Taking the green, Assam trail from Tezpur onwards, we were on our way to Parshuram Kund. We drove through a variety vegetation on our track. Starting from the coniferous (of Tawang) to the evergreen rainforest, to marshland (of Kaziranga), to deciduous forest, to large stretches of tea plantation to cane forest. Then a few kilometers of the drive along the railway track to reach a modest village with a musical name, Roopai. The easternmost part of the railway connectivity in this area. A tiny railway platform with very few folks waiting for probably the single train that connects it to Tinsukia. What a picture perfect destination of a sleepy remote village with simple people leading a peaceful life.
The vegetation changed to vast stretches of golden paddy fields. The harvest time was near. The pregnant stalks with its golden harvest were swaying with the breeze in a harmonious movement. As we moved on we spotted isolated dwellings of the locals made in a unique pattern. The houses stand on floors, raised with log and bamboo support. The main structure consisted of bamboo or cane walls with tin or straw roof. This was a preventive measure for the heavy rain and consequent flooding of the region. This secluded place is virtually untouched and unspoilt by the modern life complexities. With their own part of oppression and suffering, they stay uncomplicated, innocent and welcoming.
This time with our friendly, cheerful, adjustable driver, Manik, the journey was more pleasant, enjoyable and relaxing. It was more of a road trip than a destination based travel. We thoroughly lived it and enjoyed it. Traveling is so much of knowing peoples along with knowing places. The contrasting characters of Jibon (on the Tawan trip) and Manik, was an example.
We were in the forest again. The evergreen rainforest with tall trees and huge trunks stood dominantly reigning the region. The Hollong (Dipterocarpus macrocarpus) being the predominant one had a luxuriant growth of epiphytes within its fissured barks. The forest also supports a wide variety of ornamental orchids. The vines and climbers happily twin the branches of the trees and form a visual treat along with the magnificent tree ferns. These forests always have continuous struggle among the thick undergrowth of shrubs and herbs fighting for the sunlight. While the canes, palms and bamboos peacefully and merrily line the edges of the forest. Together they form a typical biodiversity with a variety of life forms in various levels of organisation within the ecosystem.
The vast stretches of orange orchards laden with the juicy fruits invited us. The sight invoked the childish naughtiness within us. We tried to control our emotions. Manik felt the vibe or maybe he got tempted the same way as we were. He with a playful spark in his eyes asked if we wanted to stop and pluck a few. Overjoyed by the proposal, we did pluck a couple of oranges. Our decency restricted us from more. Although “It was an act of stealth and troubled pleasure” – William Wordsworth. We kept on the track passing through forests and crossing bridges over streams and rivulets. The landscape was a spectacle of natural wealth. There was a small board by a bridge with its name mentioned as ‘Tengapani’. Tenga in the Assamese language means sour. So the literal meaning was a river of sour water. After a long isolated drive through the wild, we reached a human settlement. Those were quarters for some department of government officials. The only vehicle that we came across this isolated road was an army truck carrying infantry. We reached our much-awaited destination, the holy Parashuram Kund.
Parashuram Kund: According to legend, the Kund is linked with the matricide of Parashuram. Renuka, the mother of Parashuram, got enticed for a moment by the Gandharvas. Enraged by the fact, her husband, Jamadagni handed an axe to their son Parashuram and ordered him to kill his mother. The obedient boy beheaded his mother but the handle of the axe got clung to his hand. Pleased with his son he offered boons to Parashuram, by which he brought back his mother’s life. However, this did not wipe out his sins. His sins could only be washed off by taking a dip in the Brahma Kund. The axe that got struck in his hand would drop after performing the rite. Parashuram came to this place and meditated and took a dip in this holy site to get rid of his sins. It is believed that a mere bath in this Kund leads to emancipation. Thousand of pilgrims congregate to this sacred Kund on Makar Sankranti to take a holy dip to wash away one’s sins. A fair is also held during this time.
Parashuram Kund is situated within Kamlang Reserve forest area. We entered the forest trough a narrow hiking trail. Walking up the rough rocky stairs to reach the small temple dedicated to the sage and lord Shiva. A lone priest was busy in his religious duties. His isolated hut was nearby. After the climb of few meters through the trees, we had to take a long descend by the large rock boulders and broken craggy stairs. The path to lead us to the Lohit river. The waters went downstream with great force carrying pebbles and making way, eroding the gravels and rocks. The violent teal green water foaming and frothing breaking the silence of the valley swiftly went on its course. It was the divine site, the Parashuram Kund. A massive rock stood within the path of flow (a result of some early earthquake), in a gesture of guarding the sacred site. We sprinkling the holy water on us and returned back to our car. Suddenly there were strong biting winds. We decided to take a tea break in the stall beside a bridge over the river. After a light shower, the winds stopped, the light clouds made way for the sun. The bridge provided an astonishing view of the upstream and downstream. After many clicks, we moved on the towards Tezu. Driving through a valley of Kans flowers (wild sugarcane blooms) and few scattered, small, human settlements, we reached Tezu.
We checked into the government circuit house. It was an old chalet with rich but ill maintained interiors. It offered a comfortable stay, with all the basic amenities. There was not much to do here, the remaining night of our trip. In the evening we took a stroll through the town, looking at the local items in the market, stopping by shops and talking to the keepers. They were simple and inviting. We also came across a local wedding, held in a nearby temple. Content and happy we returned to our stay to enjoy the delicious homely dinner. Next day we were on our way back bringing an end to our road trip.
On this trip, we did have emancipation, from the complication of modern life. We attained divinity in this untroubled, undisturbed seclusion of the green haven. Few days of adventure very well spent with great peace of mind. “O SOLITUDE! if I must with thee dwell,
Let it not be among the jumbled heap
Of murky buildings; climb with me the steep,-
Nature’s observatory – whence the dell,”. – John Keats