Assam: where tea, silk, nature and festivals await

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Discovering Assam

World-renowned tea, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and wildlife await in Assam, a land that’s filled with many more wonders you’ll be eager to explore. Located near the foothills of the eastern Himalayas, it’s the most accessible North Eastern state with well-developed tourism infrastructure. It’s your window into this part of the country and once you’ve witnessed its allure, you’ll want to discover what else it offers.

Setting the mood with an early morning cup of Assam chai

Aromatic tea to awaken the senses

One of the first things that come to mind when you think of Assam is Assam tea. And why not? It’s one of the most popular types of tea and is exported to several different countries. Starting the morning with a cup of this full-bodied, flavorful beverage will set your mood for the rest of the day!

While in Assam, be sure to pick up several packets of tea from local markets. You can also visit tea estates such as Gatoonga Tea Estate, Halamari Tea Factory, and Corramore Tea Estate to see how tea is processed and taste different flavours.

Caterpillar of eri silk moth on leaf – silk for the conscious minded

Eri silk for the conscious-minded

If you love silk but hate the idea of how it’s made, you’ll be happy to know that Assam produces eri silk, otherwise known as peace silk or ahimsa silk. The fabric is derived without killing silkworms, making it a sought-after material among vegans and those who practice non-violence. You can find it in stores around the state including Fabric Plus in Guwahati and Guldasta – Muga Eri Silk and Natural Dyes in Boko.

As you shop for eri silk, keep your eye out for gamosa, a length of woven cotton fabric in white and red that’s a cultural symbol of the Assamese. It’s used for a variety of purposes, including as part of welcoming ceremonies, to cover alters and also as waistcloths.

The majestic one-horned rhinoceros at Kaziranga National Park

Where rare and endangered wildlife lives

One of the first stops every visitor should make in Assam is to Kaziranga National Park. Home to a majority of the population of the majestic one-horned rhinoceros, the UNESCO World Heritage Site is also home to tigers and elephants as well as flora like elephant apples and kumbha. The park stands out for its successful conservation efforts and although poaching is a concern, implementation of regulations and policies have significantly reduced it.

Kaziranga National Park may be Assam’s crown jewel but there are others that you should try to visit during your time here. Manas National Park, another UNESCO World Heritage Site is one. Several rare and endangered species call it home including the pygmy hog. You can also find the endemic and endangered Assam roofed turtle.

The best time to visit both parks is from November to April. Kaziranga remains closed to visitors from May to October while Manas is only partially open during this period.

Bihu women dancing as Bihu man plays on a dhol

Make merry throughout the year

To get a taste of Assamese culture, you should try to plan your visit in January, April or October which is when the state goes all out to celebrate Bihu. There are three Bihu festivals – Magh Bihu, Rongali Bihu and Kati Bihu – and Rongali Bihu is the most important as it celebrates the Assamese new year and the onset of spring. You’ll get to feast on special delicacies like chira and pitha and see musicians and dancers perform with gaiety. Fairs are held in various parts of the state and the festive ambience draws you in so that you can’t help but get caught up in the excitement.

Come to Assam for a taste of culture, nature and everything in between. It’s your corridor to the North East and will have you longing to uncover its many mysteries and those beyond. Plan your next vacation to this wonderful region and come away with memories that will last you a lifetime.

Image courtesy: Pixabay and depositphotos

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