Assam is a northeastern state of India. Its capital is Dispur, located on the outskirts of its largest city, Guwahati. Located south of the eastern Himalayas, Assam comprises the Brahmaputra and the Barak river valleys along with the Karbi Anglong and the North Cachar Hills with an area of 30,285 square miles (78,438 sq km).
Assam is surrounded by six of the other Seven Sister States: Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura and Meghalaya. These states are connected to the rest of India via a narrow strip in West Bengal called the Siliguri Corridor or "Chicken's Neck". Assam also shares international borders with Bhutan and Bangladesh; and cultures, peoples and climate with South-East Asia – important elements in India’s Look East policy.
Assam is the central state in the North-East Region of India and serves as the gateway to the rest of the Seven Sister States. For the purposes of tourism there are wildlife preserves like the Kaziranga National Park, Manas National Park, Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, Dibru-Saikhowa National Park( Dibrugarh- Tinsukia), among others. Jokai Botanical Garden( Dibrugarh) the only Natural Botanical Garden in entire North- East India.
Cultural and historical destinations also provide opportunities for tourists. Apart from wildlife preserves there are many historical places in the state like Rang Ghar, Talatal Ghar of Sivasagar, Kareng Ghar of Garhgaon, Agnigarh of Tezpur, Madan Kamdev archeological site of Kamrup etc. Cultural places are mainly great temple of Kamakhya, pilgrimage place Hajo, the great Vaishnava Sattras of Majuli and Barpeta and many more.
There are diversified important traditional festivals in Assam. Bihu is the most important and common and celebrated all over Assam. It is the Assamese new year celebrated in April of the Gregorian calendar. Durga Puja is another festival celebrated with great enthusiasm. Muslims celebrate two Eids (Eid ul-Fitr and Eid al-Adha) with much eagerness all over Assam.
Bihu is a series of three prominent festivals. Primarily a non-religious festival celebrated to mark the seasons and the significant points of a cultivator's life over a yearly cycle. Three Bihus, rongali or bohag, celebrated with the coming of spring and the beginning of the sowing season; kongali or kati, the barren bihu when the fields are lush but the barns are empty; and the bhogali or magh, the thanksgiving when the crops have been harvested and the barns are full.
Bihu songs and Bihu dance are associated to rongali bihu. The day before the each bihu is known as 'uruka'. The first day of 'rongali bihu' is called 'Goru bihu' (the bihu of the cows), when the cows are taken to the nearby rivers or ponds to be bathed with special care. In recent times the form and nature of celebration has changed with the growth of urban centres.
Music, Dance and Drama:
Assam has rich tradition of performing arts. Ankiya Nat (Onkeeya Naat) is a traditional Vaishnav dance-drama (Bhaona) form popular since 15th century AD It makes use of large masks of gods, goddesses, demons and animals and in between the plays a Sutradhar (Xutrodhar) keeps on telling the story. The Bihu dance and Hucory performed during the Bohag Bihu, Kushan nritra of Rajbongshi's, Bagurumba and Bordoicikhla dance of Bodos, Mishing Bihu, Banjar Kekan performed during Chomangkan by Karbis are some of the major folk dances. Sattriya (Sotriya) dance related to Vaishnav tradition is a classical form of dance.
Moreover, there are several other age-old dance-forms such as Barpeta’s Bhortal Nritya, Deodhoni Nritya, Oja Paali, Beula Dance, Ka Shad Inglong Kardom, Nimso Kerung, etc. The tradition of modern moving theatres is typical of Assam with immense popularity of many large theatre groups such as Kohinoor, Srimanta Sankardev, Abahan, Bhagyadevi, Hengul, Rajmahal, Itihas etc.
Flora and Fauna:
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 Indian Rhinoceros, and Manas are two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Assam. The state is the last refuge for numerous other endangered species such as the Golden Langur (Presbetis geei), White-winged Wood Duck or Deohanh (Cairina scutulata), Bengal Florican, Black-breasted Parrotbill, Pygmy Hog, Greater Adjutant and so on.
Some other endangered species with significant population in Assam are the tiger, elephant, Hoolock gibbon, Jerdon's Babbler and so on to name a few. For the State Bird, the White-winged Wood Duck, Assam is a globally important area. Assam is also known for orchids. The state has the largest population of the Wild Water Buffalo in the world. The state also has the highest diversity of birds in India with around 820 species. With subspecies the number is as high as 946. The mammal diversity in Assam is also high with around 190 species.