Assam, one of the north eastern Seven Sister states of India, is a fascinating land of tribal people and customs, unspoiled natural charms, and immaculate tea gardens. The huge Brahmaputra Valley is the lifeblood of the state, supply water, food and inspiration for the people of Assam. The fertile valley has attracted people from many ethnic, linguistic and religious backgrounds, making Assam a colourful mosaic of people and traditions.
Tucked away in Assam lies Kaziranga National Park. This World Heritage site is home to over 70% of the world’s population of the highly endangered one horned rhino, as well as the highest density of tigers in any protected area. Elephants, wild water buffalo, swamp deer, leopards and many varieties of birds also call Kaziranga home.
How it All Began
Kaziranga is much less visited than the other famous ‘tiger parks’ such as Ranthambhore and Corbett, possibly due to its distance form the major cities of India such as Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata. However, Guwahati is well connected by air to all these cities, and is only 220km away from Kaziranga itself. You can also fly to Jorhat, less than two hours from Kaziranga.
The area gained reserve status when the wife of Viceroy Curzon visited in 1904, having been told it was a haven for wild rhinoceros. She failed to see a single rhino, and implored her husband Lord Curzon to take urgent action. In 1905, The Reserve Forest area was proposed. Fortunately, the rampant poaching which had been going on was curtailed and the rhino population was left mostly undisturbed.
The Flora, Fauna and the Safari
The park itself has distinct areas of marshes and wetlands, mixed deciduous forest, vast savannah grasslands and islands constantly changing with the course of the mighty Brahmaputra, one of Asia’s great rivers. This means that each area has different flora and fauna, and you really should make the time to see them all while you are in Assam.
While in Kaziranga you may take safaris on elephant, or in jeeps. Elephant safaris usually start at around 5.0 am – but it’s worth it to watch the sunrise from your vantage point atop this magnificent creature, as the jungle wakes up for another day. Few experiences can be more wonderful than slowly moving through the tall grass, or under low hanging branches, while the world slowly comes to life again. Jeep safaris usually start by 7.30.
Where to stay
Accommodation at Kaziranga is plentiful, with some wonderful resorts and inns to choose from, in a variety of price ranges to suit everyone. For a completely luxurious option choose a week long stay on the M.V. Mahabaahu – a cruise ship on the Brahmaputra- that takes in a visit to the national park. Another option is Borgos Resort, with its lush surrounds and excellent facilities. An added advantage is that it also sits right at the edge of the park gate.
Sign me up. When Can I go?
Kaziranga is normally open from 1 November through to 30 April (depending on monsoon or animal census),so plan your trip to the beautiful north east now.