Accessible Tourism

If you are elderly and infirm, you can now stop fretting about getting around in Assam. While wheelchair-accessible amenities are poor, local tour operators do offer tailored solutions to make your journeys enriching experiences.

After landing in Guwahati, enjoy a drive past the scenic Deepor Beel, Assam’s only Ramsar site and the largest wetland in the Brahmaputra Valley. Often frequented by wild elephants from the Rani Reserve and many species of birds, it is a welcome like no other. Check into a barrier-free hotel with rooms friendly for guests with disabilities. Also, consider staying in one or two locations—with comfortable driving distances to destinations of interest.

In the early hours of the morning, between 4 and 6, start your day with a delightful sight—a pop-up roadside marigold market in Bharalumukh. Roll down your car window, take in deep breaths, and an incredibly colourful sight. Continue onwards to Kamakhya temple, and connect with the divine as you sit in the temple ground on modified wheelchairs that you were carried up in by volunteers as steady as palanquin bearers.

Your next stop is the Assam State Museum, where you can explore a remarkable collection of ancient Assamese treasures spread across 15 galleries, noteworthy among them being the Sculpture, Manuscript, and Village Life of Assam galleries. With ramps at the ground and basement levels (except, part of the old building) and an elevator to access upper floors, the museum is a veritable treasure trove of heritage. Enrich the mind and feast your eyes on coins belonging to different periods, including Naga and Ahom; stone sculptures dating between 6th-13th century CE, representing the Varmana, Salastambha, Pala and Ahom dynasties; terracotta pots and potsherd; kaolin pottery; late medieval manuscripts written on xaansi paat in the old Assamese script using mahi; Tai Ahom manuscripts on bamboo strips—some illustrated with natural colour pigments; and many more. The highlight are stone sculptures of the Ambari Archaeological Site, accidentally discovered while digging the foundation of the nearby Reserve Bank of India. Note that the museum is closed on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of each month, every Monday, and government holidays. Here, carrying your own wheelchair or requesting your local tour operator for one is advisable.

Your next destination could be Dadara, 30 km from Guwahati and then Sualkuchi, 10 km beyond it. While Sualkuchi is a hub for shopping for mekhela-chadors, Dadara is the world’s largest nesting colony of Greater Adjutant Storks and home to the Hargilla Army, a group of women committed to safeguarding this rare species (hargilla in Assamese) and the nesting trees. Many a time, tour operators carry wooden planks in the vehicles for wheelchair access beneath nesting sites.

Any tour of Assam is incomplete without exploring its national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, especially if you are visiting between October and April. Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary boasting of the highest density of rhinos in the world and only 45 km from Guwahati, is a standout. Besides going on a jeep safari, you can park your vehicle along the road connecting Mayong and NH-37, overlooking the Tamuliduba beel. Here, roll down the car window, pour Assam tea from flask into cups and, with your binoculars, lazily spot rhinoceroses, wild water buffaloes and a variety of residential and migratory birds in this natural paradise. Click pictures, create memories!

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