Assam, the North-Eastern sentinel of the frontiers of India, is a State richly endowed with places of tourist attraction. Assam is described as the second largest after Arunachal Pradesh, of the ‘Seven Sisters’ comprising the North-Eastern States of the country. Situated in the Himalayan foothills, Assam is known as the land of red river and blue hills. With an area of 78,438 sq km Assam represents 2.39 percent of the total land area of the country. The State of Assam is one of the most beautiful and attractive regions of india. There is hardly any other state which has greater variety -7,-d colour in its natural scenery and in the cultural treasures 1: the people that inhabit it. Assam is surrounded by –3tional boundaries extending upto nearly 3,200 km. The :-:y river Brahmaputra flows through it, serving as a lifeline -s people settled on both of its banks.
• Origin of the name The word ‘Assam’ is derived from the Sanskrit word Asoma meaning ‘peerless’ or ‘unequalled’.
Bodo community named this ancient land Sa-Sum’, which with the passage of the time got translated into the modern word ‘Assam’.
• Location The state, being T-shaped, is situated in the heart of the north-east corner of Indian subcontinent. The area of Assam extends from latitude 24°10′ N to 27°58′ N and longitude 89°49′ E to 97°26′ E between the foothils of eastern Himalays and the Patkai and Naga Ranges. • Boundaries Assam is surrounded by Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh on the north; Nagaland, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh on the east; Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura on the south; and Bangladesh. Meghalaya and West Bengal on the west. Assam is connected with the rest of the Indian Union by a narrow corridor (called the ‘Chicken’s Neck’ or ‘Bottle Neck’) in West Bengal that runs for 56 km below foothills of Bhutan and Sikkim.
• Physiography Geographically Assam is a shadow of its former sett It has been reduced to one-third of its original size in thirty years’ time By virtue of its geographical location, Assam occupies a strategic position in the political map of India. The State forms the core of the north-eastern region of the country and provides the focal points of transport and communication lines serving its neighbouring states. Assam, as it is today. may be divided into three important physical regions : (a) Brahmaputra valley, (b) Barak or Surama valley and (c) the hilly areas of Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hill districts. The Brahmaputra Valley is named after the river Brehmapulra. The mighty river Brahmaputra and its tributaries have nourished it from the time immemorial. This alluvial valley commands the lion’s share of the territory.
Almond shaped valley is built mostly by aggregation work of the Brahmaputra and its tributaries. Most of the prominent towns and cities of Assam are situated in this valley whose length and breadth are 725 kms and 80-100 kms respectively. Running through a narrow passage at the Meghalaya plateau and Bhutan-Arunachal-Himalayas, the valley finally opens out into the North Bengal Plains. The second natural division of Assam is the Barak or Surama Valley which is surrounded by North Cachar, Manipur and Mizoram. This valley is dominated by the Barak river. It flows through the valley and finally empties. itself to.the old bed of Brahmaputra in Bangladesh. This valley has hills and ‘Beels’ or lakes in plenty. Flood is a common feature lending the quality of fertility to the valley. The two valleys are separated by long range of hills. The Karbi Hills and the North Cachar Hills are located in the south of the Brahmaputra valley. Karbi hills are a part of the Meghalaya plateau. These hills are dotted with plain areas. The average height of this plateau is 600 metres with occasional peaks’ like Dambukso (1,363 m) and Singhasan (1,359 m). Greenery is the hallmark of these hills, slowly reaching their full height towards the middle of the Dima Hasao district, merging with the Borail range — which is the highest hill range in Assam. The elevation of the Borail range. varies from 1,000 to 1,200 metres above sea eve The south side of the Borail range is very steep. It attains a maximum height of 1,959 metres in Laike peak to the east of Haflong. IFaike is the highest peak of Assam. This valley is full of dense forest and rare wildlives. Nesting at the foothills of the Himalayas, Assam is the place where one can find natural peace and solace. There are a few states in India which have such vast fertile valleys, dense forests, numerous rivers and lofty hills. Assam, is located about 79.5 m above sea level : Sadiya 134 m, Dibrugarh 104 m, Guwahati 50 m, Goalpara 37 m and Dhubri 28 m.
• Climate- I he climatic condition of Assam differ from the rest of the country. It is humid, tropical type in the plains and subalpine in the hills, with heavy rainfall and vegetation in green all the year round. The average temperatures in summer and winter are 36 degree C and 6 degree C respectively. The winter season extends from the month of the October to February. and rains predominate the rest of the year. Fair weather coupled with fall in temperature follow the withdrawal of monsoon.
• Rainfall- Rainfall in Assam is one of the highest in the world. It varies between 178 and 305 cm. All this rainfall is concentrated mainly in four months, June to September. The unique physiographic features of the State and its surrounding mountain and hill ranges affect the areal distribution of rainfall. In general, the hills and foothills receive more rainfall. Besides, the districts of Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Sivasagar, Dhemaji, Lakhimpur, Kokrajhar, Baksa, Dhubri in the Brahmaputra ‘valley and the southern most districts of Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj enjoy annual rainfall more than 250 cm on average. On the other hand, Niagaon. and Karbi Anglong districts receive relatively low rainfall, having the lowest in the Lanka-Lumding area (average annual rainfall of 129 cm) due to its location on the lee-ward side of the Meghalaya plateau and Karbi Hills. • Earthquake Assam is known to many as a nightmarish land of earthquakes, some tremors of the most violent nature having been recorded even in recent times. Being situated in the earthquake belt,-Assam experiences earthquake shocks very often. The Tungkhungia Buranjee, a book on history of the Ahom rule, written in 1696, recorded some important earthquakes of Assam and the entire North Eastern region of India in the mediaeval period. Earthquake of Assam of recent memory is that of August 15, 1950. This earthquake mutilated the whole habitation n Upper Assam. Its tremors read 8.6 in the Richter Scale. Starting from the early evening (7.40 pm) the tremor continued throughout the night. Many houses and building of the Upper Assam were razed to the ground. There developed innumerable wide and deep cracks on the ground and mud, sand and water burst out damaging the roads, settlement sites and crop field. This earthquake disturbed the courses and beds of many rivers like the Brahmaputra, Subansiri, Burhi Dihing, Jia Bharali etc. causing them either to change their Courses or by raising the beds resulting in occurrence of floods even after a few showers at their catchment areas. It is found that the bed of the Brahmaputra itself rose up in many areas, causing bank inundation even after a slight rise in its water level. It is also noticed that a large number of lakes, marshes and swamps in Assam became shallow as a result of this earthquake.
22.An earthquake on January 10, 1869 with its epicentre probably at North Cachar hills had ravaged the area between North Cachar and Assam Valley and had made the bank of the Barak sink about 15 feet.
The vertical acceleration along the epicentre tract of another quake on June 12, 1897 was reportedly so great that stones were flung into air. Its intensity was 8.7 in the Richter Scale. Many houses, buildings, bridges and roads were destroyed. There are cases of upliftment of some areas and sinking of some others. Many river-beds were-found to have been raised and many rivers changed their courses. Even a forested foothill area about 40 km. to the south-west of Guwahati sank down to give rise to the present Chand Dubi Lake, which still bears the submerged stumps of the large trees. A very serious earthquake. was also felt on the 9th September of 1923 in Assam. Destruction due to this earthquake was extensive in the western part of Assam. The most devastating
After this devastating earthquake, Assam has not experienced any severe earthquake so far. However, three tremors of medium intensity were felt during this period, one on July 29, 1970 and the others are in August 1988 and September 2011. Further, it is noticed that the frequency of mild earthquake tremors has increased since last 20 years.
• River- The main rivers ofAssam are the Brahmaputra and Barak. These rivers have continuous flow throughout the year. The Brahmaputra is the main river of Assam. Assam is dominated by this river. The source of this river lies towards the east of the ‘Manas Sarovar’, lake in the Himalayas in an ice glacier called ‘Tamchuk Khambab’ (approximately 31 degree north latitude and 42 degree east longitude). The total length of the river from the source to the sea is 2,880 km and its drainage area is roughly 9,35,000 sq km.. The magnificent flow of the mighty Brahmaputra is reckoned amongst the world’s most majestic rivers, and is naturally the most striking feature of the State. Fed by more than a hundred tributaries flowing down the surrounding hills, the river sweeps gracefully through the entire length of the Brahmaputra valley. After a 725 km sweep through Assam, it turns south-west beyond Meghalaya and then south, joining the easternmost branch of the Ganga — the Padma and empties together with Ganga into the Bay of Bengal. The North bank tributaries, debounching abruptly to the Brahmaputra valley and obstructed by their own alluvial fans, branch out and form oxbow lakes before picking up the erring streams again. The Brahmaputra itself is highly braided due to low gradient and tends to form river islands. The Brahmaputra has two islands : one is Majuli in Jorhat Wilfrid and the other is Umananda in Guwahati..