This week’s prompt is about an interesting visit that is neither mountain nor sea. I thought of writing about our trip to Assam to see one horned Rhino. Assam is a huge state split into two halves by Brahmaputra river. My original plan was to visit Manas National Park in Barpeta district. Travel planner insisted and included a visit to Kaziranga. According to him visiting Assam and not seeing Kaziranga is a sacrilege. It is important to note that in addition to Kaziranga and Manas, there are seven other sanctuaries in Assam.
Journey Plan : We flew from Delhi to Guahati. After overnight stay at Guahati, we moved west ward from Guahati in Kamroop district towards Goalpara district, where we crossed the mighty Brahmaputra river and entered Bongaigaon district. At Bongaigaon we started moving eastward. At Barpeta town we left highway to reach Manas National Park. After spending a night at Manas, we moved eastward crossed Nalbari, Darrang and Sonitpur districts before crossing Brahmaputra river again to reach Nowgaon district. We moved further east to reach Kaziranga in Jorhat district. We spent two nights at Kaziranga before coming back to Guahati.
Actual Journey : We spent one night at Abhaya Puri in New Bongaigaon district. A photo of mighty Brahmaputra river, the long Naranaryan Setu and a sunset over Brahmaputra river is shown below. These photos were taken from Jogigopha town in Bongaigaon district. It is so named because there are caves where ascetics used to do their meditation. These sites are protected sites.
We moved towards Manas National Park after morning breakfast. At Barpeta town, we got out of the highway and moved towards Manas National Park by the Manas river. During insurgency in Assam, many animals were killed / poached. Now it is believed animals are coming back and reserve is bouncing back. Manas is a biosphere reserve, UNESCO world heritage site. Park is part of Chirang Ripu elephant reserve. It is home to wild elephants, rhinos, wild buffalo, etc. The forest was very quiet the day we visited. We saw a herd of wild elephants, two rhinos, and one wild buffalo. It was getting dark by 4.30 in the evening. Guide who accompanied us, advised against use of flash. I realised, why travel planner was so adamant about us visiting Kaziranga.
Kaziranga park is spread over an area of 858 square kilometres. Though famous for one horned rhino, Kaziranga has a variety of other animals. Which include elephants, wild buffalo, tiger, among others. Kaziranga allows only gypsies to move inside the park. On a given day nearly 300 gypsies go inside the park through five gates. It appears ferrying tourist is a way of supporting family in the area. We availed two jeep safaries one in the morning and the other in the afternoon.
Kaziranga forest has big grass lands with tall elephant grass growing. In between grass lands, there are water bodies. The place is ideal grazing ground for herbibhores like rhino, wild buffalo, elephant and deer population.
As we entered the park, we one lone rhino. The animal was probably engaged in a fight and had a deep wound on its body. An animal with such thick skin, which other animal can inflict such serious wound? May be another rhino, who knows? Apparently, the animal is carrying its injury for a week at least. Kaziranga was teeming with Rhinos. One can even see them from the highway. I got a shot of a buffalo from a distance. We did not avail elephant back safari. I hear one may be able to spot a tiger from elephant back.
Food and Lodging : Our journey, our stay and our vehicle was planned by a travel group. Other than airfare, we spent around eight thousand per person (three people) for six night stay. We stayed at the following places :
Baruah Bhavan : First night and last night at Guahati we spent at At Guahati we stayed at Baruah Bhavan. A heritage house. Baruah Bhavan is not a hotel. One night stay costs less than 3000 rupees. Meals cost extra. Room comes with a TV, air conditioner and attached bath.
Astha Nature Reserve : Astha Reserve has small cottages for overnight and beyond. We stayed for a night in one of the cottages right infront of a pond. Our room was cosy with three beds and attached bath. The room also has a television. Breakfast came with the package. Lunch and dinner we had to buy.
Birina tourist lodge beside a tea garden was where we stayed at Manas. Room had three beds and an attached bath. Breakfast was complimentary. Lunch, dinner, tea and snacks we had to pay for.
Green Grass Cottage : At Kaziranga we stayed at Green Grass Cottage. This place is slightly upscale being frequented by foreigners and official looking people from North East. Anyway, we had a nice room, good food and a nice stay.
This article is written as part of Indispire Prompt. More articles in response to the prompt may be found here.