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Assam

Alluring Assam, which means ‘home of the son of Lord Brahma,’ is a land of myths, mysteries, lores and legends.  The gateway or sentinel to the northeast, it is joined to the mainland by a narrow strip of land and is the most vibrant of the eight regional states.  Synonymous with picturesque natural beauty, immaculate tea gardens, teeming wildlife, river cruises and festivities; Assam is a mosaic of cultures and religions.  Its two mighty ‘lifeline’ rivers, Brahmaputra (‘son of Brahma’) and Barak, along with their 120 tributaries, ensure a fertile land, dotted with 3,500 wetlands, 800 expansive tea estates and 25 major wildlife preserves.

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The state has five national parks, including the World Heritage Sites of Kaziranga and Manas (housing the famed one-horned rhinoceros) and 20 wildlife sanctuaries. Bihu, the harvest festival, marks the most important event of the state. Assam is world-renowned for its tea and is also one of the last habitats of the Asian elephant.

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State Capital: Guwahati

Places of interest: Kaziranga & Manas National Parks, Kamakhya temple, Umananda temple, State Museum, State Zoological Park, Krimanta Sankaradeva Kalasetra, Haflong (hill station), Majuli (world’s largest river island).

Kaziranga National Park: Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, spread over 430 km of lush, dense forest, on the banks of the Brahmaputra. Resident wildlife includes: one-horned Indian rhinoceros, elephant, bison, tiger, leopard, hog deer, barasingha (twelve-horned antelope) etc.  The lakes in the park are home to 50,000 birds, including hornbills, ibis, comorants, egrets, herons, fishing eagles.

Manas National Park (176 km): Located on the banks of the Manas, it teems with wildlife and is the only Project Tiger reserve in the state.  Key resident fauna: tiger, one-horned rhino, hispid hare, gaur (Indian bison), hogs, rare golden langurs (monkeys) and a number of migratory birds.

Kamakhya Temple: The sacred shrine of Goddess Kali in Guwahati is the most important temple of Assam.  Perched on a hill, with beehive-shaped domes, it is a fine example of Assamese architecture.

Assam State Museum: It houses a rich collection of archaeological and ethnographic artefacts such as stone and bronze sculptures, dating back to the 7th century.

Nabagraha Temple: The “temple of nine planets” is an ancient seat of astrology and astronomy. The ‘lingam’ (holy stone) inside is surrounded by representations of the nine planets.

Haflong: The state’s only hill resort is noted for its tranquility and scenic charm, as well as its orange and pineapple orchards.

Majuli: The world’s largest river island, Majuli nestles in the waters of the Brahmuputra, covering an area of 886 sq. km, comprising forests and beaches.

GETTING THERE

Airport: 23 km from city centre

Railhead: Guwahati is the headquarters of the Northeast Frontier railway

Road: Well-connected

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