Dhakuakhana: A Place too Far

In the map of India we can see the northeast as an almost separate entity geographically, linked as it is to the entire landmass of India by what is commonly known as the ‘chicken-neck’. Nurtured by this exclusive existence, the northeastern states have survived in a culture of its own making. Assam, one of the seven sister states is prominently known for its tea plantations. The Northeast on the whole preserves its myriad cultural manifestations, the most prominent among them being the varied tribes who co-exist harmoniously.

Dhakuakhana is a civil subdivision of the district of Lakhimpur in Assam. Situated 80 kms away from the district headquarters the place is cocooned by the river Brahmaputra in the south and the Subansiri in the west. It is primarily a riverine area; the Brahmaputra flowing through Assam is the most important and revered river here, although a number of other small rivers flow through the state. As such, we can distinctly see the lives of the common people revolving around the river, which serves as an important mode of communication through bhotbotis (diesel boats) and marnaos (larger diesel boats that also carry vehicles like cars along with passengers). During the colonial rule, Dhakuakhana was directly linked to Dibrugarh by ferry service; since then communication has improved in the sense that roads have been built through many villages far inside the hinterland. Terrestrial communication provides an alternative to riverine transportation, but it is still a remote area with difficult communication. The journey to Dhakuakhana is a long one; situated around 450 kms away from Guwahati, one can travel privately by one’s car or take a bus directly to the place from the Inter-State Bus Terminus (ISTB) stand.

Onwards from Guwahati, which is the main urban center of the state as well as the gateway to the entire northeastern region the landscape changes gradually. Assam still harbours the pristine ambience of its rural areas, and Dhakuakhana is a perfect example of this. The journey itself provides satisfying glimpses of the ubiquitous green rice fields and pasture lands scattered with bovine population and cowherd lads. One can catch glimpses of concrete though fleeting images of life in small towns with the crowded market places as well as the comparatively serene atmosphere of a rural lifestyle. The Koliabhumura Bridge, while moving onwards from Nagaon to Lakhimpur, is worth noticing for the wonderful glimpse it gives of the mighty Brahmaputra.