Assam is the gateway to North-East India, dominated by rivers like Brahamputra and Barak. A large part of Assam is situated in the narrow valley that these rivers have created over the period of time.
Assam, also described as the Shangrila in the North-Eastern India is the gateway to the North-East. Much of the state is devoted to tea plantation which yields the strong Assam leaf popular all over the world, it grows 60% of India’s tea and produces a large proportion of India’s oil. Assam has a rich legacy of culture and civilization. The state is the homeland of different races of men : Austrics, Mongolians, Dravidians and Aryans that came to dwell in her hills and valleys at different times since remote antiquity. Assam has developed a composite culture of variegated colour.
The mighty Brahmaputra river that has its origins in Tibet charts its majestic course through this state. This mystic land of eternal blue hills and beautiful rivers is renowned for its rich flora and fauna, the world famous one horned rhinoceros and other rare species of wildlife on the verge of extinction. Barring Africa, there is perhaps no part of the world where such a variety of wildlife exists.
Situated between 90-96 degree East Longitude and 24-28 degree North Latitude, Assam is bordered in the North and East by the Kingdom of Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh. Along the south lies Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram. Meghalaya lies to her South-West, Bengal and Bangladesh to her West.
Exotic denizens of the sylvan world add to the mystery and charm of this weird land. Frolic of apes, graceful elephants, fluttering of wings & singing of birds, migratory birds flying into the hills, the majestic tiger enforcing his authority, all invite you to carry back home a little what the heaven is made of.
The Mohammedan invasions brought Islam into the state. Sikhism flourished here, Buddhist communities have kept the flag of Buddhism flying high. The famous Gurudwara at Dhubri established by the ninth Sikh Guru Teg Bahadur is held in the high veneration by the sikhs throughout the country.
With the advent of new faith & religion many temples and monuments were built all over Assam. Most of the architectural grandeur belongs to the medieval period and represent the architectural style of the Koch, Kachari and Ahom royal courts. These temples and monuments, spread almost all over Assam, bear silent witness to a glorious past.
Some of the Places to See:
Kamakhya Temple, The Shakti Temple of mother Goddess Kamakhya situated on the top of Nilachal Hills, overlooking river Brahmaputra, is 8 Km. away from the railway station of Guwahati.The greatest shrine of tantric Shaktism finds mentions in the inscription of the Allahabad pillar of Samudragupta. Devotees from all over India converge to this holy place during Ambubashi and Manasha Puja. City buses ply regularly to Kamakhya.
Assam State Museum exhibits sculptures, inscriptions, paintings, ivory, wood work, metal work, costumes and ethnology.
Zoo and Botanical Gardens house tigers, lions, rhinos, birds and swamp tapirs.
Janardhan Temple centrally located stands on the Sukleswar hill on the river bank.
Basistha Ashram situated in the southern-most rim of Guwahati city on the Sandhyachal hill is a well known holy cum picnic spot named after the great Vedic sage Bashistha, who is said to have lived here. Three rivulets named Sandhya, Lalita and Kanta meet here and flow perennially adding scenic grandeur to the place. It is 12 Kms. from the Guwahati Railway Station.
Umananda Temple. The great Shiva temple situated on the Peacock island in the middle of the Brahmaputra in Guwahati attracts devotees from all over the country during Shiva Ratri. It is the smallest ever island on a river. One can visit the temple by crossing the river by country boat plying from Kachari ghat. On the north bank of the Brahmaputra, opposite Guwahati, where the third Pandava Arjun is believed to have watered his horse while undertaking journey during Ashwamedh Yajnya.
Navagrah Temple. ‘Nava’ stands for nine and ‘grah’ for planets , hence dedicated to the nine planets or heavenly bodies, the temple of nine planets is situated on Chitra Chal Hill in Guwahati. In ancient times, it was said to have been a great centre of study for astronomy and astrology. This is also one of the reasons why Guwahati is referred to as Pragjyotishpur or the city of eastern Astrology. It is 3 km away from the Railway Station.
Majuli is the largest river island in the world. During monsoon the rivers overflow and vast lands gets submerged.
Kaziranga National Park – Spanning an area of 450 sq kms, it has the largest number of rhinoceros in the subcontinent. But their startling depletion led to the conservation of this area in 1926 and in 1940 it was declared as a Sanctuary. It also has swamp deer, hog deer, wild pig, hoolock, wild buffaloes, sambar gibbon, pythons, tiger and elephants.
Manas National Park was accorded the status of World Heritage Site in 1985 for its rare wealth of endangered species. It also extends over the national boundary of Bhutan where it is known as Royal Manas Park. Some of the rare species found here are golden langur, red pandas, pygmy hog, hispid hare, ergets and many other species of migratory and predatory birds.
GaramPani Wildlife Sanctuary – 65 kms away from Kaziranga National Park, this area is famous for hot water springs. Animals found here are elephants, leopards, tigers in addition to large variety of birds and reptiles
Pani Dihing Bird Sanctuary – Situated in Sibsagar district, it was declared a sanctuary by Govt. of Assam in 1996. It is famous for migratory birds like Adjutant Storks, Fishing Eagle etc.
The writer is an Assam based correspondent at Youth Ki Awaaz.
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