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.
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.
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.
Airport: 23 km from city centre
Railhead: Guwahati is the headquarters of the Northeast Frontier railway