Assam is, for many, an offbeat destination as there are many misconceptions about this place, and tourists are apprehensive about visiting Assam. But if you have read about Assam from my previous posts you would realize how beautiful and serene a place Assam is. In the recent years there has been a gradual rise in the influx of tourists as Assamese culture, tradition, food, history and world heritage sites are slowly grabbing the attention of the travel lovers worldwide. For those who are planning a solo or an all boys and all girls trip, let me tell you that Assam is as safe as any other tourist destination in India. You can surely embark on a bagpacking trip to Assam as there are so many places to explore. The trip I have curated for the adventure lovers is the “road less taken” covering Guwahati, Manas National Park, Barpeta Satra and Sualkuchi.
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Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, Guwahati is well connected by flights from around the country. After reaching the airport book a cab or Uber directly to Paltan Bazar. Paltan Bazar is the central place where you can find decent hotels at affordable prices. The good thing is you can also negotiate for the price with many options to choose from. An afternoon or evening flight is recommended so that you can start your adventure afresh from next morning. Enjoy the rest of the evening by exploring the area which has many shops and food stalls.
Start your day early by visiting the popular Kamakhya temple atop the Nilachal hills. Buses, trekkers are available to reach the top, but you can prefer to hike too. The entire road leading to the temple is well constructed concrete and well maintained too. As you ascend the hill, the picturesque surroundings with trees on both sides will already start giving you the calming feel. You can view the city of Guwahati coming to life by halting at the few observation points constructed alongside the road. As you come nearer to the temple premises, you can witness the colourful small shops on both sides of the road leading to the temple. Offer your prayers without any extravagance and explore the place yourself. There are timings when bhogs are offered to devotees and you can ask for a portion too. After exploring the place have breakfast in the small hotels located just outside the temple. These offer puri-sabji, parantha, and rice too at very affordable prices and you can have your fill for the day.
After your visit to the temple, board a bus to Barpeta Road from the nearby Maligaon bus stand as early as 9 am, as the travel time would be around 5 hours. After reaching Barpeta Road hire a ride to reach Bansbari, which is the entry point to Manas National Park. Few camping options are available under the open air, while lodges and guest houses are also available. Check into one of these and after a quick light lunch set out for the safari. The park is open from 7am to 5pm and you can manage a safari the same day. Explore the nature trails and engage in birdwatching, but undoubtedly the most thrilling adventure would be river rafting at the rocky waters of Manas River. After your action packed day relax under the night sky with camp fire and a simple ethnic meal.
Early next morning set out for another popular destination, Barpeta Satra, which is around 43 kms from Manas National Park. Satras are like cultural institutions that preach the life of Lord Krishna. Barpeta Satra was established in 1583 AD by the Vaishnavite saint Sri Madhabdeva. Explore the place and get to know about the cultural pioneers of Assam Srimanta Sankardev and Sri Madhabdeva, and their contribution to the shaping of the Assamese society. Barpeta Doul Utsav is a very popular festival organised here every year with great pomp and devotion.
On your way back to Guwahati you can take a break at Sualkuchi, the Manchester of Assam. Sualkuchi is famous for its handloom industry producing some of the finest indigenous silk products. Almost every household runs a small cottage handloom industry and you would be awe inspired at the detailing and intricacy involved in the process. Take a tour of one such small industry and you would realize why Assam Silk is a brand in itself.
Once you reach Guwahati city sit on the banks of the mighty Brahmaputra River and try to absorb the beautiful memories of the two days. Take some time to adore the beauty around with the sound of murmuring waters at the background. As your reward indulge in a sumptuous ethnic Assamese meal in one of the ethnic restaurants of the city and relish the delicacies which Assam is famous for.
On your way to the airport, start early and make a quick stop at Deepor Beel, which is a haven for migratory birds. This is a very popular getaway for the people of Guwahati whenever they want to take a break from the monotonous city life. Take a boat ride, engage in birdwatching or simply relax on the banks of the lake.
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This bagpacking trip covers the route which is less taken by tourists visiting Assam. There are more popular destinations to explore throughout Assam and if you could spare some time, or wish to take a detour then make sure to visit Haflong, Kaziranga National Park, Majuli Island, Sivasagar and other beautiful locations across Assam. The best time to visit Assam is between October to March.