Arrive at Guwahati International Airport 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.
After the Temple visit, we drive towards Pandu Port where an Assamese welcome aboard the MV Mahabaahu awaits us. After the essential safety briefing and a short presentation on the Peacock Island that is famous for its highly endangered Golden Langur, we check into our cabins.
All gather on the open deck to enjoy the first sail and scan the river for a fleeting sight of the Gangetic Dolphins. We visit the Peacock Island and return to MV Mahabaahu where we enjoy a talk on 'Kamakhya and the Occult in Assam'.
An evening in the Soma Lounge followed by the ‘KamrupSwaagatBhoj’—a sit down welcome dinner completes the day.
MV Mahabaahu lifts anchor early. We enjoy Yoga on the deck for an hour and move on to breakfast, while MV Mahabaahu heads on through the hills towards an island that is occupied predominantly by a Bangla speaking Muslim community who are involved in extensive farming.
After breakfast we enjoya talk on 'Assam, its geographical location in the national and international context and how it is acclaiming recognition'.
After the visit to this village we return to the ship for lunch and sail towards Orang Point.
We enjoyA talk on 'The River Brahmaputra and the tribal life’over a cup of tea and some snacks.
We anchor at a deserted island for the evening and enjoy sitting around a bonfire to indulge in barbequed snacks.
MV Mahabaahu sails early and we enjoy Yoga on the deck and move on for breakfast and for a talk on 'Wild life in Kaziranga and wild life in India.
We sail on for the next couple of hours and enjoy a relaxed lunch and reach Silghat. After a talk on ‘Tea and Jute in Assam’, we take a short drive to Kaliabore Tea Estate which is a vast expanse of undulating estate with tea bushes, watching the tribal women picktea 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.
(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.)
After the leisurely pace of the day and having recovered the lost sleep, we once again get together for A talk on ‘Silk in Assam’. We get into the tenders to reach the shores of BishwanathGhat. 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 return to the ship to enjoy an evening on a deserted island and then proceed to a scrumptious dinner.
This morning MV Mahabaahu sails early 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 and sample the snacks followed by a leisurely 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 and breakfast we enjoy a talk on ‘Majuli the seat of Neo –Vaishnav Culture’ and then enjoy the sail towards the Mishing Village.
The Mishings live on the bank of river in 'Chang ghars', houses with raised platform. All Mishing women are expert weavers. Carrying some cash would be a good idea.
The indoor life of a Mishing person revolves around the kitchen area where the family can get together. We buy the ethnic colourful cotton weaves, vegetables and move on.
We indulge in a Dhoti Tying and Mekhela Chaadar wearing demonstration at this village.
We return to enjoy A talk on ‘Sibsagar and the Ahom civilization’ and proceed to prepare for a Traditional Assamese evening.
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. The humble dwellings of the monks are a revelation of utmost simplicity. We enjoy hot lunch on MV Mahabaahu as we sail towards NeamatiGhat.
Carry binoculars as the fields alongside the road will showcase purple swamp hens, adjutant storks, egrets, kingfishers, Indian rollers, bulbuls and open billed storks.
We drive through the countryside to reach Sibsagar, the ancient city of the Ahom Kings; a town that literally means 'the ocean of Lord Shiva’. We notice as we drive that the district is strewn with the tell-tale ruins of a powerful empire of the Ahoms. Sibsagar was the 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.
The Sibsagar town 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.
Then we visit Talatal or KarengGhar 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.
We return to MV Mahabaahu by sunset and enjoy the farewell dinner.
We start the day with Yoga and/or go for a nature walk along the swamps to catch a sight of owls, aureoles, yellow footed green pigeons, changeable eagles, adjutant storks, quails, sea gulls hunting with the dolphins and pied kingfishers, swallows and martins diving to fish.
We have a relaxed breakfast. The luggage is brought out of the cabins according to the flight schedule.En route the airport we visit a Tea Estate for a relaxed afternoon where we enjoy a traditional Assamese lunch with the Tea-estate family to get a peep into the lifestyle of the families that have been involved in the tea business over a period of a century. Here we sip our beverages and indulge in tea tasting as we explore the lawns and proceed to enjoy a traditional Assamese cuisine.
The crew on board organises our transport.
We arrive at the Rowriah Airport in Jorhat a couple of hours before the flight schedule and bid adieu to the land of Ahoms.