Assam - In the North Eastern part of India, is a mixing urn where culture, heritage, tradition, lifestyle, faith and belief of her Aryan & Non-Aryan, numerous tribes & sub-tribes, Mongoloids & Australoids, drawn from various hives at different points of time have gone into form the Assamese culture - a fascinating and exotic recipe of delightful flavor.

Assam is a home to several wildlife sanctuaries which are a home to endangered and rare species and orchids.North East is a hub of wide variety of flora and fauna.

Orchids are abundantly found in Assam; a variety - Khopo phul(Fox tailed orchid), Bhatou Phul or Vanda coerulea etc. Assam has several attractive destinations; majority of these are National Parks, Wildlife and Bird Sanctuaries.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Saraighat Bridge over the mighty Brahmaputra

History of saraighat Bridge and Famous battle of Saraighat
Saraighat is a place near Guwahati in Assam, on the north bank of the river Brahmaputra. Sarai was a small village where the old abandoned N.F. Railway station of Amingaon was located.

Saraighat Bridge is constructed over the mighty Brahmaputra, also called the Red River. It is the first rail-cum-road bridge on this sacred river. It was opened to traffic in 1962 by the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. This is a double decker bridge with a national highway on top and railway tracks below.

Saraighat Bridge is at Jalukbari in the District of Kamrup, Assam connecting north and south bank. The Chilarai Park
or Lachit Udyan is situated at the end of the bridge. There is a road-cum-rail bridge over the river Brahmaputra joining the north & the south banks at Saraighat. This bridge is the first bridge on river Brahmaputra in Assam.

Battle of Saraighat
The famous Battle of Saraighat was fought near this place on the river.

The Battle of Saraighat was fought in 1671 between the Mughal empire (led by the Kachwaha king, Raja Ramsingh I), and the Ahom Kingdom (led by Lachit Borphukan) on the Brahmaputra river at Saraighat, now in Guwahati. Although much weaker, the Ahom army defeated the Mughal army by brilliant uses of the terrain, clever diplomatic negotiations to buy time, guerrilla tactics, psychological warfare, military intelligence and by exploiting the sole weakness of the Mughal forces—its navy.

The Battle of Saraighat was the last battle in the last major attempt by the Mughals to extend their empire in to Assam. Though the Mughals managed to regain Guwahati briefly after a later Borphukan deserted it, the Ahoms wrested control in 1682 and maintained it till the end of their rule.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Kamakhya Temple near Guwahati in Assam

The Kamakhya Temple in Assam is one of the most venerated Shakti shrines in India, and is regarded as one of the Shakti Peethams associated with the legend of Shiva and Daksha Yagna.

Kamakhya is located on a hill - Neelachala Parvat or Kamagiri near the city of Guwahati in Assam. Shakti, residing on the Kamagiri hill is known as Kamakhya, the granter of desires. Assam traditionally has been known as the Kamarupa Desa and has been associated with Tantric practices and Shakti worship.

This temple was destroyed in early 16th century, and then rebuilt in the 17th century by King Nara Narayana, of Cooch Bihar. Images of the builder and related inscriptions are seen in the temple.

The Kalika Purana, an ancient work in Sanskrit describes Kamakhya as the yielder of all desires, the young bride of Shiva, and the giver of salvation.

Legend has it that following the destruction of Daksha's sacrifice and the Rudra Tandava of Shiva, parts of Sati's body fell at several places throughout India, and these places are revered as Shakti peethas. The reproductive organ of Sati, (the Yoni) is said to have fallen here. Legend also has it that the supreme creative power of Bhrahma was challenged by Shakti, the mother Goddess, and that Bhrahma could thereafter create, only with the blessings of the Yoni, as the sole creative principle. After much penance, Bhrahma brought down a luminous body of light from space and placed it within the Yoni circle, which was created by the Goddess and placed at Kamarupa.

Legend Says
Another legend says that the demon Narakasura fell in love with Goddess Kamakhya once and he wanted to marry her. But as a goddess cannot marry a demon or asura, Goddess Kamakhya played a trick to save herself. She laid a condition that she would marry him only if he builds a temple for her within one night. Narakasura agreed to it and almost finished building the temple overnight. This scared Goddess Kamakhya and before the final steps of the temple were completed, a cock was sent to cry cock-a-doodle-do to announce the arrival of the morning, before it was actually dawn. This made Narakasura very angry and he killed the cock on that spot. But according to the condition Narakasura couldn't marry Goddess Kamakhya after that. It is said that the present Kamakhya temple is the same that Narakasura had made for the Goddess.

The Temple Structure
The Kamakhya Temple has a beehive like shikhara. Some of the sculptured panels seen here are of interest. There are images of Ganesha, Chamundeswari, dancing features etc. The temple is a natural cave with a spring. Down a flight of steps to the bowel of earth, is located a dark, mysterious chamber. Here, draped with a silk sari and covered with flowers, is kept the "matra yoni".

There is no image of Shakti here. Within a corner of a cave in the temple, there is a sculptured image of the Yoni of the Goddess, which is the object of reverence. A natural spring keeps the stone moist. Other temples on the Neelachala hill include those of Tara, Bhairavi, Bhuvaneswari and Ghantakarna.

Story about rebuilding of the kamakhya Temple
King Naranarayana and his younger brother Sukladhvaja, alias Cilarai, after defeating the enemies in all three sides, decided to pay a visit to goddess Kamakhya. On seeing the dilapidated condition of the temple, King Naranarayana took a vow to rebuilt it. But proud about his recent victories, Naranarayana decided in favour of postponing the work and set out against the Nawab of Gaud. In the bettle that followed, the soldiers of Naranarayana suffered a thrashing defeat and Chilarai was taken to prison. In the prison Chilarai offered sincere prayer to goddess Kamakhya and begged her pardon for not starting the renovation of her temple first.. At last the goddess took pity on him and assured him to arrange his release soon.

According to her wish, the mother of Nawab suffered a snake bite which could not be cured by doctors brought from far and wide. Ultimately it was Chilarai who could cure the old woman and earned her affection. The Nawab was moved by the gesture of chilarai and ordered his release soon. On their return, both the brothers, Naranarayana and Chilarai rebuilt the temple of Kamakhya.

Other temples on the Neelachala hill include those of Tara, Bhairavi, Bhuvaneswari and Ghantakarna.

Festivals: Durga Puja is celebrated annually during Navaratri in the month of September- October. It is a three day festival attracting several visitors. A unique festival observed here is the Ambuvaci (Ameti) fertility festival wherein it is believed that the Goddess (mother Earth) undergoes her menstrual period. During this period the temple is closed for three days and opened with great festivity on the fourth day. It is believed to be inauspicious to till the ground or to plant seeds, during this three day period.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Tourist spots in Assam

Assam is a land of huge numbers of tourist spots, which includes Kamakhya Temple, Umananda (Peacock Island), Navagraha (Temple of nine planets), Assam State Zoo, Assam State Museum, Sukreswar Temple, Geeta Mandir, Madan-Kamdev Temple and Saraighat Bridge.

A part from these, many National Parks & Wildlife Sanctuaries are there like – Kaziranga National Park (known for one horned rhinos), Siva Sagar (Shiv Temple), Majuli (largest river island in the world), Chandubi lake, Batadrava (Birth place of great Vaishnav Saint Sankardev), Saulkuchi (renowned for its world famous silk industry) and many more…

Other Wildlife Sanctuaries:

Some tourist spots by place:

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Kaziranga National Park - A World Heritage Site

Kaziranga National Park (Assamese: কাজিৰঙা ৰাষ্ট্ৰীয় উদ্যান, Kazirônga Rastriyô Uddayan) is a national park in the districts of Golaghat and Nagaon, in the state of Assam, India. The park got a tag of World Heritage Site, it hosts two-thirds of the world's Great One-horned Rhinoceroses.

Kaziranga boasts the highest density of tigers among protected areas in the world and was declared a Tiger Reserve in 2006. The park is a habitat to large breeding populations of elephants, wild water buffalo, and swamp deer. Kaziranga is recognised as an Important Bird Area by Birdlife International for conservation of avifaunal species.Kaziranga has achieved notable success in wildlife conservation, Compared to other protected areas in India. Located on the edge of the Eastern Himalaya biodiversity hotspot, the park combines high species diversity and visibility.
Kaziranga is a wide expanse of tall elephant grass, marshland, and dense tropical moist broadleaf forests, crisscrossed by four major rivers, including the Brahmaputra, and the park includes numerous small bodies of water. Kaziranga has been the theme of several books, songs, and documentaries. The park celebrated its centennial in 2005 after its establishment in 1905 as a reserve forest.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

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