The City Of Eternal Romance
Amid tea gardens and military cantonments on the north bank of the Brahmaputra, 181-km northeast of Guwahati, the pleasant little town of Tezpur, built around several lakes, stands on the site of Sonitpur. Undulated green valleys surrounded by hills of Arunachal Pradesh, with snow capped peaks of Himalayas as the northern backdrop, lush green tea gardens and magnificent archaeological ruins have all contributed to make Tezpur a tourist's delight.
The Legend Of Sonitpur
Sonitpur, as ancient Tezpur was known in the olden days is a city steeped in mythology, legend and folklore. The City of Blood ('Sonit' of 'Tez' - Blood, 'Pur' - city) conjures up images of the romantic legend of Usha and Aniruddha and of the fierce battle between "Hari" and "Hara". Old Darang became today's Sonitpur - Tezpur being the district Headquarters of Sonitpur.
According to the legend, Darang was the capital of demon King Banasura, an ardent follower of 'Bhairavnath', incarnation of Lord Shiva. Usha, the beautiful daughter of King Bana happened to see her love in her dream. Following the description of Usha, her confidante Chitralekha portrayed it in painting. The lover was none other than Aniruddha, Grandson of Sri Krishna, King of Dwarka, who was finally found out and the wedding of Usha and Aniruddha took place according to 'Gandharva' tradition.
When it came to the knowledge of Bana he sent Aniruddha to prison. To rescue his grandson Sri Krishna came from Dwarka. In response to the call of his devout Bana, Shiva also came there. When the appeal for rescue failed sword fight ensured between Hari (Lord Krishna) and Hara (Lord Shiva in the form of Banasura), resulted in bloodshed in the entire town.
Since then the town has been named as Sonit or Tezpur meaning "A blood stained town". Bana was vanquished and Usha and Aniruddha were united forever. Usha and Aniruddha settled on the Bamuni hill, 5-km away from the city. The ruins and remains of "Agnigarh" where the immortal romance blossomed, still bear mute testimony of this legend.
A Treasure House Of Assam's Cultural Heritage
Tezpur's contribution to art, culture, literature particularly to the freedom struggle has earned for her a unique niche in the history of Assam. Chandra Kumar Agarwalla, Ananda Agarwalla, Dandi Kalita and a score of others enriched Assasmese literature.
"Rup Konwar" Jyoti Prasad the doyen of Assasmese art and culture was an artist, poet, literature, dramatist, lyricist, filmmaker and a fearless freedom fighter. In 1942, for the first time in entire British India, the Tricolour was hoisted in the police station at Gahpur, a quite town under Sonitpur district. Fourteen-year-old Kanaklata braved British bullets and died holding the national flag aloft over here.
Nehru Maidan Nehru Maidan, the triangular green park
behind the tourist lodge, features a pretty little church and the small
District Museum, with old manuscripts and sculptures from both ancient and
modern times, labeled in Assamese and English.
Opposite the Tourist lodge, Chitralekha Udyan, with its central lake, was established by a British deputy commissioner in the 1800's to house remnants of Asura's palace. The park is at its best in the early evening when the fairy lights and pathways are lit up.
The Mahabhairav Temple
The main market, Chowk Bazaar, is on MC Road roughly 1-km north of the tourist lodge, with the ancient Mahabhairav temple, dedicated to an incarnation of Shiva, still further north.
1-km east along the river Brahmaputra, the hill of Agnigarh commands great views over the town and river, and is said to be the place where Asura imprisoned his daughter, Usha. Preserving the sweet memory of young lovers, Agnigarh or the rampart, surrounded by fire, is perhaps the most beautiful tourist sport of Tezpur. According to legend princess Usha the only daughter of King Banasura was kept inside the palace, which was surrounded by rampart of fire.
There is little left of Da-Parbatia temple, 6-km west of town, except its finely carved doorframe depicting Ganga and Yamuna, said to be the oldest specimen of religious art is Assam. The ruins of the doorframe of Da-Parbatia Temple are perhaps the finest and oldest specimens of sculptural of iconoclastic art in Assam. Its carving has the characteristic of the style of early Gupta School of sculpture. The doorjambs having two Goddesses Ganga and Yamuna standing below with garlands in hands in artistic pose and elegance are decorated with beautiful ornamental foliage.
The ruins of Bamuni hills are famous for its artistic beauty. The sculpture remains, which had been dated back to the 9th and 10th century AD, now lie in the Cole Park and Missionary compound.
The Hazara Pukhuri
This large tank preserves the name of Harzara Varman in Tezpur and was excavated in the early part of the 19th century. This is the third largest tank covering an area of 70 acres.
It is one of the most beautiful places in the town. The park, which was first established by a British Deputy Commissioner, Mr. Cole, is the place for peace loving people. One can see here the two massive ornamented stone pillars and the sculptural remains of the famous Bamuni hills.
Bhalukpong, a beautiful picnic and angling spot was the capital of 'Bhaluka', the grandson of King Banasura. It is 64-kms from Tezpur under the foot of Aka Hills (Arunachal Pradesh ). Remains of old fortifications are still visible. This picturesque place lies on the way to Bomdila in Arunachal Pradesh . Other attractions of Bhalukpong are a hot spring, a big orchid garden at Tipi and the unspoilt beauty of nature.
About 50-km from Tezpur, off the road to Arunachal Pradesh , drive over a dirt track and creaky bridges to reach the Eco Camp, a unique experiment by the Assam anglers Association and the state's Forest Department. The Eco Camp is near the Jia Bhoroli River and across the river, on the other side, is the Nameri Tiger Reserve.
A mammoth stone inscription made by the Ahom General Kalia Bhomora Phukan, who planned to construct a bridge over Brahamputra could be seen here. Almost two centuries later, a bridge over Brahmaputra at the same place has now been completed. The 3.05-km bridge named after the great Ahom general, connecting Nagaon district with Tezpur was opened for vehicular traffic by the than Prime Minister of India Late Rajiv Gandhi on April 3rd 1987.
The Nameri Tiger Reserve
The Nameri Tiger Reserve sprawls over from Assam into Arunachal Pradesh. The best way of traveling here is on elephants as there are no roads inside the park. The thick jungle, with patches of swamp, is home to a variety of animals and birds. Among the animals that one can spot over here include the powerful Mithun or Indian Bison and the rare white winged Wood Duck, counted among the most endangered bird species on earth.
Orang Wildlife Sanctuary
A miniature Kaziranga covering an area of 72-km is only 65-km to the west of Tezpur town. The animals to be seen in this sanctuary are One horned Rhinoceros, Buffalo, Leopard, Sambhar, Barking Deer, Tiger, varieties of water birds, Green Pigeon, Florican, Teal, Geese and Wild Elephant.
Kaziranga National Park
The first national park of Assam, Kaziranga is 80-kms from Tezpur via Kalia Bhomra Bridge. The park is world famous for its one-horned Rhinoceros. Kaziranga is the abode of varieties of wildlife life such as Tiger, Elephant, Indian Bison, Buffalo, Leopard, Jungle Cat, Hog-Badger, Cap Langur, Hillock Gibbon, Swamp Deer, Sambhar, Hog Deer, Barking Deer, Sloth Bear, Goose, Hornbill, Ebisse, Cormorant, Egret, Heron, Fishing Eagle and Pelican.
Air: The nearest airport is Saloni about 10-km from
Rail: The nearest railway station is Rangapara 60-kms from Bhalukpong and 65-km from Orang Wildlife Sanctuary.
Road: The state bus stand has ASTC buses to Guwahati via Kaziranga continuing to either Tinsukia or Dibrugarh. Other services run to Sibsagar, Shillong and Siliguri. APSTS buses run to Itanagar and Bomdila via Bhalukpong. Private bus companies also operate from opposite side of the state bus stand and run luxury buses to the same destinations once or twice daily.
Assam Tourism Department has well furnished tourist lodge with modern amenities for accommodation purpose. Circuit House, Dak Bungalow and a number of hotels also offer comfortable accommodation with reasonable tariff.
Tezpur's ASTC (State) bus stand, KK Road
The Tourist Office, located in the Tourist Lodge on KP Agarwalla Road in the centre of town.
Post & Telegraph :
The GPO is on Head Post Office Road parallel to the main road.
State Bank of India is situated near the state bus stand, but it does not change foreign currency.