"Assamese tea and Majuli Island" State of Assam by jorgejuansanchez
State of Assam Travel Guide: 40 reviews and 150 photos
Apart from Assam you can visit Meghalaya and Tripura. For the rest of states: Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland, if you are a foreigner you need a Restricted Area Permit that is obtained from the Ministry of Home Affairs. You can apply for it in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, but it takes long, is issued for ten days and only granted for married couples and for groups with a minimum of four persons buying a package tour in a travel agency. For Indian tourists is much easier and they can get this permission (called for them Inner Line Permits) in Guwahati (Assam) in 24 hours.
Presently, Sikkim is administratively united to the Seven Sisters as a “brother”.
Guwarati, Assam capital, on the banks of the Brahmaputra River, was a pleasant town.
The hot was so intense that I was sweating like an open faucet, and when walking I was leaving on the floor lines of drops of sweat falling constantly from my nose, elbows and the fingers of my hands.
I walked until the Brahmaputra River and noticed on the top of a hill a striking religious construction. I took a rickshaw and headed to that place that was called Kamakhya Mandir (temple), at about 4 kilometres of distance. Once there I took my shoes off and visited for a few hours the temple premises.
The hill was called Nilachal, and the temple was an ancient seat of Tantric and Shakti cults of Hinduism.
There were hundreds of sadhues and faithful people following the ceremonies. Musicians played drums and cymbals and the shops were selling souvenirs and food to be offered to the gods as prasad.
I had planned to visit a natural park in Assam, with rhinos or elephants, but during monsoon season no excursions are organized; I only saw elephants a few times from the windows of my bus or train when travelling in some of the Seven Sisters states.
After Guwahati I left to Majuli, the greatest river island in the world, crossing endless tea leaves fields.
I first went by bus to Jorhat, took a rickshaw to the port and waited for the boat. There are three daily boats to Majuli, two in the morning and one in the afternoon. The journey to Kamalabari, in Majuli, takes almost two hours crossing the Brahmaputra River. There are no bridges, nor airports in Majuli Island. The first night I slept in Garomur and the second in Kamalabari.
It was my last night when I spent a whole day in a satra, or kind of Hindu monastery of the Vaishnaya culture. In the past there were 64 satras in Majuli, but today only 22 remain. At 7 PM I was invited to observe the dances that take place in that monastery every day. I sat on the floor adopting a lotus position and watched the dances.
Soon appeared about thirty monks dressed with white tunics who interpreted harmonious dances accompanied by rhythmical sounds of drums and cymbals. Sometimes only drums played, and then only cymbals, and later both instruments at the same time until most of the monks fell in ecstasy, like the whirling dervishes that I had seen in Cairo, Khartoum and Konya.
The atmosphere in that temple was terrific and made me feel in another world: drums and cymbals playing at the unison, the drops of blood that poured to the floor from the hands of some monks owing to the fervour and strength with which they hit the drums, even little monks of about 10 years old, the light that went and came, the rain of the monsoon in the exterior, the thunders and the flashes of lightning , the nasty heat that made me sweat all the time, the mosquitoes and the frogs invading the temple with impunity …
After one and a half hours the ceremony ended up; all the monks were exhausted, even me as spectator was dead beat. We went to the refectory for dinner.
Next day I left to my second Sister: Meghalaya.
This is one of the 22 Satras in Majuli Island. They accept guests at a very cheap price, almost nothing, and you can... more travel advice
It is located inside a lane but the name is marked in a sign. Good restaurant at moderated prices They had excellent... more travel advice
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