Fascinating, expansive Assam – also known as Axom (or simply Ahom) – sprawls lazily along the length of the Brahmaputra valley, and happens to be the most accessible of India’s Northeast States. The archetypal Assamese landscape is a picturesque golden-green vista of seemingly endless rice fields and manicured tea estates, framed in the distance by the hazy-blue mountains of Arunachal in the north and the highlands of Meghalaya and Nagaland to the south. A hospitable population, a cuisine redolent with a volley of aromas, and a vibrant artistic heritage marked by exotic dance forms and a string of elegant Hindu temples only add to the list of local attractions, making Assam a delight to travel in.
Despite many similarities to people in neighbouring West Bengal and Orissa, Assamese culture is proudly sovereign. While the gamosa (a red-and-white scarf worn around the neck by most men) and the mekhola sador (the traditional ensemble for women) are visible proclamations of regional costume and identity, there are several subtle nuances in the local culture that are quintessentially Assamese. Hang around for long enough, and you can spot the difference.