Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Soaking with six of the seven sisters

Nestled among the Himalaya itself and the surrounding mountains lie the so-called seven sister states of Northeast India.

Way back in January 2010, Arunachal Pradesh, the most mountainous sister, had been highlighted but the remaining six states warrant some soaking attention.

Soaking for elephants. Not.
The biggest and least mountainous state, Assam has no less than 2 Garampani's; places which denote a spring of hot water. Most mentioned is the hot spring located in Nambar Forest Reserve, but exactly which Garampani it is, is unclear. In 2010 this website gave this information:
'... the two more famous ones [hot springs] are located in Golaghat district and North Cachar Hills. The one in Golaghat district is located in the Nambar Reserve Forest about 19 km southwest of Golaghat town. The water of this spring contains hydrogen sulphide and its temperature is 530C to 580C'.
Let's call this the Nambar Garampani. Other striking info on Nambar comes from this website:
'Elephants have now been denied the right to drink water out of Mother Nature’s very own hot spring in the wilderness of Assam. The Garampani hot spring by the side of National Highway 39 in Karbi Anglong district, Nambor Reserve forest, is now guarded by a huge ugly concrete wall. The area is an elephant corridor which the jumbos use almost on a regular basis'.
Looking more intently at the photo of this spring it seems that the wall is just for safety reasons with elephants as well as humans being protected for their own good. Sad though, that the elephants can no longer soak. 

A video of Garampani.
Then aforementioned citation (from 2010) concludes that there is another Garampani hot spring in Assam state near the

'... headstream of Kapili is at a distance of 33 km east of Jowai. Its water is 350C warm'.
Let's say the Kapili hot spring or Kopili as I have seen or Umrangshu (Umrongso?), an often used alt. This Garampani is located close to the border with Meghalaya state in an area known for tea plantations and the hydro project on the Kapili. This website mentions:
'The beautiful Umrongso Lake, the quite valley, the hot water springs and the exquisite scenery are enough to captivate attention. The visitors in this area can enjoy both hot and cold bath and fishing in the river Kopili'.
It's unclear to me whether this hot spring still exists. Here I read
'7-km away from Umrangshu in Meghalaya , the hot spring Garampani is lost in the water of Kapili Hydro-Electric Project. Barrage and dams are constructed on the Kapli River along 19-km area from Umrangshu to Hot Spring. A Lake has already come up over here'.
Wikipedia finally mentions that the hot spring is
'now lost'.
More sisters
In reality there is little info on hot springs in the North-eastern states of India.  Tripura and Mizoram seem to contain no hot springs. 

For Nagaland I found one mention of Tangkum Marok but am unsure whether or not this spring is hot.
Manipur contains Ukhrul saline springs. This link mentions:
'The Saline Springs of Ukhrul are the Salt springs of Ukhrul located in the outskirts of the town.
Ukhrul has a number of brine wells located at Chingai, Challao, Nameri, Luchai-Khullen, Mariem and Kharawam. The water from these springsis used in making salt cakes'.
Again uncertainty remains about the supposed heat of the springs at hand.
That leaves us with world's wettest region, the state of Meghalaya.
By far the most often mentioned in Meghalaya is the hot spring of Jakrem (Lawblei). Unfortunately most mentions are as follows:
'Jakrem in Meghalaya is fast gaining popularity among tourists as it is a wonderful health resort. It is blessed with hot-springs of sulphur water which lure people from across the globe. It is believed that the water of the hot springs is endowed with curative medicinal properties. People come here to bathe in these hot-springs for good health'.
From photo's of Jakrem one can only conclude that the claim that it lures people from all over the world seems a little hollow, though the surroundings are appealing.

From the Megha hot spring resort website.

The state Department of Tourism adds:
'Jakrem has now developed as a potential health resort. People from all parts of the region throng here to take a dip in the hot spring. Bathing compartments are available around the spring for the use of the public. It is also a favourite picnic spot during winter'.
The Shillong Times notes (December 8, 2013) that a bacteria was found here which was previously uncharacterised.

Elsewhere there are only lesser known hot springs in Meghalaya such as the hot spring of Umngi which is situated along a trekking route:
'Weiloi to Ponkung / Pongkung to Umngi: One can reach Weiloi village from Shillong by car / bus. On the way from Weiloi to Umngi there exist two natural mineral water springs. The Hot Spring of Umngi has the potential for becoming a health resort'.
Possibly 2 hot springs?

Resubelpara is the name of a town in north of Meghalaya which possibly moonlights under the name of Williamnagar. Some 15 kms away (from Williamnagar) is apparently a hot spring by the name of Bakra (source). There's even a small photo album on Facebook.

[updated August 2014]

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