The largest town and the largest urban centre on the northern bank of the mighty Brahmaputra, Tezpur in Sonitpur district of Assam, is situated 180kms northeast of Guwahati. A quiet and tranquil town, popular for its beautiful parks, ancient Hindu temples and archaeological ruins steeped in mythology, legend and folklore, Tezpur is considered to be the Cultural Capital of Assam. The striking landscape with snow clad Himalayan ranges and tea gardens make Tezpur an ideal destination for tourists. Some of the state’s noted figures – Filmmaker-Musician-Poet Jyoti Prasad Agarwala and Singer-Composer Bhupen Hazarika are associated with this town.
Tezpur means ‘City of Blood’. The legend has it that Banasura’s beautiful daughter Usha fell in love with Aniruddha who was Lord Sri Krishna’s grandson. Usha’s friend Chitralekha transported Aniruddha to Agnigarh – Fort of Fire, where Banasura had imprisoned his daughter to guard her from unwanted attention. Sri Krishna in order to save and free His grandson, attacked Tezpur. Banasura sought Shiva’s help. The clash between the two Gods drenched the town in a river of blood. Therefore, the town acquired its name from this Assamese folklore legend. Tezpur is often referred to as the ‘City of Eternal Romance’ because of Usha and Aniruddha.
Some of the important tourist attractions of Tezpur are listed below:
The door frame of Da-Parbatia temple which dates back to 600 AD, is the oldest specimen of sculptural art in Assam. Its carving depicts Gupta style of sculpture. The figurines of Ganga and Yamuna on the door frames are enthralling. The site is now preserved by the Archaeological Survey of India. It stands tall with its architectural brillianceof Ancient Assam.
Bamuni Hills serve as a major tourist spot in Tezpur with its sculptural remains dating back to 9th and 10th century AD. The stone carvings illustrated on the walls of Bamuni Hills are famous for their excellent artistic finesse. One can find 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu depicted on a cross-shaped bracket lintel ornamented with horned Kirtimukha panels.
CHITRALEKHA UDYAN OR COLE PARK
ChitralekhaUdyan also known as Cole Park is one of the popular tourist attractions in Tezpur. The picturesque park offers a breath-taking view with its stunning landscape. The park is set amidst many hillocks and lakes adding beauty to the atmosphere. One can enjoy water facilities in the lakes. This beautiful area has two huge ornamental stone pillars and sculptural ruins, lush green walkways and a small amphitheatre.
Agnigarh (Fire Fort) is the big fortress on a hilltop which was built to confine King Bana’s daughter Usha from Lord Sri Krishna’s grandson Aniruddha. As the fortress was enclosed by fire on all sides, it was named Agnigarh. There are circular staircases to climb the fortress. A landscape garden with elegant sculptures, soft illumination and pouring waterfall open doors for thousands of tourist to this memorial of eternal romance. The hill top offers a splendid view of the Brahmaputra and the KaliaBhomora bridge.
An ideal destination for rock climbers on the banks of the river Brahmaputra, Ouguri Hill, with its giant monoliths, poses difficult challenges to climbers. A stunning view from the hill top withTezpur lying on one side and river Brahmaputra on the other side, Ouguri Hill is a major tourist destination in Tezpur.
PadumPukhuri (Lotus Pond) is a beautiful lake with an island in it. The island has been turned into a park with a musical fountain and a toy train. One can enjoy a boat ride. There is an iron bridge connecting the park to the main land.
The ancient Mahabhairab Temple believed to be constructed by King Bana, is situated to the north of Tezpur town. This temple has one of the biggest and oldest Shivalingums in the world. Earlier the temple was built of stone but the present one is built of concrete. Shivratri is celebrated in a grand manner, attracting thousands of devotees.
Bhairabi Temple or Durga Temple stands on a small hillock on the banks of the river Brahmaputra, in the eastern side of Tezpur. Legend has it that ‘Usha’ the daughter of King Banasur used to offer prayers to the Goddess Bhairabi or Durga, regularly. The temple that is seen in the present times is a new one. The old temple is said to be demolished by various natural calamities. Ruins of the old temple are found scattered around the temple premises.
This temple is devoted to the worship of Lord Shiva. Devotees and pilgrims frequently visit this Holy site. The temple has two parts – one part, where the actual Shivalinga is located and another part situated few metres away, where the original base of the Shivalinga is located. Legend has it that during a severe earthquake in the past, the Shivalinga was uprooted from its base and got deposited where it currently stands.
Rudrapada Temple is located to the east of Tezpur town on the banks of the river Brahmaputra. It is believed that Rudra (Lord Shiva) had left the imprint of his left foot (pada) on a stone found in the temple. It is also said that Mahadeva showed his real self to King Bana here. Rudrapada temple was later constructed by Shiva Singha after the main temple was ruined due to erosion of river Brahmaputra.
Haleswar is situated 10kms to the north of Tezpur. A Linga was found by a cultivator while he was ploughing in the field. Hence, a temple was built on this Linga.
Established in the year 1986, the museum offers an insight into the culture of the land. Some of the collections exhibited here are traditional textiles of Assam, silver coins, copper coins, inscriptions, manuscripts and stone sculptures.
NAMERI NATIONAL PARK
A perfect getaway for nature lovers and bird watchers is the Nameri National Park, characterised by the hills of deciduous forests and the River JiaBhoroli running through it. It is located in the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas in the Sonitpur district of Assam and is 35kms away from Tezpur. Known for its importance as a home to the rare and endangered White Winged Wood Duck and more than 300 species of birds, it is also famous for angling for the Golden Mahseer, a treasured catch for any angler. The Park has been recognised as Nameri Tiger Reserve. Hiring experienced boatmen from the neighbouring villages, travellers can enjoy the thrilling experience of level one river rafting in the JiaBhoroli river.
ORANG NATIONAL PARK
Orang National Park is situated 41kms from Tezpur. Known for its striking natural beauty and the spectacular landscapes, the Park attracts many tourists from all around the world. It takes pride in its rich flora and fauna. The thick grasslands provide a perfect home for animals like the one-horned rhinoceros, elephant, the endangered pygmy hog, tiger, swamp deer, wild buffalo etc. The park is host to a variety of migratory birds, water birds, predators, game birds. ‘Elephant Safari’ and ‘Jeep Safari’, can be taken amidst the dense forests with an expert guide.
BURA-CHAPORI WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
Located 30kms away from Tezpur, on the banks of the river Brahmaputra is Bura-Chapori Wildlife Sanctuary which is one of the major tourist attractions. The Sanctuary is home to a wide range of flora and fauna. Some of the animals found here are tiger, wild buffalo, wild pig, one horned rhino and elephants. Wide range of birds like Bengal florican, woodcock, swamp partridge etc. are also spotted here. One can also enjoy a wildlife safari.
HOW TO REACH TEZPUR
The nearest airport is the Salonibari Airport, Tezpur. It is connected by meter gauge line to Rangia Junction via Rangapara Junction. Regular bus services and taxi services are available from Guwahati, Tinsukia, Dibrugarh,Sivasagar, Jorhat.