Go on the wild side at Kaziranga National Park, Assam

Home of the Indian one-horned rhinoceros, the Bengal tiger, the Asian elephant, wild water buffalo, gaur, hog deer, capped langur, hoolock gibbon, sloth bear and many more, Kaziranga holds many more secrets and adventures. For those looking for an adventure, let’s take a safari…

WORDS BY- AMOG

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The name rhinoceros literally means ‘nose horn’. But as simple as the origins of the name might be, the animal is quite majestic and so is the place it hails from. The Kaziranga National Park is one of the most sought-after wildlife destinations in India. The park’s 430 square kilometre area, dotted with elephant-grass meadows, swampy lagoons, and dense forests, is home to more than 2200 Indian one-horned rhinoceros. That’s more than two-thirds of their world population.

The Park was formed back in 1908, on the recommendation of Mary Curzon, the wife of the Viceroy of India – Lord Curzon of Kedleston. This makes it one of the oldest national parks in India. The park is located on the edge of the Eastern Himalayan districts of Golaghat and Nagaon, in Assam. Much later, in the year 1985, the park was declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The story goes that when Mary Curzon visited the park to see Indian one-horned rhinoceros, she couldn’t find even one.

She then persuaded her husband to take urgent measures to protect the dwindling number of these beautiful species which he did by initiating planning for their protection through a Reserve. After a series of meetings and documentation, the Kaziranga Proposed Reserve Forest was created with an area of 232 sq. km in 1905.The vast expanse of tall elephant grass, marshland, and dense tropical moist broadleaf forests undoubtedly make the park look beautiful and then the Brahmaputra River, makes it look enigmatic.

Along with the iconic one-horned rhinoceros, the park is the breeding ground of elephants, wild water buffalo, and swamp deer. Over the time, the tiger population has also increased here in Kaziranga, and that’s the reason why Kaziranga was declared as Tiger Reserve in 2006. Also, the park is recognized as an important bird area by BirdLife International for the conservation of avifaunal species. Birds like lesser white-fronted goose, ferruginous duck, Baer’s

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Pochard duck and lesser adjutant, greater adjutant, black-necked stork, and Asian Openbill stork specially migrate here from Central Asia during the winter season.Undoubtedly, the park is known for its population of animals but more than that, it’s the wildlife conservation initiatives that take place here that are more popular. With its amazing wildlife conservation activities, the park has successfully managed to grow the population of one-horned rhinoceros, an endangered species.

HOW TO GET AROUND THERE:
If you want to explore the forests yourself, the best way to get close to wildlife is by authorised jeeps or if you want the more traditional experience, you could ride on elephant backs. The Central and Western Parks can be visited for spotting rhino, elephants and deer. And if you’re really lucky, you might spot a tiger or two as well.
Getting to Kaziranga has also become fairly easy over the past few years. You could take a bus from Guwahati, Jorhat, Nawgaon, Tezpur or places nearby and get down at Kohora. The nearest airport is in Jorhat town at 96 kms in the east or the Guwahati airport 225 kms located away in the west from Kaziranga. The nearest railway station to Kaziranga is Furkating on the east, which is 80 kms away. Furkating is connected by trains from Guwahati, apart from Delhi and Kolkata.

But if you’re up for it, there’s one more way to get to this park – by motorcycles. There are guided motorcycle tours from Guwahati and Kohima to Kaziranga. You can ride in with a tour group, and explore the trails to Assam with the wind in your face. These adventure motorbike tours cover the states of Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, and Arunachal Pradesh, giving you a chance to explore rural parts of the region and experience tribal cultures and traditions, first hand.

For visitors travelling to Kaziranga National Park, there are many hotels, luxury resorts, guest houses, budget jungle lodges and homestays to enjoy their stay around the vicinity of the National Park. Many numbers of Tourist Lodges at Kaziranga National Park are maintained and furnished by the Forest Department of Kaziranga.

The weather is pleasant almost throughout the year. You can thank the lush trees and tea gardens all around for that. The best time to visit is from the months of November to April. This park, the rhinos, and the lush natural environs have inspired many poets and writers. It has made its appearance in literature over the years. So juts decide to pay a visit, and who knows, you might get inspired too.