The weekend visit to Kaziranga Park was aborted – but the Saturday afternoon tour around Tezpur did not disappoint. We started with the visit to a center in the middle of the town which promotes traditional craft of weaving. The state has close to a million looms, which are foot operated and a loom is a proud possession in most homes in Assam. These use local silks – endi (a coarse brown silk), mugga (a strong golden silk) and pat (fine, creamish white silk) – and traditional and modern patterns with a variety of colors. It is fascinating to watch these women pushing the peddle rhythmically, the shuttle darting back and forth and the many colors being carefully woven on to create the patterns.
Then we moved onto the Agnigarh Hill (agni for fire and garh for fotress), so named because the site is supposed to be that of a fotress where Banasura kept his daughter Usha, with a fire burning all around the fotress at all times. In this mythological story, Usha fell in love with Aniruddh (grandson of Krishna) in her dreams, and her companion Chitralekha identified him by painting his potrait from Usha’s descriptions. Krishna is supposed to have rescued her in a battle and the site has many sculptures depicting this story. A circular stairway leads up to the crest of the hill where the viewing platform gives a lovely view of the magnificent Brahmaputra, with its myriads of islands, of Tezpur town and its sorroundings and of the Kolia Bhomora bridge across the river. An interesting aside I heard was that these islands are used by the illegal immigrants from Bangaldesh – and when they are threatened by submersion during the heavy monsoon rains, humanitarian rehabilitation to the shore takes place and thus a permanent foothold!
Then we moved onto the Bamuni hills which have the remnants of a 9th century group of temples. No structure is left at all, but the ASI (Archeological Survey of India) has a board that says that there were 5 temples, one major and 4 probably smaller. Very few preserved pieces are seen, the best depicting the 10 avatars of Vishnu. It is believed to have been a Vishnu temple. It is an ASI protected site, one of over 3650 such sites (there are thousands of others that dont have even this label). Although there is a fencing and a gate, the fencing did not look complete and the locals have a free access – we had a chat with some kids who followed us around.
We could not do much else, although there are a few other such sites around, one of them the ruins of a 4th century temple. The sun set over the river – although it was only 4.45 pm. This is something that is difficult to get used to as Tezpur lies at 92.8° E and Indian Standard time is taken at 82o30′ E. It takes a while to adjust to the early sunrise and sunset – in fact even some local residents find this a bit unsettling – you are walking to work at 9.30 am when the sun is already well overhead – the prize you pay for a single time zone in a country that stretches from 68o7′ east to 97o25′ east.
But all in all it was a satisfactory outing!