By Purnima Chowdhury
Assam, the land of Tea and Silk, has many unique experiences to offer. This place has a rich flora-fauna and is truly an unexplored paradise on earth. Known for its famous Assam Tea and Assam Silk, it is the biggest state of North-East India which is the doorway to a whole new world of various culture and religion. Its uniqueness lies in the rich culture and different tribes and communities that stay together in peace and harmony not only among themselves but also with the nature.
Assam is home to the one-horned Indian rhinoceros, along with the wild water buffalo, pygmy hog, tiger and various species of Asiatic birds, and provides one of the last wild habitats for the Asian elephant.
Assam is famous not only for the rich flora-fauna but also for the splendid landscape and the beautiful nature escapes. Though this state has a lot to offer, yet it has not been explored much. It is only in the recent past that the Indian visitors have gained interest in this part of the country.
It is a place that no one should miss visiting at least once in their lifetime. I suggest, before visiting this place you know a little bit about the cultural backdrop and the food habits so that you can enjoy the visit to the fullest. Assam is one place where you will be able to see different sets of biodiversity and that is a major pulling factor of the tourists from and outside the country.
Though Assam is full of surprises and has many places to visit, you might not be able to travel to all the places in a single visit to the state. Hence, I have pointed out some of the top places that you must visit.
Kaziranga National Park
Situated in the north eastern state of Assam, Kaziranga National Park is a UNESCO world heritage site of India. It is known for the Great Indian One Horned Rhinoceros. Spread across the floodplains of the Brahmaputra River, Kaziranga National Park is one of the few unmodified natural areas in the north eastern part of India.
The Jeep Safari is a famous activity here and most sought after. Other than that, the stay at jungle resorts and witnessing the folk dance, authentic cuisine is also quite famous among the visitors.
Activities to do: Jeep Safari, Jungle tour, Try authentic cuisine.
Majuli is the largest river island in the world and is situated in the heart of Assam. Majuli has been the cultural capital and cradle of the Assamese civilization for the past 500 years.Majuli holds the most important place in the Vaishnavite culture of Assam. The satras are one of the most important parts of the assamese culture.
It is best to avoid visiting this place during the summer as during this time of the year it is pretty hot and after this during the rainy season the island is partly submerged in the flood water.
Places to visit: Garmur, Auniati Satra, Kamalabari Satra, Dakshinapat Satra, Tengapania, Benegenaati satra.
Hajo is a small town in Assam, merely 24kms away from the capital city, Guwahati. Hajo is a unique town with a harmonious existence of the three prominent religions of the country viz., Hinduism, Islam, and Buddhism. The place is of great mythological importance and is considered to be a highly sacred place by the followers of all the three religions.
It is believed that Buddha attained nirvana in this spiritual paradise. With the umpteen numbers of temples, mosques and pagodas, Hajo attracts people from all walks of life.
Besides the mythological and spiritual importance, Hajo also boasts many natural spots which will leave you in awe of this town, and makes it a must visit.
Places to visit: Hayagriva Madhava temple, Powa Mecca, Kadareshwar Temple, Joy Durga temple, Dhoparguri Satra.
Mayong, the Black Magic Capital of India, is a small village situated on the banks of river Brahmaputra. It might sound eerie but the black magic is no more practiced for negative reasons in this village but it is said that to fight the battle of Mahabharata, Ghatotkach had come to Mayong to learn magic and witchcraft. You can interact with the locals and listen to some of their stories and accounts of people vanishing, taming beasts, curing fatal diseases tough there is no way to test the authenticity of these stories.
This mystical village is also rich in wildlife and natural beauty. You can also enjoy some ancient artifacts and books associated with black magic, Ayurveda and witchcraft.
Places to visit: Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, Kachasila Hill, Deosal siva temple, Sitajakhala, Tegheria Waterfalls.
Sivasagar literally means “Ocean of Shiva”. An important part of the state right from the time of the Ahom dynasty, infact Assam gets its name from the Ahom dynasty (Pronounced Axom in local language). ‘Charaideo’ was the capital of the Ahom dynasty, now a part of Sivasagar district. Sivasagar has all the royal buildings and the ancient temples that were built even before the Ahom rule.
If you wish to know about the history of Assam and witness the royal structures, then Sivasagar is the city that you must head to. Sivasagar has a rich history starting right from the time of King Sukapha who had laid the foundation of Ahom dynasty to King Purandar Singha, who was the last king of Assam. Ahom dynasty has fought many fierce battles of which the Battle of Saraighat is the most famous.
Surrounded all around by tea gardens and ancient monuments, Sivasagar is a must visit place.
Places to visit: Rang Ghar, Talatal Ghar, Kareng Ghar, Joy Sagar, Shiv Dol, Charaideo
Known as the weaving village of Assam, Sualkuchi is a small town. Often referred to as the Manchester of the East, Sualkuchi is the textile center producing Muga Silk and Pat silk along with Eri and Endi cloth.
Situated on the north eastern banks of river Brahmaputra, Sualkuchi is famous for its centuries old heritage of weaving. The famous muga silk is only produced in this part of the country so it becomes very interesting to try to understand and witness the weaving process when you visit here.
Things to do: Visit a weaving factory or weaver’s hut, witness the silk making process
The Kamkhya Temple is a hindu temple in the capital city of Assam, dedicated to Goddess Kamakhya. This is one of the oldest of 51 shakti pithas. Situated in the Nilachal Hills, Kamakhya temple is a place of special importance not only to the locals here but also to the pilgrims around the world especially for tantric worshippers.
During the annual festival of Ambubuchi Mela, thousands of devotees flock to Assam to offer prayers to the Goddess and practice Tantra worship.
How to reach Assam:
By Air: Loakpriya Gopinath Bordoloi Airport, Guwahati is the most crowded and only international airport in the State and hosts flights from all parts of the country.
By Road: Assam is well connected with all the states in the country through the national highways.
By Rail: The north eastern railways connect the state of Assam with the other parts of the country. Assam also has a very well connected interstate railway line. Guwahati railway station is the main railway station of the state.