Assam - The mystic Northeast

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March 26th 2015
Published: January 12th 2018
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We drove from Shillong in Meghalaya to Kaziranga in Assam which took us about 5 hrs. You know you are in Assam when you see stretches of paddy fields and tea plantations around you. As we drove along the perimeter of Kaziranga National Park , we spotted couple of one horned Rhinoceros and got excited about our next day's safari in the park.

One can find variety of wildlife in most of the wildlife national parks in India but some parks are mainly known for specific kind of wildlife. For instance, Bandipur and Nagarhole National parks in the South are famous for Bengal tigers, Gir Forest in Gujarat for Asiatic Lions; and Asiatic Elephants are found throughout. Similarly, Kaziranga National Park in Assam takes pride in having one-horned rhinoceros , one of the endangered species on Earth.

We checked into a small hotel on the perimeter of Kaziranga National park. Next day, we set out early in the morning towards the national park to buy tickets. It had rained the previous night in Kaziranga and it was cloudy that morning too. We were a little apprehensive about the safari getting cancelled. Anyways, we went and stood in the queue to buy tickets and it started pouring !! But luckily, the rains stopped after 10 mins. With the tickets in our hand, we walked towards the pick-up point where we would get on to the elephants. Safari in Kaziranga is on elephants. Every elephant carries four people plus the mahout. The safari is for an hour or so.

My husband and I and our friend couple got on to the elephant. The elephant took us into the jungle and then walked into an open space with tall grasses. There they were - the one horned rhinoceros ! So many of them. It looked like they were wearing an armour - such is their skin, neatly layered. And a single small horn on the nose. It is amazing to see that such big creatures are herbivores ! The rhinos were happily grazing in the open grassland. We saw a baby rhino grazing with its mother and the mother was so protective of the baby. If an elephant was nearing them, the mother rhino would try to scare away the elephant to protect its baby. And the baby rhino was so cute !! Pity that these animals are killed for their horns . We also spotted sarang ( a species of deer) and bisons on the safari.

The elephant dropped us back at the pick-up point and we walked out of the park talking about the rhinos. In the evening we were to come back to the park for a jeep safari that would take us deep into the jungle. In the evening, in an open jeep, we set off for the jungle safari. We spotted an elephant herd crossing the road , different species of deer, varieties of birds , bisons and rhinos. We then stopped at a building with markings on its pillars. They read H.F.L 2004 , H.F.L 1988 , H.F.L 2014 each at marked at a different level. When we asked the driver what those markings meant, he said, those markings indicated the flooding level in that particular year. Surprised, we again looked at the pillars and were a little shocked because the water levels were almost 1 to 1.5 floors high in the years 1998 and 1988 ! It is very unfortunate that Bramhaputra river floods Bihar and Assam in India and Bangladesh too in the monsoons. Many people are left homeless and their livestock dead. Kaziranga National Park is not spared either. Many animals die every year in the floods. But our driver told us one interesting fact about the wild animals in the Kaziranga National Park. He said , during the floods all animals try and get away to highlands in the jungle. There on the highlands would be lions, rhinos, elephants, deer etc but the most amazing part is that though the carnivores can eat other animals, they will not ! They all know they are there to survive the floods and hence no animal is attacked. Just wondering if animals could be so sensible in the time of crisis, why can't humans be?

Next day, we went to visit Majuli - the largest river island in the world. Majuli is an island in the Bramhaputra river and is inhabited. We took a ferry from Johrat to reach Majuli. The ferry ride on Bramhaputra river was exhilarating. The river is so wide and so vast ! I have not seen the Ganges yet , so this experience was very thrilling! We reached Majuli around 10ish in the morning and took a local autorickshaw to reach the satras ( temples). On our way we could see paddy fields, bamboo huts and small houses. We visited the satras and were strolling when we spotted the local tribal women weaving the gamosa - a rectangular white piece of cloth with designs made of red threads. Gamosa is a vital part of Assamese culture. Curious, we walked towards their bamboo huts. Under the huts were the weaving setups and were all manually operated. Within no time children gathered around us. We spoke with the ladies and asked them if they had gamosas for sale. One of the ladies walked into the huts and got few with her that ranged from simple designs to complicated ones. They were so beautiful that we couldn't resist buying. We were also told that depending on the size and work on gamosas, it could takes months to weave one.

We took the ferry back to Johrat in the afternoon and then drove back to Kaziranga. As we were ready to drive back to Guwahati the next morning, we realised that we hadn't bought the world famous Assam tea powder. We stopped at the Amalgamated Plantations tea store in Kaziranga. So many varieties of tea ! and the aroma .... We bought Hathikuli tea which was neither very strong nor very mild. Do stop by this store if you visit Kaziranga.

We reached Guwahati in the evening and retired for the day. Next day, we visited the famous Kamakya temple and few other temples. Assam is famous for its Muga silk. We also went shopping for the traditional Assamese sarees.

Our first trip to the Northeast was indeed great! It was time to say goodbye but I think we already had on mind our next holiday destination ( I definitely knew we were going back to the Northeast) 😉

Additional photos below
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13th January 2018
Mother and the baby..

Kaziranga National Park
Another great blog of a less visited part of India, itzrashmi. The one horned rhinos with their layered armour coats are magnificent. The elephant safari sounds definitely the way to go. As the Brahmaputra in flood is not the time to visit, what month were you there?
15th January 2018
Mother and the baby..

Thank you Dancing Dave. We visited Kaziranga in the last week of March ( just before the monsoon season). I think the park remains closed during the monsoons ( Late May to September). The best time to visit the park would be between November and April.

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