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Saturday, July 15, 2017

Dibrugarh: Laid back in the Far North East of India

The brahmaputra river, colorful cycle rickshaws and cloud laden hills of Arunachal Pradesh all in one way at the riverside of Dibrugarh, Assam, India

Some call it the tea capital of India. Some refer to it as the economic hub in the north east. Located by the mighty Brahmaputra river, Dibrugarh in India’s far North East is a centre of action when it comes to oil and natural gas, tea, power generation, fertilizer, cottage industry and information technology. But, when I visited this city recently, all I saw was a lush green laid back city where lanes weave in and out of tea gardens. And that’s not it. I saw a very clean cobbled path by the banks of the Brahmaputra river, a super active and thriving local bazaar where you one can buy everything from traditional to modern goods, delicious food, many universities and of course plenty of rain.

Tea estates of Dibrugarh where you find the best Assam tea

One of the main reasons to visit this region is for its tea tourism. After all, nothing beats the charm of staying in a colonial bungalow within a tea garden and being cut off from the fast paced world out there. Well connected Dibrugarh (air, road and rail) and the newly opened bridge over the Brahmaputra means that it is possibly one of the best bases to explore the unique cultures of Central and Eastern Arunachal Pradesh. And then there are the rainforests of Eastern Assam, the historical city of Sibsagar (home to the erstwhile powerhouse Ahom kingdom) and even an easy getaway to the rest of the North Eastern states starting with Nagaland. In simple words, it is a great gateway to some of the best attractions of India’s far North East.

Elderly lady looks on at the market action of Dibrugarh, Assam, India

Even though I am fairly well traveled in India, I had somehow managed to give Dibrugarh a miss all these years. But, this monsoons when I took India’s longest train ride, the Vivek Express, I crossed acres and acres of tea gardens, forests and rivers to reach the magical tea land of Dibrugarh. I only stayed here for a couple of days and hence did not get to see a lot, but of what I managed to see here, I figured out that the city of Dibrugarh is built in and around tea estates, that the mighty Brahmaputra river calmly flows by the old city, that the mountains of Arunachal Pradesh are visible from most of Dibrugarh, that the tea here is legendary, that the bazaars here pack a serious punch when it comes to street food and that life here moves at its own easy pace. I didn’t go to Arunachal from Dibrugarh. Instead, moved west to the Ahom kingdom of Sibsagar, but before leaving I had mentally decided that I would definitely visit this laid back city soon and explore more of the forests in and around this region and may be move further east into Namdapha national park and the rest of Eastern Arunachal Pradesh. Dibrugarh…till we meet again…



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