The year end picnic, get-together parties and day trips are all we wait for after toiling hard the entire year. The festivities of the last few months of the year with Ganesh Chaturthi, Navratri, Durga Puja, Dussehra, Diwali, Kali Puja, Christmas reaches a new level with these year-end picnics. The excitement of stepping into a new year while being grateful for the passing year is always so great.
This year is about to end too but the pandemic is ongoing. Picnic would be rare this year, but that doesn’t stop us from going on day trips with family and friends while following the mandatory safety precautions. Many are already out and about, but those with kids and elderly are still being cautious. But these picture perfect locations near Guwahati are ideal for nature lovers, and kids too will enjoy to the fullest.
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Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary
Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary is first on the list because it is nearest compared to the other locations on the list. Situated on the southern banks of the river Brahmaputra in Morigaon district, it is about 48 kms from Guwahati city and takes around 1 hr 45 mins to reach there.
The main advantage of this location is that you don’t have to travel too early which otherwise becomes a little difficult with kids. Start your ride comfortably after your brunch and you could easily reach there for an elephant safari or jeep safari. The Sanctuary is open from 7am to 4pm throughout the year but the best time to visit is from November to March. The elephant safari timings are 6.30 am/ 7.30 am and 2.30 pm. The jeep safari timings are 6.30 am and 3 pm. Bird watching is another activity you can enjoy as Pobitora is home to more than 2000 migratory birds.
Pobitora is home to world’s highest density of one-horned rhinoceros and therefore you can definitely view a rhino during your safari. Spread across 38.83 sq kms of area, the Sanctuary is divided into forest, grassland and wetland. Apart from rhino the other animals spotted here are leopard, wild boar, barking deer, wild Buffalo etc.
Pro tip : On your way back to Guwahati enjoy a sumptuous dinner at any of the resorts in Sonapur which will complete your New year end outing.
Chandubi lake is a natural lake located at the foot of Garo hills surrounded by Assam and Meghalaya. It falls under Rabha Hasong Autonomous council, Kamrup district and is at a distance of 64 kms from Guwahati city which takes around 2 hours drive via Rani.
Rowing activity is available on the lake as you get to enjoy the picturesque surrounding. During winters many species of migratory birds can be spotted in the lake. In the first week of January the Chandubi festival is held every year which showcases local tribal cuisine and folk dance among other activities.
The quiet ambience is exactly what you are looking for this year provided you have to maintain social distancing. Just relax and enjoy the serenity of the surroundings.
Ukiam is located 73 kms south of Guwahati, at the Assam-Meghalaya border. This place witnesses a confluence of three rivers Drone, Sree, Dilma and is a very popular picnic site. There are 35 small villages in the vicinity which have joined hands to find ways to boost tourist influx to the place. The Drone-Sree-Dilma River festival held for the first time last year received great response. A few more festivals were lined up for this year too but the pandemic came as an obstruction.
A suspension bridge connects the border towns of Assam and Meghalaya and acts as the lifeline between the two states. The river below is rocky at places, and the surrounding mountains adds to the scenic beauty. Ukiam is a 2 hours 45 mins drive from the city.
Bogamati lies at the mouth of river Barnadi and is located near the Indo-Bhutan border at Baksa district of Assam. The river has vast deposits of white sand and stones and hence the name, Boga meaning white and mati meaning sand.
Bogamati is 93.9 kms from Guwahati city and takes around 2 hours 40 mins of travel time. River rafting at the white waters of Barnadi river is available for tourists. Other activities available are zip lining, trekking, camping etc. You can also visit the nearby tea plantations while you are there and grab a few packets of pure Assam tea.
There’s a Buddhist temple up in the hills near the Bogamati picnic spot to reach which you have to climb a fleet of stairs. Bogamati is the perfect getaway this year end and tops my must visit list.
Bhairabkunda is located in Udalguri district of Assam at the border of Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh. It is about 138 kms from Guwahati city and takes 3 hours 30 mins of travel time.
Bhairabkunda witnesses the confluence of the Bhairabi River and the Jampani River which originates in Bhutan. In Assam this becomes the river Dhansiri. There’s a Shiva temple nearby which geographically belongs to Bhutan but can be visited by Indians without a visa but only valid ID proof. In fact, one can also visit the nearby Bhutanese town Daifam and purchase wine and alcohol at much cheaper rates.
Every year in the month of January the Bhairabkunda festival is organized here to promote tourism. During the festival different adventure sports and cultural activities are organized for the tourists.
Deepor Beel is located in the outskirts of the city and is contiguous with the Rani and Garbhanga Reserve Forest. It’s a permanent freshwater lake and a popular site for birdwatching. The beel is a natural habitat to around 219 species of birds including more than 70 species of migratory birds.
Inspite of being so close to the city, Deepor beel is a perfect getaway to escape with family. The road next to the lake is beautiful with hills on one side and the lake on the other. People often go for an outing and relax on the bank of the lake simply enjoying the natural beauty.
Start planning your trip today! But don’t forget to maintain the basic protocols – face mask, hand-sanitizer and social-distancing.
“Jajabor: Wanderlust Assam ” is my first non-fiction travel guide book on Assam and is quite informative. Visit the link to purchase a copy.