TEZPUR, Nov 16 � Though the Assam Government claims from time to time of promoting tourism by launching a number of projects for developing many a tourist hotspots of the State, however many such spots have not come to the notice of the authorities. This is proved by the magnificent Gakhir-Khati lake and its adjoining areas located near the Kolia Bhomora bridge that is yet to be tapped as a tourist spot.
Gakhir-Khati lake is a beautiful lake formed by the mighty river Brahmaputra that flows into the area. The lake surrounded by beautifully forested hillocks on all sides. The lake which is locally popular as Gakhir-Khati beel (lake) is also home to local and hybrid fishes thereby providing income to the fishermen.
The area was once a nerve centre of pure milk (khati gakhir) as the open dairy farming to produce pure milk (khati-gakhir which colloquially became gakhir-khati) was a major source of income generation for hundreds of people of the greater area. However, with the passage of time, the area has been encroached upon by suspected Bangladeshis and the business has now been closed down.
Located about 20 km away from Tezpur town, the Gakhir-Khati lake is surrounded by greenery from all sides which makes it more beautiful and exotic from the tourist�s point of view. The lake can be reached by Tezpur-Porwa Chariali road or by Tezpur-Dulabari road via F-Police line road touching the 37 (A) National Highway and also by boat from Ganesh Ghat through river Brahmaputra.
Travel writer Dip Kalita who has already written a number of travel guides on Sonitpur, interacting with this reporter said that the forests surrounding Gakhir-Khati lake thrive with some valuable trees shrubs and herbs. On the other hand, trees growing in a systematic row on the roadsides under the Social Forestry Project also provide a charming view to the people travelling by the way. �If the Gakhir-Khati lake encompassing more than 110 bighas of land are notified in the tourism map of Assam, then it would definitely be given top priority by the agencies concerned,� he said. Ironically the Assam Government or the local administration (either Sonitpur or the Nagaon district administration) is reluctant to develop Gakhir-Khati as a tourist hotspot and it has not mooted any proposal in this regard for several years. Sources said that the reserve forests in the Gakhir-Khati lake area, comprising the low undulating Bhumuraguri hill covered with deciduous forests and patches of evergreen forest under West Sonitpur Forest Division on the north bank of the Brahmaputra river is the habitat of some critically-endangered species like the deer, python, leopard, elephant, rhino etc., as it is very close to the sixth addition of the Kaziranga National Park. Sources also say that over 50 species of domestic and migratory birds have been reported in and around the lake and its adjoining forests including the Bhumuraguri hill.
It may be mentioned here that the area wears a unique look with the Kolia Bhomora Setu ( named after the Ahom general Kalia Bhomora Phukan) over the mighty river Brahmaputra which connects Sonitpur on the north bank with Nagaon district on the south bank. Moreover, as per legend, there was a saint named �Kanakya� who built a beautiful ashram on the top of the �Kolia Bhumura hill� close to the bridge. In later years, the department concerned built a guest house on its top which is named after the saint Kanakya as Kanakya guest house. Both the lake and the hill are home to several species of valuable trees, wild orchids, endangered wildlife including birds and fishes. Records also reveal that there was a historic embankment (gar like the Mumai Kota gar) in the area constructed by the Ahom king Pratap Singha which was popular as �Raj Ali�. Another mentionable thing is that from the top of the Bhumura Guri Hill, the historic Silghat area in Nagaon district (a unique picnic spot with a beautiful hill view) is also visible which has been an attraction for the people. During the winter season, particularly on New Year eve, hundreds of picnic parties rush to the spot for enjoyment. However, the regrettable thing is that despite the presence of departments like the Forest and the Tourism departments, it is yet to gain priority.
Moreover, apart from utilizing the lake as a place for fish production, nothing has been done to develop it for the attraction of tourists. Local people told this reporter that nobody has come yet to harness this beauty of nature, boost the downtrodden local indigenous people living on the periphery of the lake and help in the protection of flora and fauna and develop the infrastructure although it is situated within both Sonitpur and Nagaon districts.