Dibrugarh is a treasure trove for tourists. Many people, however, would brush aside what I said, considering my statement to be an exaggeration. In fact, it is this reservation fuelled by lack of knowledge about the potentiality of this place that makes most people remark, “There’s nothing to see here!” Well, in a way, these people aren’t entirely wrong, for they only draw conclusions based on their observations. What this situation instead brings into focus is the failure of the State to promote all the fasciting things and spots present here.
The place is endowed with some of the best and most idyllic tea gardens of the world like the Halmari Tea Estate and Deha Assam. Yet, while cuppa has long been India’s favourite beverage, only a handful of Indians know of Dibrugarh. Most of us know that India is energy deficient and has only a few sources of oil, tural gas and petroleum, but how many of us have heard of Duliajan – a town in Dibrugarh housing the headquarters of Oil India Limited, a vrat company deeply involved in exploration, production and transportation of crude oil and tural gas? In what can be a wonder for the ture lovers, the place also has a forest reserve sprawling across several acres. Known as Jokai Forest Reserve, this stretch, that is rich in forest products, today unfortutely lies in a dilapidated state.
While it’s true that not much has been done towards promoting Dibrugarh as a tourist spot, the district administration of late, under the leadership of the Deputy Commissioner, Laya Madduri, has initiated some measures to plug the lacu. For instance, efforts are underway to turn a portion of the Jokai Forest Reserve into a botanical garden with the fincial support of N.E.C. Another matter of concern is the dearth of recreatiol places within the city. At a time when the whole world is impressing upon the virtues of recreation, the people here are losing out on it. Though a few attractions like the Jaganth Temple and Khanikar Park have sprung up recently, a lot more needs to be done on this front.
One of the prerequisites for making Dibrugarh a popular tourist place is the opening up of a leg of Assam Tourism here. Currently, the tourism body has its office only in Guwahati, thus facing many coordition and administrative problems in terms of guiding and helping the tourists travel to other parts of the State in general and upper Assam in particular. A branch of it in Dibrugarh can be helpful in more ways than one. This unit can prepare attractive tour packages for the prospective tourists, hire professiol guides and redress the grievances of the tourists in a time-bound manner. Special attention should be given to tea tourism, an area having the utmost potential but least exploited. Endeavours should be made to take tourists to the tea gardens, get them witness the entire tea making process and lodge them at the heritage bungalows of these gardens. The ones having a leaning for golf can play it in the golf courses that some of the tea gardens have. The only problem is that most of these tea estates are privately owned and as such, might not open their properties to the tourists. It is at this point that the government must intervene and inform the owners of the far-reaching consequences of doing so. The interested tea gardens can then either open up their individual tourism arms for such tourists, or merge their interests with that of the State.
Moreover, the Jokai Reserve Forest should be astutely promoted to draw tourists from far-flung places. The two rivers – Sesa and Erahuti - flowing close to this reserve can be used for many water sports like angling and boating. Such activities, apart from attracting the tourists, can also create employment opportunities for the local people. The villages around, by providing pocket-friendly and hygienic home stay facilities to the tourists, can only supplement their earnings.
Dibrugarh is well connected by both railways and airways. Being close to other places of tourist importance like Sivasagar, Margherita and other tourist spots of Upper Assam as well, it only increases the attraction points for tourists. However, a lot of groundwork needs to be done in terms of its infrastructure. To start with, the rickety Sesa bridge, which is going to connect Dibrugarh with Moran, should be turned into a proper concrete bridge. Also, the city needs more hotels that comply with the basic minimum standards.
A lot would also depend on the kind of behavior that the locals mete out to the tourists. The best of efforts to make Dibrugarh a tourist hotspot would go awry if the guests are given a cold shoulder and frequently taken for a ride. The tives as well as the villages near the places of interest must be at their hospitable best. This will not only lead to a slew of tourists swarming in, but will also generate a steady stream of revenue for them.