No trip to northeast India is complete without a stop in Jorhat. As the second-largest urban center in the state after Guwahati, there are many things to see and do in Jorhat. This town of 153,889 residents can be found along a tributary of the Brahmaputra River in Upper Assam. Jorhat is noted for its agriculture, jewelry manufacturing, and its many institutions for higher learning. These include Kaziranga University, Jorhat Medical College and Hospital, the Rain Forest Research Institute, and Assam Agricultural University.
Jorhat’s status as a capital of an independent Ahom kingdom in the 18th century means it is also rich in history. The Ahoms were Tai-speaking people who migrated from China’s Yunnan Province around the first century. In addition to its history, one of the biggest draws in Jorhat is its Assamese cuisine, which tends to be less elaborate and contains less spices than other cuisines found in India. However, it’s still extremely flavorful and can be quite fiery! These are the top 10 things to see and do in Jorhat, India.
Eat Spicy Momos at Break Time
Something you must do when you visit Jorhat is seek out some momos, which are a type of dumpling that can have a variety of meat fillings. For the best in town, head over to Break Time Restaurant, where you’ll find some of the most delectable chicken momos on the planet! The momos at Break Time are steamed first and then fried, so they’re nice and crunchy on the outside and still juicy on the inside.
After they come out of the fryer, the momos are stir-fried in a rich, Szechwan-inspired red sauce with pepper and chilies. The momos themselves aren’t too hot, but the sauce certainly has a spicy kick to it! The contrast of the crunchy exterior and the moist, minced chicken inside is balanced perfectly. They are the best fried momos I’ve ever eaten and having them is easily one of the best things to see and do in Jorhat! Best of all, a huge plate of them will only set you back 60 rupees, or roughly $0.86 U.S.
Visit Rajmao Pukhuri
Right in the middle of Jorhat, on Krishna Kanta Handique Road near the Jorhat Planetarium, is a large pond called Rajmao Pukhuri. But this is no ordinary pond. This pond is actually a tank, or a manmade lake. It was dug by the Queen-mother Numali Rajmao during the first reign of Chandrakanta Singha, a Tungkhungia king of the Ahom Dynasty. Singha ruled during the climax of the Ahom Kingdom, and the tank was built sometime between 1811 and 1818.
Today, Rajmao Pukhuri is a beautiful and peaceful attraction in the heart of the city that attracts lots of visitors every day. In addition to enjoying the view of the tranquil water, visitors can also enjoy the greenery of the surrounding area and take a stroll along the nearby walking trails. Visiting Rajmao Pukhuri is not only a great thing to see and do in Jorhat, it’s also a fantastic spot to learn more about local history and work off some calories between your culinary adventures!
Try the Vada Pav at Delhi Chaat House
Vada pav is a dish you absolutely must try when you visit India. This dish consists of a potato fritter that is served on a bun with various chutneys. It is sometimes referred to as an Indian burger. I’d had variations of this dish before in both Mumbai and Pune and I jumped at the chance to try it again in Jorhat. One of the best spots in the city to try this Indian sandwich is Delhi Chaat House.
The vada pav at Delhi Chaat House had a really nice, fluffy bun and was served with mustard, sweet sauce, coriander chutney, and a spicy sauce. The sweet sauce was very tasty and complemented the fried potato nicely. I also really enjoyed the coriander chutney. Not surprisingly, the spicy chutney was quite hot. When they say something is hot in Jorhat, they mean it! Overall, it was a tasty, fried potato mash sandwich! It makes a great snack and will only cost you about 40 rupees, or roughly $0.58 U.S. Trying this sandwich is one of the top things to see and do in Jorhat, so go get one the next time you’re in town!
Visit Sukapha Samannay Kshetra
During my time in Jorhat, I mostly traveled by scooter. More specifically, I traveled on the back of my friend Rishi’s scooter! The next attraction you must visit in Jorhat, Sukapha Samannay Kshetra, is actually located about 30 minutes outside of the city if you’re traveling by scooter. This location is a memorial dedicated to Sukaphaa (also spelled Siu-Ka-Pha), a Tai prince who founded the Ahom Kingdom. He ruled during medieval times from 1228 to 1268. According to Ahom tradition, he was descended from the god Khunlung. He is celebrated every December 2 in Assam.
Inside the memorial is a massive, 20-25-foot-tall statue of Sukaphaa. Unlike lots of other statues I had come across during my time in India, it was both incredibly colorful and extremely detailed. The Sukapha Samannay Kshetra is one of the top things to see and do in Jorhat for history lovers, especially if they want to learn a bit more about Assam’s past.
There is also a museum nearby for those who want to take an even deeper dive into the history of Assam and the Ahom Kingdom. Visitors should note that, in addition to the 10 rupee ($0.14 U.S.) entry fee, it will cost you another 20 rupees (roughly $0.29 U.S.) if you want to bring along a camera.
Try the Amazing Chicken at Neev’s
I’ve eaten some outstanding chicken dishes during the eight weeks I’ve spent in India. One of my favorites is the double-marinated chicken tandoori drumsticks that are served at Neev’s. I already loved chicken tandoori, but this dish takes the well-known Indian classic to a whole new level! It’s easily one of the best things to see and do in Jorhat!
These sensational drumsticks are served with a thick, creamy, and cheesy white sauce on them. They’re bursting with the smoky flavor that tandoori chicken is known for. If you really want to sink into Indian flavor heaven, try them with the mint chutney that’s provided on the side. This dish is amazing! The chicken itself is tender and juicy, while the sauce on it reminded me of a soft brie cheese. This dish is a it more expensive at 200 rupees, or roughly $2.88 U.S., but trust me, it’s more than worth it!
The other dish you have to try at Neev’s are the spicy chicken wings. They’re coated with a tasty, honey glazed sauce that is made with the second-spiciest peppers in the world, ghost peppers. The wings are incredibly juicy and flavorful. They may not seem that hot when you first dig into them, but your lips will definitely start tingling before long! If you prefer your chicken with a spicy kick, this is the way to go! At 250 rupees, or about $3.60 U.S., they’re pricier than the chicken tandoori, but are still worth the cost!
The star of Neev’s menu is the double-marinated chicken tandoori drumsticks. They are bathed in a thick, white sauce and have a smoky flavor that kicked my taste buds into overdrive. Even better, they’re bathed in a sensational cheesy glaze. Add some mint chutney to them for an additional kick of flavor! These chicken tandoori drumsticks are out of this world. Trying them is easily one of the top things to see and do in Jorhat. My total there came to just 450 rupees ($6.49 U.S.): 250 rupees ($3.60 U.S.) for the wings and 200 rupees ($2.88 U.S.) for the tandoori drumsticks.
Visit the Hollongapar Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary
One of the top things to see and do in Jorhat is take a day trip to the town of Mariana, where you will find the Hoollongapar Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary. As its name implies, this wildlife sanctuary is particularly well-known for their gibbons. As with many tourist attractions in India, be prepared to pay quite a bit more than the locals if you’re a foreigner. Indian residents will pay just 50 rupees, or roughly $0.72 U.S., while foreigners will pay 10 times that at 500 rupees, or about $7.16 U.S. If you have a camera, you’ll have to pay an additional 500 rupees.
The steep entry fee is worth it, though, as you’ll be provided with a tour guard who will lead you through the sanctuary on foot. In addition to the gibbons, you can also see macaques, birds, wild elephants, leopards, and more in the sanctuary, so I highly recommend visiting if you want the chance to see wild animals up close.
Check out Top 15 Places to Visit in India
I visited the sanctuary with three friends and immediately heard gibbons chattering high overhead as they shook the trees near us. Our guide took us deep into the brush, where we spotted two giant wood spiders, a pig-tailed macaque, and a unique squirrel, as well as a leopard paw print and lots of elephant dung.
Note that the best time to visit the Hoollongapar Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary is between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m., so you have to get up early for the best chances to see something. Remember, wildlife can be unpredictable, so there’s no guarantee of seeing animals, even the gibbons. Even if you don’t see any, heading out on an adventure through the brush makes visiting this sanctuary one of the best things to see and do in Jorhat!
Try Spicy Pani Puri
My favorite Indian food of all-time is pani puri. This tasty and addictive street food dish consists of leavened, hollow flatbread called puris, which puffs up into a ball when they’re fried. The puris are then filled with potatoes, chilies, onions, a spiced water called pani, and various chutneys or sauces.
They’re meant to be eaten in one bite, and when you crunch down on them, the mixture inside washes over your palate like a blissful wave of goodness! While pani puri is extremely tasty when made the traditional way, there is a spicy variant that can be found on the streets of Jorhat that is even more flavorful!
The way it usually works is, the vendor keeps serving you pani puris until you tell him you’re done. This variation contained a spicy sauce that was very hot and incredibly tasty. The puri had a great crunch and nice, tasty chunks of potato. I’d never had a pani puri that was as spicy as these little pockets of fire and flavor. If this isn’t one of the top things to see and do in Jorhat, I don’t know what is!
The vendor also gave me a few dry puris without the pani inside. As much as I love pani, I found that I liked this dry version even better! They were both spicy and sweet and had an incredible mix of flavors that I don’t think I could ever get tired of. It costs only 10 rupees ($0.14 U.S.) for 5 puris, but the cool thing is, the vendor actually gives you an extra one for free! Six pani puris for less than 20 cents is a deal you can’t beat!
Eat the Raj Kachori at Crunchy Bites
In the eight weeks I’ve spent exploring India (as of June of 2019), I’ve eaten over two hundred unique dishes. But every now and then, I come across one I’ve never tried before, which gets me really excited. One of those dishes is the raj kachori, which you can find at Crunchy Bites. This kachori is a big, round, crunchy, and hollow flatbread that is stuffed with potatoes, tomatoes, onions, sev, white sauce, tamarind chutney, and masala.
It’s a type of chaat, a wide variety of savory snacks, often served by the roadside, that contain fried dough, potato, chickpeas, yogurt, chopped onion, and more. This raj kachori looked fantastic and tasted even better than it looked! While there was no heat to it, it was bursting with a multitude of flavors, including a slight sourness similar to sour cream and the sweetness from the tamarind chutney.
I loved breaking pieces of the kachori into the filling and eating it all together in one delicious bite. The textures were out of this world and I could not get enough of it. Eating it is, without question, one of the best things to see and do in Jorhat. Best of all, this filling, flavorful snack only costs 60 rupees, or $0.86 U.S.
Visit Majuli Island
Tourists visiting Jorhat should carve out several hours to take a day trip to nearby Majuli Island. Majuli Island is the second-largest river island in the world. This island is located within the banks of the nearby Brahmaputra River. It isn’t the easiest to access, as it can only be reached by ferry. Ferry service to the island operates six times per day from Jorhat.
In addition to its status as a massive river island, Majuli is home to both tribal and non-tribal peoples and temples. It is best known, however, for its satras, or monasteries where elements of Vaishnavism are taught. One of the most popular satras is the Majuli Sri Sri Chamaguri Satra, which is famous for its mask makers.
There, visitors can view and even wear some of the most intricate masks while learning about their significance. You can also watch performances and buy smaller masks as souvenirs. Collecting masks from around the world is a hobby of mine, so visiting Majuli Island was one of my favorite things to see and do in Jorhat!
Try the Upper Assamese Thali at Chouka Ethnic Cuisine
One of the best things to see and do in Jorhat is to try a local thali. A thali typically consists of a large platter that contains lots of Indian dishes. Depending on which region of India you’re in, they’ll come with bread, rice, or both. The best thali I tried in Jorhat can be found at a small but wonderful restaurant called Chouka Ethnic Cuisine.
I recommend going with their Upper Assamese veg thali. Add some chicken with sesame seed, mutton, and pork wrapped in banana leaf if you want some meat. You can also order fish, pigeon, and duck. Beware: these dishes typically contain lots of small bones, so I advise taking extreme caution while eating.
This fantastic thali contained a light fruit veg salad with carrot and onions. There is also a sensational pitika that contains a tasty mixture of mashed eggplant, garlic, and potatoes. I also recommend the peppery, soupy dal and a sautéed spinach-like vegetable with garlic and oil.
The chunky, fried potatoes are somewhat similar to French fries. If you like yucca or bamboo shoots, you can’t miss the papaya soup! The fruit had a taste and texture that was very similar to both. You also must try the phenomenal black rice pudding!
One of the highlights of this meal is the chicken with sesame curry, which I first tried in Guwahati. The tender and juicy chicken is bathed in the dark, rich, and intensely flavorful curry. It’s one of my favorite dishes I ate in Assam!
Another must-have is the mutton with papaya and potatoes, which also came in a rich, brown curry. I couldn’t get enough of the tender and juicy goat meat. If you’re lucky, you’ll also be able to suck some delicious marrow out of the bones. It’s so tasty and is one of my favorite things to do when I eat mutton.
The star of the meal, in my opinion, is the pork with chilies and potatoes. Everything is cooked and wrapped in a banana leaf, which adds a wonderful and unmistakable flavor to everything inside. They say you eat with your eyes first and this dish was certainly a feast for them! It is extremely colorful and peppered with lots of vibrant spices.
The crunchy, fatty, and spicy banana leaf curry was also insanely good. The pork dishes in northeast India are on another level. Unlike other regions of India, pork is extremely popular in the northeast. The people there cook it better than any other place I’ve visited in the world! It was one of my favorite pork dishes of all time. Eating this heavenly pork creation is, without question, one of the top things to see and do in Jorhat!
The town of Jorhat may be small when compared to the megacities in other parts of the country. However, there is no shortage of things to see and do there. Between its outstanding cuisine and rich culture, Jorhat is a vibrant town that requires several days to explore. Those who travel to India without experiencing this town are sorely missing out. Book a trip to Jorhat today to experience its wonders for yourself!
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