Brahmaputra and Assam Tea – The History of Heritage Tourism
Born and raised in the gateway city to northeast India, Guwahati still conjures images of the powerful Brahmaputra river meandering through much of the city and those happy days when we as children played beach cricket on the sandy stretches of the riverbank every winter.
There was also a wild side to this river in that with the onset of the monsoon season, the fury and turbulence of the river flooded much of the state of Assam, inundating almost all of the riverside towns. . The ongoing problem of flooding in the Brahmaputra valley still continues unabated despite the best efforts of conservation authorities.
Assam, a name that some scholars claim to be derived from the Sanskrit word “asoma” which means “without equal” or “without equal”, is located in the south of the eastern Himalayas and is the home of the son of Lord Brahma, or the Brahmaputra , which perhaps counts for the Brahmaputra river being the only male river in India.
The Brahmaputra The long, verdant valley had never been the possession of any outside entity before until the collapse of Ahoms in the 19th century. This event led to the Burmese invasion, followed by a rapid transfer to British hands in 1826 after their victory in the First Anglo-Burmese War. Almost immediately, the territory became a central part of the Raj’s economic prosperity, when Asia’s first oil wells were discovered at Digboi and Assam became the largest and most tea-growing territory. profitable in the world.
The easy-going and laid-back nature of the Assamese people is said to be an effect of the humid and humid climate of Assam, the land of ‘lahe lahe’. This weather induces a soporific tendency among its inhabitants and therefore life itself is a slow, unhurried and relaxed affair.
Embrace the shores of the turbulent Brahmaputra, Guwahati is the gateway to the northeast and is at its peak during the month of April, in time for the all-important “Rongali Bihu” festival. This is the most popular festival for the people of Assam, the colorful Bihu dance at Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakshetra is truly fascinating.
The beating of the drums and the melodious tunes of the ‘Pepa’ echo in the air. The sight of beautiful Assamese women in the traditional “Mekhela Chader” is quite stunning. The Rongali Bihu is a tribute to Mother Nature and all Bihu songs are basically love songs.
No visit to Guwahati is ever complete without a visit to the sacred temple of Kamakshya perched atop the Nilachal Hills. After offering Puja to the sanctum sanatorium of the temple, one can admire the breathtaking view of the city which appears as a multicolored carpet. The sight of the majestic and mighty Brahmaputra River the incessant flow makes it a kaleidoscopic vignette.
As a gateway city to the northeast, Guwahati has indeed reached maturity. Trendy multi-cuisine restaurants, neon-lit bars, luxury hotels and an ever-evolving youth squad to meet the demands of the new age are hallmarks of the city.
For shopping, Guwahati has many centrally located markets such as Fancy Bazaar, Paltan Bazaar, Ulubari, Ganeshguri and GNB Road. A favorite tourist spot in Guwahati is the Assam State Emporium where bamboo and cane products are extremely popular, along with fancy Assamese shawls, wall hangings, and hats. Assamese silk is world famous and a must have item for any new age woman is the quintessential Assamese “Mekhela Chader”.
October 3, 2021 will forever be etched in the history of Assam’s river history as a very special day. The Mahabahu Brahmaputra Heritage Center on Guwahati’s Barphukanar Tila (Barphukan’s Hillock) – a one-of-a-kind Scottish wooden bungalow dating from 1850 has been impeccably renovated and transformed into a unique center of river heritage.
Inaugurated by the Honorable Vice President of India – Shri Venkaiah Naidu, this heritage center, which in the 17th century served as military officers to the former rulers of Ahom, beautifully depicts the folklore and legends surrounding the world’s largest river – The Brahmaputra.
At the heritage center are on display Assamese warships, an amphitheater, an exhibition space, a cafeteria and two exclusive decks to observe the flow of the river. Brahmaputra River. Handcrafted textile designs, ethnic patterns and traditional musical instruments from various communities residing on the banks of the Brahmaputra for several centuries have found space in this unique river heritage center.
Since time immemorial, rivers in India have always been revered, and the ancient Indians recognized rivers for their power of regenerating life. The Brahmaputra Heritage Center is symbolic of India’s rich maritime history and today this center is the symbol of all that is great, holy and inspiring.
The way in which the heritage center portrays and illustrates the infamous Battle of Saraighat (1671), which historians consider to be âthe greatest naval battle ever fought in a riverâ is dramatic to say the least.
In order to preserve the serenity of the place, the circulation of vehicles in and around the heritage center is strictly prohibited and it is a âPiedest Onlyâ zone.
âThere should be a campaign to rejuvenate Indian rivers and the inclusion of lessons on water conservation in school curricula. Other heritage centers across the country should also adopt such green and healthy practices, creating walking and cycling trails for visitors to explore â.
Vice-president M. Naidu
The Brahmaputra river is no ordinary river and based on the length of the river (2,900 km.), it is one of the main rivers in Asia and perhaps the most turbulent. It originates from the icy glaciers of the Himalayas, crosses much of Tibet, the northeastern states of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, and finally merges with the sacred Ganga river and empties into the Gulf of Bengal.
When it crosses Tibet the river is known as the Yarlung Zangbo River, the stretch of the river crossing the mountainous state of Arunachal Pradesh is called the Dihang River and when it merges with the Ganges it shapes The Sunderban Delta, which is also the largest river delta in the world which has for centuries been the exclusive preserve of rare and endangered species Royal Bengal Tigers.
The Brahmaputra is a mythological river and an important facet of this river is that although most rivers in India and elsewhere in the world are considered female, this river stands out as the “male river”. The very word – “Brahmaputra“literally means” son of Lord Brahma “.
For decades together, the mandarins of the Indian tourism industry have pondered the pros and cons of harnessing the true potential of the river. Brahmaputra as a means of attracting tourists. But nothing great has materialized.
For years, adventurous rafters from all over the world (United States, United Kingdom, Germany) came with all their logistics and embarked on whitewater rafting, especially on the lower reaches of the river where the Turbulent rapids are ideal for rafting with little cooperation from the local government.
However, all these dead ends were lifted with the launch of the Assam Bengal Shipping Company in 2003, which is an Indo-British joint venture. They began to organize high-quality river cruises not only in the Brahmaputra River but also on the Hugli River in the neighboring state of West Bengal, thus earning praise from the tourism industry.
One of the most beautiful moments in the history of the collapsing tourism industry in northeast India was when the Indian government’s Ministry of Tourism awarded the most coveted ‘National Tourism Award for the ‘innovation’ in 2004-05 to Assam Bengal Shipping Company.
Since then there has been no turning back and the ABNC has continued to grow stronger with offices not only in India but also in countries like UK, US, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Germany, France, and Italy from where they receive the lion’s share of cruise bookings.
River cruise on the Brahmaputra and tea tourism are both integral parts of Assam. In fact, tea tourism is now a niche segment in the competitive international tourism market.
The genesis of the launch of tea tourism by transforming the Victorian-style managers’ bungalows into heritage properties was imagined by Ranjit Barthakur, CEO of RJBI.
âTourists here can experience the joy of staying in the luxurious colonial ambience of the Raj era and relish the hospitality that was previously the preserve of British tea garden managers.â
Eternal optimist, he imagined the creation of 1,000 upscale colonial heritage rooms in Assam, North Bengal and Dooars. Barthakur is also an eminent spokesperson for the natural heritage of Assam, in particular of Kaziranga, where he advocates a development “carbon negative, energetically positive, water positive and free from pollution of land, air and water. ‘water “.
Most of the bungalows managed by RJBI, which are well distributed throughout Assam, are located close to the river Brahmaputra, which adds to the spirit of adventure.
The entire tea industry in the Assam, North Bengal and Dooars regions has awakened to tea tourism. Renowned companies such as Tata tea, McLeod Russel, Glenburn tea estates, and others have shown considerable interest in this new form of tourism.
After a history of unrest, Assam is already a boon for travelers, waiting to go global. If peace persists, the state can expect a sustained tourism boom.
Traveler information sheet
Guwahati, the capital of the state of Assam, is well connected by air, rail and road to the rest of India.