Located south of the Eastern Himalayas with an area of 78,440 sq. km and surrounded by six of the other Seven Sister States: Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Meghalaya, Assam is known for exquisite natural resources and beauty.
The landscape includes tea gardens, the river Brahmaputra and many historical monuments and temples. With an abundance of forest with five national parks, thirteen wildlife sanctuaries and two bird sanctuaries, Assam is home to two-thirds of the population of the unique one horned rhinoceros. Assam has a wonderful record in wildlife conservation with the rhinoceros being brought back from near extinction along with the tiger and numerous species of birds. Assam provides one of the last wild habitats for the Asian elephant. Today Assam is a prime destination for Wildlife Tourism with Kaziranga and Manas being World Heritage Sites. Another unique aspect of Assam is the multitude of tribes with their own distinctive traditions, languages, literature, dance forms, cuisine, etc.
The biodiversity of assam is rich in the world. The rainforest, riverine grassland , wetlands, bamboo trees had made a favourable ecosystem in the beautiful state. 35.48% of land is covered by tropical rainforest. Many of this ecosystems are now protected as National Parks and Reserve Wildlife Sanctuaries. Assam has five national parks, 13 Wildlife Sanctuaries and 2 Bird Sanctuaries. The famous one horned Indian rhino is found in these part of the world. Kaziranga National Park is famous for one horned rhinoceros. Kaziranga National Park and Manas National Parks are the two World Heritage Sites situated in the state. Assam has the highest diversity of birds in the India. More than 831 species of birds are found in Assam.
(a) Kaziranga National Park : Kaziranga National Park is a World Heritage Site. Kaziranga National Parks lies in the Nagon and Golaghat Districts of Assam. The total area of the National Park is 430 sq.kms. The total area is a vast expansion of elephant grass, marshland and dense tropical forests. Brahmaputra flows along the border of the National Park. The total two third of the total world populations of One Horned Rhinoceros is found in these national park. Kaziranga was declared as Tiger Reserved in 2006 due to high density of Tiger. Kaziranga National Park is also home of Wild Elephant, Wild Water Buffaloes and Swamp Deer. Kaziranga National Park is also marked as lmportant Bird area.
(b) Manas National Park : Manas National Park is UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site. The park is under Project Tiger. It is a Elephant Reserve and Biosphere Reserve in Assam. Manas national Park is located in the foothills of Himalaya and spread in Bhutan in the name of Royal Manas National Park. The park is well known for its endangered species of Golden Langur, Assam Roofed Turtle, Wild Water Buffaloes.
(c) Dibru Saikhowa National Park : Dibru Saikhowa National Park is situated in the district of Tinsukia and Dibrugarh. The Dibru Saikhowa National Park consists of tropical green forest with tall swamp grass in the area. The total area of the National Park is 340 km2. The National Park is home of White – winged wood duck, water buffaloes, wild horse, tiger and capped langur.
(d) Nameri National Park : Nameri National Park is located in the foothills of Eastern Himalaya which lies in the Sonitpur District of Assam and also shares its boundary with Pakhui Wildlife Sanctuary of Arunachal Pradesh. The vegetations of Nameri is semi green and surrounded by moist deciduous forests with cane and bamboo. The park is a elephant reserved and also home of various species of Orchids. It also host favourable conditions for survival of Tiger, Leopard, Sambar, Wild boar, Himalayan black beer, Langur and Giant Squirrel. Nameri National Park is also recognised as Birds Paradise. Over 300 species of birds can be sighted in this part of India. Great Pied Hornbill, Wreathed Hornbill, Rufous Necked Hornbill, Black Stork, Ibis Bill and many others.
(e) Orang National Park : Oranga National Park is situated in the North Bank of Brahmaputra in the district of Darrang and Sonitpur of Assam. The total area of the park is 78.81 km2 . The sanctuary have high marshes , streams and grasslands landscape which is similar to Kaziranga National Park. The park has a rich flora and fauna which is favourable for One Horned Indian Rhinoceros. Pigmy Hog, Wild Buffaloes, Royal Bengal Tiger, Asiatic Elephant, Hog Deer, and Wild Boar are amongst other animal. Fishing Cat, Blind Gangetic Dolphin, Indian Pangolin, Fishing Cat, Leopard Cat and Small Indian Civet are few mammals found in the National Park.
(a) Deepor Beel : Deepor Beel is located in the south west of Guwahati city. It is a permanent freshwater lake. The lake is of biological environmental importance. Deepor Beel is considered to be the largest beel of the Brahmaputra Valley in Assam
(b) Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary : Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary is the wildlife reserve in the district of Morigaon of Assam. It is located 30km east of Guwahati. The road to Pobitora is very beautiful and semi hilly roads passing by river Brahmaputra and a small portion of famous Magical village of Mayong. The wildlife sanctuary has dense population of One Horned Rhinoceros. Pobitora was declared reserved forest in the year 1971 and wildlife sanctuary in the year 1987.
(c) Sonai Rupai Wildlife Sanctuary : Sonai Rupai Wildlife Sanctuary is located in Tezpur, in the districts of Sonitpur of Assam. The sanctuary spreads all the way along the foothills of Great Himalayan Range. The sanctuary covers an area of 175 sq.km2. Elephant, Leopard, India bison and Deer and few other animals can be sited here. Migratory birds are another attraction of the Wildlife Sacntuary.
(d) Bura – Chapori Wildlife Sanctuary : Bura Chapori Wildlife Sanctuary is located along the northern bank of Brahmaputra in the district of Sonitpur. The place is rich in vegetations and comprises of various species of plants and trees that are hard to find anywhere. Wild Boar, Civet Cat, Asiatic Buffaloes, Barking Deer, Leopard Cat, Otter and many other animals.
(e) Loakhowa Wildlife Sanctuary : Loakhowa Wildlife Sanctuary is located in Nagaon District. The wildlife sanctuary is famous for its diverse species of birds and reptiles.
(f) Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary : Dehing Patkai is the only rain forest in Assam. The wildlife sanctuary boundary lies in the districts of Dibrugarh and Tinsukia. The forest area is tropical wet evergreen, the forest area is divided in three parts Jeypore, Upper Dihing River and Dirok rainforest. Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary is also named as “The Amazon of the East” due to its largest and thick forests. Dehing Patkai Rainforest is home of more than 42 Species of Mammals, 40 Species of Reptiles, 30 Species of Butterflies, 293 Bird Species.
(g) Chakrashila Wildlife Sanctuary : Chakrashila Wildlife Sanctuary lies in the districts of Dhubri and Kokrajhar of Assam. The wildlife sanctuary is famous for Golden Langur. Twenty three species of reptiles including snakes, crocodile, alligators, lizards and turtles and more than forty species of butterfly are found in this sanctuary. Indian Short-tailed Mole, Indian Flying Fox, Short Nosed Fruit Bat, Indian False Vampire, Indian Pipistrelle, Rhesus Macaque, Chinese Pangolin, Asiatic Jackal and Bengal Fox are few endangered species found in this Sanctuary. The Wildlife Sanctuary best for bird watching, forest trekking and nature photography.
(h) Garampani Wildlife Sanctuary : Garampani Wildlife Sanctuary covering an area of 6.05 sq.km was recognised as a sanctuary by the Government of Assam in 1952 and it is situated in Karbi Anglong district. The sanctuary is 25 kms from Golaghat and 65 kms from Kaziranga. This place is famous for its hot water springs.
(i) Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary : Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary or Hollongapar Reserve Forest is an isolated protected area of evergreen forest located in Assam. The sanctuary has rich biodiversity and is home of only apes in India, the western hoolock gibbon. Elephant, Capped Langur, Jungle Cats, Wild Boar and three types of Civet, four types of Squirrels, 219 species of birds and several types of snakes can be sighted here.
(j) Nambor Wildlife Sanctuary : Nambor Wildlife Sacntuary is famous for wild elephant and various species of monkeys. The natural scenic beauty of the Wildlife Sanctuary also attracts visitors to this place.
(k) Pani Dihing Wildlife Sanctuary: Pani Dihing Wildlife Sanctuary is formed of wet ecosystem with an area of 33.39 km2. Pani Dihing is the paradise of Migratory Birds. More than 165 Species of migratory birds have till date been recorded. Common birds Grey Leg Goose, Spot Billed Duck, Mallard, Wigeon, Gargany, Shoveller, Ferruginous Duck, Adjustant Stork, Lesser Adjustant Stork, White Neck Storks and others.
(l) Bherjan – Borajan Padumoni Wildlife Sanctuary : Bherjan – Borajan Padumoni Wildlife Sacntuary is located in Tinsukia District of Assam. The wildlife sanctuary is rich in wildlife biodiversity. Different species of macaque & apes. Bherjan – Borajan and Padumoni Wildlife Sacntuary is divided into three forest, Borajan, Bherjan & Padumoni. The forest is very important in terms of conservation of wildlife. The forest is ideal home for Capped Langur, Hoolock Gibbon, Wild Boar, Giant Flying Squirrel. 80 species of birds till date have been recorded in the wildlife sanctuary including Kingfisher, Indian Pied Hornbill, Lineated Barbet and others.
(m) Morat Longri Wildlife Sanctuary : Morat Longri Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in Karbi Anglong District. The Wildlife Sanctuary is famous for its elephant reserve.
(n) Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary : Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary is situated near Guwahati City. The Wildlife Sacntuary is famous for Butterflies.
Assam is very rich in traditional art and culture. The Assamese society uses various elements in daily life to represent the belief, feelings, identity and pride of the Society. Traditional Sarai (traditional manufactured article), Gamocha (a silk or cotton woven cloth with embroidery) and Tamulpan (the areca nut and betel leaves) are few elements of the society. There are diversified traditional festivals in Assam. Bihu is the most important festival. Moreover there are other traditional festivals celebrated round the year in different places of Assam amongst the different tribes and cultural groups of people.
Bihu : Bihu is the main and most important festival of Assam. Bihu is celebrated with abundance of joy by all all Assamese people irrespective of caste and creed. There are three kind of Bihu “Bohag Bihu”, “Kati Bihu” and “Magh Bihu”. Bohag Bihu is celebrated in the middle month of April (Bohag) to mark the Assamese Calender New Year. Bohag Bihu is also known as Rongali Bihu. During celebration of Bohag Bihu people of all age celebrate the festival with performing Bihu dance and sings bihu songs to remark the festival. Kati Bihu is celebrated in the middle of October. Kati Bihu is remark as silent prayer in the form of lighting of earthen lamp in the paddy fields for the success of crops. Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu is celebrated in the month of January after the traditional paddy cultivation is harvested. To celebrate Magh Bihu people burns “Meji” (made up of hay of the harvest field) perform traditional rituals and prepare traditional sweets and exchange greetings with friends, neighbours and relatives.
Me-Dum-Me-Phi : The most important festivals of Ahom People. These festival is celebrated 31 of January every year in the memory of their ancestors. This festival is also remarked to develop social and religious contacts amongst the community. Colourful processions in traditional forms are taken out to mark the festival.
Baishagu : The festival is famous for its colourful and merriment, “Baishagu” is celebrated generally by the Bodo Kacharis in the month of Bhaishak or mid of April. It is most cherished festivals of Bodo. The Bodo people also celebrate the festival as springtime festival or advent of newyear.
Ambubachi Mela : The Ambubachi Mela is most important festival of Kamakhya Temple in Guwahati. The festival is celebrated in the mid of June every year. The mela is celebrated as a ritual of austerities celebrated with “Tantric Rites”. The mela is celebrated for three days. During these three days the door of the temple remains closed. It is believed that the earth became impure for three days. On the forth day with all religious and traditional rituals the worship is performed and the door of the temple is opened for normal people for visit. Prior to the mela devotees from all round the globe visits Kamakhya Temple to attend the festival.
Ali - Aye – Ligang : Ali – Aye – Ligang is celebrated by the Mishing Tribe People. The festival is marks the beginning of agricultural cultivation. The festival is celebrated in the month of Phagun (February-March) first Wednesday. The day is considered as Laskhmi Day and is auspicious according to the Mishing People. On the day Head of the family marks the sowing of paddy in their respective fields.
Assam has also a reach tradition of performing arts and culture Ankiya Nirtya a traditional bhaona dance form is performed from the 15th century AD. Bhaona is performed with different mask of animals, demon, god and goddess. Husory dance is one of the most spectacular form of Bihu dance.
Bihu Dance : Bihu is the most important dance form of Assam. Bihu is performed by young boys and girls during the Bihu Festivals. The Bihu is performed with young boys and girls brisk stepping, fingering and flipping of hands in the rhythmic traditional beat of Dhul, Pepa (“Pepa” Buffalo Hornbill) Gogana and Bhahi (Flute made of bamboo or cane) represents youthful passions.
Satriya Nirthya : Satriya Nirtya is the classical dance forms of Assam. Satriya Nirtya is one amongst eight principle classical Indian dance traditions. Satriya dance was performed in Sattras in artistic way to present the mythological teaching. Satriya Nirtyas were performed by Bhokots (Male Monks) in the Sattras to mark special festivals in the Sattras. Today in addition the dance form is performed by both male and female on stage based on themes not merely mythological.
Barpeta Bhortal Nritya : Barpeta Bortal Nirtya is said to be extended from the Sankari Culture of Sattras. The Nirtya is developed by Narahari Burha Bbakat he was a well-known artist. The dance is performed in a group of six or seven on fast beats. This beats are known as “7hiya Nom”. The dancers are equipped with cyrnbols while performing this dance form. The use of cyrnbols makes the dance more colourful and the dance patterns produces uniqueness to this dance form of Assam.
Jhumur Dance : Jhumur Dance is the symbolic dance forms of the Tea Tribes of Assam. The dance is performed by young girls and boys and sometime by girls along, with precision of footwork while clasping tightly each other’s waist.
Bagurumba : Baurumba is the most attractive dance form of the Bodo Community. Girls dressed in colourful attire in tune of Bodo traditional musical instruments.
Deodhani : The Deodhani dance is associated with the worship of the snake goddess Manasa. A Deodhani girl, in a inspired state, goes on dancing to the accompaniment of Kham (Drum) and Ciphung (Flute) propitiating many a deity beginning with Shiva and ending with Lakshmi.
Assam is a land of fairs and festivals. Most of the festivals celebrated in Assam characterize the spirit of accommodation and togetherness in the diverse faith and belief of her inhabitants. This perfect fusion of heritage of her numerous races have made Assam the home of the most colorful festivals reflecting the true spirit, tradition and lifestyle of the people of Assam.
The major festivals celebrated in Assam are Bihu, Baishagu, Ali-Ai-Ligang, Baikho, Rongker, Rajini Gabra Harni Gabra, Bohaggiyo Bishu, Ambubashi Mela and Jonbill Mela and so on.
The people of Assam also celebrate Holi, Durga Puja, Diwali, Swaraswati Puja, Lakshmi Puja, Kali Puja, Idd, Muharram, Me-Dam-Me-Phi, the birth and death anniversaries of Vaishnava Saints Srimanta Sankardev and Madhabdev.
The tribals of Assam have their own colorful festivals like the Kherai Puja of the Bodos, the Baikhu and Pharkantis of the Rabhas, Ali-ai-ligang and Parag of the Mishing tribe, the Sagra-misawa wansawa and Laghun of the Tiwas.
Bihu : Bihu is the most important festival of Assam. It is celebrated with joy and abundance by all Assamese people irrespective of caste, creed, religion, faith and belief. Three Bihus are celebrated in a year, viz. Bohag Bihu, Magh Bihu and Kaati Bihu.
Bohag Bihu (mid-April, also called Rongali Bihu), the most popular Bihu celebrates the onset of the Assamese New Year (around April 15th) and the coming of spring. This Bihu is also a fertility festival, where young women dances with sensous movements using the hips, arms, etc., to call out to celebrate their fertility. In this aspect, the Bihu dance can also be called a mating ritual by the young men and women.
Magh Bihu (mid-January, also called Bhogali Bihu) comes from the word Bhog that is eating and enjoyment. It is a harvest festival and marks the end of harvesting season. Since the granaries are full, there is a lot of feasting and eating during this period. Different types of sports like Buffalo – fights, Egg-fights, Cock-fights, etc. are held throughout the day.
Kaati Bihu (mid-October, also called Kongali-Bihu) has a different flavor as there is less merriment and the atmosphere has a sense of constrain and solemnity. During this time of the year, the paddy in the fields are in the growing stage and the granaries of the farmers are almost empty. On this day, earthen lamps (saki) are lit at the foot of the household tulsi plant, the granary, the garden (bari) and the paddy fields.
Ambubachi Mela : It is the most important festival of the Kamakhya temple of Guwahati and is held for four days every year during monsoon (mid-June). It is a ritual of austerities celebrated with 'Tantric rites'. During Ambubashi the doors of the temple remain closed for three days. It is believed that the earth becomes impure for three days. During this time no farming work is undertaken. Ambubachi mela is held at the Kamakhya temple, after being closed for the afore-mentioned three days. On the fourth day only the devotees are allowed to enter inside the temple for worship. Thousands of devotees from all over the country and abroad visit this Mela.
Guwahati (earlier known as Pragjyotishpur), the largest city in the North-East Region of India is considered to be the "gateway" to the region and is situated between the southern bank of the Brahmaputra River and the foothills of Shillong. The name Guwahati is derived from two Assamese words: 'Guwa' (areca nut) and 'Haat' (market place). Its myths and history go back several thousands of years, recent scientific evidences pointing to 6th Century AD. It finds mention in the epics, puranas, and other traditional histories proving its ancestry. It was the capital of the 'mythological' kings Naraka and Bhagadatta according to the Mahabharata. The ancient Shakti temple of Goddess Kamakhya located atop the Nilachal hills, the ancient and unique astrological temple Navagraha located in Chitrachal Hill, and archaeological remains in Basistha and other locations support the mythological assertions of the city's ancient past.
The great Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsang revealed that during the reign of Bhaskara varma (7th century AD), the city was the principal base for his strong naval force (30,000 war-boats, with officers who were knowledgeable of the sea-routes from the Indian Ocean to China - Xuanzang).
During the Ahom reign, the city was the seat of the Borphukan, the civil and military authority of the lower Assam region. The Borphukan's residence was in the present Fancy Bazaar area, and his council-hall, called Dopdar, was situated about 300 yards (270 m) to the west of the Bharalu stream. The Majindar Baruah, the personal secretary of the Borphukan, had his residence in the present-day Deputy Commissioner's residence.
The Mughals tried to invade Assam 17 times and each time they were defeated by the Ahoms led by the great Ahom General Bir Lachit Borphukan. The Battle of Saraighat fought close to Guwahati in 1671 is the most well known of all those battles, in which the Mughals were over-run due to the strong leadership of Lachit Borphukan and the hard work of the Assamese Army. The great embankment called "Mumai-Kota Gor" (named after the incident involving Lachit killing his own uncle for being lazy in building it) that runs along the outskirts of Guwahati stands as a proof of the hard work and war-readiness on the part of the Ahoms.
There are a number of historic features in Guwahati. The Dighali Pukhuri is a rectangular lake that was connected to the Brahmaputra, and was an ancient boat yard probably used by the Ahoms in medieval times. Moreover, there are many tanks, temples, ramparts, etc. in the city. The major tourist attractions are:
Kamakhya Temple is primary among the 51 Shaktee Peeths related to the myth of Sati and is one of the famous Hindu pilgrimage sites in the world and finds mention in the 10th Century Kalika Purana as the most important goddess of Tantric worship.
As per myth, King Daksha the father of Sati was unhappy with her marriage with Lord Shiva and did not invite them when he performed a grand Vedic sacrifice for all the deities. In a rage, Sati threw herself onto the fire, leaving behind her body to be reborn as the Goddess Parvati. Meanwhile, Lord Shiva, stricken with grief and rage at the loss of his wife put Sati's body over his shoulder and began his Tandava – Nritya (dance of cosmic destruction) throughout the heavens. The other Gods, afraid of their annihilation, implored Vishnu to pacify Shiva who sent his discus Sudarshana to destroy the corpse of Sati, as a consequence of which 51 pieces of Sati's body were scattered across the Indian subcontinent. These places are called Shakti Peeths and are dedicated to various powerful goddesses. Kamarupa ("form of desire") is the region in which the yoni ("vulva," "womb," or "source") is said to have fallen to earth, and the Kamakhya temple was said to have been constructed on this spot.
Darshan at this temple is performed not by sight as in most temples, but by touch. There is no idol, but rather a large cleft in the bedrock moistened by water flowing upward from an underground spring, generally covered by cloths and ornate chunris, flowers, and red sindoor. Devotees and pilgrims offer items for worship directly to the goddess, then touch her and drink water from the spring. After completing the darshan, devotees light lamps and incense outside the temple before circumambulating it in a clockwise direction.
The temple attracts millions of visitors each year, particularly during Ambubasi Mela in June/July, which celebrates the Earth's menstruation and draws upwards of 100,000 pilgrims per day during the 4-day festival.
The Navagraha temple atop the Chitrasal Hill is devoted to Navagraha - the nine (nava) major celestial bodies (Grahas) of Hindu Astronomy and are named after Surya (Sun), Chandra (Moon), Mangal (Mars), Budh (Mercury), Guru/ Brihaspati (Jupiter), Shukra (Venus), Shani (Saturn), Rahu (North Lunar Node) and Ketu (South Lunar Node). Enshrined in this temple are nine Shivalingams, representing the nine Celestial bodies, each covered with a colored garment symbolic of each of the celestial bodies, with a Shivaligam in the centre symbolising the Sun. This temple was built by the Ahom king Rajeswar Singha (1751–1769), son of Rudra Singha or Sukhrungphaa in late 18th century.|
Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakshetra
The Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakshetra: A modern Cultural Centre built in sync with the traditional and ethnic Assamese Architectural Trends. A replica of the Rang Ghar (an Ahom Amphitheatre in Sibsagar) is positioned in the entrance corridor to the main Central Museum. The Central Museum preserves the traditional artifacts of Assamese culture. The open air Theatre, with a breath taking view of misty mountainous range of the Khasi Hills in eyes vicinity, is a regular venue for a wide variety of cultural events and 2000 audience can enjoy the shows from the gallery seats. What can be termed as the major attraction in the Kalakshetra is an Artistic Village. This village portrays the village life of Assam in the liveliest of form through life like statues and model thatched huts. The Sahitya Bhawan is an archive of Assamese texts and literatures and provides a good reference for any scholar gathering information on Assam or the North Eat. The Lalit Kala Bhawan offers a world class exhibition space for arts and sculptures. A walk through the Heritage Park gives a feeling of contentment and satisfaction to any nature's child. The Kalakshetra quite often holds various workshops of dramaturgy, cinema and other performing as well as visual arts. Beside these a candid eye for beauty can always spot the various murals on the center's surrounding walls. These murals depict various war moments, Bihu dances and other Assamese iconic representations.
Dighalipukhuri is a prominent tourist attraction in the heart of Guwahati with boating facilities and recreational activities. It is an old rectangular lake of half a mile long originally engraved out from the Brahmaputra. Later, it was separated from the river. Dighalipukhuri derived its name from the word ‘dighal’ which means length. The lake is believed to be dug by Bhagadutta, the king of Pragjyotishpura (present Guwahati) and finds mention in the Mahabharata.
The Chandubi Lake situated at a distance of 64 kilometers from Guwahati is a picture of beauty and serenity - the lake and its surroundings laying a charm that is irresistible to one and all. The chief attraction is the natural lagoon that has been formed in the lake. The lake offers to its visitors the opportunity to go fishing in the waters of the lake. The administrators of the lake have also provided the tourists with the provisions to go rowing in the calm lake waters. The presence of such provisions makes the Chandubi Lake an ideal tourist destination.
Sualkuchi the Manchester of the East and situated at a distance of 30 km West of Guwahat is the nerve centre of Silk Weaving in the country with a long tradition of silk weaving dating back to the 11th century, when King Dharma Pal, of the Pala dynasty, sponsored the craft and brought 26 weaving families from Tantikuchi. Every house hold here is engaged in weaving, especially silk textiles - both mulberry and muga silk. In fact muga, “the golden fibre” is produced only in Assam and is intimately linked with the culture and tradition of the Assamese since ages along with Eri, Endi & Pat.
Gandhiji, when he visited an exhibition on the 9th of January, 1946, was awed with the art and culture of weaving of the Assamese women and was pleasantly astonished seeing one expert weaver depicting him in the cloth produced in his hand-loom.
Hajo - situated on the banks of the Brahmaputra at a distance of 24 km from Guwahati is an ancient pilgrimage centre for Hindus, Buddhists & Muslims alike. The Hayagriva Madhava Mandir atop the Monikut Hill was constructed by King Raghudeva Narayan in 1583. According to some historians the King of Pala dynasty constructed it in 6th century. It is a stone temple and it enshrines an image of Hayagriva Madhava, the Man Lion incarnation of Vishnu. Some Buddhists believe that it is here that the Buddha attained Nirvana. Lesser known temples of Hajo like that of Ganesh was constructed during the reign of Ahom King Pramatta Singha in 1744 AD. The Kedareswara Temple, a Shiva temple, has inscription on the temple showing that it is of Rajeswar Singha period.
Hajo is also a Muslim pilgrimage centre since the mosque known as the Poa Mecca is thought to have some of the sanctity of Mecca.
Madan Kamdev is an enigma, a mystery, a marvel which speaks about ancient Kamrup. Scattered all around the Dewangiri hillock with an idyllic back drop of green hills and flowing rivulets, are griffins, nymphs, dancing fairies, Gods and Goddesses in cosmic evolutions, walls, pillars, lintels and door frames decorated with flowers, animals, Kalpa-Vriksha (the tree of fulfillment), six sided Bhairava, four headed Siva, Demons, Serpents and men, women and animals in every conceivable erotic posture, all in ruins of gigantic proportion - that is Madan Kamdev.
It is belived that Kama or Madan, the God of Love was reborn in this place after being turned into ashes by the angry Lord Shiva. Some scholars think that Madan was reborn and united with his wife Rati upon this tiny hillock. According to some other historians it is a romantic association as numerous erotic sculptures are found here. Madan Kamdev belongs to the Pala Dynasty, between 10th to 12th centuries A.D. The ruins are believed to be the remains of more than 20 temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is believed that perhaps this was the finest medieval temple ever built in the entire Brahmaputra Valley. Perhaps there is no place in India except Khajuraho and Konark, where the basic weaknesses of mortals caught in fear, doubt, love, jealousy and consummate passion have been so eloquently expressed.
Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary
Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, at a distance of around 50kms from Guwahati and covering an area of 38.8 sq km was declared a sanctuary in the year 1971 to protect the famous Great Indian one horned Rhinoceros also houses a large number of Asiatic Buffaloes, Wild bear, Civet cat, Leopard, monkeys and many more. There are various species of birds among which 2000 species are migratory birds that migrate each and every year to this place for breeding purposes.
Pandu situated in the northern tip of the city is named after King Pandav, the father of the five Pandavas. The Padunath temple here atop a small hillock has been dedicated to him. It is believed that the five Pandavas lived here during their exile disguised as Ganesha. The same is depicted here in the form of five images of Lord Ganesha representing the Pancha Pandavs. The temple is also famous for the images of Narshimha (the half man half lion incarnation of Lord Vishnu).
The Inland Water Transport department runs a small guest house here. One can see the setting sun over the Brahmaputra against the backdrop of the famous Saraighat Bridge.
Assam State Museum
Assam State Museum established in 1940 is one of the biggest multipurpose museums in the country housing separate sections dedicated for archeology, epigraphy, numismatics and iconography.
Various archeological, wooden & bell metal objects, ivory, terracotta, pith, tribal objects, dioramas of tribal life, paintings, old textiles, arms & weapons, ethnographic objects & stone sculptures – all dating back to the 5th to 12th Century are displayed here.
Located on the north bank of the Brahmaputra, this shrine is considered as one of the supreme Devi Tirthas of the state. Isolated and lying at the foot of a range of hills, it has several rock cut images which can be traced to the 11th to 12th century A.D. This is one of the few temples where buffalo sacrifice is done annually during Durga Puja.
This temple with the images of Janardana & Anantasai Vishnu, was constructed by the Ahom King Siva Singha in 1720 A.D. on the northern bank of the river Brahmaputra. According to folklore, Lord Krishna while on his way to destroy Narakasura, his horse got tired in this place. Some others are of the opinion that the horse was attacked near this temple and the name of it should have been Aswakranta and not Aswaklanta. There is a stone inscription on the body of the temple.
The history of the Basistha Ashram dates back to the Vedic ages. It is believed to be the home of famous sage Basistha, also known as "Vasistha". The ashram is located a few kilometers from Guwahati, on the outskirts of Garbhanga forest reserve which has an ample population of Elephants. This Garbhanga reserve forest is also a proposed Butterfly reserve. Although the ashram has a temple built by the Ahom King Rajeshwar Singha, the main attraction is the cave in which the Muni Vasistha is believed to have meditated. The ashram also has a beautiful waterfall.
Umananda Devaloi is a Shiva Temple located at the Peacock island in middle of river Brahmaputra. It was built by the Ahom King Gadadhar Singha (1681–1696) in the smallest inhabited Riverine Island in the world. Country boats that are available on the bank of Brahmaputra take the visitors to the island. The mountain on which the temple has been built is known as Bhasmacala.
Lord Shiva is said to have resided here in the form of Bhayananda. According to the Kalika Purana, in the beginning of the creation Shiva sprinkled ashes (bhasma) at this place and imparted knowledge to Parvati (his consort). It is said that, when Shiva was in meditation on this hillock, Kamadeva interrupted his yoga and was therefore burnt to ashes by the fire of Siva’s anger and hence the hillock got the name Bhasmacala.
Sivasagar, earlier known as Rangpur is a heritage destination and is famous for the monuments of Ahom kingdom. It was once the capital of the Ahom rulers who dominated Assam for more than 600 years. They ruled Assam virtually uninterrupted for 6 centuries until their kingdom fell to the Burmese in 1819, and their ruling class was all but wiped out. The province was liberated by the British in 1825 but, owing to the state of anarchy which prevailed in the province, it was completely annexed in 1826.
The city's main feature is the water body from which it gets its name. This is a 257-acre (1.04 km2) tank also called Borpukhuri, at a higher elevation than the rest of the town, with three temples ("Dol"s) on its banks. Of these temples, the most prominent is the Sivadol, standing tall at 104 feet (32 m) and the Vishnudol and Devidol. The temples were built by Queen Ambika, wife of Swargadeo Siba Sangha in the year 1734.
Other attractions include the Rang Ghar- a double-storied oval shaped amphitheatre with a roof which is shaped like an inverted boat and the seven-storied Talatal Ghar - a palace with two secret tunnels and three floors underground. Joysagar, said to be the biggest man-made lake in the country, is spread over 318 acres (1.29 km2) of water on the edge of the town in an area called Rangpur. This lake was built by Swargadeo Rudra Singha in honor of his mother Joymoti.
Another attraction is the Ahom Museum which stores artefacts of the rulers, including swords, clothes, manuscripts, goblets and platters. The ancient capital of the Ahoms was Gargaon where the major draw is the Kareng Ghar, a seven-storied palace built by 18th century architects. Charideo situated nearby, is another old capital which was built by Sukapha, the founder of the Ahom dynasty. There are maidams or vaults for the king and members of royal families here. Travellers cross the Namdang Stone Bridge carved out of a single boulder hundreds of years ago, over which the busy national highway (NH 37) still runs today.
Majuli, a fluvial island in the Brahmaputra river is one of the largest riverine islands in the world and the largest freshwater island in South Asia and is formed by the Brahmaputra river in the south and the Kherkutia Xuti, an anabranch of the Brahmaputra, joined by the Subansiri river in the north. Majoli is the abode of the Assamese Neo-Vaisnavite culture and has been the cultural capital of Assamese civilisation since the 16th century. Sankardeva, a pioneer of the medieval-age neo-Vaishnavite movement, preached a monotheist form of Hinduism called Vaishnavism and established monasteries and hermitages known as Xatras here.
The art of pottery in Majuli from beaten clay and burnt in driftwood fired kilns is in the same mode as carried out by the peoples of the ancient Harrappan Civilisation. The handloom work here is also internationally famous.
The Xatras have honed certain art and craft traditions, which can now be found only here. In Natun Samuguri Xatra for example, one can still find the craft of mask-making; and in the Kamalabari Xatra the finest boats are made.
The major Xatras here are the Dakhinpat Xatra, Garamurh Satra , Auniati Satra, Kamalabari Xatra, Benegenaati Satra and the Shamaguri Satra.
A wetland Majuli is also a hotspot for flora and fauna, harboring many rare and endangered avifauna species including migratory birds that arrive in the winter season. Among the birds seen here are theGreater Adjustant Strok, Pelican, Siberian Crane and the Whistiling Teal. After dark wild geese and ducks fly in flocks to distant destinations.
Dibru Saikhowa National Park
Dibru - Saikhowa National park located at about 12 kms north of Tinsukia town of Assam covering an area of 650 sq. km. is also a Biosphere reserve. It is one of the 19 bio diversity hotspots in the world. The Park is bounded by the Brahmaputra and Lohit rivers in the north and Dibru river on the south. It is situated in Dibrugarh and Tinsukia District of Assam. It mainly consists of wet evergreen forests, tropical moist deciduous forest, cane brakes and grasslands. It is the largest salix swamp forest in north east India. Situated in the flood plains of the Brahmaputra and the Lohit, at an altitude of 118 m above sea level, Dibru-Saikhowa is a safe haven for many endangered species. Due to the auto stocking by River Brahmaputra and Dibru, it is rich in Fish Diversity.
Originally created to help conserve the habitat of the rare White-winged Wood Duck, the park is also home to about 36 species of mammals of which 12 are listed in the schedule 1 of Wild life (Protection) Act 1972. The mammalian species of Dibru-Saikhowa includes Royal Bengal Tiger, Leopard, Clouded Leopard, Jungle Cat, Sloth Bear, Dhole, Small Indian Civet, Malayan Giant Squirrel, Chinese Pangolin, Gangetic Dolphin, Slow Loris, Pig Tailed Macaque, Assamese Macaque, Rhesus Macaque, Capped Langur, Hollock Gibbon, Asian Elephant, Wild Boar, Sambar, and Hog Deer, barking Deer, Asiatic Water Buffalo, and Feral Horses etc.
Dibru-Saikhowa is uniformly rich and diverse in its herpeto fauna. 2 species of Monitor Lizards, 8 species of Turtles and 8 species of Snakes have so far been recorded from the Dibru-Saikhowa. 62 dissimilar species of fishes and more than 350 species of birds have also been recorded from the Dibru-Saikhowa.
The avi fauna of Dibru-Saikhowa includes Greater Adjutant Stork, Lesser Adjutant Stork, Great Grebe, Indian Shag, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Night Heron, Yellow Bittern, Openbill Stork, Black Stork, Large Whistling Teal, Greylag Groose, Common Pintail, Pallas's Fishing Eagle, Griffon Vulture, Osprey, Crested Serpent Eagle, Spot Billed Pelican, White Winged Duck, Bear's Poachard, Greater Spotted Eagle, Bengal Florican, Pale Capped Pigeon, Great Pied Hornbill, March Babbler, Jerdon's Babbler, Black Breasted Parrotbill etc.
Tezpur is an ancient city on the northern banks of the river Brahmaputra. The name Tezpur is derived from the Sanskrit words 'Teza' (meaning blood) and 'Pura' (meaning town or city). Legend has it that the original name of this place was 'Sonitpur' ("Sonit" in Sanskrit also means blood!) but when the battle between Lord Krishna’s army and Banasura’s army fought for the rescue of Aniruddha (Grandson of Lord Krishna) , there was so much bloodshed that the whole place was stained in red. This led to the name of the place becoming Tezpur.
Historical ruins from the 8th and 9th centuries dot the surrounding areas of the city. The ruins of Bamuni Hills are the most famous. They bear resemblance to the art of the Gupta period. The ruins of Da Parbatia are a shining example of the architecture around the 4th Century AD. Agnigarh is a hillock located in in Tezpur. Legend has it that it was the site of the fortress which was built by Banasura to keep his daughter Usha in isolation. The name itself is derived from the words 'Agni' (meaning fire) and 'garh' (meaning fortress or wall) in Sanskrit. It was surrounded by fire at all times so that nobody could go in or out of the perimeter without permission. Usha fell in love with Aniruddha (Lord Krishna’s grandson) in her dreams not knowing who he was. Her companion Chitralekha identified him by painting his portrait from Usha's description.
The Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport at Guwahati is 18 km from the city centre and is well connected to most of the metros in the country. All the major carriers of the country like Air India, Jet Airways, Kingfisher Red, SpiceJet, Go Air Business, JetLite and IndiGo airlines connect Guwahati to most of the major cities of India.
Druk Air also operates an international bi-weekly flight between Bangkok, Bhutan and Guwahati.
Most of the carriers also operate flights connecting the other towns of Assam like Jorhat, Dibrugarh, Tezpur, North Lakhimpur and Silchar to Guwahati and to the other major cities in India.
Assam has a convenient railway network connecting the state to the rest of the country. There are train services from Kolkata, New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Cochin and Trivandrum.
A network of National Highways and other roads connect Guwahati with all the important places of Assam and India. It is the connector city of NH - 31, 37 and 40 with the other cities of India by road.