8 Awesome Reasons to Visit Assam on Your Next India Trip

8 Awesome Reasons to Visit Assam on Your Next India Trip

Unknown to many travellers, the little northeastern state of Assam is the perfect spot to experience the best of India! This vibrant city offers breathtaking natural sceneries, rich cultural sites, and populous wildlife.

If you’re tired of the same old attractions in India, it’s time to look to the northeast of the country! Located south of the eastern Himalayas, Assam is a place of unspoilt natural beauty, with deep valleys, vast mountains and the massive Brahmaputra river which runs through the length of the state. Assam is also well-known for their famous tea gardens and wildlife conservation parks, the latter being the last few sanctuaries to a number of endangered species.

But if you’re still a little unsure about the idea of stepping out of your usual destinations, don’t worry! Here’s a list of great reasons that’ll make you pack your bags and take your first big step into Assam!

Go wild at their national parks

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Five national parks are scattered across Assam, each boasting a rich biodiversity of flora and fauna. You’ll spot a wide range of wild creatures, such as elephants, hog deers and water buffalos, that call these wildlife sanctuaries their home. If luck’s on your side, you might even spot the elusive tiger stalking in the thick grass. Just be sure to maintain a safe distance from the big cat at all times!

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The more popular parks to choose from include Kaziranga, which is famously known for preserving the world’s largest population of great one-horned rhinoceroses, as well as Manas, a reserve for the golden langur and the pygmy hog. You’ll be able to choose your safari tour as well, on whether you prefer to be towering above on a tamed elephant under the guidance of his trainer or mahout, or speedily traversing the bumpy dirt roads on a jeep!

assamImage credit: M.Swarnali

It’s worth noting that these national parks are often the last strongholds for these endangered species, so you won’t be able to see them anywhere else in the wild! Drop by soon to take a look, lest these threatened animals disappear from the world for good!

Also read: In 20 Photos: Why India Could Just Be The Most Beautiful Country in Asia

Take in their rich heritage

assamImage credit: Diganta Talukdar

The populace of Assam is intermingled with a diversity of ethnic groups throughout history. Cultures and heritages of various local tribes and migrating populaces, once scattered across the state, have been slowly assimilated into the local way of life. You’ll encounter different racial backgrounds as you walk around the urban centres, ranging from Indo-Aryans, Dravidians and Sino-Tibetans, as well as tribal groups such as the Bodos and the Karbis.

Image credit: Riku Gogoi

The state has played host to several ruling dynasties in ancient times, with the existence of several architectural monuments around the country that stand as a reminder of their past glories. The town of Sivasagar is a great place to start if you’re interested in checking out these exceptional structures! You can stop by the Rang Ghar, which is one of Asia’s oldest surviving amphitheatres that once played host to royalty viewing buffalo fights and other sporting events, or the Talatal Ghar, an ancient army base that holds plenty of secret escape routes.

Image credit: Bishnu Saikia

Another top spot to visit would be the Agnigarh in central Assam, which is a small hill that overlooks the Brahmaputra river and the city of Tezpur. Not only is it a scenic spot for picnics among the locals, the place is also associated in Hindu mythology as the place where the Asura King, Banasura, imprisoned his daughter Usha to prevent her from marrying Prince Anirudda. There are defined sculptures that depict the story as you make your way up to the crest of the hill, so take it as motivation for a little exercise!

Pay a visit to the Kamakhya Temple

Another attraction to visit would be the Kamakhya temple in the capital of Guwahati. This temple is situated on Nilachal Hill in the western part of the capital city of Guwahati, and serves as an important pilgrimage site for devotees of Shaktism, the ones who reverently follow the beliefs of the Hindu goddess Kamakhya.

The place of worship is associated with the Hindu legend of the goddess Sati, who was the wife of Shiva and daughter of King Daksha. When Sati’s body was dismembered by Vishnu in hopes of pacifying Shiva’s rage at her untimely death, her womb and genitals fell from the heavens to the top of the hill, where the Kamakhya temple now resides. This act blessed the surrounding area with a special energy known as Shakti, a form of cosmic energy.

Hindu believers from around the country, especially women who are seeking help in terms of fertility, travel here to attain blessings and favours from the goddess. Even if you’re not a Hindu, you’ll be sure to appreciate a walk around the temple, where you can marvel at the detailed sculptures of deities painstakingly carved on the exterior walls, or watch the priests go about on their worshipping duties. Just make sure to respect their customs and you’ll be fine!

Also read: 25 Photos That Will Make You Fall in Love With India

Take part in the Bihu festival

Image credit: Jugal Bharali

There are plenty of local festivals celebrated in Assam, the most popular being Bihu, which is a harvest festival that takes place on not one, but three different times in a year! The Bihu festival is concurrent with the crop cycle, where Assamese locals celebrate important phases in the farming schedule.

Image credit: Jugal Bharali

The first event, Bhogali Bihu, takes place in mid-January when locals mark the end of the harvesting season with eating and enjoyment. The second event, Kongali Bihu, occurs in mid-October, and the festivities are more solemn in nature as the crops are in their growing stage. The last and most popular event in the Bihu festival is the Bohag Bihu, which happens in mid-April. This seven-day festival coincides with the onset of the Assamese New Year and the coming of spring. Locals take it to themselves to put on their best clothes and celebrate the new year with worship and merriment.

Image credit: Subhrajit

What makes this festival so unique is that it is celebrated in all parts of Assam and by all of its people, regardless of castes, beliefs or religions! It’s a time where social status and barriers are thrown aside in favour of peace and unity among the populace. Even tourists are welcome to join in the festivities, so don’t feel shy to participate in the events!

Sip some delicious tea at their tea estates

Image credit: Nborkakoty

Chances are that you’ve probably heard about Assam through their signature black tea! The whole state of Assam is devoted into tea-growing, with a large number of tea estates scattered across the region and situated nearby on  either side of the Brahmaputra River. The location, plus the tropical climate of Assam, gives it’s tea the unique malty taste that people have come to enjoy.

Image credit: Wild Masheer

Some of these tea estates even offer you the opportunity to spend your vacation in the gardens, where you can stay in heritage bungalows that were originally constructed during colonial times. The elegant and subtle Victorian architecture and design will let you experience the old world’s charm and hospitality first-hand. From polished, wooden furniture, cosy ornaments to homely wallpapers, you’ll find it very difficult to return back to your modern rooms!

Image credit: Diganta Talukdar

Of course, you won’t need to be cooped up in your bungalow for the whole day. There are plenty of activities for you to try out, from tea-tasting, visiting the plantations or taking cooking classes from the estate owners! If you’re an avid golfer, then you’ll be happy to hear that some tea estates feature their own golf courses that have been around for quite some time. In fact, some of these courses hold the record of being the oldest golf courses in Asia and the world, so you’ll be standing on rich history as you attempt to sink that hole in one!

Set sail on the Brahmaputra river

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The Brahmaputra River is one of the major rivers in Asia, which winds through China, India and Bangladesh. The river plays a significant role in the state of Assam. Not only has it sustained and nurtured major urban centres throughout history, it’s also responsible for maintaining the diverse flora, fauna and wildlife that Assam currently enjoys.

The river is also a hotspot for cruises and boat safaris, where tourists can enjoy scenic views of forest reserves, city landscapes and monuments of cultural significance as they travel down the channel. From the deck of the boats, you can spot migratory birds circling around the air, or choose to observe the temples, tribal villages or monasteries at the river banks and watch as the locals go about with their daily lives!

Image credit: Ganges River Dolphin

If you’re lucky enough, you might be able to spot the rare Ganges River dolphin breaking out from the surface! These endangered freshwater dolphins are affected by the decrease in river depths due to global warming and human interference. They are currently protected by law and sightings of the Gangetic River dolphin in the Brahmaputra river are slowly becoming rarer as the years go by.

Explore the river island of Majuli

Once clinching the biggest river island in the world, Majuli has been proudly acknowledged as the cultural capital of the Assamese civilisation throughout history. It’s mainly home to the Mising tribes that settled here from the neighbouring state of Arunachal Pradesh centuries ago. There are also other tribes, such as the Deori and Sonowal Kacharis, that call the island home as well.

Majuli is also known for being the hub of neo-Vaishnavite culture, where it was founded since the 15th century. A few monasteries, or satras, that were originally constructed still remain intact and are populated with devotees who have preserved the colourful heritage. From religious dances, mask making and boat making festivals, the satras ensure that the people of Majuli, and any interested guests staying on the island, are not left bored during their spare time.

Tourists can reach the island by taking the public ferry from the city of Jorhat, which usually gets crowded pretty quick so it’s best to book your tickets as early as possible! It takes an hour or so to reach the shores of Majuli, where you’ll reach the sandy river docks of the island. There are no hotels here, however, only comfy guesthouses that simulate the simple lives the local villages lead. It’s a nice change of pace if you’re looking for something different from your standard vacation!

Also read: Top 5 Most Beautiful Lake Cities in India

Go on a nature adventure around the state

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If you’re seeking for a more thrilling adventure around Assam, then you’ll be happy to know that such needs have been recognised by some of the locals. They’ve taken upon themselves to convert the state’s tough terrain, which was once helpful for warding off potential foreign invaders, into an adrenaline-inducing outbound destination!

Image credit: Diganta Talukdar

Those with a penchant of mountaineering will enjoy climbing the various hills in the districts of Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao, while those looking to put their feet to work can join in the trekking trail from Basistha to Garbhanga Reserve Forest, which stretches to a winding 17 km in distance! If you’re looking for a proper challenge, then why not attempt the 80 km route, which will bring you to Barapani in the neighbouring state of Meghalaya through the Rani Reserve Forest.

Image credit: Sapna Pillutla

Assam is also a great place for tourists who’d love to get close with nature. With a variety of eco-camps in their national parks, you’ll get right down to the basics with thatched tented accommodations and equipment for both rafting and angling! For those who aren’t too keen on a full camping expedition, don’t worry! There are private resorts that offer cottages and dormitories with basic facilities, to get you as close to the real experience without any severe inconveniences.

Are you convinced yet on paying Assam a visit for your next holiday destination? It may not be on equal footing with the main Indian states when it comes to modern-day attractions such as shopping, malls and nightlife, but there’s a sense of unparalleled tranquillity in the country that’s hard to find in anywhere else. If you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, a short retreat to Assam is quite the awesome idea!

Special thanks to the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, for giving me an opportunity to explore Assam! I encourage you to do the same – discover Incredible India now!

About Author

Youliang Teo
Youliang Teo

When he’s not caught up with the real world, Teo Youliang dreams of simply grabbing a rucksack and setting off on an adventure of a lifetime. Whether it means venturing through unknown places, meeting new faces, or frustratingly figuring out a travel map for hours, you can be sure that there isn’t any other place he’d rather be. He’s also content with a hot cup of tea, and writing stories at the comfort of his home.

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