Think the great Indian Rhinoceros. Think endless tea gardens. Think exotic folk dances. Think economic development. Think unique varieties of trees. Think majestically flowing rivers. Now imagine a place that has all this, and more. That is Assam for you, also known as the land of the red river and blue hills. Coming from a rich cultural background which includes references to the state in Mahabharata, Assam today is a picture of unspoiled natural beauty and also economic development. The state has many a unique attractions like the worldâ€™s second oldest oil refinery, world's largest weaving village and the countryâ€™s highest Shiva temple.
Assam is a stunningly mesmerizing state situated in the north eastern part of the country. Situated between 90-96 degree east longitude and 24-28 degree north latitude, Assam is bordered by the kingdom of Bhutan in the north and Arunachal Pradesh towards the east. While Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram lie to its south, the west is flanked by Bangladesh and Bengal. Mizoram is Assam's neighbour towards the south west.
An amalgamation of gurgling rivers, friendly Assamese people, lush tea estates and much more, Assam is an amazing and wonderful place to visit. Some of the more prominent places to explore are as below.
Guwahati : Once known as the light of the east, Guwahati is said to be great kingdom during the era of Mahabharata. But today, Guwahati is a fast developing, and hence bustling and energetic hub of the state of Assam. Along with the attractions that come with being a metropolis, Guwahati offers some more tranquil options to experience. For one, the city is dotted with temples like the Great Kamakya temples. Nabagraha Temple is another one which graces the city. And a trip to Umananda temple is also in place. And while you are in Guwahati, we also suggest a visit to Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakshetra, a multi arts complex which showcases the culture of the state. It has a central museum which holds the cultural artifacts used by the different ethnic groups of Assam over the years. A library with some rare books and manuscripts is also a part of the complex.
Majuli : If you come to Assam, we are sure you would never want to miss the worldâ€™s largest river island. Situated in the midst of the great river Brahmaputra, Majuli is the worldâ€™s largest river island while also being a centre of Vaishnava culture in Assam. The island is home to a mind boggling twenty two Vaishnava monasteries, which are also known as satras. These satras are hubs for practice and development of Assamese art, music, dance, drama, handicrafts, literature and religion. The major satras in Majuli are Kamalabari, Natun Kamalabari, Auniati, Garmur, Samoguri, Dakhinpat and Bengenaati.
Digboi : When you think Digboi, think of Oil. A major oil town, this city is home to the Digboi Oil refinery which came into being in 1901. Incidentally, the refinery is the oldest one in Asia and the second one in the world. The refinery continues to add significantly to the development of the state as well as provide employment to a number of local people.
Kaziranga National Park : A world heritage site, this national park is spread over a sprawling 430 square kilometers. Synonymous with the world famous one horned Indian Rhinoceros, the park also serves a home to many other animals such as tigers, leopard cats, elephants, hornbills, sloth bears, jackals and more. The winter season sees a lot of migratory birds choosing the park as their seasonal home. You can explore the park on the jeeps offered by local operators or if you are a more adventurous type, on elephant back! The best time to explore the park is between November and April.
Manas National Park : The only tiger project in Assam, Manas National Park is also a world heritage site which is significant also for India considering the dwindling numbers of tigers. Spread over an area of almost 520 square kilometers with a core area of 360 square kilometers, the park also provides home to other animals such as the hispid Hare, Pigmy Hog, Golden Langur, Indian Rhinoceros and Asiatic Buffalo amongst others. The season to explore this park is from November to April.
Sualkuchi : This place is called as the Manchester of the east, and is the largest weaving village in the world. Three varieties of silk are produced in this exotic town - Golden Muga, the White Pat and the warm Eri. The place is especially known for Muga, which is a variety of silk which is not produced anywhere else in the world. The importance of silk is this much that almost all the population of the city is involved in the intricate art of silk production. In case you visit this wonderful place, which we suggest you definitely should, do not forget to carry back some silk as a smooth souvenir of your visit to Assam!
Sibsagar : Once a capital to the Ahom rulers, who ruled over Assam before the British came by, Sibsagar offers a lot of culture to experience. Also a leading tea and oil producer, the region has the distinction of having the highest Shiva temple in India situated in a very central position.
Bhalukpung : Sitting prettily on the banks of the river Jia Bhoroli, this place is surrounded by majestic hills and green forests. Apart from soaking in its natural beauty, you can also indulge in adventure at the angling and rafting facilities offered by the place.
Hayagriba Madhava Temple : This temple, located at Hajo, is an equally important place to Hindus as well as Buddhists. It is believed that Lord Buddha attained nirvana at this place, and hence it is imaginable how important a place this is for those who practice Buddhism. Another unique value extended by the place is that it has a large pond which is home to a giant turtle. This legendary temple was destroyed by Kalapahar and was again built in the year 1543 by the Koch King Raghudev. A smaller temple is located near to this temple where â€˜Doulâ€™ is celebrated every year with much frolic and devotion. This temple had been built by the Ahom king Pramatta Singh.
The state of Assam enjoys robust connectivity with the rest of the country by strong air, road and rail links. You can easily access the state or travel within it without hassles.
By Air: Apart from an international airport at Guwahati, the state has airports at Jorhat, Dibrugarh, Tezpur, North Lakhimpur and Silchar. Major airline operators such as Air India, Indian Airlines, Sahara Airlines, and Jet Airways operate flights connecting Assam to the rest of the nation very regularly.
By Rail: A very convenient option, the Indian railways also connects the state in a very regular and frequent manner. Guwahati express is one of the more prominent trains which runs through the state.
By Road: A very well integrated network of roads and national highways ensure you can reach the state and travel around within it very easily.
Variety is flavor of the state, as it abounds with natural beauty, the biggest temples, endless tea gardens, and wildlife parks all rolled into one. You can take a thrilling trip through the Kaziranga National Park or Manas National Park and if lucky, come across tigers and other such equally rare animals. Or you can check out the worldâ€™s largest weaving village at Sualkuchi where the exotic Muga silk is exclusively produced. Another place you can drop at is Digboi, where the worldâ€™s second largest refinery stands tall and proud. And before you leave Assam, make sure you spend time at Guwahati, one of the most bustling yet cultural regions in the state of Assam. All in all, once in Assam, you shall be able to experience every emotion, from delight to joy to surprise to curiosity.
The best time to experience Assam is said to be between October to April, as the weather is mild and pleasant during these months. Though the state never experiences too extreme a climate, December and January are two months when the state may see a little bit of cold, as the temperatures dip to less than ten degree Celsius.
Historically, Assam has seen an amalgamation of different civilizations such as the Indo Aryans, Austro Asiatics and Tibeto Burmans. The history of the state has been built from multiple sources, such as written evidences from the Ahom Kingdom, and the copper plates and rock inscriptions from the Kamarupa dynasty. References to the state of Assam are also reported to be present in the great Mythological epic, the Mahabharata.
Extreme humidity is a central feature of the Assamese climate. The state experiences heavy amounts of rainfall between the months of March and May. In a way, the state has two seasons â€“ winter and monsoon. Winter lasts from October to February while the rest of the year is rainy. The average highest temperature during the year rises to around 30 degree Celsius while the winters have temperatures dropping to as low as around 10 degree Celsius.