Kaziranga National Park is a sumptuous spread of grey marshy wetlands, lush elephant grasses and an assortment of indigenous trees. A harmonious existence of all species balances the sensitive ecology of the region.
The shades of forest green complement the brown and grey sandy earth. Slender man made gulleys wind and circle deep into the heart of the jungle as a python would entrap its prey.
The forest is a symphony of noises – Leaves rustling in the breeze, animal barks and cries mingling with the sounds of the birds, hidden from view. A crack or snap of the branch makes you instinctively turn around with no one in sight.
A birders paradise, several birds are permanent residents or are here for a stopover during their migratory journey.
The big five – The One-Horned rhinoceros, Royal Bengal Tiger, Asian elephant, wild water buffalo and swamp deer, call this their home. Most of them sadly feature in the ever growing list of endangered species.
The one horned rhino continues to be an endangered animal due to the demand for its horn in many countries.
Hunted for their prized horn since the British era, these discreet and peace loving animals are on the decline since then.
Lady Curzon, the wife of the British Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon took a special interest towards the conservation of the rhinos and was instrumental in designating Kaziranga as a proposed Forest Reserve in 1905. The Indian government later designated it as Kaziranga National Park where clear anti-poaching laws were passed. In 1985 Kaziranga received the UNESCO World Heritage status and is now an internationally protected forest park.
The deep and wild Brahmaputra river runs along the vast and emerald forest journeying together as soul mates.
Sometimes as a raging partner the Brahmaputra causes severe flooding during the monsoons triggering mayhem among the animals resulting in loss of life and vegetation.
The park remains closed between May to October due to the incessant rains. Best time to visit is during the cool winters where the park is blanketed in a dense fog making everything look magical.
Visitors have the option to choose jeep or elephant rides. Jeeps travel on designated paths. They have to be booked in advance and every jeep is accompanied by an authorized guide.
Riding an elephant is a personal moral choice. It allows for a close encounter with the wild animals as the elephants can go deep into the foliage. I had booked both options, when I visited the park in 2017, however today I would only choose jeep rides.
Wild elephants have to undergo rigorous training in order to be domesticated and become submissive to the Mahout (elephant rider). This is not a natural process. Even though the park may claim to treat them well, however the training process is not acceptable. I was unaware then, but now I am enlightened and choose not to ride any animals.
The park is broadly divided into 3 zones:
Eastern zone – Bagori gate conducts jeep safaris.
Central zone – Kohora gate conducts jeep safaris and is popular with visitors due to high sightings of rhinos.
Western zone – conducts Elephant safaris, where Mahouts (elephant riders) lead the safari.
Tea plantations are a legacy of the British who setup a prosperous industry and used the Brahmaputra river to transport the tea.
A visit to the Hathikuli Tea Plantation is worth your money as they sell several types of teas from the gardens.
How to travel
Location – Country – India, State – Assam, Capital – Guwahati
Nearest Airport – Guwahati, book a car from here to travel the 200+ kms
Nearest Railway Station – Furkating which is approx. 75kms away
By Road – check the State Transport buses or private buses as they do stop near the park.
Where to stay
There are several resorts to choose from. I stayed at the Infinity Resort.
Take a guided group tour so that jeep and stay costs can be shared. The safari bookings too will be taken care of.