I woke up late this morning since the journey to Tezpur is short. When I opened the door of the room I was surprised to see a sparklingly clean car where I had parked mine last evening. The chaps in the Officers’ Mess must have felt bad about the dirty car that disfigured their well kept surroundings. Only yesterday Fr Johnny had commented in Kohima that the car looked as if it had not been anywhere near water for quite some time!
The departure from the PTC Dergaon was uncharacteristically late at 8.30 am, after a heavy breakfast. I called up KB Chetry, the SI in charge of the Kohora Outpost, as I was scheduled to pass through Kohora en route to Tezpur. He readily agreed to give me a cup of tea. Upon reaching the Kohora Police Outpost I found that the number of accident damaged vehicles had not come down. A Qualis vehicle, with almost half of it ripped off, occupied the space immediately at the entrance to the Outpost. I was told that a few people lost their lives when the Assam Tourism vehicle rammed into a stationary vehicle. I handed over a cake to Chetry I had got for the policemen of the Outpost from the Popular Bakery in Kohima. While having tea, Chetry gave me a Rhino sculpted in wood to reflect on my visit to Kaziranga. The Hathikuli Tea Estate is located close to the Kohora Police Outpost. I bought a few packets of CTC Premium and Green Teas from the outlet. A call to Mr. Apoorva Barua to confirm the arrangements in Tezpur and he strongly recommended the Manipuri restaurant after Borrapahar, which is patronized by the politicians and bureaucrats of Nagaland, Manipur and Assam. I was a bit skeptical about having a meal at 10.30 am, especially after the heavy breakfast. However, the excellent fish curry ensured that the decision to stop there was the right one. I had two helpings of the fish curry with rice, dal and sabji for Rs. 55.
There are three bridges across the Brahmaputra in Assam presently. The first is the Jogigopa Bridge, near Goalpara, the second is the Saraighat Bridge near Guwahati and the third is the Kaliabhomora Bridge leading to Tezpur. A fourth is under construction in Upper Assam in Bogibheel, spanning the railway Divisions of Tinsukia and Rangia. The Jogigopa and Saraighat Bridges are magnificent structures, especially the double decked Saraighat. In contrast, Kaliabhomora is a three km long ‘Plain Jane’, which is interestingly tolled at Rs.19 – the balance of one rupee was not given.
After checking into the KRC Palace Hotel, I was accompanied by Ranjit Kakati, the Tezpur Town in-charge (SI), to do a bit of local sightseeing. Tezpur is advertised as the ‘City of Eternal Beauty’; it must have been, sometime in the past. The city is located on the banks of the Brahmaputra and has some ‘Phukuris’ and well maintained gardens. The Ganeshgarh Temple overlooks the River and is said to have been the place of worship of Banasura, the demon king. The Bamuni Hill and the Dah Parbatia are ruins of temples, which seem to have been ‘disturbed’ by earthquakes or some such phenomena. The legend of Banasura dominates Tezpur. The overprotective father Banasura confined his beautiful daughter, Usha, to a house of fire, the Agnigarh. This did not deter Aniruddh, the nephew of Krishna, to magically find his way into the Agnigarh and secretly marry Usha. The enraged Banasura tried to feed Aniruddh to his pet snakes. Krishna intervened with his army and the ensuing bloody carnage gave Tezpur (or Sonitpur) its name – the City of Blood.