Occupying 2.39% of India’s landmass, Assam is the most vibrant of eight states comprising the Northeast. Bounded by these states, West Bengal, Bhutan and Bangladesh, its topographical asymmetry is underscored by the Barail hill range sandwiched between two valleys – Brahmaputra and Barak – named after the dominant rivers.
Assam is synonymous with breathtaking natural beauty, teeming wildlife, immaculate tea gardens and warm, beautiful people. It’s strategic location in the northeast of India, and it’s accessibility from the rest of the country makes it a gateway to the northeastern states.
Many Southern, Eastern and Southeast Asian communities have settled in Assam over the centuries. But civilisation in the region did not necessarily begin with the fertile Brahmaputra Valley. Discoveries of stone implements and pottery reveal the existence of prehistoric communities on the highlands encircling the valley.
Anthropological accounts say Assam’s demography is marked by several waves of migration. Australoids, the first inhabitants, were absorbed or dispersed by the Mongoloids that ancient Sanskrit literature term as Kirats. The Caucasoids followed, and their four categories – Mediterranean, Alpine, Indo-Aryan and Irano-Scythian – settled in the valleys.
Among the largest rivers on earth in terms of discharge and sediment, Brahmaputra is intrinsic to the socio-cultural life in Assam. The river is Assam’s lifeline, nurturing its topography and culture and sustaining major urban centres, including Guwahati, on its banks.
Brahmaputra has also been at the core of Assam’s folklore, inspiring literature, art and music often for leaving behind a wave of destruction during the monsoon months. It was one of India’s major waterways until India’s partition and independence in 1947. The river today is used for ferrying passengers across and operating luxury cruises between Guwahati and Kaziranga.
a. ANGLING COMPETITION HELD ANNUALLY IN NOVEMBER
b. Luxury cruise
2. Kaziranga National Park
With five national parks, two of which are designated World Natural Heritage Sites by UNESCO, and several wildlfe and bird sanctuaries, Assam is a blessed land for wildlife enthusiasts.
At the heart of it’s mind boggling biodiveristy is the rich topography of Assam with it’s lush hills and valleys dissected by the majestic Brahmaputra and it’s many tributaries. Assam is home to over 180 species of mammals, including rare and endangered species like the great Indian one-horned rhinoceros, the royal Bengal tiger, the golden langur and hoolock gibbon, and a spectacular range of avifauna.
Assam’s most famous parks are Kaziranga and Manas. Both were conferred World Heritage Status in 1985.
3. Kamakhya Temple
One of the holiest Hindu pilgrimages is Kamakhya temple, an ancient Shakti Peeth in Guwahati. It is the central temple in a complex dedicated to the ten Mahavidyas. The Shakti Temple of mother Goddess Kamakhya perched on the top of Nilachal Hills overlooking river Brahmaputra, is 8 Km. away from the railway station of Guwahati.
The greatest shrine of tantric Shaktism finds mention in the inscription of the Allahabad pillar of Samudragupta. Devotees from all over India converge on this holy place during Ambubashi and Manasha Puja.
4. Adventure Tourism
A tough terrain has protected Assam from invaders in the past. Today, it has made the state an incomparable outbound destination.
Since the late 1960s, diehard adventurers and explorers in Assam have streamlined the activities to produce mountaineers, rockclimbers, trekkers, cavers, hang-gliders and rafters. The state’s tallest peak Hempieupit is perfect for trekking. Guwahati too offers some exciting trekking routes and rock-climbing spots. A network of rivers, rivulets and mountain streams make the region ideal for white water rafting, canoeing, kayaking and other water sports.