I started my northeast trip from Guwahati and visited some interesting places there. We took a short trip from Guwahati to Shillong & Chirapunjee. We visited some interesting places in Guwahati and also visited Kamakhaya & other temples there. There are some interesting places to visit near Guwahati.
During my stay, I took short day trips to Pobitora wildlife sanctuary to see Great Indian One-Horned Rhinoceroses in its natural surroundings. I also went to the old town of Hajo and Sualkuchi to experience the heritage and craft of Assam. These are not very popular tourist destinations but worth spending a few hours to experience Assam with some difference.
We took two half day trips. One day we visited Pobitora wildlife sanctuary and on the second day, we visited temples of Hajo & Sualkuchi.
Day trip to Pobitora from Guwahati
Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary
This Wildlife reserve is 50 km from Guwahati and we reached there after 1 & 1/2 hour drives through villages. Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary is in Morigaon district of Assam. It is on the floodplains of the mighty Brahmaputra river. The swampy marshlands of Pobitora are ideal habitat for One horn Rhinos, great Indian water buffalo, wild boar, and jackal. Pobitora is very small in size and spread in 38.80 square kilometers.
The most interesting thing about Pobitora wildlife sanctuary is its Rhino breeding program. This program has been very successful here and due to this, Pobitora has the highest concentration of one-horned Rhino. Infect Pobitora is overpopulated with Rhinos and due to this some of the Rhinos ventured into nearby villages. This created man-animal conflict, which is not good for people as well as Rhinos. To solve this issue, some Rhinos were shifted to Manas national park in Assam. Other then Rhinos and other animals, the sanctuary is home to over 200 migratory birds.
My experience of Pobitora Safari
We started early morning from Guwahati so that we can do the morning safari. We drove through the small villages of Assam and reached Pobitora. I called the tourist information office a day before to reserve a jeep for two of us. After arriving at Pobitora we paid for the jeep and entry ticket at the counter outside entry gate of Pobitora. A driver and guide accompanied us in Jeep. There were dirt tracks inside and we drove comfortably.
We saw a group of Rhinos from some distance near the water source. There were no trail or trek so we could not go closer to the water source. After driving for half an hour in the sanctuary, we come close to a young Rhino, who was busy eating the grass & shrubs. There were water buffalos also in close proximity but both the animals were busy eating. As a rule of the wild sanctuary, don’t make a loud sound or disturb the animal. We watched them from some distance for some time and then we moved further.
There are a couple of water sources in the sanctuary and we saw birds around them.
There were few wild berry trees inside the sanctuary and our guide excitedly climbed on a berry tree. He shook the tree and some fruits fell on the ground. He collected a few berries and came back to the jeep. I don’t know if it is allowed to take the fruits from the sanctuary or not. But I guess it was ok because there were no animals around and he took only a few berries.
After spending some more time in sanctuary watching its flora and fauna we came out.
Outside the entry gate of Pobitora is a hanging bridge on a small canal. It was shaking when we walked on it. We spend some time on and around the bridge area before returning.
Pobitora wildlife sanctuary timings
It is open from 06.30 AM till 05.00 PM.
Pobitora wildlife sanctuary jeep safari
Jeep safari is open throughout the day depending upon vehicle availability and tourist.
It opens from 07.00 AM till 12 Noon and then from 01.00 PM till 03.30 PM.
For Indians, jeep safari cost 2000 INR for the jeep and 50 INR as entry fee per person.
For foreign travelers, jeep safari cost is 2000 INR but entry ticket is 500 INR per person.
If you are Indian traveler then 6 people are allowed in a jeep but for foreign travelers, they allow 4 people in one jeep.
Pobitora wildlife sanctuary elephant ride
There are 2 Elephant safaris in the morning.
Reporting time for the first safari is 06:15 AM. It starts at 06.30 AM ends after an hour.
Reporting time for the second safari is 07:15 AM. It starts at 07.30 AM ends after an hour.
The timing for elephant safari may vary depending upon the number of tourist and weather conditions.
* I personally didn’t advise elephant safari because I don’t know how they treat the animals.*
Best time to visit Pobitara wildlife sanctuary
It is best to visit between November to March as the weather is cool and animals can be spotted in open.
Pobitora Sanctuary remains closed in monsoon months from 15th May till 30th September.
It is advisable to call the Tourist Information Officer at Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary on Phone No: +919613076574 for advance booking. If there are a large number of tourist then sometimes they deny the entry if you have not booked in advance.
Day trip to Temples of Hajo and Silk town of Sualkuchi
Temples of Hajo
The town of Hajo is situated on the banks of Brahmaputra river at a distance of 26 Km from Guwahati. Hajo was our first town of the IInd day trip to visit places near Guwahati.
Hajo is a small town in Kamrup district of Assam. It is an important pilgrimage site for Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhist from ancient times. The town is famous for Hayagriva Madhava Mandir. Other popular temples of Hajo are Ganesha temple and Kedareswara Temple of Shiva.
Hayagriva Madhava Temple
This temple is built on the Monikut hill, which is highest in the area. Hayagriva means the person with the head of a horse and hence came the name of the temple. The presiding deity of this temple is Lord Narasimha, who is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Hayagriva Madhava temple was built by King Raghudeva Narayan in 1583.
Buddhist believe that this is the place where Buddha attained Nirwana.
There is a small market outside the temple with lots of small shops and some restaurants. Many small vendors had displayed their products on the floor just before the steps leading to the temple.
There are around 100 steep stairs to reach the temple. The steps leading to the temple are divided into two parts by railing. This arrangement was very helpful and maintained the smooth movement of people going up or coming down from the temple.
There is a pond Madhab Pukhuri near the temple and we saw it from the temple compound.
There is an “Akhand Jyoti” (Always burning lamp) in the temple and these lamps never put off. Devotees were waiting in long queues outside the main sanctum. They had barricaded the entry into sanctum to control the crowd and we were not allowed to go beyond this point. Inside of the main sanctum has very dimly and it was a bit difficult to see the statue of the main deity.
Most people were burning small lamps in a row outside the main sanctum.
It was a small premise but well maintained and clean.
Also read about Somnath Temple in Gujarat
Other temples of Hajo
After visiting Hayagriva Madhava Temple, we went to Ganesha temple and Kedareswara Temple of Shiva. Both these temples have a similar architecture as of Madhava temple. There were few people inside these temple complexes.
All the temples of Hajo are built on small hilltops and can be reached by climbing the stairs. Hayagriva Madhava Temple is highest among three temples.
Powa Mecca Mosque
Later on, we went to Powa Mecca mosque, which is the holy destination for Muslims. During my visit, I saw a large number of devotees praying inside the Powa mecca. It is believed that by offering prayers in this mosque, a person will get one-fourth of God’s grace that they will get by preying in Mecca.
This mosque was built in 1657 by Sujauddin Muhammad Shah. The tomb of Pir Ghiyasuddin Auliya is the main attraction in the mosque compound. Powa Mecca mosque is frequented by Muslims as well as Hindus also.
Silk town of Sualkuchi
It is a small town with a population of approximately 15,000 and situated in Kamrup district. It is popularly known as Manchester of Assam. Saulkuchi is the silk textile center of Assam and famous for its Muga silk and Pat silk.
Mekhela chadors (2 Piece Saree) and Gamosas (A small weaved fabric wore around the neck) are the most popular products of Sualkuchi. The Muga silk sarees are very expensive and usually worn on special occasions.
Most of the people in this town are working in Handloom cottage industry. There are small dying and weaving units in many houses. The majority of the families have hand-operated looms, which they call “Taatxaal”.
The Mekhala chadors and sarees sold here are traditionally made in offwhite color with red, yellow and green motifs but these days many colors are used for base color and designs. The popular motifs used in these sarees are Lions, creepers, local flowers, peacocks and pots.
We visited a couple of shops in the small market and I bought a Mekhala Chador. Most people know Hindi (A little or no English) but language can be a barrier here. It is a very interesting experience to see them working on looms making designs with silk thread.
Few things to know before visiting Pobitora, Hajo, and Sulakuchi
* There are no direct buses for Pobitora.
* You can get a bus for Hajo and Sualkuchi from Guwahati. Public transport between Hajo and Sualkuchi is not reliable.
* Guwahati to Hajo is 35 KM. Guwahati to Saulkuchi is 40 KM and it is 12 KM from Hajo.
* There are few basic restaurants in Hajo market and in Sualkuchi there are only small food stalls.
* Visit a handloom weaving unit in Sualkuchi and experience the art of handloom weaving.
*Pobitora and Hajo are in different directions from Guwahati. You can do half day trips to both places.