Assam : The Land of Red Rivers and Blue Hills

Our Assam is Beautiful, Her Virtues are Infinite

Assam, the land of hills and valleys, the land of the mighty river Brahmaputra, the land of Mother Goddess Kamakhya, lies in the northeastern corner of India. In these pages, you will find a few glimpses of Assam and Assamese people.

Assam is a land of about 25 million people situated in the northeast corner of India. The principal language of Assam is Assamese although a large number of other languages are spoken. Assam comprises an area of 78,523 square kilometers (30,318 square miles). Except for a narrow corridor running through the foothills of the Himalayas that connects the state with West Bengal, Assam is almost entirely isolated from India. The capital of Assam, is Dispur, a suburb of Guwahati in 1972.

The name "Assam" is derived from the term "Asom" which, in Sanskrit, refers to unequal or unrivalled. The uneven topography of the land, full of hills, plains and rivers might, therefore, have contributed to her name. The Mongolian Ahom dynasty which had ruled Assam for more than six hundred years might also be the cause for her name.

Assam is a land with an illustrious recorded history going back to the 4th century BC. Assam was an independent kingdom throughout all of history till the end of the first quarter of the 19th century when the British conquered the kingdom and annexed it to British India. The current state capital of Assam, Guwahati, known in ancient time as Pragjyotishpura or The Eastern City of Light, was the capital of Kamrup which finds frequent mention in the Great Hindu Epic Mahabharata and other Sanskrit volumes and historical lores.

Assam's economy is based on agriculture and oil. Assam produces a significant part of the total tea production of the world. Assam produces more than half of India's petroleum.

The current political situation in Assam is unstable with United Liberation of Asom (ULFA) fighting a low-intensity but wide-spread guerrilla warfare for independence from India. Although the Indian military has tried to quell the insurgents with a large presence for more than ten years, they have been not very successful. There are other militant groups who are seeking independence or autonomy in Assam. There have been consistent reports of grave human rights violations in Assam committed primarily by the Indian military.

Photo of sunset on the campus of Jorhat Engineering College was taken by Chandan Mahanta of St. Louis.

The humidity that is brought into Assam by the southwest monsoons, which shower an average annual rainfall of 120 inches or more on the great Brahmaputra valley and the surrounding region, also create spectacular sunsets during most of the year. The monsoons are Assam's life blood; creating a bio-diversity that can compete with the equatorial rain-forests and painting the region with a thousand shades of green.