Discover Upper Assam
Route : Dibrugarh Sivasagar Tinsukia Dibrugarh
Received at Dibrugarh airport and transferred to Mancotta/Chowkidinghee Heritage Chang Bungalow. Afternoon option to take a tea walk in Mancotta Tea Estate. Evening enjoy a dance performance by an ethnic dance group on the bungalow lawns. Overnight at Mancotta/Chowkidinghee Heritage Chang Bungalow.
DIBRUGARH is the gateway to the “Hidden Land” of Eastern Arunachal Pradesh and Northern Myanmar. The Ahoms from Thailand came through Northern Myanmar to this area in the 13th century to establish their Empire which thrived in the ancient land of Assam. It is the “Camellia” town of Upper Assam, an undisturbed haven, with its rich tea gardens resembling a lush green carpet. Experience and enjoy the richness of these tea gardens while staying at the Heritage Chang Bungalows. These are constructed on stilts and are situated in a serene atmosphere free from pollution.
When the British established their tea plantations in the mid-19th century they quickly built comfortable bungalows designed to make life as pleasant as possible in what, was to them, a hostile and strange land. One of the main features of these buildings has given rise to their name – CHANG BUNGALOWS. Chang in the local language means “raised on stilts” and the design served multi purposes- to keep the house cool by allowing the breeze to blow underneath and to keep both water and animals out!
BIHU is the most popular folk dance of Assam. The people of Assam are very proud of its unique position among all other such dances of India. ‘Bihu’ performed by young men and women reflects youthful passion and joy rejuvenating life during the spring season, accompanied by songs woven around the theme of love and physical yearning. The dance is performed by all irrespective of caste, creed and religion.
Post breakfast, take a tea tour around a tea estate known for producing high quality CTC teas . i.e Ethelwold Tea Estate. Also experience a Tea tasting session with a Estate/Factory Manager. Later we drive to Sivasagar (80 kms / 02 hrs)and visit the Ahom monuments and temples which encompass the 600 year old history of the Ahom Dynasty. Return back to Dibrugarh for overnight.
A TEA TOUR through a 157 years old heritage tea garden gives an insight into the different activities that vary from season to season. It teaches us all about tea- its origin, how it is grown, tea tasting and its quality. During the winter months the dormant bushes are pruned to ensure vigorous growth during the warmer months. Once the rains begin, and the temperature rises, the gardens come alive with teams of colourfully dressed tea pluckers, predominantly ladies as they are said to be better able to pluck the delicate buds and leaves. The harvest, which goes on continuously from March to November, is taken everyday to the factory where it undergoes an age old process of being turned into the finished product. All stages of the process are carefully controlled to ensure that the tea that leaves the factory is only of the highest quality, a quality that has made Assam tea world famous.
CTC (Crush, Tear and Curl) tea is a method of processing tea. In this process the leaves instead of being rolled, are passed through a series of cylindrical rollers with hundreds of small sharp "teeth" that Crush, Tear, and Curl.
This style of manufacture has the advantage that the finished product brews quickly, gives a dark infusion rapidly, is well suited for tea bags, and yields more cups per kg. In the Indian domestic market, this type of manufacture has virtually taken over - over 80% of tea produced is CTC .
CTC teas produce a rich red-brown color when they are boiled, which adds a beautiful color to tea made in the Indian style. This is done by boiling leaves in a mixture of milk, water and sugar and some spices (producing Masala Chai). With this brewing method, the tea does not get bitter, and its red colour comes through the white of the milk.
Sivasagar was once the capital of the Ahom Kings. The Shans who came from Thailand through Northern Myanmar to this area in early 13th century, ruled for 600 years. The Siva Temple, built by the Ahoms, situated here is believed to be the tallest of all existing Hindu temples. The ruins of the Ahom palaces and monuments dot the landscape around this historical town. Centuries, before the arrival of the British, this part of the world was controlled by a number of tribal chieftains.
In the town of Sivasagar, one can still see the remaining well preserved relics. The largest and the oldest ampi-theatre of Asia (Rang Ghar) is also another remarkable landmark in the history of Sivasagar. The Tai- Ahom Museum of Sivsagar contains some of the relics of the Ahom period like – swords, clothes, manuscripts and sundry artifacts
Note: Visit to tea factory is subject to being operational on the day of the visit. There is no tea plucking between December till mid March and hence the actual manufacturing process of tea cannot be demonstrated when one visits the factory during this period. Factory also remains closed on Monday’s of the week.
Today early morning drive to Jeypore Reserve Forest (60 kms / 90 mins) and explore the reserve forest. We go for jungle a walk inside the forest. Later in the afternoon we visit Tai Phakial village - an ethnic village whose kith and kin date back to the Ahom period. The villagers still maintain their age-old culture - a village worth exploring. Also visit the incredible Bells Temple. Check in at Wathai Heritage Bungalow, Limbuguri Tea Estate for 02 nights. Overnight at the Bungalow.
Jeypore Reserve Forest is a part of the extraordinary bird rich Dehing Patkai Reserve Forest. It offers many of the most elusive Himalayan species seen nowhere else in the country and perhaps the world including the Grey peacock pheasant and the Brown hornbill. It is also home to the very rare clouded leopard.
Namphake Village is the largest of the Tai-Phake villages in Assam, boasting 70 odd families, which trace their ancestry to the great Tai race. The village folk speak a dialect similar to Thai and still follow the traditional customs and dress code of the great Tai race. The hamlet is also home to the Namphake Buddhist Monastery, one of the oldest and most respected Buddhist Monasteries in Assam. They are Buddhists and have their own script. A few manuscripts, which are mainly religious scriptures in Tai script are preserved in their Village Vihars.
The story behind how this Bells Temple was born goes back to around 50 – 60 years, where a man had a dream where he was told to tie a thread around the tree. On doing this, his wish was fulfilled. One night he again dreamt that as a thanks giving he should hang a bell on the tree. So he did just that. Today, one can see thousands and thousands of bells of different sizes hung around the tree. The banyan tree is right in the middle of the temple, a huge tree, with a band of red thread around it.
Steal yourself away to ‘Wathai Heritage Bunglow, Limbuguri Tea estate- this plinth bungalow will allow you to rejuvenate your senses. Located just 5km from Dibru Saikhowa National Park, it is the ideal retreat for a birding break. This ‘Managers Bungalow’, defines serenity and you will most certainly leave revitalized. It has been recently renovated and is the ideal base whether on a quest for quietude or seeking refuge whilst on an explorative ornithological voyage at the neighboring Dibru Saikhowa National park . Although riverine in nature, this park remains open most of the year with innumerable varieties of colourful birds chirping at various pitches and hopping from branch to branch. It is indeed an orinthologist’s delight. Endangered species like Gangetic Dolphin and Feral Horses are common sights in Dibru- Saikhowa.
Fresh tea can be enjoyed in the front facing ‘jali room” (verandah) of the bungalow in a peaceful atmosphere overlooking the manicured gardens, while meals are served in the spacious dining room complete with an original fireplace. The family room and two large bedrooms are ensuite enabling eight people to sleep here very comfortably.
Today early morning we visit Dibru-Saikhowa National Park and Magori Bheel for a full day birding programme. We take several boat rides on the Dibru River, go for a jungle walk, bird and Gangetic Dolphin sighting. Overnight at the Bungalow.
Dibru-Saikhowa National Park has the most distinct and vibrant wilderness on earth and is known for its pristine scenic beauty. The forests in this park range from semi-evergreen to deciduous to littoral to swampy marshes with patches of wet evergreen jungles Dibru-Saikhowa is a safe haven to many rare and endangered species of over 350 birds and is a must visit site for target-list birders. The big three here are Jerdon's Bushchat, Black-breasted Parrotbill and Marsh babbler. Several other rarely observed species can be found in the extensive grasslands, wetlands, and riverine forests. These include Baer's Pochard, Bengal Florican, Pale-capped Pigeon, Falcated duck, Baikal teal, Chinese spotbilled duck and Rufous vented prinia etc. Dibru-Saikhowa is a haven for an incredible number of Waders ,Ducks , Raptors and its specialty grassland birds.
Our day-long Second World War Tour gives you a chance to uncover this fascinating part of world history. It takes in the colonial town of Digboi (45kms /1hr 30mins), known as the birthplace of the Indian oil industry, which is also home to a Second World War cemetery maintained by the UK-based Commonwealth and War Graves Commission. You drive along railway lines that were crucial for carrying Allied supplies during the War and experience the thrill of exploring Ledo Airfield, one of several used for flights over the “Hump”. The tour ends with a visit to Zero Point, the starting point of the famous Ledo or Stilwell Road, and a walk through what remains of a long-abandoned Chinese cemetery nearby. Later in the afternoon drive back to Dibrugarh. Overnight at Mancotta/Chowkidinghee Heritage Chang Bungalow.
Note: Digboi museum remains closed on Monday of the week.
Day 6Morning at leisure. Later in time transfer to Dibrugarh airport to board flight for onward destination.