The name "Assam" is derived from the term "Asom" which, in Sanskrit, refers to unequal or unrivalled. The uneven topography of the land, full of hills, plains and rivers might, therefore, have contributed to her name. A land of about 25 million people the principal language of Assam is Assamese although a large number of other languages are spoken.
Assam, the land of hills and valleys, the land of the mighty river Brahmaputra, the land of Mother Goddess Kamakhya, lies in the northeastern corner of India. It is a land where you find flowers that are exquisitely beautiful, animals that are rare, and a beleagured people that are proud and hospitable.
Places to see in Assam:
• Kamakhya TempleThe major attraction of Guwahati is the Kamakhya Temple, on the Nilachal hill, where Goddess Kamakhya is worshiped. The temple offers a fabulous view of the city and the mighty Brahmaputra. The ponds here are the home of some giant turtles.
• Assam State MuseumThe museum came into existence in 1940 as a non-government body but was taken over by the state government in 1953. It is the biggest museum of the north east region and one of the biggest multipurpose museums in the country.
• Kaziranga National Park: Home to fabled one horned Rhinoceros. This is also a world heritage site. Besides the above, Umananda Temple, Navagraha Temple, Basistha Ashram, Hajo, Cherrapunjee (where it rains most in the world!), Nmaeri National Park are other major tourist attractions in Assam.
Also read about: (National Parks in Assam)
• Zoo-cum-Botanical Garden: The botanical garden was established in 1982, has an area of 82 hectares. It has an orchid house packed with 44 varieties of rare orchids of the North East region. The garden has various types of palm, shrubs, herbs, conifers and broad leaved plants.
• Umananda Temple: It is a temple of Lord Shiva, in the midst of river Brahmaputra, on the island of Umananda. The temple can be reached by crossing the river via country boats plying from Kachari Ghat. The place resembles a beehive during Shiva Ratri when pilgrims from all over flock to the island packed in boats.
• HajoHajo: It is a sacred place for Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists. This place is to the (25km) west of Guwahati and is the site of the Pua-Mecca mosque, established by an Iraqi prince-turned-preacher, who traveled all the way to Assam in the 12th century to spread the Prophet's teachings.
Festivals in Assam:
BihuThe most important festivals of Assam are the Bihus, celebrated with joy and abundance by all Assamese people irrespective of caste, creed, religion, faith and belief. This also initiates the agricultural season. The merriments include dances accompanied on the wild and lusty beats of Dhol and Pepa (buffalo hornpipe). Songs sung in this Bihu are woven around themes of love and often carry erotic overtones. People adorn traditional attires like Dhoti, Gamocha and Chadar, Mekhala.
Majuli Festival: There will be a lot of scopes to fit yourself as a part of this festival. Special events are being organized during the festivals days round the clock. Cultural programmes will continue with the participation of various traditional and classical cultural troupes of Assam and troupes from rest of the country, in addition to rich cultural heritage of Majuli.
Tea Festival: The Tea festival organised by Assam Tourism in the month of November is a unique experience. One cannot miss this festival which offers holidays combining visits to Tea Gardens, Golf and River Cruises. A visit to the "Guwahati Tea Auction Center" (GTAC) in Guwahati, the largest in India is a must.
Rongali Utsav: Come April, and for the numerous communities, tribes and sub-tribes inhabiting the banks of the mighty Brahmaputra it's time to welcome the onset of the agricultural season, a celebration of the vibrant springtime fertility cult.
How to get there:
By AirIndian airlines/Alliance Air, Jet Airways and Air Sahara connect Guwahati with Kolkata, Delhi, Agartala and Imphal. Taxi services including prepaid services are available at the airport for transfer to the city. For travelling to Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya Helicopter Service and Arunachal Pradesh Helicopter Service at Guwahati Airport is available.
By Rail: Express trains link all parts of the country with Guwahati. Rajdhani Express from Delhi (28 hrs), Saraighat Express from Kolkata (18 hrs), Dadar Express from Mumbai (54 hrs) and Bangalore Express (60 hrs) are some of the important trains to Guwahati. Taxis and auto-rickshaws with negotiable rates are available at the station for transfer to different parts of the city.
By Road: Many private travel companies and the Assam State Transport Corporation operate a large network of buses from anywhere around. There are routes connecting Guwahati with Dibrugarh, Jorhat, Tinsukhia, Silchar, Dimapur, Kohima, Imphal, Aizawl and Itanagar.
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