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The Mysterious North East- Assam

Assam is known for its manicured tea plantations, home spun silk, lush foliage and quaint temples. It is better known for its abundant wildlife: home to the one-horned Indian rhinoceros, pygmy hog, water buffalo and an infinite variety of Asiatic birds…

The Kamakhya temple exudes an air of mystery: standing tall at 562’ wrapped in billowing incense smoke, sonorous chanting and leaping flames of fire. It is one of the oldest amongst the 51 shakti peethas, and a centre of pilgrimage for Hindus and Tantrics. Archaeological evidence dates it back to 8th or 9th century. Dedicated to the supreme female power and fertility, this unusual temple does not have an idol to worship, but a “yoni” or womb. It stands at the sacred site where Sati’s womb is supposed to have fallen, perched on top of the Nilachal Hill at about 800 feet above sea level.

The Navagraha Temple dates back to 1792 and stands poised on Chitrachal Hill. It boasts of 9 phallic emblems of Lord Shiva, each clad in a different coloured cloth representing the navagrahas. It is also a research centre for astrology and astronomy. The Umananda temple is a Shiva temple, and stands on Peacock Island in the midst of the Brahmaputra. Another Shiva temple, the Lankeshwar temple stands atop a hill. Shiva is the reigning deity in Guwahati. Other temples of interest include Rudreshwar, Madan Kamdev, Mahalakshmi, Chakreshwar and Bhuvaneshwari temples.

Guwahati offers a leisurely and magical sunset cruise on the mighty Brahmaputra River, which traverses through Tibet, Bangladesh and Arunachal Pradesh, but only in Assam is it known as Brahmaputra: the son of Brahma. Interestingly, it is the only known male river. The sunset river cruise bathes the waters in liquid gold even as manicured tea plantations gently slope towards the sandy river banks. Colourful birds flit like feathered

jewels at dusk, in contrast to the tranquil waters, even as wildlife rustles stealthily amidst the thick foliage of the national park.

Guwahati is a bustling and busy city with traffic snarls. Flyovers under construction in the city also stall the flow of traffic. We suggest you plan your day carefully, with a provision for delays and traffic.

Majuli is one of the largest river islands in the world and an amazing storehouse of art and culture. The name is a conjunction of Ma which denotes Laxmi (the goddess of prosperity) and Juli means granary. The island has been the hub of Neo-Vaishnavite culture since the 15th century, initiated by the revered Assamese saint Sankardeva. This new creed of faith started by Srimanta Sankardeva preached devotion to a single God, Lord Krishna or Vishnu, (Eka Sarana). The hallmark of the Neo-Vaishnavite movement is reflected in two distinctively unique institutions, viz., the Satraand the Nāmghar, both of which are intimately associated with the social, cultural as well as religious life of the Assamese society.

The island is inhabited by one of the most colourful tribes in India: Mishing tribe. The Prachodhan Development Services was quick to notice the fact that the Mishings seriously lag behind in education. Thus, a school was started by the PDS to educate the community. Children of alcoholic parents flocked to the school not just to study, but also to be deeply engaged in other activities.

What was of great interest to us was the Lahanti Community School in Majuli, where 7 capable staff managed 70 children. This unusual school focuses on missing tribal children living in rural areas and is a unit of the NGO, Prachodhan Development Services. RCM Next Gen with the support of Meenakshi Education Centre has been organizing virtual sessions with the Lahanti community School Teachers in Majuli. They aim to equip teachers with tools to maintain the mental and emotional wellbeing of students.

If you are interested in making a difference to society by becoming a change-maker, get in touch with us…

We were next beckoned by the irresistible call of the wild! Kaziranga National Park located at an altitude of 60 Mts is the heart of Assam and the pride of India! It was established as a reserve forest in 1905. Whether a wildlife enthusiast, nature lover or a novice, this is the best chance to immerse yourself in the beauty of natural surroundings and wildlife.

Its forests, wetlands and grasslands are home to a variety of species. A vast expanse of tall elephant grass, tropical broadleaf forests and marshland, it is criss-crossed by four major rivers. The park is a distinct mix of diversity and visibility of species. The jeep safari is indeed an experience of a lifetime.

This World Heritage site is a sprawling national park on the flood plains of Brahmaputra. It plays host to 2/3rds of the world’s population of one-horned rhinoceros. It is earmarked as a “protected area” since it has a high density of tigers. Swamp deer and grizzly bears rub shoulders with wild water buffaloes, even as elephants, jackals and panthers lurk in the dense forest.

Kaziranga is home to a variety of feathered friends! It has been declared as an “Important Bird Area” by Bird Life International for conservation of avifaunal species. Gray pelicans come here to roost, river dolphins prance in the sapphire blue waters and migratory birds flit across the cloudy skies.

Other neighbouring attractions include the gurgling Kakochang waterfall and tea plantations which are spread like a green carpet across undulating hills. The Jatinga village stands on the banks of the Jatinga river, and is inhabited by the Khasi-Phar tribe. Sibsagar was once the capital of the Ahom Kingdom and today is famous for its Ahom palaces and monuments.

Despite travelling across the North East, we could well go back again and yet again. This fascinating land has a flavour, culture and character of its own.

If you need a helping hand at planning your trip to this magical land? We can tailor-make and curate it for you! Get in touch…


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