The Assam Experience – Day 5 & 6

The destination for this leg of the tour was Shivasagar, the ancient capital of the Ahoms. We got up and left when it was still dark and extremely foggy out. On our way would be two significant Namghors (literally, a place to chant the Lord’s name… a temple of sorts for Assamese Vaishnavites).

Foggy January morning!

Barely 5 kms out of Jorhat town, we first stopped at Dakhinapat Satra (satras, or Vaishnavite monasteries had been set up in the island of Majuli in the 15th century by Shankaradeva and flourish to this date. Some of them, however have in recent years moved to mainland Assam due to land-loss on account of erosion).

A young understudy monk at Dakhinapat. He is 11 years old now and has already been in the satra for seven years!
Dakhinapat Namghor

After Dakhnipat, we went to visit the Dhekiakhowa Bornamghor, one of the biggest and most revered in the region.

Dhekiakhowa Bornamghor – assembly hall
Trays to place offerings in. The offerings, usually fruits and other foodstuff is wrapped in the gamosa before being placed in front of the deity. Another use of the gamosa
Dhekiakhowa Bornamghor – the sanctuary. Notice how the deity is covered with gamosas
Lamps for sale outside Dhekiakhowa

Our next stop was at the Auniati Satra.

Audience hall at the Auniati Satra namghor
Auniati Satra – scripture wrapped in gamosa

Shivasagar, earlier known as Rangpur was once the capital of Assam under the Ahoms. Remains from a bygone era are visible in the forms of remains of palaces, some exquisite temples and numerous tanks.

The Devi Dol on the banks of the Gauri Sagar tank, 5 kms from Shivasagar
An Ahom arsenal on the way to the Talatal Ghar
Yours truely atop one of the structures at Talatal. My gamosa and i were inseparable
Inside the Talatal Ghar
Rudra Sagar in Shivasagar
Rang Ghar – one of the earliest theaters in Asia!
Another view of the Rang Ghar

At the center of Shivasagar is the Shiv Sagar Tank, from which the town derives its name. On the banks of the temple are three spectacular temples. The Shiva Temple, one of the tallest of its kind in the world is flanked by the Vishnu temple (right) and the Devi Temple (left).

Shiva Temple
The lofty shikhara of the Shiva Temple
Devotees lighting lamps at the mandapa of the Shiva Temple.
Vishnu Temple adjacent to the main Shiva Temple

After exploring much of the town, we headed off to the nearby village of Garhgram, which houses a fine palace dating back to the Ahom times.

On the way to Garhgram
The palace at Garhgram
Inside the palace – I
Inside the palace – II
Inside the palace – III

We had to get back to Jorhat on the same day. So after wrapping up at Garhgram, we stopped right outside Jorhat town at Nimati Ghat, on the banks of the Brahmaputra. On the other side we could see, against the setting sun, the treetops of Majuli, the largest riverine island in the world. This time due to the strict schedule we adhered to, we had to leave out Majuli. Next time for sure.

Nimati Ghat
Same boat, different angle!


My last day in Assam was the laziest. I woke up earlyish and had a nice, long cup of tea, after which i set forth exploring Jorhat on an auto.

An assortment of Gods!
Saraswati Puja approacheth!
Colonial guest house at Tocklai Tea Research Centre, Jorhat
Colonial guest house at Tocklai Tea Research Centre, Jorhat
Migratory bird in Jorhat town. Can anyone help me identify it?
Doss & Co. One of the oldest departmental stores in India
In the sanctuary of a temple in Jorhat

That takes care of my Assam Experience. Next up, we travel to Chhattisgarh in the very heart of India. I have worked on four travel guides with the Govt of Chhattisgarh and in the process have covered the state extensively. One of the most memorable trips was in October 2008 when we visited the 11th century Bhoramdeo Temple, deep inside the forests on the Maikal Hills. This little-known gem is sometimes referred to as the Khajuraho of Chhattisgarh. The Bhoramdeo Travel Guide was published in March 2009 and is available free of cost from any of the many offices of Chhattisgarh Tourism Board.

Till we meet again…