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 Assam

Assam is a northeastern state of India with its capital at Dispur. Located just below the eastern Himalayan foothills, it is surrounded by the other northeastern states: Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura and Meghalaya. Assam and its commercial capital Guwahati form the gateway to the northeastern states, together called the 'seven sisters'. These states are connected to the rest of India via Assam's border with West Bengal and a narrow strip called the "Chicken's Neck." Assam also shares international borders with Bhutan and Bangladesh. Situated between 90-96 degree East Longitute and 24-28 degree North Latitude, Assam is very rich in vegetation, forests and wildlife. The region also has a number of reserved forests, and one of them, Kaziranga, is the home of the rare Indian Rhinoceros. High rainfall, deforestation, and other factors have resulted in annual floods that cause widespread loss of life, livelihood and property. An earthquake prone region, Assam has experienced two large earthquakes in 1897 and 1950.

The state is divided into three broad geographic units:

- The lower and central Assam hills, known as the Shillong Plateau
- The Barail ranges and the low hilly terrains of Mizo hills
- The Alluvial valley of Brahmaputra, Dhansiri and the Barak river


The lower and central Assam range which includes, from west to east, the Garo, Khasi, Jaintia and the outlying Mikir hills are in reality a plateau or table-land. The general height of the plateau ranges between 3,000ft and 6,000ft. The Khasi and Jaintai hill portion of the plateau are comparatively higher and flatter than the Garo and Mikir hills on the west and northeast. The highest peak of the plateau is the Shillong peak (6450 ft).

The lofty Barail ranges, also known as the North Cachar hills, are separated from the Shillong plateau on the Northwest by a system of narrow valleys. Technically, the Barails form a south westerly extension of the mountain chain of Nagaland and western Burma. It is this chain of mountain that separates the valley of Irrawaddy and Chindwin of Burma from the valley of Brahmaputra and the Meghna. The Patkai, Naga and Manipur hills and the Mizo hills, form part of this great mountain system. The Mizo hills consist of a belt of North-South trending ridges with intricate valleys, with an average height of 3,000ft.

The alluvial plains of Assam consist of two distinct parts i.e.the valley of the Brahmaputra and its tributaries and the Barak valley. These are separated from each other by the water shed of the Shillong plateau and the Barail ranges.

The Brahmaputra valley separates the sub-Himalayan foothills from the Shillong plateau and the Patkai-Naga hill ranges. The Mizo hills and the Barail ranges die out towards the west and south west into the plains of Cachar, which is a part of Surma-Kusiyara valley.

History

Assam was known as 'Kamarupa' or 'Pragjyotish' in the period of the Epics. Human inhabitation of this area dates backs to about 2000 BC. The population of Assam comprises of the migrants from Burma and China. They came into Assam after the mongoloid migration. They came from Punjab through Bihar and North Bengal. Thus Assam presents a fusion of Mongol-Aryan culture. The early history of Assam is believed to be of the Varman dynasty. The reign of this dynasty extended from 400 AD to 13th century. The visit of Huien Tsang is said to have taken place during the 7th century at the time of Kumar Bhaskar Varman. The Ahoms ventured into Assam in about 1228 AD. By 15th century the kingdoms of Ahom and Koch were established. This period witnessed a change in all walks of life in Assam. In the later part of the 18th century the Ahom Kingdom was weakened due to internal strife. The Burmese ran over the political authority in Assam thus invoking British intervention to subdue the Burmese. After a conflict between the Burmese and the English, peace was restored by the treaty of Yandaboo in 1826. The British then set out to organize the administration, transport and communication. Besides the various changes, the construction of railways; introduction of tea plantation, discovery of coal and oil etc. proved fruitful to the British during the World War II. After Independence of India, Assam witnessed several separation of territories. In 1948, NEFA (Arunachal Pradesh) was separated. In 1963 Nagaland was separated. In 1972 Meghalaya and in 1987 Mizoram.

Climate

T-shaped, the state consists of the northern Brahmaputra valley, the middle Karbi and Cachar hills and the southern Barak Valley. It experiences heavy rainfall between March and September, with very high humidity in the summer months. The temperatures are generally mild, never extreme during any season. Summer is from March to June and monsoon from July to August. November to February is winter. Best season to visit Assam is February to May.

Population

The 1991 Census puts the population of Assam at 2,24,14,322 with a sex ratio of 896 females per 1,000 males and a growth rate of +53.26 per cent in the two decades from 1971 to 1991. There are 16 Scheduled Castes and 23 Scheduled Tribes constituting 7.40 and 12.82 per cent respectively of the State's population. What we call the Assamese people of today is in fact the result of assimilation and integration of people of different racial stocks who migrated to Assam down the ages. The Assamese population can be divided into two broad groups: the non-tribal people who constitute the majority and the tribals.

Languages

Assam is a multiethnic society. Forty five different languages are spoken by different communities in Assam. The state is the meeting place of three major language families: Austroasiatic (5), Sino-Tibetan (24) and Indo-European (12). Three of the spoken languages do not fall in these families. There is a high degree of bilingualism.

Assamese and Bodo are the official languages of the state. Linguistically modern Assamese traces its roots to eastern Magadhan Prakrit, with strong influences from the Tibeto-Burman and Mon-Khmer languages which are spoken by indegenous ethnic groups in the region. Bodo is a Tibeto-Burman language. Bengali is the second most spoken language in the state, and the predominant language in the Barak Valley, the largest city of which is Silchar.

Culture

Assamese culture is a rich conglomerate of ethnic practices and assimilated beliefs. When the Tai Ahoms entered the region in 1228, they had their own cultural features. Over the six centuries of their rule, they adopted the local language, religion and cultural customs, and embellished it with their own to such an extent that it puts them apart from medieval rulers of India. This is one reason why Assamese culture is so rich in heritage and values.

Agriculture

Agriculture is the main occupation of the people and along with the allied occupations it accounts for 63 percent of the states work force. Rice is the staple diet of the people and cultivation of rice is the main occupation of those engaged in agriculture. Different pulses, jute, tea and fruit cultivation are the other agricultural crops. Sugarcane, potatoes, cotton, oil seeds, coconut and arecanut cultivation is also practiced on a substantial scale apart from the horticulture. But 67 percent of the gross cropped area is taken up by rice cultivation, of this about 67 percent again is taken up for the cultivation of Sali paddy on about 16-17 lakh hectares of land. Both the centre and the state are engaged in giving agriculture a big thrust and a second green revolution is to be brought about in the north east. Jhum cultivation or shifting cultivation, under which the tribal farmers burn selected areas of forest land and use it for cultivation in a cyclic period, is a problem in Assam. Confined to its two hill districts which are inhabited by tribal people, efforts are being constantly made to wean the people away from this rather expensive form of cultivation.

Among fruit crops, Assam has oranges and other citrus fruit, bananas, guavas, pineapples and mangoes. There are extensive plans to expand the cultivation of these fruit products and market them to bring greater benefits to the farmers. The gross cropped area in the state is about 35 lakh hectares out of which rice cultivation alone accounts for 26 lakhs. Forests are an important part of Assam's economy. Timber is a major product of the states extensive forests and bamboo is another product, bringing Assam substantial revenue and adding to its wealth. Assam is rightly known for its excellent tea which is one of the major cash crops . About 15 percent of the world's total output of tea comes from the tea gardens of Assam, which provide employment to more than a million people. More than half of that in direct form in the tea gardens and factories turning green leaves into dry tea for home and hotel consumption. Tea cultivation occupies a little less than a tenth of the cultivated area of Assam and 75 percent of the tea gardens are located in the Brahmaputra districts of Darrang, Sibsagar and Lakhimpur. Cachar district accounts for 20 percent of the balance and the remaining 5 percent being accounted by the lower Brahmaputra valley. Guwahati centre in Assam has become the biggest centre of auction of CTC tea in the world.

Industry

Assam is an important producer of silk of different kinds and known for weaving of silk products into saris and fabrics. Production of tusser and other silks and weaving of fabrics is an important occupation for a number of people. Other types of industries are food products, wood and wood products, chemicals and chemical products, non-metallic mineral products. Tea and oil are of prime importance to Assam's economy and also plays a significant role in the economy and life of the state. At Digboy on the border with Burma, Assam has the oldest Indian oil venture and one of the oldest in the world.

Minerals

Assam is endowed with vast mineral resources. The major minerals like coal, oil and gas, limestone, dolomite, sillimanite and corundum, iron ore, felspar, glass-sand, refractory and fire clays, kaolin, beryl, gypsum, pyrite, vermiculite, salt, copper, gold etc. have been reported to occur in the state. The most important minerals being exploited so far in Assam are coal, oil and gas, limestone and sillimanite.

Coal

In Assam, coal occurs in Garo hills, Khasi and Jaintai hills, Mikir hills, Jaipur and Makum. The tertiary coals of Assam are remarkably low in ash but high in sulphur. Assam coal is being consumed at present by the railways, iron and brass foundries, brick kilns, inland water steamer services, tea gardens and other industries in addition to household consumption. Apart from its general uses, Assam coal is eminently suitable for the manufacture of coal distillation products.

Oil and Natural Gas

The oil producing areas of Assam lie in the upper Assam valley and are geologically confined to the Tertiary Strata - mainly Oligocene. Assam is first state in the country where oil was struck in 1889 at Digboy. At present oil is being tapped at two areas - the Digboy and the Naharkotiya and Moran fields. Two more refineries of considerable size have come up in the public sector at Gauhati and Barauni and the third with a petrochemical complex is under way. A new refinery, Numaligarh refinery (3m. tones capacity) was commissioned on July 9, 1999. The availability of associated natural gas is dependent on the extraction of crude oil. Vast quantities of natural gas are being produced along with the production of crude oil. Only two projects under the "utilization of natural gas scheme" have so far come up in the state. These are the thermal power plant and the fertilizer factory at Namrup.

Limestone

The high-grade fossil limestone or 'nummulitic' limestone deposits of Assam are geologically known as 'Syket limestone' as these belong to that groups of rocks. The limestone deposits are confined in areas of Garo hills, united Khasi and Jaintia hills, Cachar hills and Mikir hills. One of the largest outcrops of limestone is at the foot of the Khasi hills. Vast deposits of high-grade limestone are best observed in the Jowai area. Lime stones of the Khasi and Jaintia hills can be used for manufacture of cement and for lime-burning purposes. It can be used in chemical industries and for metallurgical purposes. The limestone deposits of the state offer vast scope for developing innumerable industries where limestone is required.

Sillimanite

The sillimanite deposits of the Nongstoin state in the Khasi hills are world famous from the point of view of quantity and purity of the mineral. Assam is the major producer of this mineral in India and contributes more than 90% of the total production. Corundum is found to occur in association with the sillimanite deposits. Low-grade 'quartz-sillimanite schists' also occur in the same area.

Clay

Assam is endowed with fairly large reserves of sedimentary white clays as well as Kaolin or 'China clay', which forms an important basic raw material for ceramic or refractory industries. These Clays are found to occur at many places in the Garo hills, Khasi and Jaintia hills and the Mikir hills. This clay is quite suitable for the manufacture of medium to low-grade white wares and other ceramic products like stoneware pipes, sanitary ware, glazed tiles and bricks. The Kaolin deposit near Mawphlang is found to be as good as the Kaolin of corn wall.

Glass Sands

Deposits of fine-grained, white friable sandstones has been located in the coalfields of the Laitryngew and Cherapunji areas. The friable quartzite of the Shilllong series around shillong and the Tura sandstones of the Garo hills are suitable for manufacture of sheet glass and fruit glass after washing.

Iron Ore

Occurrence of banded-iron ore have been located in the Chanderdinga hills and Abhayapuri areas in Goalpara district and in the Aradanga-Rangchapara areas on the border of the Kamrup and Khasi and Jaintia hills districts

Copper

Copper minerals occur in the Umpyrtha and Ranighat areas in the Khasi and Jaintia hills and also in the Mahamaya hills in Goalpara district.

Felspar

Felspar is a common mineral found to occur in association with granites. Recently workable felspar deposits have been recorded near the Hahim area in Kamrup district.

Gold

Gold is reported to occur in sands, gravels and alluvial terraces along some of the rivers in the Lakhimpur, Sibsagar and Darrang districts of Assam.

A gold-bearing rock was located at a place about 5 miles southwest of Mawphlang.

Gypsum

Gypsum in the form of selenite crystals and disseminated in shale beds occur at Mahendraganj in the Garo hills and at a few places in the Mikir hills.

Adventurous Activities

Angling

The river Jia Bhoroli, Kapili and Manas are the best places for angling. The Jia Bhoroli river is home to the fierce game fish, the Golden Mahseer, or tiger of the Himalayan rivers. Famous for its golden Mahseer, an annual Angling competition is held regularly at Jia Bharali where a number of anglers both from outside the state as well as abroad participate every year. Angling is so popular a sport here that there is an organised body by the name 'Assam Bhoroli Anglers Association' which organises this sport in the month of November every year in collaboration with the State Forest Department.

Camping

Eco Camp, Situated in the fringes of Nameri National Park is an ideal camping site with all modern amenitites

River Cruise

The turbulent rivers, the mystic blue hills, the savage terrains and serene countryside beckon the adventurers to Assam. Challenge the Brahmaputra, one of the four largest rivers in the world and cruise down the mystic river from Ninging to Dhubri.

Boat Racing

Boat racing is a very popular sport of the state. People very often organise boat racing during festive occasions at places like Hajo, Saulkuchi, Barpeta, Guwahati etc. The involvement of the masses in this sport can be compared with the snake-boat racing in Kerala.

River Rafting

The mighty river Brahmaputra and its turbulent tributaries like Manas, Jia Bhoroli and Kapili offer immense scope for River Rafting. The fiery rapids in these rivers fuel the spirit of adventure in you.

Golf

Most of the tea gardens of Assam have golf courses attached to them. All of them are 9 hole golf courses except for Digboi which is an eighteen hole course. Assam has 21 golf courses. Most of these are run by the tea estates and have air strips attached to them.

Golf Courses in Assam District

1. Bishnauth Gymkhana Club
Sonitpur
Salonibari(Tezpur) / Borjhar(Guwahati)
2. Borsola
Sonitpur
Salonibari(Tezpur) / Borjhar(Guwahati)
3. East Boroi Club
Sonitpur
Salonibari(Tezpur) / Borjhar(Guwahati)
4. Mangaldai Polo & Golf Club
Darrang
Salonibari(Tezpur)
5. Thakurbari Club
Sonitpur
Salonibari(Tezpur)
6. North Lakhimpur Planters Club
Lakhimpur
Lilabari(Lakhimpur)
7. Misa Planters Club
Nagaon
Borjhar(Guwahati)
8. Jorhat Gymkhana Club
Jorhat
Rowriah(Jorhat)
9. Seleng District Club
Sibsagar
Rowriah(Jorhat)
10. Sonari Gymkhana Club
Sibsagar
Rowriah(Jorhat)
11. Tingri Golf Club
Tinsukia
Mohanbari (Dibrugarh)
12. Samdang Golf Club
Tinsukia
Mohanbari (Dibrugarh)
13. Kanjikoah Golf Club
Tinsukia
Doomdoma / Panitola (Dibrugarh)
14. Dibrugarh & District Planters Club
Dibrugarh
Mohanbari / Chabua (Dibrugarh)
15. Margherita Golf Club
Dibrugarh
Mohanbari (Dibrugarh)
16. Naharkatia Golf Club
Dibrugarh
Mohanbari(Dibrugarh)
17. Moran Golf Club
Dibrugarh
Rowriah(Jorhat) / Moran
18. Zoloni Golf Club
Dibrugarh
Mohanbari (Dibrugarh)
19. Dhunseri Polo Club
Golaghat
Rowriah(Jorhat) / Behora T.E.
20. Narengi Golf Club
Kamrup
Borjhar(Guwahati)
21. Digboi Golf Club
Tinsukia
Chabua (Dibrugarh)

A stay in the tea garden, playing golf and driving through tea country is an unforgettable experience.

Mountaineering & Trekking

Assam's topography makes her an ideal destination for trekkers, mountaineers and rock climbers. The hills, in particular, the North Cachar Hills and Karbi Hills are ready to receive tourists for trekking and mountaineering. There is a recognized trekking route in both the districts. There is also a rock hill in Morigaon District known as "Elephant Rocks" which offer ample scope for Rock Climbing. The Simhasana Hill of Karbi Anglong is also famous for rock climbing. The main city of Assam, Guwahati, is surrounded on three sides with beautiful hills.

Mountain Biking

The hilly terrain offers a very good challenge to Mountains Bikers. The Assam Tourism Department in collaboration with The Assam Tourism Development Corporation and other adventure organizations have organized several bicycle and motorbike rallies in and outside the state. Several foreign groups including individual tourists have visited the state for the same.

Para-Sailing

A totally new sport, Para-sailing, has been introduced by Assam Tourist Development Corporation to attract domestic and foreign tourists. The ideal place for Para-sailing near Guwahati is North Guwahati.

Hang Gliding

Hang Gliding also has potential here. The ideal place for Hang Gliding are Kamakhya Hills and hills around Kaziranga.

How to reach

No permit is required by domestic as well as foreign tourists to visit Assam. However, foreign tourists must have an Indian Visa.

By Road

A network of National Highways and other roads connect all important places of Assam. All the towns of Assam are well connected by the Assam State Transport Corporation and other tourist bus services run by private operators. These buses also ply to the capitals of the neighbouring states. Besides, the Department of Tourism has a fleet of luxury buses and jeeps for hire at affordable prices.

Road Distance from Guwahati (Kms)
Agartala 597
Aizawl 538
Badarpur 308
Bongaigaon 190
Bhalukpung 250
Bomdila 342
Cherrapunjee 154
Dimapur 280
Dhubri 287
Dibrugarh 445
Digboi 541
Diphu 269
Duliajan 503
Darjeeling 587
Delhi 2160
Golaghat 307
Gangtok 624
Haflong 355
Itanagar 420
Imphal 487
Jorhat 314
Kaziranga 217
Kokrajhar 276
Kohima 342
Kalingpong 582
Lanka 184
Lawkhowa 140
Ledo 540
Lumding 221
Manas 176
Mangaldoi 70
Margherita 532
Murkongchelek 475
Naharkatia 576
Namrup 543
North Lakhimpur 395
Nagaon 120
Nazira 387
Orang 140
Parasuramkunda 613
Pasighat 515
Sibsagar 396
Bhomoraguri Bridge Via Nagaon 175
Silchar 398
Shillong 100
Siliguri 513
Tinsukia 483
Tura 284
Tezpur 181
Thimphu 549
Tawang 538
Ziro 480

By Air

The Lokopriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport of Guwahati is well connected by air to most of the metros in the country. Air India also operates an international weekly flight between Bangkok and Guwahati. The Indian Airlines, Sahara Airlines, Jet Airways and Deccan Air operate regular flights to Guwahati. The other towns to which Indian Airlines operate flights are Jorhat, Dibrugarh, Tezpur, North Lakhimpur and Silchar. The Indian Airlines also connects Guwahati to the capitals of most of the other North Eastern states.

Flights To/From Assam (Domestic & International)

Indian Airlines : www.indian-airlines.nic.in
Jet Airways : www.jetairways.com
Sahara Airlines : www.airsahara.net
Air Deccan : www.airdeccan.net
Air India : www.airindia.com

Helicopter Services
Route Depart Days
Guwahati - Naharlagun(A.P.) 1330 1 3 5 7
Guwahati - Shillong - Guwahati 0900 1 2 3 5
Guwahati - Shillong - Guwahati 1000 4 6

By Train


Assam is well connected by train with the rest of the country. There are train services from Kolkata, New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Cochin and Trivandrum. B.G. line connection is upto Dibrugarh and M.G. line with Haflong and Silchar. Major towns within the state are also connected by the railway network.

For More Information

Directorate of Tourism
Govt. of Assam
Station Road
Guwahati 781001
Assam, India
Phone:+91-361-547102 / 542748
Fax: +91-361-547102

Assam Tourism Development Corporation Ltd.

Dr. B. Barooah Road
Guwahati 781007
Phone:+91-361-454570/454421
Fax: +91-361-454570
Email: astdcorpn@sancharnet.in

Tourist Information Officer

Lokapriya G.N.B. International Airport
Borjhar, Guwahati
Assam, India

Tourist Information Officer

Tourist Information Centre
Govt. of Assam, Siliguri
Pradhan Nagar
Siliguri - 734403
West Bengal, India

Officer-in-Charge

Tourist Information Centre
Govt. of Assam
Assam House
8, Russel Street
Kolkata - 700 071
West Bengal, India
Phone:+91-33-2295094

Dy. Director of Tourism

Tourist Information Centre
Govt. of Assam
B-1 Baba Kharak Singh Marg
Emporia Complex
New Delhi - 110 001
Phone:+91-11-3345897

Districts of Assam

Assam is divided into 23 districts:
Barpeta
Bongaigaon
Cachar
Darrang
Dhemaji
Dhubri
Dibrugarh
Goalpara
Golaghat
Hailakandi
Jorhat
Kamrup
Karbi Anglong
Karimganj
Kokrajhar
Lakhimpur
Marigaon
Nagaon
Nalbari
North Cachar Hills
Sibsagar
Sonitpur
Tinsukia

Assam at a glance
Area 78,438sq.km
Capital Dispur
Districts 23
Language Assamese, (Bengali for Barak valley)
Population
Total 22,414,322
Male 11,579,693
Female 10,834,629
Literacy 53.42%





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