Dibrugarh - Sivasagar - Majuli - Kaziranga NP
Available from October to April
The plains of Assam is bestowed upon with much richness. Plentiful water resources that drain from the great eastern Himalayan ranges combined with a sustenance based approach to livelihood ensures the region harbors fascinating biodiversity spread across four national parks and numerous wildlife sanctuaries. This land of fertility has since long influenced both culture and life. Settlers who came from across Asia right from antiquity ended up calling the plains their home, having found a land of esteemed beauty and bounty. Even the cultivation of rice some experts believe has originated in the region. This if were to be traced can still be seen in the wide variety of rices grown here. Many of the settlers formed powerful kingdoms to rule over Assam, such as the Varmanas of the classical age who had allegiances with kings of the Gupta Dynasty, and the mighty Ahoms who ruled uninterrupted for six centuries during the medieval age. The history of these kingdoms and the people is deeply intertwined to Hinduism and the region finds mention in early classical texts such as the epic Mahabharata where the land is called as Kamrupa. Even the invading Ahoms ended up adopting the local religion during their rule. Later with advance of British colonialism, it seems history has been rewritten as the old gave way to the new. As with coincidences, in the year 1823 the adventure of a certain Scottish settler by the name of Robert Bruce discovering tea was grown in Assam started a new era of western interest in the region and dramatically changed the landscape. Like gardening and tea, the British also always had a fascination with Northeast India, somewhere these wild frontiers awakened their explorer-like curiosity. The tea found great acceptance by aficionados in Britain upon introduction and ever since tea growing has become perhaps the only large scale commercial activity in the state with the presence of more than eight hundred tea estates today that cover the landscape in a contiguous patch of greenery.
This tour is a well crafted introduction to the state of Assam. Covering both attractions and secrets, the journey reveals the simple joys of nature and culture that the people find pride in. Starting in the small tea growing riverside town of Dibrugarh somewhere in the far-eastern plains of the country, you will be staying in a charming colonial-era planter’s bungalow surrounded by unending miles of lush tea plantations, meanwhile also visit a factory to learn about tea production or perhaps join tribal ladies to pluck some fresh tea leaves. Mostly, time just flies in the plantations as if hypnotized with all the greenery. In the historical town of Sivasagar, you will be learning about Assam’s renaissance-like medieval era when the Ahoms ruled in all glory, with visits to some of their temples, monuments and the museum. Moving on, the journey will reach the large island of Majuli that sits right in the middle of the mighty Brahmaputra River. The island with a rich lineage remains the cultural hub for the Assamese people. Age-old monasteries present here are excellent centers of religious teachings, arts and drama that focus on the branch of Hindusim that considers Lord Vishnu as the supreme God and demands total love and compassion. There is indeed a sort of divine calm that prevails in this countryside island and monks can often be heard or seen reciting or enacting the great mythological love stories of Vishnu and his incarnations. Lastly, the tour will visit the renowned UNESCO natural heritage site of Kaziranga National Park where you will be introduced to the biodiversity of the region. The park has for more than a century been involved in pioneering conservation work that has resulted in the preservation of a large amount of wildlife species but especially Asian rhinos whose population has increased from under a dozen in the early 20th century to more than two thousand of them today. Thrilling safaris here will reveal much of the wilderness – rhinos up close, an elephant chasing away noisy tourists, romp of otters creating a ruckus, colorful birds chirping and fighting, or perhaps even a mythical tiger on a hunt.
In some perception, Assam appears as a doorway to the mysterious northeastern region of India. The cultures and environment remain like a delicate thread that has been developed over countless centuries, a profound melting point of western and eastern elements that became integral to the land itself.
Day 1 | Dibrugarh
Upon arrival at the airport at Dibrugarh, drive to nearby Mancotta Tea Estate to check-in at a luxurious colonial-era planter's bungalow situated midst unending miles of plantation greenery. Rest of the day at leisure to absorb in the plantation life. Enjoy a fine evening cup of Assam tea.
Day 2 | Dibrugarh
Go for an early morning stroll into the tea gardens, the best time to experience the therapeutic aromas and the plantations fresh with new leaves and greenery. Later after a leisurely breakfast, you will leave for a guided tour of the tea factory to learn about the various processes involved in the production of tea and if possible have a conversation with the manager. Afternoon and evening will be free at leisure to relax in the peaceful ambience of the lush green plantations. Maybe visit nearby villages in a leisurely walk. A visit to the planter's clubhouse can be knowledgeable and hints at the rich colonial days. Evening at leisure or you may explore the town's busy markets and end dining in a nice restaurant.
Day 3 | Dibrugarh - Sivasagar - Majuli
After breakfast at leisure, drive to Majuli (4-5 hours), the biggest inhabited river island in the world and a well preserved spot for Assamese and tribal culture. En route cross the mighty Brahmaputra in a scenic ferry ride and visit the historical ruins and temples at Sivasagar that date to the age of the Ahoms. Spend the rest of the day leisurely exploring the vast island and the beautiful countryside. The large wetlands and lakes on the island also attract many birds which interest many ornithologists, enjoy the spectacular sunset by the riverside. Enjoy a rural stay, relish the ethnic Mishing cuisine and also try the local brew, Apong. Traditional Mishing dance performance can be arranged upon prior request. Your stay will be in a traditional bamboo cottage with clean but basic amenities.
Day 4 | Majuli
Spend the day at leisure exploring the island and its secrets. Observe fishermen in the misty morning as they go out for their daily catch. Visit age-old monasteries where monks learn unique forms of arts, drama, music and Hindu philosophy. Interact with the monks to learn further about the tradition they follow. Visit a mask making center where extremely elaborate masks are carved in an indigenous method depicting elements from mythology. Go for leisurely walks or bicycling to some of the villages of the island, home to tribes such as Mishings, Deoris and Kacharis, thus learning more about local way of life and the sustenance it provides. You may also do a bit of bird watching, spend time indulging in a spectacular sunset and taste the ethnic cuisine. Evening will be at leisure. Bonfires can be arranged in winters.
Day 5 | Majuli - Kaziranga NP
After breakfast, leave for the world famous Kaziranga National Park (3-4 hours) – a UNESCO heritage site that is home to the largest population of Asiatic rhinos to be found in the world along with a high density of tigers. Your wilderness journey will begin in the afternoon as you explore the central range in a jeep safari. The range has a good diversity of animal life including the presence on monitor lizards, otters and even the Assam roofed turtle. Evening will be at leisure. Your stay will be in Wildgrass, a charming jungle lodge with standard amenities.
Day 6 | Kaziranga NP
After an early breakfast, go for a thrilling jeep safari inside western range of the national park. The numerous animals and birds of the great grasslands of Kaziranga are sure to leave any nature lover in a delightful mood. The range is apt to witness large gathering of animals in the waterbodies and grasses, such as herds of rhinos, deers and wild bovids. Mid-day will be at leisure to explore nearby villages and craft centers. Afternoon will again be well spent in the wilds in a jeep safari to the less touristy eastern range. The habitat harbors a variety of bird species and you might also end up witnessing the elusive tiger in action or a giant elephant chasing away intruders. Return to lodge by dusk for an evening at leisure.
Day 7 | Kaziranga NP - Jorhat
An early morning elephant safari will be an apt ending to your journey across Assam, giving you an opportunity to go even closer to some of the larger animals of the national park such as rhinos and deer. Later after breakfast, you can either drive to Jorhat Airport (2 hours) or Guwahati Airport (5-6 hours) for your departure. Tour ends.
Surrounded midst lush sprawling tea gardens on the outskirts of Dibrugarh, Mancotta Bungalow is a boutique property with the classic old warm charm found in the luxury and comfort the early British tea growers lived in and their lifestyle in the estates. The stilt-raised bungalow displays fine colonial architecture. A peculiar feature is all nails used in building are made out of wood believed to have been handcrafted by traditional Chinese artisans. Rooms are large and luxurious with modern amenities. The open lawns and sit-outs are ideal for long conversations over a fine cup of tea or indulge in a book.
La Maison De Ananda, the ‘house of happiness’, was built by a French couple who fell in love with Majuli and gifted it to a local family as a source of income from likeminded travelers who visit the island. The stilt cottage is built in local ways using bamboo and cane. Interiors are clean and basic, in tune to the village life existing around. There’s a sit-out where one can relax or have pleasant conversations.
Amidst a setting of Assamese countryside, bamboo groves and tea gardens, Wildgrass Lodge is a boutique colonial styled jungle lodge with extensive grounds where the enthusiastic owner grows more than 200 different plant species. The spacious rooms are fairly luxurious with wooden floors and private baths. The grand dining hall is charmingly old-world and provide an ambient setting for conversations and friendships.
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