Thursday, January 31, 2008

Places to visit in Western Assam - Goalpara District


a) Goalpara Town b) Hulukanda Pahar (Hill) c) Dekhdhowa

d) Kumri Beel (Lake) e) Barjharra Chibinang Meghalaya) f) Dudhkhowa Pahar (Hill)

g) Pancharatna & Jogighopa

a) Sri Sri Surjya Pahar (Hill)

b) Tukreswari Pahar (Hill)

c) Paglartek Mandir (Temple)

d) Buraburi Than Temple)

e) Narashingha Mandir (Temple)

f) Joybhum Kamakhya Temple

g) Nandeswar Devalaya (Temple)

h) Sri Sri Sankar Math

i) Sri Sri Satyanya Gaudiya Math

j) Pir Majhar (in Goalpara Town )

a) Kumri Beel (Lake)

b) Dhamar Beel (Lake)

c) Urpad Beel (Lake)

d) Raikhyashini Pahar ( rock climbing)

e) Pancharatna (Water sports)

a) Captain Baily's tomb

b) Pancharatna & Jogighopa.

Located on the foot hills of Meghalaya and on the Bank of the mighty river Brahmaputra, Goalpara district is endowed with its scenic beauty. The evergreen forests on low hills with its undulating landscape, if harnessed properly, will attract tourists of all hue to this district. Some of the tourist spots are Hulukanda hill, located at the heart of Goalpara town on the bank of the river Brahmaputra, Sri Surya hill situated about 12 kms. East of Goalpara town, Sri Tukreswari hill situated 25 km. away from Goalpara Town, Paglartek Baba at Barbhita, Urpod beel of Agia, Dhamar risen beel of Lakhipur. Various kinds of water birds, indigenous and foreign are found in thousands in the Urpod beel at Agia & Dhamor risen beel at Lakhipur. There are some other water bodies such as Hashila beel, Kumri beel near Goalpara town.
There are also some religious spots like Shamrai Satra, Banabashi Than, Dadan mandir, Narashimabari Than, Buraburi Than and Mazars of Muslim saints which have historical importance.
Tea Gardens :- There are two tea gardens in the district. These are namely Moijonga and Simlitola Tea Estates. The total area of these tea gardens are 1,422-Bigha-2 Katha- 5 Lessa and 2,866 Bigha- 2 Katha- 12 Lessas respectively.

Tea Garden

Assam is a land of fairs and festival. Most of the festivals celebrated in Assam have their roots in the diverse faith and belief of her inhabitants. They reflect the true spirit, tradition and life style of the people of Assam. The culture of Goalpara district is a rich tapestry woven with multi colour yarns of heritage of all the races that inhabit the diatrict. The perfect fusion of heritage of tribes and sub-tribes have made Goalpara the home of the most colourful festivals which are passionate, compelling and mesmerizing.
The major festival celebrated n Goalpara are Bihu, Baishagu, Baikho, Wangala. However, the people of Goalpara district also celebrate Durga puja, Diwali, Idd, Muharam, the birth and death anniversaries of the Vaishnava saints Sri manta Sankardev and Madhav Dev
Bihu is one of the major festivals of the district. Irrespective of caste, creed and religion, Bihu is celebrated with much pomp and gaiety. Rangali Bihu, the spring festival is celebrated during mid April . It is a festival of colour, creativity and joy. It marks the beginning of the agricultural season. The mood of spring is celebrated with bihu dance one of the unique art forms of India, with the accompaniment of lusty wild beats of the drum along with indigenous instruments like buffalo horn . Young boys and girls, clad in golden Muga silk dance to the tune of seductive bihu songs woven around the themes of love and passion. It is a rare experience for people living in other parts of the globe.

Baishagu :
Charming, for its myriad of colour and merriment, Baishagu is generally celebrated by Bodo Kocharis during mid April. It is the most colorful festival of the Bodo tribe. The Bodos also celebrate it as springtime festival at the advent of New Year. The supreme deity ‘Bathou’ or Lord Shiva is worshipped during these days by offering him chicken & rice bear. During the days of festival young boys and girls dance together.

Baikho :
There is another colorful tribe in Assam known as Rabhas, Although the Rabha community does not have any major festival of their own, the different groups celebrated during the spring season in order to appease the goddess of wealth ‘Baikho’.

Dhawa (Rabha) Dance
Some Rabha dances of the district are FARKANTI FUSAKAY, HAMJAR FUSAKAY, GIRKAY FUSAKAY etc. According to legend the origin of the “Farkanti” is like that in olden days the Rabhas for their existence had fight with other groups of people in which, they lost their men and the death of the warriors were remembered in traditional ways and ritualistic manner by a community get together followed by folk music and dance.
The agriculturist Rabhas, in their traditional way of life, begin their works on farm land by celebrating a special community festival known as “Hamjar”
Girkay is a group dance of youths performed on the full moon night in the month of Bahag (mid April) for giving alms and for marry making.

The site has got the distinction of possessing valuable cultural remains of the three important religions of India, i.e. Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism.
The Condition of Surya Pahar - a Neglected Archaeological Site
Situated in the far western corner of Assam is Surya Pahar, a small hill with the potential of becoming a revered and historical site. A few miles from the town of Goalpara lays this site, which archaeologists recently predicted might fundamentally change our understanding of the history of Assam. But unfortunately due to lack of funds, the archeological endeavor stooped early and the excavated structures lie at the mercy of the weather, people and animals.

Historical Significance
Surya Pahar is an interesting archeological site. It represents a confluence of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism as revealed by the statues and engraved figures found at the site. Several granite Shiva lingams are seen in the vicinity of the hill; statues of Buddha and Mahavira also line the hill. To add to all these, legend says there were 100,000 Shiva lingams buries around the hill and once it was one of the holiest pilgrimage sites in the region.

The name Sri Surya Pahar means the abode of the Sun God. The small andrelatively modern Sun temple shows that the Sun was worshipped there. In fact, references are available in the Kalika Puran that there were two seats of Sun worship in Assam; Sri Surya Pahar was one of them. Inside the temple, a carved stone slab is still worshipped as Surya. The inner circular carving has been identified as Prajapati. The outer circle includes twelve lotus petals, each seated with a figure of Aditya. The Adityas depict the twelvesolar divinity of Dharti, Mitra, Aryaman, Rudra, Varuna, Surya, Bhaga, Vivashan, Pushan, Savitri,Tvastri and Vishnu. Other figurines like the twelve armed Vishnu, covered with a seven hooded canopy standing erect on a lotus, worshipped as Dasabhuja Durga, Ganesha, Harihara, Shivalingas, and Vshnupadas – point to the historical significance of the place.

Among the identified Jain figures is one of the first Tirthankaras, Adinath, carved in sitting posture with two bulls in the base. In addition, the 25 votive stupas of different sizes show that there was Buddhist influence in Kamarupa and that too, much earlier then the rest of India.
In addition to being a confluence of the three religions, which is evident from the innumerable sculptures, Sri Surya Pahar can also be called a garden of medicinal plants, most of which await identification.

Archaeological Find
Although, the rumors have it that this historically significant hill has a lot of history behind it, there was no initiative from any government organization either to protect it or to fund projects to excavate the past. The only thing that has protected this exposed idols and engraved rocks is the reverence of the local people. The yearly held Surya Pahar Mela, mainly by the locals and priests, who reside in the hill, generate income that help preserve this historically significant place.
A few years ago, due to the initiative of some prominent archaeologists, a project was funded to unearth the history of the hill. The project hit the jackpot within a few days; a few Shiva lingams and a few houses were unearthed. The work continued for a while with great vigor. All findings confirmed the longheld belief that a thriving civilization held sway here some centuries ago. The intricate and scientific designs of the houses that have the same feel as that of the modern houses, with artfully designed bricks led to the conviction that it was a major discovery. The
enthusiastic archaeologists even predicted that this might even change the understanding of the history of Assam. Some scholars even referred to the accounts of Chinese traveler, Huen Tsang and to the unearthed relics to claim that it was Sri Surya Pahar and not Guwahati that was the ancient land of Pragjyotishpur, the capital of the Kingdom of Bhaskarbarman. The finding of the nearby archeological site of Pagletek is cited to strengthen this claim. But surprisingly, within a couple of months everything fizzled. All the excavated findings remain unattended and their significance unpublished!

Buddhist Remains :

The North-East portion of the hill slope has attracted the Buddhist pantheons in the early Christian Era, who have left their creative genius by carving large number of Buddhist votive stupas of different sizes and shapes there.

On the extreme north east corner on a higher altitude , huge fallen granite boulder was selected for carving three giant stupas, carved in one row ,facing the east.
The structural feature of the stupas consist of Vedi, Medhi Anda & Harmika which are distinct but devoid of Chatravali which has now disappeared. The three monolithic stupas are representative of either Dharma, Sangha & Budha or they could b termed as Uddeshika stupa carved in the memory of Lord Buddha.
One votive stupa was discovered in November, 1998. These stupa complexes are provided with a flight of steps alone the slope of the hill, for convenience of the pilgrims and tourists and the courtyard of the complex has also been given appropriate face-lift to keep the surroundings free from the vegetation growth, to keep it neat and tidy. A spring emerges from the upper reaches of the Surya Pahar flowing through the ancient remnants and ultimately kissing the foothills, making it a spectacular spot. Another interesting feature of this stupa complex is that in the 9th-10th century A.D. , when the area was pre-occupied by the followers of Hindu pantheons, attempts were made to carve Siva lingas along with Younipith and channel spout on fallen boulders. Altogether half a dozen Siva lingas exist .
One Elliptical stupa also carved on a smaller boulder and lying within two huge boulders is an interesting piece of Art, as this elliptical shape is very rare in Eastern India as reported from Langudiin, Jaipur District of Orissa and dates back to the 1st A.D.
Initiative has been taken for the face-lift of the and beautification of its surroundings. The discovery of terra-cotta plaques with figure of Buddha in regular excavation and picked up from surface undoubtedly speak volume that Buddhism did flourish in lower Brahmaputra valley, specially in and around Surya pahar during the early part of the Christian Era and continued up to the 10th Century A.D. In Surya Pahar, operational area of the Buddhists was more, compared to that of Hindus & Jains. Buddhist remains are also reported from Pancharatna, Barbhita village and Bhaitbari (now in Meghalaya) in the southern Bank of the lower Brahmaputra valley.

Remains of Brahmanical Hinduism :

In the 9th- century A.D. during the rule of the Palas, Hinduism got royal patronage throughout the length and breath of Brahmaputra Valley (undivided Assam) resulting in large scale artistic activities in the form of Rock-cut sculptures/temples, caves etc.

In the lower region of the fallen boulders of the second spring the activities of the Hindus are reflected in the form of Rock-cut sculptures of Vishnu, Siva, Ganesha , Sivalingas, Harihara Footprints of Vishnu (Vishnupada) Full-blown lotus surrounded by Railing (Chaitya or Altar ) signifying symbolic representation of the Sun God.
One boulder lying in a horizontal fashion in North-South orientation suggest that the Sculptors of by gone days have taken immense pain and meticulous care to carve sculptures of Vishnu and Siva, three of which are comparatively tattered, existing to the left along with six such sculptures to the right.

Jain Heritage of Surya-Pahar :
We have got scanty records regarding the prevalence of Jainism in the past throughout the North East region .
It is a very strange phenomenon in the history of Jainism that due to some unknown reason Jainism could not flourish in the vast stretch of the North-East region. Uptill now large number of monument sites have been reported from North-East region belonging to Buddhist and Bhahamanical faith vis-à-vis of Tribal Monument and Artefacts but except for the solitary example existing inside the natural caves at Surya Pahar in Goalpara District of Assam no other Jain remains are reported so far.
Jainism could not get any remarkable footing in the North-East region throughout its long history.
Thanks to the followers of Rasbhanath who have left their foot prints in the region in the 10th century A.D. by way of carving images of the Tirthankar on the rocks in two separate caves on the south-east corner of the Surya pahar range of hills.
The Excavated Remains at Surya Pahar :
The archaeological Survey of India, Guwahati Circle has undertaken excavation works in the Surya Pahar area. Two potential mounds are there, one in the southern side of the villages and the other on the southern bank of a Tank close to the newly constructed Museum.
During excavation decorative bricks were found with floral, creeper and Geometric patterns and Kirtimukha , stylistic peacock tailed frog, terra-cotta plaque with image of the Buddha, Mahisasurmardini , Alas Kannya etc. Stylistically, the terra-cotta plaques may be datable to the Circa 7th – 10th century A.D.
The discovery of one Sivalinga on the north-west corner and a small head of Vishnu with circular halo amply testify that it is the remains of a Hindu Temple complex . However in 1988 one terra cotta plaque (fragment) of a votive stupa part was found in Surya Pahar which has now found its place in the Assam State Museum speaks that the site was equally popular to the Buddhist at least up to the 10th Century A.D.. In November 1998 few fragments of Terra Cotta votive stupa plaque find was reported from a village called Borbhita, 7 K.M. west of Pancharatna and these have close similarity with those discovered at Surya Pahar .
The conservation work of the excavated complex are going on and expected to be completed within a couple of years.
The excavation conducted in February and March 2000 further brought to light a huge compound wall running all around making the temple complex well guarded.
A few architectural fragments are also found in the excavation from the temple complex viz, Kirtimukha, decorative stone pillars etc.

Dadan hill having a Shiva Temple on its top, was established by DADAN, one of the General of King Bana of Sonitpur. There are some mythological stories reflecting various events on the foot hills of Dadan hill on the bank of river Dariduri.
It is believed that the General, a devotee of Lord Shiva, killed a wild elephant with his sword on this spot which came often and disturbed him in his meditation, now may be witnessed in the form of a stone (resembling an elephant) which is lying on the bank of river Dariduri. Thousands of people specially from the tribal, Rabha community gather on the above mentioned spot to worship Lord Shiva , once a year specially in the month of February. The area is thickly forested with rivers & waterfalls inhabited by people of the Rabha community. Besides the religious aspect the entire area is enriched with enjoyable scenic beauty.

The turbulent rivers, the mystic blue hills, the savage terrains and serene countryside beckon the adventures. Come and conquer it. Take the challenge of the Brahmaputra, one of the four largest rivers in the world and raft down the mystic river. River rafting at river Krishnai originating at Ronjeng, Dudhnoi river originating at Owakari and on Jinari river certainly will give the adventurer a thrilling experience.

Rock climbing at Rakhashini Hill

Goalpara invites you to enjoy all these high spirited activities right from rafting to jungle Safari. The bird mystery of Urpad Beel is no less thrilling than others.

Rock climbing at Tukreswari Rock climbing spot at Surya Pahar

The hills of Goalpara district particularly Rakhyashini, Tukreswary are inviting with open arms to receive tourist for Trekking and rock climbing. These hills are unique in structure to provide matchless idea and experience to the learners of rock climbing. Society for Youth and Development in association with ‘PENGUIN’ Guwahati and other adventure sports organisations has already initiated rock climbing and trekking camps at these spots.

Rock climbing at Sri Surya Pahar

The MAJAR - SHARIF of Sufi Saint Shah Sayed Nasiruddin Kaderi, commonly known as "BAGDADI" is situated at Jaleswar-Katarihara , 60 km away from Goalpara Town by road. The saint is said to have come from Bagdad, capital of Iraq and therefore he was called Bagdadi.

On the 8th day of Assamese calendar month "Magh" coinciding with 21st January, each year, thousands of people cutting across religious faiths from different parts of Assam and West Bengal congregate at this Majar sharif to participate in the "UROS MUBARAK" - death anniversary of the spiritual leader and seek his blessing.
The "MAJAR SHARIF" with its serene surrounding is a spot .worth visiting. The tomb on the grave of the Sufi Saint is a unique imitation of Mughal architecture built in the style of the Tajmahal, inside of which is beautifully decorated by Arabic Calligraphy.
The Saint Shah Nasiruddin Kaderi came to Jaleswar in around 1905 -1906 and settled here by occuping nearly 7000 Bighas of land from the Zamindar. He was a leader of Sufi movement like the "BHAKTI MOVEMENT" in India.
Many people of Goalpara and other places, both Hindus and Muslims received generous help from the Saint for their educational pursuit.

The "MAJHAR" (tomb) of Hazarat Sayed Abul Kasem Kharasani, situated at the heart of Goalpara town, is a place much revered by the people of all religious faiths. The Muslim grave-yard grew around the "MAJHAR”. It being situated by the side of the main road of the town, there would be few to pass through without saluting the Holy soul. It is the practice of both Muslims and Hindus of Goalpara to offer money and candle and pray for fulfillment of desire and seek blessing from the Pir Saheb. Every year the "UROS-MUBARAK" - death anniversary of the Pir is observed at the "MAJHAR-SARIF" on the 21st day of lunar calendar month of "Safar". People coming across of all religious belief throng in thousands to participate in the "UROS". The saint Sayed Abul Kasem was a resident of Kherasan at a place called Fatima Killa his birth place. From there he took off for his spiritual journey to India and in course of time reached Rangpur now in Bangladesh. From there he used to visit Goalpara frequently to spread his spiritual teaching. Later on he decided to stay permanently at Goalpara and stayed at a place near the present Boys' M. E. Madrasa.
It is said that he lived a long life of about 150 years and died at Goalpara in the year 1896 AD.


The Shyamrai Satra the center of Vaishnavite culture and religion has been established in the center of the town, Goalpara about 366 years ago. In the preliminary stage the Satra was managed by two brothers namely Late Raghu Medhi and Late Kush Medhi. Subsequently the people of Goalpara assembled there and took a decision to establish the Satra on a permanent footing. Accordingly they approached the Meshpara Estate Zamindar who in turn allotted 8 bighas of land in the center of the town for establishment of this Satra.
Since then, the Satra is continuing smoothly observing all formalities and aspect of vashnavite culture. Regular “NAM PRASANGA” etc. are being held systematically with the observance of the religious festivals every year.
One of the very important aspect of the Satra is that the Satra authority has preserved the “ASTHI” (Lucky bone of the forehead) of Sri Manta Sankardeva which is being exhibited in the Satra campus during Sankar Jayanti period i.e., in the month of Sukla Dasami (during September- October)

Sri Sri Chaitanya Gaudiya Math has been established at Goalpara in the year 1969 in order to protect, preserved and expand Sri Krishna Chaitanya culture in the area on a donated plot of land at the center of the town. Regular puja Sangkirtan etc. are being held in the Math regularly, besides observance of the religious festival as per Sri Chaitanya Calendar. A large numbers of devotees from different parts of the areas are visiting the Math regularly. During some important annual festival devotees from different part of the country including foreigners attend the Math.

BuraBuri Than located on the bank of the River Brahmaputra near Jaleswar is a prominent religious spot. The than, which stands as a symbol of National Integration since people from all groups i.e., Hindu, Muslim etc. participated in the religious function as it is learnt. Long Long years ago the “RAKHAL” (Cow boys) used to take “PAYAS” (Milk made rice) as “PRASAD” regularly which was offered to them by Bura Buri (an Old man and an Old Woman) subsequently while witnessing the Scene by the local people the Bura Buri converted to a Giant Stone and since then it was worshipped by local people of the locality.


Out of 51 “SAKTI STHAL” of Hinduism covering India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Srilanka and Nepal Sri Sri Joybhum Kamakhya is one of the Saktisthal in Goalpara district on the bank of the river Brahmaputra located at a distance of about 50 Km from Goalpara Town. Originally the area was predominated by tribal populated area and regular Puja (Worship) on tribal custom where puja was offered to the Goddess regularly. Devastating earthquake in 17th century caused great damaged to the temple but the Zamindar of Meshpara reconstructed the temple with introduction of regular puja system. As per available record the temple has Debottor Land covering more than 28 bighas of land.
The temple is located in the top of the hillock and its natural scenery of the spot as a whole is really matchless. There is a Shiva temple also by the side of the Joybhum Kamakhya Temple. Devotees from different of the India assembled in the temple during the festival in the month of October every year for offering puja to the Goddess of Power.

Nandeswar Devalaya is one of the oldest devalaya (Shiva Temple) established on the hill top of Nandeswar hill stands by the side of river Dudhnoi. This is a Shiva Temple and the mythological stories as it learnt locally established full faith of the people on this temple. There is reason to belief that the temple has been established in 10th or 11th century AD. The festival Shivaratri, Durga Puja and Dol jatra are being observed in the temple in presence of crowded local people. As per the rites and rituals of Hinduism.

Tukreswari Temple is also a famous religious spot located by the side of National Highways 37 at Tukura about 15th KM from Goalpara Town. As per religious faith a portion of (TUKURA) the Goddess Sati falls in this place and therefore the temple is known as Tukreswari. The temple has been established on top of the Tukreswari hill and a Shiva Temple has also been established on the top of the hill along with the Temple of JOYA- VIJOYA. Having known about the unseen power of Goddess Tukura and the Shiva Temple which were in infancy stage the Zamindar Of Bijni Estate constructed the Temple and donated a sizable plot of land for the same.
The Monkey population of the temple is very high and they have got their King and Queen which is a remarkable aspect of the temple.

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