Assam

Nature has been very generous to the state of Assam and the heavy rainfall during the monsoons help in preserving the abundant forests and rivers. Assam is a haven for the Nature lover, adventure tourism seeker and angling enthusiast. Nestling amidst natural beauty are the temples like the Kamakhya Temple (atop Nilachal Hill with the Brahmaputra flowing nearby), temples at Bashista (besides a lovely waterfall) and the Navagraha Temple (on Chitrachal hill). Easily accessible from Guwahati, the capital of Assam by road are the Pabitora Wildlife Sanctuary, Kaziranga Game Sanctuary and Manas National park (also a tiger reserve). Majuli is a river island reachable from Jorhat river port famous for handicrafts such as masks, pottery, handloom, Hindu religious sites Satras and a great place for bird watching. Keen anglers can try their luck at the Jia Bharali River, Kapili River, Chandubi Lake and Manas River.

Golfing in Digboi, Hang gliding at Kamakhya Hills, Parasailing in Guwahati, Rock climbing at the Elephant Rock Hill and Simhasana Hill of Karbi Anglong District are some of the activities that Assam offers. Besides these adventure buffs can go trekking on exciting trails in the North Cachar Hills, Karbi and White
Water Rafting on the Brahmaputra.

Assam is accessible by well maintained and drivable National Highways from all the neighbouring states. There are direct train services from major cities to Guwahati which is the rail hub of Assam. Besides the capital Guwahati, other cities connected by air are Silchar, Dibrugarh, Tezpur, Jorhat and North Lakhimpur.

Best Time to visit: November to May, (travel during the monsoon season is not advisable)
Languages Spoken: Assamese
Climate: Hot and humid summers, heavy rainfall during monsoon, cool winters
Holy places: Kamakhya Temple, Temples at Bashista, The Navagraha Temple
Natures Bounty: Pabitora Wildlife Sanctuary, Kaziranga Game Sanctuary, Manas National park, Majuli Island
Adventure Tourism: Hang gliding at Kamakhya Hills, Parasailing in Guwahati, Rock climbing at the Elephant Rock Hill and Simhasana Hill of Karbi Anglong District, Trekking on North Cachar Hills, Karbi, Telok Pandankecil Trek and Lingtang Trail at Bako, White water rafting on the Brahmaputra, Manas, Kapili and Jia Bharali
Activities: Golfing in Digboi, Angling on the Jia Bharali River, Kapili River, Chandubi Lake and Manas River

Ethereal North East: Trip to Guwahati, Shillong and Cherrapunji

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We woke up early next morning as per our itinerary with excitement to experience some of the grandest waterfalls of the region. We started by witnessing the famous Elephant Falls in Shillong, The falls which is locally called “Kshaid Lai Pateng Khohsiew” or three step falls, was coined “Elephant falls” by the British due to the rock on the left side that resembled an elephant.

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Heavenly Dooars – Kolkata to Moorti Drive

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he pot hole patches, were horrible, near Biprit at least 3 Km stretch was practically same full and just before touching to highway at Islampur a particular stretch was just nightmare.I was really thinking of a breakdown. After reaching highway to Siliguri the last 95 Km was a bliss. The most awaiting good features of highway.

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Along the old silk route – East Sikkim

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The entire zigzag road was blocked with snow. We were the only souls from far off plain lands stuck in the midst of old silk route, completely disconnected from the outside world and covered in a thick blanket of snow. Our journey to Gnathang Valley was cancelled. But what we witnessed was much more than what we had wanted and could ask for no more.

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Heavenly Dooars, Assam

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Samsing is a small hill village and tourist spot in the Malbazar subdivision of Jalpaiguri district. It is known for its beautiful landscape with green tea gardens, hills and forests, which attract a lot of tourists. It lies 18 km from the Neora Valley National Park.

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The mystic jungles of Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, Assam

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Further ahead, the scenery again changed. We were drawn more deep into the actual jungle. The forest cover got dense and our excitement jumped higher. Under the shade of the trees and some swamps, we found a herd of the world renowned one-horn Rhinos. It was not the first time in my life that I encountered them but still, they being the pride of my State, rakes up my pride too.

Our Gypsy driver suddenly had a rush of adrenaline and after few minutes of some sway-and-swanky driving, he brought us into this clearing, which was clearly bang in the middle of the forest. With a few words of prayers, we de-boarded our vehicle for a photo-shoot!!

Now, you must be wondering, why we were having a photo-shoot when we had prayers in our lips. Well, that’s because inspite of the heavy forest cover, the view and the vibes took our breath away.

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Days Out in Brahmaputra Valley-Nameri & Tezpur

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I have seen elephants so many times, fed them bananas, saw Mahout riding them and heard their trumpeting, but that sound was not like trumpeting. It was more like roaring of tigers or lions that I heard in zoo. So I was not at all convinced with the judgement of Jainul Abedin. I thought it’s better to keep my eyes open and brain in action for own safety, especially because we were accompanying by a forest guard with a very little on field experience. But he was at the helm and we needed to follow him. A single man with a 3not3 rifle, GOD knows, if loaded or not, the ratio was 5 of us to him. He suggested Kamal and Prakash to move ahead of him and me, Chandra & KKD to follow. We were moving cautiously and quietly. It was a serious situation, no animal was visible yet, only the heart shaking rumbling sounds. We all were trying to escape somehow and were following each other’s steps. Jainul was looking confident to handle the situation, he pointed towards the bush to spot some wild elephants hiding there. I immediately made up my mind of running zig zag in case of an attack. They were growling loudly and we all were maintaining absolute silence yet moving forward. . How could I not click a snap of them? I looked through the lens, not sure of how much could I zoom in. But before I could click Jainul pulled me and virtually taken away from there. He cautioned, “Are you carzy? Elephants will not spare, if caught.” He forced me to go fast to catch my friends who were far ahead by now. I did in the end catch up with them and we did escape safely. It was perhaps Jainul’s quality training that enabled him to be alert on time, identify the noise correctly and handle the situation brilliantly.

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Days Out in Brahmaputra Valley – Nameri National Park

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“Moromi”, in Assamese means “a loved one”. She was looking at me with her pretty eyes. I could not move further. I felt like I was caught by her looks. First time ever, I felt for a deer like that. It was a love at first sight, if that exist at all. I came close to her, spread my hands for a hug and it was gracefully accepted by her.

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Days Out in Brahmaputra Valley- Learning Bihu

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People gathered here in huge number and many had already occupied the chairs kept under sheds circling the field. Others, like us, who reached here late, were trying hard to get a convenient place to watch the jubilant youthful passionate Bihu dance. I found my place in the middle of crowds. But some tall youths, who were blessed by the GOD with such a sterling heights, suddenly came and stood in front of me. They were standing like a monument and my visibility to the field came to an end.

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Majuli – The Island of Dancing Monks

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The half a dozen shopkeepers were honking to sell their wares. You can reach, Gharmur, the largest habitation in Majuli by bus, shared taxis or own cars. One of the Sumo drivers, constantly tailing us offered us a ride to “ME: PO OKUM” (which means happy home); our abode for the night, for Rs. 500. Considering the distance of around 15 Kms, we found it acceptable. Passing aside the small creeks, lakes and water bodies, we reach the market center of Majuli, which has a number of shops selling all kinds of goods. It is surprising that despite being connected to Jorhat only by three ferries plying in a day, the modernism has reached there, with the setting up of medical centers and educational institutions. Housing too, has segued from traditional bamboo and mud construction to ones made of concrete. There are ATMs, shops selling electronics, Airtel and Tata Sky outlets and what not. We picked up some eatables for the young ones and some cokes, sodas and bakery products for our use.

Me: Po Okum is an eco camp located at Chitadar Chuck village in Majuli. Haren Narah, the owner of the camp received us with a big smile and guided us to three cottages reserved for our stay. The camp has 10 cottages including a large one. All these cottages made of bamboo; thatch and wood have been raised on stilts around 4 -6 ft. above the ground, probably to mitigate the fear of floods during the monsoon. The camp looks like a group of traditional huts around a small mustard field. The cottages have attached basic western toilets with some basic supplies.

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The grandeur of the North-East – Kaziranga National Park

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The manager of the resort, Avik a young man in late twenties met us at around 6 p.m. and told that he has firmed up the arrangements for Maruti Gypsy, which would take us for a safari from the East Point of the park. The resort has a policy of not serving any eatables in the cottages. Hence the family assembled in the “Minivet Pelican” dining hall, which is open from all the sides and is located in front of the cottages and amidst the tea plantations. A couple of drinks followed by a dish of butter chicken and yellow daal, gave us adequate impetus to have a good sleep.
The Gypsy reported at 7.00 in the morning and after a quick breakfast we headed for the park. I being the oldest was given the seat next to the driver, while others accommodated themselves in the open rear portion. The driver introduced himself as Arun Deb. He did his high school education at Jorhat and after doing some odd jobs, bought a second hand Maruti Gypsy and came to Kaziranga. During the six years driving in the park, he probably knew all the better viewing points.
We reached the Park Administrative Centre in Kohora, which has three tourist routes under its jurisdiction – Kohora, Bagoti and Agaratoli. The park area is divided into four ranges. The four ranges are the Burapahar, Baguri, Central, and Eastern. They are headquartered at Ghorakati, Baguri, Kohora, and Agoratoli, respectively. The Park is open from November 1 to May 15. Only light vehicles are allowed on the park roads. You can book the Gypsy or take your own vehicle too, which needs to be accompanied by a representative of the forest department. At the gate one has to register and obtain an entry permit.

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