Published by Condé Nast Traveller , UK
A 384km boat trip down Asia’s mightiest yet most enigmatic waterway offers a glimpse of a different India
I’d been cruising on the Brahmaputra river for 48 hours when it finally hit me: it was really quiet out here. My floating home for a week, the comfortable luxury-liner MV Mahabaahu, had anchored for the night when I wandered to the top deck and noticed: silence! No people walking along the riverbank. No lights winking from a distant village. No other boats were tied up nearby or returning home from fishing. For that matter, over the last two days, I spotted more Gangetic freshwater dolphins than boats. This was India… right?
I thought I knew this place, the second most populous country in the world. So it seemed unthinkable to be standing in Assam in northeast India, looking out over swathes of land where people weren’t jockeying for space. I’m a foreigner, but no newbie—two years ago, I spent almost five weeks travelling from Kerala to Sikkim, discovering an India of spices, colours, temples, packed trains and people. So many people, everywhere. But Assam was a whole new world…