On arrival at the Jorhat airport, we are met at the receiving area and with packed lunch, we drive to NeamatiGhat to board the MV Mahabaahu. We check into our cabins and immediately gather in the restaurant for the essential safety briefing and to experience the first sail.
All gather on the open deck to enjoy the first sail and scan the river for a fleeting sight of the Gangetic Dolphins.
We proceed into the evening with a talk on ‘Sibsagar and the Ahom civilization’. Soon MV Mahabaahu drops anchor and the evening follows into welcome dinner.
After an early breakfast, we start our day-excursion to Sibsagar, the ancient city and capital of the Tai-speaking Ahoms who came in the 13th Century AD to the area from the north-east and were essentially of Tibeto-Burman origin. Sibsagar town literally means 'the ocean of Lord Shiva’ as it is built around a huge man made water tank ordered by the Ahom Queen.
The Shiva Dol, constructed in the year 1734 is believed to be the highest Shiva temple in India.
We visitTalatal or Kareng Ghar which was the palace of the Ahom Kings and after a leisurely stroll in and around the monument we go on to Rang Ghar which was a place for hosting wrestling bouts and buffalo fights and other entertainment or important meetings of the Royals and their guests.
Thereafter we drive to a Tea Estate for a relaxed afternoon where we enjoy a traditional Assamese lunch with the Tea-estate family who have been involved in the tea business over a period of a century. Here we sip our beverages as we explore the lawns and proceed to indulge in traditional Assamese cuisine.
We return to MV Mahabaahu by sunset and enjoy a relaxed evening in the Soma lounge before proceeding for dinner.
We start the day with Yoga or go for a walk along the swamps to catch a sight of owls, orioles, changeable eagles, adjutant storks, sea gulls, kingfishers, swallows and many more.
As we have our breakfast we sail towards Majuli which literally means land between two rivers, the Subansiri and the Brahmaputra.Majuli is a cosmos of Assamese culture where variousphilosophies co-exist and thrive.
After breakfast, we enjoy a talk on 'Majuli', the seat of Vaishnav culture and proceed in our tenders to the mainland where a drive takes us to a scenic corner of a Satra for an interesting cultural performance by Satriya singers and dancers. Next, we drive to KamlabariSatra to witness the Vaishnavite priests dancing to the rhythm of cymbals, drums and chanting in the temple premise.
We enjoy hot lunch on MV Mahabaahu and sail towards the closest Mishing Village.
The Mishings live on the bank of river in 'Chang ghars', houses with raised platform. All Mishing women are expert weavers.
The indoor life of a Mishing person revolves around the kitchen area where the family can get together. We can but ethnic colourful cotton weavesandindulges in a Dhoti Tying and MekhelaChaadar wearing demonstration.
After the Mishing Village MV Mahabaahu heads towards DhansiriMukh where the waters of Bhramaputra and Dhansiri meet, while we enjoy a talk on ‘Assam, its geographical location & importance’. We thenenjoy the evening under the stars on a deserted island and proceed for dinner.
After Yoga and an early morning walk on a deserted island MV Mahabaahu sails towards the Eastern Range of Kaziranga for boat Safari. We enjoy breakfast and a talk on ‘The River Brahmaputra and the life that exists alongside’.
We proceed for the safari in our tenders for about two hours. The shores are high but one can see roof turtles on protruding drift wood, water lizards, otters, elephants, wild buffaloes, rhinos, darters, herons, pied kingfishers, white throated kingfishers, serpent eagles and many more. The sightings are always determined by the weather conditions.
We return for lunch. This evening we enjoy the Chef’s Cooking Demonstration followed by a talk on ‘Tea, Silk and Jute in Assam.’
The evening on a deserted island with bonfire is always unusual. We enjoy dinner on MV Mahabaahu.(Bonfire may be avoided if a suitable sandbank cannot be found or if we experience inclement weather conditions)
After Yoga/walk on the deserted island and breakfast, we enjoy an interesting talk on ‘Kaziranga and the wild life in India’. Then we step into our tenders to go to the shores of Bishwanath Ghat.
We visit the Shiva Dol in reverence of Lord Shiva and there is no way that we can avoid the women with their weaves. We enjoy a walk through the village and see how this suburban village thrives.
We sail on for the next couple of hours and enjoy a relaxed lunch and reach Silghat. Take a short drive to the Kaliabore tea estate, which is a vast expanse of undulating land with tea bushes, watching the tribal women pick tea leaves. We proceed to the tea factory to see the process of finally producing Assam Tea and coming to terms with ‘all that goes into preparing a cup-of-tea.’(The tea factory is not operational from mid- December to mid -February as the tea is at its dormant stage during this time of the year)
We return to where the ship is anchored. Close by a co-operative Jute Mill is an interesting place to understand how the Jute fibre takes the form of very eco-friendly gunny bags.
By sunset, we enjoy a cultural evening on the ship. We have an early dinner and retire for the evening.
We rise very early today and after a warm cup of tea and some snacks, drive out towards the Kaziranga National Park . The most prized inhabitant of Kaziranga is the Greater One-Horned Indian Rhinoceros, but the Park is home to as many as 180 different mammals including wild elephants, tiger, deer, Asiatic wild buffalo and a rich variety of birds.
We reach the KohoraMihimukh range of the National Park and are ready to start our morning adventure; once-in-a-lifetime elephant-backed safari where we search for the elusive rhinoceros, tigers, swamp deer and hog deer and more and a large number of very interesting birds. The park never ceases to surprise us.
After breakfast at a resort in Kaziranga, we drive on to Bagori, the Western Range of Kaziranga and get into the open jeeps for some more wild life adventure and an extensive coverage of this magnificent park.
We return to MV Mahabaahu for a leisurely lunch and a relaxed afternoon.
After the leisurely pace of the day and having recovered the lost sleep, we once again get together for the traditional Assamese theme dinner.
In October and May when Kaziranga National Park is closed we do a short Jeep Safari in the outer area of the Kaziranga National Park. Elephant safari is not possible but one can opt for elephant joy ride on the outskirts of the park. During these two months we have an additional Boat Safari in a very picturesque area at the confluence of Diphlu and Brahmaputra River.
We catch up on Yoga on an island or on the deck for an hour and move on to breakfast while MV Mahabaahu lifts anchor and heads on towards an island that is occupied predominantly by aangle speaking Muslim community who are involved in extensive farming.After breakfast we enjoy a talk on ‘Kamakhya and the Occult and Peacock Island and then proceed fora visit to get an insight on village life.
We return to the ship for lunch and sail towards the Peacock Island that is home to some Golden Langurs.
After the Peacock island visit, we sail towards Pandu Port and anchor at a jetty. We get ready for the Farewell Dinner ‘AlvidaBhoj’ and enjoy a relaxed evening.
We have a relaxed breakfast.
The crew on-board organises our transport and with packed lunch we drive to the Kamakhya Temple. This Temple is devoted to the eternal feminine; the goddess of desire whose name is Kama Khya, granter of desires.
We arrive at the International airport in Guwahati and bid farewell to the land of Kamakhya.