Jorhat: Tea Capital of India

jorhat

Jorhat is a quaint little town in the heart of Assam, India’s northeast region. Known as the Tea Capital of India, Jorhat boasts sprawling tea gardens and vibrant culture. The town is also steeped in history, and its architecture reflects the influences of the British, Ahom, and other indigenous cultures.

Jorhat derived its name from the two hats or mandis that existed on opposite banks of the Bhugdoi River – “Masorhaat” and “Sowkihat“. The word “jor” means twin and “hat” means market.

It offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Its tea gardens, cultural centers, and museums are a testament to its rich heritage, while its festivals and food are a celebration of its vibrant culture. Whether you’re a history buff, nature lover, or foodie, it has something to offer everyone. So, plan a visit to this beautiful town and explore its many attractions, and experience the warmth and hospitality of its people.

Rural scene in Jorhat
Image via Wikimedia Commons (Gitartha.bordoloi)

History of Jorhat

Jorhat’s history dates back to the 18th century when it was a small village. It was the last capital of the Ahom dynasty. The Ahom rule in Jorhat lasted for at least 37 years, leaving behind a legacy of art, culture, and tradition that still resonates in the town today.

It grew in importance during the rule of the Ahom dynasty, which recognized its strategic location as a trading center. In the early 19th century, the British East India Company established a tea garden in Jorhat, and the town grew rapidly as tea became a major export from Assam.

During the colonial period, Jorhat was a center of culture and learning, and it became known as the Cultural Capital of Assam. Many of the town’s iconic buildings were constructed during this time, including the Raja Maidam and the Thengal Mansion. Today, Jorhat is a thriving town that blends the old with the new, and its history is evident in its architecture, museums, and cultural centers.

Tourist Attractions of Jorhat

Jorhat is home to some of the largest and most beautiful tea gardens in the world. With a whopping 135 tea gardens, it is a hub for tea production and is renowned for its high-quality tea leaves. The tea industry is the backbone of the town’s economy, and visitors can explore the lush greenery of the tea gardens while learning about the cultivation and processing of tea.

Main gate of Sukapha Samannay Kshetra
Image via Wikimedia Commons (Gitartha.bordoloi)

Apart from tea plantations, Jorhat also has a plethora of heritage sites and nature reserves to explore. The Thengal Bhawan, Raja Maidam, Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary, and Dhekiakhowa Bornamghar are some of the major places of interest. Of these, the Dhekiakhowa Bornamghar is particularly noteworthy, as it is the oldest and most famous place of worship in Assam, attracting a lot of tourists every year.

For nature lovers, the Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary is a must-visit, as it is home to a variety of endangered species, including the hoolock gibbon. The river island of Majuli, which is the world’s largest river island, is just 27 km away and can be accessed by ferries from Nimati Ghat. With its serene beauty and unique culture, Majuli is a must-visit destination.

Jorhat is also known for its colorful festivals, such as Bihu, which is celebrated with great fervor across Assam. During Bihu, visitors can enjoy traditional music, dance, and food, and participate in cultural events.

Places to visit in Jorhat

Hoollongapar Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary

Hoolongapar Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary
Credit: Getty Images

Hoollongapar Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary is a hidden gem located about 20 km from Jorhat. This isolated wildlife sanctuary is famous for its thriving population of hoolock gibbons, with over 40 species residing here. Surrounded by tea gardens on all sides and the Brahmaputra river on one, the sanctuary provides a perfect enclosure for these endangered primates.

Apart from hoolock gibbons, visitors to the sanctuary can also spot capped langurs, stump-tailed macaques, pigtail macaques, Assamese macaques, rhesus macaques, and slow lorises. The sanctuary is also home to elephants and various other species of animals, making it a great destination for nature enthusiasts.

Raja Maidam Park

Rajamaidam Jorhat
Image via Wikimedia Commons (Anupom sarmah)

The Raja Maidam is a historic vault located on the south banks of the Tocklai stream in Jorhat. It was built as the final resting place for King Purandar Sinha, who passed away on October 1st, 1894. While its primary purpose was to safeguard the remains of the late king, the Raja Maidam has also become a symbol of the glorious days of the mighty Ahom ruler.

As with the other maidams in Jorhat, the Raja Maidam attracts a large number of visitors each year due to its significant historical significance. The site is meticulously maintained, and the vault stands out in its own unique way. A visit to the Raja Maidam is a must for anyone interested in the rich cultural heritage of Jorhat and the Ahom dynasty.

Cinnamora Tea Estate

Cinnamora Tea Estate

Cinnamora Tea Estate, founded in 1850 by Maniram Dewan, is the oldest tea garden in Assam and is renowned for its tea production. Dewan served as a sirastadar of an assistant commissioner under the British government stationed at Jorhat. Located just 10 km from the center of Jorhat, the tea garden is a sight to behold during peak harvesting seasons, with lush greenery all around. Strolling along the narrow lanes bordered by short tea bushes is a delightful experience.

Cinnamora Tea Estate is an excellent place to learn about tea harvesting, and the friendly and hospitable tea workers are always willing to share their knowledge. Tourists can easily reach the tea garden by hiring cabs from the city center or taking public transportation buses, which run at regular intervals.

Kokilamukh Shanti Ashram

Kokilamukh Shanti Ashram
Image via Wikimedia Commons (Gitartha.bordoloi)

Swami Nigamananda established the Shanti Ashram, which is now called the “Saraswata Matha” or “Assam Bongiya Saraswata Matha,” on the auspicious occasion of Akshay Tritiya at Kokilamukh. The ashram is located in a beautiful meadow, six miles away from Jorhat, and is surrounded by dense jungle growth on three sides. On one side of the Math lies a tribal village. It offers a peaceful retreat for those seeking spiritual solace in the midst of nature’s beauty.

Jorhat Gymkhana Club

Jorhat Gymkhana Club
Credit: Priyankanang Guddu

Jorhat Gymkhana Club is a historic sports venue that primarily focuses on horseracing, lawn tennis on grass courts, billiards, swimming pools, a gentleman’s bar, cinema theatre, and polo. The club was built by D. Simons in 1876 during the British era. It is renowned for hosting the Governor’s Cup event every year and has been a venue for horse racing for more than 140 years.

Originally, the area where the club is situated was a tea garden with no provision for recreational activities for both the British and locals. To cater to this need, the club was established, and it is home to one of the oldest golf courses in Asia with nine circuits. The Jorhat Gymkhana Club Ground is known for hosting C.K Naidu’s Under-19 Cricket Tournament. It has a turf wicket, a seating capacity of 8,000, and is used by the Khelmati Sports Club for cricket.

Lachit Borphukan’s Maidam

Lachit Bhawan at Lachit maidam
Image via Wikimedia Commons (Gitartha.bordoloi)

The Lachit Borphukan Maidam, named after the renowned Ahom General, is a fascinating site to visit in Jorhat. This maidam houses a memorial stone dedicated to the 16th-century warrior, making it a popular attraction for paying respects to his memory.

Lachit Borphukan was known for his courage and skill in warfare. He led the Ahom army to victory against the Mughals in the battle over Guwahati at Saraighat in 1671. However, shortly after his triumph, Borphukan passed away due to an illness. To commemorate his bravery and contributions during the war, Swargadeo Udayaditya built this maidam in 1672 and laid Borphukan’s remains there. Even today, the well-maintained maidam serves as a reminder of the Ahom era in Jorhat.

Nimati Ghat

Nimati Ghat
Image Credit: Abhinandan Das

Nimati Ghat, a significant port in Assam, plays a crucial role as the sole entry point to the world’s largest river island, Majuli. The Ghat serves as a connecting point for ferries that transport passengers to Auniata and Kamalabari. Situated in proximity to the Brahmaputra river, Nimati holds importance not only for the local villages but also for upper Assam.

The ferries that operate from Nimati Ghat to Majuli are government-run, and their simplistic wooden boats feature long benches facing each other. The boat ride offers a unique experience, from locals singing folk songs to touching the water of the Brahmaputra river, to witness the sunset, particularly from the upper deck of the vessel.

Majuli River Island

Majuli Island

Located in the river Brahmaputra, just 20 km away from Jorhat and 347 Km from Guwahati, lies Majuli, a stunning freshwater island. This lush green paradise is a pollution-free environment and boasts a total area of 1250 sq. km, making it the world’s largest river island. Its breathtaking beauty attracts visitors from all around the globe.

Majuli is an extraordinary place, so much so that it’s a strong contender for a spot in UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. The island is mostly inhabited by tribals, and its unique and fascinating culture is a significant draw for tourists. It’s no wonder why people adore this place so much.

Food in Jorhat

Jorhat is a fantastic place to savor the authentic and exquisite flavors of Assamese cuisine. The town offers an array of traditional sweets and sides that accompany the main course, as well as a delectable Assam thali that one must try. Some of the must-try local delicacies include Khar, Tenga, Laksa, Poitbhat, Pitika, and more.

Assamese Cuisine
Image via Instagram (assamesecuisine)

In addition to local cuisine, visitors can also choose from a range of Chinese, Continental, and North Indian menus. So, food enthusiasts are in for a treat in Jorhat.

Best time to visit Jorhat

Jorhat experiences hot and humid summers with temperatures ranging from 15 to 28 degrees Celsius, making it unfavorable for tourism. Monsoon season starts from July, and the city experiences heavy rainfall till September. Thus, it’s best to avoid visiting Jorhat during this time. The ideal season to explore the city is during winter when the temperature is not too low, and the weather is delightfully cool.

How to Reach Jorhat

By Air:

Jorhat boasts its own airport, named Rowraih Airport, which is situated just 7 kilometers away from the city. This domestic airport is well-connected to some of the prominent cities in India such as Bangalore, Kolkata, and Guwahati.

By Train:

Jorhat has two railway stations, namely Mariani Junction and Jorhat Town Railway Station. Mariani Junction is the main railway station of the city and is well-connected to major cities across India. It is situated about 18 km away from the city center and takes approximately 30 minutes to reach the city. On the other hand, Jorhat Town Railway Station is located just 2 km away from the heart of the city. Both railway stations have taxi services available, making it easy for visitors to reach their destination in Jorhat.

By Road:

Jorhat is well-connected to nearby towns and cities like Golaghat (50 km), Sibsagar (56 km), Dimapur (133 km), Tezpur (162 km), Kohima (206 km), Guwahati (305 km), Itanagar (326 km), Imphal (344 km), and Shillong (365 km). You can also take state transport or private buses to reach Jorhat from nearby cities. Private travel services are also available for traveling to Jorhat from these places.

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