the Digboi Oil refinery and it clearly illustrates the Digboi oil story to its visitors. At the entrance of the Digboi museum we will be greeted by an air raid shelter from the time of World War II in 1942 and we park our vehicle and go in to explore the Digboi oil museum where we will witness various vintage machinery and cars and we will visit the Discovery Oil Well No. 1and this was India’s first commercial oil well. In fact, the site of the Digboi oil museum was selected specifically to be at this place and although this oil well has been abandoned, oil still seeps out from this oil well and it can be referred to as the oldest operational oil well in the World. We will explore the park area of the museum and later we will visit the display hall where we get to see the model of the Digboi oil refinery. We spend some time exploring the place and later we commence on our drive to Sivasagar. We will head via the Duliajan road to Sivasagar crossing Naharkatia and on our way we will cross the pristine Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary – the Amazon of the East where we will be greeted by the chirping of the birds and the occasional roar of wild animals.
We cross Duliajan and head towards Naharkatia and we will soon reach Moran area where we will stop for lunch at a nice Dhaba to savour some ethnic Assamese cuisine in the form of an Assamese thali. We savour a mini lunch and later continue on our drive to Sivasagar – the land of the mighty Ahom kingdom of Assam. Sivasagar was called as Rongpur earlier and the Ahom Kings established this place as their kingdom as they found this place to be in proximity to their entire kingdom and so this place would serve as the centre of the Ahom throne and operations. Because of this Sivasagar has museum and historical monuments of Assam and we will take the opportunity to exp0lore the place in a day. We will reach Sivasagar around late afternoon and we will go to check into our hotel. As we won’t have much time of daylight left ahead of us we will restrict our visit for the day at the Shiva Doul temple and the Joysagar lake at Sivasagar and explore more of the historic monuments of the place tomorrow morning.
The Shiva Doul temple is located in the heart of Sivasagar town and this is a temple shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva with various other temples across the main temple shrine and this is constructed in the traditional Ahom architecture style. The Kamakhya temple at Guwahati also follows this Ahom temple architecture as it was only when the Ahom kings heard about the practices of tantra and Shakti prevalent at the Kamakhya temple that they converted to Hinduism and post that they went on to build many more temple shrines across Assam dedicated to Lord Shiva like the Sukreshwar temple, Basistha temple, Shiva Doul temple, Dirgheshwari temple, Aswaklanta temple, etc. The temple dome of the Shiva Doul temple is made up of pure gold and every year during the festival of Maha Shivaratri thousands of devotees come to the Shiva Doul temple to offer their prayers. Next to the Shiva Doul temple there is the Joysagar lake that is said to be the largest man dug out lake in India and this covers a huge area located in the heart of Sivasagar town. The very unique thing about this Joysagar lake is that the waters of this lake never goes down in the dry season or high during the monsoon season and this is the thing about the Ahom architecture that they had built around 500 years ago. We will understand more about the historic architecture tomorrow when we explore Sivasagar and Charaideo. We explore these places and return back to our hotel.
Night Halt: Comfortable Hotel at Sivasagar
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 4: Sivasagar – Charaideo – Sivasagar
Today is our day of exploring the beautiful and historic town of Sivasagar in Assam. The Ahom kingdom ruled over Assam for around 600 years and it is said to be the largest unbroken ruling dynasties in India and Ahoms didn’t allow the Mughal to conquer Assam by use of brave and clever war tactics along with the help of the black magic sorcerers of Mayong. It is was only during the time of the British that the Ahom kingdom got weak and due to rising coups within the kingdom and the modern battle equipment’s of the British that the Ahoms had to finally surrender to the British and Assam came under the rule of the British. But during the course of their rule, the Ahom kings brought several developments across Assam and they patronized the cult of Neo Vaishnavism founded and propagated by the Holy Saint Reformer Srimanta Shankardeva that preached the idea of ‘Eksarna’ – All human beings are alike and should not be discriminated on the basis of caste, creed and religion. And it was evidently seen that at a time when the entire country was suffering from this curse of the caste system, Assam did not lay too much emphasis on the caste system.
After the Ahoms had converted to Hinduism and they started taking great interest in the practices of Shakti and tantra prevalent at the Kamakhya temple they became devout followers of the Goddess and also the practices of black magic followed by the sorcerers of Mayong and they went on to build several temple shrines across Assam and most of the olden temples in Assam were built during the time of the Ahom Kingdom (including rebuilding of the Maa Kamakhya temple shrine in traditional Ahom architecture) and they are still standing tall until today surviving two major earthquakes of Assam in 1897 and 1950 with minute repair works being carried out by the local government bodies. Such was the might of the Ahom architecture 500 years ago and we will take a look at few of their notable historical monuments and palaces including their burials grounds at Charaideo that can be easily compared to the Pyramids of Egypt. We will have our breakfast at the hotel and we set out to explore the monuments of the Ahom Kingdom of Assam. We will start by exploring the Rang Ghar – the House of Entertainment. Located in the heart of Sivasagar town just a little ahead of our place of stay is the Rang Ghar monument.
A beautiful reddish orange colour monument welcomes us at the Rang Ghar and this colour is not because of any paint but it is the natural colour of the bricks that were used to build this historic monument from the times of the Ahom Kingdom of Assam. The Rang Ghar is basically an open amphitheatre that overlooks a huge open field and various events used to be organized in these grounds like wrestling, bull fights and cock fights and a huge congregation of young boys and girls performing the Bihu dance of Assam and the royal families would watch these performances from the rang Ghar and the subjects from the ground. Rang Ghar is the oldest Amphitheatre in Assam and is also referred to as the ‘Colosseum of the East’. The unique architecture of this building is what draws visitors from across the World to the Rang Ghar. The top of the building looks in the shape of an inverted boat and the speciality of the construction is the mortar that was used to construct the Rang Ghar that was basically a mix of Bora Saul (a sticky rice variety of Assam), lime and duck eggs that bound the bricks so hard that the structure has survived around 500 years with many more years to follow and also the brick used were special flat bricks.
The Ahoms were the first to introduce the concept of bricks in building of monuments across Assam that earlier was followed by the use of huge stones and not these bricks. We will explore the Rang Ghar monument and be a part of history witnessing Asia’s Oldest Amphitheatre and the ‘Colosseum of the East’. We will finish exploring the Rang Ghar and next up we travel to visit the Talatal Ghar at Sivasagar that is a historic fort area of the Ahom Kingdom. Upon entrance at the Talatal Ghar there are three huge cannons from the time of the Ahom Kingdom put up on display here and the detailed craftsmanship of these old canons are simply breathtaking. From the entrance gate we have to walk a bit further to reach the premises of the Talatal Ghar and earlier this was a tall structure that was destroyed by the combined forces of nature and man and today only the first floor remains with the monumental ruins of the Talatal Ghar. This Ahom fort was where the soldiers of the Ahom Kingdom were housed and this Talatal Ghar was known for its special network of underground tunnels that was built so that enemy soldiers who enter the maze could never figure a way out of it.
The Talatal Ghar at Sivasagar follows the similar architecture and build as the Rang Ghar because the flat red brick along with the special mortar was used to build the Talatal Ghar as well. The underground maze was earlier opened to visitors but often numerous reports of people getting lost inside the secret network of underground tunnels, the authorities sealed the entrance door to the tunnel and today tourists can only explore the first floor and the ground floor of the Talatal Ghar which most of the soldier’s rooms and the network made were present under the ground and hence the name ‘Talatal Ghar’ – ‘Down Under house’. The network of underground tunnels at the Talatal Ghar has two openings – one by the banks of the river Dikhow so that the army could reach the boats in case there was a n attack and plan to counter attack and the other led to the Garhgaon Palace or the Kareng Ghar (the royal Palace that we will visit next) and this way the soldiers could rush to protect the king and the royal family and regroup at the Kareng Ghar and by the time the enemy could figure their way out of the maze the Ahom army would have already surrounded them. This was the level of high tactical warfare the Ahoms had around 500 years back and so the architecture of the Ahom is always noteworthy to be explored on your visit to Assam just to admire the grandeur.
We will explore the Talatal Ghar and later we will travel to the Kareng Ghar (Garhgaon Palace) that was the home of the royal family of the Ahom Kingdom. The Kareng Ghar is another example of the architectural finesse of the Ahoms and the palace is spread across a huge area comprising of several acres of land and the palace is located conveniently at the centre of the area. In order to keep the enemy at bay, deep trenches were dug out all across the area of the palace and these were filled with eater so that the enemy couldn’t come over easily and a huge entrance door to keep the enemy away was present at the Kareng Ghar near Sivasagar. The place is located around a short 20 minute drive from Sivasagar town and once you reach the area of the Kareng Ghar you will need to drive all the way to visit the place. The Kareng Ghar was connected to the Talatal Ghar by the network of underground tunnels and this was done to allow the soldiers to rush over to the palace in case of an attack and protect the royal family.
The Kareng Ghar is a four storied building and the ground floor served as the stable, servant quarters while the kitchen was on top followed by the royal family rooms with a puja room on top. This is said to be one of the finest examples of Ahom architecture and the construction comprised of wood, stone, bricks and the special mortar that was used for the construction of the Rang Ghar and the Kareng Ghar. We will explore the Kareng Ghar at Sivasagar and admire its glorious architecture. Out of the various Ahom monuments, the Kareng Ghar had suffered a lot of damage not only due to forces of nature but also due to oil drilling operations at Nazira. That made several cracks to appear on the palace walls that had to be repaired later. The area around Sivasagar at Nazira is today renowned to be an oil rich area in Assam and India’s premier oil company ONGC has its base and operations at Nazira and so they undertake drilling operations around to search for crude petroleum and once a place is found the drilling continues and this causes the ground to shake and this in turn leads to the damage of the several old monuments that were designed to combat the forces of nature but not human drilling operations.
We continue further on our drive to Charaideo that is about an hour’s drive from this place and we will head to explore the ‘Pyramids of India’ – the Charaideo Maidam near Sivasagar. We will soon reach the Charaideo Maidam and the place would make you feel that you have reached the land of fiction and there are several architectures here in traditional Ahom style. These Charaideo Maidam are the burials grounds of the Ahom Royals and this place was the earlier the capital of the Ahom Kingdom when it was ruled under its founder Sukapha. Charaideo is located around 30 km east of Sivasagar at the foothills of Nagaland along the border of Assam and Nagaland. Charaideo contains the burials of the Ahom Kings and Queens and this is also the place of the ancestral Gods of the Ahoms. There were around 150 Maidams at this place earlier but due to robbers and illegal land settlers this number has come down vastly and today around 30 of the Maidams are protected by the ASI. These burials are actually massive underground vaults with one or more chambers and are covered with mud in the form of a hemisphere. The Ahom royals were buried here at Charaideo and a per tales the servants, pets, valuable and also the queen would be buried along with the King here that made this a practice similar to the Pharaohs of Egypt.
Miscreants had taken their time to create a lot of destruction on these maidams as they believed that these graves had lots of treasure to be found underneath and so today only 30 protected Maidams here at Charaideo under ASI are prominent. This Charaideo Maidams have been proposed to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site and once it is granted with this coveted status there would be hopes to revive the Maidams that were destroyed and visitors from around the World come to visit the Charaideo Maidams at Charaideo to view these Pyramids of India. After exploring the Charaideo Maidams we will head back on our drive to Sivasagar where we will head to a traditional Tai Ahom restaurant for our lunch and we savour an ethnic Tai Ahom cuisine – the cuisine of the Kings of Assam that will be served on elaborate bell metal utensils. Next up we will explore the Tai Ahom museum cum memorial at Sivasagar and this place preserves relics from the times of the Ahom Kings like Gowns, weapons used in war, swords of the Ahom Kings and Generals, ivory chairs, ivory chess boards, ivory walking sticks, ivory sandals. Etc. various models depicting the times of the Ahom regime of Assam including models depicting the fierce battle of Saraighat can be seen at this museum.
This is basically a way to explore how these brave Ahom kings used their architecture powers to build various monuments, temples, fort across Assam and how they used intelligent war tactics to beat the mighty Mughals at the battle of Saraighat. We will take about an hours’ time to explore this Tai Ahom museum at Sivasagar and later we will visit another temple shrine near Sivasagar town that is dated back to several hundred years and after exploring the temple we will call it a day and return to our hotel for night halt.
Night Halt: Comfortable Hotel at Sivasagar
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 5 – Sivasagar – Jorhat – Kaziranga National Park
Today we will bid farewell to the land of the mighty Ahom kings and travel to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kaziranga National Park via Jorhat – the tea capital of Assam where we will explore the Dhekiakhowa Bornamghor, Lachit Borphukan Maidam, Swargadeo Sukapha Sam way Kshetra and later we drive to Kaziranga National Park. We start after a breakfast at the hotel and we will drive towards Jorhat from Sivasagar. The beautiful tea gardens of Assam greet us along the way and this will continue up to our drive to Kaziranga National Park and we will encounter occasional harvesting fields and small towns on our drive to Jorhat. We will soon be about to reach Jorhat when we will take a right diversion to visit the Dhekiakhowa Bornamghor that is home to the oldest burning oil lamp in the World. These Namghars are the extensions of the Neo Vaishnavite Satras of Assam. These Neo Vaishnavite Satras are monasteries where the disciples are taught to spend their time in the dedication of God and along with it they are taught various arts, crafts and literature as well. These Satras of Assam are credited to creating many noteworthy scholars of Assam and these Satras were founded and promoted by the great Saint reformer Srimanta Shankardeva and his disciple Sri Sri Madhavadeva.
The basic idea of Neo Vaishnavism is that all human beings are alike and they are to be treated equally irrespective of caste, creed or religion. So these Satras promoted this principle in the form of various religious plays and art forms and the Namghar was the main prayer hall of these Satras. In places where the Satra couldn’t be built, these Namghars were built to practice the ideologies of the great Saint reformer and these Namghars were also used as gathering places for the villagers to discuss proceedings, conduct prayers and enact the religious plays called as Bhaonas. This Dhekiakhowa Bornamghor was first built by the disciple of Shankardeva Sri Sri Madhavadeva when he had come to this place and taken shelter in a small hut of an elderly man and woman and the woman who though were very poor but they fed the Saint a meal of rice and Dhekia Xaak (Fiddle head fern). The meal was so liked by the Saint that he decided to pay his respects to the elderly couple and the next day he summoned the villagers to a spot and the villagers were enthralled to see the holy man in front of their eyes. Madhavadeva lit an oil lamp under a tree and he instructed the villagers never to allow the oil lamp to burn out and thus started the process of continuously refuelling the oil lamp since the 1500s. Later on after the Saint had left, the villagers started to gather timber and they built a Namghar premise centred around this burning oil lamp and further a concrete Namghar was constructed with the lamp continuously burning since 1500s and today this place holds the record of being the oldest burning oil lamp in the World here at the Dhekiakhowa Bornamghor.
The walls of the Dhekiakhowa Bornamghor are elaborately painted with the details of the life of Lord Krishna and we will explore the main prayer hall at this Namghar and we will get the opportunity to view the oldest burning oil lamp in the World. We will offer our prayers at the Dhekiakhowa Bornamghor and later we will drive to the Lachit Maidam that is located just a little ahead of Jorhat town. The Lachit Borphukan Maidam is the burial grounds of the very brave Ahom General who was laid to rest at his ancestral house near Jorhat and this home has now been converted to a museum as well. The tales of Lachit Borphukan’ s bravery has been narrated to the children of Assam since long and even the best cadet of the National Defence Academy (NDA) in Pune is awarded with the Lachit Borphukan award that speaks highly of the bravery of this great Ahom general. Lachit Borphukan was not a very tall man but he carried a sword that no two person combined in today’s World could lift it. He is the general behind the victory of the Ahoms over the Mughals as he had used intelligent was tactics to beat the Mughals.
Lachit was a brave soldier who dedicated his life to serve his motherland and he hated people who showed negligence in their duties in protecting their motherland. In one legend it is stated that Lachit had found out that his own uncle has not done a duty that was assigned to him and lied about doing it to Lachit. Lachit was so furious that he went ahead and beheaded his own uncle as negligence towards his duties in serving his motherland thus giving rise to one of the very famous statement of Assam – ‘Dekhot ke Mumai dangor nohoi’ that translates to ‘My Uncle is not greater than my motherland’ thus taking his bravery to another level and Lachit was feared by his enemy and respected by the soldiers of the Ahom army as he continuously motivated them in any war and even when the mighty Mughal army had come to invade Assam and the Ahoms were a much smaller army and Lachit was very ill at that time as well but so that his soldiers do not get demotivated he took up his sword and entered the war with the very little energy he had and commanded the Ahom army to come victorious over the Mughals. We will be a part of history today as we witness the burial grounds of this brave general of the Ahom army.
After paying our respects to Lachit Borphukan we will explore the museum that illustrated the various facets of history of not only Lachit Borphukan’ s life but also the Ahom Kingdom as well. We will later continue on our drive to the Swargadeo Sukapha Samanway Kshetra to pay our tributes to the founder of the Ahom Kingdom Swargadeo Sukapha. This memorial is spread across a huge campus and it contains a tall statue of the founder of the Ahom Kingdom at the centre followed by various artefacts of the history of the Ahoms and this is a must visit place to learn about the longest unbroken ruling dynasties of India. We have already examined a lot of history of the Ahoms and so we will not spend much time here and will glance across the museum at the Sukapha Samanway Kshetra in Jorhat and later continue on our drive to Kaziranga National Park. We will reach Kaziranga National Park at the Agoratoli range in the afternoon and we will head to the central region at Kohora and we will at first halt at a restaurant to savour our lunch and we have a delightful traditional meal and later go to check into our place of stay here at the Kaziranga National Park at the Bonhabi Resort.
The Bonhabi Resort is located at the Kohora area of Kaziranga National Park and it located at the foothills of the Karbi Anglong offering a landscape view that is mesmerizing. This is set in a colonial type environment with the reception reminding you of the heritage British Bungalows along with the dining hall. At the Bonhabi resort at Kaziranga National Park there are individual cottages for the comfortable stay of guests and these cottages are spread across the campus of the place so that you have complete privacy during your stay at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kaziranga National Park. We will check into our rooms and to freshen up and later we will continue of our exploration to go and visit the Kaziranga Orchid Park – the largest orchid park in India. At the Kaziranga Orchid Park we will start our exploration at first by visiting the green house here that is a massive hall that has various indigenous orchid species of North East India put up on display here for the guests. India’s North East is home to a varied forest cover and these harbour some of the indigenous flora species and orchids are one among them and India’s North East is home to around 1200 species of orchids out of the 1800 available in India.
We explore the beautiful orchid species here at the green house of the Kaziranga Orchid Park and later we will explore the section of handicrafts and handlooms that illustrate the beautiful handmade crafts of bamboo and cane and the handlooms that are woven out of silk and cotton. The tribal people of Assam who inhabit the village areas are very adept in these art forms and they have preserved and passed on these traditions since time immemorial. The handicrafts and handlooms are well displayed at this place and we will soon learn about these crafts here and also there is another display room next to this place that illustrates the various historic monuments, temples and palaces of North East India. Across the tour we have explored the various monuments of Assam and not of any other state and this will give us the opportunity to sight the other historic monuments in enlarged pictures. The Ahom kingdom was preceded by various other kingdoms who ruled over parts of erstwhile Assam like the Koch, the Dimasa Kachari of Nagaland, the Muttock Kingdom, the Kings of Tripura, the Metei rulers of Manipur, etc. and this kingdoms had built various historic palaces and monuments across North East India like the Kangla Fort and Palace in Manipur, the Neer Mahal Palace at Tripura, the Ujjayanta Palace at Tripura, the Kachari ruins at Dimapur, etc. and various pictures of these monuments can be seen here at the Kaziranga Orchid Park display hall.
We admire the front view of these monuments and continue on our exploration where we visit the Rice Museum, the Orchid picture gallery, the souvenir area, the cactus garden, the bamboo garden and later we take our seats at the amphitheatre area where we will get to witness the traditional Bihu and bamboo folk dances of Assam. These two are the very colourful dance performances of Assam enacted by young boys and girls and are characterized by brisk movements of the hands, hip and feet. In the bamboo dance, the boys hold each end of the bamboo pole and they create a mesh like structure and they keep moving these poles in a rhythmic manner and the girls hop in and out of this bamboo mesh presenting a beautiful dance performance that is accompanied by the rhythmic beating of a drum. This will be followed by a Bihu dance performance and later the audience will be invited on stage to dance along with the members as well. We will return to our rooms and we savour a nice traditional dinner at the Bonhabi Resort at Kaziranga National Park.
Night Halt: Bon Habi Resort at Kaziranga
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 6: Kaziranga National Park
Today is our safari day at Kaziranga National Park. And we will go for two rounds of Jeep safari today, one at the Eastern range of Kaziranga National Park, and the other at the Western Range of Kaziranga National Park in the afternoon (we have not included the elephant safari ride but in case you are interested do let us know and we will include the elephant safari ride in this itinerary as well). The Jeep will pick us up from our resort and we will start at 7.30 AM to go for our jeep safari ride inside the forest reserves of Kaziranga National Park because the entrance to the Eastern Range of Kaziranga National Park will take us around 45 minutes to reach. We will pass across the beautiful countryside of Assam and we will get to witness the various processes of rice harvesting of Assam. We will soon reach the forest office at Agoratoli range and we will make our entry and state on our 2 hour long jeep safari ride inside the forest reserves of Kaziranga National Park. The Agoratoli range is known for the Royal Bengal Tigers of Kaziranga National Park and also the various bird species to be found here at Kaziranga National Park.
Kaziranga is an Important Bird Area (IBA) and is home to around 495 species of birds that is among the highest to be found in any protected forest reserves in India and in the winter season this place becomes a haven for birdwatchers when the various migratory birds come to Assam and these when coupled with the resident species is a delightful experience to be witnessed here in Kaziranga National Park. As soon as we enter the forest reserves we get to witness the Great Indian Hornbill species perched atop the trees and just ahead we get to sight the One Horned Rhinoceros of Kaziranga National Park. The best way to view the rhinoceros of Kaziranga National Park is at the Western range of Bagori and we will get to witness this in the afternoon. We continue on our jeep ride and we get to sight the Hog deers, Indian elephants, Asiatic Wild Water Buffaloes, Assamese macaques, Capped Langurs and the various bird species of Kaziranga National Park. Including the rare Black necked stork species and birds of prey like Kite, Ospreys, Hawks, Falcons, etc. The ride will take us deeper into the forest reserves of Kaziranga National Park. And in case we are lucky we will get a chance to sight the Royal Bengal Tigers of Kaziranga National Park in the wild here at Agoratoli.
We will come back to our place of stay after our jeep safari ride at the eastern range of the park and we freshen up and have our lunch and relax for a while and we will again start on our drive to the Western range of Kaziranga National Park at Bagori at around 1.45 PM to reach at 2 PM and start our round of jeep safari at the Western range of Bagori that is a range of Kaziranga National Park known for the sighting of the many rhinoceros of Kaziranga up close along with the Wild Elephants herds, the Asiatic Wild water buffaloes, Primate, reptiles and the bird species. We will at first drive to the Donga Beel area that is a huge lake and a water hole for the animals of the western range of Kaziranga National Park who come to drink water here and this place is the territory of an old rhinoceros who comes very close to the sight of the tourists here at Bagori in Kaziranga National Park. If we are lucky we will be able to sight this majestic beast in the wild from up close separated by a strong bamboo fence and also from the Beel we can spot many more rhinos along with the ‘Sital’ fish jumping out of the waters. We will continue on our jeep ride across Bagori sighting more rhinos and other animals along with bird species of Kaziranga National Park and this is one range where the visitors get to witness the male rhinoceros fight for their territory.
The battle between these beasts is a fierce one and often leads to severe injury of one member in the battle and the rhino can even lose its horn in such battles. These wild reserves of Kaziranga National Park are home to various herd of wild elephants and you should not try to attract the attention of these animals while on your jeep safari ride because in case they feel threatened by your presence inside their area of habitation they are sure to come chasing you and the best way is to simply admire them in the wild without trying to attract their attention. Our jeep safari ride inside the western range of Kaziranga National Park at Bagori will last for around an hour and half and at around 4 PM we will need to come out of the range completing our jeep safari ride. One noteworthy thing to be mentioned about the jeep rides inside Kaziranga National Park is that the authorities ensure to keep the premises of Kaziranga National Park free from plastic and garbage and you are not allowed to carry any eatables inside the forest reserves of Kaziranga National Park and although you are allowed to carry water bottles inside the park (1 per person) you need to ensure that you bring back the empty bottle along with you for safe disposal outside the park.
The authorities ensure to count the number of bottles that are being carried inside the park on a jeep and in case the number is not matching the number being carried out, visitors need to travel back inside the park to bring back the empty bottle and so ensure that whenever you carry a plastic water bottle inside the forest reserves of Kaziranga National Park you are always bringing the empty bottle back along with you. With this we will head back to the Kohora area of Kaziranga National Park where we will make a stop at the outlet of the Amalgamated Tea Plantations that is an outlet where visitors can purchase a souvenir of the finest forms of Assam Tea from the tea gardens of Kaziranga National Park. There are various tea varieties available here from CTC to whole leaf, organic and green tea, etc. and also along with the tea you can purchase the fine quality pepper corns that are grown along the trees that are present here at the tea gardens of Kaziranga National Park. There is another stall as well that sells miniature wood models of various animal and bird species of Kaziranga National Park and you can also purchase these as souvenirs of your visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kaziranga National Park in Assam. We later return to our place of stay at the Bonhabi resort to prepare for our journey the next day to Guwahati via Tezpur.
Night Halt: Bonhabi Resort at Kaziranga National Park
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 7: Kaziranga National Park – Tezpur – Guwahati
Today we will drive from Kaziranga National Park to Guwahati and we will make two stops at Tezpur to sight the Agnigarh – the Fortress of Fire and next at Nagaon to visit the Bordowa Satra and continue on our drive to Guwahati to arrive by early evening. We will start after our breakfast and we will drive to Tezpur from Kaziranga National Park after crossing the Burapahar range and later at Jakhlanbandha. After Jakhlabandha we will reach at the Koliabor crossing where we will take a right towards Tezpur and we will drive to the heart of Tezpur town where the Agnigarh fort is located. This historic fort narrates a tale of war between the followers of Lord Krishna and Lord Shiva when Banasura had confined his daughter Usha in this fort to keep her from meeting Krishna’s grandson Anniruddha. In order to make the fort secluded he instructed the surroundings of the fort to be kept on fire always so that no one could enter the historic Agnigarh fort.
This is a very beautiful fort that is located atop a hill and the entire fort is red in colour. As per legend, Usha (Banasura’ s daughter) had fallen in love with Anniruddha (Lord Krishna’s grandson) and Banasura was strictly against this match. He had a boon from Lord Shiva that no one could do any harm to him and so even though he knew that Lord Krishna would be furies with this he still went ahead and built this Agnigarh (meaning Fortress of Fire) and he confined Usha within the four walls of this fort and surrounded the fort with fire continuously so that no one could ever think of entering this fort. Upon narrating this to his grandfather, Anniruddha asked Lord Krishna’s help to win over Usha from her father but even when Lord Krishna approached Banasura he refused to budge and he asked for Lord Shiva’s help to protect him from Lord Krishna’s followers as Lord Shiva had granted him a boon. But Lord Shiva was never made to know that his followers would be going against the followers of Lord Krishna and this started a fierce battle between the followers of Lord Krishna and Lord Shiva (Lord Krishna did not know that these were the followers of Lord Shiva and instead he was made to believe that these men belonged to Banasura’ s army) and the fierce battle continued and many men lost their lives and blood started to flow like a river across this town and hence the name ‘Tezpur’ – the city of Blood.
Lord Krishna soon realized that it was Lord Shiva’s followers and he approached Lord Shiva as to why he would go up against him and Lord Shiva got furious that Banasura had kept him in the dark and he immediately summoned him and knowing about Lord Shiva’s rage and powers, Banasura had to surrender before Lord Krishna and give in to marry Usha with Anniruddha. This is the story of the Agnigarh Fort – the Fortress of Fire. We will explore this beautiful fort of Assam and on the top of the fort there is an elaborate model that depicts this fierce battle and also the courtship of Usha and Anniruddha. After exploring the Agnigarh fort we will start on our drive to Nagaon and we will head to Koliabor, Amoni, Puronigudam to finally reach the Nagaon Bypass. At the Nagaon Bypass we will make a stop at the Anuraag Dhaba for lunch and this will be an early lunch as this is a nice restaurant to have our lunch and after this we will visit the Bordowa Satra near Nagaon and continue on our drive to Guwahati.
We savour a nice Assamese thali meal here at the Anuraag Dhaba and we proceed on our drive to Bordowa Satra at Bordowa near Nagaon. As mentioned earlier we have already visited the Dhekiakhowa Bornamghor near Jorhat and these Satras are the primary centres of Ek Sarna (the Namghars are extensions of these Satras). These Satras were initiated and promoted by the holy Saint reformer Srimanta Shankardeva and his disciple Sri Madhavadeva. These Satras are Neo Vaishnavite institutions that preach and promote the cult of ‘Ek Sarna’ that syas that all human beings are alike irrespective of his caste, creed or religion. At these Satras young boys enter at a very early age and they spend their life in these Satras dedicated in the praise of Lord Krishna. These young boys are taught various arts and literature and these Satras of Assam have given rise to numerous scholars in the fields of Assamese literature and art as well. Srimanta Shankardeva introduced the art of Bhaona that is a religious play that depicts various Hindu Epics in a drama form and to make the characters more lifelike he had introduced the art of mask making (that is still practiced at the Samaguri Satra in Majuli Island) and these masks offered a real life like appearance to the characters in the play.
Srimanta Shankardeva also introduced the dance form of Sattriya Nritya that illustrates and depicts the various life stages of Lords Krishna and today this dance form is still practiced at the Uttar Kamalabari Satra in Majuli Island and is known to be one among the 8 classical dance forms in India. These Satras also practice other crafts like fan made of cane, pottery art, boat making, etc. Bordowa is the birthplace of Srimanta Shankardeva and after his years of travelling across the country and learning about the caste system, he decided he had to do something to abolish this practice and so he came to his hometown and setup this Bordowa Satra to practice and preach the cult of Neo Vaishnavism. His thoughts were heard by Sri Madhavadeva who became his disciple and they started to spread the cult of Neo Vaishnavism across Assam and they found patronage from the Ahom Kings of Assam and Neo Vaishnavism spread across Assam. The Bordowa Satra is a huge Satra spreading across several acres of land and this Satra as well follows the built style where there is a Namghar at the centre followed by the huts of the monks and the Satra ponds.
We start by exploring the Namghar premises at the Bordowa Satra and as this is a very popular Satra, regular devotees come here every day to offer their prayers. The monks at the Bordowa Satra have been here their entire life and most of the monks you find here have reached ages above 80 and some even 90 years old and they still go about performing their daily chores. We admire the grandeur of the Ahom architecture style of the Bordowa Satra Namghar and visit the huge pond areas and just here is an old museum as well, that illustrates and depicts various relics from the times of the beginning of the Neo Vaishnavism era in Assam along with various belongings of the saint reformer Srimanta Shankardeva and his disciple Sri Madhavadeva and many relics from the times of the Ahom Kingdom as well. We explore the Bordowa Satra at Nagaon and later continue on our drive to Guwahati. We cross Raha and Jagiroad to reach the border of Assam and Meghalaya at Jorabat and this is a very interesting place because the road demarcates the border between these two Indian state as one side of the road lies in Assam while the other half is located in Meghalaya and we drive on the Meghalaya part of the road to finally enter Assam at Khanapara.
At Guwahati we will head to visit one of the very old temple shrines of Assam at the Basistha temple and Ashram that is located on the western part of Guwahati and the Basistha Ashram was where the holy sage and guru Basistha spent his life in meditation in the very early years of mankind and later a temple shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva was built here by the Ahom Kings and this place is sacred because this is a confluence of three rivers that flow out as the Basistha river that continues as the Bharalu river flowing across Guwahati city to finally merge with the mighty Brahmaputra river. We will explore this temple and admire the remarkable stone architecture of the Basistha temp-le at Guwahati that is a beautiful sight to view along with the temple Dome and Inner sanctum that was carved out of a single huge rock and with this we call it a day and go to check into our place of stay at Guwahati. In the evening we will visit the local market nearby to witness the various local tribes who come down from the nearby hills and mountains every day with the organic produce of vegetables and fruits and sell it at the local markets of the Beltola Bazar. We will savour a nice ethnic cuisine at our hotel and call it a night.
Night Halt: Hotel Tokya Tower in Guwahati
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 8: Guwahati
Today we will explore the various museums and places of interest at the fastest growing city of North East India at Guwahati. Though Guwahati is a fast paced city, it has been a city of a glorious and historical past and the place that had witnessed the historic Battle of Saraighat along with hosting the Maa Kamakhya temple along with various other temple shrines as well. We will start our day after breakfast and we will head to visit the Srimanta Shankardeva Kalakshetra at Punjabari area in Guwahati that is a treasure house of the glorious history of Assam along with the cultures of the various indigenous people lived in Assam since times immemorial. The Kalakshetra is basally a place that illustrates the entire culture of Assam under one roof and we will explore this glorious place. Next up will visit the regional Science museum t Khanapara area in Guwahati that is a very popular museum to learn about science and technology and also displays a fighter jet here. Continuing we will proceed to visit the Umananda temple shrine that is located in the Umananda Island – the smallest inhabited river island in the World located amidst the mighty Brahmaputra River.
We will need to cross the Brahmaputra River via a ferry boat and this will take us to the Umananda Island. The temple shrine here is dedicated to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati and it is believed that Lord Shiva and Parvati used to stay here for a period of time at the Umananda Island. Lord Shiva used to meditate on this island and during one session of meditation he was distracted by Lord Kamdeva as he had an important message to deliver to Lord Shiva from the other Gods. Lord Shiva never liked to be disturbed during his meditation and when he was repeatedly being called out by Lord Kamdeva, Lord Shiva got so furious that he burnt Lord Kamdeva into ashes using his third eye. This is why the hillock on the Umananda Island is called as the Bhasmachal Hills. We will explore the Umananda temple at Guwahati and later we head to have our lunch and we will later go to visit the Guwahati World War II cemetery that is located near the Silpukhuri area in Guwahati. The Guwahati World War II cemetery is the only war cemetery in India that had burials of the soldiers of the Imperial Japanese army and it was only until 2012, that delegates from Japan came here and formally dug out the burials of the Japanese soldiers from the graves and carried these back to Japan for a formal burial.
Today the Guwahati War cemetery has around 500 burials of the brave soldiers of the Allied Forces who laid down heir lives in the World War II. A centre cross is present at the Guwahati World War II Cemetery and all the burials are neatly aligned on a green lawn with flower plants along each of the graves. The Guwahati World War II cemetery just like the Digboi War Cemetery was built and is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves mission. We explore the Cemetery paying our tributes to the brave soldiers who laid down their lives so that we could have a better tomorrow. Later we will visit the Navagraha temple that is located nearby and this temple shrine is dedicated to the nine celestial bodies and hence the name Navagraha. The Navagraha temple also shoes the various forms of Lord Shiva all dressed in different attires and this is also a centre of astronomy in Guwahati as well. We will next head to visit the Balaji temple at the Betkuchi area on the outskirts of Guwahati city. The Balaji temple is a very beautiful temple shrine resembling the Tirupati Balaji temple in Andhra Pradesh and this was built to promote religious harmony across the seven sister states of North East India.
There was a time when insurgency was at its peak and the temple has since then helped to bring back calm to the place and today North East India had become a very popular tourist destination for tourists from both Indian and abroad. The temple is built of marble entirely and the beautiful white colour architecture looks even more grand when it gets illuminated in the evening and devotes throng this temple to seek the blessings of Lord Tirupati and also to taste the evening Prasad and the famous ladoo of Tirupati Balaji. Most of the temple priests here are from Andhra Pradesh and we take our time to explore the Balaji temple at Guwahati in Assam. After exploring the Balaji temple we will call it a day and return to our hotel at the Beltola area in Guwahati and today will be our final evening here in Guwahati and also the final evening of our tour and tomorrow after exploring the Kamakhya temple, the Assam State Museum and the Sukreshwar temple, we will drop you off at the Guwahati airport thereby ending this tour exploring the various museums and historic monuments and temples of Assam. We will savour a very special evening dinner that will contain some of the very unique traditional Assamese cuisine recipes at our hotel.
Night Halt: Hotel Tokyo Tower at Guwahati
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 9: Guwahati – Guwahati Airport
Today at first we will go to explore the holy Maa Kamakhya temple in Guwahati and later to explore the Assam State Museum. After this we will visit the emporiums of handicrafts and handlooms to buy our souvenirs of our visit to Assam and later we explore the Sukreshwar temple and we will drop you off at the Guwahati airport by afternoon so that you can catch your evening flight to your onward destination. We will start our day after an early vegetarian breakfast and we will board our vehicles to drive to the Nilachal Hills in Guwahati where the Kamakhya temple is located and we will arrive at the parking spot of this holy temple shrine of Assam. One among the 51 Shakti Peethas in India, it is said that Goddess Sati’s womb feel atop the Nilachal Hills and hence this temple shrine celebrates the spirit of womanhood and the abilities of a mother to give birth to a new life. Kamakhya temple holds a high place in the lives of the various sadhus because of the cult of Shakti and tantra and the practices of black magic that were performed here earlier. Every year in the month of June, the temple shrine celebrates the festival of the Ambubachi Mela that is referred to as the Eastern Mahakumbh and it draws devotees and holy sadhus from across India and abroad.
It is believed that in the three days of the festival, the Goddess menstruates and so the temple doors are shut for the devotees and on the fourth day, the devotees throng the temple to seek the blessings of the Goddess. We will be taken to the temple shrine by a temple priest who will assist us with the temple Darshan and we will also visit the inner sanctum of the holy temple to touch the stone and the holy water that is considered auspicious and after our Darshan we will proceed on our drive to the Ambari area in Guwahati where we will visit the Assam State museum to specially view the section of sculptures that has various ancient stone sculptures that have been excavated from across Assam that exhibits the glorious past of the state. Another section depicts various relics and artefacts from the Burma Campaign of World War II and another various facets of the Indus Valley civilization and its relevance to Assam. After exploring the museum we will head to the showroom of handicrafts and handlooms and make our purchases to be followed by lunch and a visit to the Sukreshwar temple shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva where the Guru of the Asuras worshipped Lord Shiva. After this we drop you at the LGBI airport at Guwahati for your flight to your onward destination. Tour Ends. Bid Adieu!
Night Halt: NA
Meals Included: Breakfast