We are pretty sure that when it comes down to places to visit in Assam, a list of well-advertised places with names of the city of Guwahati, Kamakhya Temple, Kaziranga National park, Tezpur, Sialkuthi, Majuli, and of course the all-mighty Brahmaputra pop up. But what if we tell you that Assam has much more up its sleeve than what usually pops up in the trendy listicles.
On our exposure to the interiors of rural Assam with the Ambassadors Of Bodoland at the Dwijing Fest 2020, we dropped by in this valley called Umswai in West Karbi Anglong district of Assam. If you are someone who is very peculiar and selective about things while on a trip, then Umswai Valley might not be an ideal destination for you but if you are someone who wouldn’t mind getting lost in places whose name you can not pronounce – trust us you, this is where you gotta be on your next trip to the North East of India.
Every inch of the jungle that surrounds the Umswai Valley is unique in itself and there is an endless list of places and things to explore around in the region. We tried to soak it all we could while on the trip and here is a suggestive list of the best things to do in Umswai Valley that we could pull up for you –
1. Witness the lifestyle and culture of Hill Tiwa Tribe of Umswai Valley
While the district of West Karbi Anglong is home to Karbi and Tiwa tribes, Umswai Valley is dominantly inhabited by the Hill Tiwa Tribe. The People of Hill Tiwa Tribe live in a mixed society which is neither matriarch or patriarch. Until Christianity was not introduced to Umswai Valley, Tiwas were following the ancient Gods and their rituals. Of late, Tiwas have been converting to Christianity. The most unique thing about the Tiwa tribe is how they use bamboo in almost every aspect of daily life, from cooking to building houses, Everything involves bamboo. The colorful attires of Tiwas would behold you for minutes.
2. Witness the unadulterated landscapes of Umswai Valley
Due to lack of accessibility or maybe because of good perseverance, the landscape and forests of Umswai Valley are still unadulterated. Umswai Valley is part of Karbi Meghalaya plateau and that means the landscape of the valley is quite similar to Meghalaya minus the crowd. The wild outcrop of the semi-evergreen and deciduous forests, fed by several rivers and streams, cover the entire hill valley. The valley could be a botanist’s delight.
3. Stroll through Shikdamakha, the cleanest village in Assam
Titled as the cleanest village of Assam, even before it became a fad, the village always knew and practiced the importance of having cleanliness around. It actually shows in their daily lives and chores too. The list is followed by Bormarjong, a neighboring village of Shikdamakha.
4. Indulge in the good old ways of making wine and eat some finger-licking tribal food of Hill Tiwa Tribe
As it is with all tribal people, Tiwas also love their alcohol and they love it more when they brew it in their own backyard. With a taste for good alcohol comes the taste for good food. For us omnivores, it was a dream come true to have lunch with locals with some good wine.
5. Give an ear to crazy folklores of Hill Tiwa
Not many people know about the traditions of the Hill Tiwa tribe! The advantages of having a local accompany us to several places that hold a special place in the folklores of not only Hill Tiwa but of all Umswai Valley are many. The stories about Monolith, about human sacrifice, are enough to send chills down the spine.
Now that you have got an idea about why to visit Umswai Valley and some insights about what to do in Umswai Valley, here is all about how and when to visit Umswai Valley.
How to reach Umswai Valley from Guwahati
Public Transport in these parts of India is a luxury. The best way to reach Umswai valley is to get a taxi from Guwahati and a driver that knows about these roads. The hilly winding roads of Umswai valley can be tempting to get a hand on the steering wheel but don’t get tempted unless you know what you are doing. There might be some local mode of transport that plies between Guwahati and Nellie, but there is nothing from Nellie to Umswai. You have to get a cab.
Best time to visit Umswai Valley
Avoid the prime of summer and monsoon months for obvious reasons. The best time to visit Umswai valley would be during the winter months, preferably December to February.
Where to Stay In Umswai Valley
Until last year, Umswai Valley did not have any facilities for tourists, forget getting an accommodation. However, since last year, the Root Bridge Foundation has been working with the local tribesmen for developing this region as an ecotourism facility and the valley has got a homestay now. The only accommodation option is a homestay run by a lady named Priscilla in Bormarjong village. It is advised to contact the Root Bridge foundation for accommodation in Umswai Valley. If you are comfortable with sleeping in a tent, there is plenty of space for that.
Umswai valley definitely should top the list of offbeat places to visit in North East India. We tried sharing almost all one might need to know about Umswai Valley, but then there is never an end of things to discover in the regions like this. If we have missed anything or if you have any specific questions to ask about Umswai, the comment section is where we can talk!