Unhurried and enchantingly rural, the blue hills, green valleys and tea plantations of Assam provide a striking contrast to the urban intensity of Kolkata.
The Brahmaputra wends its way through the heart of this remote state, supplying the fertile plains and villages along its banks. A leisurely cruise along this great waterway is the perfect way to discover the highlights and hidden treasures of Assam, from crumbling archaeological sites to rare wildlife, temples and tea fields.
In fact, visiting a tea plantation is a highlight of any trip here. This is the birthplace of Indian tea, dating back to the 1820s when the British East India Company started large-scale production here. Today, Assam is one of the world’s most prolific tea growing regions with vast swathes of land devoted to verdant, manicured tea estates.
The state’s capital, Guwahati, serves as the gateway into Assam and, whilst rapidly developing, has some treasures of its own - notably silk bazaars and the sacred Kamakhya, Navagraha and Umananda temples. Northeast of Guwahati lies Majuli, one of the largest river islands on the planet known for its birdwatching and intricate Hindu monasteries.
No tour of Assam would be complete without a visit to at least one of its national parks. Manas, Nameri and Orang are all worth exploring, but Kaziranga is the most famous of Assam’s wildlife havens. Encompassing 430 square kilometres of wild tropical forest, towering elephant grass and floodplains, the park provides a home to 70% of the world’s Indian rhinoceros. Game drives will also bring you encounters with elephant, tiger, black bear, bison and a variety of birds.