|Overview of the State|
|Assam - the Investment Climate|
|The Place & People|
|Places to See|
|Socio Economic Profile|
|Traveler's Tips and Resources|
|How to Reach and where to Stay|
Assam, a land of pleasant contrast and excitement attracts large number of tourists every year. From the big towns and cities to the remote areas, Assam offers a wide array of attractions. A journey through this picturesque land is bound to cheer up your mind and body and stimulate you to explore more as well as learn more.
Guwahati is the capital city of Assam and the gateway to the North East. Dominated by the Brahmaputra River it is the largest city of the North East. The city boasts of all modern facilities. Guwahati is dotted with many tourist attractions. It has plenty of places of historical interest: several ancient monuments and structures, Hindu temples, Mosques, Gurduwaras (Place of worship for Sikhs), historical Churches that are located in and around the city.
The Kamakhya temple which is situated atop the Nilachal Hills is just 8 km away from the city. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Kamakhya, the essence of female energy. It is one of the 108 Shakti Peeths of Goddess Durga. Kamakhya was built in the 10th century by the Koch king, Naranarayan. Animal sacrifice is a common practice here to appease the Goddess. Above Kamakhya there is another small temple, Bhubaneshwari, from where one can have a bird’s eye view of Guwahati.
There are also other temples in the city which also attract a large number of tourists. These are - Nabagraha temple, Umananda temple, Bashista Ashram and Balaji Mandir.
Atop the Chitra Chal hill in east Guwahati is the Nabagraha temple - the "temple of nine planets," - an ancient seat of astrology and astronomy. Housed in a red beehive-shaped dome, the central lingam is encircled by further nine representing the planets (graha) - Sun (Surya, Ravi), Moon (Chandra, Soma), Mercury (Buddh), Venus (Sukra), Mars (Mangal), Jupiter (Brhaspati) and Saturn (Sani). Two more were added, Rahu and Ketu, the dragon's head and the dragon's tail, or the ascending and descending nodes of the moon.
Another must-visit for the tourist is the Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakshetra. This multi-arts complex is an excellent window to the life and culture of the people of Assam.
A visit to Guwahati also won’t be complete without a cruise on the magnificent Brahmaputra; boating facilities are also available at Dighalipukhuri, a water body in the heart of the city.
In and around Guwahati, there are several other attractions:
Located beside a waterfall are the temples at Basistha, which commemorate the sage Vashisth. This is an attractive spot for both the devout and the day tripper. It is located at a distance of 12 km from the railway station and is an interesting old shrine with plenty of greenness and three beautiful streams, Lalita, Kanta and Sandhya. Several other temples like the Ugratara temple, famous for its golden idol and buffalo sacrifices, are also spread across the city.
The magnificent archaeological ruins of Madan Kamdev are located about an hour outside the city. Chandubi Lake, a natural lagoon and excellent picnic spot, is also easily accessed from Guwahati.
Everyone with an interest in handicraft must make their way to Sualkuchi, 32 km from Guwahati. Here, at one of the world largest weaving villages a be found the silks that Assamese famous for - the unique golden Muga, Paat, and Eri fabrics.
Also a short trip outside the city of Guwahati is a site of syncretism faith: at Hajo, situated on the north bank of the Brahmaputra where three religions meet - Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism. Hajo has a large number of Hindu temples, is considered sacred by the Buddhists, and is also an important pilgrimage site for Muslims.
The great Shiva temple Umananda is situated on the Peacock Island in the middle of the Brahmaputra in Guwahati attracts devotees from all over the country during Shiva Ratri. One can visit the temple by crossing the river by country boat that plies from Kachari ghat. It is on the north bank of the Brahmaputra, where the third Pandava Arjuna is believed to have watered his horse while undertaking his journey during Ashwamedha Yajna. Regular ferry services are available to this place.
Poa-Mecca (Hajo) - There is a mosque built by Pir Giasuddin Aulia which people say has one-fourth sanctity of Mecca and so it is known as Poa-Mecca. It is believed that by offering prayer here, a faithful gains one-fourth (poa) of spiritual enlightenment of what could be gained at Mecca. So it is known as Poa-Mecca.
One must also visit the Guwahati Zoo, which is the largest natural zoo of the country.
Some Important Destinations Near Guwahati
Guwahati is divided into two parts by the river Brahmaputra. North Guwahati is almost a separate town. One can visit it via the Saraighat Bridge or by the ferries that ply on the river. The nearest major city is Kolkata (1182 km), while the capitals of the other northeastern states are at distances varying from 110 km to 650 km.
Tezpur lie at the northern bank of the Brahmaputra and is the pleasant city. It was once known as Sonitpur which means 'City of Blood ', and has interesting myths around it. Legend has it that Lord Krishna fought a battle against Lord Shiva (Hari-Har Yudh) to save the love of Princess Usha and Prince Anirrurdha (Lord Krishna’s grandson). Tezpur is also rich with contemporary history. It was here that the Indian tricolour was first hoisted under British rule in 1942. The ruins of Bamuni hill in Cole Park is worth visiting for its artistic beauty. The park itself is a haven for those in search of some peace and solitude.
Tezpur lie at the northern bank of the Brahmaputra and is the pleasant city. It was once known as Sonitpur which means 'City of Blood ', and has interesting myths around it. Legend has it that Lord Krishna fought a battle against Lord Shiva (Hari-Har Yudh) to save the love of Princess Usha and Prince Anirrurdha (Lord Krishna’s grandson).
Tezpur is also rich with contemporary history. It was here that the Indian tricolour was first hoisted under British rule in 1942. The ruins of Bamuni hill in Cole Park is worth visiting for its artistic beauty. The park itself is a haven for those in search of some peace and solitude.
The nature reserve Bhalukpong, situated on the bank of the river Jia Bharali, is only 64 from Tezpur on the border of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. It has only recently come to the notice of tourist's, and justifiably so; for natural beauty, tranquility as well as activities such as angling and rafting.
Mahabhairab Temple- It is an ancient temple, where King Bana worshipped Mahabhairab, another incarnation of Lord Shiva. This is a place of pilgrimage.
Da-Parbatia- The ruins of the doorframe of Da-Parbatia Temple are only a few kms, from Tezpur town, and are perhaps the finest and oldest specimen of sculptural or iconoclastic art in Assam. Its carving has the characteristics of the style of early Gupta School of sculpture. The doorjambs having two goddesses, Ganga and Yamuna, standing below with garlands in their hands in artistic pose and elegance and are decorated with beautiful ornamental foliage.
Agnigarh- "Preserving the sweet memory of young lovers", Agnigarh or the rampart, surrounded by fire, is perhaps the most beautiful tourist spot in Tezpur. According to legend, Princess Usha, the only daughter of King Bana, was kept inside the palace, which was surrounded by rampart of fire. The present Agnigarh, now only a hillock facing the mighty Brahmaputra, provides the tourist a soul touching panoramic view of both the river and Tezpur town.
The Royal Kingdom of Sivasagar
Bathed in the scenic splendor of nature, Sivasagar, the modern name of an ancient town, now throbs with the activities of full-fledged industrial town. The Ahom Dynasty, which ruled Assam for 600 years, had their capital in Sivasagar. It is now an important center of tea and oil industries.
Remains of the Ahom days can be seen here in this town. Some of them are man made artificial lakes created by Queen Madambika in 1734, Shivdol-the tallest Shiva temple in North East India, palaces like Kareng Ghar and Talatal Ghar, Gaurisagar Tank, along with three temples and the amphitheatre Ranghar.
Ahoms, who invaded Assam in 12th century were of Thai origin but embraced the culture of local people, which were predominantly Aryan Hindus. Thus, a mixed blend of culture is prevalent in this region.
What is most impressive about the Charaideo Maidan was the Ahom's similarity with the Egyptians for burial of their rulers. The hillocks of Charaideo are comparable to the Egyptian Pyramids. About 30 kms from Sivasagar in the tea belt of Sonari lay the Ahom rulers' burial ground.
From time to time people from different races, religion and culture have migrated to this place. The Mohmmedan 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 high veneration by the Sikhs throughout the country.
It also plays host to several among the feathered community - it is part of a major migratory path for ducks and other birds. It is proposed as the 21st UNESCO \World Heritage Site.
In the 15th century the first Satra was founded in Majuli. Since then sixty-five Satras have come up for the propagation of ethics and socio-cultural ideals. However, at present there are only twenty-two Satras in Majuli. The others had to be shifted to safer places due to the devastation of flood and erosion.
The Institution of Satra is a unique feature of Vaishnavism in Assam, founded by Sankardeva. Satras are basically monasteries, which propagate neo-Vaishnavism. They also became centers for education and dissemination of the art of harmonious living.
There is another hilly town Diphu which is the headquarters of the Karbi-Anglong district, and, is 269 km from Guwahati. This hill station is also known as the centre of Karbi art and culture.
Flora & Fauna
The green state of Assam abounds with different types of flora. Perhaps the loveliest is an orchid that grows across Assam. Familiar to the westerner as the 'Foxtail' orchid (it hangs down like a fox's tail), in Assam it is known as ‘Kopou Ful’. Along with floral beauty
Assam has a variety of trees and plants that grow in abundance all over the state. For instance, Hollong is a tree that grows to a height of 150 ft in the upper Assam region. Along the banks of the northern regions of the Brahmaputra are extensive Khair-Sisoo forests; the Segun (Assam teak) also grows here. In the Goalpara and Kamrup districts of western Assam, the Sal tree grows extensively.
Bamboo grove scan be found in several parts of the state. So endemic is the plant to the region, there is even an Assamese proverb that refers to it: "Bamboo is courage". The areca nut palm and the jackfruit tree, as also the betel-nut plant, are found here in abundance.
Blessed with nature’s scenic grandeur, Assam has a wealth of rarest and near-extinct wildlife species. Some of the wild species which you can spot in the wildlife sanctuaries and parks are Tigers, Clouded Leopard, Hoolock Gibbon, Golden Langur, Pygmy Hog, Hispid Hare, Swamp Deer, Gangetic Dolphins, White-Winged Wood-duck etc. Apart from these, a number of resident and migratory birds make Assam their habitats in winter and other seasons.
Manas National Park, a project Tiger Reserve and a World heritage Site, is 176 km north-west of Guwahati. Other animal species of the dense jungles here are the one-horned rhinos, tigers, hispid hare, gaurs, pygmy hogs and rare golden langurs. It's a paradise for birdwatchers for it has a stunning selection of avian life. Manas also offer excellent angling opportunities. You can stay at the forest bungalow at Matunguri inside the forest.
Nameri National Park
Straddling the lush vistas of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, Nameri National Park is ideal for a leisurely angling vacation. The mahseer of this region is legendary, particularly the golden masheer. You can also go river rafting. Nameri is also home to the clouded leopard, tiger, Indian bison and capped langur amongst its wild inhabitants.Orang Wildlife Sanctuary
The Orang Wildlife Sanctuary which is officially known as the Rajiv Gandhi National Park is another wildlife arena that is sometimes referred to as the mini-Kaziranga. The sanctuary covers 78.81sq km and is located towards the Brahmaputra's northern banks. Orang is 31 km from Tezpur.
There are also several wildlife sanctuaries in Assam. The Pobha Sanctuary is located in Lakhimpur district and spans an area of 49 sq km. It was set up to protect the water buffalo. The Sonai Rupai Wildlife Sanctuary, home to the elephant and Indian bison, is located at the foothills of the Himalayas and covers 175 sq km. The Dibru-Saikhowa Wildlife Sanctuary is where wild horses can be found; it is also the place that provides safety to the rare winged wood duck and migratory birds. The tiny (70 sq km) Laokhowa Wildlife Sanctuary in Nagaon district is inhabited by the one-horned rhinoceros, wild buffalo, swamp deer, ducks, cormorant, etc.
The list doesn’t end here; other wildlife Sanctuaries of Assam are: Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, Dibru-Saikhowa Wildlife Sanctuary, Nambor Wildlife Sanctuary, Barnadi Game Reserve, and Pani-Dihing Bird Sanctuary.