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Study Trip

A Visit to Assam

Thursday 16 to Thursday 23 January 2020
Leader: Dr Navamintr Vitayakul, Council Member of The Siam Society

 

 

Assam is a Northeastern state in India and serves as the gateway to Northeast India. It shares international borders with Bhutan and Bangladesh and is surrounded by six other northeast states of India which are Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura, Mizoram.  These seven states, known as the Seven Sister states, are isolated from the rest of India with the only access by land being the Siliguri Corridor (Chicken Neck) in Assam.

Assam is the land of red rivers and blue hills and  comprises three main geographical areas: the Brahmaputra Valley which constitutes the expansive wingspan, the Barak Valley, and the intervening Karbi Plateau and North Cachar Hills.

Assam has a diversified background. The name “Assam” is derived from the term “Asom” which in Sanskrit means unequal or unrivalled. The uneven topography of the land, full of hills, plains and rivers might, therefore, contribute to her name. The Mongolian Ahom Dynasty that had ruled Assam by the name of Kingdom of Assam for more than six hundred years (C13th – 19th) might also be the cause for her name.

In the period of the Epics, Assam was known as “Kamarupa” or “Pragjyotish”. The population of Assam comprises of the migrants from Burma and China. They came into Assam after the mongoloid migration. They came from Punjab through Bihar and North Bengal. Thus, Assam presents a fusion of Mongol-Aryan culture. The early history of Assam is believed to be of the Varman dynasty. The reign of this dynasty extended from AD 400 to the 13th century. The Ahom ventured into Assam in about AD 1228. By the 15th century the kingdoms of Ahom and Koch were established. In the later part of the 18th century the Ahom Kingdom was weakened due to internal strife. The Burmese overran the political authority in Assam though invoking British intervention to subdue the Burmese. After a conflict between the Burmese and the English, peace was restored by the treaty of Yandaboo in 1826. The British then set out to organize the administration, transport and communication. Railways were constructed, tea plantations introduced, and coal and oil discovered.

The British ruled until 1947. With the independence of India, Assam became as a part of the Indian union.

Assam is a destination for history, culture and nature lovers. Various historical sites in Assam are influenced by Ahom dynasty and the Koch kingdom who ruled the region for many years. One of the major cultural change was brought by the Vaishnava movement. The native people of Assam are called Asomiya (Assamese), being a mixture of Mongoloid, Indo-Burmese, Indo-Iranian, and Aryan. Their culture has evolved through a long assimilation process of various races. Going by the facts, the state receives more rainfall than most parts of India. This rain feed the Brahmaputra river and help in the formation of a hydro-geomorphic environment in Assam throughout the year. Assam is gifted with lush green meadows, fertile plains near the enormous Brahmaputra river, the beautiful hills with wonderful tea plantation and rich flora and fauna.

Assam and tea... both are inseparable. Assam is the largest tea producer in the world with a share of more than 20% of the total world produce. It has around 765 big lush tea estates mostly owned by big companies. Its pleasant climate throughout the year makes Assam good for tourism. One-horned Indian rhinoceros are nearly extinct but are well conserved in Assam.

 

 

The Siam Society is organising a trip to visit some of the remarkable places is Assam such as Guwahati, the major gateway to the whole region. Majuli, the largest river island in South Asia on the Brahmaputra River; the island is famous for its Vaishnavite Satras.  Kaziranga National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, serves as one of the last remaining habitats of the great Indian one-horned rhinoceros.  Sivasagar, the seat of the Tai Ahom Kingdom, Tai Phake village, Tai Turung village and Dibrugarh, renowned as the tea capital of India.

 

The tentative programme will be as follows:

Day 1: Thursday 16 January: Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport

11.30pm Meet at Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Day 2: Friday 17 January: Bangkok – Kolkata – Guwahati – Sualkuchi – Modon Kamdev

02.05am Depart Bangkok to Kolkata by Indigo Air flight 6E78.
03.20am Arrive Kolkata International airport, transit for connecting flight to Guwahati.
06.50am Depart Kolkata to Guwahati by Indigo Air flight 6E623.
08.05am Arrive Guwahati Airport, transfer to hotel Radisson Blu for check in.
- Breakfast and relax till noon.
Noon: Lunch at a local restaurant.
Afternoon: Proceed by coach, crossing the mighty Brahmaputra river to visit Sualkuchi, the famous silk village of Assam producing Mulberry, Muga and Eri silk products.
Visit various cottage handloom industries, where you can view how to make authentic silk sarees and other silk clothes and buy some textiles like sarees, mekhela sadors, kurtas made with Assam’s indigenous silk.
 
  Continue to visit Modon Kamdev to see the archaeological ruins of an ancient temple.
The erotic carvings there indicate the strong tantric traditions of the region.
Evening: Dinner at hotel Radisson Blu.

Day 3: Saturday 18 January: Guwahati – Kaziranga (220 kms/4.30 hrs.)

  Breakfast at the hotel.
9am Sightseeing in Guwahati, take a boat ride to visit Umananda Mandir on Peacock Island in the Brahmaputra River and visit the famous Shakti Temple of Kamakhya atop Nilachal Hill, one of the oldest of the 51 Shakti Pithas. After that visit Assam State Museum houses important historical artefacts of Assam.
Noon: Lunch at a local restaurant.
Afternoon: Drive towards Kaziranga National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the home to the endangered one-horned rhinoceros (2,413 rhinos as per 2015 census). Besides, the park has several species of mammals and birds.
Evening: Dinner and overnight at IORA, The Retreat.

Day 4: Sunday 19 January: Kaziranga National park

- Early morning: Optional tour for the forest safari by elephant.
  Moving through the tall grass while the morning mists slowly lifts is an experience that one won't forget easily. The elephant safari is the best means for viewing wildlife as the wild animals are not afraid and possibly, we can observe them close-up.
  *** Note: Elephant Safari at Kaziranga National Park is subject to availability and cannot be guaranteed. Allocation of elephant riding seats and timings are regulated by the forest department, Kaziranga National Park, Government of Assam. The tickets are issued only on the previous evening of the ride after 7.30pm subject to availability. Hence, cost for the same have not been included in the tour cost.
 
- Then, we will return to the resort for breakfast.
  After breakfast we will go on our first Jeep safari to the national park for wildlife viewing in the central zone. Later return to the resort for freshening up and relaxing until lunch.
  After lunch we will go on our second Jeep safari of the day, this time we will visit the western zone of the national park. We can also spend some time at the Donga viewpoint, situated in the western zone.
  Later return to the resort for an overnight stay.
Evening: Dinner and overnight at IORA, The Retreat.

Day 5: Monday 20 January: Kaziranga – Majuli Island – Jorhat (112 kms/3 hrs.)

Morning: Proceed to Jorhat, the last capital of the Ahom Kingdom.
Noon: Lunch at a local restaurant.
Afternoon: After that, take a short drive and a ferry ride http://www.flamingotravels.com/photos/thumb/tea_garden.jpg on the mighty Brahmaputra river to visit the largest river island in the world, the Majuli Island. It is the centre of Assam’s famous Vaishnavite form of Hinduism. The religious and cultural traditions are kept alive by the dedicated monks living in the monasteries locally known as Satras. The ‘Sattriya dance’ of this sect is the latest entry into India’s recognized classical dances.
  Visit Majuli Island local villages, Assamese Garmur Satra, Dakhinpat Satra and Sri Sri Auniati Satra.
Evening: Check in at the hotel.
  Dinner and overnight at Kaziranga Golf Resort.

Day 6: Tuesday 21 January: Jorhat – Dibrugarh (140 kms/3.30 hrs.)

  Breakfast at the hotel.
9am Check out from the hotel.
  Proceed to Dibrugarh, known as the Tea City of India.
  On the way, visit Sivasagar, where the mighty Ahoms ruled Assam from 1228 to 1826, setting up capitals in various places of Sivasagar district. Sivasagar town (earlier known as Rangpur) was the capital of the Ahom Kingdom from 1699 to 1788.
Noon: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 
Afternoon:

Visit Karen Ghar & Talatal Ghar, ahttp://www.flamingotravels.com/photos/thumb/talatalghar.jpg seven-storied palace having three storeys underground known as Talatal Ghar and the upper storeys known as Karen Ghar. First constructed by the Ahom King Rudra Singha in AD 1700, alterations, additions and new constructions to this palace were made by the successors of Rudra Singha. Rang Ghar, the royal sports-pavilion of Ahom kings was constructed during the reign of King Pramatta Singha in 1746.

Then on to visit Gargaon Palace built by Ahom King Suklenmung in 1540.  The old palace was destroyed, and the present seven-storied palace was rebuilt around 1752 by King Rajeshwar Singha. See Joysagar Tank, the largest tank in India and perhaps the biggest man-made tank in the world, comprising an area of 318 acres of land including its four banks, out of which 155 acres is filled with crystal clear water. An earthen water pipeline runs from this tank to the Rangpur Palace (Karen Ghar) which is about 2 kms in length, for supplying water of this tank to the Royal Palace, Charaideo, http://www.flamingotravels.com/photos/thumb/maidam.jpg the tombs of Ahom Kings and Queens at Charaideo hillock at the foot hills of Nagaland, where the first capital of Ahom kingdom was established by Swargadeo Sukapha and visit the Tai Ahom Museum.
Evening: Arrive Dibrugarh, check in at Hotel Natraj.
  Dinner at the hotel.

Day 7: Wednesday 22 January: Dibrugarh –Namphake – Maguri Beel (45 kms/1.30 hrs.)

  Breakfast at the hotel.
10am Visit Assam State Museum which houses important historical artefacts of Assam.
11am Proceed to visit Tai Phake villages of Assam. All the people in this village are Buddhist of the Hinayana sect and speak a dialect similar to the language in Thailand.  They still follow the traditional customs and dress code of the great Tai race and still live in houses raised on stilts and follow their own traditions and cultures. Visit the Namphake monastery which is one of the oldest and most respected Buddhist monasteries of Assam.
Noon: Lunch in the Tai Phake village.
Afternoon: Proceed to Tinsuki, take a boat ride to Maguri Beel on a country boat to see some birdlife. Maguri Beel is a large wetland, gateway of the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park and Biosphere Reserve. A small channel connects Maguri Beel with the Dibru River to the North. It has grown importance because it is home to some of the rarest of the bird species and attracts varied species of birds from around the globe for which it has already been declared as an Important Birding Site (IBA) by BirdLife International. Some of the migratory bird species visiting the beel includes the ruddy shelduck, Baikal teal, bar-headed goose, falcated duck, ferrigunuous duck, northern pintail, Eurasian wegion, common teal, black-headed ibis, glossy ibis, Eurasian curlew, etc.
Evening: Drive back to Dibrugarh (1.30 hr.)
  Dinner at a local restaurant.
  Overnight at Hotel Natraj.

Day 8: Thursday 23 January: Dibrugarh – Bangkok

  Breakfast at the hotel.
8.30am Proceed to visit the Mancotta Tea Estate of Dibrugarh or Ethelwold Tea Estate, subject to the factory being operation, one of the oldest in India. Here, we will have a pleasant walk within the tea garden while interacting with the people who are working in the estate. Also, we will meet the tea pickers. Most of the tea pickers are Bangladeshi immigrants.
 
Noon: Lunch at local restaurant and transfer to airport.
2.40pm Depart for Kolkata by Indigo Air flight 6E206.
4.15pm Arrive at Kolkata airport, transit for flight to Bangkok.
6.50pm Depart Kolkata by Indigo Air flight 6E77 for Bangkok.
11.15pm Arrive at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Booking

THB 73,500 (THB 77,000 for non-members). Single room surcharge THB 10,500. A deposit of THB 30,000 and photocopy of passport must accompany the booking. Your reservation will be confirmed as soon as the deposit has been made. Payment in full is required 60 days before the start of the trip (i.e. by Saturday 16 November 2019).

Please pay by cash or cheque payable to ‘The Siam Society’. There is a 4% surcharge for credit/debit card payment to cover bank charges. Alternatively, you can deposit/transfer the money to the Siam Society travel account at the TMB Bank, Asoke Branch saving account no. 053-2-18000-7. Please fax or e-mail the deposit or transfer docket to us. In case the tour must be cancelled due to insufficient participants, a full refund of the deposit will be made.

Includes/Excludes:

The contribution includes airfares, meals as mentioned in program, accommodation for two persons per room, entrance fees, gratuities and other costs incurred to make this trip possible. It excludes visa fee (if any), personal expenses, personal beverages, etc.

To comply with payment and cancellation policies set forth by tour agencies, and to facilitate smooth working condition between The Siam Society and the tour agencies, please read carefully the revised cancellation policies stated below:

Cancellation charge:

60 days before the start of the trip:                                               Deposit forfeited
60–30 days before the start of the trip:                                          50% of the tour cost
Less than 30 days or cancellation without notice:                            No refund

Your booking will not be confirmed until deposit payment has been received. Please book your place as soon as possible. Please supply a copy of your passport with your booking.

 

 

The Siam Society reserves the right to change the programme as necessary. Seats are limited. Please book your place as soon as possible. For further information and bookings please contact Khun Prasert or Khun Supanut.