Jorhat is the cultural capital of Assam and acts as a gateway to Upper Assam and Nagaland. It got its name from the two Assamese words-one is “jor” which means join and other is “hat” means market. The northern-most area of the present Jorhat district was under the reign of the Chutiya Kingdom before the Ahom-Chutiya war in the 16th century. In 1794, the Ahom king Gaurinath Singha shifted the capital from Sivasagar to Jorhat. Jorhat was the last capital of Ahoms and the place of many historical monuments of Assamese culture. Many tanks are found in this district built by Ahom kings. During Burmese invasions of Assam in 1817 and 1824, the arrival of the British army under the stewardship of David Scott and Captain Richard completely destroyed the district. In the period of British rule, some prominent revolutionists born in the soil of the district were Gomdhar Konwar, Jeuram and Piyali. Then in the year 1839 British system of administration came into vogue with an established Police station. In 1885, a narrow-gauge train service named Jorhat Provincial Railway came into operation and finally helped a lot to flourish its tea industry. Though the civil sub-division under Sibsagar district at Jorhat was created in 1869, this place was declared as administration headquarters of the undivided Sibsagar district in 1911, included the present Sibsagar, Jorhat and Golaghat and parts of Karbi-Anglong district with Major A. Playfair, appointed as its first deputy commissioner. In 1983, Jorhat was created as a separate district. Earlier, Jorhat was a sub-division of undivided Sivasagar district.
Jorhat has produced many notable personalities. Dr. Birendra Kumar Bhattacharya (1924-1997), a pioneer Assamese writer. He was the first Assamese writer who won the India’s highest literature award, the Jnanpith award. In 1961, he was also honoured by Sahitya Akademi Award for his Assamese novel Iyaruingom (Iyaruingam). Krishna Kanta Handique (1898-1982) from the district was a prominent Sanskrit scholar, an indologist and a patron. Krishna Kanta Handique State Open University is a popular open university of Assam which was named after him.
Geographically, Jorhat lies at 26°76'N latitude, 94°21'E longitude and 116 m Altitude. In the year 2021, there was a total 19.85% forest area of total geographical area. The district is bounded by Lakhimpur district on north, Nagaland on the south, Sivasagar on the east and Golaghat on the west. The district encompasses an area of 2,851 sq km. The Brahmaputra River forms a big island Majuli on the north of the district. The weather of the district remains pleasant throughout the year but during the rainy season flood is very frequent especially in Majuli. Most of its rainfall occurs in the monsoon season. The actual rainfall in the district was 1546.8 mm in the year of 2021-22.
Administrative wise, the district is divided into 6 tehsils namely Jorhat east, Jorhat west, Titabor, Teok, Mariani and Majuli. Moreover, it comprises 6 sub-districts, 11 towns and 848 villages. The district has total five assembly seats such as Jorhat, Titabor, Mariani, Teok and Dergaon. On the other hand, it has only one Lok Sabha constituency i.e. Jorhat. The administrative languages in the district are Assamese and English.
As per 2011 census, the population of the district is 10,92,256 out of which 5,56,805 are males and 5,35,451 are females. The sex ratio of the district is 962 (females for every1000 males) and child ratio of 964 (females per 1000 males). During the year 2001-2011 the population growth rate in the district was 9.31% including 7.70% were males and 11.04% were females. As per 2011 census the major religion in the district is Hindu with 92.31% of the total population. The population density in the district is 383 (persons per sq. km.). According to 2011 census the principal language in the district is Assamese with 83.42%. In the year 2020 the number of live births in the district was 19,824 out of which 10,464 were males and 9,360 were females. In the same year the number of deaths in the district was 8,448 out of which 5,616 were males and 2,832 were females.
The economy of Jorhat is mainly based on agriculture. The core field crop of the district is rice, with per capita food grain production of 205 kg per annum. The district has a number of small scale and cottage industries of cane work and bamboo work, silver jewellery, furniture making, brass smithy, umbrella making, soap manufacturing, packaged food manufacturing, etc. The district also has the headquarters of ONGC East India and Assam Arakan Basin. In the year 2018-19 the gross domestic product in the district was Rs. 10,36,400 lakhs at current price and Rs. 7,84,729 lakhs at constant prices in the year 2011-2012. The net domestic product in the district during the period 2007-08 was Rs. 3,17,309 lakh at current price and Rs. 2,45,456 lakh at constant prices in the year 1999-2000. The Per Capita Income or NDDP, At Factor Cost during the period 2018-19 was Rs. 1,27,137 at current price and Rs. 95,643 at constant prices in the year 2011-2012.
Jorhat has many colleges which provide a great platform for higher education in the state. The Jagannath Baruah College of the district was established in the year 1930 and said to be the first college in Upper Assam. Assam Agricultural University established in 1948 at Jorhat is the first and only agricultural university in the whole North East region. As per 2011 census the literacy rate in the district is 82.15% including 87.63% are males and 76.45% are females. The total number of literates in the district is 7,94,929 including 4,32,335 are males and 3,62,594 are females. The total number of illiterates in the district is 2,97,327 including 1,24,470 are males and 1,72,857 are females.
Bijoy Krishna Handique is a member of Indian National Congress and a well-known figure of politics of Assam. He was born on 1st December, 1934 at Jorhat town. He was the member of 15th Lok Sabha (2009-2014) of India, elected from Jorhat constituency, and was the cabinet minister holding dual charges of Mines and the Development of North East Region (DoNER). Tarun Gogoi, the son of Jorhat, was born on 1st April, 1936. He is a member of Indian National Congress and has served as the Chief Minister of Assam since 2001. He has made a record of three consecutive electoral victories in Assam.
Majuli, the river island of the district, is a place of pilgrimage of Vaishnavites since the ages of Ahom Kingdoms. There are 26 Satras (“Satras” means monasteries in Assamese) in Majuli of which the Kamalabari, Auniati and Garmur are foremost. Every year Majuli attracts numerous travellers from various parts of the world. Dhekiakhuwa Bornamghar (“Bornamghar” means a place of worship in Assamese) in the district was established by Saint Madhab Dev in 1461. From almost 461 years, this Namghar is playing an important role in the exercise of Vaishnav religion. Lachit Borphukan’s Maidam (“Maidam” means graveyard in Assamese) is also a tourist’s centre of attraction. He was the Ahom general who defeated the mighty Mughals at Saraighat in 1672. In 1881 during British period, Hoollongapar Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary was known as Hoollongapar Forest. It is approximately 19 km. from the Jorhat town. Mou Chapori, a river island (on might Brahmaputra) is a nice place and a picnic spot of the district.