"If India was the Jewel in the Crown of the British Empire, the remote North East of that country is its Hidden Jewel" …Tony Howard …Tony Howard

DIGBOI


We arrived in Upper Assam at Mohanbari Airport located between Tea townships of Tinsukia and Dibrugarh. A Scenic drive through the Tea Estates, Coal Fields and Oil Refinery we arrived Digboi Oil city. Digboi have the oldest operating & second oldest oil field in the world and Digboi refinery became a centenarian in 2001. Oil was struck in Digboi long before it was found in Middle East. Along with the coalmines and Tea Estates it is richest area in entire North-Eastern Region.

We were accommodated in Tea executives Bunglow. The Bunglow built a century ago by British were very spacious with lawns and playgrounds. There are hundreds of independent bunglows meant for the senior executives still retaining its Aristocratic grandeur. Staying in one of them was a pleasure for us. Life here is aristocracy and the Executives seems to be having a ball of it. At times it becomes adventurous. Irene was told by Mrs Nani, the tigress with one of her cub was right there in Lawn and they had to wait for 4 hrs for the wild ones to make passage for the family.

We spent the evening in the Oil executives club and they organized a local festival of the tribes showcasing the cultural diversity of the region which have been a melting pot of different tribal cultures.

Next day after early morning breakfast we tried the natural greens of Digboi Golf Course. The course is an 18 hole course best maintained of all the golf courses of North-Eastern India. Another well maintained course is the nearby Margherita Golf Course half an hours drive from Digboi. Irene always played better but with a little tip from an Oil Executive I was catching up well with her. The clubhouse in the course was a century old beautiful house with well stocked bar and refreshments. Over drinks we were enlightened by the executives from Digboi refinery about the history of Digboi Oil city and about the Golf course. They said at times the wild ones like a Tigress with her cubs or herds of wild elephants comes down to give company to the golfers.

After breakfast we reached the Digboi Oil Field, which is not just an Oil Field but also an Oil Museum and a wild life sanctuary dotted with numerous green hills. The worlds oldest operating Oil Machinery of Digboi is still producing in excess of its capacity and hence the name of Digboi is the "Oil City of Assam". In the evening we had our own trip down the meandering roads.

We also took a drive down the historic Stillwell Road, formerly known as Ledo road, connecting Ledo near Digboi to Kunming in China. This legendry Road built under British general Stillwell that used to be lifeline of Allied soldiers during Second World War lies unused now.

60 kms from Digboi is the Dibru - Saikhowa National Park. Covering an area of 340 sq kms the park have seven parts, one being wetland and rest are mainly grassland and dense forest. Some rare species found are Semi Wild (feral) Horses and white- winged Wood Duck. Apart from it Leopard, clouded Leopard, Elephant, Sambar, slow loris, Asiatic Buffalo, Capped Langur, Gangetic Dolphin, Indian Wild dog, etc. More than 250 varieties of local and migratory birds are also found here.

MAJULI


We drove to Nimati Ghat on the bank of river Brahmaputra 13 Kms North of Jorhat town, the Tea Capital of the world. We crossed mighty Brahmaputra on a ferry to set foot on this Largest river Island in the world. It is 8kms from there to the capital of the island Garamur.

Majuli is interesting for its 22 Satras, Hindu Vaishnavite monasteries. Assamese poet, composer and philosopher Sankardeva founded the institution of satra in 15th century. Majuli reveals the concept of Assamese Hinduism, which beliefs in Vishnu as pre-eminent deity, without a form.

In the evening we enjoyed a cultural presentation at the monastery, the best being the dance dramas re-enacting the stories of Mahabharata with music and poetry. Apart from it the 'Satriya Nritya' performed by the Monks in ceremonial white robes was very attractive.

Early morning we visited the monastery to attend a prayer meeting. A Monk from the satra will guide you in and around to tell about the evolution and history of Vaishnavite culture in Assam. After a leisurely breakfast, you can explore this Biggest River Island in the world of 880 Sq Kms, which at one time used to be of 1200 sq Km plus. UNESCO has recently notified the Island as 'World Heritage Site' for its unique preservation of Vaishnavite Culture.

TEZPUR


Sonitpur, as ancient Tezpur was known in the olden days is a city steeped in Mythology, legend and folklore. The "city of Blood" (Sonit- Blood pur-city) conjures up images of the romantic legend of Usha and Anirudha and of the fierce battle between "Hari" and "Hara".

We could see the ruins and remains of Agnigarh where the immortal romance blossomed and stands testimony to the eternal time.

Situated on the North Bank of Brahmaputra, present Tezpur town of Magnificent scenic beauty and exquisite archaeological ruins is headquarter of Sonitpur District. With snow-capped peaks of Himalaya as the northern backdrop, lush tea gardens and magnificent archaeological ruins have all contributed to make Tezpur a tourist delight.

Me and Irene visited some of the attractions of this town like the ruins of Do Parbatia-oldest specimen of iconoclastic art of Assam, Agnigarh-sweet memories of young lovers, 9th century ruins of Bamuni Hills, Cole park in the heart of the city established by a British Administrator and Bhomoraguri- a mammoth stone inscription made by Ahom General Kalia Bhomora Phukan, who planned to built a bridge over mighty Brahmaputra River and where the present bridge of 3.5 kms was constructed two hundred years later


 

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