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Assam

The state of Assam lies in the north eastern part of India. It is a land which is filled with blankets of tea plantation and wild forests. The mighty river Brahmaputra cuts across the state, providing for the general need of food and water of the local population, and has also created a breath-taking landscape. The capital of the state is Dispur and the largest city is Guwahati, which is also one of the fastest growing cities of the world. The river side town Dibrugarh is famous for being called the tea capital of the world. The state shares international borders with two countries namely Bhutan and Bangladesh and has recently witnessed an high influx of Bangladeshi immigrants. Assam is famous for its world class tea, oil and petroleum resources, muga silk and very rich bio diversity. The monsoons bless the region with a lot of rainfall, allowing for lush green landscapes to flourish. The region is listed among the top bio-diversity hotspots of the world.

Things to do while in Assam ~

1. Visit a tea plantation: - A major area of the state’s landscape is filled with tea gardens, providing the world with one of the finest tea, with exports reaching all over the world. The gardens seem magical and to visit one is to get lost in a land filled with the greenery of tea plantation all around you. It is a must to visit a factory and taste the different varieties of tea grown. They give you a sense of serenity and calmness.

2. Visit to the various wildlife sanctuaries: - Assam is blessed with a wide variety of wildlife. It is a heaven for nature enthusiasts, boasting a total of fifteen spots of wild eco systems. Two of these are world famous and are also world heritage sites, namely the Kaziranga National Park and the Manas Wildlife Sanctuary. The various animals to be found in the forests of Assam are the great Indian one horned Rhinoceros, Tiger, the spotted Deer, Wild Buffalo, swamp Deer, Golden Langur, Clouded Leopard, Gibbon, Pigmy Hog, the Golden Cat, Giant Civet, Asiatic Elephants, Reptiles etc. The monsoons bless the region with a lot of rainfall, allowing for lush green landscapes to flourish. The region is listed among the top bio-diversity hotspots of the world.

3. A boat ride on the Brahmaputra: - Brahmaputra is the mightiest river of India. It is a trans-boundary river and one of the largest rivers of Asia. The river flows for thousand miles in the great mountains of the Himalayas before entering Assam, and in the process dumping all the water into the plains of Assam, creating the widest river in India. The width of the river sometimes exceeds 7 miles, creating vast river islands. A ride in this river provides you a breath taking scenery, with a view of the Himalayas in the north, it makes it more majestic. If you are lucky you will be able to catch a glimpse of a group of Gangetic Dolphins playing in the holy waters of the river.

4. Visit the river island of Majuli: - The largest river Island of Asia, Majuli is as huge as 500 kilometers square. The island has a colorful tribal culture, and is famous for pottery and mask making. It has a rich heritage and the inhabitants are beautiful people. Famous for Neo-Vaisnavite culture, a visitor to this island is sure to find spiritual and inner calmness.

5. Visit to Shivsagar (Shiva’s Ocean):- Shivsagar is famous for its rich history. It is a heritage place with numerous historical monuments, all built by the Ahoms who ruled Assam till the 1800′s. The most famous is a temple dedicated to the Hindu God of destruction, Lord Shiva.

6. A trip to Assam is incomplete unless you have witnessed the dance and culture of the local people. Bihu is a form of dance performed by the locals, both men and women, and is very classical and elegant. Also, it is a must to drink the local spirit “lau pani” or rice beer, which is made by brewing rice and has a sweet flavor to it. Foods to be eaten while in Assam are the local dishes, especially the fish and pork cooked in the village areas.

7. Sualkuchi: - One of the largest weaving villages of the world, also called the Manchester of the East. It is a village renowned for its silk production and people from all around the world visit to learn about its magnificent history of weaving.

8. Hajo: - A small town near Guwahati & an ancient pilgrimage site for 3 religions; Hinduism, Islam & Buddhism. People from all faiths live in Harmony and a very friendly atmosphere exists in the town. The area is dotted with a number of ancient temples as well as other sacred artifacts

Important Sites: - Poa Mecca, The Hayagriva Madhava Mandir, and The Kedareswara Temple.

9. Digboi: - The place has the oldest running oil-well of the world. It has guest houses and tourist residential apartments laid on Italian architectural plan. An oil museum also exists, which provides some good insights.

10. Stilwell Road: - The Ledo Road was built during World War II so that the Allies could supply the Chinese as an alternative to the Burma Road which had been cut by the Japanese in 1942. The road was built by 15,000 American soldiers (60 percent of whom were African-Americans) and 35,000 local workers at a cost of US$150 Million. 1,100 Afro-Americans and more than 5,000 locals died during the construction. It was renamed the Stilwell Road (named after General Vinegar Joe Stilwellof the U.S Army) in early 1945. The road passes through Burma and was an engineering marvel at its time. Many Allied personnel lost there lives in this region.

If you are interested in visiting a land you have the least amount of knowledge about, then Assam will be a good option. You will always be near to the elements of nature, and you will get a chance to know about a new culture and along the way, learn about life and wisdom from people who are yet to be touched by the means and ways of modern life styles. There are places not listed in the list, and it is upon the traveler to explore the many unexplored places of this region.

Guwahati

Guwahati has many places of interests with its lively urban culture, ancient temples, scenic natural features, and the recreational activities. Guwahati is also situated within a radius of 200 km from many blessed destinations such as natural parks, wildlife sanctuaries, hill stations, and colorful cultural landscape.

There are several interesting and lively places inside the city. These areas provide the city with upscale hotels, restaurants, shopping and business areas, the most lively being the city center. Momos and chicken rolls are a popular form of fast-food available in almost every restaurant. Moreover, there are several good restaurants offering Indian, South Indian, traditional Assamese, Chinese and Western cuisine. There are also several good book shops and music stores; as the city has a happening music culture.

The key attractions of the city are:

River Cruise:

One of the major attractions of Guwahati is the River Cruise on the Brahmaputra river. To go on a cruise on the mighty river is a thrilling experience. Sitting abroad luxurious cruise vessels, tourists can relax and enjoy the beautiful view of the sunset in the evening hours.

Umananda Temple:

Situated on the peacock island in the middle of the Brahmaputra, this temple, built in 1664, is a Shiva temple. It is believed that Lord Shiva by using his third eye burnt Kamdeva at this place. Every year Shivaratri is celebrated in this temple in all glory. Many believe the island to be the world’s smallest human inhabited island.

Srimanta Shankardev Kalakshetra:

Shankardev Kalakshetra is a place that visitors should definitely go to, while in Guwahati. Shankardev Khalakshetra gets its name from the great Vaishnava saint and scholar of Assam, Srimanta Shankardeva. It is a multipurpose cultural complex that aims at protecting, promoting and preserving the cultural heritage of the different communities and tribes of Assam and the entire northeast.

Assam State Museum:

Assam State Museum home to many rare artifacts of the Ahom Kingdom. Many articles, equipments, dress materials belonging to the glorious and rich past of Assam can be found here. Many antiques, statues, manuscripts, written on Shashi-paat and other valuable articles are also preserved and displayed here.

Kamakhya Temple:

Kamakhya Temple situated some 5 km. away from the main city on the Nilachal Hill, is one of the most sacred Hindu shrine and place of worship of India. The female power is worshiped here in the form of Goddess Kamakhya. Ambubachi Mela is celebrated every year in the middle of June in this temple, to celebrate the end of the Goddesses’ menstrual cycle. Huge numbers of devotees from across the country gather here during this auspicious festival.

Shilpagram:

Situated adjacent to Srimanta Shankardev Kalakshetra, this is the one and only Crafts Village of the North East Zone Cultural Centre (NEZCC).It had made landmark in the promotion of the varied arts and cultures of the people of the North-East.

It also holds regular cultural events throughout the year in its open air stage and auditorium.

Nehru Park:

Situated at heart of the city, at Panbazar, near Cotton College, Nehru Park is another place that visitors should never miss. The highlights of the park are the concrete statues of Bihu dancers, Ojapali dancers, Deodhani dances, Jhumur dances, Bhoor tal dances etc. There are altogether 45 concrete statues depicting these various aspects of Assamese life and culture.

NEDFi Haat:

In NEDFi Haat visitors can buy various local handicraft & handloom products. As well as they can buy varieties of traditional food items produced by the self sustaining Self Help Groups of the State.

Sukreswar Temple: Sukreswar Temple is an ancient Shiva temple, built by the Ahom king Pramatta Singha, on Dakini Jogini hill, by the side of river Brahmaputra.

Navagraha Temple: Situated on the Chitranchal hill, this temple dedicated to the nine planets (Navagraha) was built by Ahom king Rajeswar Singha. There is a stone imprint of solar system inside the temple.

Balaji Temple, Guwahati:

This temple is a recent addition to the many religious places of Guwahati. It is situated at Betkuchi area of the city. Balaji Temple with its striking South Indian architecture, is unlike the other temples. In the evening, illuminated by electric lights, the temple looks very beautiful.

Dipor-Bil

A huge wetland, Diporbil is a great way to escape the crowd of the city. Home to many species of birds, some of which come from distant lands, the lake has been tagged as an important bird area by various organizations. Sometimes, in the winter, one can see a group of more than 10,000 birds.

Kaziranga National Park:

Kaziranga National Park, an UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located in the heart of Assam. It was declared a Reserve Forest in 1905, and since then, the park has set a commendable example in areas of conservation, and in a span of 100 years, has increased the population of Indian Rhinos from a mere 100 to more than 2000 today. The park consists of an area of 429.93 sq km with a buffer area of 429.40 sq km.

During the British reign, Lady Curzon while on a safari, expressed concern at the regularity of hunting in the park. In 1926, hunting was banned in Kaziranga and in 1974 it was declared a National Park. Kaziranga is also tagged as an Important Bird Area by Birdlife International, for conservation of avifaunal species. Some of the bird species which can be spotted here are herons, storks, pelicans, imperial eagles, etc.

The park hosts about two-thirds of the world's Great One-horned Rhinoceroses and also holds the record for protecting the highest density of tigers in the world. The park was declared a Tiger Reserve in 2006. Kaziranga is a home to large breeding population of elephants, wild water buffalo and swamp deer. The location of the park makes it diverse as it is lined by the Eastern Himalaya biodiversity hotspot.

Kaziranga contains significant breeding populations of 35 mammalian species, of which 15 are considered threatened. The park is home to the world's largest population of the Great Indian One-Horned Rhinoceros, Wild Asiatic Water Buffalo and Eastern Swamp Deer. Significant populations of large herbivores include elephants, gaur and sambar. Small herbivores include the Indian Muntjac, wild boar, and hog deer. Kaziranga has the largest population of the Wild Water Buffalo anywhere, accounting for about 57% of the world population.

Kaziranga is one of the few wild breeding areas outside Africa for species of large cats, such as Indian Tigers and Leopards. Declared a Tiger Reserve in 2006, it has the highest density of tigers in the world (one per five km˛). Other felids include the Jungle Cat, Fishing Cat, and Leopard Cats. Small mammals include the rare Hispid Hare, Indian Gray Mongoose, Small Indian Mongooses, Large Indian Civet, Small Indian Civets, Bengal Fox, Golden Jackal, Sloth Bear, Chinese Pangolin, Indian Pangolins, Hog Badger, Chinese Ferret Badgers, and Particolored flying squirrels. Nine of the 14 primate species found in India occur in the park. Prominent among them are the Assamese Macaque, Capped, Golden Langur, as well as the only ape found in India, the Hoolock Gibbon. Kaziranga's rivers are also home to the endangered Ganges Dolphin.

In the air, Kaziranga is home to a variety of migratory birds, water birds, predators, scavengers, and game birds. Major birds include Lesser White-fronted Goose, Ferruginous Duck, Baer's Pochard duck and Lesser Adjutant, Greater Adjutant, Black-necked Stork, Blyth's Kingfisher, White-bellied Heron, Dalmatian Pelican, Spot-billed Pelican, Nordmann's Greenshank, rare Eastern Imperial, Greater Spotted, White-tailed, Pallas's Fish Eagle, Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Lesser Kestrel, Swamp Francolin, Bengal Florican Great Indian Hornbill and Wreathed Hornbill, Marsh Babblers, Baya Weaver, threatened Finn's Weavers, Black-breasted Parrotbill and the Rufous-vented Prinia.

Kaziranga has large reserves of tall elephant grass, marshland and dense tropical moist broad leaf forests. The park celebrated its centennial in 2005 after its establishment in 1905 as a Reserve Forest. The park is maintained by the Assam Forest Department and Wildlife Trust of India along with the International Fund for Animal Welfare which has set up rehabilitation centers for animals in distress. Every year, an Elephant Festival is organized to create awareness about the protection and conservation of Asiatic elephants.

Kaziranga National Park can be visited from November to April. Kaziranga can be reached by bus from Guwahati and Tezpur. The nearest airport is at Tezpur (60 km) which has direct flights to Kolkata. The nearest railhead is at Guwahati.

Manas National Park

Situated in the state of Assam, Manas is a sanctuary that was once a hunting ground for kings. The sanctuary is situated in two districts – Barpeta and Kokrajhar, and also spreads till Bhutan. The place is known for its incredible scenic beauty and is located at a height of 40m to 150 m. 

The park is located in the foothills of majestic Himalayan ranges. The area is flat and the river Manas flows gently at the west of this park. It is spread across an area of 950 square km. The area is dominated by tribal culture, with locals speaking various tribal languages. Hindi and Assamese are also used.

The history of Manas goes back to the pre-independence period of India. On October 1, 1928, Manas National Park was turned into a sanctuary with an area of 360 square km. In 1973, the Manas Tiger Reserve was opened.

Before the declaration, the Manas Sanctuary was a reserve park that was used by the royal families of Gauripur and Cooch Behar for hunting. In around 1951 to 1955, the area of the reserve was increased to 391 km. 

In December 1985, the UNESCO declared it as a World Heritage Site and in 1992, it was declared as a World Heritage site in danger by the UNESCO, due to the rampant poaching and terrorist activities that took place in the nineties. 

The park has two biomes; grassland and forest. The grassland biome includes animals such as the Pygmy hog, the Indian rhinoceros, wild Asian buffalo, Bengal florican and many others. The forest biome has the slow loris, capped langur, wild pig, sambar, Malayan giant squirrel, the great horned bill and others.

The sanctuary has recorded 55 species of mammals, 380 species of birds, 50 of reptiles, and 3 species of amphibians. Out of these wildlife, 21 mammals are India’s Schedule I mammals and 31 of them are threatened.

The fauna of the sanctuary include Asian Elephants, Indian Rhinoceros, Gaurs, Asian Water Buffaloes, Barasingha, Tigers, Leopards, Clouded Leopards,Asian golden cat, Capped Langurs, Golden Langurs, Assamese Macaques, Slow Loris, Hoolock Gibbons, Smooth-coated Otters, Sloth Bears, Barking Deer,Hog Deer, Black Panther, Sambar Deer and Chital.

The park is well known for its rare and endangered wildlife which is not found anywhere else in the world like the Assam Roofed Turtle, Hispid Hare, Golden Langur and Pygmy Hog.

Manas houses more than 450 species of birds. Manas have the largest population of endangered Bengal Florican. The major other birds includes Giant Hornbills, Jungle Fowls, Bulbuls, Brahminy Ducks, Kalij Pheasants, Egrets, Pelicans, Fishing Eagles, Serpent Eagles, Falcons, Scarlet Minivets, Bee-Eaters, Magpie Robins, Pied Hornbills, Grey Hornbills, Mergansers, Harriers, Ospreys and Herons.

 

Manas attract tourists mainly because of the scenic beauty and the sanctuary is easy to reach by air, rail and road. The nearest airport is the Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport in Guwahati, which is connected to several places all over the world. The nearest rail head is at Barpeta road. Manas can also be reached by road by NH 31 that is 22 km away. The nearest city is Guwahati. 

The sanctuary is closed from June to September. The best time to visit this reserve is from November to March.

Nameri National Park

Nameri is the most scenic National Park of Assam and is located at the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas in the Sonitpur District of Assam. It is adjoined by the Pakhui Sanctuary of Arunachal Pradesh on the north-eastern side. This national park is one of the thickest as well as the most threatened reservoirs of flora and fauna in the world.

The boundaries of Nameri National Park extend up to the east and south-west bank of Bor Dikorai River, starting from the interstate boundary of Sijussa. The park covers a total area of 200 square kilometers and is augmented by some parts of the Balipara Reserve Forests. 

The eco region of the park is a part of the North Bank Landscape and is regarded as a Mega Biodiversity Hotspot of the Eastern Himalayas. It is known for having some of the world’s best plant functional type and complexity. The park experiences tropical monsoons causing an average annual rainfall of 3400 mm. 

Nameri is known for its rich varieties of flora and most of its parts are covered by moist and mixed deciduous forests, consisting over 600 species of plants. These deciduous forests are a mixture of tropical and semi-evergreen forests accompanied by cane and bamboo brakes along the river. 

Some of the rare varieties of plants growing in the park include Albizzia Lucida, Canarium Strictum, Castanopsis Indica, Bischofia Javanica, Duabanga Sonneratoides, Dendrocalamus Hamiltonii, Amoora Wallichii, Artocarpus Chaplasha, Morus Roxburghii, Syzygium Cumini, Terminalia Myriocarpa, etc. 

The variety of fauna found in the park is also very rich, with over 30 species of mammals along with many varieties of tigers and elephants. One of the rare species of fauna found in this park includes the Capped Langur. 

It also consists of over 400 species of rare birdlife, amongst which, the most important names are the White-winged Ducks and the Horned Lark. Some other species of birds found in the area include White-cheeked Partridge, Wreathed, Rufous-necked Hornbills, Blue-eared, Pallas's, Lesser Fish Eagles, Oriental Dwarf Kingfishers, Oriental Hobby, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Long-billed Plover, Yellow-bellied Flowerpecker, Jerdon's Babbler, Rufous-backed Sibia, and many others. 

Nameri National Park is easy to reach as it lies at only 35 kilometers from Tezpur town in Assam. It is also well connected with cities like Guwahati and Jorhat through roadways. Kaziranga National Park is situated 125 kilometers from Nameri. Its nearest airport lies at Saloni, 10 kilometres from Tezpur. The best time to visit the place is between November and March. 

Majuli

Majuli, the biggest inhabited river island in the world, is located in the middle of the mighty Brahmaputra River in Assam. Initially, this island was spread over an area of about 1250 square kilometers, but due to erosion, its size has now decreased considerably to an an area of about 421.65 square km only. 

The island is popular as a ‘pollution free fresh water island’, and is located at a distance of about 20 km from Jorhat town and about 200 km east of Guwahati, the largest city in the state. It is accessible by ferries, which can be taken from Jorhat. From east to west, Majuli measures 90 km and from north to south, it is around 16km. Most of the areas in the island are covered by water.

Originally, the island of Majuli was a long and narrow piece of land, which during ancient times was known as ‘Majoli’, meaning ‘land in the middle of two parallel rivers’. It was called so because it had the River Brahmaputra flowing in its North and the River Burhidihing flowing in its South. Both these rivers met at Lakhu.

During 1661–1696, frequent earthquakes occurred, which led to a momentous and destructive flood in 1750. Due to the flood, the Brahmaputra got divided into two branches, one of which continued to flow along the original channel, while the other started flowing along the Burhi Dihing channel, which lead to the formation of the Majuli Island.

An abode of Assamese neo-Vaisnavite culture, there are many ancient satras in the destination. Besides, there are several sites associated with Lord Krishna. In the 16th century, Sankardeva, the founder of Vaishnavism, a monotheist form of Hinduism, established various monasteries and hermitages across the islet, known as satras. 

There are over twenty-five neo-Vaisnavite centers in the destination, the most noteworthy being the satras of Garmur, Kamalabari and Auniati. On a visit to the satras dating back to 500 years, tourists can explore the rich cultural heritage of the region. The satras have preserved several articles of cultural and historical importance, which include weapons, ornaments, utensils and other artifacts. 

These Vaishnava satras were founded by Sankardeva, the father of Assamese culture, which decreased in number over the years, from 65 to 22 satras. Several articles displaying Borgeet, Matiakhara, Jumora dance, Chali dance and Noyua dance can also be found in these satras. Besides, Nande Vringee, Sutradhar, Ozapali, Apsara dance, Satria Krishna dance and Dasavater dance are also illustrated in the neo-Vaisnavite centres. 
Pottery in Majuli is also very famous because it is made from beaten clay that is burnt in ovens fired with driftwood, which is quite similar to the ancient Harappa Civilization. The culture and dance forms of this place remain unaffected by modernization even today. The handloom work done by the tribes living in this place is well known.

Moreover, Jorhat nearby has several sites of religious, cultural and historical importance, noteworthy among these belonging to the Ahom kings. Tourists can also explore the tea plantations, gardens and research centers in the region. 

 

Shivsagar

Sibsagar, or Sivasagar as it is now called, is located in the Indian state of Assam. It holds a historical significance because of the presence of a large number of historical ruins, most of which belong to the medieval kingdom of Ahom. 

The city of Sibsagar was the capital of the Ahom Kingdom, when they were at the peak of their reign. The Ahom rulers ruled Assam for more than 6 centuries, until finally perishing to the Burmese invasions in 1817. 

Sibsagar derives its name from the Sibsagar Lake, which is spread across an area of 129 acres. The lake is about 200 years old and is an important tourist attraction of the place. The Ahom rulers built many palaces and forts during their reign in Sibsagar, and most of these palaces can still be seen here. One of them is the Talatal Ghar. The Talatal Ghar is a palace said to have two secret tunnels and was built by the Ahom Rulers. Rang Ghat is another example of the brilliant and unique architecture of the Ahoms, and visitors to these ruins are all left mesmerized by these remnants of history.

The Ahoms also built a few temples in the region, one of the most prominent of which is the Sivadol Temple. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and attracts a lot of devotees on Shiv Ratri. Other tourist attractions of Sibsagar include the Ahom Museum, which houses some relics and artefacts related to the Ahom Kingdom, Gaurisagar which is an old reservoir here and the town of Charaideo close by. 

Sibsagar, apart from being a historic city of Assam, also has the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum Technology, which makes it an important educational centre too. The city, because of its high altitude, enjoys a pleasant climate through the year. The maximum temperature here is around 30° Celsius, while the minimum can dip below 10° Celsius during the winter months. 

The town is well connected to other parts of India via rail as well as road. There are regular buses available from Sibsagar to nearby cities and towns, including that of Siliguri in West Bengal. However, the city does not have an airport.    

 

Dibrugarh

Dibrugarh lies in the upper reaches of the Brahmaputra Valley, about 435 km away from Guwahati. Located on the banks of the River Brahmaputra, Dibrugarh, along with Sibsagar and Tinsukia accounts for almost 50% of the total tea production of Assam. In fact, Dibrugarh is sometimes referred to as the tea capital of the world, because of the high production of tea.

Dibrugarh has had a fluctuating relationship with the River Brahmaputra. Back in 1950, the river changed its course because of the Medog Earthquake, resulting in widespread destruction in the city. The earthquake and the resulting flood destroyed almost 75% of the city of Dibrugarh. 

The city has recovered from the aftermath since then, and people have come to accept the mercurial nature of the river while staying in its shadow. Dibrugarh, apart from being one of the largest producers of tea in the country, is also known for its oil and natural gas reserves. 

In fact, tea production, along with Oil and Natural Gas exploration forms the core of the economic activities in the region. Apart from that, some other prevalent industries in the region are plywood factories and the cottage industries. Dibrugarh is especially well known for the production of Assam Silk. 

The tourist attractions in Dibrugarh mainly comprise of the tea garden tours. A cruise in the Brahmaputra River is also possible here. The city enjoys a pleasant weather throughout the year. The average temperature during the summer months here is 30° Celsius while the winter temperature stays at about 10-12° Celsius. 

Dibrugarh is also the education hub of the north-east. Some institutions of note present in the city are the Dibrugarh University, Assam Medical College, Kanoi College, Salt Brook Academy and others. Apart from being the education hub Dibrugarh is also the easternmost city of India to have a railway station and is well connected to some important cities of India, viz. Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata among others. 

Dibrugarh also has an airport which serves direct flights from the cities of Delhi, Kolkata and Guwahati. The excellent transport links of the region make it a good gateway for tourists to explore the rest of Assam and other north-eastern states of India. 

Dibru Saikhowa National Park

Dibru – Saikhowa is a large national park of India, located in the state of Assam, and covers a total land area of 650 square kilometres. It was in the year 1986, that the two reserve forests of Dibru and Saikhowa were combined to form Dibru – Saikhowa, which was declared as a wildlife sanctuary by the government of Assam. Located in the flood plains of the Brahmaputra River, Dibru – Saikhowa National Park is one of the nineteen biodiversity hotspots of the world, which makes it even more popular among travelers who visit here all round the year. 

Dibru – Saikhowa National Park mainly consists of semi wet evergreen forests, cane brakes, grasslands and tropical moist deciduous forests along with some of the most endangered species of the world. Some of the extremely rare species found here include around 300 migratory and endangered avifauna. There are also several species of herbs, shrubs and plants with medicinal properties in the forest.     

The other endangered species of animals that are found here include Hoolock gibbon, capped langur, slow loris, water buffalo, tiger, Gangetic river dolphin, etc. While the birds found here include Spot billed pelican, White bellied heron, Pallah's fishing eagle, Pale capped pigeon, Swamp francolin etc., and migratory birds like Geyleg goose, Brahmini duck, Bar-headed goose, pelican, Black stork and others. Earlier the national park was only meant for the protection of White winged wood in its suitable environment, but now the place is also popular for White winged wood duck horses’ also known by the name of Feral Horses.  

Travellers require entry permits to explore the park by using any of the entry points from Guijan Ghat or from Saikhowa Ghat. Visitors have to exit the park before sunset and no picnicking is permitted inside the park. Dibru – Saikhowa enjoys a tropical climate with hot summers and cool winters with annual precipitation. The park remains open between the months of November to April.    

Travelling to Dibru – Saikhowa has been made easy due to the presence of adequate transportation facilities. The nearest airport located to Dibru – Saikhowa is Dibrugarh, which is about 40 kilometres from Tinsukia town. It connects different major cities like Delhi, Calcutta, Guwahati and Dibrugarh. Dibrugarh also has rail service that connects it with Guwahati. Regular roadways in the form of taxis and buses are available at Tinsukia, which is about 13 kilometres from the place.   

 

Hajo


The ancient town of Hajo is located in the state of Assam near to the river Brahmaputra, about 28 kilometres from Guwahati. During ancient times, Hajo used to be the capital of the Koch Dynasty, lead by Raghudev. Later on during the year 1638, the dynasty came under the rule of the Mughals, who ruled it for around 19 years. 

Hajo is popular among pilgrims for its many ancient temples and artifacts that represent the town’s diverse culture; where devotees of three major faiths of the world converge in hospitality in its ground. It is well known for the ancient temple of Hayagriba Madhava Temple located here, which is very important for both Hindus and Buddhist people who come here throughout the year. The temple was built by Pramatta Singha, who used to be the ruler of Assam, during the ancient times. Hajo is a town that attracts people from all faiths including Muslims who consider the town as second Mecca because of the Mosque present here by the name of Poa Mecca. 

The town of Hajo is about twenty-four kilometres from the main city of Guwahati and remains crowded during all peak pilgrim seasons due to the influx of Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim devotees in large numbers. Other places of religious importance located here include the Shiva Temple and the Kegareswara Temple that have some rare inscriptions on the walls. 

Hajo has good road connectivity as many major roads run through the region of this town. One of the major roads run from Guwahati to Barpeta and Guwahati to Nalbari. The road from Guwahati to Barpeta can also be taken to reach Hajo, as bus services are available from Hajo to Guwahati. The nearest airport to Hajo is at Guwahati.

The weather conditions in the town of Hajo are very extreme with very hot summers when the peak temperature reaches 38⁰ Celsius. The humidity level of the town increases with constant rainfall during the summer months of March, April and May. 

Monsoon arrives here in the month of June and lasts till August. It is also the best season to visit Hajo because of the suitable climatic conditions. Other than the monsoon, the autumn months of September and October are also a good time to visit Hajo. 
 

 

Digboi


Digboi is a small town in the state of Assam, in the north eastern part of India. It is a small town area committee located in the Tinsukia district. It is believed that the place got its name from the word “dig-boy-dig”, which the Englishmen used prominently when the drillers dug crude oil from this area at the time of the British rule. The town is known for its oil production and the refinery located here. 

The town gained prominence in the year 1867, when the rich oil reserve here got accidentally noticed by a small group of men. The black mud they got stuck in while strolling here was actually the oil, which Digboi later got famous for. This incident caused an increased awareness, which lead to installation of a small oil refinery in 1889. Since, then the place has never looked back, and the Assam Oil Corporation came to be established here in 1899. This refinery was the first ever in Asia and became fully functional by 1901. The refinery was of ample significance during the entire duration of World War II. The 7000 barrels of oil this produced everyday played a significant role in the war.

The Digboi oil field is currently the oldest operational oil well in the world. This oil refinery has helped the town become a renowned place in the present day. Many industries, wide infrastructural development and well fashioned bungalows owe their existence to the oil refinery here in town.

Digboi club is one of the most renowned spot of the town. With its extravagant eighteen golf courses, its splendor cannot be overshadowed. The place adds greatly to the tourism in Assam, all due to the many tourist residential apartments and guesthouses, which are known to offer great hospitality while enclosing a rich Italian architectural makeup.

Digboi was a fine example of the influence of the British Raj in Assam, and even in current day scenario, it still maintains a bit of the old world charm. The town boasts of an exquisite diversity, and is known for its century old oil refinery that is the oldest on earth, alongside clubs and golf courses that truly portray the erstwhile British lifestyle.

The places that attract visitors in great count at Digboi include the War Cemetery, Dibru Saikhowa, Margherita, Namdapha, Wildlife Sanctuary, Golf Course and National Park. With the best golf course in entire Assam and oldest refinery of the planet in its arsenal, Digboi is truly a diverse place. This place depicts a complete picture of old living and contemporary, rich lifestyle, at a glance.

The best time to visit the town is during the autumn and winter season as the weather is pleasant. Summers are hot and humid. 
 

 

Panidihing Bird Sancutary

A rich wetland eco-system of 33.93 sq. kms. on the southern bank of river Brahmaputra in the Sibsagar district.
What you expect to see :
Birds: A paradise of migratory and resident birds, 50 far 165 species of Birds have been identified and recorded. It is a place with a very high concentration of Geese, and other Migratory birds. The common birds seen are Bar-headed Goose, Grey leg Goose, Spot billed Duck, Mallard, Gadwall, Wigeon, Gargany, Shoveller, Red crested Pochard, Common Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, Adjutant Stork, Lesser Adjutant Stork, Open bill Stork, White necked Stork etc.
Aquatic Fauna: Varieties of fishes have been identified along with various species of Frogs & Snakes etc.
How to reach: By road from Rowriah Airport (Jorhat) it is 80 Kms., from Mohanbari Airport (Dibrugarh) 88 Kms., from Sibsagar 22 Kms., from Jorhat 75 kms., from Dibrugarh 73 Kms. and from Guwahati it is 386 Kms.
Best time for visit: November to March.

 

Dehing Patkai Rainforest

Dehing Patkai, the only rainforest in Assam, stretches for more than 575 km2 in the districts of Dibrugarh, Tinsukia and Sivasagar. It falls under the category of Assam valley Tropical wet Evergreen Forest. This sanctuary consists of three parts namely – Jeypore, upper Dihing and Dirok rainforest. It was declared as sanctuary on 13 January 2004. This sanctuary is also a part of Dehing- Patkai Elephant Reserve. The area also has some historic touches like one World War II cemeteries, the Stillwell road and the oldest refinery of Asia in Digboi.
The climate of the region is mostly tropical wet, with rainfall more than 4,000 mm. 9 out of 12 months it rains. It is mostly hot and humid during summers with heavy rainfall almost every day, while it is cool during the winters.

Fauna

Being a completely virgin rainforest, this sanctuary is very rich in terms of biodiversity. It is an ideal habitat for non-human primates. Till date, 42 species of mammals, 40 species of reptiles and 30 species of butterflies have been listed from here. The most common mammal species of this sanctuary are – Hoolock Gibbon, slow loris, Pig-tailed Macaque, Stump-tailed Macaque, Capped Langur,Asian Elephant, Tiger, Black Panther, Leopard, Gaur, Chinese Pangolin, Himalayan Black Bear, Himalayan Squirrel, Leopard Cat, Clouded Leopard, Porcupine, Crab Eating Mongoose, Sambar, Sun bear, Binturong, Barking deer, Golden cat, marbled cat etc.

Avifauna

The rainforest is a bird-watchers delight, known to harbor about 293 bird species, belonging to 174 genera and 51 families. The majority are residents (63.7%), some are winter visitors (23.1% ), and very few are summer visitors (2.5%). About 10.7% are altitudinal migrants, coming mainly from the higher reaches of the western, central and eastern Himalayas. There are 13 globally threatened species here viz. the Slender-billed Vulture, White-winged Duck, Greater Adjutant, Greater Spotted Eagle, Lesser Adjutant, Beautiful Nuthatch, Marsh Babbler, Tawny-breasted Wren Babbler, White-cheeked Hill Partridge, Great Hornbill, Brown Hornbill, Oriental Darter and Painted Stork.
At least 10 of the bird species are listed in Schedule-I of Wildlife Protection Act 1972 (1994) including the White-winged Duck, Kalij Pheasant Grey Peacock Pheasant, Besra, Black Baza, Slender-billed Vulture, Osprey Great, Hornbill Wreathed Hornbill and Common Hill Myna.
Dehing Patkai Rain forest is home to five endemic bird species, which is 26% of the endemics reported from the north eastern region and all belong to the family Sylviidae. These are the Yellow-vented Warbler, Broad-billed Warbler, Marsh Babbler, Tawny-breasted Wren Babbler and White-naped Yuhina.
The birds of Dehing Patkai Rain forest thrive in the diversity of microhabitats in the predominantly evergreen forest such as dense evergreen forest, rivers & streams, evergreen forest edge, swamps, semi-open evergreen forest that includes the logged areas where openings are present, agriculture (cultivations, fallows and tea gardens) along the edge and habitations on evergreen forest edge. Most species are habitat specialists i.e. they are found only in a single microhabitat, with dense evergreen forest harbouring the maximum of 111 of the total 281 birds species recorded in Jeypore, of which insectivores are the most dominant guild with 79 species. 44 species were recorded along rivers or streams, 37 species in evergreen forest edge and 23 species in semi-open evergreen forest.
The insectivorous, carnivorous and most of the omnivorous birds help control the insect and rodent pests in the forest as well as in the agricultural ecosystem adjoining the forest. Frugivores like the hornbills, barbets, pigeons and koel, along with some of the omnivores like crows, mynas and starlings that feed on fruits serve as seed dispersers. Nectarivores and some of the insectivores and omnivores that feed on nectar help in plant pollination. There are terrestrial piscivores like the Kingfishers, Brown Fish Owl and Osprey and 31 aquatic species that depend on the rivers and streams inside the forest and the agricultural fields along the forest edge.

Orchids

Orchids are literally the jewels of the forest. They lend a beauty and charm of its own to the landscape due to their bewildering variety of flowers, many showy and colourful and exquisitely beautiful and fragrant. They are also used in medicine, and are important parts of the culture of many societies, including the Assamese. Orchids are also important ecological indicators, disappearing rapidly when the quality of soil and air of the region degrades. Mainly shade loving, they have no chance of survival, once forests are cleared. Add to that unregulated illegal collection for trade, and orchids are under dire threat.
There are 24,500 species of orchids in the world under 788 genera, very widely distributed across the globe. In India orchids are represented by 1331 species under 184 genera. They show maximum diversity in the Eastern Himalaya with North-East India, having nearly 70 % of the Indian species, being an orchid hotspot. Assam is believed to have around 193 species of orchids in 71 genera, of which 27 are endemics.
Nearest city/Town :- The sanctuary is close to Digboi, Duliajan and Margherita towns.
How to reach :-
Mohanbari Airport (in Dibrugarh districts) is about 80 km away. One can go in various routes from Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Naharkatia, Duliajan, Namrup towns. The easiest the shortest one is through Naharkatia to Jeypore Town. From Jeypore it takes only 15 minutes to reach the forest.