Category Archives: Assam

Nameri National Park, Assam

Nameri is the most scenic National Park of Assam and is located at the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas in the Sonitpur District of Assam. It is adjoined by the Pakhui Sanctuary of Arunachal Pradesh on the north-eastern side. This national park is one of the thickest as well as the most threatened reservoirs of flora and fauna in the world. It covers an area of 200 sq. kms and also the core area of Nameri Tiger Reserve (344 Sq. km). It’s beautiful deciduous forests and the adjacent river jia Bhoreli, fringe the border of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. This is therefore a popular stop en route to Bhalukpung in Arunachal, where anglers congregate to fish for the famous golden Mahseer. These deciduous forests are a mixture of tropical and semi-evergreen forests accompanied by cane and bamboo brakes along the river.

Animals found here are Tiger, Leopard, Clouded Leopard, Elephant, Gaur, Wild Pigs, Sambar, Barking Deer, Hispid hare, Slow Loris, Capped Langur, Dhole, Sloth Bear,Burmese ferret Badger, Binturong etc. The park is home to several rare bird species including the endangered White Winged Wood duck and a huge variety of butterflies, including the prized Atlas Moth, considered the largest moth in the world with a wing surface area of 400 sq.cms and a 25-30cm wingspan.

The eco region of the park is a part of the North Bank Landscape and is regarded as a Mega Biodiversity Hotspot of the Eastern Himalayas. It is known for having some of the world’s best plant functional type and complexity. The park experiences tropical monsoons causing an average annual rainfall of 3400 mm.

These deciduous forests are a mixture of tropical and semi-evergreen forests accompanied by cane and bamboo brakes along the river.

How to reach : Nameri National Park is 210 kms from Guwahati, 40 kms from Tezpur, 215 kms from Jorhat, 110 kms from Nowgong and 125 kms from Kaziranga.

Best season for visit : November to April

River Rafting: River Rafting down the river Kameng, which borders the Nameri National Park is a great experience. Rafting trips can be day long or can last just half a day. Nameri Eco Camp organize river rafting for you. The route is around 18KMs (duration 2-3 hrs) on serene Jia Bhoroli. You can also combine your rafting with a picnic (duration 4-5 hrs in this case) on the banks of Jia Bhoroli in between the rafting. This is one of the best activities you can do in entire Assam.

Jungle Walk: In addition to rafting, Nameri Eco Camp arranges for supervised jungle treks in the company of knowledgeable forest guides and armed forest guards. These jungle treks are an adrenalin rush as it allows you to get real close to a wild elephant. These treks are also a great way to spot the rare species of white-winged wood ducks and the great hornbills. In terms of cost, there is a small forest fee for entrance, trekking and for photography. The guide and guard charges are separate, but extremely nominal. You might want to tip the guard and guide depending on your satisfaction. These guys earn very less from the government and hence appreciate any amount of tip.

Nameri Eco Camp is the only place to stay near Nameri National Park. You can book your accommodation in advance by calling Ronit Roy at 91-9435145563 and/or Vinod Sharma at 91-9854019932/ 91-9859547605.

on +91-9854019932 or the landline number +91-3714 292644. Cost is around Rs 1800 per night. The camp could become fully booked on weekends or national holidays well in advance.

The Nameri Eco Camp is situated about 45 km from Tezpur and about 1 km from the banks of the Jia-Bhoroli river. It offers the shortest route into the Nameri National Park. The entire place is set amidst dense green surroundings. In terms of accommodation, they offer the tourist the options of luxury tented cottages, simple tented cottages and dormitories. Food is served at a common dining hall.

Majuli, Assam

Majuli is the biggest inhabited river island in the world. It is located in the middle of the mighty Brahmaputra River in Assam. Initially, this island was spread over an area of about 1250 square kilometers, but due to erosion, its size has now decreased considerably to an area of about 421.65 square km only. Originally, the island of Majuli was a long and narrow piece of land, which during ancient times was known as ‘Majoli’, meaning ‘land in the middle of two parallel rivers’. It was called so because it had the River Brahmaputra flowing in its North and the River Burhidihing flowing in its South. Both these rivers met at Lakhu. During 1661–1696, frequent earthquakes occurred, which led to a momentous and destructive flood in 1750. Due to the flood, the Brahmaputra got divided into two branches, one of which continued to flow along the original channel, while the other started flowing along the Burhi Dihing channel, which lead to the formation of the Majuli Island. The island is popular as a ‘pollution free fresh water island’, and is located at a distance of about 20 km from Jorhat town.

It can be reached by River ferry only, from Nimati Ghat (15 km from Jorhat). First River ferry is at 0830 hrs to Kamalabari Ghat. This ferry transport vehicles along with passengers. The ferry trip is one hrs duration.

An abode of Assamese neo-Vaisnavite culture, there are many ancient satras in the destination. Besides, there are several sites associated with Lord Krishna. In the 16th century, Sankardeva, the founder of Vaishnavism, a monotheist form of Hinduism, established various monasteries and hermitages across the islet, known as satras.

There are over twenty-five neo-Vaisnavite centers in the destination, the most noteworthy being the satras of Garmur, Kamalabari and Auniati. On a visit to the satras dating back to 500 years, tourists can explore the rich cultural heritage of the region. The satras have preserved several articles of cultural and historical importance, which include weapons, ornaments, utensils and other artifacts.

Several articles displaying Borgeet, Matiakhara, Jumora dance, Chali dance and Noyua dance can also be found in these satras. Besides, Nande Vringee, Sutradhar, Ozapali, Apsara dance, Satria Krishna dance and Dasavater dance are also illustrated in the neo-Vaisnavite centres.

Pottery in Majuli is also very famous because it is made from beaten clay that is burnt in ovens fired with driftwood, which is quite similar to the ancient Harappa Civilization. The culture and dance forms of this place remain unaffected by modernization even today. The handloom work done by the tribes living in this place is well known.

Best time to visit is in winter.

Agnigarh, Tezpur

Agnigarh is a small hill on the bank of mighty river Brahmaputra. Garden is romantic, clean and well maintained, with beautiful and well curved statues of Usha- Anirudha and Hari-Hara battle (a mythical battle of God Hari and God Siva). In Hindu mythology, it is the site of the fortress which was built by Banasura to keep his daughter Usha in isolation. The name itself is derived from the words ‘Agni‘ (meaning fire) and ‘garh’ (meaning fortress or wall) in Sanskrit.

Legend has it that this fortress was surrounded by fire at all times so that nobody could go in or out of the perimeter without permission. Usha fell in love withAniruddha in her dreams not knowing who he was. Her companion Chitralekha identified him by painting his portrait from Usha’s description. Chitralekha ( Chitralekha Udyan (Tezpur) also known as ‘kol park’ the biggest park in Tezpur is named after her )was not only an artist but one possed with mystical powers. Anirudddha was Krishna’s Grandson and Usha the daughter of an Asura King, therefore was no way any side would consent to their love. She flew one night and brought Aniruddha to Usha’s Place while he was still sleeping using her powers. When Aniruddha opened his eyes and saw Usha, he fell in love immediately. However, Banasura was furious on knowing this and tied him with snakes and imprisoned him. Lord Krishna, however had agreed for their marriage and had wanted for Banasura to consent for the same. Banasura, was a great devotee of Lord Shiva and as a boon had asked him and his entire family to guard the gates of his city, Tezpur. He therefore was not all scared by Lord Krishna wrath. A war ensued between the Hari ( Lord Krishna and his followers) and the Hars( Lord Shiva and his followers ), rivers of blood flowed and the city was named Tezpur (City of Blood ) . Both sides were nearly wiped out and a final battle followed between Lord Shiva and Lord Krishna, Lord Brahma requested both of them to stop the war by putting him between them. A discussion followed in which Lord Krishna made Lord Shiva see that Banasura was acting wrongly in imprisoning his grandson and had even disrespected Lord Shiva himself in asking him and his family to be his gate keepers. Lord Shiva agreed and Banasura was brought, fearing his life he immediately agrees for the marriage.

The stone sculptures on the Agnigarh hill portrays this entire picturesque story of the love and great war.

View of the river is magnificent from top of the hill. Sunset on the river Brahmaputra is very beautiful, particularly on the month of January. Well built steps are there to go to the top of the hill. Whole Tezpur town up to Kaliabhomora Bridge can be viewed from above the hill. It is a good place to hang out.

Shivadol, Sibsagar

Shivadol is one of the tallest Lord Shiva Temple (180 ft tall & 195 ft diameter) in the world. It was built by Queen Ambika, wife of King Shiva Singha in the year 1734.  It is located in the Heart of Sibsager (or Sivasagar, as it is now called), Assam and 97 km from Dibrugarh Airport.

The word ‘Dole’ means temple in Assamese. It attracts tourists for its gigantic architectural and religious values. The walls of the temple are sculptured with statues of numerous Hindu Gods and Goddesses. It is not only one of the most sacred place in North-East India, also the beauty of the place beyond words with three temples standing tall by the bank of a large pond ‘Sivasagar Tank’. It is caped seven feet high large Golden Dome on the topmost part of the dole.  This giant temple is located few feet higher than the normal town level. The other two great doles in the same campus are Vishnu Dol and Devi Dol. It is visible from most of the corners of the small town that adds real charm to the whole town. Every year these temples attract many national and international tourists to the town. Shiva Dole is pride of not only Sivasagar but also of whole Assam.

Maha Shivaratri is the most celebrated puja of this temple. Thousands of devotees come to the temple in the Shivaratri.

Unlikely any other popular Hindu Temple across India, Shive Dole carries less crowded and very calm ambience. The temple is a real place of religion and peace.

Arunachal Assam Trip – Day 8

Dibrugarh – Dibrugarh Airport – Delhi Airport

 We have reached the last day of our trip. After finishing breakfast, we went to nearby market for last minute purchasing. On enquiry regarding assamese silk, people guided us to “Silkalay”.

silkalay
silkalay

It is a show room having variety of silk cloth for women & men and other assamese style items. After buying a few souvenirs, we came back to hotel and checked out. We started for Dibrugarh Airport at 1130 hrs. After reaching Airport, we had lunch at Airport restaurant on first floor. Buffet lunch was excellent. Our flight to Delhi was via Gauhati. We started at 1340 hrs from Dibrugarh Airport and reached Delhi Airport at 1800 hrs.

Thus ends our 8 days trip to Arunachal & Assam, with lots of memories etched into our minds bringing a smile each time we remember them….

Arunachal Assam Trip – Day 7

Jorhat – Nimati Ghat – River Ferry – Kamalabari ferry Ghat – Majuli Satras – Kamalabari ferry Ghat – River Ferry – Nimati Ghat – Dibrugarh Stay

Today we were going to visit Majuli, the biggest inhabited river island in the world. It is located in the middle of the mighty Brahmaputra River in Assam. Initially, this island was spread over an area of about 1250 square kilometers, but due to erosion, its size has now decreased considerably to an area of about 421.65 square km only. Originally, the island of Majuli was a long and narrow piece of land, which during ancient times was known as ‘Majoli’, meaning ‘land in the middle of two parallel rivers’. It was called so because it had the River Brahmaputra flowing in its North and the River Burhidihing flowing in its South. Both these rivers met at Lakhu. During 1661–1696, frequent earthquakes occurred, which led to a momentous and destructive flood in 1750. Due to the flood, the Brahmaputra got divided into two branches, one of which continued to flow along the original channel, while the other started flowing along the Burhi Dihing channel, which lead to the formation of the Majuli Island. The island is popular as a ‘pollution free fresh water island’, and is located at a distance of about 20 km from Jorhat town.

We started at 0700 hrs from Jorhat to Nimati Ghat (15 km from Jorhat). First River ferry was at 0830 hrs to Kamalabari Ghat. This ferry transport vehicles along with passengers, but unfortunately the vehicle booking was over and no space was left for our taxi. We decided to leave taxi at this end only and asked our guide to arrange vehicle at Majuli end. Majuli is accessible by ferries only. Our guide was the young boy, who was going to his home at Majuli during Bihu holidays. He has contacted his friends at Majuli and arranged a vehicle. We enjoyed the river ghat and activities at ferry. All type of items & vehicles were being loaded on ferry. Slowly it was filling and people were going to top of ferry. Ferry started at 0830 hrs and reached Kamalabari ghat at 0930 hrs.

ferry for majuli
ferry for majuli

We enjoyed the ferry trip and view of Bharamputra. It was worth a watch.

Vehicle was ready at Kamalabari ghat. Our guide informed us that we are going to visit some of the important Satras at Majuli.
An abode of Assamese neo-Vaisnavite culture, there are many ancient Satras in the Majuli. Besides, there are several sites associated with Lord Krishna. In the 16th century, Sankardeva, the founder of Vaishnavism, a monotheist form of Hinduism, established various monasteries and hermitages across the islet, known as Satras. There are over twenty-five neo-Vaisnavite centers, the most noteworthy being the satras of Garmur, Kamalabari and Auniati. We visited all three Satras and it was totally a different experience. On a visit to the satras dating back to 500 years, we explored the rich cultural heritage of the region. The satras have preserved several articles of cultural and historical importance, which include weapons, ornaments, utensils and other artifacts. Our guide, being the local was able to show & explain us about the satras. To our surprise, he took us to the house of Shri Goswami, who is famous as a Mask maker man. We had a chat with him. It was a memorable moment for all of us. On the way to satras, he also showed & explained us about missing village and about the culture of Majuli. We had lunch at island and decided to head back. After thanking our guide and wishing him for Bihu, We boarded ferry at Kamalabari Ghat at 1400 hrs & reached Nimati ghat at 1500 hrs.

Our taxi was ready at ghat and we started for Dibrugarh (150 km). On the way, we visited Tea gardens and purchased Assam tea.

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We reached Dibrugarh hotel at 1900 hrs. We settled the payment of taxi and had our dinner in room.

Arunachal Assam Trip – Day 2

Kaziranga National Park – Tezpur – Nameri Eco Camp Stay

 We woke up to chirping birds and beautiful sunrise, giving a sign of great day ahead. It was 0500 hrs and watching sunrise from our balcony was a wonderful way to start the day.

We freshened up & got ready by 0600 hrs for Elephant Safari. We started from cottage at 0615 hrs for Kaziranga Range, Kohora (4 km).

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On the way, we had a cup of tea. We were the first persons to reach the starting point of Elephant Safari for the 3rd & last safari of morning. The Forest person at check point informed us that safari will start at around 0700 hrs the elephants return from 2nd round of safari. The check point was an elevated platform that overlooked the forest. Luckily we saw a Rhino in forest, though it was far we could still manage to see it. And we couldn’t wait to see more of them. Slowly, other tourists also started gathering. At around 0650 hrs, we saw elephants returning back with tourists. They allotted the elephant “Rukmani” for three of us and the fee was 1630/- for 3 persons plus camera. Thus, We started our Elephant safari at 0710 hrs to Kaziranga Park an Rukmani along with her baby “Karan”. It was a new & exciting experience of looking for Rhinos in forest on the back of an elephant. First we saw a group of Deer & Barashingha just grazing around.

 

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DSC06646On moving further into forest with long elephant grass, we saw our first Rhino, among the grass.

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Hence began our series of rhino sightings. Fortunately, we saw many Rhinos in various areas making it a memorable moment of our lives. We were clicking pictures incessantly.

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After about an hr of safari, we reached back to starting point at 0810 hrs. We thanked the elephant person for the wonderful ride and started back to Aranya Tourist Lodge at 0825 hrs.

After reaching Lodge, we enquired about Jeep safari and in turn the Manager asked about the experience of Elephant safari. After getting good feedback, he suggested us to skip Jeep safari because we will not be able to see anything more exciting. Dropping the idea of Jeep safari, we sat down for breakfast as we were famished. Hot Breakfast after a tiring ride was a delight. After breakfast, we freshened up, took bath and was ready for checkout by 1030 hrs.

Our next destination was Nameri Eco Camp, Nameri National Park (112 km) with a short stop at Tezpur (74 km). To reach Tezpur, we have to cross Brahmaputra river through Kalli Bhomora Setu.

 

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This is 2nd longest bridge over Brahmaputra and has no railway crossing unlike other bridges of Brahmaputra. The  bridge provided an excellent view of Brahmaputra.

After reaching Tezpur at 1200 hrs, we directly went to Agnigarh Hill but found it closed due to Bihu festival. We were disheartened. From there we went to market of Tezpur and purchased water & food items for our journey ahead. After taking snacks at Tezpur, we started for Nameri Eco camp at 1400 hrs.

Eco camp was 38 km and we reached there by 1430 hrs. It was near a village and was set up in a beautiful clearing in the forest area. The entire place is set amidst dense green surroundings with lots of birds and butterflies around.

After check-in to the beautiful the luxury tent “Mithun Nala-5”, we checked with reception regarding activities. They asked us to get permission from forest department for tomorrow river rafting. We went to forest department office, which is next to Eco camp. After noting our details, they asked us to come in evening for depositing fee and collecting permission slip.

Till 1700 hrs, we explored the eco camp and enjoyed the natural beauty of the surroundings, the swings, watching birds with a cup of tea.

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Then, we got ready to go to Jia Bhoroli River, which is very near to the camp. The river bank was beautiful.

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After the sun set at river bank, we came back to camp. Our permission was ready at forest dept. office, which we collected by paying total fee of Rs. 250/- for three persons & camera for river rafting. We informed the camp manager for arranging river rafting for tomorrow morning.

It was around 1900 hrs and we were hungry. We went to dining hall and found that they were setting buffet dinner. They told that till they are ready, we can enjoy a cup of tea. Dinner was excellent and we eat more than required. Camp lights were on and it was nicely decorated. We sat near camp fire, which they were going to start in a while and were chit chatting with other tourists. To our pleasant surprise, at 2000 hrs, suddenly, artists came near camp fire and started performing Bihu group dance.

bihu dance at nameri eco camp
bihu dance at nameri eco camp

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We enjoyed the performances sitting beside camp fire till 2130 hrs. Now it was time for bed. We went to our tent and slept with a determination to wake up at 0500 hrs for river rafting.

 

Arunachal Assam Trip – Day 1

Delhi – Dibrugarh – Kaziranga Stay

I have started my dream journey to Arunachal & Assam by boarding flight at Delhi for Dibrugarh, Assam. We were three; myself, wife & daughter. Flight was via Kolkata and duration was four hrs. We reached Dibrugarh Airport at 1400 hrs. Mr Bijoy, our taxi driver with pre-booked Scorpio taxi was at airport. We started for Kaziranga at 1430 hrs.

On the way to Kaziranga, we reached at Sivadol Temple, Sibsagar (97 km from Dibrugarh Airport) at 1645 hrs. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and attracts a lot of devotees. There is a huge Shivasagar lake also. After a short break, we started at 1730 hrs. for our today’s destination.

We crossed Namdang Stone Bridge (14 km from Sibsagar). This bridge was made by cutting single stone. Our target was to reach Aranya Tourist Lodge (148 km from Sibsagar) at Kaziranga and ensure the booking of Elephant Safari for next day morning. Mr Bijoy told that he will try to reach there before 2000 hrs. (Closing time for Elephant Safari booking). Despite rash driving, we could reach Aranya Tourist Lodge at 2010 hrs and found that counter for Safari booking was closed. We were very much disappointed and asked Manager & staff of Aranya Tourist Lodge to help us in getting Elephant Safari & Jeep Safari booking for next morning. They asked us to complete check in & have Dinner and they will try to help us.

With heavy heart, we completed the check in formalities and ordered Dinner. Our cottage “Buffalo” at Aranya Tourist Lodge was large and well furnished.

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cottage at kaziranga

We freshened up quickly and went to Dining hall for Dinner. Dinner was fine. After dinner, Wife & Daughter went for walk in Lodge complex, with a hope that I will arrange booking for Elephant & Jeep Safari. I tried with many people and finally got 3 tickets for Elephant Safari for 3rd trip. Staff suggested me to book jeep safari tomorrow only after coming back from Elephant Safari. We were very happy and excited after getting booking for Elephant Safari and enjoyed Moonlit night in peace.

Arunachal Assam Trip – Itenary & Preparation

Dibrugarh – Kaziranga – Tezpur – Nameri National Park – Bhalukpong – Bomdila – Sela Pass – Tawang – Bumla Pass – Tawang – Dirang – Jorhat – Majuli – Dibrugarh in April, 2014

 Our trip to Arunachal & Assam was preplanned. And based on the research, we planned following itenary for 8 days:

Day 1: Delhi – Dibrugarh – Kaziranga Stay

 Day 2: Kaziranga National Park – Tezpur – Nameri Eco Camp   Stay

 Day 3: Nameri National Park river rafting – Bhalukpong – Bomdila – R R Hill – Monastery – Bomdila Stay

 Day 4: Bomdila – Dirang – Sela Pass – Jaswant Garh – Jang Fall – Tawang – Tawang Craft Centre – War Memorial – Tawang Stay

 Day 5: Tawang – Bumla Pass – Tawang Monastery – Dirang Stay

 Day 6: Dirang – Seesa – Agnigarh – Jorhat Stay

 Day 7: Jorhat – Nimati Ghat – River Ferry – Kamalabari ferry Ghat – Majuli Satras – Kamalabari ferry Ghat – River Ferry – Nimati Ghat – Dibrugarh Stay

 Day 8: Dibrugarh – Dibrugarh Airport – Delhi Airport

 After finalizing itenary and dates, first we booked flight tickets from Delhi to Dibrugarh & return. Then we contacted drivers and travel agencies for Scorpio taxi for 7 days from Dibrugarh to Tawang & back. Finally one driver agreed to book taxi for Rs. 2500/- per day for vehicle + Diesel +Driver’s food & stay. When I contacted this driver, one day before reaching Dibrugarh, he refused to come with us due to personal reasons. Since I was having contact numbers of other travel agencies, I contacted them and booked taxi (though per day rate increased by Rs. 200/-). After reaching Dibrugarh, I came to know that it is Bihu festival in Assam and that was the main reason of shortage of drivers. Mr. Bijoy, our taxi driver was a good person who adjusted according to our travel plan. Next issue was to book tourist lodge and hotels. I decided to use Assam & Arunachal tourism tourist lodges. The phone service in Arunachal was not working properly. I was able to book Aranya Tourist Lodge at Kaziranga; Nameri Eco Camp at Nameri National Park and Tourist Lodge at Tawang. I was not able to book at Bomdila & Dirang. We have not booked for Jorhat & Dibrugarh, due to our flexible itenary. We got good accommodation at these places on the spot. Inner line permit (ILP) is required for entry in Arunachal for all Indians. For ILP, Identity & address proof and two passport size photo are required. We planned to obtain ILP at Bhalukpong.