The journey from Pelling to Tezpur was adventurous to say the least... Got to Bagdogra through 3 sumos, Bagdogra to Guwahati on a flight, straight off to the Guwahati bus stand (which is outside the city), a 5 hour ride to Tezpur and finally late night a rickshaw ride from Tezpur bus stand to the hotel... had forgotten how rickshaw rides are :)
The reason for doing Tezpur was to see the mighty Brahmaputra. We have all read tales about it, so had to see it for myself.
But I had forgotten that this was late March, Tezpur was hot and the river had shrunk quite a bit. But the banks bore proof of how wide it goes during the rains and the impact it has on people's lives there.
Tezpur has little else (couple of religious places, for those interested in Hindu mythology, this is where the Har-Hari battle took place).
But I was dying to get to Kaziranga, which is what we did the next day, again a bus journey.... Now Kaziranga is another story. It is easily India's best kept national park, one of those rare places where wild life population actually has an
increasing trend. Apart from the one-horned rhino which its famous for, there are tigers (didnt see them), elephants and an endless species of birds.
Being on the banks of the Brahmaputra, every rainy season, the whole park gets flooded, so the park has built high ground to which the animals go to as rains come in. And some actually get out of the park, cross the highway and climb up to the mountains around and come back after the rains. Amazing, what animals do for survival.
There are two ways to see the rhino, one is the Elephant safari (man, taking pictures while being on an elephant ride requires serious skill) and the other is the jeep safari.
Interestingly, its only the female elephants who are used for safari (lazy menfolk, eh!) and their little babies join them in the safari. And rhinos freak out sometimes when the elephants get close (though that didnt happen when we did the safari, all of them seemed a friendly bunch). After the safari, all the tourists were very happy to play with the baby elephants who pretty much want to be fed all the time :)
While I was
happy with just the Elephant safari, Isabell forced me to do the Jeep Safari as well and am I glad she pushed me. The best view of the rhino came from the Jeep Safari, its another matter that I was risking our lives taking the pictures of a pretty pissed off rhino who was standing in the middle of the road (didnt realize, that while he weighs nearly 2000 KGs, he can run at 55 km/h for short periods of time and we were in a gypsy). The rhino decided not to chase, we were probably not his type :)
But just amazing to get those set of pics
Extremely well protected, the rangers told stories of poachers they had shot dead in the last 6 months. This park probably has the best equipped rangers in India. But unfortunately, the park is running out of space (its only 430 sq km), hope the government and the local people will find a way of expanding the park to meet increasing population of wildlife.
Just as we left from Kaziranga to Guwahati, there had been an accident between a bus and a truck, the roads were completely jammed. The
cops finally got one of the local elephant owners to come with his elephants and clear the damaged vehicles away from the road. Increcible India indeed :)
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