Assam, also described as the Shangrila in the North-Eastern India
is the gateway to the North-East. The word Assam is derived from
the Sanskrit word "ASOMA" meaning peerless. Nestling in
the foothills of the Himalayas Assam is known as the land of blue
hills and red rivers. The largest and most easily accessible of
the north-east states, Assam grows 60% of India's tea and produces
a large proportion of India's oil. The main visitor attraction is
Kaziranga National Park, home of India's rare one horned rhinoceros.
: Assam has a rich legacy of culture and civilization.
The state is the homeland of different races of men Austric, Mongolian,
Dravidian and Aryan that came to dwell in her hills and valleys
at different times since remote antiquity. Assam has devloped a
composite culture of variegated colour. During the epic period Assam
was known as 'Kamrupa'. Guwahati is an ancient town whose history
goes back to the puranic days. The city known as 'Pragjyotishpur'
(place of eastern astronomy) was said to have been founded by Narkasur
who is mentioned in Purans and epics. His son Bhagadatta had led
a large elephant force to the battlefield of Kurukshetra and had
fallen fighting on the side of the Kaurvas, according to the Mahabharta.
The earliest epigraphic reference to the kingdom Kamrupa is found
in Allahabad pillar inscription of Samudragupta. Huien sang, the
Chinese scholar pilgrim who visited Kamrupa in about 783 AD, on
an invitation of its of its monarch Kumar Bhaskar Varman, left a
record of the kingdom he called Kamolupa. kamrupa also figured in
the writinges of the Arab historian Alberuni in 11th century. The
advent of the Ahomas across the eastern hills in 1228 AD changed
the course of Assam's history. The Ahomas defeated the local Karchari,
Chutia and Moran kings and ruled Assam nearly for six centuries.
The Burmese entered through eastern borders and overrun the territory.
The British appeared in 1826 and defeated the Burmese in several
battles. On the partition of Bengal in 1905 Assam was united with
the eastern districts of Bengal. From 1912, the chief commissionership
of Assam was revived and in 1921 a Governership was created. The
Muslim district of Sylhet emerged with the formation of East Bengal
(Bangladesh at present) after partition of India in 1947. Dewanagiri
in north Kamrupa was ceded to Bhutan in 1951. In 1963 Nagaland,
and in 1972 Meghalaya and in 1987 Mizoram emeged out of Assam as
: Guwahati, the capital of Assam and the gateway to the
north-eastern states, is a lively city revered for its ancient Hindu
temples. It spreads at the edge of the vast moving, river-sea of
the Brahmaputra. It's the service center for the oil industry and
tea plantations; the world's largest tea auctions are held here.
People: The Assamese are a mixture of Mongolian-Tibetan,
Aryan, and Burman ethnic origins. Their language is akin to Bengali,
spoken in West Bengal and in Bangladesh. Since the late 19th century
a vast number of immigrants from Bangladesh have entered the valley,
where they have settled to cultivate the almost empty lands, particularly
the low floodplains. The hilly margins of the plain are inhabited
by the hill tribes of the Garo, Khasi, and Hajong. The Bodo are
the largest minority group in Assam and are concentrated in the
northern areas of the Brahmaputra River valley.
: Artist and sculptors, masons and architects, and others
practicing minor crafts such as weavers, spinners, potters, goldsmiths,
artisanns of ivory, wood, bamboo, cane and hide flourished in Assam
from ancient times. Every household possesses a handloom used to
produce silk and (or) cotton clothes of exquisite designs. The Eri,
Muga and Pat are the important silk products of Assam.
: Assam observes Bhogali Bihu , Rongali Bihu, Kati Bihu,
Janmashthami and Durga Puja festivals. Rangali Bihu, the main Bihu
festival, is in April. This festival is essentially in celebration
of a good harvest and is accompanied with lively dances, music and
feasting. Guwahati also celebrates the Ambuchi Festival in July.
Language: Assamese and Bangla.
: 78,439 sq.km.
: 22.40 million (1991 Census).
: Guwahati, Tezpur, Jorhat, Dibrugarh, Lakimpur, Silchar.
: Guwahati: Anthropological Museum - Guwahati University;
Assam State Museum Assam Forest Museum and Assam Government Cottage
Industries Museum .
Centres: Guwahati, Peacock Island, Hajo, Sibsagar.