Assam

One of the greenest and loveliest regions of India, Assam is the gateway for the north-eastern states viz. Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura, Mizoram and Sikkim, which are very artistically known as seven sisters and one brother(Sikkim was the last to enter, and is referred as the sole brother). The name of this state -Assam- itself has many splendored origins.

The mythological explanation: In ancient times, Assam was known as Kamarupa. It is said that the God of Love, Kama, once tried to tempt the all powerful Lord Shiva. But, while meditating, Lord Shiva opened his third eye that spewed a flame hot enough to destroy Kama. Later, Lord Shiva in a compassionate mood brought back Kama to life. The place where Kama got back his ‘rupa’, or original form, came to be known as ‘Kamarupa’.

Covering an area of 78525 sq. km., Assam is connected to the rest of India by a narrow corridor of 22 kms. Recent archeological findings have revealed that Assamese culture and civilization- which comprises a mosaic of various races and tribes- goes back to prehistoric times. The Mahabharata, too, refers to various kings of Assam, while the state’s capital, Guwahati, is believed to be the flourishing ancient city of Pragjyotishpur or “The City of Astrology”.

The colors of Assam are enough to make anyone go green with envy. Throbbing with the life-force of the mighty Brahmaputra River that runs through the state, Assam is lush green of its forests and famed tea gardens. It’s also a mysterious blue of its extensive hilly tracts. Assam is an embodiment of the natural beauty and grace, a true representative of the region, has been at the centre stage of tourist attraction. The recorded history tells that since the days of Hieu-en Tsang, the great Chinese traveler, who came to Assam during the reign of Kumar Bhaskar Burman (594-650 AD), Assam, has been fascinating millions of people by its aura of myths, mystery, music, mountains, and all the gifts of nature. The ungrudging blessings of nature have made tourism in Assam essentially nature-centric, despite the fact there are historical and religious places of tourist attraction.

Tourism in Assam can be mainly categorized into four categories :

Natural :

Kaziranga National Park : Spreading over an area of 430 sq. km., the park is the natural habitat of the great Indian one-horned rhinoceros. It also houses elephant, Indian bison, swamp deer, leopard cat, jungle cat, hog badger, langur, hoolock gibbon, jackal, goose, hornbills, ibis, cormonants, egret, heron fishing eagles and a number of migratory birds that can be sighted in winter. It is recognized as a world heritage site by UNESCO. One of the most visited wildlife reserves of India, Kaziranga figures quite often on the itinerary of discerning tourists from around the world. It is divided into three parts: the western, central and eastern regions.
Access : Located along the highway, Kaziranga is easily accessible by rail, road, and air to the rest of the country. The National Highway 37 runs through the city. Jorhat Civil Air Terminal is the nearest airport from Kaziranga. Furkating Junction Railway Station is the nearest railhead, 75 km away.

Manas National Park : The first Tiger Project in Assam, the Manas National Park, is magnificently located on the banks of the Manas river. Spreading over 360 km, the park is known as one of the World Heritage sites for its unique combination of scenic beauty and rare fauna. Apart from tigers one can sight the Hispid hare, pigmy hog, golden langur, elephants, Indian rhinoceros, wild buffaloes, wild boar, samber, swamp deer, hog deer etc. The park is also an ornithologist’s delight with birds like riverchats, forktails, cormorants, ducks, Indian hornbill, and the Great Pied Hornbill.
Access : Manas is 176 km from Guwahati, which is connected by air. The nearest railhead is Barpeta Road Barpeta Road Railway Station, about 40 km from the park.

Orang National Park : Orang National Park, popularly known as mini Kaziranga, is located on the north bank of Brahmaputra River in Darrang District of Assam. The sanctuary occupies an area of 72 sq km and is home to great Indian one-horned rhinoceros, elephant, leopard, sambar deer, barking deer, tiger and varieties of water birds, green pigeon, florican, teal and geese.
Access : It is around 31 km from Tezpur and 150 km from Guwahati. Rangapara North Railway Station is the closest railhead.

Bhalukpong : The nature reserve Bhalukpong, situated on the bank of river Jia Bhorali, is situated on the border of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. It is the perfect destination for natural beauty, tranquility as well as activities such as angling and rafting in the turbulent Jia Bhorali.

Chandubi : It is situated very near to Guwahati. It is a natural lagoon and excellent picnic spot.

Dibru-Saikhowa : Situated in Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts of Assam, This 340 sq km park is bounded by the Brahmaputra River and Arunachal hills in the north and Dibru and Patkai hills on the south. A safe haven for rare and endangered species, the park is primarily meant for the protection of white winged wood duck in its natural habitat and is also famous for the bright colored wild horses known as feral horses. Some rare and endangered animals include hoolock gibbon, capped langur, slow loris, water buffalo, elephant, tiger and Gangetic river dolphin. Bird species consists of spot-billed pelican, white bellied heron, Pallas’s fish-eagle, pale capped pigeon, swamp francolin, and migratory birds such as graylag goose, Brahminy duck, bar-headed goose, pelican and black stork.
Access : Dibru-Saikhowa National Park is about 13 km from Tinsukia town. Nearest airport is in Dibrugarh and railhead is in Tinsukia.

Haflong : The scenic town of Haflong is Assam’s main hill station. It is the district headquarter of the North-Cachar Hills district. Apart from its picturesque setting, Haflong is also notable for being the harmonious settlement of several ethnic tribal groups as well as people belonging to different religious communities.
Access : It is situated 355 km from Guwahati and 84 km from Silchar.

Pobitora : Pabitara (Pobitora) is a small wooded region in Morigaon District in Assam, in between the Brahmaputra and Kalang Rivers, covered mostly by tall grass, and only 16 sq km in area. Declared as a Wildlife Sanctuary in 1987, Pabitara is famous for rhinoceros and avian fauna including crane, stork, florican, pheasant and swamp birds. It is also home to wild buffalo, wild boar, leopard, monkey and jackal.
Access : It is around 70 km from Guwahati. The nearest airport is Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi Airport and Jagiroad is the nearest railway station

Potasoli : 38 km from historic town of Tezpur, near the picturesque river Jia Bhoroli, famous for eco-camp set up jointly by the Department of Forest and Assam Anglers Association. Perfect destination for angling.

Deeporbeel Bird Sanctuary : Deeporbeel Bird Sanctuary covers an area of around 4 sq km. Different types of birds including adjutant storks, fishing eagle and kingfisher are found here.
Access : It is situated at about 18 km from Guwahati. The nearest airport is Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi Airport and Guwahati is the nearest railway station.

Garampani Wildlife Sanctuary : Garampani Wildlife Sanctuary, situated in Karbi Anglong District of Assam. This area is famous for hot water springs. The sanctuary is the habitat for elephants, leopards, tigers, deer, golden langurs, hoolock gibbons and a variety of birds and reptiles.
Access : It is 25 km from Golaghat and 65 km from Kaziranga National Park. The nearest airport is in Jorhat.

Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary : Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary, famed for its hoolock gibbon population, is an isolated wildlife forest surrounded by tea plantations. With an area of around 20 sq km, it is in the south bank of the Brahmaputra River in Jorhat District, Assam. This sanctuary was established with the aim to protect the hoolock gibbon, an ape species, in the country. There are about 40 species of mammals that live in the sanctuary. Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary protects capped langur, stump-tailed macaque, pigtail macaque, Assamese macaque, rhesus macaque and slow loris. It is also a habitat for elephant, leopard, Chinese pangolin, Malayan giant squirrel, Assamese macaque and capped langurs.
Access : It is 340 km from Guwahati. Jorhat is connected by air and the nearest railhead is Sivasagar.

Laokhowa Wildlife Sanctuary : Laokhowa Wildlife Sanctuary is located Nagaon District of Assam. It is located on the southern bank of Brahmaputra River. Covering an area of 70 sq km, the sanctuary is mainly the home of great Indian one horned rhinoceros. Other animals include tiger, leopard, Asiatic buffalo, wild boar, civet cat, leopard cat and hog deer. Various species of birds and reptiles are also found.
Access : It is about 25 km from Nagaon and 40 km from Kaziranga and is close to Bura-Chapori and Orang wildlife sanctuaries. The nearest airport is Guwahati and the nearest railhead is Nagaon.

Nameri National Park : This second tiger reserve of Assam is on the banks of Jia Bhoroli River in Sonitpur District. The park is home to some of the endangered species such as Assamese macaque, capped langur, wild dog, golden backed jackal, Bengal fox, civet cat, hog deer, barking deer, mouse deer, tiger, leopard, jungle cat, leopard cat, fishing cat, Indian grey mongoose, wild boar, Indian porcupine, Indian pangolin, fulvous fruit eating bat, flying squirrel, white bellied heron and white winged duck, racket tailed drongos, nuthatch and grey headed fishing eagle.
Access : Nameri National Park is about 35 km from Tezpur and 220 km from Guwahati and it lies at the foothills of eastern Himalayas.

Pani Dihing Bird Sanctuary : Pani Dihing Bird Sanctuary is situated in Sibsagar District of Assam. Covering an area of 33 sq km, the sanctuary is home to migratory birds such as adjutant storks and fishing eagle.
Access : It is situated 350 km from Guwahati. The nearest airport is in Jorhat and railhead is in Sivasagar.

Sonai Rupai Wildlife Sanctuary : Sonai Rupai Wildlife Sanctuary spreads over 175 sq km and offers magnificent views. The sanctuary shelters elephant, Indian bison, deer and a variety of other species of birds and animals.
Access : Sonai Rupai Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in Sonitpur District of Assam and it extends along the foothills of Himalayas. Rangapara North Railway Station is the nearest railhead.

Barnadi Wildlife Sanctuary : Barnadi Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in Darrang District of Assam and is near to the international border with Bhutan. The sanctuary is bordered by the Barnadi River and Nalapara Nadi to the west and east. It was declared wildlife sanctuary in 1980 and lies in the foothills of Royal Bhutan Hill. This sanctuary shelters pigmy hog, bison, Asiatic elephant, hispid hare, pangolin, tiger, leopard, capped langur, porcupine and some migratory and local birds such as peacocks, Bengal florican, horn bills, king fisher and woodpecker.
Access : It is around 70 km from Mangaldoi. Nearest airport is at Guwahati (130 km). Nearest railheads are at Chaparmukh and Guwahati. National Highway 52 provides easy accessibility.

Bura-Chapori Wildlife Sanctuary : Situated on the north bank of the Brahmaputra River is the Bura-Chapori Wildlife Sanctuary in Sonitpur District. It is considered to be an ideal locale for the Bengal Florican. Numerous species of migratory birds are also seen. Other attractions are the Great Indian one horned rhinoceros, Asiatic buffalo, wild boar, otter, civet cat, leopard cat and barking deer. Various reptiles and fish are also found.
Access : Major town nearby is Tezpur. The nearest railway station is Rangapara North Railway Station and airport is Guwahati.

Religious

Majuli : It is Majuli- famous for being the largest river island in the world. Its popularity also owes to the presence of several important Baishnavite Satras, or monasteries. Islanders include Mishing tribals, Ahoms, Kacharis, Deories and Kumars famous for their Salmara pottery. It also plays host to several among the feathered community- it is part of a major migratory path for ducks, geese and other birds. It is proposed as the 21st World Heritage Site.
Access : It is situated 12 km north of Jorhat town and 300 km east of Guwahati. The nearest railhead is Mariani and airport is in Jorhat.

Barpeta : Barpeta is renowned in the Historical map of Assam as the "Land of the Satras". These Satras bear the testimony of the great Assamese reformer, saint, Scholar and Cultural exponent Srimanta Sankardeva and his able disciple Shri Shri Madhabdeva who arrived from Upper Assam back in the 16th century to lay down strong foundation of Assamese Culture in the region through his socio-religious Baishnava-reform movement. This reform movement left a historic legacy. The Barpeta Satra and various other Satras scattered around the district attract devotees from every nook and corner of Assam.
Access : Barpeta is situated 150 km away from Guwahati. The nearest railhead is Barpeta road and airport is LGB airport Guwahati.

Batradrawa : The birth place of Mahapurush Srimanta Sankardeva, the great artist, literateur, dramatist and the founder of Vaisnavism in Assam. There are two Sattras : Narowa Sattra and Salaguri Sattra. A mini Museum is located in Narowa Sattra and the birth and death anniversaries of the Vaishnava saints are observed there with great grandeur.
Access : The place is situated 18 km North – West from Nagaon town. The nearest rail head is Guwahati and airport is LGB airport Guwahati.

Hajo : It is situated on the north bank of the Brahmaputra. It is an ancient place of immense historical importance is a living example of integration. It is one of the most interesting places in Assam and perhaps the only place in the state where one may find shirines and temples dedicated to Vishnu, Siva, Durga, the Buddha and a Muslim saint. It is the confluence of three major religious orders of the world - Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism . People belonging to each of the three religious orders consider Hajo as a sacred place. The Hayagrib-Madhab temple is one of the oldest temples of the country. The temple which is situated on a small hillock ,is a unique architectural marvel . Pua-Makka- a sacred place for Muslims is also situated on a hill top. The view from there is magnificent.
Access : It is situated 25 km away from Guwahati. The nearest railhead is Guwahati and airport is LGB airport Guwahati.

Kamakhya : Kamakhya is known as the greatest shrine of Tantric Shaktism. An important religious place of the Hindus within the city of Guwahati, which is easily accessible at a stretch of 8 kms , it attracts thousands of devotees and other tourists every day by its natural grandeur. Perched on Nilanchal Hill in Kamrup district of Assam, the temple commemorates Hindu Goddess Sati in her aspect of Kamakhya Devi.

Madan Kamdev : The magnificent archeological ruins of Madan-Kamdev are located at about an hour drive from Guwahati. This contains the ruins of more than twenty structures, most of which are situated on the ridge of the Madan-kamdev hill. Ruins of another temple are to be seen on a knoll known as Jalpeshwar on the western end of the Madan-Kamdev hill. Locally it is known as Madan-Kamdev Temple. The principal deities regularly worshipped here being Uma and her consort-Lord Shiva. These ruins belong to 11th/ 12th century A.D. and as such assignable to the Kamarupa Pala Rulers of the 10th/12th century A.D.
Access : It is situated 25 km away from Guwahati. The nearest railhead is Guwahati and airport is LGB airport Guwahati.

Shiva Dol : Situated in Sivasagar district of Assam, this massive plain 32-metre-high Shivadol is the tallest Shiva temple in India, flanked by smaller temples dedicated to Durga and Vishnu. Pilgrims come from all over the state visit this temple mainly during the Shivaratri festival. Apart from pilgrims, the huge artificial tank constructed by Queen Madambika in 1734 is a beautiful place to watch migratory birds during winter.
Access : Sivasagar is easily accessible from Guwahati. It is 350 km away from Guwahati. The nearest railhead is Sivasagar and airport is Jorhat as well as Dibrugarh airport.

Surya Pahar : Sri Surya Pahar, a confluence of the three religion of Jainism, Buddhism, and Hinduism, is a treasure trove of ancient monuments. It is famous for rock-cut images of various Gods and Goddesses including Buddhist Stupas and Scenic beauties.
Access : It is situated about 12 kms. Southeast of Goalpara, 136 kms northwest of Guwahati. The nearest airport is LGB airport Guwahati.

Phulbari Ruins : It is situated in the Cachar district of Assam. These remains are not far from the Phulbari Dak Bunglow. There are a few number of Shiva lingas and stone sculptures lying at the site.

Mirjumlah’s Masjid : It is situated in the Dhubri district on a hill top by the side of the kola river, built by Mirjumlah in 17th century.

Tamresari Temple : It is situated about 18 km away from Sadiya in Dibrigarh district, it is the remains of an old temple built by the Chutiyas in 15th century.

Jogighopa : This hill is situated by the side of the mighty Brahmaputra in the Goalpara district of Assam. Here a large number of cave temples can be found.

Davaka : It is situated in the Nagaon district of Assam. The images of Lord Vishnu, Lakshmi and Saraswati are found here. Near Davaka ruins exists a site called Devasthan.

Mahavairav Temple : Situated on a small hill in the northern side of the Tezpur town, relics of an old Shiva temple are found here. This temple which is made up of stone is believed to be made by king Bana.

Ganesh Temple : Situated at Tezpur town, near the Brahmaputra, a stone sculpture of God Ganesha is found here. It is believed that Lord Bishwakarma made it with his own hands.

Historical

Sivasagar : Once the capital of the mighty Ahoms now Sivasagar is the headquarter of the district of the same name. It is also an important trading centre in tea and oil. There are several monuments of historical interest here: a huge artificial tank, constructed by Queen Madambika in 1734, is at the centre of the complex. The 32 meter high Shiva Dol is the highest Shiva Dol in India. It is flanked by smaller temples dedicated to Durga and Vishnu. Other monuments of note are the magnificent Rang-Ghar, Kareng Ghar, Talatal Ghar, Joydol, Joysagar Tank, and many more historical monuments of around 18th century.
Access : Sivasagar is easily accessible from Guwahati. It is 350 km away from Guwahati and is connected by NH-37. The nearest railhead is Sivasagar and airport is Jorhat as well as Dibrugarh airport.

Tezpur : Nestling among Assam’s undulating hills at the northern bank of Brahmaputra is the pleasant city of Tezpur. Once known as Sonitpur, or ‘City of Blood’, Tezpur has interesting myths woven around it. Legend has it that lord Krishna waged a bloody battle against lord Shiva(Hari-Har-Yudh) to save the love of princess Usha and Prince Aniruddha. The hill of Agnigarh, which commands imposing views over the town and the river, is said to be the place where Usha was imprisoned. Other important and worth visiting places in Tezpur are Da-Parbatiya Temple, which contains the oldest specimen of religious art in Assam and the ruins of Bamuni Hill in Cole park for its scenic beauty.
Access : Tezpur is situated on the Northern bank of river Brahmaputra. It is 185 km away from Guwahati. The nearest railhead is Guwahati and the nearest airport is LGB airport Guwahati.

Digboi : Surrounded by numerous tea-gardens and picturesque blue hills, Digboi has one of the oldest oil refinery in the world. (world’s oldest continuously producing oilfield). Other places worth-visiting are the war-cemetery, golf course, tea- gardens etc.
Access : It is situated 80 km away from Dibrugarh town. The Nearest railhead is Tinsukia and airport is Dibrugarh Mohanbari airport.

Maibong : On the banks of river Mahur lies the ruins of the once flourishing capital of the Dimasa Kachari Kingdom. A stone house and temple of Kachari kings can be seen at Maibong.
Access : It is 47 kms from Haflong. The nearest railhead is Lumding and the nearest airport is LGB airport Guwahati.

Others :

Guwahati : Guwahati is the gateway to the north-Eastern states of India and is a fast growing premier city. It offers a variety of places to see and visit. The Chinese traveler, Hieun Tsang, who visited Guwahati in the 7th century, showered lavish praise on the city. Situated on the banks of the mighty Brahmaputra, and encircled by low green hills, Guwahati abounds temples, picnic spots, and museums.

  • Kamakhya Temple : Situated on top of the Nilachal Hills, the foremost shrine of Assam, Kamakhya is an ancient seat of tantric and Shakti cults of Hinduism. A little away from Kamakhya temple is Bhubaneshwari temple.
  • Navagraha Temple : It is situated on top of the Chitrachal hills. This ‘Temple of Nine Planets’ is a centre for the study of Astrology and Astronomy.
  • Umananda Temple : This Shiva Temple on the peacock island in the middle of the Brahmaputra river. This island is the world’s smallest island inhabited by humans.
  • Basistha Ashram : Located beside a waterfall 11 km outside Guwahati is the Basistha Ashram, which commemorates Rishi Bashisth.
  • Tirupati Balaji Temple : Built according to the South-Indian architecture, this temple is situated at around 11 km from the heart of the city.
  • Sukreshwar Temple : This temple pf Lord Shiva is situated on the Dakini Hill. It is famous for the 6th Jyotirlinga of India. Just below the hill is situated the North-Brook Gate which was built to welcome the then viceroy of India, North Brook during British reign.