Assam, the pride of Northeast and its river festival

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Kamal Baruah
Assam is the gateway to the north east. It is a land of multi-ethnic, multi-linguistic and multi-religious society. Surely it has enormous potential to make it a must visit location. “Atithi Devo Bhava,” Known Assamese hospitality is a reflection of their culture. They are truly warm hearted people of hills and valleys. The tributaries of mighty Brahmaputra flow through this diverse land. Besides geographical and ecological diversity, north east is traveller’s lonely planet for its scintillating beauty of nature and beautiful contrast of rich heritage and culture. With the help of technology outsiders can easily Google us from a distance. Nowadays even Wi-Fi and high speed internet will boost it to make it happen for safaried visitors.
Driving here is traveller’s paradise. The beautiful landscape starts taking on a new appearance everywhere. The monsoon forest makes it one of the richest biodiversity areas in the world. It has abundant rainfall throughout the year. The infrastructures are developed in Kaziranga National Park for its rare species of one horned rhino to capture traveller’s imaginations. One can escape from the hustle of busy city life to Jungle Safari to Tiger territory at Manas National Park. It is incredible nature of lesser visited wildlife reserve and rare wild orchids. Nameri national park is marked for bird watchers. The nature is truly enjoying with various species of Asiatic birds. And God is rejoicing in the new creation. It is rare and endangered endemic wildlife.

The largest river island in the world, Majuli is interlinked with ferry services for hassle free move. It is a cultural capital of Assam and famous for its Sattra, a monastery like institution which was the epicentre of the Vaishanvite culture. Sattriya here recognised as one of the classical dance of India. Mahapurush Shrimanta Sankardeva is credited with providing a thread of unity to then Assam straddling two major kingdoms Ahom and Koch . Historical Sibsagar was the capital of Ahom Kingdom who ruled Assam for six centuries till Burmese invasion followed by British. It has tourist attraction from various forts to underground architectures.

Bihu is the lifeline of the Assamese people for its enticing songs and dances. Tourists can explore those famous for its rich, diverse culture of colourful indigenous tribes and fascinating spice cultivation. The cuisine of Assam has unique flavours. It is delicious as well as spicy. Assamese handloom brings rich images on Muga, Eri and Pat. Sualkuchi is the ‘Manchester of Assam’. To live up to the expectation of Mahatma Gandhi who remarked “Assamese women are born weavers, they can weave fairy-tales in their cloth”. It is a beautiful visit amidst through the lush greenery of huge tea plantations of upper Assam. Watching foot tapping dance of tea tribe communities ‘Jhumur’ in the night is another unforgettable experience there.

The land of red river and blue hills is full of curiosity for many outsiders. The age old myth Kamakhya temple on the Nilachal hilltop is one of the four primary shakti peethas and an important pilgrimage destination for Hindus and tantric worshipers. Besides Guwahati is a temple city. The river island Umananda has natural and scenic beauty of the upstream river Brahmaputra. There is huge potential to attract tourist to this unexplored world. Awesome Assam can become a tourism hub so does geographically inter linked to other neighbouring North eastern states.

Beyond Assam, North East always finds a mention on a tourism bucket list. There are wild destinations to witness three sixty degree happiness. Beautiful Shillong popularly called ‘the abode of clouds’ is most preferred by visitors as it is easily accessible through incredible road, passing through some of the most magical mountains, breathtaking waterfalls and panoramic view. Mizoram is unique for its dramatic landscape and pleasant climate. Tripura is home to a diverse mix of tribal culture and religious groups. Shangri La of north east Manipur is inspired as the Switzerland of the east. Himalayan monarchy Sikkim has much to offer to all her visitors. National highways of north east carry strategic interest for this frontier land. And spiritual Tawang is no exception despite Chinese aggression. Improvements of these roads will bring sea change in their tourism industry.

The ongoing campaign of ‘Namami Brahmaputra’, India’s biggest river festival from Mar 31 signifies excellent start to add momentum to promote and showcase Assam around the world. Surely it is an ideal platform to showcase Assam for its potential in trade, tourism and culture. But we are yet to tap the potential of Brahmaputra River so far. President Pranab Mukherjee will inaugurate the festival and also Spiritual leader Dalai Lama and yoga guru Ramdev will grace the occasion. It is a treat to both eyes and ears from the theme song of Papan sung by a galaxy of singers. Chief Minister of Assam thrust his vision of Brahmaputra festival for its civilization from the stretch of Sadiya to Dhuburi.

The rejuvenation project Namani Gange initiated by Prime Minister has already reached cultural and spiritual significance. But we need to develop our own strategy to compete with others. White desert festival Rann utsav of Kutch, lonely planet Diu attracted many visitors around the world. Even neighbouring Nagaland has the most exotic cultural ‘Hornbill festival’ for its global presence. North east is not just state of suffering problems; we have hoped and happening around. It has been the meeting point of many communities, faiths and cultures and has some real surprises for the travellers. Together we can generate immense interest of cultural ethos within and outside the nation. This five day event of fun and festivities shall also bring business to South East Asian markets. Act east policy will surely add bright outlook for higher tourist footfalls from international travellers. Despite geographically isolated from the rest of the India, the new roadmap of ‘Asthalakshmi’ makes visitors friendly once they reach in this land. Surely it promises to be a hot-spot tourist destination in future. One should experience the rare beauty of this wonderful land through this festival.

Source: The Sangai Express

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