The quintessential Assamese landscape is a picture perfect paradise, dotted with emerald patchwork of paddy fields and gorgeously manicured tea estates. It is flanked in the distant north by the hazy-blue mountains of Arunachal and by the cloud-smoky hills of Meghalaya and the mighty highlands of Nagaland in the south. Also known as Axom (or simply Ahom), it was ruled by the Ahoms (belonging to the Shan tribe of Myanmar, Burma) for six hundred years, who not only protected the land from invasions, but also established an environment for cultural pursuits. One can still see their historical remains in the form of palaces, tanks and temples around Sivasagar.
Home of the Brahmaputra, its fertile alluvial plains extend all along the length of the Brahmaputra valley, making it the most accessible of India’s Northeast States. Rich in natural resources, it is one of the highest timber producers of the country and its tea estates established by the British, produce over half of India’s tea. It is also home to India’s oldest and Asia’s first oil refinery.
Its rich biodiversity supports an immense range of rare and endangered creatures such as the one-horned rhinoceros, the golden langur, the Gangetic dolphin and the white-winged wood duck.
Within the ever-shifting sandbanks of the Brahmaputra, it holds Majuli, one of the world’s largest inhabited river islands. Surveys indicate that at current levels of erosion the island will cease to exist within twenty years, making it a topper in the list of “must visit” destinations of Assam.
Despite its resemblance to people in neighboring West Bengal and Orissa, Assamese culture has its own unique features. The men are seen donning the gamosa (a red-and-white scarf worn around the neck) and the traditional ensemble for women is the mekhela chador, an exotic hand woven two-piece attire resplendent in colors and textures. As you travel across its stunning landscapes and interact with its indigenous tribes, you will notice there are several subtle nuances in the local culture that are typically Assamese.
In all, Assam offers you a friendly and hospitable population, a cuisine rich with natural aromas of the earth, and a vibrant artistic heritage marked by exotic dance forms, beautiful bamboo crafts and a string of elegant Hindu temples, making it a delight to travel in.