Silchar is the headquarters of Cachar district in the state of Assam in India. It is 343 kilometres (213 mi) south east of Guwahati. It is the second-largest city of the state in terms of population and municipal area. It also has the 2nd busiest Airport (76 civilian flights/week) in Assam and 4th busiest in North east after Guwahati, Agartala and Imphal. After around 68 years of Indian independence, only recently, the railroad connectivity has been upgraded to broad gauge. Suresh Prabhu, the present rail minister, has announced direct rail connectivity to metropolitan cities like New Delhi and Kolkata with regular train services having been commenced as planned. Being politically stable in the otherwise disturbed Northeast earned it the bon mot of "Island of Peace" from India's then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Bengali Hindus 52% of the Silchar population forms the majority of Silchar City while Bengali Muslims about 28% are the second largest community in Silchar. Approximately 80% residents of Silchar are Bengalis (including Bengali Muslims) who speak the Sylheti dialect, the rest being Dimasa (barman), Manipuri (Meitei), Bishnupuriya, Bihari people, Marwaris and some Nagas. Silchar is situated by the banks of the Barak River in what is popularly known as Barak Valley. Rice is the staple cereal. Fish is also widely consumed. Shutki (the local name for dried fish), shidal chutney and chunga-r peetha (sticky rice cakes prepared inside bamboo sticks) are some of the local delicacies. During the British rule, ships were docked at the bank of the river Barak. Gradually, a market developed at the bank and became a major place of economic activity. The bank was covered with stones to help dock ships and vessels, and the market was developed at a place that was fully covered with stones. People started to refer to the place as Shiler Chor, meaning "a bank of stones". With the passage of time, Shiler Chor was simplified to Silchar, and ultimately the British officials started to use the name Silchar in their official documents referring to the surrounding area of the market. Thus Silchar became the official name of the place. In the 1850s, British tea planters re-discovered the game polo in Manipur on the Burmese border with India. The first polo club in the world was formed at Silchar. The first competitive modern form of polo was played in Silchar, the plaque for this feat still stands behind the District Library, Silchar. The Assam Bengal Railway brought Silchar into the Indian railway map in 1899. The railway line from Lumding to Silchar is hailed as one of the most exciting pristine railway tracks of India. Built by the British during the colonial rule, the meter gauge line stands testimony to the grandiose of what was once a highly popular city in the North-East. But in November 2015, a new broad gauge railway track was introduced by replacing meter gauge between silchar and guwahati. Khaspur: 20 km from Silchar stands the ruin of a great Dimasa kingdom, capital of historical time and importance. Khaspur was the capital of the Dimasa Kachari Kings and its construction was completed in 1690 AD. The main attractions are the Lion Gate, the Sun Gate and age-old kings temple. The original palace is non-existent, but its subsidiaries, the main entrance gate, the Suryadwar, Debalaya are intact. The entrances are of elephant-patterns. Bhuban Temple established by the great Dimasa warrior Veer Shambudhan Phonglo is the most celebrated temple of Lord Shiva in the entire South Assam. The Bhubaneshwar temple is about 50 km from Silchar and is on the top the Bhuvan hill. This is a place of pilgrimage and during the festival of Shivaratri, thousand of Shivayats march towards the hilltop to worship Lord Shiva. This temple by its geography attracts a lot of hikers as there are no motor roads to reach the hilltop. One has to hike at least 17 km from the plains to the temple. Iskcon Temple is an important temple dedicated mainly to Lord Krishna. The temple is in Ambikapatty, Silchar. It was built and is being operated by the world-famous Sanatan Dharmic spiritual organization ISKCON. There is a vegetarian restaurant operated nearby by the organization ISKCON. Kancha Kanti Kali Temple: 11 km from Silchar stands the historical and most celebrated temple of South Assam, i.e., the temple of Mother Goddess "Kachakanti". She is said to be amalgamation of two powerful Hindu deities: mother Durga and mother Kali. The original temple was built in 1806 AD by the Kachari king. Human sacrifices were offered to the Goddess till 1818 AD. The old temple is ruined now and has been replaced by new temple which was built in 1978. Gandhibag is in Park Road, at the center of the town. The park is named after Mahatma Gandhi. There is a Shahid Minar in the park dedicated to the language martyrs who sacrificed their lives on 19 May 1962 fighting for the protection of the Bengali language against the Government of Assam. Maniharan Tunnel is a popular pilgrim spot about 5 km from Bhubaneswar temple. As per mythology, this tunnel was once used by Lord Krishna. The holy River Tribeni flows beneath this tunnel. Maniharan temple, dedicated to Lord Krishna, is on the premises. Silchar is connected by road, railways and air to the rest of the country. Silchar railway station falls under the jurisdiction of the Northeast Frontier Railway zone of the Indian Railways. The railway gauge functioned here is Indian Gauge. The railway station is situated in Tarapur, Silchar. The Indian Gauge conversion which includes the reconstruction of the railway station has been started from 1 October 2014 onwards as a part of the Lumding - Badarpur - Silchar railway section of the Northeast Frontier Railway zone of the Indian Railways. Regular bus services connect Silchar with Guwahati, Shillong, Aizawl, Agartala and Imphal through NH 37 and NH 53. However, during the rainy seasons, heavy downpour affects the Silchar-Shillong-Guwahati route causing frequent landslides which affects the road transportation. There is an Inter State Bus and an Inter State Truck Terminus which was constructed in the year 2005. The under construction four lane East - West corridor will connect Silchar in the east with Saurashtra in the west. Air connectivity Silchar (IXS) is located at Kumbhirgram, about 22 km from Silchar and there are regular flights connecting Silchar with Kolkata, Guwahati & Tezpur. The airport is being modernised and is considered the fourth-busiest in north eastern India after Guwahati, Imphal and Agartala in terms of flight movements. Silchar has been selected as one of the towns for the construction of 51 low cost airports across the country recently. In December 1985, Air India operated the first all-woman crew flight in the world from Kolkata to Silchar which was commanded by Captain Saudamini Deshmukh on a Fokker F-27 Friendship aircraft.

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