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Barak Valley

It was year 1988 and it was my maiden flight. The sun was setting even as the small aircraft flew over the Brahmaputra River and prepared to descend at Gauhati airport. Nature painted its own masterpiece with the golden rays of the sun falling on the meandering river below. It was and still is the best sunset I have seen in my life. But as much as I wanted to capture it on my camera (I believe that I am a reasonable camera person), I couldnot do since I didnot possess any... I was just a Xth std student, on my way back home from Kolkata after my holidays. But, neverthless, I captured the moment in my heart and mind. The golden sunset over the river had such an effect on me that I couldnot wait to get up the next morning to see the other magic moment-the sunrise over the Brahmaputra. The crack of dawn left me totally dissapointed to see the clouds and no sunshine at all. All my hopes of catching some glimpses of the magnificient sun on the rise was shattered. Being from North East, I had witnessed many sunrises but the urge to capture the sun over the Brahmaputra still remains as a dream today.....
Think of Assam and we all land up with visions of endless stretches of tea plantations, the mighty Brahmaputra, the Kaziranga National Park etc etc.... But there is more to Assam than these.... This travelogue is about my memorablel journey from Lumding to Barak Valley. The Barak Valley is based in the southern part of Assam. The place is named after the Barak River and mainly consists of major cities/towns like Silchar, Haflong, Karimganj etc..
My memory about this route dates back to almost 20 years now when I travelled to this part from Lumding to Silchar. The historic Lumding-Silchar railway line is more than 100 years old now. It is believeed that the british rulers constructed it to transport items like coal and tea to Chittagong (Bangladesh) port for being shipped to England. This railway track is not only a lifeline to Barak Valley but also for Tripura and Mizoram. Travel on this route gives a feeling of pre-history to the commuters.The meter gauge train which passes through numerous ridges and valleys going up and down. It also passes through more than 30 tunnels, creating an eerie feeling.The train almost shrieks through this pitch-black tunnels bursting through into the brightness on the other side, the Barak river is a constant companion, quiet looking but fast-flowing, joined at regular intervals by streams that tumble down the hillside on one side of the train, reappearing under us on the other. Wild bamboo trees fights for space with other trees. There is the sound of running water everywhere. It unfolds to the tourists the varieties of landscape, leaving no room for boredom. The land is picturesque and lush green. They bring a soothing effect on anyone who has been confined to a city for long. The atmosphere is breathtaking. It strikes the visitor the moment he or she enters the region. Nature unfolds a strange ambience in the region as they are still largely free from pollution. What a bliss that such a vast area is still open for tourists to discover!

The Barak Valley has a tremendous potential for tourism.There are interesting varieties of flora and fauna awaiting the first full view by nature lovers.This piece of travelougue is not for a commoner but for a traveller with a zeal for adventure at the most isolated places.

Lastly, I have a special mention for the big, important junction town of Lumding. Lumding is situated in the Gauhati-Dibrugarh route and is said to be the gateway to Barak Valley. Lumding is a small town but with a big railway station befitting its honour of being the regional divisional headquarters of the North East Frontier Railway. My memories of Lumding at my uncle's place during my school summer holidays is as fresh as yesterday. Pampered by my cousin and her friends, I used to tag along with them wherever they went, be it the Public Library, the market or the famous Shitla Mata Mandir.

Lumding, the name will sound familiar to some readers who had recently seen the Musical Reality Show, Saregamapa in Zee TV. Lumding became synomous with viewers with one of the contestant, Joy Chakraborty making to the top ten of the show.

Although there is nothing special to mention (except for my brother being born there) about the town but it still holds many special memories and thoughts as on today. ....and I look forward to my next visit to Lumding and Barak Valley in 2010 with a different revelation and objective....

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moushumibhattacharya's picture


s c acharjee's picture

caption for the photo? is it rly over bridge near DRM office at LUMDING, RLY HS School at the other end ! p post more fotos

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Workshop on citizen journalism

25 Aug 2014 - 7:34pm | Hantigiri Narzary

A three-days workshop on citizen journalism begins at Bodofa House, Bagansali in Kokrajhar on Monday which is being organised by All Bodo Students Union (ABSU) in association with Assam Times Foundation. Over 30 participants from various parts of the district participating in the workshop. The workshop is being organised to train young people in the field of reporting and digital photography with so as to enable them to work as citizen journalist, said the organiser.

Nrityakalpa 2016

27 Apr 2016 - 7:45pm | Jintu Sarma

Saptaswa……the rays of performing art is a socio-cultural organization of Tezpur, Assam a city of cultural status, the land of Jyotiprasad Agarwala, Bishnu Prashad Rabha & Phani Sarma. The founder of the organization is Dr. Pratibha Sharma, a promising Satriya artist trained under the guidance of dancing genius Guru Nrityacharyya Jatin Goswami, a recipient of Sangeet Natak Akademi award and Padmashree.

Dance has a long history in India. A large amount of material related to dance, dating from as early as the 2nd century BCE up to the 21st century CE, is available. For example we have a bronze ‘dancing girl’ figurine from Mohenjo-daro and a broken torso from Harappa in a dance pose.

To bust up the classical dancing sprit among the new generation, each and every year Saptaswa organise a colourful festival of Indian Classical Dance viz. ‘Nrityakalpa’. Like past couple of years, this time also Saptaswa stepped forward   to celebrate 5th Nrityakalpa with its dancers and dance lovers on 12th and 13th March, 2016. The festival saw the same kind of sprit and enthusiasm from the audience, art lovers and participating artists in both the days.The festival presented some of the best performances in classical style of dances by some reputed national dancing figure throughout the India. On the first day of the festival a lecture demonstration programme was scheduled at Tezpur College auditorium. The programme was inaugurated by Dr. Saru Sahariah Nath, the principal of Tezpur College. The programme was anchored by Barnali sarma Baruah. In this programme a special lecture cum demonstration was performed by renowned Kathakali dancer from Bengaluru Sri Prabal Gupta. His topic was ‘The tradition of Kathakali’.  After that Sri Hemanta Kalita from New Delhi, a proud son of Assam delivered his demonstration on ‘Krishna and Kathak: A story telling dance form of India’. The house full audience of the programme showed pin drop silent during their brilliant lecture cum demonstration.  The 1st evening was inaugurated at sharp 6pm at heritage Ban Theatre by lighting the lamp with the holly hand of Sjt Haricharan Bhuyan Borbayan of Sri Sri Natun Kamalabari Satra. This time in connection with the programme one special souvenir was also published in the name of ‘Nrityakalpa’. The souvenir was released by eminent Assamese actor, director Sri Pranjal Saikia. In this programme Saptaswa felicitate Sangeet Natak Academy awardee Sattriya artist  Anita Sarma. After that the main programme was started with Gayan Bayan, performed by the students of Naduar Sangeet Vidyapith of Satia. After that Malati Rajput of Guwahati performed a Sattriya dance. She started with a Sutradhari nach and then presented an act ‘Lila Gobindam’ based on Lord Krishna, directed by Anita Sarma. Then Sayomita Dasgupta of Kolkata presented an Odissi dance titled ‘Pallabi and Durgabandana’. It was a very elegant performance. After the Odissi a Bharatnatyam was performed by Jashodhara Bora of Nagaon, Assam. She is also a PhD Research Fellow of Tezpur University. The first day programme was concluded by a vivid Kathak performance of Mr. Hemanta Kalita from New Delhi.  Mr. Kalita started his programme with a Sivbandana and Sutradhar Kathak. He also performed very famous Borgeet titled ‘Tejore Kamalapati……’ in Kathak style. The voice of the song was also his own. The audience enjoyed a lot his performance. The incessant claps of the houseful audience reflect the depth of his programme. 

On the second day, the programme was inaugurated by local MLA of Tezpur Sjt. Rajen Borthakur by lighting a lamp. After that, a special felicitation was scheduled to felicitate artist (fine art) Mr. Ratumoni Das. Overcoming his physical difficulty Mr. Das abled to bagged the most prestigious President award in the year 2011. He has also designed the cover page of the souvenir.  The first item was a Sattriya performed by the artists of Saptaswa. The group was headed by Dr. Pratibha Sharma, general secretary of Saptaswa. They started their recital with a Krishna Vandana followed by Ramdani of Chali Nach and performed a special act titled ‘Prakritipuja’. In this act, they reflect the story of Lord Indra and the villagers of Brindabana, how Lord Indra attacked the villagers of Brindabana and then Lord Krishna came to save them by holding The Gobardhan Hill. The music of ‘Prakritipuja’ was composed by Mr. Dhrubojyoti Borah. In the present day also human destructing biodiversity and as a result natural calamities are becoming common factors. Therefore, for a better liveable planet we will have to save the nature then nature will save us. In relation to this act one video was also designed and was played as a background which helped the audience to understand the act very clearly. This was a different kind of act and audience enjoyed a lot. The concept of this act was designed by Padmashree Jatin Goswami and was choreographed by Dr. Pratibha Sharma. The other team members of the act are Mayarani Borah, Prerana Baishya, Meghmallika Borah and Swati Bayan. 

Next item was an Odissi dance performed by Dr. Anjanamoyee Saikia of Guwahati. An Assistant Professor of Gauhati Medical College Dr. Saikia presented an act on ‘Navadurga’. Having a different profession, this kind of recital is really praiseworthy. She also presented the famous Mahabharat character ‘Droupadi’ in the style of Odissi. After that, most prestigious Sangeet Natak Academy Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar awardee Manipuri dancer Sinam Basu Singh presented his recital. The act was started with ‘Siva Panchakasaram’, after that he described the bond of Lord Krishna and Jasoda in his second element. Then, an extraordinary recital was performed by internationally reputed Kathakali dancing artist Mr. Prabal Gupta of Bengaluru. He has presented a different research based act on the world famous Cleopatra of William Shakespeare in the form of Katakali. This unusual act of North Eastern India able to provide a very special flavour to the audience.  

All artists performed in the ‘Nrityakalpa’ deserved the rousing appreciation. This time an photo exhibition was also brought out in the premise of Ban theatre with the glimpse of last four years Nrityakalpa. The festival was anchored by Sri Santanu Baruah. Apart from this, Saptaswa has also initiated different graceful events in different places of Assam. They have organised many Workshops, cultural evenings and owned blessings from culture lovers. In the ground of Classical Dance the role of Saptaswa is really admirable.

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Cinemas of Guwahati: a walk down the memory lane

7 Jul 2017 - 8:39pm | Aambar Chatterjee

The year was 1993, and I was in preparatory but the memory is still fresh from that matinee show when my elder brother took me to see a MithunChakravarti starrer “PhoolAurAngaar” at the majestic Udeshna Cinema. The film was hardly a watch befitting a kid with its gruesome violence and torture but what captured my imagination more than the film itself was the theater. A lush and vibrantly colored cinema wherein the bright red curtains on the screen rolled up before the start of every show. The curtains were complimented with the flashing lights if the beautifully decorated ceiling was not enough to amuse you. Sitting in the balcony as the upper class was called, the ambiance felt dreamy for a kid of my age.

With the curtain rolling up, you could see the milky white screen with the theater giving you just enough time to set your eyes in before the trailers started playing. The cinema of the 90s was just as colorful as the cinemas that showed them. I was hooked. Every subsequent visit to the cinema hall was as much about the movie for me as it was about the cinema itself. I can clearly remember the cinemas running at that point of time in Guwahati.

All of these cinemas showed the regular Bollywood releases coinciding with the release of the films. However they did follow a pattern. While Apsara, Anuradha, Udeshna, Urvashi, Vandana, Pragjyoti and Meghdoot were the fore runner in showing the new film, there was a clear demarcation of films between the halls when two or more biggies released together. I still vividly remembered that films like Hum Aapke Hain Kaun!…,Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge and Dil To Pagalhai released exclusively in Apsara where they ran for months. Udeshna, Urvashi and Meghdoot on the other hand got films like KuchKuchHota Hai, Raja Hindustani and Baazi which got them good business. The other halls like Rupayan, Bijulee, Rupashree and Kelvin always got the films once they were at least a week old. The Bollywood stuff played second change at these theaters. Kelvin sometimes got in the new film. The Hollywood movies were restricted to Apsara, Anuradha and Vandana mostly. I remember watching films like Braveheart, Water World and Species at Apsara. The Lost World was one film which I watched at Kelvin.

The cinemas of Guwahati had another sparkling aspect to them. The hand drawn cutout posters which have become a matter of collector’s item today were put up in atleast four of the cinemas regularly. I still can visualize the huge hand drawn poster of Species on the Apsara cinema which showed the half woman-half alien heroin of the film. Another poster which really captured my imagination was that of the Sunny DeolstarerJeet. It had an aggressive Deol almost tearing out of the poster with his outstretched hands pointing towards the viewers. The poster made as much of a splash as the film itself.

Udeshna- Dispur
Urvashi- Fancy Bazaar
Rupayan- Fancy Bazaar
Rupashree- Tokobari
Bijulee-Fancy Bazaar
Mayur Krishna - Fatasil Ambari
Pragjyoti - Maligaon
Anupama - Maligaon
Anuradha - Bamunimaidam
Apsara- Paltan Bazaar
Aruna- Maligaon
Neptune - Basistha Chariali
Meghdoot -Nepali Mandir
Choudhury -Athgaon
Vandana - Noonmati

The cinemas were doing rollicking business and the audience was hooked. Even lesser films like YaarGaddar, Suraj and even Gunda did decent business. The ticket prices ranged between Rs. 8/- to Rs 30/-. I remember my brother paying Rs 200/- to watch Karan Arjun at Udeshna for a ticket which otherwise cost Rs 12/-. Such was the craze. The Assamese film industry did release films from time to time and they got mostly Udeshna, Apsara and Anuradha to screen their fare. Since the number of films releasing were lesser they got their share of Screen time but never saw mass releases like the Bollywood fare. Let’s face it, hailing from Guwahati, I never saw any craze about the regional cinema here. A film like “KhagoroloiBahu Door” by JahnuBarua which also happens to be one of my favorite Assamese films till date came and went without making any splash or ringing the cash registers. At about the same time, a film called Coolie No. 1 made a whooping moolah and also enjoyed the maximum number of screens that the exhibitioners could put forward.

Time passed and then came the 2000s. The people were just warming up to the concept of plush cinemas. No longer were cinemas like Rupayan, Rupashree, Anupama getting the sort of footfalls that it used to get. These cinemas slowly drifted into showing soft-core stuff to get the ogglers in but that too didn’t work as the whooping cost of maintaining these cinemas took its toll. Rupayan was converted into a shopping mall which now goes by the name “Rupayan Arcade”. Udeshna was the next victim and that too of a strange predicament. The hall decided to show only regional stuff once a ban was instilled by the militant organizations to film only regional films in the theater to get blown. Strangely enough as the other theaters dealt with the issue by installing bomb-detector at their doorsteps, Udeshna decided to let go of Bollywood and Hollywood fairs and show only regional cinema. With only a niche audience to cater to, Udeshna gradually dowsed its lights and with it a slice of my childhood fantasy was lost right in front of my eyes. It was first converted into a sales point of Marble and now it remains dilapidated for someone to pull it down.

Kelvin sees its end as it is broken down and converted to a multi-level parking lot while Mayur Krishna is a ruin. Bijulee survives and now shows only soft-core stuff and thus caters only to the ogglers. It’s ironic to note that it is actually Assam’s oldest and first cinema and by now should have become a state property but instead it is a home to those who are there only to wet their lusty thoughts and something more. Of those that survive, Anuradha has got a facelift and now provides you with a multiplex ambiance in a single screen theater. It is the only hall which still does that curtain trick. Urvashi still shows all new Hindi stuff and hasn’t increased its ticket prices from Rs. 17/- Yes you read it right. I have seen Dhoom 3 for Rs. 17/- when the rest of the city was going crazy paying 200-500 for one ticket.

There has been so much said about the regional films not getting enough halls and hall owner not giving enough screen time to these films. I have just a question to ask in this regard. Are the regional films good enough to draw the audience to the theaters in hordes? If we have regional cinema playing in all the screens of the city, can we expect a single houseful board as compared to a SRK starer or even a Sunny Leone starer. I can ask this because I have seen every regional film in the theater and have been disappointed again and again. The only two films which I care to remember from the recent times is JahnuBarua’sBandhon and Rajni Basumatary’sRaag. We have to realize that the theater owners are actually running a business and all they wants to make is profit. So if regional cinema is to find a taker, it has to up its ante. They have to make entertaining cinema which will appeal to the senses. Intellectual mucks will get them nowhere. The films also have to be polished and technically sound. A crude film Like Local Kung fu found taker primarily because of its content and heart. Why can’t we have more like this? The problem isn’t with the cinema halls but with the cinema that we are making.

The onset of multiplexes and the fact that at least 12 new screens are coming up in the city might finally end the rein of the single screens here in Assam. Chances are either the single screens will convert to multiplexes or close their shutters permanently. Whatever might be the case, the single screens will always hold a cherished place in my memories for the simple reason that I owe my love for cinema to the visits to these theaters. They were like a dream world to me and I will always remain in awe of their power. May be that is the reason which takes me again and again back to the dirty and dilapidated Urvashi and Neptune cinema when I can jolly well afford the plush luxury of a multiplex. The reason is the good memories that I have of the places and the fact that I get to relive them every time I set foot in these cinemas. I just wish they became the way they used to be…