GUWAHATI is the main arrival point for many heading into Assam and other north-east states. We didn’t venture further west towards Sikkim, so missed Manas National Park, perhaps the only park which might rival Kaziranga. We did see heaps of wildlife and some okay town life, too.
Assam state is a place of great cultural and natural diversity.
So it is somewhat ironic that one of the few sites in the capital, Guwahati, is a Hindu temple.
The highly unusual design and throngs of pilgrims make the Kamakhya Temple a worthwhile visit.
Originally built in 8th-9th century with many subsequent rebuilding, the temple is a centre of Tantric practice.
Interesting as it is, it's highly unlikely that's why any foreign visitor comes to Assam.
Guwahati is mainly a stepping stone to Assam's magnificent national parks.
There is also the odd bit of interest in the town's old architecture and whatnot.
But Guwahati is also a great introduction to Assamese and other north-eastern cuisines.
Sesame, mustards, black lentils feature heavily in Assamese food. The results are excellent.
Sides of chutneys lined up. Thalis are thankfully part of the Assamese food culture.
Away from the restaurants, Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary is an easily accessible place to see Assam's famed on-horned rhinoceros.
Jeep safaris aren't unreasonably priced and can be arranged on arrival at the park.
If I had my time again though, I'd probably have headed up to Manas National Park, on the Bhutanese border.
The other park we did visit in Assam's west was Nameri NP, where guided hikes begin with a short canoe ride.
Unfortunately for us, the time it took to get from nearby Tezpur meant we missed the best bird and animal viewing.
We still saw owls, deer, tiger tracks, giant squirrel, parrots, as well as the forest itself. There are lodges right next to the park office, and for a better experience, stay there and start before dawn.
Still, Tezpur itself was quite the friendly place, worth a look around for a day or two.
Like most of the north-east, the people were welcoming, helpful and honest. This tailor refused to take any payment for repairing my torn hiking trousers.
There's a lot of good eating in town, like this hole-in-the-wall Mughal place, serving some incredible chicken dishes.
The small market was full of flavour and colour.
Markets are always a good place to feel the pulse of a place.....
....and there was a real buzz about this one.....sorry....
A large temple complex sits at Ganesh Ghat on the Brahmaputra River, a nice place to sit and watch.
Parks and gardens there also attract birds and squirrels.
Arguably bigger and better things are found in Assam's east, but the west should not be overlooked.