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North East ~ Assam Overview

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.

Bihu is the national festival of Assam. The principal of the three Bihus, Bohag or Rongali Bihu ushers in the Assamese New Year, in the middle of April, and is celebrated with distinctive Bihu dances and songs.

Guwahati
Situated on the bank of the mighty river Brahmaputra, Guwahati is said to be the legendary Pragjyotishpur or City of Eastern Light. It is the gateway to north eastern India. The name is a combination of two words: Guwa meaning areca nut and Hat meaning market. Guwahati is the commercial nerve centre of the North-East.

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Kaziranga National Park
Kaziranga National Park lies on the south bank of the Brahmaputra and it's boundary for the most part follows the Mora Diphlu river and runs parallel to National Highway No. 37. It covers an area of 688 sq. kilometres. The Park was first established in 1908, as a reserve forest with only about a dozen rhinos and was declared a National Park in 1974.

Kaziranga is famous for the great One-Horned Rhinos. Tigers which are natural enemies of rhinos are also there in sizable numbers in this area. Other attractions of this national park include the wild buffalo, magnificent swamp deer, hog deer, wild boar, Hoolok gibbon, capped langur and ratel (badger).

A wide variety of snakes including the rock python and the monitor lizard are also found here. Amongst the birds, the crested serpent eagle is common while palla's fishing eagle and gray headed fishing eagle are frequently seen. Others include the Great Adjutant Stork, crane, Bengal floricab, bar-headed goose, whistling teal, and pelican.

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Mihimukh is the starting area for the park and elephants can be hired from here to enter the sanctuary. Jeep safaris and early morning elephant rides can be arranged for at the Tourist Centre here.

Forest rest houses and bungalows are available in the park area. Kaziranga Forest Lodge is also available with air conditioned rooms, bar restaurant and other facilities.

Contact
Director, Kaziranga National Park, PO Bokaghat, District Jorhat, Assam.

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Tezpur
Sonitpur, as Tezpur was known in the olden days, is a city steeped in mythology, legend and folklore.Tezpur or the 'city of blood' conjures up images of the romantic legend of Usha and Anirudha. Situated on the banks of river Brahmaputra, this town replete with a raw natural beauty and fascinating archaeological ruins is the headquarters of district Sonitpur.Undulating green valleys surrounded by lofty hills and the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas, and lush tea gardens make Tezpur a tourist's delight.

Sibsagar
Sibsagar was the capital of the mighty Ahoms, who ruled Assam for more than six hundred years, before the advent of the British. The town, which literally means 'the ocean of Lord Shiva', is strewn with the tell-tale ruins of a powerful empire. The most remarkable landmark of the town is the 200 year old Sibsagar tank. On its banks are three significant temples - Shivadol, Vishnudol and Devidol. Modern Sibsagar is a fast developing urban settlement. It is the headquarters of the district Sibsagar, a leading tea and oil producing centre.

Haflong
At 680 metres above sea level, in lush hilly terrain lies this lovely lakeside resort which is Assam's only hill station. It is the headquarters of North Cachar Hills District and is situated at a distance of 355 kms from Guwahati. Haflong is the name of a variety of orchids, one of them being the rare Blue Vanda.

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Jorhat
It is famous for its sprawling tea gardens. It is the nerve centre of the tea industry. It has the world renowned Teklai Experimental Centre. Research is carried out to find new varieties of tea and also therapeutic effects of green tea. From Jorhat, one can visit Majuli, the largest island on the Brahmaputra. In Majuli, there are numerous satras or monasteries. 60 kms aways from Jorhat, lies Nambar Forest reserve which is famous for being a rejuvenating hot spring.A further 90 kms down, one comes across Dimapur (in Nagaland), once the seat of the Cachar kingdom.

Dibrugarh
It is an upcoming major trading centre and a lovely river side town in Upper Assam. This is the place where the mighty river Brahmaputra is at its majestic best. Dibrugarh is in the midst of tea plantations.


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Editor: Romola Butalia       (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.