Assam, the name is a beautiful blend of culture, heritage, faiths, beliefs, and traditions of numerous ethnic tribes and sub-tribes residing in the state. Such blend has largely contributed toward its social fabric bypassing barriers of caste, creed, and religion. The state has one of the largest concentrations of tribal population in the country. Its richness in cultural heritage knows no bound. Each such ethnic tribe has its own distinct belief, value system, food habits, pattern of dressing, language, festivals, tradition, and heritage. Thus, the region is enveloped within a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society and its residents follow different religions beginning from Hinduism to Islam, Christianity, Sikh, and Buddhism, though Hinduism, spreading its branches in different forms, is pre-dominant. Majority of the Hindu population follow the path of Srimanta Sankardeva and believe in Neo-Vaishnavism. Despite such diversities, the people of this region live in peace and harmony. This in itself is a unique characteristic.
Over the ages, Assam was ruled by different dynasties and kingdoms. During different periods, the people adopted different cultures. Hence, the diverse culture and tradition of the state is attributed to the influence of such different kingdoms. The state has a rich history of all these periods. The detailed description of these is found in various literatures, inscriptions, and so on.
The book Discovering the Heritage of Assam is a combination of nature, culture, and traditions which symbolizes the true essence of the state. The history of the state beginning from the Paleolithic Age to the British Era is supported by innumerable ruins, interesting shrines, incredible wildlife, and a variety of living heritages. The main center of attractions of such heritages are the temples like Kamakhya, Navagraha, Umananda, Mahabhairav, Hayagriva Madhava, Poa Mecca, Gurdwara Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib etc. Each of these has its own charm, story, and greatness.
With wildlife reserves like Kaziranga National Park and Manas National Park, Assam has been home to a high concentration of wildlife from ancient times. Moreover, some of them have been covered by the UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites.
The Ahoms ruled over Assam for 600 years and has had a significant imprint on its history. They built the Rang Ghar, the first amphitheatre of Asia, in Sivasagar; the Shiva Dol, one of the tallest Shiva temples in India; and the royal palace KarengGhar along with various other important archaeological sites. The ruins discovered in Sri Surya Pahar, Da-Parbatia, Madan Kamdev, Agnigarh, Deopahar, and Kasomari exhibit the classic architecture and sculptures of Assamese craftsmen during different periods.
Neo-Vaishnavism popularized by the great saint Srimanta Sankardev and venerated institutions like Namghars and Satras constitute the prime components of Assam’s heritage. Majuli, the largest riverine island in the world, is the center of 500–years’ living heritage of Satriya culture in Assam. The handloom tradition of Sualkuchi, bell-metal industry of Sarthebari, and modern heritage sites such as Saraighat Bridge, Digboi Refinery, Northbrook Gate, Cotton University, and Rajbari Palace are distinct in their own fashion; they are of significant importance when it comes to heritage.
The coffee table book is aiming at giving a glimpse of cultural, natural and architectural heritages of Indian state of Assam. The book is divided into five broad chapters,-Ancient period heritages like Kamakhya temple figured in Kalika Purana, considered to be the most sacred and oldest of the 51 Shakti Peeths on the earth, ruins of Surjya Pahar which is known as second Kashi having 99999 Shiva lingas, was once a confluence of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism; architectural remnants of Da Parbatia constructed during the 5th or 6th century, Madan Kamdev temple of 10th century, known as the place where Kamdeva was reborn, has sculptures and artwork which have resemblancescwith that of Khajuraho temple; Medieval period heritages like monuments belonging to Ahom kingdom like Rang Ghar- entertainment place during Ahom kingdom and considered as the oldest surviving amphitheatres in Asia and has often been referred as ‘Colosseum of the East’; Kareng Ghar- the royal palace of Ahom kings; Shiva Dol located in Sibsagar district which is considered to be the tallest Shiva temple in India; Dekhiakhowa Bornamghar- where the earthen lamp enkindled in 1528 has been burning ceaselessly since then which has entered in The Guinness Book of World Records as the longest lit lamp; Modern period heritages like the Northbrook gate in Guwahati constructed in 1874 to mark the arrival of Viceroy of India, Thomas George Baring; Digboi refinery- the first refinery in Asia and known as the ‘Gangotri of Indian Hydrocarbon Sector’; Prince of Wales Institute of Jorhat-the first engineering institute established in North- East; Natural heritages like Kaziranga National Park which is known for one horned rhino and a UNESCO’s World Heritage site;Manas National Park which was also a UNESCO’s World Heritage site; and Living heritages like Sattriya culture created by neo-vaishnavite saint Srimanta Sankardeva, of Majuli- the largest riverine island in the world;handloom tradition of Sualkuchi which known as Manchester of
In the book, beautiful photographic presentations with informative illustrations are coherently depicted after extensive research. Altogether, 60 topics have been covered in the book.It is believed that bringing out the various kinds of heritage sites of Assam, which are lesser-known to the outside world, will give a new perspective on the vibrant land