Summer Drinks and Food in Assam

Summer is already here and it’s that time of the year when we feel lethargic, dehydrated, dull and everything but fresh. The scorching heat drains out our energy. As such a heavy or spicy meal is something we should all avoid during summer. Our meal should be balanced and loaded with citrus which includes juices, smoothies, milkshakes, salads, boiled vegetables etc.

Summers in Assam are humid with a rising temperature of upto 38°C which makes you sweaty and sticky. But inspite, agricultural and farming has to continue in full swing as well as other daily activities. So a meal rich in nutrients and seasonal fruit juices are preferred by the locals here. Meat and other hot and spicy food are avoided and the focus shifted to vegetables and dishes that keeps us hydrated and is cool for the stomach. Here’s a list of the most sought after food and drinks during summers.

Thekera or Garcinia Pedunculata

The ripe or even raw bor thekera fruit is sliced and sun dried, stored and used in preparing several ethnic Assamese food and drinks. Bor thekera, which is similar to purple mangosteen, has great medicinal properties and is refreshing at the same time. Traditionally it is used in the treatment of many ailments like dysentery, asthma, cough, bronchitis, fever etc. It is very beneficial in digestion and acts as a cooling agent.

Thekera Tenga juice
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  • Thekera juice is a very common summer drink preferred here in Assam. Dried bor thekera, as it is locally called here, is washed and soaked in plain water overnight or for an hour or two. This is then strained and can be consumed after adding salt. Most ethnic restaurants in Assam serve this as a welcome drink to guests.
Thekera tenga maas jhul
Source: https://instagram.com/girl_with_a_pinch_of_salt?igshid=zugdv32ztccc
  • Thekera tenga maas or tangy fish curry is another popular summer delicacy in Assam. This is a wholesome dish which can be served with plain rice. Thekera serves as the souring agent in a regular fish curry. Heat mustard oil in a karhai, add paanch phooran (the five spices) a few green chillies, salt and turmeric. To this add boiled mashed potatoes and cook for about 3 mins. Add soaked thekera, both the fruit and water, to the mixture, add a little water according to your preferred level of thickness of the curry and let it come to a boil. Now add the fried fish pieces and let it cook for another 5 minutes and Thekera Tenga maas anja is ready!
Boror Tenga Anja
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  • Boror Tenga Anja or Lentil fritters curry is another delicacy greatly enjoyed during summers. Soaked red lentils are grinded into a paste, then salt is added as per taste with a little asafoetida or hing. Scoop out small spoonfuls of the paste and deep fry until golden brown. After the bors or fritters are ready, prepare the curry. Heat mustard oil in a karhai, add a bay leaf and paanch phooran. Then add chopped onions and fry till golden brown. Add boiled mashed potatoes, turmeric and salt as per taste, mix well and let it cook for about 5 minutes. Then add the soaked thekera along with a little water and let it come to a boil. Later add the lentil fritters and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Garnish with coriander before serving. Instead of mashed potatoes, bottle gourd can also be used for the curry.

Paanch phooran is a mix of the five basic spices mostly used in Bengali cuisine, and in Assamese cuisine as well. These five spices are fenugreek seed, Nigella seed, cumin seed, black mustard seed, and fennel seed. You can buy it here: https://clnk.in/ptTn

Kaji Nemu or Lemon

Lemon or kaji nemu juice

Kaji Nemu is a local variety of lemon widely consumed in Assam. It is rich in Vitamin C and also aids in digestion, apart from other health benefits. During summers kaji nemu becomes the compulsory accompaniment with meals. Kaji Nemu or lemon juice is the most sought after and readily available summer drink in Assam. Squeeze a few long pieces of lemon, add salt and sugar and the most hydrating summer drink is ready. Mornings or evenings, it keeps you hydrated throughout and satisfies your thirst instantly.

Poita Bhaat

Poita Bhaat
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Another very common summer food is poita bhaat. This is basically leftover rice which is soaked in water overnight. The next day you can have it with a little side dish of fish fry, along with raw onions and green chilly. Aloo pitika, bengena pitika, kon aloo bhoja are some other perfect accompaniments of poita bhaat. This is the most preferred breakfast as it keeps your stomach cool while providing all the necessary nutrients. It is widely believed to be effective during fever because of its cooling nature. On the first day of Assamese New Year, i.e. Bohaag Bihu, this is one of the most important dishes religiously consumed by many here.

Pitika

Bengena bilaahi pitika
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Pitika is the soul food of Assam. Any type of pitika like aloo pitika, kon bilaahi aloo pitika, bengena pitika, xoru maas pitika, etc are greatly enjoyed all year around but especially in summers. In fact, pitika is the perfect side dish with poita bhaat. This is light on the stomach and since it’s either in boil or smoked form, so it’s free of oil. Of course a little amount of raw mustard oil is added for flavor over the pitika. Pitika is the mashed form of vegetables mixed with onions and green chilly, and garnished with coriander and mustard oil.

Read: Best Authentic Assamese Recipes with Banana Tree

Bael or Aegle marmelos

Bael fruit juice
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Bael fruit is another excellent summer fruit because of its cooling properties. This fruit has many medicinal benefits and is effective in treating indigestion, constipation and bloating. Bael tree, especially the fruit and its leaves are considered sacred as it’s associated with Lord Shiva and offered in his worship.

Bael fruit juice is extracted by removing the pulp from the ripe fruit and then mashed. Add a little water and strain the mixture. Add jaggery or sugar as per taste with a sprinkle of black salt. Bael fruit juice is one of the most refreshing summer drink here in Assam too.

Read: Top 10 Most Popular Ethnic Assamese Dish

Doi sira jolpaan

Doi sira jolpaan
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Sira is flattened rice and Doi is homemade unsweetened curd which is very light on the stomach and is hydrating too. In Assam doi sira jolpaan is another popular breakfast delicacy and is widely preferred during summers. Sira is soaked in warm water until a little soggy, after which it is served with doi and jaggery. This breakfast is an instant energy booster.

Doi sira jolpaan or any other type of jolpaan is generally served during Bohaag Bihu and Magh Bihu, but mostly in the rural areas this is preferred all year round.

Flattened rice is also called Poha in some parts of India and is easily available in the market. Buy it here: https://clnk.in/ptTz

Kosu tenga or taro leaves curry

Kosu bilaahi maas
Source: https://instagram.com/foodie_appetites?igshid=4s3ponodm78u

Tenga is ideal for summer and therefore widely preferred in any form, either juice or food delicacies. Thekera, Kaji Nemu, Kon bilaahi are easily available ingredients used to add to the tangy flavor in food. Kosu bilaahi tenga anja is one such delicacy you should never miss out. The taro leaves are boiled and the water is strained out to minimize the itchiness due to the presence of calcium oxalate. In fact the souring agent like kon bilaahi is used to balance this effect.

Most hotels in Guwahati have their in-house restaurants which offer ethnic Assamese cuisine. If you are planning a trip to Assam you can book your hotels here: https://clnk.in/ptUy

Also read: Visit these Restaurants in Guwahati for Ethnic Assamese food: My Personal Favorites!

Kaziranga National Park

Kaziranga Kaziranga

Bhoyaboh nohoi

Nohoi abhoyaranya

Iyatkoi u bhoyaboh jana

Prithibir jonoaranya

Kazirangar siro seuj poribesh

Hosti byaaghrore baas

Ek khorgor gorh prithibiye sai

Pokhir suwodi prokash

Mur Kaziranga nohoi je bonyo

Dr. Bhupen Hazarika

Dr. Bhupen Hazarika, the music maestro of Assam, feels a divine connection with nature and in this song, he is all in praise of Kaziranga. In spite of the wild forest and wild animals, he hates to call it wild because he thinks the human world is far scary and wild. The greenery of the Park and the great Indian one-horned rhinoceros are world famous and attract a lot of tourists. The cohabitation of the variety of birds and animals like elephants, tigers are really awe-inspiring and the poet hates to call “his” Kaziranga wild. He takes pride in this Sanctuary which he believes teaches us a lot about cohabitation and tolerance. 

Kaziranga National Park
Source: sentinelassam.com

Kaziranga National Park 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. According to the census held in March 2018, the rhino population in Kaziranga was 2413. 

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 the Royal Bengal tiger, wild Asiatic water buffalo, Eastern swamp deer, and Asian elephant. These together with the one-horned rhinoceros are known as the ‘Big Five’ of Kaziranga.

Royal Bengal tiger at Kaziranga National Park Source: https://instagram.com/antarjit.singh?igshid=vxr071475p3u

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 was declared a Tiger Reserve in 2006 and has the highest density of tigers in the world. Kaziranga also has the largest population of wild water buffalo accounting for about 57% of the world population. The endangered River dolphins can also be found in the rivers of Kaziranga. 

One-horned rhinoceros
Source: tourmyindia.com

Kaziranga is home to a variety of migratory birds, water birds, predators, scavengers, and game birds. During winter bird species like the lesser white-fronted goose, ferruginous duck, Asian openbill stork, etc. migrate from Central Asia to the park. Game bird species include swamp francolin, Bengal florican, and pale-capped pigeon. Riverine birds include the Blyth’s kingfisher, white-bellied heron,  Dalmatian pelican, spot-billed pelican, Nordmann’s greenshank, and black-bellied tern. Kaziranga is a favorite amongst wildlife lovers. Researchers spend months here to document their favorite animals and birds. Birdlife International, a global partnership of non-governmental organizations that strives to conserve birds and their habitats, has identified Kaziranga as an important bird area. 

Kaziranga is home to two of the largest snakes in the world, the reticulated python and rock python. The longest venomous snake in the world, the king cobra also inhabits the park. 

Jeep safari at Kaziranga National Park
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Mary Curzon, Baroness Curzon of Kedleston, the wife of the then Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon Kedleston is said to have visited this area in 1904. This area was renowned for being home to the rhinoceros, but having failed to see any she raised concern. The Viceroy, as an urgent matter to protect the dwindling species, initiated a plan and on June 1, 1905 the Kaziranga Proposed Reserve Forest was created with an area of 232 sq.km. In 1908, after adding another 152 sq.km of area, Kaziranga was designated a “Reserve Forest “. In 1950 Kaziranga was renamed as Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary by P. D. Stracey, a forest conservationist. Poaching of rhinoceros for its horn was becoming huge and so the Government of Assam passed the Assam (Rhinoceros) Bill in 1954 which imposed heavy penalties on poaching. In 1968 the State Government passed the Assam National Park Act declaring Kaziranga a designated National Park, which was given official status by the Central Government on February 11, 1974. The 430 sq.km park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985 for its unique natural environment. 

Indian hornbill
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Kaziranga National Park conducts guided tours to visitors accompanied by guarded forest officers. There are three ranges that offer motorable trails which are Bagori, Kohora and Agoratoli range. Jeep and elephant safari are available for tourists which take an allotted route through this huge park covering main viewpoints. Observation towers are situated at Sohola, Mihimukh, Kathpara, Foliamari, and Harmoti. Most animals can be viewed in close vicinity including the one-horned rhinoceros from these towers. Trekking is not allowed in the park to avoid human-animal conflict. The Park is open from November to April end. 

Read: Best Weekend Getaways from Guwahati

Book your hotels via OYO here: https://clnk.in/pmEh

During your visit to Kaziranga National Park you should definitely visit these nearby tourist attractions.

Kaziranga National Orchid and Biodiversity Park recently set up in Durgapur village, is a popular tourist attraction near the Park. There are more than 500 species of orchids, 132 varieties of sour fruits and leafy vegetables, 12 species of cane, 46 varieties of bamboo, and a large variety of local fishes available in the park. 

Kaziranga Orchid Park
Source: https://instagram.com/jarinrehnaz15?igshid=4mdbsa0u9fjc

The Park also has a rice museum, a medicinal plant garden along with a product outlet center, a garden for native flowers and fruits, a fishery for native fish species, a cactus species display room, and an extensive forest that has native species of trees. 

The Biodiversity Park also has a cultural center to promote ethnic songs and dance forms. Everyday cultural performances are organized for the tourists on the open stage. The Park also serves an elaborate ethnic Assamese meal to tourists. 

Kakochang Waterfalls
Source: https://instagram.com/syed_khalid_hussain_official?igshid=196jpyg8sl0cc

Kakochang Waterfalls is another offbeat tourist attraction located in Bokakhat, at a distance of around 48 km from Kaziranga National Park. A trek of around 4 km will lead to the base of the waterfall. This is a picturesque location which used to be a popular picnic spot for the locals, but now is attracting a lot of tourists. The Numaligarh ruins can be viewed from this location. And in the surrounding area, there are tea, coffee, and rubber farms which too can be explored. 

Read: 5 Best Hotels and Resorts near Kaziranga National Park

Nature Hunt Eco Camp
Source: booking.com

Where to stay:

In a previous post I have mentioned the details of a few best hotels and resorts near Kaziranga in terms of luxury, comfort, security and amenities. But for those who want to experience the eco-friendly and camping thrill, you can check the list below:

Nature Hunt Eco Camp: This hotel offers Assamese style cottage as well as tent accommodation with outdoor fireplace. They conduct jeep and elephant safari to the Park along with tea garden tour, tribal village tour etc.

Diphlu River Lodge
Source: andbeyond.com

Agoratoli Eco Tourism Resort: Agoratoli Eco Tourism Resort is an ecotourism jungle lodge with 7 units for accommodation with Assamese style cottages.

Book your hotels here: https://clnk.in/plYy

Kaziranga Eco Camp: Kaziranga Eco Camp offers tent type accommodation with concrete flooring and thatched roofs. Facilities like cycling and fishing etc. are available for guests.

Diphlu River Lodge: A very comfortable stay on the banks of river Diphlu and at a distance of 8.5 kms from Kaziranga National Park. The lodge offers all the basic amenities. The exterior and interior are in Assamese style but blended with the modern amenities and comfort.

Travel safe inspite of the ongoing pandemic by getting access to the Priority Pass to the Airport lounges. Also avail different offers and other perks that come along with the Pass. To know more click here : https://clnk.in/psqG

The Unique Blends of Assam Tea

Eti kunhi duti paat

Rattanpur bagichat

Lohpohia haatere

Kune nu singile

O kune nu singile

Dr. Bhupen Hazarika

Assam’s bard and music maestro Dr. Bhupen Hazarika was a poet of Nature, of the people and a revolutionary poet at the same time. His compositions reflect the true soul of Assam in all its glory. In this song he vividly creates the image of the tea garden workers of Assam plucking the tea leaves in the vast green estates which is a very common sight in Assam. Assam is one of the most prolific tea-producing regions in the world because of its ideal climatic conditions, long growing seasons and generous rainfall. The collective produce of the tea estates of Assam is approximately 680.5 million kg of tea. 

Tea leaves, eti kunhi duti paat

Tea is a major industry in Assam apart from Agriculture, Petroleum and Natural Gas. Assam is the world’s largest tea growing region by production. Assam tea is a black tea manufactured specifically from the plant Camellia sinensis variant assamica. Assam tea is known to be brisk and malty with a bright color. 

Assam Tea
Source: thestatesman.com

The history of tea in Assam dates back to the year 1823. Robert Bruce, a Scottish adventurer, discovered this species of plant wildly growing in the region. He was curious about the properties of the plant and in the process was introduced to the chief of the Singpho tribe, Bessa Gam by Maniram Dewan, a nobleman from Jorhat. The chief, in the meanwhile, had already discovered the “wild” plant which had medicinal benefits, and was brewing it to get this flavorful aromatic drink. Later the plant was tested in the laboratory of the Botanical Garden of Calcutta (Kolkata) and identified as a variety of tea. The East India Company then took on the task to develop commercial plantations of tea in Assam. 

Tea garden labourer at work

Maniram Dewan was the first Assamese to start commercial tea plantations in Jorhat and Sivasagar. He was a nobleman and an entrepreneur who worked as the Dewan of the Assam Tea Company. Having acquired the knowledge and experience about the techniques of cultivation, production and marketing of tea, he decided to develop his own tea Estates after resigning from the Company. Cinnamora Tea Estate of Jorhat is the first tea garden which was set up by Maniram Dewan in 1843 and which started functioning in 1850. The Estate is now owned by the Assam Tea Corporation Limited and the heritage bungalow has been turned into a boutique tea garden hotel called Chameli Memsaab Bungalow.

Hand-crafted Assam Tea

Assam Tea is generally harvested twice, in a “first flush” and a “second flush”. The first flush is picked during late March, and the second flush much later. The second flush is the prized “tippy tea” which is much sweeter and full-bodied and hence considered superior to the first flush. The two main types of Assam tea are CTC and orthodox. Orthodox Assam tea can further be divided into many categories depending on the leaf type. Orthodox tea is made using traditional methods and considered of superior quality than its counterpart. CTC or cut-tear-curl tea is a type of black tea where leaves are formed into small pellets. This is usually stronger, maltier, sharper and maybe astringent. 

Phalap tea
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The Singpho tribe were the first in Assam to discover and brew the “wild” bush into tea. They produce and preserve tea in a very unique and unconventional way, and the final product is called the Phalap. The Singpho people generally cultivated their tea in their home-grown gardens without using pesticides or chemical fertilizers, but only vermicompost. The fine tender tea tips are plucked and then dry roasted in a pan. Then they stuff the tea leaves into a hollow bamboo and close the mouth tightly. This is then left to dry in a bamboo platform (in Assamese called dhuan chang) which is constructed above the traditional wood fired kitchen oven. The smoke from the fire oven dries the tea leaves in a period of around 3 months. The final product is like a cake because the tea leaves get compressed and stick together over time. This organic “handcrafted” tea has a smoky flavour and is very strong and unique.

Hand-crafted Assam green tea

Assam tea, or blends containing Assam tea are often sold as “breakfast” teas because of its strong, malty properties. Apart from black tea, Assam also produces green and white teas in small quantities. The younger generation of small tea growers in Assam are taking on the task to produce and process tea in an organic way. But this task is not easy since the available tea plants inherently contain pesticides. However, efforts are made to gradually evolve into a full fledged organic garden over the years. To achieve this, the tea growers use cow dung, vermicompost, oil cake etc. for controlling pests and ensuring healthy growth. Even the manufacturing process is done using locally available tools like dola, dheki etc. The final product is therefore much less in quantity because it is handmade. 

Buy good quality green tea here : https://clnk.in/pfJw

Tea Plantations
Source: thestatesman.com

Assam, at present, has about 830 large tea gardens with 529 tea factories and almost 66000 small tea growers producing around 1.5 million pounds of tea every year. Assam produces about 54% of India’s tea industry followed by Darjeeling and Kerala.

A Quick Guide for Travelers to the Industrial Town of Dibrugarh

Dibrugarh is a district in Assam which offers the most unique mixture of tourist attractions. Tea tourism, Wildlife tourism, River tourism are important sectors which have attracted tourists to this small but beautiful town. The tea gardens of Dibrugarh have been one major retreat for travel lovers. The Mancotta Heritage Chang Bungalow brews some of the best tales with the perfect blend of colonial soul with contemporary spirit.

Jyoti Batsora, Dibrugarh University main gate
Jyoti Batsora, Dibrugarh University main gate

Dibrugarh has also been a major educational hub for students pursuing technical and higher studies. The Assam Medical College, the Dibrugarh University, the Dibrugarh Polytechnic are the most important educational institutions in Dibrugarh.

Jeypore Rainforest
Jeypore Rainforest
Source: https://instagram.com/a_leisure_wanderer?igshid=k9q30ko4x798

Natural and wildlife habitats like the Jeypore Rainforest of Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary, Jokai Botanical Garden are also important tourist attractions in Dibrugarh. The Bogibeel bridge across river Brahmaputra is recently attracting a lot of domestic and international tourists since it is the gateway to Arunachal Pradesh.

Oil India Limited, Duliajan, Dibrugarh
Oil India Limited, Duliajan, Dibrugarh
Source: sentinelassam.com

But in the recent years there has been more buzz on the industry and resources Dibrugarh has to offer. The Oil India Limited (OIL) located in Duliajan is a very important industry boosting the economy of the State and improving living standards in the region. The Brahmaputra Cracker and Polymer Limited (BCPL) in Borboruah, Dibrugarh established in 2007 has converted Dibrugarh into a buzzing Industrial town. This has generated employment in the region and also created means for entrepreneurship and small business.

Book your hotels here: https://clnk.in/pmEC

What to see:

Jagannath Temple

Jagannath Temple, Dibrugarh
Jagannath Temple, Dibrugarh
Source: tripadvisor.in

Located at Chiring Gaon, Khanikar Road is Dibrugarh’s Jagannath Temple which is a replica of the original one in Orissa. This is a major tourist attraction in Dibrugarh and is just beside the newly opened highway which means it’s easily accessible. Rath Yatra is an annual festival organized here with proper rituals and customs. The architecture of the temple and its color are really unique.

Radha Krishna Temple

Radha Krishna Temple, Dibrugarh
Radha Krishna Temple, Dibrugarh
Source: clearholidays.com

Radha Krishna Temple located at Jalan Nagar has always been the major tourist attraction in the town. The white marbled temple, its peaceful location amidst the tea garden is one place where people come to meditate quietly. The temple dedicated to Sri Krishna and his beloved Radha celebrates Jhulan Puja every year on a grand scale.

Bogibeel Bridge

Bogibeel Bridge
Bogibeel Bridge
Source: Swarnav Borgohain

Bogibeel Bridge across the river Brahmaputra connects Dibrugarh with Dhemaji district of Assam. Connectivity between the two districts earlier was very poor and people suffered a great deal. But the bridge has not only improved communication for everyday commuters but also paved the way for smooth commerce and trade. Entrepreneurial steps to promote River tourism have been already initiated in the region with hope for a better future.

Read: Bogibeel Bridge – A Symbol of Hope for a better future

Assam Medical College

Assam Medical College, Dibrugarh
Assam Medical College, Dibrugarh
Source: careers360.com

Assam Medical College established in 1947 has been a boon to the people of Dibrugarh and its neighbouring places. In terms of providing quality education and quality medical services, AMC has great credibility. The college provides undergraduate and post-graduate courses in medicine, nursing, midwifery, pharmacy, orthopaedics, cardiology, general surgery, anatomy, pathology, biochemistry, ophthalmology, pediatrics, microbiology, obstetrics and gynecology, psychiatry, dentistry, neurology, pharmacology, anesthesiology, forensics, dermatology, plastic surgery, radiology, physiology, psychology and otorhinolaryngology.

Dibrugarh University

Dibrugarh University Administrative Building
Dibrugarh University Administrative Building
Source: educations.com

Dibrugarh University is another important educational institution in Dibrugarh establishedin 1965. Aspiring students from all over the state dreams of studying in this elite institution. The campus is spread across an area of 500 acres complete with the different departments, the administrative building, the library, indoor stadium, boys and girls hostel, dispensary, canteens, professors’ quarters, etc. The University has been accredited with an ‘A’ grade in their last assessment in 2017.

Read: Dibrugarh University – The True Indomitable Spirit

Jokai Botanical Garden

Jokai Botanical Garden
Jokai Botanical Garden
Source: tourmyindia.com

Jokai Botanical Garden cum Germplasm Center situated in the Jokai Reserve Forest is another important tourist place here. This is a storehouse of some of the valuable and endangered species of flora of this region. The various zones of this center include Orchid House, Medicinal and aromatic plants plot, Rainforest specimen plot etc.

Jeypore Rainforest

Jeypore Rainforest, Dehing Patkai
Jeypore Rainforest, Dehing Patkai
Source: ffo.gov.in

Jeypore Rainforest spread across an area of 108 sq. kms is home to 102 species of orchids with many other varieties of animals and plants. This is a very important destination for those who love wildlife. The forest also has the distinction of having seven wild cat species.

Namphake Village

Namphake Village, Dibrugarh
Namphake Village, Dibrugarh
Source: thenortheastwindow.com

Namphake Village is located at Naharkatia, a few kilometers from the main town of Dibrugarh. This is a village which belongs to the Tai- Phake ethnic community. The Tai- Phake have their own separate script and preserved manuscripts. They are mainly followers of Theravada Buddhism and have a very rich history and culture.

How to reach:

Dibrugarh Mohanbari Airport
Dibrugarh Mohanbari Airport
Source: justdial.com

Located at Mohanbari is Dibrugarh’s own airport, Mohanbari Airport with major flights service. The main town is at a distance of 15 kms from the airport and cabs are available for hire at the premises.

Dibrugarh Railway Station located at Banipur has direct train connectivity with all the major cities of the country.

Where to stay:

Hotel Tea County

Hotel Tea County
Hotel Tea County
Source: hotelteacounty.com

Hotel Tea County is a boutique hotel located opposite Chowkidinghee field in Dibrugarh. The bus station is hardly a 5 mins walk from the hotel, and the market a 5 mins drive away. The property amidst tea gardens offers all modern amenities and is a comfortable stay to choose from.

Hotel Nataraj

Hotel Nataraj is centrally located at H.S.Road which is close to the central market. The hotel provides all modern amenities and is in close proximity to some if the major Landmarks of the town.

Mancotta Heritage Chang Bungalow

Mancotta Heritage Chang Bungalow
Mancotta Heritage Chang Bungalow
Source: tripadvisor.in

Mancotta Heritage Chang Bungalow is a boutique heritage hotel with a history of over 150 years. The tea estate bungalow is perfect for those who want to have a taste of colonial style ambience.

Hotel Little Palace

Hotel Little Palace is located at A.T.Road, Marwaripatty which is just minutes away from the central market. The hotel offers comfortable accommodation and has their in-house restaurant and bar.

How to travel:

Dibrugarh Railway Station
Dibrugarh Railway Station
Source: indiarailinfo.com

Dibrugarh doesn’t have the cab service companies but private cabs are available for booking with private agencies. You can contact the hotel front office for cab bookings.

City bus service has been resumed in the town after a long gap. These cover the major route Banipur-Jokai and Dibrugarh University-Assam Medical College.

Trekker services are available in the town and these ply in huge numbers along the major routes.

Nameri National Park Feature Image

Nameri National Park

Nameri National Park is situated in Sonitpur district of Assam in the foothills of the eastern Himalayas. Nameri National Park was declared a National Park in 1998 and a Tiger Reserve in 1999-2000. Nameri shares its northern boundaries with the Pakhui Wildlife Sanctuary of Arunachal Pradesh and has an area of 200 sq kms of their collective 1000 sq kms.

Jia Bhorali river, Nameri National Park
Jia Bhorali river, Nameri National Park
Source: https://instagram.com/riyasjameela?igshid=8c3966ixhesx

Jia Bhorali is a major river that flows along the southern boundaries of the park. The river increases the beauty of the park in manifolds. It is ideal for angling, rafting and is one of the many reasons tourists visit Nameri.

White-winged duck
White-winged duck
Source: https://instagram.com/nivedita_kothare?igshid=oav51j40wtgg

The state bird of Assam, the endangered white-winged duck ( Asarcornis Scutulata) is spotted here in the park. 374 species of migratory birds have been recorded in the park in 2005. Ibisbill and Merganser are two species of birds which visit the park every year. The great pied hornbill, wreathed hornbill, rufous necked hornbill, black stork, babblers, plovers can also be found in Nameri National Park. Birdwatching is another activity one can experience in Nameri National Park.

Wild elephant at Nameri National Park
Wild elephant at Nameri National Park
Source: https://instagram.com/shreerangya?igshid=1xb9kmzjycr1

Nameri is home to many wild elephants because of the vegetation types available here. The habitat is also perfect for tiger, leopard, hog deer, sambar, dhole, gaur, clouded leopard, leopard cat, barking deer, wild boar, sloth bear, marbled cat, Himalayan black bear, capped langur, and Indian giant squirrel.

How to reach:

Birds at Nameri National Park
Birds at Nameri National Park
Source: https://instagram.com/twistedshanti?igshid=11i56ksxrdowo

Nameri National Park is around 35 kms from Tezpur, and 204.5 kms from Guwahati.

If you are traveling by flight then Rowriah airport, Jorhat is the nearest airport. Take a connecting flight from Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, Guwahati to Rowriah airport and then take a cab to Nameri. Or you can choose to book a cab directly from Guwahati.

Rangapara is the nearest railway station for those traveling by train.

Nameri National Park
Nameri National Park
Source: https://instagram.com/postcard_from_the_far_east?igshid=1fzu3yris0gym

What to do:

Nature trails/Trekking at the park

One can explore the park by trekking along the nature trails. You will be accompanied by an armed forest guard for these trails who will take you along the thick forest and dry riverbeds.

Rafting at Jia Bhorali river

River rafting at Nameri National park
River rafting
Source: https://instagram.com/geeta_4u?igshid=19xvo8jdep4ks

Rafting at the rocky waters of Jia Bhorali river is the most popular activity in Nameri National Park. You have to pay a minimal Govt tax of INR 300 plus INR 50 per person. Rafts are made available by the hotels with boatman at the cost of around INR 1200 as boat charges, and around INR 500 as boatman fee.

A trip to Bhalukpong

The picturesque border town of Bhalukpong is only around 26.4 kms away from Nameri National Park. Bhalukpong is a small town in west Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh which is a very popular picnic site.

Tezpur tour

Agnigarh fort, Tezpur
Agnigarh fort, Tezpur
Source: en.wikipedia.org

Tezpur, one of the popular tourist destinations of Asssm is only 35 kms away from Nameri National Park. Tezpur is a town with rich cultural heritage and has many places of tourist interest. There’s history, mythology and folklore related to this beautiful town.

Read: Best Weekend Getaways from Guwahati

Plantation visit

Tea plantations in Sonitpur
Tea plantations
Source: thestatesman.com

Sonitpur is famous for the tea estates, both big and small. Notable among them are Dhekiajuli Tea Estate and Wild Mahseer. Take a tour of these estates, visit their factory and find out how tea is processed. You can taste your favourite tea in the midst of this greenery and even carry a few samples of Assam tea back home. Wild Mahseer with its heritage bungalow offers boutique accommodation to tourists on prior booking.

Read: Tea Gardens: The perfect post-lockdown getaway in Assam

Local village tour

Mishing Village in Sonitpur
Mishing Village
Source: eastmojo.com

Mishing is an ethnic community in Assam with a culture and history of their own. There are a few Mishing villages in Sonitpur. Their customs and traditions are very unique and lively, and their cuisine and dress are their highlight. You can take a guided tour of an ethnic local Mishing village and experience their delicious food.

Where to Stay:

Nameri Eco Camp

Nameri Eco Camp
Nameri Eco Camp
Source: https://instagram.com/jay_wanderer?igshid=ht2nhs2bpv31

Eco-friendly tents and cottage accommodations are provided at Nameri Eco Camp which is the most popular lodging near Nameri National Park. The eco-camp gives you the most natural experience of life in a village with all basic amenities.

White Winged Camp

White-winged Camp also provides eco-friendly tents and cottage accommodations. The hotel also provides jungle trekking and rafting activities.

Wild Mahseer

Wild Mahseer
Wild Mahseer
Source: christinesreviews.com

Wild Mahseer is a tea garden heritage bungalow of the British Assam period spread across 22 acre land. This is like a homestay of the Balipara division of Adabarrie Tea Estate, with 3 rooms available for accommodation on prior booking.

Jia Bhorali Wild Resort

Jia Bhorali has 19 well furnished rooms with modern amenities and provides WiFi connectivity. The hotel is situated at a distance of 40 kms from Rangapara railway station.

5 Best Hotels and Resorts near Kaziranga National Park

Kaziranga National Park, the world heritage site and home to the famous one-horned rhinoceros is a very important wildlife destination in Assam. It attracts a lot of foreign as well as domestic tourists who visit to explore, to document or for pleasure. The area therefore is a buzzing hub of resorts, Eco-camps, lodges, homestays and hotels. There are many options to choose from across diffrent categories based on your budget and preference.

Read : Kaziranga National Park

The resorts mentioned in this list provide you the best of services to make your trip all the more memorable while in Kaziranga. These are the best in terms of luxury, comfort, security and amenities but can be a little expensive.

1. Resort Borgos

Resort Borgos, Kohora
Resort Borgos, Kohora
Source: makemytrip.com

Located near the Kohora range of the Kaziranga National Park, Resort Borgos offers 4 star accommodation with luxury and modern facilities. Situated in the village Sildubi the Resort has some of the best views of the forest and the surrounding landscape. On entering the resort you can get a hint on what lies ahead of you, the driveway through the well maintained green garden leads you to the gorgeous wood carved entry bearing the name of the resort. This area has fine wooden decor and a flight of stairs lead you to the reception and lounge area with beautiful decor.

Room interior of Resort Borgos
Room interior of Resort Borgos
Source: yatra.com

The Resort has a total of 56 rooms under the categories of Executive, Executive Deluxe, Luxury Deluxe and Suite. The prices for these rooms range anything between INR 6700 to INR 25000 subject to changes. But one can get better deals from any of the online travel sites.

Resort Borgos Garden area
Garden area
Source: yatra.com

The Resort provides both Elephant and Jeep safari. The rate of Elephant safari per person is INR 1250 for Indian nationals and INR 2500 for foreign nationals. Kids below 3 years can ride for free! The Jeep safari covers four ranges: Western, Eastern, Central and Burapahar range. The rates of the rides differ according to the range you choose and total number of persons. Further there is also a difference of price between Indian and Foreign nationals.

Resort Borgos Swimming pool area
Swimming pool area
Source: justdial.com

The Resort has a common swimming pool, kids pool, fitness center, spa and massage center, recreational activity centre among other facilities. The resort also have a golf course nearby. WiFi is available for guests within the Resort premises. There’s an in-house multi-cuisine restaurant and a bar for guests to indulge in their favorite food and drinks.

Resort Borgos entrance
The Entrance
Source: goibibo.com

Resort Borgos hosts memorable events like weddings, conferences, birthdays etc. for clients and the services they provide are truly class apart.

2. IORA, The Retreat

IORA The Retreat
IORA The Retreat
Source: kaziranga.co.in

Located off NH 37 near Kohora, IORA The Retreat is another luxury resort near Kaziranga National Park. The Resort is built in a 20 acre area with beautifully landscaped gardens and surrounded by tea plantations. The Resort offers 4 star amenities and luxury services. There’s something unique about the beautifully styled cottage type rooms which catches your eye as soon as you enter the Resort.

IORA The Retreat room interior
Room interior
Source: iorahotels.com

IORA The Retreat has 42 spacious rooms under the categories Supreme and Luxury rooms. There are 4 thematically arranged suites namely Keteki, Patkai, Wild Silk and Camellia. The suites are equipped with a living room, two balconies, reclining chairs, while work desk, LED TV, Mini fridge, coffee maker, free WiFi and 24 hrs room service are available for all the rooms.

IORA Poolside with Bhatbaan restaurant and recreational center
Poolside with Bhatbaan restaurant and recreational center
Source: iorahotels.com

The Resort has a well maintained swimming pool, kids pool, Spa center, Gym, Recreational center, Play area for kids, outdoor dining space among other facilities. There are two separate halls for business meetings and weddings namely Borsora with 250 seating capacity and Blue Orchid with 150 seating capacity. The Resort has an in-house souvenir and handloom shop too.

Traditional Assamese meal served at Bhatbaan
Traditional Assamese meal served at Bhatbaan Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/BQsjWKWhBEO/?igshid=af8gzmi5tyiv

IORA has two in-house restaurants, one purely ethnic called Bhatbaan and the other is multi-cuisine. Bhatbaan serves the best of Assamese cuisine in the most sumptuous way, a meal you will relish forever. Part of the sitting arrangement also is traditional. Bhatbaan is my personal favorite when it comes to Assamese cuisine served in the most attractive and hygienic way.

The Reception, IORA
The Reception, IORA
Source: iorahotels.com

The Resort provides Jeep safari to Kaziranga National Park and also has provisions for other outdoor activities. Traditional Bihu dance and husori are arranged for the guests with campfire as part of the entertainment.

3. Summit Green Village Resort and Spa

Summit Green Village Resort and Spa
Summit Green Village Resort and Spa
Source: booking.com

Located at the foothills of Karbi Anglong hills, in Jakhalabandha Summit Green Village Resort and Spa is at a distance of around 41 kms from Kohora range of Kaziranga National Park. A huge statue of King Kong welcomes you to this resort as you drive down NH 37.

The Summit rooms interior
Rooms interior
Source: agoda.com

The Resort has 14 rooms under the categories Standard, Deluxe and Super Deluxe. The rooms are well furnished with all the basic amenities like AC, geyser, WiFi etc. The price ranges from INR 1500 to INR 5000 subject to changes.

Kholong, the restaurant
Kholong, the restaurant
Source: booking.com

The in-house restaurant Kholong is artistically designed like a cave which gives you a jungle like experience. The restaurant serves Indian, Continental and Assamese cuisine.

Inside the Summit resort
Inside the Resort
Source: agoda.com

The Resort provides jeep safari, bird-watching tours, tea garden visit and other activities. The guests can relax in the calming environment of the resort and experience the best of what nature has to offer. There’s a children’s playground, fishing pond, garden, game room, convenience store and a souvenir shop as well.

4. Landmark Woods

Landmark Woods, Kaziranga
Landmark Woods, Kaziranga
Source: tripadvisor.in

Built on an area of 15 acres, Landmark Woods is located uphill amidst beautiful mountains and landscaped gardens, and at a distance of around 25 kms from the Kohora range of Kaziranga National Park. The Resort offers heart warming services and provides you with comfortable accommodation.

Rooms interior of Landmark Woods
Rooms interior
Source: booking.com

The Resort has 25 well furnished rooms under the categories Luxury, Deluxe, Suites and Pent Suites. All the rooms are equipped with modern amenities like satellite TV, AC, ensuite toilets, coffee maker etc.

Swimming pool at Landmark Woods
The Swimming pool
Source: yatra.com

The common facilities of the Resort includes a swimming pool, restaurant, bar, banquet hall, conference room, video room, indoor sports and free WiFi. For outdoor activities you can indulge in biking, fishing, boating or exploring local villages and the nature trails.

The Resort manages tour packages and wildlife safari for the guests, both jeep and elephant safari.

5. Infinity Resort

Infinity Resort
Infinity Resort
Source: booking.com

Built amidst a bamboo Grove, a betel nut plantation and other herbs garden, Infinity Resort totally gives you the feel of Assam. The beauty of the Resort is enhanced by its unique Assamese styled chang bungalow and the lake. The Resort is located at a distance of only 7 kms from the Kohora range of Kaziranga National Park.

Rooms interior of Infinity Resort
Rooms interior
Source: infinityresorts.com

The Resort has 16 guest cottage rooms with high sloping roofs, traditional handmade walls, tall flood proof stilts and furnished with bamboo furniture. The basic amenities of AC, refrigerator, mini bar, coffee maker, work desk and hot water are provided in the rooms, with free WiFi.

Swimming pool at Infinity resort
The Swimming pool
Source: tripadvisor.com

There’s an in-house multi-cuisine restaurant with indoor dining area as well open deck seating arrangement. Indulge in the mouthwatering delicacies while appreciating the beauty around. Other facilities include a swimming pool, biking, fishing, boating, bird-watching, nature trails and personalized wildlife safari.

Assam is currently open for tourism, and world heritage site Kaziranga National Park is attracting a lot of domestic tourists. All protocols laid down by the Govt. are being strictly followed by the Resorts to keep Covid-19 on check. So feel free to check in!

Assamese Traditional Jewellery: A Tale of the Rich Cultural Legacy

The Assamese traditional jewellery in essence shows the rich cultural legacy of Assam. Drawing inspiration from little things which appears mundane, the early craftsmen created beautiful pieces of art with sheer skill and imagination. The flora and fauna of the region has also been a source of inspiration to these craftsmen.

Thuria earrings
Source: saffronart.com

Brief History of Assamese Traditional Jewellery

During the reign of Swargadeo Pratap Singha in 1611 a lot of people were held captives by Bir Chilarai, the General of the Koch King Nar Narayan. Among them were goldsmiths, blacksmiths and other artisans who were sent to Cooch-Behar. There they learnt new art and craft which they implemented in their work on return to their homeland. King Pratap Singha’s grandson Rudra Singha also brought many artisans from outside the state and established them in his territory. These people adapted and merged with the Assamese people and society and gradually evolved the traditional Assamese jewellery.

Golpota neck piece with earrings

You can buy a similar product here : https://clnk.in/pgRT

The Ahom kings and queens wore ornaments of different styles and it was under the royal patronage that Assamese traditional jewellery saw a tremendous growth. During the Ahom rule ornaments were worn only by the royalty which was made of gold. Subansiri, a tributary of the river Brahmaputra was abundant with gold dust and became a primary source for the goldsmiths. Jorhat, Sonari, Nagaon and Barpeta became the major manufacturing hubs of Assamese traditional jewellery over the ages.

Designs and Jewellery Making Process

Dugdugi neck piece with earrings

Assamese traditional jewellery can be made of either pure gold ( 24 carat), silver with gold leaf work, silver with gold polish or even silver. However, the base for all jewellery making is extracted from trees and is called ‘lac’. Mina work is done on these jewellery and the most common colors are red and green. Even ruby, pearls and diamonds are used for making these jewellery. The main jewellery piece is then attached to a beaded string in the form of a neck piece. These beads are either small or of medium size and are called bakharua moni, balmoni, desimoni etc.

Junbiri neck piece
Source: getkraft.com

There are roughly three variations to the manufacturing process, particularly the frame of these ornaments. In the first variety the frame is made with gold and the filling is that of silver or lac. This type is called kesa sonar gohona or paat sunor gohona. The second variety contains silver or lac as base metal and the filling is done with gold foils. In the third variety the frame and filling both is of silver finished with a coat of gold polish. In Barpeta the jewellery is made with silver as the base with gold coating which makes it lighter and cheaper. Ranthali, a village in Nagaon district is another hub of jewellery making. The process used here is the second one where gold leaf work is done over silver base.

Jaapi neck piece
Source: ethnicstripes.com

The designs that have been continuing since generations are lokaparo ( twin pigeon) and senpotia ( eagle), inspired from birds. Thuria and dugdugi are inspired from the flora; dhol, japi, mridong inspired from local musical instruments.

Assamese traditional jewellery includes earrings called thuria, keru, lokaparo, jangfai etc. Necklaces include golpota, satsori, junbiri, bena, gejera, dholbiri, dugdugi, birimoni, mukutamoni, poalmoni, silikhamoni and magardana etc. The gamkharu, which is kind of a bangle has the most royal presence when worn with the traditional muga Mekhela Sador.

Gamkharu
Source: mugasilk.in

Modernization and Evolution

There had been certain issues faced by the craftsmen of traditional Assamese jewellery like lack of raw materials, lack of finance and market. But with the intervention of a few talented entrepreneurs in the recent years, Assamese traditional jewellery has seen unprecedented popularity globally. These entrepreneurs invested their creativity, money and time, generated employment and empowered the skilled craftsmen. Today we see several new designs which are creative and modern yet essentially traditional. Further, these new jewellery designers create unique stylish ornaments suited to the taste of the young generation which are easily affordable in a variety of range and trendy too. The popularity has therefore increased manifolds as women of all ages prefer adorning themselves with these jewellery on all occasions, and even on a daily basis.

Modern and stylish version of the traditional Assamese jewellery
Source: https://instagram.com/aparajita_das_baruah?igshid=1dmi4fzl5k7xb

Earlier there were no showrooms or boutiques for Assamese traditional jewellery. You either had to purchase or order at the sonar based on the designs that are available. Much later came the small outlets which displayed the ornaments for customers to choose from. This was convenient and fast. And then came the online boutiques, the modern concept of marketing. This made Assamese traditional jewellery popular worldwide. Popular online sites like Amazon also features Assamese jewellery.

Modified traditional Assamese bangle design
Source: getkraft.com

Significance and Popularity

The Ahom royalty, both men and women used to adorn themselves with these traditional ornaments. Over the ages women adorned these ornaments on special occasions like weddings and especially Rongali Bihu. In fact, it is still customary to present the bride-to-be with a traditional Assamese jewellery set in her Juron ceremony as a part of the wedding trousseau. During bihu celebration the young girls dressed in the traditional attire Mekhela Sador adorn the traditional jewellery too and gracefully dance to the rhythm of the dhol. Young girls and women nowadays gracefully wear these ornaments for casual outings, corporate parties and any special occasion as designers these days create quirky wearable designs out of the traditional ones.

Men’s traditional Assamese jewellery
Source:https://instagram.com/zangfai_assamese_jewelry?igshid=6cvckws6pzhn

Assamese traditional ornaments is gradually getting popular among men too. Though the variety and use is not much but men too can style themselves by wearing these traditional ornaments. There are few designs made specifically for men like madol etc. Designers have modified the available ones to give it a modern quirky style. These modified versions are a style statement in themselves.

Lokaparo neck piece with earrings
Source:https://instagram.com/saatsori_jewellery?igshid=1bdiee8pfdwlh

Assamese traditional jewellery has come a long way, from being restricted to a certain class of people to being accessible to all. The craft had experienced a major setback a few years back because of the lack of a proper market place. The popularity was gradually declining even among Assamese people. Then came the experimentation with designs and colors, contemporary styles were followed to keep with the updated taste of consumers. Carrying forward the legacy, Assamese traditional jewellery today has been able to achieve much popularity, not only in Assam or India, but internationally too.

Visit these Restaurants in Guwahati for Ethnic Assamese food: My personal favorites!

Assamese cuisine is a burst of different rich flavors which is light on your palate at the same time. For many of you gahori manxho, xhar, aloo pitika might be synonymous to ethnic Assamese cuisine. But the variety which Assamese cuisine offers is unimaginable unless you see and savour it yourself. From locally grown herbs to local produce, local variety of fish and unique cooking techniques, ethnic Assamese cuisine is too good to resist. If you want to taste the flavors of Assam then visit these restaurants in Guwahati which gives you the perfect taste of ethnic Assamese cuisine.

To know more about the popular ethnic Assamese delicacies read my blog post Top 10 most popular ethnic Assamese dish.

Parampara Paradise

This is one of the oldest and most popular restaurants in Guwahati serving authentic ethnic Assamese cuisine. Located in Silpukhuri, the restaurant has a very cozy ambience with great seating arrangements. It can accommodate large groups comfortably, and satisfy your taste buds giving you the best experience of Assamese flavors.

A typical thali in Parampara Paradise
Source: tripadvisor.in

Parampara thali is their meal speciality served in bell metal dishes. You will be served a welcome drink which depends on the seasonal availability of fruits or vegetables. Gooseberry or local lime soft drink is served as a welcome drink with this thali along with 13 other food items which includes Assamese speciality like khar, pitika, kharoli, khorisa, kuhudi, fish tenga, steamed fish, pigeon or duck curry, dal, rice, mixed vegetables, mahor guri and traditional dessert of hurum (puffed rice) with thick cream and jaggery.

The restaurant offers not only thali or meal but also a-la-carte menu. The ethnic Assamese menu ranges from duck, pork, chicken and pigeon to a variety of locally available fish and a variety of vegetarian options as well.

Parampara Paradise
Source: tripadvisor.in

The restaurant is currently following all protocols as directed by the government. While maintaining social distancing the restaurant is temporarily offering self-service and food is being served in disposable plates. Tables are being set 6 feet apart, staff is properly equipped with masks, face shields and sanitizers, the premise is sanitized everyday before opening and after closing.

The address of this restaurant is:

Parampara Paradise, Maniram Dewan Road, Krishna Nagar, Silpukhuri, Guwahati- 781003, Assam.

Mising Kitchen

Located in the heart of the city at Hengerabari, Mising Kitchen offers ethnic Assamese cuisine along with Mising cuisine. The restaurant is not very spacious but certainly is guest-friendly and homely. In fact, this is my personal favourite when it comes to taste and value for money.

Interior of Mising Kitchen
Source: magicpin.in

The few times I went there to dine I have witnessed full house of diners who come hungry and leave content. The restaurant offers ethnic Assamese as well as Mising cuisine which gives food lovers different options to choose from. They even serve thali specially for kids catering to their small appetite and choice of food.

The restaurant offers Normal thali with a choice of chicken, pork, duck, fish and even paneer. Like all Assamese thalis, the platter includes a variety of dishes from khar, pitika to curry and dessert.

Mising Kitchen
Source: justdial.com

The address of this restaurant is:

Mising Kitchen, House no. 24, 1st floor, Near Public Health Chariali, Hengrabari Road, Ganeshguri, Guwahati, Assam.

Gam’s Delicacy

Talk about beautiful interiors, spacious dining, awesome flavors, Gam’s Delicacy has it all. The first thing that caught my eyes on entering this restaurant for the first time was their unique furniture and bamboo decor. Located just below the Ganeshguri flyover in the heart of the city, this restaurant attracts a lot of customers. They also operate another unit located just opposite the ISBT and Balaji temple in Garchuk, Guwahati. One can easily arrange any kind of family functions or social meetings here given the space the restaurant offers.

Gam’s Delicacy, Garchuk unit
Source: tripadvisor.in

The restaurant offers Fish, Pork and Chicken thali with a variety of 14 items. For example, a typical pork thali will include Joha rice, yellow dal, Green veg/herbs fry, Pork curry, Pork with black dal, Pork boil, Pork patot diya (wrapped in banana or Tora leaf), Pork khorika, aloo pitika ( mashed potatoes), kheer, green salad, pickle, mint chutney and lentil chutney served in brass metal dishes and bowls.

Duck, pigeon and mutton varieties are available as part of their a-la-carte menu along with a variety of other ethnic Assamese dishes. Local varieties of fish and vegetables are available cooked with different local ingredients and herbs.

Gam’s Delicacy city unit
Source: sentinelassam.com

The addresses of the 2 units of this restaurant are:

Gam’s Delicacy, Krishna Market, GMC ward no. 44, G.S.Road, Ganeshguri, Guwahati, Assam.

Gam’s Delicacy Restaurant, Betkuchi, Opposite Maniram Dewan Trade Centre, NH 37, Garchuk, Guwahati, Assam.

Heritage Khorikaa

Heritage Khorikaa is the brainchild of Assam’s celebrity chef Atul Lahkar. He is a self-made and self-taught man, learning authentic cuisines directly from the locals over the years. He is a curious mind, always experimenting with ingredients and flavors. His restaurant is very popular because of his proud association with celebrity chefs like Gordon Ramsay, Sanjeev Kapoor among others as well as for his great culinary skills.

Chef Atul Lahkar and Chef Sanjeev Kapoor in front of Heritage Khorikaa
Source: quicklisting.in

Located at Chandmari, the restaurant serves flavoursome authentic ethnic Assamese food. The restaurant offers a Vegetarian thali or meal with around 10 to 12 items and a choice of different meat and fish to choose from. Pork, Duck, Pigeon, Chicken and different varieties of fish are available on the menu. Khorikaa meaning barbeque, among other popular dishes, is their speciality as the name suggests.

The only time I tasted their flavoursome food left me craving for more. Their highlight seems to be the a-la-carte menu rather than the thali, which leaves a lingering taste on your palate of that special dish you savoured. I hope to visit this restaurant soon for another gastronomic experience.

Interiors of Heritage Khorikaa
Source: justdial.com

The address of this restaurant is:

Heritage Khorikaa, GNB Road, Behind Goswami Service Station HP petrol pump, Chandmari, Guwahati, Assam

Maihang

Maihang, I guess, is the largest operating restaurant chain in Assam with two branches in the city, and a few are outside Guwahati. The new outlet of Maihang was recently opened in Hengerabari in the city, which gives a very traditional vibe on entering because of their unique decor and plush interiors.

The table with Maihang, the traditional serving dish on display.
Source: maihang.in

The restaurant offers 2 thali or meal options- Maihang veg thali and Maihang non-veg thali. The rest are in their a-la-carte menu. The vegetarian meal includes 11 items like Joha rice, yellow dal, black dal, aloo pitika/bengena pitika, seasonal mixed vegetables, green vegetables fry, xhar/bor tenga, green veg boil, kharoli, baby potato fry, herbal chutney. In the non-veg thali a few of the veg items have been replaced by the non-veg varieties. For example, if you choose a fish thali you will get fish pitika, murighonto, fish tenga curry and fish fry.

The usual delicacies of duck, fish, pigeon and pork are available cooked with a variety of different ingredients and different styles. The restaurant gives utmost importance to healthy food and hygiene. They boast of their til chicken ( chicken cooked with black sesame seeds) as their signature and most popular dish.

The interior of Maihang
Source: maihang.in

The address of this restaurant is:

Maihang, Public Health tiniali, Lichubagan, Hengerabari Road, Guwahati, Assam

Me-Dam-Me-Phi: AHOM’S Ancestor worship

The life of the dead is set in the memory of the living

Marcus Tullius Cicero

The Ahom community of Assam practices their own unique customs and rituals. Me-Dam-Me-Phi is one of such ceremonies, in-fact it is the most important socio-religious ceremony of the Ahoms performed to show respect to the departed souls and remember their contribution to society. It is the proper ancestor worship conducted as a community by the Ahoms every year on 31st January. The Tai words ‘me‘ means offerings, ‘dam‘ means ancestors and ‘phi‘ means Gods; collectively meaning “offerings to the ancestors and Gods”.

Ancestor worship
Source: happenings.lpu.in

Origin:

According to the Ahom Chronicles, Lengdon, the king of Mong Phi ( the heavenly kingdom) sent two of his grandsons Khun-Lung and Khun-Lai to Mong Ri ( present day Xishuangbanna, China). They were advised by the God of Knowledge to perform Umpha, Phuralong, Me-dum-me-phi, and Rik-khwan worship at different months of the year on different occasions to pay respect to the ancestors. This was like seeking blessings from the ancestors to help maintain their political hold over the masses.

History:

Charaideo, about 30 kms from Sivasagar town, was the first capital of the Ahom kingdom and later became their religious centre. There is a huge burial ground here with many mounds or maidams of Ahom kings, queens and Ahom royalty. The Ahoms don’t burn the dead bodies but keep it in a box and bury. This burial mound is called maidam.

Charaideo Maidam.
Source: mapsofindia.com

Me-Dam-Me-Phi was celebrated here in Charaideo first by Swargadeo Siu-ka-pha to seek blessings of his forefathers after establishing the new capital there. His successors continued performing this ceremony thereafter, which was attended by the king, his ministers and other higher officials, as well as a great number of people. There is historical evidence of the Ahom kings performing this socio-religious ceremony every year. Swargadeo Siu-huim-mong to commemorate his victory over the Kacharis in 1563 performed the Me-Dam-Me-Phi and Rikhwan festival in his capital. Swargadeo Pratap Singha performed this worship thrice, in 1606 AD and 1615 AD to celebrate his victory against the Mughals, third time was when he was defeated by the Mughals.

Swargadeo Gadadhar Singha, Swargadeo Chakradwaj Singha, Swargadeo Pramatta Singha, Swargadeo Rajeswar Singha also performed the ceremony and offered sacrifices during their reign. The ceremony is still performed at Charaideo maidam every year.

The Ceremony and its significance:

The Ahoms believe that a man is not reborn after his death but becomes God. After death he remains as Dam (ancestor) only for a few days and soon he becomes Phi (God). They also believe that the soul of a man which is immortal unites with the supreme soul, possesses the qualities of a spiritual being and always blesses the family. Therefore the extended family and the society as a whole worship the dead ones, particularly the parents and grandparents because they firmly believe that it is the ancestors who protect the family and give peace and prosperity to their offspring.

Me-Dam-Me-Phi observed as a community offers worship to Chaufi and Dam Chaufi who are regarded as gods of heaven. Dam Chaufi is associated with the belief of some natural powers like creation and destruction, water, lightning and storm, sun, moon, learning, diseases, earth etc. The Ahom priestly classes Deodhai, Mohan and Bailung perform the rituals by chanting verses in Tai Language.

Community ancestor worship or Me-Dam-Me-Phi
Source: festivalsoflife.blogspot.com

On the day of Me-Dam-Me-Phi seven Gods are worshipped namely Lengdon (God of heaven), Zasingfa (Goddess of learning), Khaokham (God of waters), Ai-Leng-Din (God of the earth), Chit Lam Cham (seven sons of Lengdon), Mut-Kum-Tai-Kum (God of the moon and sun), and Zansaihung (the preceptor of Gods). It is customary for three priests to be present to perform the rituals.

When the Ahom kings arranged this worship sacrifices and offerings were made of white buffalo, white cow, white pig, and white hen. These days offerings of only hen and eggs are made. For the rituals the things required are: 30 hen, 30 eggs, 2 duck eggs, Xajpani, Aroi chaul (a type of rice), mustard oil, ginger, salt, Black gram, Akhoi (a kind of puffed rice), Kesa mithoi, Ukhua kesa kol, poka kol (ripe banana), kuhiar (sugarcane), bora bhat (sticky rice), thoka tamul (betel nuts) and earthen lamps etc.

The Dam Phi tradition is also observed at the family level by the Ahom community. Na-Purushor hokaam or Mritokor hokaam as it is widely known is done by the family members every year during kati month when they offer the first meal after the harvest of the Ahu rice to them. Grihadam, the ancestor God upto the fourth generation of a family, is worshipped in this Dam-Phi or Na-khua tradition. Five gods are worshipped excluding Chit-Lam-Cham and Mut-kum-tai-kum when the worship is done by the extended family. However, the worship is sometimes restricted to only Lengdon, Zasingfa and Ai-Leng-Din when conducted by a family. During Magh bihu and Rongali bihu, as well as other important occasions Mritokor hokaam is performed.

Offerings to Dam Phi.
Source: Self

Most Ahom households establish a damkhuta on the opposite side of the kitchen to worship the dead. Whenever during any special occasion na-purushor hokaam is arranged, the ancestors are worshipped by offering xajpani and various other delicacies, including meat and fish in an elaborate ritualistic affair.

Chale nerakhe, bere nerakhe

Nerakhe tridasar deo

Ghar deo e nerakhile rakhuta e aru keo

This hymn in Assamese means “neither the roof nor the walls nor the gods in heaven can protect the family, if not protected by their ancestors. ” The love and respect which is the basis of any happy and successful family is duly offered to the family members even after death by the Ahoms. Me-Dam-Me-Phi is just a day for the entire community to come together bonded by brotherhood, and express love and gratitude to their ancestors and seek their blessings.

Popular Hindu Temples to visit in Guwahati

The ongoing pandemic and the lockdown has brought life to a standstill. Here in Assam too there has been several phases of lockdown and unlock from time to time keeping in view the active cases of COVID-19 positive cases. All religious institutions were requested to close down. But unlock phases did allow them to open at times with minimum entry so as to avoid any community transfer. Devotees are looking forward with earnest to pay a visit to the temples of their faith and offer prayers. Post 15th August the lockdown will undergo several relaxation and we can’t wait enough.

Guwahati city in Assam is known as the city of temples. The city witnesses the footfalls of many devotees and pilgrims all the year round. There are many temples, both big and small, in and around the city. In this post I would like to mention a few most popular temples among the locals as well as tourists.

1. Maa Kamakhya Temple

Maa Kamakhya temple

Situated atop the Neelachal hills in the city of Guwahati is the most visited Hindu temple, the Kamakhya temple. Devotees, mainly from the Shakti cult, from around the country visit this temple to offer prayers to Maa Kamakhya. The Ambubachi mela and Durga puja are celebrated every year here in the temple premises which witness the most number of devotees and pilgrims.

This year, however, the Ambubachi mela didn’t see any kind of gathering except for the ceremonial rituals performed by the priests.

Maligaon Railway Station is the nearest station, from where you can take a cab, or bus, or trekker to the temple.

2. Umananda Temple

The gate to Umananda temple
Source: trawell.in

Umananda temple is located in an island off the river Brahmaputra. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and was built by the Ahom king Gadadhar Singha in 1694. This island known as the Peacock island is the smallest inhabited riverine island in the world. Shiva Chaturdashi is the most colourful festival held here on an annual basis.

Ferry and steamer services to this island are available from Sukleshwar ghat or Fancy Bazar ghat for hire. One can also board the Inland Water Transport ferry services from Uzan Bazar ghat which costs you around Rs. 20 per person.

3. Ugratora Temple

Ugratora devalaya
Source: TripAdvisor.in

Ugratora devalaya or temple is located at the heart of the city of Guwahati, and on the western side of Jor pukhuri . Dedicated to the first partner of Lord Shiva, Sati Devi the temple is an important Shakti temple built by the Ahom king Shiva Singha in the year 1725.

There is no idol in this temple but a ditch of water which is considered to be the great form of Goddess Ugratora. Devotees offer prayers and sacrifices to show their devotion and thereby seek the blessings of the Goddess. The best time to visit this temple would be around Durga puja when in fact, the entire city lightens up with festivities.

4. Nabagraha Temple

Nabagraha temple
Source: tripinvites.com

Located atop the Chitrasal hill the Nabagraha temple was built by the Ahom king Rajeshwar Singha in the late 18th century. Nine Shivalingams representing the nine celestial bodies are enshrined in this temple and each of them is covered with a coloured garment symbolic of that particular celestial bodies namely Surya, Chandra, Mangala, Budha, Brihaspati, Sukra, Shani, Rahu and Ketu. In the centre is a Shivalingam symbolizing the Sun.

The temple is known to be the only temple performing grihapujan. The temple is also a research centre of both Astronomy and Astrology.

5. Basistha Temple

Basistha temple
Source: travelspeak.in

Basistha temple, a Shiva Temple is located on the outskirts of Garbhanga Reserve Forest , about 10-12 kms from Guwahati city. This was originally an ashram, home to the famous sage Vashistha. This site has evidence of a stone temple which was later remade with bricks by the Ahom king Rajeshwar Singha in the mid 18th century.

The temple in the ashram stands on the bank of the mountain streams originating from the hills of Meghalaya which becomes the river Basistha and Bharalu flowing through the city.

6. Balaji Temple

Balaji temple
Source: trawell.in

Purva Tirupati Balaji temple is located at Ahom gaon just next to the Inter State Bus Terminus (ISBT). So needless to say it has really easy access from all the north-eastern States. Moreover Guwahati Railway station is just 9 kms away from the temple.

This temple built in 1998 was dedicated to Lord Venkateshwara. The white coloured temple is built in the similar architectural style of the South Indian temples, and is considered to be a replica of the original Tirupati Balaji temple. The temple has a Rajagopuram (70 feet in height), a Maha Mandapam, an Ardha Mandapam and the Sanctorum.

7. Doul Gobinda Temple

Doul Govinda temple
Source: incredibleindia.org

Located on the foothills of Chandrabati hills in North Guwahati, this temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna. Every year around Holi this temple witnesses the largest footfalls of tourists. Lord Krishna’s birthday Janmashtami is also celebrated here.

The fastest way to reach is by boarding a ferry from Fancy Bazar ghat to Rajaduar from where it’s a five minutes walk. Trekkers are also available to the temple via the Saraighat bridge. The best time to visit is from November to April when one can enjoy a river cruise and walk on the white sands of river Brahmaputra.

Cab Services in Guwahati

Local Cab services as well as Uber and Ola are available in the city which can give you a tour of most of these temples on a single day provided you wish to cover them all in a day. Different packages are available for booking a cab, details of which are available on their respective apps. Post lockdown several safety measures have been adopted by the cab companies, restricting capacity to 50% to maintain social distancing among other measures. Personal and car hygiene are maintained by the drivers promising you a safe and comfortable ride.

The alternate means of transport to these temples once you have reached Guwahati is to either board the city bus services, or ride an auto or trekker if available on that particular route.