Our first destination of interest on our Chota Assam Tour is the Kamakhya Devi temple, devoted to Goddess Kamakhya Mata. Legend has it that during the early century a Vedic sage in Varanasi was approached by a king in the Himalayan range. He wanted a solution to convert the tribal folks and their rituals of human sacrifices to more socially accepted worship.
Tradition and folklore are a highlight of Chota Assam Tour
I felt that this is a great start to travel in a land steeped in folklore, myth and ancient traditions. While the guest looks around the temple complex, I sent a silent prayer out to the Goddess – ” Bless the trip, may it be successful and an unforgettable one for the guests.”
By the time we sat down to a sun downer on the boat, at Guwahati there is an “in holiday” mood among the group. The Cruise on the Brahmaputra to watch the sunset over this mighty river is perfect, and once we got back to shore, we were ready for some retail therapy.
Purchasing the Eri and Muga saris requires many trials of draping different hues and weaves! Over a delicious dinner, influenced by menus from The British Raj, there were a lot of interactions with the guests and friends whom I have invited. A gracious hostess, my aunt, had bonfire lit in her garden and conversations kept flowing.
Beautiful countryside, a fantastic river and monks!
Next day after a long drive through the green countryside, dotted with tea plantations and small villages, we boarded the public ferry to Majuli, the largest river island in the world. It was the last ferry for the day; a gorgeous sunset was our reward.
It was amazing to see the river and the sky surrounding the sandbanks turn to shades of orange and vermilion. The hotel had organized a bonfire and a Bihu dance performance by a young Mishing tribe troupe who encouraged us to join in and try the moves.
We went to visit one of the oldest Satras, with Montu, a local guide. Montu explains the ways of a monastery, how the monks live and interact with the tribal folks that also inhabit the island. Later on, we visited the potters, who make very basic mud pots used mainly to set yogurt in, which is ferried across to the mainland to be sold in the markets there. The young women from a Satra that allows families to live together, put up a performance for us on the ten different phases of Vishu known as the Dashavatar.
Stories of the masks and sculptures
A few young children rushed up to us to show off little statues and sculptures they had created. Their faces lit up and were a treat to see when some of my travel companions offered to buy their handiwork.
The mask makers at Samaguri Satra gave us a warm welcome, and Khogen Da described the process of how to make traditional bamboo masks. He also explained how his uncle, Hem Chandra Goswami innovated the craft and added mobility to the masks.
It is quite mesmerizing to see a good actor give a demonstration and we were in awe. Later in the evening, we visited another monastery to witness the monks chant and dance. Truly a beautiful day and when my travel guests say that to me, it makes me happy to be doing this.
Vibrant clothes, children, and biscuits – the Real Chota Assam
Next day we visited a Mishing village. I kept my word to the children I made during my last visit, to carry small packets of biscuits. They were happy to lead the way to their mothers, who were weaving. The weaves are intricate and textiles vibrant.
I am always looking forward to seeing these textiles and was very happy that my guests appreciated them too. We were invited by many of the villagers to their homes to partake a glass of home-brewed rice beer. That day ended with a barbecue by the river. The Mishing tribesmen are great at this, and we couldn’t stop eating.
The hills of tea and wildlife of Kaziranga
We left the island the next morning and made our way to a tea estate near Jorhat. The gracious hosts took us around the estate and the tea factory. It was an eye-opener to many of my companions on what goes into making the perfect cup of tea. After a delicious lunch, I still remember the pork cooked in black sesame paste, we headed for our final destination.
No trip to Assam would be complete without having seen the one-horned rhino in its natural surroundings. Kaziranga is a vast expanse of tall elephant grass, marshland and dense tropical forests, crisscrossed by four major rivers including the Brahmaputra and the park includes many small water bodies. I recommend to my guests to do both the early morning elephant ride and the evening Jeep safari to get a feel for the sanctuary.
I am biased to this beautiful jungle that I have been visiting since I was a chit of a girl. It is always a pleasure watching my fellow travelers get their first glimpse of the majestic beast no matter how many things I witness it. One of these days I am hoping that a tiger will suddenly show itself and I know that thrill will stay with me forever.
Come, join the forth coming Chota Asssam Tour and experience joys of Northeast! Check our the itinerary below.