Home to the one thirds of the One Horned Rhino, this is a world heritage site. It also boasts the highest density for the tigers. The thrill of sigthing a tiger in the tall grasses makes one sit on their edge of their vehicle seats. It is also home for large breeding populations of elephants, water buffalos and swamp deer. With all the above species found, Kaziranga is popularly known as The Home For The BIG Five.
Kaziranga has been identified by Birdlife International as an Important Bird Area. It is home to a variety of migratory birds, water birds, predators, scavengers, and game birds.
Birds such as the lesser white-fronted goose, ferruginous duck, Baer's pochard duck and lesser adjutant, greater adjutant, black-necked stork, and Asian openbill stork migrate from Central Asia to the park during winter. Riverine birds include theBlyth's kingfisher, white-bellied heron, Dalmatian pelican, spot-billed pelican, Nordmann's greenshank, and black-bellied tern.
Birds of prey include the rare eastern imperial, greater spotted, white-tailed, Pallas's fish eagle, grey-headed fish eagle, and the lesser kestrel. The most endangered Bengal Florican is only found in these jungles.
How to Reach
The nearest Airport is Guwahati. There are connecting flights to Guwahati from most of the metros in India. From Guwahati, one needs to drive down to Kaziranga. Guwahati also boasts a very important and a big railway station. For people who love train travel, they too can reach here before heading to Kaziranga. The drive is through one of the first International Highway. This road goes all the way to Burma. They are also extending this road to Thailand. The drive takes about five hours bit it is never boring as the green fields bordering the highway with the farmers working is a treat to one's eyes. Rice is the main crop of this belt. Different varieties of rice are grown here. The increase of tourists have improved the food quality and the places to eat on this highway. There are a plenty of Dhabas ( local food joints) which serve mostly north indian cuisine. Freshly made rotis are a specialty here. They are generally made on the road side and the way they flip it in mid air is something which needs a lot of practice.
There are a lot of festivals being celebrated in this part of the country. The local art and traditions are very well maintained here. One such example is , all the villages have a competition of building a structure of an animal with straw. They call this ' Bihu Garh'. Last year it was this huge bird which won the competition. Off-course the wings have had their toll because of the strong winds.
Enroute at a place called Jagirudh, Asia's largest dry fish market is found. A plenty of paper mills, which use bamboo to make paper line up on both sides of this highway. The mills have a lot of lights and from far they look like small towns. When the driver was questioned , why so many lights are being used for such small establishments, he replied that, a lot of elephants are attracted to these factories as they love the tender bamboo shoots.
In the dark they come to raid the place and there have been several occasions where there have been human animal conflict. And during these occasions , mostly a human losses his/her life and so does the animal.
The Indian army has its missile manufacturing unit at a place called Amani. This is a very large unit inside a very high wall enclosure. The small road tea shops serve some hot and very nice ginger tea. After a refreshing cup of hot tea, it is time to proceed towards our destination. The open fields slowly give away to the wooded jungles. The boards along the side of the road, indicates that one has entered the Kaziranga National park limit. On a good lit morning, one can get their first sight of the One horned Rhino from the Rhino point bang on the highway.
There are many resorts at Kaziranga where one can stay. The park is divided into three zones, The Central, West and Eastern. Though all are just one large portion, to make it less congested the Govt has divided them into three zones. This avoids overcrowding of tourists and the animals do not get disturbed in this fashion.
The morning starts off with an elephant ride. Almost ten elephants with their guests on top of them start marching through the tall grass of the forests. Though Indian nationals are permitted to do elephant safaris in all zones, the foreign nationals are allowed only at the Central zone. The elephants carrying the guests go close to the rhinos and their calves which are munching on the succulent grass. On a lucky day, one can sight the elusive tigers trying to run away from these elephants.
Winters and early summers are the best time to see the birds on the grass lands. It is recommended to stay for at least three nights to get to see all the zones. During monsoons the park is closed as the mighty Brahmaputra floods the entire plains. The tea estates which border the forests are huge work places for the residents. The estates also have retail outlets where they sell the various produces.
On the return journey, one can visit a island near Guwahati city called the Umananda. This is the place for one of the most endangered primate species called the Golden Langur. There is a family of 9 individuals which live here. There is a small temple on this island which the locals come to perform pujas. One needs to hire a ferry to reach this island. The ferry ride is very interesting.
The locals own small thatched outlets where they sell locally manufactured goods like the spears. Poaching the Rhinos have been a major threat and is leading to the species extinction. The largeness of the park and the easy access from the neighboring countries makes this very easy. The horns of the Rhinos fetch a very high price in the International market. People beleive that the horns have many medicinal values, which is not right. To ensure that this Unesco Heritage site lives for ever, we have to stop buying any product made of animal parts. Please understand, when the buying Stops, the Killing stops!!
Nearest Airport : Guwahati
Best time to visit : Jan to April and Nov, Dec
Available Cusine : Multicusine, but one is highly recommended to try out the Assamis food
Recommended places of stay: Borgois, Iora are some of the good resorts. There are many other resorts.
By : chandrashekar k www.travelunbounded.com