Rupali and Munni are thinking of visiting the Dhola-Sadiya Bridge someday since its inauguration in May 2017 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They are classmates of 8th standard at the Assam Jatiya Vidyalaya, Noonmati. Munni stays at Panjabari whereas Rupali stays at an apartment at Zoo Tiniali. Both of them are fond of travelling and they like to explore the beautiful places of Assam and North-east. They are trying to convince their parents to plan a tour to the eastern most part of Assam, Tinsukia.
Rupali’s mother is a teacher at a Govt. LP school in Guwahati. Her parents hail from Jorhat, so they get some relatives in upper Assam. Munni’s parents hail from Palashbari, the cultural hub of Nalbari, and a place known for its world famous Raas Festival. Rupali told her mother that they would like to visit the Sadiya Bridge as well as some places of upper Assam like Digboi Oil Refinery, Ledo coal mines, and if possible some places of Arunachal Pradesh. They think December would be the right time to plan the tour.
Rupali and Munni were very happy when their parents planned a week-long tour to Upper Assam after their annual examination. They went for shopping together to purchase some travel accessories.
They arrived at Tinsukia first by the Inter City Express. Rupali, Munni and their parents and Rupali’s younger brother Chayan enjoyed the train journey so much as they hardly get the chance to train travel since their childhood. After their arrival at Tinsukia in the morning around 9 am they moved towards the Hotel President. Tinsukia seems a very busy city to them. They wandered to see the busy roads, the markets, the fashion outlets. In the evening they visited the Rail Museum located adjacent to the New Tinsukia Railway Station. They saw here the artefacts and memoirs of the railways established by the British for their business set up in Assam. They knew earlier that the first railway line in Assam is the Dibru Sadiya Railway. Today they saw the stories related to it.
On the next day they booked a private car to visit the Dhola Sadiya Bridge located at a distance of 50 kms away from Tinsukia town. It took just one hour and fifteen minutes to reach the bridge from the town. Rupali, Munni and Chayan were excited enough to see the longest bridge of India, and the second longest in Asia. They Googled earlier and knew that the bridge is 9.15 kms long. It connects Dhola on the west and Sadiya on the east. It is built on the River Lohit, a tributary of the mighty male River Brahmaputra. The Brahmaputra is known as Yarlung Tsangpo in Tibet, Siang or Dihang River in Arunachal Pradesh and Luit in Assam. The main three tributaries that make the River Brahmaputra in Assam are Lohit, Dibang and Dihang.
Rupali’s father, Mr. Loknath Borgohain, told them that the British were very fond of rivers and they thought the origin of this mighty river must be a large waterfall. The origin of Brahmaputra is earlier thought as the Manas Sarovar Lake, later the Chema Yung Dung Glacier and now it is confirmed that the origin is Angsi Glacier in Manas Sarovar.
Munni’s father reminded them that the Dhola Sadiya Bridge is named after the music maestro of Assam, Dr. Bhupen Hazarika.
They took photographs on the bridge but avoided the modern day craze-the selfie as they knew it is dangerous to take selfies near the river. Rupali’s mother Rekha reminded them to be careful while taking photographs near the bridge. Then they moved towards Roing, a beautiful picnic spot located in the Lohit district of Arunachal Pradesh. They did explore the natural beauty of Roing. They had a memorable lunch at a local restaurant, the local ethnic cuisine soothed their taste buds as it has topala bhat (rice steamed on banana leaves), boiled vegetables and local fish. After the day-long visit, they returned to the hotel. Munni and Rupali felt amazing visiting the serene places far from the cacophonies of the city.
Next day they drove to Digboi, known for its century old Digboi Oil refinery and Second World War Memorial. It is just one hour drive from Tinsukia. Digboi houses the first oil refinery of Asia and the world’s second refinery. They visited first the Digboi Centenary Oil Museum set up as a part of the centenary celebration of the refinery. It is dedicated to preserve the oil heritage of Digboi Refinery and houses the souvenirs, plants, exhibits, knick-knacks and other valuable items used by the diggers and Assam Oil Company to dig out and refine the crude oil. They were amazed to see the things kept in the museum and wondered in speculation that the British engineers were brave enough to dig out the oil in dense jungles keeping their life in danger.
Munni’s father, Mr Jadu Kalita, asked them, “Do you know how the British came to know that there was oil in Assam?”
As the children replied negatively, Rupali’s father continued that the discovery of crude oil in Assam was somewhat of an accident. In 1825 a British officer namely Lt. R. Wilcox of the 46th regiment of British infantry noticed bubbles of gas and petroleum rising to surface in Supkong area. It is about 40 kms away from Digboi. It is also said that oil was discovered while constructing a railway line by Assam Railway and Trading Company.
Chayan said proudly, ‘’Digboi Refinery is India’s oldest operating refinery and one of the oldest operating refineries of the world.” He added, “I know it from our science teacher.”
Munni added, “In the late 19th century the crude oil was discovered and first oil well of India was dug in 1889.”
Rupali asked Munni’s mother, “What are the products of this Digboi Refinery now?”
Munni’s mother Jyotimala replied that the products of Digboi Refinery are LPGs, fuel oil, wax, sulphur, etc. She added that this refinery is now operated by Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. since its takeover from Assam Oil Company Limited in 1981.
They later visited the refinery and Digboi Oil Field taking permission from the authority. They were so happy visiting the Oil Field as it is full of greenery set atop a hill. They came to know from the hired taxi driver that the state bird of Assam, the white winged duck, is found in this oil field and it houses some a wide variety of wild cats. They later visited the Digboi Park, the Second World War Memorial. Having dined at a restaurant they returned to Tinsukia taking the memories of the Digboi visit.
On the way Mr Gohain asked them, “When was the refinery set up?’’ They answered quickly that it was set up in 1901. They even promised their parents they would note down their feelings in a write-up. Gohain then made them more curious saying that next year he would take them to enjoy a wildlife tour to Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary and Dibru Saikhowa National Park, two major wildlife hotspot of eastern most part of Assam. And to Ledo Coal Mines.
They had their train back to Guwahati at 9 pm. They were happy and thanked their parents for a memorable tour to such nice places of upper Assam. They came back with memories that they will cherish forever.