By Purnima Chowdhury
Located on the banks of river Brahmaputra, Tezpur is famous for its tea plantations. The stretch of tea-gardens along with forests and national parks attract a large number of tourists in this area.
Tezpur has a rich cultural heritage and is considered the cultural capital of Assam. The town has produced many stalwarts such as Dr. Bhupen Hazarika, Jyoti Prasad Agarwala, Kalaguru Bishnu Prasad Rabha, Phani Sarma, and Ananda Chandra Agarwala.
Modern day Tezpur was set up by the British colonial administration in 1835 as the headquarter of Darrang district. In 1983 part of the district was carved out to form a separate district, named Darrang. Tezpur became the headquarters of the new district of Sonitpur.
Tezpur’s proximity to the Chinese border makes it especially important for the armed forces, and both the Indian Army and the Air Force have massive bases here. It is also a gateway for travellers heading to Arunachal Pradesh.
The principal attraction of Tezpur lies in its rich history, mythology, forests and peaceful river. The name Tezpur has been derived from two Sanskrit words ‘Tez’ meaning Blood and ‘Pur’ meaning town.
TALE OF TEZPUR
According to the legend, Usha, the daughter of King Ban, the Asura King fell in love with a handsome man in her dreams. Usha told about her love to Chitralekha, her dearest friend. As King Ban was very powerful, he had protected the palace with fire on all sides so that no one could enter the palace without permission. Chitralekha painted the portrait of the suitor according to Usha’s description and found that the person with whom Usha fell in love was Aniruddha. Chitralekha not only was good in painting but also possessed mystical powers. To help her friend, Chitralekha flew to Aniruddha and brought him to the palace while he was still asleep, using her powers. As soon as Aniruddha woke up from his sleep he saw Usha and fell in love with her. On knowing about this, Banasura became furious and tied Aniruddha with snakes. Aniruddha was the grandson of Lord Krishna, so he came to rescue him from this and challenged Banasura for a battle. On the other hand, Banasura was a devotee of Lord Shiva and had a boon from Lord shiva himself that he would protect the palace always. In the battle, rivers of blood flowed and the city was named Tezpur. Both side of the army was nearly wiped out but Lord Krishna and Lord Shiva kept on fighting for days. In order to stop the battle, Lord Brahma had to throw himself between them. Atlast, both the parties agreed on a talk and Banasura had to agree for the marriage.
A city so rich in Mythology and culture and also biodiversity calls for a visit.
The battle of Harihara between Lord Krishna and Banasura was fought on this hill. The present day Agnigarh is transformed into a park and is located on the banks of river Brahmaputra. You can witness the elaboration of the Battle of Harihara and the love depicted through sculptural representations.
By now you must know that Chitralekha was the companion of Princess Usha. This park was named as a memorial for Chitralekha and the remains of the Palace and temples have been kept in the park. But this was formerly known as Cole Park and was originally laid by the British administration in 1906. This park is one of the main tourist spot and is located in the main city. This park has modern day play ground and play equipments for Children and is also an attraction for the locals in the city. The park also has several ancient stone artifacts, such as carved pillars and statues. The most famous one amongst these, however, is the Bhomarugiri inscription, an ancient plan for building a bridge across the Brahmaputra River.
Tezpur is popular for its cultural importance and hence this Ganesh temple is famous among the tourists and holds a special place of importance for the locals. This is a ghat on the banks of river Brahmaputra and is famous among the devotees who visit the temple. Whoever comes to offer prayers at the temple visits the ghat for a dip at the river.
Tezpur has several ancient temples and archaeological ruins in and around the city. The most famous is the Mahabhairab Shiva Temple, which was built by Banasura and is believed to date back to the age of the Mahabharata. The original temple is said to have been made of stone, though the current one is a concrete edifice. Every year there is a fair held in the week of Shivaratri, and pilgrims from all over Assam and neighbouring states throng the temple.
Da Parbatia is also referred to as the Second gate (no one seems to know the reason behind it). The temple ruins of Parbatia are dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu and are one of the earliest specimens of architecture and stone carving in Assam. The stone door-frame unearthed at this site has the characteristic style of the early Gupta period and is the most intricate and oldest specimen of sculptural art in Assam.
The remains of the Panchayatana group of Temples stand on the bank of the River Brahmaputra can be ascribed between 10th to 12th centuries. It is located near Tezpur town on the right banks of the Brahmaputra river just near Bhairavi temple. The different avatars of Vishnu are nicely engraved and the piece of slab is still intact. If we go by the dates, the temple belonged to the kings of the Pala dynasty. According to many scholars, these ruins are a result of some devastating earthquake.
Kanakalatha Memorial Park
Buil in the memory of Kanakalata Devi, this park has some spectacular view of the city. You can also find some interesting boulders which looks over the River Brahmaputra.
Local markets in Tezpur are full of little shops selling pretty handicrafts, but if you don’t have time to explore, head to Bamboo Mart by Assam Tourism in Misson Charali. Items made with cane and bamboo, such as baskets, little figurines, pen holders, etc, are the speciality here. Pickles, preserves, jams and juices made from exotic fruits and vegetables are a must try. You can also get the deadly bhut jolokia.
HOW TO REACH
By Air : Solanibari Airport, Tezpur (15km/ 30mins). Air India has direct flights from Kolkata and Silchar. Taxis charge ₹500 to the city centre. Shared tempos also available (₹20 per head). The nearest international airport is at Guwahati .
By Rail: Dekargaon (8km), connected with Guwahati and other cities of the state. Autos are available outside the station up to the city
By Road: Tezpur is well-connected with Guwahati and other cities of the state by national and state highways. ATDC as well as private tourist buses ply regularly to and from Guwahati.