Home of the Brahmaputra

The stunning grandeur of its dense tracts of tropical forests, interspersed with emerald patchwork quilts of paddy and lush tea gardens, showcase the life giving largesse of the mighty river Brahmaputra that dominates the world of this land and its people. “son of Brahma”, the great river that winds its way from the Mansarover lake in the higher reaches of the Tibetan plateau (as the Tsangpo) through Arunachal (as the Siang) and on the planes of Assam, the second largest state in the North East.

The alluvial planes of the Assam valley (100 km at its widest) enjoy an abundance of natural riches. The state is the largest producer of timber and tea in the country and it has the oldest oil refinery in India.

Its rich bio-diversity supports an immense range of rare and endangered creatures such as the one-horn rhinoceros, the golden langur, the genetic dolphin and the clouded leopard.

Flanked by Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh in the North and East, its Southern periphery is bordered by Nagaland, Maniour and Mizoram. Meghalaya lies in the Southwest and it shares  its western border with west Bengal and Bengladesh. For six hundred years, the Ahoms ruled Assam, for their state capital of Charaideo near present-day Sibsagar, before the arrival of the British. The Ahoms were conquerors belonging to the shah tribe of Burma, through the Patkai Range, who settled in the Brahmaputra valley and having consolidated their hold over the entire valley, after defeating the kacharis in 1540 AD, successfully repulsed a series of invasions by the Mughals and the Bengal sultans.

In protecting the land from invasions the Ahoms established an environment for cultural pursuits that were free of any outside influence. King Rudra Singha is said to have opened up a trade route between Assam and Tibet and also encourage Bengali musicians to stay at his court.

TRADITIONAL CRAFTS

Foremost amongst the traditional crafts of Assam are hand-made toys, made from clay, cork (pith) wood and bamboo and an admixture of cloth and mud.  While the bride and groom are common subjects, in the clay-toy  making segment animals dominate.  Clay toys are traditionally made by the Kumar and Hira potter communities. Deities and mythological figures are also important themes in the toy-makig repertoire.

Assam is reputed for its silk and the most prominent variety in muga, the golden silk exclusive only to this state.  Apart from muga, there is paat, as also eri, latter being used in the manufacture of warm clothes for winter.

 A wide range of decorative items is available in cane and bamboo work and bell-metal and brass.  Tribal arts, including masks, bhaonas, in metal, bamboo and wood are popular souvenir items.

 SHOPPING

Assam silk is one of the hottest souvenirs to take home.  Choose from Endi, Muga and Pat  varieties. Bamboo and cane are used to produce a wide range of furniture, handicrafts and decorative items.

 The main shopping centres are Fancy Bazar, Paltan Bazar and Pan Bazar.  Most emporia are located in Fancy Bazar and Pan Bazar area.  Roadside evening markets in these areas sell handicrafts.

 Popular Shopping Outles

 Purbashree

run by the North-Eastern Handicraft and Handloom Development Corporation, stocks silks, laichampi  (quilt-like material) and handicrafts from Assam, honey (Meghalaya), wool carpets (Arunachal Pradesh), Kuki shawls (Manipur), cane and bamboo work (Tripura), shawls (Nagaland) and caps (Mizoram).

 Pragjyotika

(Assam emporium) is popular for handlooms and handicrafts.

Assam Apex Weavers & Artisans Cooperative Federation,

sells Assam silks, textiles, bamboo handicrafts.

Khadi Gramodyog Bhavan,

sells Khadi material, readymade leather goods and handmade paper