What Makes Assam So Unique

It is time to give bhut jolokia and Kaziranga a rest and explore these lesser-known yet fascinating facts that make Assam unique
The riverine plains of Assam has many beautiful places
The riverine plains of Assam has many beautiful placesShutterstock

It is time we come out of Kaziranga, bhut jolokia and Bihu when we talk about Assam. This northeastern state of India is so full of character, so unique in its own way. From a lamp that has been kept burning since 1461 to communities that still practice barter system in times of online shopping, Assam can be as unique as they come.

Digboi Refinery

Digboi refinery
Digboi refineryGeetima Baruah Sarma/Flickr

This is Asia's oldest oil refinery, still in operation. Commissioned in 1901, Digboi Refinery in Tinsukia is one of the most important heritage of India. Something that has definitely put Assam on the map. Visit Digboi to get to know more about Asia's oldest refinery and also for the pre-independence era bungalows.

Jonbeel Mela

Procession at Jonbeel Fair
Procession at Jonbeel FairShutterstock

Centuries ago people exchanged merchandise instead of paying it with currency. And this centuries-old practice is still practiced in a place called Dayang Belguri at Jonbeel, in Assam's Morigaon district. The three-day-fair takes place during Magh Bihu weekend and dates back to the 15th century. The fair was started by the Ahom kings in order to maintain good relations among the indigenous Assamese communities. Here you will find from food items to household items and will witness many tribal communities of Assam and neighbouring states come together to barter.

Dhekiakhowa Bornaamghar

The gate to the Bornaamghar
The gate to the BornaamgharSuraj Kumar Das/Wikimedia Commons

In Assamese language, 'naam' means prayer and 'ghar' means house - a place of worship. Often these naamghars are used for congregation and bhaona (theatrical performances. In this particular naamghar, there is a lamp said to have been kept burning since 1461. Dhekiakhowa Bornaamghar derives its name from dhekia saag - fiddlehead fern, the vegetable that was prepared by an old woman for the travel-weary saint Madhavdeva (according to an old narrative). Greatly impressed by that humble meal of fiddlehead fern, the saint built a naamghar in that place, now known as Dhekiakhowa Bornaamghar.

Majuli Island

Bamboo cottages on river island Majuli
Bamboo cottages on river island MajuliShutterstock

Also known as the world's largest river island, Majuli is Assam's pride and jewelthough this jewel is shrinking due to the problems of erosion. This river island is on the Brahmaputra river and is one of the leading centres of Vaishnavism. The Mishing community make up for the larger part of the total population. For the residents of this river island, agriculture, fishing and handloom are major occupations. Visit and learn more about their culture.


View of Brahmaputra from Mayong
View of Brahmaputra from MayongWikimedia Commons

Land of witchcraft and black magic. No, not Rowlings' Hogwarts. It's Assam's very own Mayong in Morigaon district, in close proximity to Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary. Here we are talking about sorcery and magic that are practiced and passed down from generation to generation. Why is this place a popular tourist destination Mainly for its important archaeological relics and artefacts. Apart from books on black magic and Ayurveda, you can also find interesting wildlife (the park has the highest density of one-horned rhinoceros in the world).

Getting there: There are flights to different airports in Assam like Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Silchar from other parts of the country. Carriers like Indigo, SpiceJet, Air India and Vistara fly to the state regularly.

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