A charming little hill town, Diphu is the administrative headquarters of the centrally located Karbi
A charming little hill town, Diphu is the administrative headquarters of the centrally located KarbiAnglong District, the largest amongst the 27 districts of Assam. The hill station is a popular picnic spot for holidaymakers, owing to its picturesque location amidst dense tropical forests and cultivated fields against a backdrop of beautiful rolling hills.
Diphu, meaning white water in the indigenous Dimasa language, is said to have been an important city in the powerful Dimasa Kingdom during the medieval era. However, after the demise of Sengya Tularam Hasnu in 1854, the territory was taken over by the British, who went on to declare the area a Scheduled District in 1874. After independence, the Government of India reorganised the entire district in 1952 with Diphu as its headquarters. Today, the town serves as a perfect getaway from the hub-bub of city life for locals and tourists alike, with its stunning natural beauty and extremely tranquil environs. It is also a great jumping off point for visiting the nearby tourist resorts of Amreng (120km), Khanduli (164km), Kohora (176km) and Umawang (240km).
Located at an average elevation of 186 m (610 ft), Diphu is a small town with a varying topography of undulating plains and low hills. Indigenous tribal groups such as the Karbis, Kukis, Bodos, Dimasas, Hmars and Garos make up much of the town’s population, along with several other non-tribal communities.
Diphu also serves as a superb base for trekking expeditions to Singhason, the highest mountain peak in the district, with an altitude of about 1,600 m. The trekking site is situated near the main town and the hiking trail winds through rainforests and rocky hills to the summit, which affords panoramic views of the Brahmaputra river valley and the snow-covered Himalayan ranges. Amongst the various animals that can be spotted along the way are pygmy hog, barking deer, spotted deer and langoors, as well as a diversity of bird species, including the Himalayan hornbills.
THINGS TO SEE AND DO
Most of Diphu’s attractions are located at its fringes, within a 5–10km radius, and can be easily accessed by taxi. The town itself does not boast many places of interest. The highlight here is perhaps the striking sculpture of Rongpharpi Rongbe and her comrades, which stands in the town centre. Rongbe was the first and the only woman leader of the Karbis, who led a rebellion against the exploitation of the Dimasa regime. Visitors can head to the small, but informative District Museum in town for an insight into the history of the region.
Established in 1886, this austere-looking but fascinating museum is crammed with artefacts, reflecting the culture of the region and its surrounding areas. The collection of exhibits includes ornaments, handicrafts, textiles, hunting tools, traditional music instruments and fishing equipment used by the local tribes. The museum also houses a rather splendid 13th-century image of Lord Narasimha.
Botanical Garden (5km)
A visual treat for nature lovers, this picturesque garden, situated on Lumding Road, is the perfect location for a picnic lunch. Administered by the Forest West division, the well-manicured garden is known for its rare species of trees, medicinal and flowering plants, as well as herbs. Most of these species are indigenous to the Karbi Anglong District and Assam in general. There is a semi-natural water body in the garden, where it is possible to enjoy a leisurely boat ride.
Spread over an area of 13ha (32 acres), this lush green oasis is yet another favoured haunt of picnickers. The arboretum is under the aegis of the Forest Department and is home to a diversity of flora native to this region. There are several short walking trails here. A walk around the park’s peaceful, pictureque surroundings is a good way to relax and rejuvenate the senses.
Taralangso Cultural Centre (4km)
Set in the idyllic Taralangso village, this cultural centre is a unique blend of art and nature. The centre comprises an amphitheatre and an open-air auditorium and is headed by the Karbi Cultural Society (KCS). The centre was established with an aim to showcase the dances of the various tribal communities of the region. The four-day Karbi Youth Festival is organised here every year in the month of February and attracts visitors from not just India, but also overseas. A celebration of the rich Karbi heritage, the cultural extravaganza features dance per-formances, food stalls and a small marketplace selling an eclectic range of ethnic merchandise.
The highest peak in the district and an ideal spot for adventure seekers is situated barely 2kms away from the town.
At an altitude of 1,600 meters, Singhason is a great destination for trekking, and viewing the sunrise and sunset. The peak also provides a stunning view of the Brahmaputra valley, the Himalayan ranges and the Patkai ranges.
WHERE TO STAY AND EAT
There are limited options to stay in Diphu and its surrounding areas. The Circuit House (Tel: 03671-272257; Tariff: ₹200) here has three rooms with attached bathrooms. Food is provided on request, but be sure to tell them much in advance.
The Forest Inspection Bungalow is another choice. Contact the DFO, Karbi Anglong, Diphu Division (Tel: 272247), for details.
Besides, there are a few budget hotels and lodges available. There are a few dhabas around the town that serve basic food, but it is best to eat where you are staying.
When to go November–March
Directorate of Tourism, Govt of Assam, Station Road, Guwahati, Tel: 0361-2547102, 2544475, W assamtourism.gov.in
Divisional Forest Officer, Karbi Anglong (W), Diphu Division, Tel: 272247, 272221, STD code 03671
Location In the hilly and remote district of Karbi Anglong
Distance 248km E of Guwahati, 239km NE of Silchar
Route from Guwahati Take NH37 till Bar Pathari Sutar Gaon, turn to NH36 and take NH329 via Lumding
Air Nearest airport: Dimapur in Kohima (62km/ 1.5hrs). Taxi charges approx ₹750. Direct trains are also available from Dimapur town to Diphu
Rail Diphu Railway Station. Many important trains like Dibrugarh Rajdhani Express, Avadh-Assam Express, Jan Shatbdi Express, Kamrup Express and Brahmaputra Mail pass through Diphu connecting the town with other cities in the state. Taxi and autos are easily available outside the railway station
Road connects Diphu with Guwahati, Dimapur and other parts of the state Bus Both ASTC and private buses are available from all over the state for Diphu