Assam (Assamese: অসম Asam) is a land of red hills, green valleys and blue rivers — the majestic and sacred Brahmaputra. It is known for its famous tea, its silk and its biodiversity, and is also rich in archeological heritage. Assam is in the north eastern region of India, just below the eastern Himalayan foothills, and is home to more than 31 million people (2011).

Assam on a map of India

It is surrounded by the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura and Meghalaya, which together with Assam are known collectively as the seven sisters, and by the nations of Bhutan and Bangladesh. The borders of China and Myanmar are within the range of 80 to 100 km.

In spite of its merits as a place to visit, Assam is decidedly off the beaten track for tourists.



Assam regions - Color-coded map
  Lower Assam
The historic and the largest city Guwahati, wildlife habitats such as Manas National Park, Pobitora, and Chakrasila; traditional silk industry at Soalkuchi, bronze and bell metal industry at Sarthebari, archaeological sites such as Ambari (Guwahati), Madan Kamdev, Suryapahar, and Hajo; cultural life at the villages of general Assamese and of Bodo, Rabha, Hajong, and Garo ethnocultural groups, rafting at several rivers, the religious places such as Hajo.
  Central Assam and Barak Valley
The historic Maibong, scenic Haflong, fabled Jatinga (known for the bird suicide myth), the Bengali-speaking Barak Valley, hot water spring at Umrangshu, cultural life at the villages of Karbi, Dimasa and Tiwa ethnocultural groups, etc.
  Upper Assam
Kaziranga National Park, the historical old capital city of Rongpur (Sibsagar), the ancient capital city and royal burial mounds at Charaideo the first capital of the Ahom rulers, Majuli - claimed to be the largest river island in the world, a centre of Vaishnav monasteries and typical villages and cultural life of the Mishing ethnocultural group, several other wildlife sanctuaries and habitats including the Joydihing rainforest and Dibru-Saikhowa with its population of feral horses (Brahmaputra's) close to Dibrugarh, cultural life of ethnocultural groups such as Taiphakes, Taikhamtis, Singphos, Morans and of general Assamese population, Digboi - first Asian petroleum refinery with oil museum and the heritage wells, the WWII famous Stillwell Road and the natural and cultural environment along it, archaeological site of Deopahar near Numaligarh refinery.



Major cities are:

  • 1 Guwahati — Capital and largest city in Assam, city of temples, history and archaeological sites
  • 2 Bongaigaon — commercial and industrial hub, home to many monuments of Assamese culture
  • 3 Bordua — the birthplace of Mahapurush Srimanta Sarkardev draws visitors who come to learn Sattriya dance and do research on Vaishnavism
  • 4 Borgang — experience the rich folklore and culture of rural Assam in a picturesque landscape
  • 5 Dibrugarh — home to several parks, gardens and temples
  • 6 Golaghat — an old urban centre for Assam, but nevertheless home to wildlife sanctuaries and a UNESCO-listed national park, beautiful views amid ancient ruins, and sacred Hindu and Christian sites from the 17th and 19th centuries
  • 7 Jorhat — considered by some to be the cultural center of Assam and the last capital of the mighty Ahom kingdom.
  • 8 Nagaon —birthplace of many eminent personalities that includes the great saint, philosopher and cultural scientist Srimanta Sankardeva
  • 9 Silchar — Bhuban Hills, tea gardens and the former capital of the Old Cachari Kingdom (Khaspur).
  • 10 Tezpur — Ancient town and also said to be the cultural capital of Assam, with many historical ruins with the Himalayas as a backdrop.
  • 11 Tinsukia — famous for its endless stretches of tea gardens.
  • 12 Sivasagar — well known for its Ahom palaces and monuments.

Other destinations

A one-horned rhino at Kaziranga National Park

Assam has several attractive destinations; majority of these are national parks, wildlife and bird sanctuaries, areas with archaeological interests and areas with unique cultural heritage. Moreover, as a whole, the region is covered by beautiful natural landscapes.

  • 1 Dibru-Saikhowa National Park   — A wonderful habitat of numerous birds; there are feral horses on the islands of the Brahmaputra close to the park.
  • 2 Kaziranga National Park — A World Heritage Site of UNESCO, it is the largest habitat for one-horned rhinoceros and several other unique flora and fauna.
  • 3 Manas National Park — In the foothills of Eastern Himalayas, where the river Manah flows with picturesque turns and clean water and sandy beaches. Although Manas is primarily a tiger reserve, it possesses numerous other valuable flora and fauna; the park is situated roughly 150 km west of Guwahati.
  • 4 Nameri National Park — One of the most scenic national park of Assam, Nameri comes as a delight for the nature loving and bird watching traveler. The bird-life is particularly superb. Also, chances of spotting a Tiger is very high.
  • 5 Orang National Park (Mini Kaziranga National Park) — marshes, streams and grasslands provide a habitat for the Indian rhinoceros, Asian elephant, wild buffalo and tiger. It provides a home for many migratory species of birds and reptiles
  • 6 Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary  — A very rich biodiversity and is home to the only apes in India, the western hoolock gibbon (Hoolock hoolock), as well as the only nocturnal primate found in the northeast Indian states, the Bengal slow loris.


A Golden Langur; endangered and are found in Chakrasila Sanctuary in Goalpara district
Orchids are abundantly found in Assam; a variety - Bhatou Phul or Vanda coerulea, the 'Blue Vanda

Assam (অসম aw-xawm) is part of a transitional region between South Asia and Southeast Asia. Prior to Indian independence in 1947, Assam had been a part of British India since the British annexed the Kingdom of Assam and its tributary states in 1826 following the Treaty of Yandaboo. Assam used to be a larger state. Sylhet Division, formerly part of Assam, was allotted to Pakistan in the 1947 United Nations India Partition and subsequently became part of Bangladesh after the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971, while Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram and Meghalaya were carved out of Assam during the 1960s and 70s. With an area of 78,438 km2, Assam in its current configuration is almost equivalent to the size of Ireland or Austria.

History of urban development goes back to almost two thousand years in the region. Existence of ancient urban areas such as Pragjyotishapura (Guwahati), Hatapesvara (Tezpur), and Durjaya, and medieval towns such as Charaideu, Garhgaon, Rongpur, Jorhat, Khaspur, and Guwahati, are well recorded.

Guwahati with its more than two thousand years of history is the largest urban centre and a million plus city in Assam. The city has experienced multifold growth during past three decades to grow as the primate city in the region; the city's population was approximately 0.9 million (considering Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) area) during the census of 2001.

Assam was known as the Kingdom of Pragjyotisha-Kamarupa during the first millennium AD and was broken into smaller states during the beginning of the second millennium; however, later, for almost 600 years starting in the 13th century, the region was again transformed into a united sovereign country as the Kingdom of Assam under the later dynasties such as the Ahoms and Koches.

Assam has been a world leader in production of tea for more than past one hundred years and produces around 25 percent of the world's tea. Traditionally it is also a producer of high-quality silk, locally called paat bred on mulberry leaves, and the only place in the world where all four major silk types are cultivated, the others being the golden silk Muga unique to Assam, the Ahimsa silk Eri bred on castor leaves, and tassar.

A paradise for nature lovers


Assam and surrounding regions have to be a paradise for the nature lovers and researchers. The region's unique natural settings, hydro-geomorphic environment and biodiversity have no parallel in Asia. Within an eighty to hundred kilometres of journey by land, one can travel from a flat flood plain with tropical rainforests and wet paddy fields to mountainous regions of Alpine-Himalayan climatic conditions at very high altitude. Geomorphic studies conclude that the Brahmaputra, the life-line of Assam is a paleo-river; older than the Himalayas. The river with steep gorges and rapids in Arunachal Pradesh entering Assam, becomes a braided river (at times 16 km wide) and with tributaries, creates a flood plain (Brahmaputra Valley: 80–100 km wide, 1000 km long). The hills of Karbi Anglong, North Cachar and those in and close to Guwahati (also Khasi-Garo Hills) now eroded and dissected are originally parts of the South Indian Plateau system. In the south, the Barak originating in the Barail Range (Assam-Nagaland border), flows through the Cachar district with a 40–50 km wide valley and confluences with the Brahmaputra in Bangladesh.

Assam is one of the richest biodiversity zones in the world and consists of tropical rainforests, deciduous forests, riverine grasslands, bamboo orchards and numerous wetland ecosystems; Many are now protected as national parks and reserved forests. The Kaziranga, home of the rare Rhinoceros, and Manas are two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Assam. Pabitora has the highest density of rhinos. The reserve forests of Joypur, Upper Dihing and Dirak are a stretch of pristine rainforests. The region is the last refuge for numerous other endangered species such as Golden Langur or Honali Bandor (Trachypithecus geei), White-winged Wood Duck or Deohanh (Cairina scutulata), Bengal Florican or Ulumora, Black-breasted Parrotbill, Pygmy Hog or Nolgahori, Greater Adjutant or Hargila, Hispid Hare or Khagorikota, Slow Loris or Lajuki Bandor, Swamp Francolin or Koira and so on. Some other endangered species with significant population in Assam are Tiger, Elephant, Hoolock Gibbon, Jerdon's Babbler and so on. Assam is also known for orchids the more well known being the foxtail or kopou and blue vanda or bhatou.



With the "Tropical Monsoon Rainforest Climate", Assam is temperate (Summer max. at 35-38 and winter min. at 6-8 degrees Celsius) and experiences heavy rainfall and high humidity. However, temperature is much lesser in the hilly areas of Central Assam. The climate is characterised by heavy monsoon downpours reducing summer temperature and foggy nights and mornings in winter. Thunderstorms known as Bordoicila are frequent during the afternoons. Spring (March–April) and Autumn (September–October) are usually pleasant with moderate rainfall and temperature.

Cultural heritage


Assam is also a region, which can be termed as a crucible of cultures. It is a true meeting place of South Asian and South East Asian cultures, where the principal language Assamese (Oxomeeya) exhibits hybridity between Indo-Iranian, Tibeto-Burman and Tai-Kadai group of languages. Apart from the hybrid Assamese population, there are several distinct ethno-cultural groups such as Bodo, Karbi, Mishing, Dimasa, Tiwa, Rabha, Hasong, Taiphake, Taikhamti, Taiaiton, Singphow, Bru, Garo, etc. with distinct languages, dialects, food habits, architecture and settlement pattern, textile design, dance, music, musical instruments, belief, etc.

A ferocious lion excavated in Madan Kamdev close to Baihata Cariali in Assam representing the powerful Kamarupa-Palas (c. 9th-10th century A.D.)
Rong Ghor, a pavilion built by the king Pramatta Singha (also Sunenpha; 1744–1751) in Ahom capital Rongpur, now Sibsagar; the Rang Ghar is one of the earliest pavilions of outdoor stadia in Asia

State of tourism


It is important to understand that in the past 60 years, the Government of India's restrictions on the foreigners in the region such as the Restricted Area Permit System (RAP - finally abolished in Assam and neighbouring Meghalaya in the 1990s), acted as major hindrances for the foreign tourists and foreign interest groups to legally enter in to Assam and gradually pushed Assam in to isolation from the world. Assam today is a terra incognita to the new generations in the developed world; while the old generation British, other Europeans, Americans and Japanese still remember 'Assam' whatever may be the cause varying from colonial administration, to tea and oil industry or to WWII. For past 60 years, tourism promotion and development was a neglected subject. During the same time period, few Assamese have left Assam for other places; Assamese have been happy inside Assam, inside their native places and inside their houses, which has seen a sea-change with thousands of students and skilled labourers coming from different cities in India. Therefore, as a not well-known place, Assam has long way to go to establish herself as a foremost tourist destination. However, Assam possesses everything that is required for developing herself as a leader of travel and tourism in the world and most importantly Assamese are one of the most hospitable people.



Assamese is the principal language and the lingua franca in the region. Assamese and Bodo are the local official languages in Assam (outside Barak Valley) while Bengali and Meitei (Manipuri) are used as the same in the Barak Valley. There are several other local languages such as Mishing, Karbi, Dimasa, Garo, Hmar, Bru, Taiphake, Taikhamti, etc. used by the specific ethno-cultural groups in different pockets. However, most educated people speak English and Hindi with local accents. Bengali is also spoken in many parts of Assam, especially Guwahati, Silchar, and the westernmost part of the state, where there are large Bengali communities. Moreover, there are many speakers of other Indian languages and dialects such as Punjabi, Marwari, Bhojpuri, and Gujarati, particularly in the urban centres.

Usually, all official signs and documents are written in both Assamese and English, using British spelling. The Government of India establishments Indian Railways, ONGC, et al. have sign boards in three languages - Assamese, English and Hindi. Commercial and street signs are usually written in Assamese and English (or even just English), and in Bengali in the Barak Valley.

Fluent English is widely spoken by upper-class Assamese people, and by many customer service workers catering to foreign or middle/upper-class clients. However, the average person on the street speaks only a very small amount of English, so you might have to be clever about finding the simplest or most local "key words" to communicate what you want. Hindi is apparently much more widely spoken, more so than in many parts of southern India. Bengali is probably spoken widely around much of Assam as well, not only in the Cachar Valley, but this is a sensitive issue, since many Assamese people feel their culture is threatened by modern immigration from Bengali-speaking Bangladesh.

Get in


By plane


There is good air-connectivity to Assam from elsewhere in India. Guwahati's Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport (GAU IATA) is the busiest in Assam. Other major airports in the state include Dibrugarh (DIB IATA), and Silchar (IXS IATA). Air India along with several private airlines operate daily services from all of India's big cities, including Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Bangalore. Moreover, there are other airports in Tezpur and Jorhat (JRH IATA) with less frequent flights connecting cities such as Kolkata and other cities of the northeast region to Assam. Arriving by plane gives a wonderful welcome aerial view of the green valley surrounded by blue hills in Assam. The major airlines operating in the region are:

For international travellers from East Asia or South East Asia, the easiest route to get to Assam is via Kolkata. There are several direct flights from Kolkata to Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Silchar and Jorhat. The journey time in a direct flight from Kolkata to Guwahati takes less than 45 minutes, while a flight from Kolkata to Dibrugarh (the eastern most civil airport in Assam) takes around 90 minutes. Similarly for travellers from Europe, Middle East, Central Asia and Africa, routes via Delhi, Mumbai or even Kolkata are best ways to enter the state. Out of these three major Indian cities, Delhi and Kolkata have higher frequency of flights to Guwahati. A Delhi-Guwahati direct flight takes around 2 hour and 30 minutes.

There are a limited number of international flights going into Guwahati. As of February 2020, there are Nok Air flights between Guwahati and Bangkok while Druk Air flies between Paro and Singapore via Guwahati.

By rail


Three major routes of North East Frontier Railways (NF Railways) cover Assam and provide linkage to elsewhere in India. Guwahati railway station is the largest in Assam and is served by direct trains from most of the major cities in India. The Rajdhani Express (fully air-conditioned) from New Delhi (takes 27 hours) and Saraighat Express from Howrah in Kolkata (takes 17 hours) are the fastest ones. There are many direct trains from Delhi (including the Rajdhani Express) and Kolkata for Dibrugarh in Upper Assam. Usually, Dibrugarh is an additional night's journey (12 hr) from Guwahati.

By car


There are highways from Indian states in the west and buses run between Siliguri (to Siliguri buses are available from Kolkata, Darjeeling and Gangtok) and Guwahati; However, travelling by bus may not be comfortable in this patch and travel time is usually longer than that of trains. Road connectivity to surrounding Seven Sister States is good, however may take different durations depending on the location of the state.

Tamu in western Myanmar is connected to a reasonably good highway to Assam via Manipur; Tamu in Myanmar border is closer to Mandalay. The historic Stilwell Road between Assam-Myanmar-China from Ledo in Upper Assam to Myitkina in Myanmar and further to Kunming in China is right now not fully operationalised.

There are also roads connecting Bhutan.

Get around


By bus and car


Buses are the most common medium of travel in Assam. "AC buses" in Assam (ones nice enough to offer air conditioning) are generally well maintained and comfortable, and "non-AC" buses vary, often being quite crowded, but are still reliable. There are regular bus services connecting important places within Assam and to neighbouring states, and even many smaller towns. Long-distance buses generally are called Night Super Bus (because they usually travel only at after sunset) are more comfortable with reclining seats. Sleeper buses with beds are also available, though the ride can be too bumpy to actually sleep. Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC) is state run bus company with a very exhaustive network. Some private players have large networks as well. It's not common to book bus tickets in advance online, though you probably won't be able to do it yourself if you don't have an Indian credit card or bank account. And some more casual, non-AC buses routes won't be listed online.

Some routes that don't have buses, as well as many that do, also have transport service by shared cars, varying from small cars to SUVS (particularly "Sumos", a jeep-like Indian model) to mini-buses. This seems to particularly be the case for routes from Assam into neighboring states via mountain roads. These are relatively adventurous, often packing more people than you would think possible into the vehicle, and sometimes not leaving until full. But they sometimes leave more frequently and travel more directly than cheap buses, and are much cheaper than hiring a taxi for yourself. The driver may want to tie your luggage to the top - this is usually safe enough, but if you don't want to do it, just buy an extra ticket for your bags. To make sure you're getting a shared vehicle rather than paying for the whole thing, make sure to say "share". If someone says "reserve", that means you're paying them the equivalent of a full vehicle's worth of people for them to take you alone.

That said, reserved taxis can be a good option for travelling inside Assam and to the surrounding region. In majority cities and even small towns private taxi-cabs are available for rent for local travel as well for inter-city travel. The taxi-cabs can be also rented on daily basis. For a traveller, it is easier to hire a taxi from the hotel he or she is staying; usually the hotels can arrange or provide with information on the local car rental agencies. This will be much more expensive than traveling on in shared or public transit vehicles, but 100 times more comfortable, and probably still shockingly cheap by North American, European, or Northeast Asian standards.

Self driving may not be advisable for many reasons - dangerous traffic, animals in the road, and frequent agitations and "bandhs" (political labor strikes) in certain areas to name some.

By train


Although having a fairly extensive railway network, trains are less convenient than buses or taxis for travelling short distances within Assam - inter-city or inter-regional trains are not very frequent within Assam. Moreover, the Assam's rail network is fragmented due to different gauge size. The services on narrow gauge and meter gauge lines are irregular and uncomfortable. Broad gauge service links Guwahati with major cities in upper Assam (Dibrugarh, Jorhat and Tinsukia), which is comfortable but little more time-consuming than the buses; However, from Guwahati, one may try using the Rajdhani Express (fully air-conditioned) for an over-night journey to reach Dibrugarh or Tinsukia. The railway tickets are bookable online or available at the electronic ticketing counters in the stations. It is important to have a reservation for an overnight train journey, to obtain a berth in a comfortable A/C or non A/C sleeper coach. For reservation, booking should be made 2 months before the journey; however, in majority trains 'Tatkal' service is available.

We traveled several times on unreserved trains in early 2023, and it was often convenient, if a bit adventurous, depending on the circumstances. Though trains are infrequent and often hours late, their schedules are at least well-documented online, which is more than can be said of many local bus and shared car services. And with a "general" ticket, you're almost guaranteed to get on even without an advance reservation. Though we did have one absurdly crowded train ride (people filling the aisles and sleeping on the luggage racks), we also had several where we had train cars nearly to ourselves.

By plane


Air travel from Guwahati to Upper Assam or Southern Assam districts can be quicker and easier. Guwahati is linked with Dibrugarh, Jorhat, Tezpur and Silchar with several flights. However, it is important to book a ticket early. A flight between Guwahati and Dibrugarh takes roughly 45 minutes.

The famous Rhinoceros of Assam in Kaziranga
Deodhas of Deodhani dance
  • Brahmaputra Cruise - A private firm, Assam-Bengal Navigation offers river cruise on Brahmaputra. This tour covers almost whole of the stretch of river lying in Assam.
  • Jadav Payeng Initiative This village is famous for the man made forest & mishing tribe. They assist in Assam's eco-cultural tours & travel.
  • Greener Pastures - An eco-tourism organization which provides responsible tours to offbeat and exotic destinations of Northeast India. Activities include trekking, tribal tours, wildlife journeys, river cruises, tea tours and adventure sports such as caving and rafting.
  • Pedalroads Adventures - An adventure tour company based in Guwahati offering cycling and trekking tours across the northeastern states.
See also: South Asian cuisine
Lunch in Assam means white rice with vegetables.

It is worthwhile to taste ethnic Assamese cuisine which comprises rice with regional curries, including choices of fish, lamb, chicken and duck. Assamese meals are usually accompanied by various side dishes like mash potatoes (Alu Pitika) or pickles of small fried fishes.



Rice is the most important ingredient in the state's cuisine. The large varieties of rice found in the region has led to speculation that the grain was first domesticated in the Assam-Yunnan region. Both the indica as well as the japonica varieties are grown in Assam. The most popular class of rice is the joha or scented rice. As a staple diet rice is eaten either steam boiled (ukhua) or sundried (aaroi). Some very fine varieties of rice namely, Karaballam or kauribadam etc. are available in Assam only. Rice is eaten as a snack in many different forms: roasted and ground (xandoh), boiled in its husk and flattened (chira), puffed (akhoi). There is also a variety of rice grown that can be just soaked and eaten (kumol saul).



The next most important ingredient is fish, harvested from the many rivers, ponds and lakes in the region. There is no traditional ethnic community in Assam that does not eat fish. Some of the most popular big fishes are the Rohu, the Hilsa and the chital (big), khoria (medium) (Chitala chitala), Maagur, Xingi, Borali, Bhokua, Xaal, Xol, etc. The small varieties of fish available and eaten in Assam include Puthi, Borolia, Mua, cheniputhi, tengera, lachin, bhagun and pabho.

  • The most popular dish from Assam, the tenga (fish sour), is an indispensable part of a proper meal in Assam. The most popular tenga is made with tomatoes, though the ones made with kajinemu (thick skinned elongated lemon) and thekera (dried Mangosteen,) are also popular
  • Another favourite is small fish roasted in banana leaves (paatotdia).
  • Hukuti is a special fish dish prepared from dried small fish (puthi maas) pounded with an arum stem and dried and stored in bamboo tubes. Variations of this exist among the ethnic communities of Northeast India in general and Assam in particular, are dried and fermented small fish puthy mas (Ticto barb), three to four in numbers are roasted along with lavish amounts of green chillies, tomatoes, ginger and garlic (all roasted). The ingredients are then pounded in a mortar to make a coarse paste and served with rice.

The Assamese meat and fish dish is characterized by low amount of spices and oil, higher quantity of ginger, norosingho paat (curry leaves) and lemon juice. This is quite different from Bengali dishes in taste.



Pork and to some extent, beef dishes are particular favorites in the tribal areas in Assam. Beef is not eaten by the majority of Assamese as they practice Hinduism, and its production and import are tightly restricted by the state government; however, beef is popular among Assamese Muslims and tribal communities. Likewise pork is eaten by the non-Muslim Assamese population. The basic cooking method is boiling. Onla, of the Bodos, is made with ground rice and special herbs, and constitutes a complete meal in itself. Other meats include squab, duck, chicken, mutton, venison, and turtle although venison and turtle meat are legally prohibited. The combination of duck – white gourd and squab – papaya or banana flower is very popular. Meat is curried in spicy gravy.

Typical Assamese dishes

  • Chutney is made of coriander, spinach, tomato, heartleaf, curry leaf, chilli, lentil, chickpea etc. Xukan masor chutney (chutney made of dried fish) is popular among the tribal communities. Salads contain ingredients like carrots, radish, tomatoes, cucumbers and beetroot.
  • The khar is a signature dish made with a key ingredient, also called khar. The traditional ingredient is made by filtering water through the ashes of a banana tree, which is then called kola khar . A traditional meal invariably begins with a khar dish, made of raw papaya, pulses or any other main ingredient. Xôkôta: It is a severely bitter type of preparation. It is prepared with dry jute leaf, urad bean and khar.
  • Kharoli is fermented mashed mustard (Brassica campestris var. toria) seed to which a khar has been added, and kahudi to which an acidic agent (lemon juice or dried mangosteen) has been added. Pitikas are also made from roasted or steamed vegetables (tomatoes and eggplants being very popular). Small fishes, Asiatic pennywort, matikaduri, tengamora leaves, heartleaf, and dôrôn (Leucus longifolia) are roasted separately wrapped in banana leaves and mashed into pitika along with mustard oil, salt and chilli. It is also called patotdia (literally, 'in a leaf').
  • Pickles in Assam are made from various fruits and vegetables, including mango, Indian gooseberry, hog plum, olive, Tamarind, star fruit, mangosteen, radish, carrot, elephant apple, Indian jujube, chilli, lime and garlic.
  • Poitabhat is a favourite dish in Assam during the summer season. Cooked rice is soaked overnight in order to prepare poitabhat and served the next day garnished with mustard oil, onion, chilli, pickles, pitika (smashes), etc.
  • Pokori is a fritter is made of flower and tender leaves of pumpkin, tender leaves of bottle gourd, eggplant, tender leaves of Night-flowering Jasmine, etc.
  • Side dishes called pitika - are a signature characteristic of Assamese cuisine. The most popular is aloo pitika - mashed potatoes) garnished with raw onions, mustard oil, green chillies and sometimes boiled eggs. khorisa tenga is mashed fermented bamboo shoot, sometimes pickled in mustard oil and spices.
  • The tenga is a light and sour fish dish, another signature class of preparations. The souring ingredient could be mangosteen or lemon but the most popular type is made with tomatoes. Fish dishes made with fermented bamboo shoot are generally sour, but they are not called tengas. Fish is fried in mustard oil or curried with bottle gourd or spinach. Another tenga dish is prepared with matimah (urad bean) and outenga (elephant apple). Bottle gourd also can be added to it. Tengamora or noltenga and lentil is also a distinct tenga curry.

Assamese Snacks

  • Bora saul is a variety of glutinous rice found in Assam. It has an important role in Assamese traditional occasions like Bihu. It is used in Jolpan (snacks) and Pitha (ricecake or pancake). Soaked and ground bora saul is used in preparing Pitha. Boiled bora saul is served as Jolpan with curd or milk, jaggery or sugar.
  • Chira (Flattened rice, also called beaten rice) is a dehusked rice which is flattened into flat light dry flakes. These flakes of rice swell when added to liquid, whether hot or cold, as they absorb water, milk or any other liquids. It can be eaten raw by immersing it in plain water or milk or curd, with salt or sugar or jaggery to taste, or lightly fried in oil.
  • Ghila pitha is a type of pancake so called because of its knee cap sized shape. Knee cap is called Ghila in Assamese. Rice flour of Bora saul, one kind of glutinous rice or any common rice is used in it. A paste made of rice flour and jaggery is prepared first and then fried in cooking oil at a certain quantity. Salt is also used instead of jaggery to make salty Ghila pitha. It is generally prepared and served in Bihu in Assam.
  • Kumol saul is a unique type of rice from Assam that can be eaten without cooking. It is rendered fluffy and edible by being soaked in water for a short time. The rice may be eaten with milk or curd, jaggery, yogurt after being immersed in warm water for just fifteen minutes or so.
  • Muri (puffed rice) is made by heating sand in a pot, and then throwing in grains of rice. The rice may be washed in brine to provide seasoning. The rice puffs up and is separated from the sand by a strainer. It is served with hot milk or curd and jaggery or sugar.
  • Pitha is a ricecake or pancake, a thin flat cake prepared from a batter and cooked on a hot griddle or frying pan. It is an inseparable part of Jolpan in Assam. It is a special class of rice preparation generally made only on special occasions like Bihu in Assam. Made usually with soaked and ground rice, they could be fried in oil, roasted over a slow fire or baked and rolled over a hot plate.
  • Suji (Semolina) is also one type of common jolpan, a type of dessert. Like pithaguri it is heated on a frying pan and water is added to make it a paste and then served with hot milk.
  • Til Pitha is a type of pancake. It is a special class of rice preparation and generally made only on special occasions like Bihu in Assam. Bora saul, a glutinous type of rice is soaked and ground. Then a certain quantity of this rice flour is baked, filled up with sesame seeds, ground coconut and dried rind of orange, jaggery, etc. and pressed and rolled with many folders. This rice cake is also called Hesa pitha since it is pressed after rolling it as folder by folder.

Major cities like Guwahati, Tezpur, Jorhat and Dibrugarh offer a wide variety of restaurants and eat outs. Restaurants are normally very cheap and a good meal will cost about $0.50 to $1 per person. There are also ambient restaurants which serve all kinds of Indian and Assamese dishes for about less than $5 – $8 per person.


Rohi, a kind of local wine made in Assam

Assam is famous for tea internationally. It has a large tea growing industry. Most plantations are located in the upper Assam. 70% tea is exported outside India. People drink tea with/without milk and also sometimes containing ginger and spices such as cardamom.

Rohi is a fermented rice beer found throughout the northeast. The most common type in Assam is rohi made from sticky rice by the Bodo community. Many other cultures in Assam have their own versions of it, with each using a different name.



Major towns in Assam usually have a few hotels and various guesthouses (smaller, locally-owned hotels), while more rural tourist destinations will have many "homestays" (more local and casual yet). The once-common practice of refusing foreign guests (because of the hassle or technological requirements of reporting their details as required by the government) thankfully seems to be very uncommon as of 2023.

Many accommodations do not provide WiFi, and some don't provide hot water for showers, or only provide it by delivering a bucket of it to your room. so if either of these things are critical to you, make sure to ask in advance (an in-room water heater is called a "geyser", pronounced "geezer").

Many accommodations here are not listed on hotel aggregator websites, and if you do use one of those to book online, make sure to the still contact the place directly once you've booked - it's not unusual find places that didn't see your online booking, don't actually honor online bookings anymore, or even demand a much higher price once you arrive (though this will usually earn them a very low rating). The recommended way to find a wider range of accommodations is to search in a map app, and then either just show up to one or contact them directly if you can find a phone number (sometimes visible in photos of the place's sign even if it's not in the listing). If you don't like talking on the phone, most also use WhatsApp. Homestays and some guesthouses expect you to contact them ahead of time if they don't have reception desks, and that applies even more generally if you'll be arriving later at night.

Some places with "hotel" in the name are actually only restaurants with no rooms available. Usually you can figure out the difference by looking at online reviews. In theory, a sign that says "fooding and lodging" means they do have rooms, though beware that the quality can be scandalously low.

Stay safe


Assam and Northeast India in general are considered to be among the safest parts of India as far as street crime - much safer than most of northern India. Locals here don't seem to worry much about theft or assaults (except perhaps in certain neighborhoods of Guwahati), and though women still take some precautions, traveling alone is not at all unheard of. Locals say pickpockets are an issue in crowded train cars, though it doesn't seem to be bad compared to some other places. In other words, you probably shouldn't push your luck, but you can breathe relatively easy here compared to more famous tourist spots in India.

There is a recent history of armed insurgency (rebel and terrorist attacks) in Assam, but over the last decade it's almost completely died down. One place to possibly still avoid is the Karbi Anglong area, far off the beaten track in the east of the state.

Tap water is problematic due to lack of sanitary facilities and sewage treatment. It is safest to assume water is unsafe for drinking without being chemically treated or boiled, which is one reason to stick to tea or bottled water.

Northeast India has a much higher rate of malaria than most other parts of the country, but the disease is uncommon enough that it's not much talked about among locals. It's probably more of an issue in the mountainous surrounding states than in Assam itself, and taking daily preventative drugs is probably overkill, but it's still be wise to take basic precautions such as using mosquito nets and mosquito repellent spray, especially in more remote areas.

Air pollution can be quite bad in Assam, with Guwahati rivaling Delhi and other major Indian cities at certain times (usually during the winter). Many locals are not aware of this, calling the yellowish haze "just fog", but an online search for air quality measurements quickly proves otherwise. Even remote rural areas can still have considerable smog, though normally much less severe than Guwahati.

The region is prone to natural disasters with annual floods (in specific areas) and frequent mild earthquakes. Floods usually occur during monsoon (mid June till late August) and many a times can create trouble by destroying roads and railway linkages at places. Strong earthquakes are rare, but not unheard of; three of these were recorded in 1869, 1897 (magnitude 8.1); and in 1950 (magnitude 8.6).



Happily, Assam is much more laid-back about commerce and tourism than many more tourist-frequented parts of India and Southeast Asia. Vendors are not aggressive, with the exception of aggressive taxi/tuktuk drivers at certain major transit hubs. Not only that, but the general assumption is that people being honest about prices as well, with the major exception of tuktuk and motorcycle taxis in Guwahati (in smaller towns it's much less of an issue). Catcalling and other sexull harassment of women doesn't seem to be common in Guwahati or major tourist areas, at least for foreigners, and even tiresome attention such as selfie requests are mostly absent except in the poorer parts of Lower Assam. Street noise, pollution, and traffic jams in Guwahati are likely to be the most stressful aspects of your visit.

If you're of East Asian descent, expect people in Assam to constantly want to tell you how they have friends or relatives from Northeast Indian minority groups who "look just like you". They don't mean anything bad by it, and they may not be exaggerating as much as you'd guess, but it can get tiresome. What's considered more ignorant is people from other parts of India thinking that typical Assamese people look East Asian, which you'll quickly see is not the case.

Stay connected


Public wifi is almost unheard of in Assam, probably because cell phone data is so cheap, so it's a good idea to get an Indian SIM card, if you don't have one already, or else sign up for a roaming plan from your provider in another country (though be aware that some don't work here even if they work in other states of India). Getting a local SIM card is a bit of a burden for foreign visitors, but should be possible by walking into an official office of one of the major providers - bring your passport, the printout of your e-visa if applicable (with your photo and QR code on it), and an Indian friend who can receive a verification code on their phone for you. This may take some time. Alternatively, if you'll be mostly staying in Guwahati or at nicer hotels elsewhere, you might be able to get wifi most nights (but make sure to ask before booking, since many accommodations don't offer wifi).

Radio stations

  • AIR Guwahati / Akashvani Guwahati) - 729 kHz, 1035 kHz, 4940 kHz, 7280 kHz, 100.8 MHz
  • Gupshup FM - 94.3[dead link]
  • Radio Oolala (Positive Radio Pvt. Ltd.) - 91.9 MHz
  • Big 92.7 FM, Guwahati (Adlabs Films Ltd.) - 92.7 MHz
  • Gyan Vani, Guwahati - 107.8 MHz
  • AIR Dibrugarh / Akashvani Dibrugarh - 567 kHz
  • AIR Jorhat / Akashvani Jorhat - 103.4 MHz
  • AIR Tezpur / Akashvani Tezpur - 1125 kHz
  • AIR Diphu / Akashvani Diphu) - 1485 kHz
  • AIR Haflong / Akashvani Haflong - 100.2 MHz
  • AIR Nagaon / Akashvani Nagaon - 102.7 MHz
  • AIR Kokrajhar / Akashvani Kokrajhar - 1512 kHz
  • AIR Dhubri / Akashvani Dhubri - 103.3 MHz
  • AIR Silchar / Akashvani Silchar - 828 kHz



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This region travel guide to Assam is a usable article. It gives a good overview of the region, its sights, and how to get in, as well as links to the main destinations, whose articles are similarly well developed. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.