Surrounded by black soil hills, disturbed pleasantly by the shallow and clear water, fascinated with the vast landscape by the country border and moved by the surprising facts; that’s how a visit to the place named KALAMATI can be summed up to.
So before leaving for this particular place which is near the Indo-Bhutan border, we were already given a disclaimer about its underdeveloped site and how is a potential to develop tourism activities here. And after seeing it, I couldn’t agree more.
WHERE IS KALAMATI? – Stories from Bodoland, Assam
Kalamati is basically a part of a buffer zone from Manas National Park and is situated in Chirang district which is 28km east of Bongaigaon.
The crystal-clear stream of water passes by the border is known as the Kanamakra River which means blind spider. In the dry landscape of Kalamati, when the monsoons are still far away from arriving, the river of Kalamati looks like a glittering relief.
THE LANDSCAPE OF KALAMATI – Stories from Bodoland, Assam
The most pleasant time was spent while sitting alone by the river in solitude while the stream indulges in a beautiful conversation with pebbles and boulders. An even more surprising and beautiful thing is that animals literally come near the river bed to lick the salty black soil of Kalamati Hills, where Kalamati literally translates to BLACK SOIL.Our fantasy of adventures from Bodoland would literally have come to life if we were surrounded by wild animals licking soil and maybe us, a little later. (HAHA)
Kalamati definitely has an array of landscapes to provide. One Such is the hill of seven colours and design which is called Hajw Agor. Apart from this, there is Maoria Hajw which is known for Orchids and Mwidert Khor which is the elephant trapping area.
Best time to visit
· Prior permission needed from Forest Range Office Amteka Range, Koila-Moila
· Months-winter to spring (avoid monsoon)
How to Reach?
· You can take a taxi from Bongaigoan town till Kalamati which is 28km from there. · Only 17 km away, Koila-Moila bazar is the entry point to Kalamati, · One can reach Koila-Moila on NH-31A from Guwahati covering a distance of 220 km.
A visit to a Bodo Village, Koila-Moila – Stories from Bodoland, Assam
An experiential trip is the one where you get to interact with the locals to the maximum and what’s the best way to do this than to have lunch at their home and indulge in some fishing?
To understand the lifestyle of indigenous Bodo people, we were invited by a Bodo household in Koila-Moila which is also in Chirang district. Bodos are definitely a lot of smiling faces with basic livelihood who still remains an agrarian society and depend on weaving, fishing, and agriculture as their income sources.
As soon as we got down from the bus, the first thing that we see is a bunch of ladies from one family preparing an extensive lunch for us.
FOOD OF BODOLAND- Stories from Bodoland, Assam
After welcoming us with some tasty Pitha and Laal Cha, we were presented with a wide variety of things to choose from for lunch. Being a vegetarian, I had only a few but those ones were equally tasty and flavorful.
Pitha was our welcome snack but is usually eaten at breakfast time. Since it was stuffed with jaggery between the layers of smashed-sticky rice, it neither was too sweet and nor too bland. It was served with my favourite Laal Cha(Red Tea) and steamed rice.
The plate on the left was for non-vegetarians and of course the right one for vegetarians. I had scrumptiously tasty Daal (lentils) with Taso Bisong (Yam leaves /green leafy vegetable), Lapa Mwidru (spinach), some chutney, Morapaat (jute leaf curry) with rice.
The non-vegetarians` plate was double the weight of mine and had things like cooked snails, fish, crab, chicken, pork, silkworms and also leafy vegetables.
This is the preparation of Zau (Rice beer) which is of supreme importance to their routine and they offer it to their god in Bathou religion as well. Here it is simply prepared by evaporation, condensation and distillation.
They usually end the meals with betel leaf and supari (betelnut).
This is organic salt and organic soda. They also have a story behind them. Pre-independence when Dandi March happened, tribal people, invented this organic salt which they make with banana leaves and plant stems.
BODO TRIBE HOUSES – Stories from Bodoland, Assam
A typical Bodo family lives in a courtyard style setup where a central space is surrounded by 4 rectangular single/double rooms structures. The house cluster is surrounded by big farms and cow shelters.
A very simple kitchen space which is only utilized when small gatherings happen. Generally, the food is prepared outside in big utensils.
The architecture as seen is usually the mix of wood, bamboo, brick and mud.
Kids usually keep playing in the courtyard which also houses the sacred plant to which the tribe prays.
The Bodo tribe usually follows Bathou Dharma (where animal sacrifice is made on special occasions and they worship Shijou) and the Brahma Dharma (where worship is done by offering candles, incense sticks and flowers)
In the North-West corner of the house cluster, I saw a plant (Tulsi) encircled in a Bamboo cage and got to know that it was worshipped as the Bathou God, a form of Siva.
SOURCES OF INCOME OF BODO TRIBE – Stories from Bodoland, Assam
Majority of the people living in villages here, largely depend on agriculture, weaving and fishing. As we were passing by these villages, we got to see the bright yellow and green farms.
Silkworm rearing and then weaving from its threads is another way to sustain livelihood here. We found a loom machine in every household we went to.In an age of industry and digitalisation, it’s fascinating to see how some economies still thrive on these three.
The indigenous Bodo community of Assam rears silkworms and produce some of the finest handicrafts from Assam. Eri silkworm rearing is something that you can find in almost every home in Bodoland. The women folk start their day by working in the fields, then some fishing by the riverside and rest of the time is kept for household chores and weaving.
How often do you get to see someone fishing using some indigenous techniques? One day if you decide to venture into the North-east Indian region, maybe you still can. These village women, in their colourful Dokhonas, stand in a local stream to catch their meal starters, the mini fishes. A bamboo trap called JEKHAI (a bamboo trap for shallow water) in combination with KHOBAI (bamboo basket tied on waist) is used to trap these small but agile creatures. Once the women succeed in catching some, they store it in the Khobai, strapped to their waists.
To know about the people of different regions, to taste their food, see their habitats; will always be on my travel bucket list. More than sharing it on the blog, for me, it is always those envelopes of smiles that we get to exchange as humans, who are from the same country but different states and ethnicity.