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Explore the well-kept secret of Assam, the tea-growing state in North East India, which until recently is forbidden to visitors. Taste the lifestyle of a Colonial tea planter at Wild Mahseer, a 22-acre sanctuary comprising of the exclusive Heritage Bungalow, an additional 4 cozy tea bungalows, the First Flush dining pavilion and Two & A Bud conference facility all located on a certified organic property. Wild Mahseer is the perfect place to relax and be pampered between forays out to witness Assams breathtaking pristine scenery, discover its rare and abundant wildlife, meet its eclectic mix of people and savor its flavorful multi-cultural cuisine.
Wild Mahseer is located in the centre of Assam, North East India, on the north bank of the Brahmaputra River in the district of Sonitpur, 20 minutes from the ancient city of Tezpur. It is a beautiful oasis set in the midst of the Balipara division of Addabarie Tea Estate, established by the British Assam Tea Company in 1864. Named after one of the toughest game fish in the world, Wild Mahseer is a unique haven for legendary conventions of the erstwhile British planters of Assam.
This boutique resort is an excellent spot to celebrate those special life defining moments be it a wedding, a birthday or anniversary, with close family and friends and is the ideal setting for returning families of former planters to re-discover their roots. When guests cruise in a country boat on the Brahmaputra River and go rafting or fishing on its tributaries, they re-live the historic pastimes of British planters in Assam.
Be transported to a bygone age as you taste the traditions of a tea estate sahib and memsahib. Sip bed tea, a pre-breakfast cuppa served in your room. Savour a sundowner at sunset on the verandah of your bungalow. Dine on Anglo-Indian fusion cuisine featuring a mouthwatering selection of aromatic curries and tangy chutneys made with ingredients from our organically homegrown produce.
Characterized by its elegant Victorian architecture is the former Visiting Agents residence. Surrounded by tea gardens and immersed in over 100 years of rich history this 3-bedroom Heritage Bungalow has been resplendently restored. Three other independent bungalows provide an additional nine double rooms, each with its own en suite bathroom. The First Flush, an airy, sunny dining pavilion, is the place to go for a meal or a tea tasting session, and Two & A Bud, accommodating up to thirty people, serves as our conference centre.
Wild Mahseers old-world charm and gracious living, together with its lush surroundings and vast range of activities, make it an ideal get away for people from all over the planet. Take a spin in our classic Land Rover or second generation Range Rover or fire up the Indian Enfield motorbike for a ride round the estate. Conclude a neighbourhood elephant trek with afternoon tea set on a lacy-clothed table encircled by tea bushes.
Positioned in the very lap of nature and immersed in the mystique of tea, Wild Mahseer has ample history embedded in its British Assam lifestyle. There is something of interest for everyone: the nature lover, the gourmet, the traditional farming fanatic, the relaxer, the meditator, the sportsman, the culture junkie, the wildlife enthusiast, the ornithologist and the adventurer.
Our guests have included world renowned environmentalists, wildlife conservationists, anglers, Hollywood film crews, photographers, members of International Diplomatic Corps, planters families and a whole range of adventure enthusiasts from many different countries including the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and Bangladesh as well as from all over India. We promise you the trip of a lifetime.
The Heritage Bungalow is immersed in over 100 years of rich history. Set in the midst of Addabarie Tea Estate, it was originally the Visiting Agents residence. After renovation and fronted by a massive lawn interspersed with mature trees, decorative beds blooming with seasonal flowers and dotted with wooden benches. It has a large verandah.
It is a perfect refuge for visitors keen to re-create the experience of the old-world planters lifestyle. In the verandah, its original tiled floor scattered with oriental rugs, it is an ideal place to take afternoon tea and pre-dinner drinks; a cozy study; a vast drawing room furnished with Asian collectibles and colonial pieces; and a bright, elegant dining room. The three spacious and charmingly appointed double bedrooms all have air-conditioning, ceiling fans and heaters for the cooler months as well as luxurious en suite bathrooms.
This 2,000-plus square meter compound is accessed by a long driveway concealed from the house and garden by a bamboo hedge at the end of which a footpath strikes off to the right leading up to Golden Tips. The screened verandah opens into the lounge and dining room, which are decorated with oriental silk wall hangings creating a Chinese flavor.
It has its own utility room and kitchen leading out onto the back garden. The huge garden has a large front lawn dominated by an imposing flame tree. The bungalows screened verandah opens into the lounge and dining room, both of which are decorated with oriental silk wall hangings creating a Chinese flavor.
Set in a 1,200-plus square meter compound Silver Tips, formerly the Doctor Sahibs Bungalow, just like the tea it is named after, creates a unique quirky magic all of its own. A long driveway down one side of the beautifully kept lawn leads to an extended front verandah, screened for comfort, where guests can enjoy a cup of early morning chai while listening to the relaxing sound of a water fountain splashing gently in the background. The verandah opens onto the lounge and dining areas.
The verandah are decorated with elephant prints, silk wall hangings and blue and white china figurines, vases and teapots, behind which is a large kitchen. Silver Tips has three roomy bedrooms, one with a large king-size bed, the others twin-bedded, all with air-conditioning, ceiling fans, heaters and en suite bathrooms with showers.
The tea bush Camellia sinensis has seven flushes during its growing season. The second flush is when it produces the finest quality of leaf and buds. Named after this heady brew, Second Flush was once the Visiting Agents office. Featuring window-boxes that in season bloom with flowers, it is situated in its own compound fronted with an open-air patio, a perfect place to relax and catch the afternoon sun. It comprises four sizeable, bright and sunny twin-bedded rooms.
Tthree of the bedrooms open onto a pebbled courtyard dotted with green plants, rocks and pots. All the bedrooms have full length curtains and soft furnishings sewn from colourful print fabrics. All the rooms have air-conditioning, overhead fans, heaters and large en suite bathrooms with bathtubs and showers.
Laundry: Laundry is washed by hand, dried in the sun and then ironed. For this service we charge a nominal fee. If it is raining we ask for your patience as it may take us a little longer to return your clean clothes. There is no dry cleaning service at Wild Mahseer.
Two & A Bud Conference Centre: Once used by the Assam Tea Protection Force a converted barrack now serves as our conference centre which is ideally suited for conducting corporate outward bound, leadership and motivational programmes. The main building is constructed from wood allowing it to blend seamlessly with its surroundings. Two & A Bud is a preferred destination for national and international clients hosting seminars, conferences and conducting developmental training in a diverse range of sectors including Wildlife, Tourism, Tea, Telecoms and Manufacturing. It is also widely used by schools and universities.
Using the ancient wisdom of vrikshyurveda (meaning ayurveda for the trees) derived from a Sanskrit text describing the science of ancient agricultural practices, Wild Mahseer actively promotes organic cultivation and is a flourishing biodiversity hub. We encourage our guests to venture outside their impeccably kept compounds and explore every inch of our property.
Meander along pathways bordered by tall grasses, orchids and other multi-hued wild flowers; wander in the sunlight filtering through sub-tropical forest and weave amongst the towering trees; catch hints of warm misty aromas emanating from herbal and medicinal plants; discover where our fruit trees and organic vegetable gardens grow; and visit our lake, home to ducks and geese.
Meet our own small herd of dairy cows that provides us with a constant supply of milk from which we make our own yogurt. A stroll around our property is a sensory delight. To enjoy the ultimate ecological experience and find out more about what we do, join a free tour of the Experimental Organic Cultivation Station and Naturenomics Sustainability Park established by our NGO partner Balipara Tract & Frontier Foundation, which are located on our 22 acre property.
Working closely with our partner organization we have planted over 3,000 trees across a multitude of varieties, including 30 indigenous varieties; 21 varieties of medicinal and aromatic trees and plants including neem, mustard and fenugreek; a wide range of cane, bamboo, broom, reeds, creepers and orchids; ornamental flower species like bougainvillea, azaleas, dahlias, petunias, snapdragons and roses.
We have local varieties of fruit trees like pomegranate, pomelo, papaya and star fruit; seasonal vegetables including radish, spinach, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, lettuce, tomatoes, naga chilies, local varieties of chilies, carrots, capsicum and in winter brinjal and French beans; rice; and honey. All are organically grown on our property and are a source of great pride.
Our lake is also stocked with 300 fishes of different local species that include rohu, mirgal, katla and grass carp. During the tour guests visit our mini-agricultural museum where a selection of locally handmade farming and fishing equipment is displayed; view our seedling nursery; see first-hand how organic pesticides and vermicompost are produced; and learn how we are introducing the natural approach to wastewater management and production of bio gas fuel to a group of local famers from which they are already reaping the benefits.
After the tea plant Camellia sinensis was discovered growing wild in 1823 near Dibrugarh, Assam developed into one of the largest tea growing regions in the world and became famous especially for its black tea, noted for its body, briskness, unique malty flavor and strong bright color. We feel, therefore, that a visit to our state is incomplete without gaining some understanding about the magic of tea.
Addabarie Tea Estate, owned by the Williamson Magor Group, is renowned for producing some of the companys best leaf (specifically Reddish Bright quality tea) and lies just a few kilometers outside Tezpur. It is divided into two divisions, Addabarie and Balipara, and has a total of 700 hectares planted under tea with a labor force of over 1,500 people. The management welcomes our guests to visit the factory and administrative offices of this estate which is located a short 20-minute drive away from Wild Mahseer.
The 1/2-day visit includes a drive through tea gardens dotted with shade trees where, in season, the work force (typically women in Assam) dressed in vivid saris patrol the rows of bushes plucking the tea. Guests can watch as they deftly use the fingers and thumbs of each hand to nip off the 2 leaves and 1 bud at the tip of each stem, tossing it over their shoulders into the locally made woven baskets they carry on their backs. When the baskets are full they take them to a mobile weighing station where the yields are logged under each pickers name.
Visitors then tour the factory itself where the machinery and different processes involved in producing the finished leaf of both Orthodox and CTC (Crush, Tear and Curl) manufactured tea is explained. Tea processing is ongoing throughout the tea-plucking season (typically from May to October) and during this period the factory is fully operational. Guests then have the opportunity to visit the tasting room where they learn about (and sample for themselves) the range of flavors of the different grades of tea produced by the Addabarie estate.
Surrounded by fresh tea bushes it is only natural guests will want to savor the cup that cheers. While staying right in the heart of Assam, a region famous for its black tea noted for its body, strong bright color and unique malty flavor, some may like to take this further and become initiated into the mystique of tea.
We are always delighted to arrange a personal introduction to the romance of tea tasting at our tea bar in the First Flush dining pavilion where 57 different types and grades of tea from every corner of the world are on display.
Guests are guided through the 3 steps required in determining the quality of tea. Firstly, assessing the visual appeal of the dry leaf; secondly, studying the appearance of the liquor (the liquid resulting from infusing the dry leaf in boiling water); and thirdly, appraising the taste.
In order to make the Tea Tasting introduction especially flavorful we have put together an array of unique blends using both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and extracts. So please enjoy sampling our wide boutique of teas and even create your own personal blend to take home.
Delight in the contrasting experience of riding a hulking, rugged elephant to an elegant tea party, in fact the most aptly named tea party in the world, one laid out in the tranquil setting of a genuine tea garden! Muster after lunch outside the gate of the Heritage Bungalow, gaze down the road framed by towering trees and experience the full impact of seeing your majestic ride trundle towards you. It is a magical image you will never forget.
Our staff can take photos as guests greet their personal elephant for the afternoon and clamber on top of the magnificent beast, one of the most revered creatures in India. The mahout (elephant minder) then gives the signal to ride out of the estate through local villages, bamboo groves and farmland, across babbling brooks and dried up river beds where, on a clear day the distant Himalayas are visible, and finally into the neighboring tea garden where a white lacy cloth-covered table set with classic bone china awaits.
After dismounting, tea is poured and curry puffs, delicate melt-in-the-mouth cucumber sandwiches and cake is served as guests relax in the dappled shadows of shade trees interspersed among the tea bushes. Then, as the sun begins to sink, re-mount the elephant, walk, or be driven back to the bungalow in our vintage Land Rover, Range Rover or on the Royal Enfield motorbike - the end to a perfect afternoon.
Assam, a name some scholars claim was derived from the Sanskrit word asoma meaning peerless or unparalleled, is located south of the eastern Himalayas and is home of the son of Lord Brahma or Brahma-putra, which perhaps accounts for the Brahmaputra River being the only male river in India.
Linked to the rest of the country by the Sillguri Corridor, a narrow strip of land just 22 kms wide at its slimmest, it acts as a sentinel guarding Indias gateway to her North Eastern states that share frontiers with Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, China and Tibet, collectively known as the Seven Sisters. Until only a few years ago, this whole area was closed and although Assam no longer requires visitors to obtain special permits, some of the other North Eastern states do.
Falling into the transitional zone between the Indian, Indo-Malayan and Indo-Chinese zoogeographic realm, Assam is a state of breath taking scenic beauty, rarest flora and fauna, lofty green hills, rolling plains and mighty waterways with the Brahmaputra cutting a swathe through its centre from northeast to southwest. Known as the agricultural state it is one of the most fertile areas in India.
According to the Assam Department of Environment & Forests it has 950 bird species and 193 species of mammals, both representing more than half the total found in all India. The state has evidence of human settlements from all the periods of the Stone Age. Its colourful ancient and mediaeval history is the story of a confluence of peoples from the east, west and north, the convergence of Austro-Asiatic, Indo-Aryan, and Tibeto-Burman races.
The people of this enchanting state form an intermixture of various racial stocks such as Dravidian, Mongoloid, Indo-Tibetan, Indo-Burmese, Indo-Iranian and Aryan. The Assamese culture is a rich and exotic tapestry of all these races that has evolved through a long assimilative process. The natives of the state of Assam are known as "Asomiya" (Assamese), which is also the state language of Assam.
Broadly speaking the inhabitants of Assam can be divided into three categories: tribal, non-tribal and scheduled castes. There are seventeen distinctive tribes in Assam that consist of different ethno-cultural groups and include the Bodos, Mising, Karbi, Mishimi, Deoris, Rabhas, Nagas and Garos. The non-tribal groups include the Ahoms, Kayasthas, Kalitas, Morans, Muttaks and Chutias.
The scheduled castes include the Basfors, Baniyas, Dhobis, Hiras, Kaibartas and Namasudras. Immigration was mostly from Bengal, Bangladesh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Nepal and Rajasthan although another group, known as Baganias, was brought from Bengal, Bihar, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh by the British planters to work in the tea gardens.
The seven states of northeast India is home to only approximately 10% of the entire population but their people speak over 30% (over 300) of Indias dialects and languages and nearly all the tribes in Assam have their own languages as well as their own unique traditions, culture, dress and exotic ways of life.
The principal language of the state is Assamese with Bengali second however Bodo, an ancient tribal language of Assam, is also widely spoken. The indigenous religions are Animism, Tantricism, Brahmanism and the majority of Assamese follow Vaishnavism (a sect of Hinduism). They do not believe in idol worship and perform Namkirtana when the glory of Lord Vishnu is recited.
The two important religious institutions that influence the cultural fabric of Assam are the sattras (monasteries that nurture the 16th century reformer Srimanta Sankardeva, Assams most famous spiritual leader), which have become the guardians of religious celebration and culture and the naamghar, communal prayer halls, both of which have been in existence for over 400 years.
Apart from the tribal villages rural communities are usually made up of families from a number of distinct castes that typically associate because they frequent the same local naamghar or centre for devotional worship. Although the caste system does exist in Assam it is not as prominent as in other parts of India.
Other religions such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Islam are also practiced. Bengali-speaking Hindus and Muslims represent the largest minorities, followed by Nepalis and populations from neighbouring regions of India. Owing to its vivid, mixed history it is not surprising that Assam is a land of colourful fairs festivals and dances.
Most of the valley area is under cultivation and rice is the principal food crop of Assam. The cash crops grown are tea, jute, cotton, oil-seed and sugar cane and the state is dotted with oil and natural gas fields that produce roughly 1/6th of Indias petroleum and natural gas. Digboi in upper Assam was the first oil refinery in Asia.
Large tracts of Assam are occupied by lush forests, making it one of the most forested states of India and the largest producer of timber, like sal and teak, in the country. Assam is also known for its handicrafts made from cane, bamboo and brass as well as its exquisite cotton and silk hand loomed fabrics.
Assam is one of the most beautiful and scenic places to visit in India. Few other states have such variety and color in their natural scenery or in the cultural treasures of their people. This land of contrasts is an amazing destination and each place has something special to offer.
|Activities ||General ||Services|
The day at Wild Mahseer typically begins in the dining pavilion with a planters breakfast of eggs, grilled fresh tomatoes, baked beans, chana masala accompanied by puris and freshly squeezed seasonal juices such as orange or pomegranate and of course, a pot of tea.
Both lunch and dinner could include a mix of Indian and British dishes. Over the years, some traditional British dishes have become tailored to the planters maturing, assimilated palates as Assamese and Indian cooking fused with the Scottish and English fare which was introduced when India was a British colony.
As a result, a complete repertoire of dishes has evolved into the Anglo-Indian cuisine we know today. Shepherds Pie cooked on a tea estate in Assam is an experience that should not be missed. Desserts were compulsory at colonial dinners another culinary tradition lovingly preserved at Wild Mahseer.
Where sweets include forgotten British treats like bread and butter pudding, voluptuous trifles and wobbly caramel custards as well as Indian delights such as gulab jamun (balls of dough deep fried and served in a syrupy sugar sauce flavoured with cardamom seeds, rosewater and saffron).
A formal Assamese dinner is served on kahi (plates) and bati (bowls) made by local artisans out of bell-metal - a mixture of brass and iron - the second largest and one of the oldest traditional cottage industries for which Assam is famous all over India. Let our staff know in advance if you would like them to prepare you a traditional Assamese banquet.
Authentic Assamese cuisine uses few spices, but with strong flavors, a product of the selection of exotic local herbs, fruits and vegetables available in the region, predominate. For example, mustard oil, a key ingredient in Assamese cooking, is used for frying.
It grows abundantly and when venturing down a little deserted track with the distant snow-capped Himalayas outlined against a brilliant blue sky, nothing can be more uplifting than turning a corner only to be blinded by a brilliant blooming field of mustard.
A typical Assamese meal will combine a number of different tastes and flavors. It will always start with khar, usually made with vegetables (Amita Khar is creamy papaya) and cooked with a liquid resulting from burning the dry trunk of a banana tree and mixing the ashes with water.
As this process is rather tedious these days bicarbonate of soda is used instead. Khar is alkaline and is the perfect starter since it aids digestion and keeps the stomach light throughout and after the meal.
There are also complimentary tasting dishes that will be served like Gordon Ramsays favorite - the tart, light and tasty fish dish (Machor Tenga Jhol) - its tanginess resulting from not-too-sweet tomatoes and the juice of kagzi lemons, a richer pigeon curry (Parah Anja) cooked in a dark gravy, the tempering taste of mashed aubergine butter (Begena-Pitika).
Taste also the sharpness of Assamese mashed potatoes cooked with green chilies and mustard oil (Aloo Pitika), the simplicity of baked freshwater fish served on banana leaves (Patot-Diya-Saru-Mach), a salad of chopped cucumber and tomato; a tomato sweet and sour chutney (Bilahi-Ambal), large green olives (Jolphai) and a bowl of boiled fragrant Assamese Joha rice.
Dessert could include sesame seeds fried with molasses and stuffed into a flaky rice powder pancake mix roll (Til Pitha), grated coconut and sugar stuffed into a flaky rice powder pancake mix roll (Nariyal Pitha), rice powder mixed with milk, molasses and raisins (Payas), sesame seed balls (Til Laddu) and fried shredded coconut and sugar balls (Nariyal Laddu). Given sufficient notice, our staff is happy to prepare a traditional Assamese meal.
Viticulture has a long history in India dating back to the civilization of the Indus valley when it is believed Persian traders introduced grapevines in the 4th millennia BC. Vineyards range from the more temperate climate of the northwestern state of the Punjab down to the tropical climate belt where, because of the heat and humidity, grapes need to be planted at higher altitudes.
India has some indigenous table grapes as well as popular non-native grapes. The Turkish Sultana is the most widely planted and covers more than half the 148,000 total acreage under wine in India. The top 5 Indian wineries are Indage or Chateau Indage, Grover Vineyards, Sula, Sankalp Wines, and Renaissance Wines.
However, as Indians traditionally prefer tippling on branded whisky and rum, wine drinking as an industry is still in its infancy so even local wines are expensive and not available in all parts of India.
Sulas wines, however, can usually be made available to guests (especially if interest is expressed in advance). Their flagship red wine, the Dindori Reserve Shiraz, is rated very highly and leads a rich and satisfying range of reds that includes the very palatable Sula Red Zinfandel. Sula also boasts Indias first Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc.
Dindori Reserve Shiraz: Grown on the red hills of Sulas Dindori estate and aged for a year in new oak, their Reserve Shiraz is full-bodied, fragrant, elegant and smooth, with lush berry flavours and silky tannins.
Sula Red Zinfandel: A luscious, jammy, red Zinfandel redolent with blackberry aromas and cinnamon and plum flavours.
Sula Sauvignon Blanc: Herbaceous, crisp and dry, with hints of green pepper and a touch of spice at the finish, this wine is well balanced with good acidity.
Sula Chenin Blanc: A semi-dry, refreshingly light wine that bursts with pineapple and stone fruit.
Food is a focal point of the Wild Mahseer experience just as it was during the lives of the old school tea planters when estates were totally self-sufficient. Back in the day the Burra Mem (Managers wife) and her staff did everything from making crisps by frying wafer thin potato slices to serve with drinks when the Visiting Agent stopped over while making his regular inspection, to milking the cows kept on property, not to mention protecting the vegetable gardens and fruit trees from tribes of marauding macaque monkeys!
Here at Wild Mahseer little has changed (including the monkey raids). We still use local fish and meat and make yogurt from the milk of our own cows, however while remaining true to producing original planters fare using traditional ingredients, now all the fruits and vegetables we use are, as far as possible, organically home-grown or organically grown on local farms.
Many of our recipes are based on Anglo-Indian cuisine and have been developed over the years by memsahibs and bawarchis of the tea planting community. Our chefs also serve a range of North Indian and Assamese food and we pride ourselves on the mouth-watering selection of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes that we make.
'First flush' is a tea term that describes the first season's luminescent flowering of leaves on a tea plant. Our First Flush is a converted tractor shed, which accounts for its lofty roof, but like the first flush of tea, it too embodies luminescence.
Paneled entirely with glass it is the perfect, bright and sunny place to take a leisurely planters breakfast of eggs, fried potatoes, baked beans, chana masala / Indian spicy chickpea curry, accompanied by puris / deep fried light, puffy breads, freshly squeezed home-grown seasonal juices like pomelo and pomegranate, and an obligatory cup of English breakfast tea or two.
The First Flush also serves as our unique and special tearoom where we proudly showcase 57 different types and grades of tea from every corner of the world. Decorated with large paintings of vibrant tropical flowers and soft furnishings of fresh floral prints, on fine days when the French windows are flung open it is like taking afternoon tea in a lush garden.
In the evening First Flush takes on its third incarnation when a bonfire is lit in the middle of the adjacent garden and guests can kick back with a drink in hand to stare up at the towering trees and watch the evening sky deepen into a velvety starry night.
Then, after feasting on a buffet of Anglo-Indian multi-cuisine, the staff will push back the tables and chairs so guests can cut a rug to their favorite music before retiring for the best form of meditation - sleep!
The Heritage, Golden Tips and Silver Tips Bungalows have their own individual kitchens so when you stay with us, if you prefer your meals cooked and served at your residence, just let us know. Or, if you like to cook for yourself, we will make the necessary arrangements and provide any ingredients or help you may require.
Balipara Saturday market: Every Saturday there is a hive of activity in Balipara as stallholders bring in their assorted merchandise to sell at the weekly market, a mere five-minute walk away from Wild Mahseer. It is a treat not to be missed. The market acts as a magnet attracting people from all over giving visitors a canny insight into every-day life in Assam. On entering guests will be amazed at the number of different languages spoken and the mix of people coming from so many different ethnic backgrounds, like tribesmen from the north wearing hornbill headgear and mystic sadhus.
Cooking classes: During our guests' stay with us at Wild Mahseer one thing we absolutely guarantee is to take care of their taste buds. We can teach them how, too. So why not pick some fresh seasonal produce from our vegetable and herb gardens, come into the kitchen and learn to cook a selection of North Indian, Assamese and Anglo-Indian dishes? With a little notice informal cooking classes can be arranged at any of the bungalow kitchens (Heritage, Golden Tips and Silver Tips).
Balipara foundation: Wild Mahseer actively promotes organic cultivation and is a flourishing biodiversity hub. We encourage our guests to enjoy the ultimate ecological experience and join a free tour of the Experimental Organic Cultivation Station and Naturenomics Sustainability Park by our NGO partner Balipara Tract & Frontier Foundation, both located on our property. Working closely with our partner organization we have planted over 3,000 trees, varieties of medicinal and aromatic plants, cane, reeds, and orchids as well as ornamental flower species, vegetables and fruit, and our lake is stocked with 300 fish of local species.
Rangapara Monastery: Pay a half-day visit to the serene compound of Rangapara Monastery, a 45-minute drive from Wild Mahseer. Take a cup of tea with the Rinpoche, if he's free. Help sweep the leaves and prepare lunch. Join in a tantric chant. It is a tranquil place to meditate and pray. Nearby is the Thakurbari Planters Club where guests are welcome to drop in for a refreshing soda. The trip to Rangapara Monastery can also be combined with a visit to Addabarie Tea Estate or on the way to or from Guwahati airport.
Tezpur Temples: Set among tea gardens, military cantonments and built around several lakes, Tezpur is less than a thirty-minute drive from Wild Mahseer. Our half-day Tezpur Temple Tour includes three Hindu Temples: Sri Mahabhairab Mandir; Holeshwar; Da-Parbatiya; and Agni Garh, the site of an ancient battle.
Tezpur Town shopping: The ancient town of Tezpur is the administrative headquarters of the Sonitpur district of Assam. It is less than thirty minutes drive from Wild Mahseer. The most popular shopping district is Chowk Bazaar on MC Road in the heart of Tezpur. It is not only a fish and vegetable market but also a good place to buy clothes (its surrounded by showrooms and dealers), shoes and traditional hand woven Assamese silks. Shop for Assamese national costumes and traditional handicrafts like cane and bamboo household articles, musical instruments, bell-metal utensils and silk and cotton handlooms for which Assam is so famous.
Kaziranga National Park: Kaziranga, a declared National Park, is the first and oldest in Assam. Compared to other protected areas in India it has achieved notable success in wildlife conservation. Only a 2-hour drive away from Wild Masheer, we are happy to arrange for our guests to visit Kaziranga. The park is open during the winter months of the dry season from the beginning of November to the end of April. We usually recommend that our guests take their elephant safari in the western range where they will have a chance to get close to the great one-horned rhinoceros. Trekking in Kaziranga National Park is also permitted.
Orang National Park: A 2-hour drive from Wild Mahseer, it is one of the smaller sanctuaries in Assam, established in 1910 and declared as a National Park. It is known as the mini-Kaziranga since it has similar landscape and are both inhabited by tigers, the great Indian one-horned rhinoceros, wild elephant, leopard, sambar, barking deer, wild water buffalo, water birds varieties, green pigeon, florican, teal, geese and is home to more than fifty species of fish. The park is engulfed by natural forest flora and non-aquatic grasslands and visitors can enter during the dry season in the morning or afternoon, preferably on elephant back.
Manas National Park: Manas Park is declared a sanctuary, designated a World Heritage site and one of nine tiger reserve sanctuaries in India. The park is of scenic beauty and has rare wealth of wildlife having the worlds remaining population of less than 150 pygmy hogs and the last golden langurs living on an island in the middle of Manas River. Other rare species found there are the hispid hare, capped langurs, Indian one-horned rhinoceros and Asiatic buffalo. Hundreds of winged species migrate their during winter, like riverchats, cormorants and ducks. Elephant and jeep safaris are both available during the dry season.
Pakke Tiger Reserve (Arunachal Pradesh): Located in the foothills of the eastern Himalayas in the East Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh is Pakke Tiger Reserve, one of the finest yet least visited tourist destinations. The best time to visit Pakke Tiger Reserve is from November to March. It is home to over 2000 species of plants, 300 species of birds, forty species of mammals, thirty species of amphibians and thirty-six species of reptiles.
Eagles Nest Wildlife Sanctuary (Arunachal Pradesh): Eagles Nest Wildlife Sanctuary conjoins the Sessa Orchid Sanctuary to the northeast and Pakke Tiger Reserve across the Kameng River to the east and shelters at least fifteen species of mammals, including the capped langur, Bengal tiger, Asiatic black bear and the red panda. It is notable as a prime birding site due to the extraordinary variety and accessibility of bird species there. It is home to over 450 species of bird, forty-five of which are on the endangered species list. It is where bugun liocichla was first discovered in 1995 and again observed and described in 2006 by Ramana Athreyaa.
Guwahati: In the district of Kamrup, South West Assam and set among the beautiful eastern hills of the Himalayas, Guwahati, is a 4 1/2-hour drive from Wild Mahseer. The bustling metropolis of Guwahati is the main industrial, commercial and communication centre of the region and also its largest city. It is also associated with the regions main products like tea, oil, forest produce and handlooms. It has been listed among the 100 fastest growing cities of the world and is also Indias fifth fastest growing city. Dispur, the capital of Assam, is its main suburb and is 10 kms from Guwahati.
Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakshetra, Guwahati: Srimanta showcases the rich culture of the state. It houses Central Museum where objects and day-to-day articles used by different ethnic groups are exhibited. It preserves the cultural identity of various communities and tribes of Assam by promoting dance, drama, music and art. There is an Artists Village that creates a typical Assamese community atmosphere, Lalit-Kala Bhavan art gallery where exhibitions, art and sculpture workshops are held, Heritage Park, an open-air theatre, a traditional Vaishnavite temple and Sahitya Bhavan, library of rare books and manuscripts.
Kamakhya Temple, Guwahati: The most important temple in Assam and most powerful and venerated in India, it comprises other smaller temples dedicated to other goddesses as well as housing all the people connected with them and has a beehive shaped structure that is a fine example of Assamese architecture. There are five temples of Lord Shiva, each belonging to a different incarnation, and three temples of Lord Visnu. The ancient shrine is one of the three most important tantric temples in India and is home to one of the fifty-one Shakti Peethams. The temple has an underground natural cave that enshrines the Shakti Peetham.
Navagraha Temple, Guwahati: Navagraha temple, an ancient seat of astrology and astronomy is referred to as the temple of the nine planets and is believed to have existed since Puranic times with the present structure built by Rajeswar Singha, an Ahom king. Housed in a red beehive-shaped dome is a central lingam (stone phallus), which is encircled by nine representations of the planets. There is also an imprint of the solar system inside the temple. This temple is one of the reasons Guwahati was referred to as Pragjyotishpura or city of eastern astronomy.
Umananda Temple, Guwahati: It is probably the worlds smallest human inhabited river-island and can be reached by country boat from Kachari Ghat. According to legend Kamdev, the god of love, was reduced to ashes here by Lord Shiva when he interrupted his meditation. The temple has some rock carvings that show the masterly skill of their Assamese craftsmen and that the original worshippers followed all the principal Hindu gods. It attracts devotees from all over the country during Shiva Ratri.
Nehru Park, Guwahati: This beautiful park at Panbazar is studded with forty-five concrete statues depicting different folk dances of Assam like Bihu, Deodhani and Jhumur. The sculptures also illustrate other facets of Assams rich culture.
Sualkuchi: Sualkuchi is one of the world's largest weaving villages and is often referred to as the Manchester of the East. It produces three unique varieties of silks: the white pat, the warm eri but it is particularly known for the golden muga silk, since Assam is the only place in the world to make this. Silks grown all over the state find their way to Sualkuchi, a renowned centre of silk production, and virtually the entire population is engaged in weaving exquisite fabrics.
Haflong: Haflong is a picturesque hill resort about 345 kms southeast of Guwahati. Its main attraction is the beautiful lake at its heart which is one of the largest water bodies in Assam and has grown into a popular spot for boating. Assams only hill station, known as the Switzerland of the East, Haflong is set amidst azure blue hills teeming with a rich variety of exotic orchids and plants, rare species of birds, meandering streams and cascading waterfalls. The surrounding hills are inhabited by tribes and ethnic groups like the Himar, Karbi, Khelma, Mizo and Naga and is popular for adventure sports like gliding, paragliding and trekking.
Tezpur: Tezpur is a 20-minute drive from Wild Mahseer. With the snow-capped Himalayas as its northern backdrop, this scenic town has a fascinating history. It is steeped in mythology and folklore and renowned for its magnificent archaeological ruins and scenic beauty. Tezpur is the administrative headquarters of the Sonitpur district and largest of the north bank towns with a population exceeding 100,000. It is a commercial, administrative and educational centre and its economy mainly depends on its many Tea Gardens.
Sri Mahabhairab Mandir, Tezpur: Sri Mahabhairab Mandir is an ancient temple located on a hillock in the northern part of Tezpur where King Bana worshipped Mahabhairab, an incarnation of Lord Shiva. It is a famous landmark and is visited by devotees from all over India. It houses one of the largest shiva linga (stone phallus) in India.
Holeshwar Temple, Tezpur: Holeshwar temple is located roughly 7 km outside Tezpur. This is another ancient site dedicated to an incarnation of the Lord Shiva that also houses a shiva linga. It is believed that when one prays earnestly at this temple the prayers will be fulfilled.
Agni Garh, Tezpur: 1 km east along the Brahmaputra River is the hill of Agni Garh, a famous battlefield featured in the epic Mahabharata which dates back to hundreds of years BC. Agni Garh, meaning rampart surrounded by fire, is one of the most beautiful places in Tezpur. Facing the Brahmaputra the hillock provides a panoramic view of both Tezpur and the river.
Da-Parbatiya, Tezpur: Da-Parbatiya, has within its limits the ruins of the oldest temple in Assam consisting of the remains of a brick temple of Siva from the Ahom period that was erected upon the ruins of a stone temple of the earlier Gupta period, circa 6th century AD. In 1897 an earthquake caused the Ahom brick temple to collapse revealing a door frame from the older structure, one of the three rare Gupta period architectural pieces in existence in India. It depicts two goddesses, Ganga and Yamuna, holding garlands in their hands standing at the foot of the door-jambs which are decorated with beautiful ornamental foliage carvings.
Cole Park, Tezpur: Cole Park, established and named after a Commissioner of Assam under British rule and renovated in 1996 by Mr. Bhanu, Deputy Commissioner of Tezpur, is a centre for many recreational activities and sports. Now named Chitralekha Udyan, it has a horseshoe shaped lake with rowing and paddle boats, a restaurant and an open air stage. The park is home to two massive ornamented stone pillars and sculptural remains of the famous Bamuni hills dating back to the 9th and 10th century, which are a major attraction.
Rangapara Buddhist Monastery, Rangapara: Rangapara, in north central Assam, is a beautiful 45-minute drive from Wild Mahseer through tea estates in the direction of the Thakur Bari Planters Club. It has a population of 18,800. At the famous monastery there guests can meditate and listen to tantric hymns.
Bhalukpong: Surrounded by hills and evergreen forests Bhalukpong in the district of Sonitpur is approximately 58 kms north of Tezpur and a half-hour drive from Wild Mahseer. It is situated on the border of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam on the bank of the Jia Bhoroli River. It is famous for its unique natural beauty and is home to hot springs, an orchid centre at Tipi and hosts the Nyethidow festival in March every year. It is a popular place to go for angling and rafting, and, far from the madding crowd, it is a place of peace and tranquility.
Majuli: Majuli is the world's largest river island and accessible only by boat and a pollution-free island, with its abundant water bodies attracts many species of birds, both local and migratory, including the pelican, Siberian crane and adjutant stork. Majuli produces pottery and has a rich ethnic culture of traditional tribal village life. It is a melting pot of different tribes who possess colourful and resourceful identities. The main tribes residing there are the Mising, Deoris and Sonowal Kacharis. It is also famous for being the centre of Assam's Vaishnava culture. The best time to visit Majuli is between October and March.
Sibsagar: Formerly known as Rangpur, it is a beautiful town with a rich cultural fabric. Sibsagars main feature, from which it gets its name, is a huge water tank of over 230 acres constructed in 1734. On its banks are the three temples Shivdol, Vishnudol and Devidol. It is also home to Rang Ghar, an oval shaped two-story amphitheater built in 1746. Around 6 km outside Sibsagar is Kareng Ghar, built between 1696 to 1714. It has three underground stories that are known as the Talatal Ghar. It also has two secret tunnels connecting to the Dikhow River and the Garhgaon Palace. The new Tai Ahom Museum is also interesting to visit.
Digboi: Surrounded by numerous tea gardens and mystic blue hills, Digboi is a major oil town. It is located south of the Brahamaputra River in Tinsukia, the most northeastern district of Assam. In 1901 the first oil refinery in Asia and second in the whole world was built there and today Digbois oil field and refinery are the longest producing in the world.
Bomdila Buddhist Monastery (Bomdila, Arunachal Pradesh): Bomdila is the headquarters of West Kameng district in the state of Arunachal Pradesh. It is the perfect place to view the brilliant landscape and snow-capped mountains of the Himalayas. It is home to Bomdila Monastery, an imitation of the one called Tsona Gontse located at Tsona in South Tibet. The main prayer hall was added later and was sanctified by His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama in 1997. Bomdila Monastery also have a temple of Lord Buddha and residential quarters for the monks. It is one of the most important centres of the Lamaistic faith of Mahayana Buddhism.
Tawang Monastery (Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh): Tawang monastery or Gaden Mamgyal Lhatse, was founded in 1680 and is one of the highest monasteries in the world. It stands on the spur of a hill and offers a commanding and picturesque view of the Tawang-chu valley. It is the largest of its kind in the country, is one of the largest monasteries in Asia and one of the oldest in the world. It has the capacity to house 700 monks, although at present there are only 450 living there. It is revered for its large collection of books, gold lettered Buddhist scriptures, tapestries and a colossal gilded statue of Lord Buddha.
Angling: Wild Mahseer is situated in an excellent location for angling as it is only a thirty-minute drive from the Jia Bhoroli, home to the golden mahseer. The mahseer (after which our property is named) is one of the most ferocious game fish in the world and can reach up to 2.7 m in length. The sport of angling was pioneered by the rugged breed of planters from yesteryear and Wild Mahseer has a collection of old photos documenting some of the big catches made on the local rivers as well as historical fishing records. Angling has now become a popular sport that an annual competition is held on the Jia Bhoroli River every November.
Bird watching: Assam is home to more than half of approximately 1,200 varieties of avifauna recorded in the Indian subcontinent and we at Wild Mahseer can arrange for guests to go bird watching at both Kaziranga and Nameri National Parks.
Dolphin watching: A wonderful way to spend a day is to take an outing on a traditional wooden riverboat and spot endangered fresh-water gangetic dolphins, reputed to have the most powerful sonic sense among all the species in the world. Mooring at a sandbar, Boatmans Island, guests can explore while the boat crew made up of local fishermen put together a scrumptious open-air lunch, preparing fresh salad and cooking up a variety of mouthwatering fish and vegetable curries over a driftwood fire that permeates the food with a delicious smoky flavor.
River rafting: River Rafting on the Jia Bhoroli River near Wild Mahseer is one of the most relaxing and tranquil experiences in the world and should not be missed. After breakfast guests will drive to the put in spot past blooming mustard fields (in season) where, on a clear day, the snowcapped peaks of the Himalayas will be in full view. Each inflatable raft can accommodate three or four guests and is paddled by two rafting guides. Guests can take up a paddle or simply soak up the peaceful panorama as they drift over gentle rapids and journey down the crystal clear waters of this beautiful Brahmaputra tributary.
Scenic walks and bicycle rides: Wild Mahseer is more than a beautiful retreat. Guests will marvel at our bungalows manicured English country gardens with their immaculately kept lawns and flowerbeds blooming with marigolds and roses when in season. They are tranquil oases set in the midst of the untamed jungle of tropical trees and plants. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. Taking a walk at dawn and seeing the sun rise on our neighbouring tea estate is magical, and a bicycle excursion any time of day is not just a great form of exercise but given the picturesque villages and farms that surround us, a visual delight as well.
Tennis & golf: If guests want to play a game of tennis or hit a 9-hole round of golf we can arrange it on club days at our local century-old Thakurbari planters club, a 30-minute drive from Wild Mahseer. Club days at Thakurbari are every Wednesday and Sunday between November and April and every Wednesday only between May and October. Please bring your own sports gear and equipment. After your game have a drink at the bar and peruse the photos adorning the walls and the Scroll of Honour listing the names of past and present club presidents.
Trekking: Wild Mahseer can arrange for guests to take jungle treks at both Kaziranga and Nameri National Parks. Trekking in Kaziranga National Park is permitted in the tropical mixed forests of Panbari Reserve Forest under the Bokakhat Beat (5 km) and in the Kukurkata Reserve Forest under the Burapahar Range (10 km). Wild Mahseer can arrange for guests to take jungle treks at both Kaziranga and Nameri National Parks.
While helping our NGO partner Balipara Tract & Frontier Foundation fulfill its aim in promoting and showcasing the rich and bio-diverse cultures of Assam we have built up a close relationship with the villagers of Baligaon, a unique community belonging to the Mising. The Mising, the second largest ethnic group in Assam, originally a hill tribe from Tibet and Mongolia, settled on the plains of Assam around the 8th century.
They have their own language which can be traced to some Tibetan/Mongoloid languages and which follows the Roman script. Mising women are renowned for their exquisite handlooms of cotton and silk, especially the Mirizen shawls and blankets. The men fish and farm and Baligaon is one of the original villages to participate in our NGO partners initiative to enroll local farmers as organic cultivation partners.
Their staple food includes rice, boiled vegetables, fish and pork. Spending half a day at an authentic Assamese village like Baligaon is a cultural experience few guests want to miss as it gives a realistic glimpse into the day-to-day life of tribal folk. After breakfast or lunch at Wild Mahseer guests go to Baligaon, situated on the banks of the Jia Bhoroli River a short 10-minute drive away, where they are welcomed at the house of the village headman.
During the Bihu festival in particular he presents them with gamocha (called bihuwaan during Bihu) the traditional cotton scarf and Assamese cultural symbol that is always bestowed on honored visitors. Guests then have half a day to participate in village life. They learn about Mising agricultural practices, like growing of medicinal plants, as they stroll to inspect the villagers rice fields and discover the intricacies involved regarding paddy cultivation, rice harvesting and husking.
Depending on the time of year they may be able to help sow or harvest the rice. They watch the men fish in the river and try casting a net themselves, learn about rearing silk worms, inspect the dairy farm or even have a go at milking a cow. Back at the village they watch the women making local handicrafts and try their hand at weaving on a handloom.
Those interested in cooking help the villagers prepare a delicious lunch or dinner of traditional Mising food: Joha rice (Assamese aromatic rice), roti (traditional bread) and a selection of other dishes which could include pork curry, chicken curry, smoked or deep fried fish, mixed vegetables and salad.
This particular village produces four types of home-made hooch from rice flavored with local herbs and spices using a traditional fermenting and filtering process. But beware when sampling the local brew, it is an acquired taste and acts like rocket fuel! If lucky, guests' visits will coincide with a religious festival.
Or another special occasion when villagers dress in traditional costumes and perform their well-loved songs and dancers. If so, be prepared, as the whole community loves it when visitors respond in kind and any renditions offered are always very well received and the cause of great merriment. Given prior notice we can also arrange overnight stays.
Assam, gateway to the North East, is well connected to the rest of India by air, rail and road. The Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi Airport is 18 km from the city centre of Guwahati. It is well connected to New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Bagdogra and all major cities in India.
Most of the carriers also operate flights connecting Guwahati to other major towns in Assam like Jorhat, Dibrugarh, Tezpur, North Lakhimpur and Silchar as well as to other major cities in India.
Although Guwahati is further from the Wild Mahseer property than Tezpur, at this time Tezpur only receives 3 flights a week from Kolkata and none from any other Indian city so when traveling from outside India it is best to fly to the nearest major city within India and then connect with a flight direct to Guwahati.
Wild Mahseer is located on the north bank of the Brahmaputra River approximately 220 kilometers from Guwahati airport which is a 4-hour scenic drive depending on traffic.
Tezpur airport is 35 kilometers outside Tezpur town in the district of Sonitpur, 18 km from Wild Mahseer and roughly a 20-minute drive.
Assam has an extensive railway network connecting to the rest of India. There are train services from Kolkata, New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Cochin and Trivandrum.
The BG line connects up to Dibrugarh and the MG line to Haflong and Silchar.