A “Peerless” land, as that is what Assam means owing its derivation from a Sanskrit word ‘ASOMA’, is an entryway to the North East India. It is a region where nature herself has painted the vibrant landscape, hillocks, woods , brooks and streams, flora and fauna and above all the affectionate people. Crafted with much special care, the state of Assam cast a spell on the travelers exploring the treasures of pleasure. An abode of one horned rhino, blue rivers and red mountains, aromatic tea gardens make Tourism in Assam a special experience. Assam bears a testimony of rich cultural heritage through its temples, monuments, and torrential Brahmaputra River. It is legendary state in terms of traditions and civilization.
Cities of Assam
Digboi is known as the Oil City of Assam where the first oil well in Asia was drilled. The first refinery was started here as early as 1901. Digboi is the oldest oil well in operation. This place still retains the British ambience, complemented by the clubs and Golf courses nearby. Digboi in Assam is an oil town that can be traced to the early 18th century, when oil was first discovered here. Digboi can proudly boast of two unique features – a 100-year-old extant oilfield and the world’s oldest operating oil refinery. Today, though the production is very low, Digboi still has the distinction of being the world’s oldest continuously producing oilfield.
Guwahati is the commercial capital city of the northeastern state of Assam. Formerly known as Pragjyotishpur (the City of Eastern Light), Guwahati is the biggest city of Assam in India. Its etymological root is derived from two Assamese words, “Guwa,” meaning areca nut and “Haat,” meaning market. Fixed between the picturesque hills of the eastern flanks of the Himalayan mountain range, Guwahati houses the political capital of the state, Dispur. The gateway to the seven other northeastern states, also referred as seven sisters, Guwahati is a vital tourist base point, besides being an attraction in its own.
Haflong is a hill station in Assam, situated at an altitude of 680 m from the sea level. Assam Haflong is famous for its scenic features comprising of azure blue hills, emerald green rivers, unique orchids such as Blue Vanda and rare species of birds. Haflong in Assam is often referred to as the land of blue hills. Inhabitants of Haflong generally include Himar, Mizo and Naga tribes. Pineapple and oranges are grown here in abundance. Haflong is best known for a lovely lakeside resort developed in the lavish green hills around the town. Haflong is at an altitude of 680 m above sea level .
Hajo in Assam is a centre for various religions, located about 28 km across the river Brahmaputra, from the city of Guwahati. Hajo in Assam is a sacred place, where three religions – Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists meets. Hajo is also renowned for its bell metal work. Hajo has a large number of temples, the chief among them being Hayagriva-Madhab Temple. Hajo Assam is also considered to be a Muslim pilgrimage centre, since the mosque known as the Pao Mecca built by Pir Ghiasuddin Aulia is situated here. According to Hindu mythology, the Pandavas had taken shelter in this region during their agyatvas or during the period in hiding.
Majuli in Assam is perhaps the largest riverine island in the world, lie in the lap of the majestic Brahmaputra. The main attraction of Majuli Assam is its Satras. Out of 665 satras of Assam, 65 satras are housed by Majuli in Assam. Assam Majuli has sublime and serene atmosphere, a perfect environment in which the soul combines with elements. This has provided the back drop for the historic “Moni Kanchan Sanjog” between Assam’s pioneer Vaishnavite Saints Shankerdeva and his disciple Madhabdeva in the 15th century. With the subsequent establishment of ‘Satras’.
Sibsagar is about 150 km east of the famous Kaziranga National Park, in the state of Assam. Sibsagar in Assam is the old capital of the Ahom Kings who ruled Assam for 600 years, until the British annexed the region in 1826. The town is built around the a large 129-acre artificial tank called the Sibsagar Lake (which had given the town its name), dug over 200 years ago. One can still find the archaeological remains, palaces, and temples of the Ahoms, now being preserved as national protected monuments. Today, Sibsagar is a rapidly developing town in commercial, industrial and educational activities.
Pilgrimages of Assam
The temple of Asvakranta in Assam is situated in North Guwahati. An important and one of the greatest Vishnu shrines of Assam, Asvakranta is located on a rocky stratum touching the waterfront of the Brahmaputra. Asvakranta Assam can be by motor boats that are available at Suklesvar Ghat (Guwahati). Asvakranta is favoured for its scenic beauty. From here one can enjoy the east-west expanse of Guwahati situated on the other bank of the river. Aswakranta is associated with Krishna-Rukamini episode. It is said that Krishna’s Asva (horse) was encircled (akranta) by the enemies at this place
Da-Parbatia in Tezpur Assam is the oldest and finest representation of sculptural or iconoclastic art in Assam in the form of the ruins of the door-frame of the Da-parbatia temple. The carvings of Da-Parbatia temple displays the characteristic style of the early Gupta School of sculpture. The two legs of the door-frame have the carvings of the two Goddesses Ganga and Yamuna. Both of them are standing at the bottom with garlands in their hands. The whole frame is elaborately decorated with beautiful ornamental foliage.
HERMITAGE OF VASISTHA
Vasisthasrama in Assam is an important pilgrimage of Assam, situated about 10 miles to the east of the town of Guwahati. The hermitage of Vasistha (Vasisthasrama) is situated amidst a beautiful natural surroundings. There are three streams called Sandhya, Lalita and Kanta located at this place. A bath here is said to increase longevity. A temple of Siva is also attached to the hermitage of Vasistha. This is also an ideal picnic spot for the picnickers. The devotees visit Vasisthashrama and take bath in the stream nearby to wash off their sins. The present temple in Vasisthashrama
The Kamakhya Temple in Assam is one of the most venerated Shakti shrines in India, and is regarded as one of the Shakti Peethams associated with the legend of Shiva and Daksha Yagna. Kamakhya is located on a hill – Neelachala Parvat or Kamagiri near the city of Guwahati in Assam. Shakti, residing on the Kamagiri hill is known as Kamakhya . Assam traditionally has been known as the Kamarupa Desa and associated with Tantric practices and Shakti worship. This temple was destroyed in early 16th century, and then rebuilt in the 17th century by King Nara Narayana, of Cooch Bihar. Images of the builder and related inscriptions are seen in the temple.
Also known as the Abodes of Surya, the Navagraha Temple or the temple of the nine celestial bodies is located in the south eastern part of Guwahati in Assam, on a hill by name Chitrachal. As the name indicates, this temple is dedicated to the nine planets in the solar system. Navagraha Temple at Guwahati Assam is a center of astrological and astronomical research. The Navagraha temple as it stands today was built by the ruler Rajeswar Singh in late 18th century AD. The temple tower was destroyed by an earthquake, but was reconstructed later.
Satras are the unique features of Vaishnavism in Assam. Satras in Assam are basically monasteries which were established to propagate neo Vaishnavism. The Satras of Assam also became centers for education and dissemination of all kinds of art of harmonious living. Majuli, the world’s largest river island is one of the major seat of several Satras established by Vaishnava revivalist, Sankardeva. During Rasotsava, thousands of devotees visit these holy Satras every year. The shrine is held in high veneration by the Vaishnavites.
Festivals of Assam
In a year there are three Bihu festivals in Assam – in the months of Bohaag (Baisakh, the middle of April), Maagh (the middle of January), and Kaati (Kartik, the middle of October). The Bihus have been celebrated in Assam since ancient times. Each Bihu coincides with a distinctive phase in the farming calendar. The most important and colourful of the three Bihu festival is the Spring festival “Bohag Bihu” or Rangali Bihu celebrated in the middle of April. This is also the beginning of the agricultural season
The Majuli Festival of Assam offers you a lot of scopes to make you a part of this festival. Special events are being organised during the festivals days round the clock. Cultural programmes takes place with the participation of various traditional and classical cultural troupes of Assam and troupes from rest of the country, in addition to rich cultural heritage of Majuli. Exhibition are also organised with the presentation of various Assamese items, specially designed and prepared by expert artists displaying traditional glory of Majuli too. Assamese and tribal dishes of Majuli are also available and food festival is also organised during this period.
The Brahmaputra Beach Festival of Assam is organised by the Assam Boat Racing & Rowing Association, Guwahati to encourage tourists to visit Assam. The festival is celebrated every year on the sandy beach of the mighty river Brahmaputra in association with Tourism Department, Govt. of Assam. The Brahmaputra Beach Festival of Assam presents various colourful cultural activities and adventure sports every year.
Forts & Monuments in Assam
Situated in the southern-most rim of Guwahati city on the Sandhyachal hill is a well known holy cum picnic spot, called Basisthashram, after the great vedic Sage Bashistha, who is said to have lived here. Three rivulets named Sandhya, Lalita and Kanta meet here and flow perenially adding scenic grandeur to the place. It is 12 Kms. from the Guwahati Railway Station. City buses ply regularly to the Ashram.
Barely 40 kms. away from the sprawling metropolis Guwahati, on N.H. 52 Madan Kamdev is an enigma, a mystery, a marvel and in the words of Omar Khayam, “a veil past which I could not see”. Very little is known about the origin of this magnificient archaeological ruins.Written history is almost silent on it, leaving wide room for conjectures and hypothesis. Kamrupa – the ancient name of Assam, is believed to have derived its name from the legend that love God Kama or Madan, after being turned into ashes by an angry Shiva, was reborn here. One school believes that Madan was reborn and united to Rati on this tiny hillock
There is also a mosque built by Pir Giasuddin Aulia and is held that it has one-fourth sanctity of Mecca and so it is known as Poa-Mecca. It is believed that by offering prayer a faithful gains one-fourth (poa) spiritual enlightenment of what could be gained at Mecca and so is known as Poa-Mecca.
“Preserving the sweet memory of young lovers”, Agnigarh or the rampart, surrounded by fire, is perhaps the most beautiful tourist spots in Tezpur. According to legend, Princess Usha, the only daughter of King Bana, was kept inside the palace which was surrounded by rampart of fire. The present Agnigarh, now only a hillock facing the mighty Brahmaputra, provides the tourist a soul touching panoramic view of both the river and Tezpur town.
Wildlife in Assam
KAZIRANGA NATIONAL PARK
Located in the heart of Assam on the bank of the majestic Brahmaputra is the Kaziranga National Park. Kaziranga National Prak in Assam is inhabited by the world’s largest population of one-horned rhinoceroses, as well as many mammals, including tigers, elephants, panthers and bears, and thousands of birds. Assam Kaziranga National Park covers an area of approximately 430-sq-kms with its swamps and tall thickets of elephant grass making it the most ideal habitat for the one-horned Indian Rhino. Due to countless poaching of this prehistoric survivor, the Kaziranga National Park was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1940.
MANAS NATIOANAL PARK
Tucked in the foothills of the Himalayas in the Barpeta district of Assam and partly along Bhutan foothills, the Manas National Park in India is a dwelling for many species of animals. The picturesque landscape attracts most wildlife enthusiasts to have a trip to Manas National Park. Just imagine traversing through the dense forests or through the elephant grass with an inner urger to locate their wild beasts in their natural habitat. One one hand there would be excitement while on the other you might be shuddering. A tiger awaiting for its prey or the clattering langoors disturbed by your usurpation you can witness anything here.
ORANG NATIONAL PARK
The Orang National Park is situated on the north bank of the river Brahmaputra, covering an area of 78.81 sq. km. in Assam, the north eastern state of India. Also known as the Mini Kaziranga, the Orang National Park in Assam is famous for its natural scenic beauty that captivates the tourists from all over the world. The Assam Orang National Park was established as a sanctuary in 1985 and declared a National Park on 13th of April 1999. The fauna found here include the one-horned rhinoceros, elephants, leopard, sambar, barking deer, tiger, varieties of water birds, green pigeon, florican, teal, geese etc.
Adventure & Sports in Assam
The river Jia Bhoroli, Kapili and Manas are the best places for angling. The Jia Bhoroli river is home to the fierce game fish, the Golden Mahseer, or tiger of the Himalayan rivers. An annual Angling competition is regularly held at Jia Bhoroli where a number of anglers both from outside the state as well as abroad participate every year. Angling is so popular a sport here that there is an organised body by the name ‘Assam Bhoroli Anglers Association’ which organises this sport in the month of November every year in collaboration with the State Forest Department.
Boat racing is a very popular sport of the state. People very often organise boat racing during festive occasions at places like Hajo, Saulkuchi, Barpeta, Guwahati etc. The involvement of the masses in this sport can be compared with the snake-boat racing in Kerala.
MOUNTAINERING & TREKKING
Assam’s topography makes her an ideal destination for trekkers, mountaineers and rock climbers. The hills, in particular, the North Cachar Hills and Karbi Hills are ready to receive tourists for trekking and mountaineering.There is a recognized trekking route in both the districts.There is also a rock hill in Morigaon District known as “Elephant Rocks” which offer ample scope for Rock Climbing. The Simhasana Hill of Karbi Anglong is also famous for rock climbing. The main city of Assam, Guwahati, is surrounded on three sides with beautiful hills.