Assam is known for its warm and hospitable people, breathtaking natural beauty and biodiversity. Its culture, cuisine, wildlife, greenery, tea gardens, rivers and traditional handicrafts make it an exotic destination for tourists. It is home to a variety of destinations that cater to all kinds of tourists, starting from nature lovers and adventure junkies to history buffs. It also boasts of numerous unexplored destinations that can quench the desire of those who want to go off the beaten track. Here are 5 offbeat destinations in Assam that should be a part of your itinerary:
Manas National Park
If you want a rendezvous with the world famous Bengal tiger and the endangered one-horned Indian rhino, you should certainly visit Manas National Park. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is renowned for its endangered and rare wildlife such as the Bengal Florican, golden langur, pygmy hog, hispid hare etc. The fauna of the wildlife sanctuary consists of over 300 species of birds, 55 species of mammals and 50 species of reptiles. Manas National Park is situated at an easily accessible distance of 176 KM from Guwahati, and the journey from Guwahati takes around 5 hours by car. The nearest city is Barpeta Town. Hotels in that town accept debit and credit card payments but you might need to pay cash for cab bookings.
You might have heard of Majuli in Assam, the largest river island in the world. But, have you heard of Umananda Island, the smallest inhabited river island in the world? It can also be found in Assam and is situated on the Brahmaputra River. The colonial rulers of Assam anglicized its name to Peacock Island. The island is famous for its Shiva Temple built by the Ahom Kings in the 17th century. According to mythology, it was created by Lord Shiva for his wife Parvati and so it is revered by Hindus. It is a fortress of solitude frequented by those who seek tranquility and spirituality. Umananda Island can be reached by a short ferry ride from Guwahati.
Tea Estates of Barak Valley
How do you feel about spending time at a quaint tea estate amidst lush greenery? The picturesque tea estates of Barak Valley, a district in South Assam, are lesser known but they can be the ideal destination for those who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of urban life. Some of these tea estates are Dolu Tea Estate, Longai Tea Estate and Digamber Tea Estate (Kalain). Inside the Dolu Tea Estate lies the Dolu Lake, a scenic picnic spot famous for its glorious sunsets. All of these estates are situated near the town of Silchar, the commercial hub of South Assam. Silchar is connected by bus, train and flight to Guwahati. You can also drive down to Silchar provided you have documents such as driving license, car insurance papers and other documents handy as there are frequent checks on the way.
Do you know that there is a place in Assam where birds commit suicide? It is a village called Jatinga and lies on the outskirts of Haflong, the only hill station of Assam. The strange phenomenon of birds committing suicide takes place every monsoon during moonless nights at a valley near the village of Jatinga. Even if you are not interested in this phenomenon, you can visit this hill station for its beautiful landscapes, rolling hills and pristine lakes. Other attractions in Haflong include the Haflong Lake, Fiangpui Garden and ethnic villages of tribes who inhabit this hill station. Travelers can reach Haflong from Guwahati by bus and the journey takes around 8 hours.
Srimanta Sankardev Kalakshetra
A trip to Assam will be incomplete without exploring its vibrant culture and the best way to do that is by visiting the Kalakshetra. It is a cultural institution in Guwahati that provides visitors with a glimpse of the artistic excellence and culture of Assam and its seven sister states of the Northeast. Named after the famous 16th century Assamese polymath and reformer Srimanta Shankardev, it houses a library, a cultural museum and various demonstrations of art and culture. It also houses various buildings and structures that demonstrate Assamese architecture and design. It is open from 10 AM - 7 PM on all days.
Apart from the above, there are countless other unexplored destinations in Assam that you can visit to make your trip a once in a lifetime experience. Most places accept credit card payments and so you will not have to carry a lot of cash during your tour. In the last few years, more and more domestic tourists have been visiting this northeastern state. Contrary to popular belief, all kinds of facilities are available in Assam. Even if you are someone with special health conditions, you can easily visit the state as medical care is easily available there with most hospitals covered under major health insurance networks.