ENCHANTING ASSAM BY BICYCLE: RAAS FESTIVAL, WILDLIFE & RIVER CRUISE
Exploration of the upper Brahmaputra river valley on a cruise in our comfortable houseboat
Cycling to tribal villages and archaeological sites
Experience the Raas Mahotsav, a three-day long festival in celebration of the Lord Krishna, at Majuli – one of the world's largest river islands
Walking safari in Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary and Dibru-Saikhowa National Park to spot a variety of indigenous wildlife and birds
Culinary discovery of indigenous tribal cuisine and regional Assamese cuisine
The dates of Raas Festival change according to the Lunar calendar. It can vary year to year; the current dates are applicable for the year of 2019 only.
7 nights / 8 days
10 to 17 November 2019
JTI Adventure boat
DAY 1 | 10 November
Arrive at Jorhat airport and be received by our representative who takes you to your accommodation for the rest of the trip – JTI Adventure boat at Neamati Ghat. Start cruising downstream till you reach Majuli, one of the world’s largest river islands and a microcosm of Assamese culture. The island is a stronghold of the peaceful religion of neo-Vaishnavism; its elegant island satras (monastery) – some for celibate monks, some for families – showcase a unique way of life where the faithful live simply, offering worship through gayan-bayan (songs and musical instruments) and readings. Dock by a sandbank and enjoy a bonfire and dinner on the boat.
DAY 2 | 11 November
After breakfast this morning on the boat, embark on a 38 km cycling trip from the ghat to a famous island satra, tiny villages, markets and more. Majuli represents rural idyll in Assam, so there will be plenty of bucolic scenes to capture for avid photographers! Stop along the way to discover the island's culture as well as a crucial cuppa, before heading back to the boat for lunch.
Post lunch, we take you to another satra where you can observe skilled mask-makers handcraft a colourful assortment of unique masks and art, which will be used for the island's famous religious dance-drama. Later, head back to the boat for an early dinner before setting out again to experience the Raas Mahotsav, a three-day long festival in celebration of the Lord Krishna, one of the most important gods of Hindu mythology. Spend around three hours observing festivities in different satras, typically in the form of folk and puppet dances and musicals depicting Lord Krishna’s life. Return to the boat after the end of the festivities.
DAY 3 | 12 November
Early this morning, we cruise for two hours towards Neamati Ghat and post breakfast sharp at 6 am, we leave for Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary to see India's only member of the ape family – the western Hoolock Gibbon. Drive for 40 kms/1 hour to reach the tropical evergreen rainforest of the sanctuary, where we will hike for about 1.5 hours, looking for Hoolock Gibbons with our guide and a forest guard. Later, drive back to the boat for lunch and spend the rest of the day at leisure. Dinner tonight will be on the boat.
DAY 4 | 13 November
Today, post breakfast, embark on a cycling trip of 25 kms through Sibsagar. A city of immense historical significance to the Assamese, explore the Siva Dol, an ancient shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva, the God of Destruction and another prominent figure in Hindu mythology; Joysagar, the largest manmade tank built during the reign of Ahom dynasty; and Rang Ghar, a royal sports pavilion during the Ahom period and one of the best surviving structures of this era. Later, enjoy lunch in the city before driving back to the JTI Adventure boat. Spend the rest of the day at leisure and have dinner on the boat.
DAY 5 | 14 November
Post breakfast, we disembark and drive 50 kms/1 hour to a village before starting our cycling adventure of a total of 27 kms. Cycle through Tai Phake villages and experience the unique history and culture of the 150 Phakial families residing in this less explored region. Enjoy lunch at a local's residence before heading off again for another 24 kms of cycling to visit a temple of local significance. End our cycling for the day here, and drive back 80 kms/2 hours to the boat for dinner and overnight stay.
DAY 6 | 15 November
A full day of cruising lies ahead of us! Relax with a book or take out your binoculars and observe villages and tea gardens on your right, and the eastern Himalayan mountain range on your left. If lucky, you may even spot the endangered Gangetic river dolphins as your boat cruises through their territory. Reach your docking point for the night after eight hours of cruising. All meals will be on board the boat.
DAY 7 | 16 November
This morning after breakfast, head off to Dibru-Saikhowa National Park, home to an incredible array of birds and mammals like tigers, elephants, leopards, bears, and the rare White-wing Wood Duck and Black-breasted Parrotbill. Hike for about two hours in the national park, spotting wildlife with the help of a guide and a forest guard, before returning back to the boat for lunch and leisure.
Late in the afternoon, hop on your bicycles again and cycle for 6-7 kms to Maguri Beel, a large wetland that's become a resting zone for a variety of migratory birds. Climb onto a country boat and explore the wetland, keeping your binoculars handy to spot birds like the Bar-headed Goose and Baikal Teal. After this birding experience, cycle back to the JTI Adventure boat for an early dinner and rest.
DAY 8 | 17 November
Disembark at Guijan Ghat for a drive of 46 kms/1 hour to Dibrugarh Airport for your onward journey.