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Seven Sister State - Assam

Map of Assam

Assam is the gateway to the north east, a state know for its breath taking scenic beauty, rarest flora and fauna, lofty green hills, vast rolling plain, mighty waterways and a land of fairs and festivals. Known in the ancient lore as the kingdom of Pragjyotisha and Kamrupa, the capital having been Pragjyotishpura situated in or near Guwahati. It originally included in addition to modern Assam, parts of modern Bengal and modern Bangladesh. The name Assam is of recent origin. It came into use after the conquest of Assam by the Ahoms. It is also know that "Assam" is derived from the word "Asama" meaning uneven. Assam is almost separated from central India by Bangladesh. Nagaland, Manipur and Myanmar bound it in the east, west by West Bengal, north by Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh and south by Megalaya, Bangladesh, Tripura and Mizoram. It is dominated by the mighty Brahmaputra, one of the great rivers of the world (length : 2900 kms), which not only has a fertile alluvial plain for growing rice, but also is famous for tea. Earthquakes are common.



The Ahoms, a Buddhist Tai tribe, under Sukapha arrived in 1228 A.D., deposed the ruler and established the kingdom of "Assam" with its capital in Sibsagar. The advent of the Ahoms changed the course of Assam's history. They later intermixed with immigrant Bengalis and most converted to Hinduism. The mughals attempted to invade without success, but the Burmese finally invaded Assam at the end of the 18th century and held it continuously until it was ceded to the East India Company at the close of the First Burmese War in 1826. The British administered it in name until 1947. Geographically Assam is a shadow of its former self. It has been reduced to one-third of its original size in 30 years. On the partition of India almost the whole of Sylhet was merged with East Bengal (present Bangladesh). Dewanagiri in North Kamrup was ceded to Bhutan in 1951. In 1948, the N.E.F.A. was separated from Assam. In 1963 Nagaland was carved out of Assam as a full fledged state. On 21st January, 1972 Meghalaya was cut out of Assam as a separate state and Mizoram became a Union Territory. In 1987, Mizoram was granted statehood. Nature has ungrudginghly blessed Assam with an abundance of scenic grandeur, a wealth of rare and near -extinct wildlife.
It forms part of a global bio-diversity "Hotspot" out of 41 listed endangered species of wildlife are found in Assam, which includes Golden Langur, Hoolock Gibbon, Pygmy Hog, Hispid hare, white Winged Woodduck, Tiger Cluded Leopard, Swamp Deer, Gangetic Dolphins etc. Morever, during season, flock of resident and migratory birds make Assam their natural habitat. Rainfall, one of the highest in the world (between 178 and 305 cms), is concentrated in 4 months, June to September. Straddling either banks of the Brahmaputra, Guwahati-said to be the legendary Pragjyotishpur or City of Eastern Light was said to have been founded by King Narakasur, who is mentioned in the Puranas and Epics, is a bustling, busy and crowed city. It is the commercial capital of the North East. Guwahati are actally two word "Guwa meaning aceua nut and Hat meaning market or market for areca nuts.

Social and Cultural Heritage 

There is a gradual development of liberalism in religious system in Assam. The indigenous groups are Aninmism, Tantricism, Brahminism and Vaishnavism. The Assamese were practising Tantic form of rituals until the advent of the new Vaishnavite religion formed by Shrimanta Sankardeva. The pristine form of Hinduism began only when the Aryans arrived in Assam. The present Hindu caste system had emerged with the Immigration of outsider. Neo Vaishnavism entered the land in the 15th century and is the dominant faith if the Assamese people at present. The Assamese society is an open society based on the principles of liberalism. It allows the idol worshippers of Durga, Kali, Saraswati, and others to follow the Vaishnava faith. The muslims started coming in the 13th century and established mosques in Assam. Christianity began to grow in the state from the time of the British rule and spread out to all corners of the eastern regions quickly. Caste system has never taken firm roots in the Assamese social stratifications. Assam is a land of fairs and festivals. Most of the festivals celebrated in Assam have their roots in the diverse faith and belief of her inhabitants. They reflect the true spirit, tradition and life style of the people of Assam. The culture of Assam is a rich tapestry woven with multicolor yarns of distinct heritage of all the races that inhabit there. The predominate language is Assamese.
Festivals 

Bihu

The major festivals celebrated in assam are Bihu-Bhogali or Magh Bihu (January), Rongali or Bohag Bihu (April), and Kongali or Kati Bihu (May) celebrated by people irrespective of caste, creed and religion throughout Assam. Other festivals are Baishagu (celebrated by Bodo Kacharis during mid April), Ali-Ai-Ligang (Festival of the Mishing tribe, February-March), Baikho (Rabha tribe, spring season), Rongker (important festival of the Karbis, April), Rajini Garba and Harni Garba (Dimasa tribe), Bohaggiyo Bishu (spring festival of the Deoris), Ambubashi Mela (most important festival of the Kamakhya temple is celebrated during mid June every year. It is a ritual of austerities celebrated with "tantric" rites) and Jonbill Mela (spectarular fair held every year during winter at Jonbeel of Jagiroad, near Guwahati). However, the people of assam also celebrate Janmastmi (August), Durga Puja(October), Diwali, Idd, Muharram, Me-Dam-Me-Phi, the birth and death anniversaries of the Vaishnavite saints Shrimanta Sankardev and Shri Madhabdev.

Economy

Assam

About 63% of the state's working force is engaged in agriculture and allied activites. More than 79% of the total cropped area is utilized for food crops production. Rice is the principal food crop. Jute, tea, cotton, oilseeds, sugarcane, potato and fruits are the main cash crops. Forest account for 22.41%of the total area of the state. Assam's tea gardens produce just over half of the country's tea and contributes about one sixth of the world's entire tea production. Assam holds a unique position in respect to mineral oil production. Coal, Limestone, refectory clay, dolomite and natural gas are the other minerals found in the state. Extensive oil reserves were found in the 19th century and Digboi became the site of Asia's first oil refinery. Assam has three oil refineries at Digboi, Noonmati and Bongaigaon and the fourth one is a petro chemial complex at Numaligarh. A substantial part of the country's total petroleum output and natural gas is found in the state. The forests continue to provide essential timber, resins and tanning material from tree bank while bamboo is used for paper making. Besides a public sector fertilizer factory at Namrup, the industries located in the state are sugar, jute, paper, plywood manufacture, rice and oil milling.

Places of Interest

Wildlife Sanctuaries 

Assam-Wildlife Sanctuaries

  1. Kaziranga National Park :  Kaziranga, the world renowned park lies in Golaghat and Nagaon district. It covers an area of 430 sq kms. It is the home of the great Indian one horned rhino, breeding place of pelican.
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  2. Manas National Park : The only Tiger reserve of Assam. Manas is one of the most magnificent National parks of India. It is also a world heritage site.
  3. Nameri National Park:-  on the border of Arunachal and Assam
  4. Dibru-Saikhowa National Park
  5. Orang (Rajiv Gandhi) National Park
  6. Pabitora Wildlife Sanctuary
  7. Bura-Chapori Wildlife Sanctuary
  8. Laokhowa wildlife Sanctuary
  9. Chakrasila Wildlife Sanctuary, Dhubri
  10. Bornadi Wildlife Sanctuary, Darrang
  11. Garampani Wildlife Sanctuary, Golaghat
  12. Pani Dihing Bird Sanctuary, Sivasagar
  13. Bordoibam Bilmukh Sanctuary, Lakhimpur, Dhemaji
  14. Deepor Beel Bird Sanctuary, Guwahati
Guwahati (gateway to the Assam and N.E. region & principal city of Assam.). Kamakhya & Bhubhaneshwari temples; Basistha Ashram; Navagraha Temple; State Zoo; Museum; Regional Science Centre; Planetorium; Tirupati Balaji Mandir; Srimanta Sankardev Kalakshetra; Umananda Temple; Shree Shyam Mandir, etc. Dispur (capital of Assam); Diphu (centre of Karbi art and culture).
Sibsagar (seat of Ahom rule in Assam- Shivdol, Vishnudol, Devidol, Rang Ghar, Talatol Ghar, Joysagar, Ahom Museum, Gargaon, Kareng Ghar, Charaideo, etc.); Sualkuchi (famous for Assamese silk-Muga& Pat); Chandubi(a natural lagoon and picnic spot); Barpeta (Vaishnava Monastery, Shrine of Shri Madhab Dev).

Hajo (where three religions meet- Hinduism, Buddhism & Pao-Mecca, a mosque for Islam); Jorhat and Dibrugarh (major tea producing areas); Tezpur (temples, ancient ruins and monuments-Da Parbatia, Agnigarh, Bamuni Hills, Bhairavi and Mahabhairava temples and the twin tanks of Bar Pukhuri and Padum Pukhuri and Cole Park).

Madan Kamdeva (famous for erotic sculpture of 12th century); Sri Surya Pahar(rock- cut images); Digboi ( one of the world’s oldest oil refinery); Majuli (largest river island of the world, centre of Vaishnava culture. There are many satras, which are regarded as the main centres for Assamese art, music, dance, drama, etc.); Jatinga (famous for the bird mystery near Haflong), Haflong (only hill station in Assam); Bhalukpong (famous for scenic beauty, picnic and angling spot); Bhairavakunda (a picnic spot at the border of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Bhutan); Daranga (famous winter mela held every year); Bordoa (birth place of Shri Sankardev, famous Vaishnavite reformer of Assam).

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