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Tourism plan for Silghat

Nagaon, Feb. 21: Silghat will soon get back its lost glory as the Nagaon district administration has taken up an infrastructure development programme to promote the sleepy township’s tourism potential.

The programmes cover Silghat hill on the banks of the Brahmaputra where Ahom king Pramatta Singha established Kamakhya temple as a substitute of Kamakhya in Nilachal.

A Nagaon administration source said initial works which are on at the site include construction of two approach roads to the top of the hill, a recreation garden at the top with balcony from where a visitor can have a look of the entire Brahmaputra along with Sonitpur district, a wall covering parts of the hill to stop landslide, an orchid garden and a huge open space at one corner of the hilltop for community programmes.

Silghat was one of the most important towns in central Assam as it connected eastern Assam districts — Sonitpur, Lakhimpur, Dhemaji and Darrang — through a naval route. The biggest jute business in Silghat attracted merchants and a well-knit rail communication helped jute cultivators.

Three significant reasons — withdrawal of the rail route in 1992, suspension of the naval route in 1986 and terrible erosion (which took a worst turn after 2001) by the Brahmaputra — posed a threat to the main jute belt and made Silghat an abandoned town.

The biggest cooperative sector jute mill in Silghat commissioned in 1971 failed to reach its expected target.

“Silghat Kamakhya has its significance and thousands of visitors from outside come to the temple during winter every year. Unfortunately, apathy of the government to promote the area stands in the way of making it an attractive tourism site,” Nilpaban Borthakur, a resident of Silghat, said.

Nagaon deputy commissioner P. Ashok Babu said very recently the Koliabor block development officer had been instructed to employ villagers under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA). “We could go for more works under various government departments to help Silghat get back its lost significance. Already District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) minister Rakibul Hussain has prepared a strategy to give a new look to Silghat and all its historical sites to breathe some life into the town,” Ashok Babu said.

Kaliabor SDO (civil) Madhumita Bhagawati said the administration would create an orchid garden in one corner of Silghat hill to attract visitors.

“Popular orchid cultivator Lakhidhar Bordoloi will be requested to plant both common and rare orchid varieties. A viewer would see the orchids just after entering the balcony at the hilltop,” Bhagawati said.