Day 4 – Guwahati

And a truck taking a Durga statue to its pandal, a place where it will be set out for the Puja that started today.

Assam is a welcome change. The area is very green, an enormous contrast to Kolkata, and the climate extremely hot and humid.

We checked into the Hotel Radisson and had the best lunch we will have in a long while… as many choices as you can imagine and all you can eat.  Here is a bit of the dessert bar to give a flavor.

After lunch we drove for about an hour and a half to the town of Sualkuchi, known for centuries for its silk weavers. The entrance honors the town’s traditions with statues of female figures weaving on looms.

We visited a farm where silk worms are grown. There are 3 types of worms: the Bombex ones we are familiar with that eat mulberry leaves; Eri silkworms that eat castor leaves and break out of their cocoons. The cocoons produce a light beige silk and the castor leaves that look like this:

And worms which produce a silk called Muga. This silk is golden and very shiny.  Muga silk is the one we saw produced today.

The farm is nurturing the trees on which the Muga worms will be placed. The government supplies the tiny worms which grow to thumb-size in about a month after they are placed on the trees.

The cocoons are gathered….

before the caterpillar turns into a moth. The moths are very large, palm-sized.

After the silk thread is woven, it produces golden textiles much in demand in Assam for dowries and weddings.

Next we visited a weaving family who lives on this street in the village.

The cocoons are put into water and a piece of bamboo laid across the pan. A thread is pulled from the cocoon and the unraveling begins.

It takes two people. Here the mother unravels the cocoon while the father…

reels the thread onto a spool.

The family complex includes several large floor looms.

Some of the looms are controlled by jacquard cards.

The resulting silk textiles are very finely woven.

On the way back to Guwahati, we passed several truck loads of revelers priming for the Durga Puja.

And the Brahmaputra River, one of Asia’s major rivers.

Back in town, I took a photo from my hotel window. Lots of new development going on.

Tomorrow we drive four hours and cross the border into Bhutan.

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