Assam is an ideal location for all travel lovers. You can opt from many beautiful locations depending on your preferences. Get ‘far away from the madding crowd’ and spend an idyllic vacation amidst the greenery of the tea gardens. Relax in an eco-resort while enjoying the flavorsome ethnic Assamese cuisine. Take a safari of the Wildlife Sanctuaries. Dance to the rhythm of the Dhol on the sandy beaches of river Brahmaputra. Create a list of the most exotic things you wanted to do on a vacation to the northeast and check off each item.
To help you out, here is a list of some worthy weekend destinations near Guwahati you would want to visit.
1. Kaziranga National Park:
The first on the list is always going to be Kaziranga National Park. It is a UNESCO world heritage site located across Golaghat, Karbi Anglong, and Nagaon districts of Assam. This is home to the great Indian one-horned rhinoceros. Around two-thirds of the world rhino population is found here.
Kaziranga is an expanse of tall elephant grass, marshland, and dense tropical moist broad-leaf forests. The Brahmaputra and three other rivers criss-cross the park in different areas. Kaziranga is also home to many different species of animals. These include Royal Bengal Tiger, wild Asiatic water buffalo, eastern swamp deer, and Asian elephant. These together with the one-horned rhino are known as ‘Big Five‘ of Kaziranga. Few other animal species found here are the Ganges dolphin, Golden langur, Hoolock gibbon, Leopards, Wild boar, Hog deer, Chinese pangolin, Indian pangolin, Golden jackal, Particolored flying squirrel, etc.
Kaziranga is home to a variety of migratory birds, water birds, predators, scavengers, and game birds. Kaziranga is a favourite amongst wildlife lovers. Researchers spend months here to document their favourite animals and birds.
How to reach:
Kaziranga National Park is at a distance of 217 km from Guwahati. You can hire a cab from Guwahati for a comfortable ride, or use self-drive cars and bikes. Take an early morning drive via NH 37 to the central park area located in Kohora, Golaghat district. This drive will take you around 4 to 5 hours, depending on how many stop you are taking to savour the fantastic roadside views.
If you are looking for cheaper options, then board a bus from ISBT, Lokhra towards the Kaziranga route. But, a bus ride might take a little longer than a cab ride.
What to do:
After checking into a hotel or eco-resort as per your preferences, you can opt for a jeep safari in the park. After returning, relax for the day and enjoy the night activities hosted by most hotels there. Early the next morning, you can take an elephant safari of the park. Tours start as early as 5 AM. There are three scheduled elephant safari timings- 5 am, 6 am, and 7 am.
After your tour, freshen up and enjoy a sumptuous ethnic Assamese meal in the nearby Orchid and Bio-diversity park. At the same time, you can enjoy the cultural programs there and take a tour of the park. It is house to a variety of species of orchid. After taking some rest, you can opt to return to Guwahati.
The park is open from November to April and closes down during the monsoons.
The entry fee is INR 100 for Indians and INR 650 for foreign nationals. Elephant safari is INR 375 for Indians and around INR 2000 for foreign nationals. These rates, of course, may vary a little.
2. Manas National Park:
Manas Wildlife Sanctuary or Manas National Park is a UNESCO world heritage site located in Chirang and Baksa districts of Assam. It is also a Project Tiger reserve, an Elephant Reserve, and a biosphere reserve. The park is known for it’s rare and endangered endemic wildlife such as the Assam roofed turtle, Hispid hare, Golden langur, and Pygmy hog. Manas is also famous for its Wild water buffalo.
How to reach:
Manas is at a distance of around 180 km from Guwahati from where you can hire cabs. It takes approximately 5 hours of off-road drive. If you are looking for cheaper options, travel via train to Barpeta station from where the park is about 22 km away. Check into a cottage or a lodge for a comfortable stay.
What to do:
You can enjoy river rafting on the quiet waters of the Manas river if you are looking for adventure. You can also engage in birdwatching. Jeep and elephant safari are also available in the park. A local village tour or tea plantation tour, along with a sumptuous meal of the local tribe, is a must.
Manas National Park is open from November to April, which are the best months to visit. Besides, in May and October, the park is open partially. The timings of the park are from 7.30 am to 5.00 pm.
Tezpur in Sonitpur district is an ideal destination for travelers who love history, mythology, and folklore. Tezpur is the birthplace of Dr. Bhupen Hazarika, Jyoti Prasad Agarwala, Kalaguru Bishnu Prasad Rabha, Phani Sharma. If you are wondering, they are all notable personalities of the cultural scene of Assam.
The famous Baan/ Bana theatre was born here in Tezpur. This town has a wealthy cultural heritage, for which it is also known as the cultural capital of Assam.
How to reach:
Tezpur is around 175 km away towards the north-east of Guwahati. The cheapest option to travel to Tezpur is via bus, which costs you between INR 250 to INR 550. The second option is via train, which costs you anything between INR 700 to INR 1000, but the travel time is around 5 hours. If you want to hire a cab, it might cost you around INR 4000 and the travel time is about 3 to 4 hours.
What to do :
On your way to Tezpur, you will come across Kolia Bhomora dolong or bridge over the river Brahmaputra. Make a halt there to admire the beautiful scenery of the mighty river. The bridge, which is 3015 meters long, connects Sonitpur on the north bank to Nagaon on the south bank. Named after the famous Ahom general Kolia Bhomora Phukan, this bridge is best visited during dawn or dusk to witness the sunrise or sunset.
The town of Tezpur is 10 km away from the bridge. Once you reach the city, check into a hotel and head out for your local tour. Some important tourist attractions are Agnigarh fort, Chitralekha udyan, Mahabhairab temple, Bamuni hills, Padum pukhuri, Hazarpar lake, Da Parbatia, Ketakeshwar dewal, and Tezpur University, among others.
According to history, Usha, daughter of Bana Raja, the ruler of Tezpur, fell in love with Aniruddha, grandson of Lord Krishna. Bana Raja sternly objected to the relationship and isolated Usha in Agnigarh, which was surrounded by fire at all times. Later, when Anirudhha tried to take Usha away, there was a war between Lord Krishna and Bana Raja, leading to bloodshed. The name Tezpur, meaning town of blood, came because of this legend.
Nameri National Park and Orang National Park are at a distance of 35 km and 31 km from Tezpur. If you are a wildlife lover, you can opt to take a safari of these parks. If you are an adventurous one, then visit Bhalukpong, the border town of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, which is 64 km from Tezpur. Angling is a popular sport here at Jia Bhoroli river. Besides, you can also engage in river rafting. There are many tea estates in and around Tezpur, and you can take a tour of the estates if you like.
Tezpur is one of the many destinations which has a soothing climate throughout the year. However, between June to September, the region receives moderate to heavy rainfall.
Haflong is the only hill station in Assam and is a popular tourist destination. Haflong is a Dimasa word, which means ‘anthill.’ Haflong is located in the Dima Hasao district of Assam and has many offbeat locations that are still less explored.
How to reach:
Haflong is at a distance of 308.5 km from Guwahati, and it takes around seven and a half hours to reach there via roadway. Cheaper options are train and bus services.
What to do:
After checking into a hotel, visit Jatinga, a site famous for its strange phenomenon of mass bird suicide. It is a 15 mins ride from the main town and also boasts of its orchid diversity. Later take a tour of the city and visit the serene Haflong lake and Haflong hill.
Thuruk, which is 38 km away, is a popular destination for trekking. You can visit this early next morning and do some trekking. After that head straight to Panimur waterfall, another beautiful location 120 km away from Haflong town. This waterfall, formed by the Kopili river, is called the Niagara of Assam. Also, take out time to explore the beautiful valley of Umrangso nearby.
The best time to visit Haflong is from October to March. Since it is a hill station, the weather remains pleasant throughout the year, but monsoons are very harsh in Assam.