Situated in the far north eastern corner of India in a region largely isolated from the rest of the country, Assam has international borders with Bhutan and Bangladesh. The state was once much larger but following India’s independence in 1947 Assam was broken up to create several smaller ones along ethno-linguistic lines, known as the ‘seven sisters’. (They are all joined to the rest of India only by a 20km wide strip of land called the Siliguri Corridor).
In the 13th century the area was raided by the Ahoms, a Buddhist people from northern Thailand, who established their capital at Sibsagar and remained in power until the Burmese invaded in the 18th century. At times Assam seems to have more in common with them and its current neighbouring countries than India herself.
The region was later ceded to the British East India Company and the production of tea, for which Assam is now justifiably famous, began using local labour to clear the jungles so that there are now 300 tea estates. There's no better place in India to learn about tea production and enjoy walking and horse riding through tea covered hills than a stay at Mancotta Chang Bungalow. Visit in December and you could join the “The Communitea Festival” organised by the tribal communities of the tea estates which showcases their diversity through dance, music and handicrafts.
During World War 2 Assam played a strategic role as an important supply route to China and Burma and the former battle sites and war graves continue to draw veterans and their families tracing their past.
Assam is dominated by the Brahmaputra, one of the great rivers of the world, which brings life - and occasional disaster - to nearby villages and towns when it floods and deposits rich alluvial soil every summer. Travelling along the river by boat, on the Charaidew or Sukapha is one of the best ways to explore the state, taking guided visits to ancient sites and rural villages along the way.
Kaziranga National Park and Manas Wildlife Sanctuary are the last refuges of the Indian one-horned rhinoceros, as well as tiger, leopard and elephant. As well as the usual jeep safaris, in Kaziranga you can come nose to nose with a rhino from the back of an elephant.
For more ideas of things to see and do in Assam please get in touch and we'll be happy to plan and book your trip.