This is a post long due; it has been lying in my drafts folder since February. It is about my 3rd weekend getaway that I am documenting in my blog. The 1st one is here & the 2nd one here. 😛 And this time the location was Manas National Park (MNP). We had gone there in the early part of February, when it was still winter.
A lil’ about MNP –
Apart from being a National Park, it is also a wildlife sanctuary, UNESCO Natural World Heritage site, a Project Tiger Reserve, an Elephant Reserve and a Biosphere Reserve located in Barpeta Road, Barpeta, Assam, India. The Park is in the foothills of Himalaya & is about 176 km from Guwahati (nearest airport). It is home to some of the most amazing flora and fauna species. The park got its name from the Manas River which flows through the western part of the park. The sanctuary was once the hunting ground of the Cooch Behar royal family and Raja of Gauripur.
A treat for wildlife lovers, Manas is famous for being the home to tigers, rhinoceros and elephant population. The national park also attracts various exotic species of birds. Also, it is the second biggest tiger reserve in the country.
About 50 per cent of the park is covered with grasslands and deciduous forest. The national park also has rich aquatic flora along the banks of Manas River.
We set out for Manas on 7th Feb, 2014 at around 7 am in the morning. Stopping only for breakfast at Hajo, we reached the Park at around 11.30 am. We had booked our accommodation at Musa Jungle Retreat, an upcoming resort located on the right side just after entering the Park gate. The resort facing the Park, had lil’ cottages scattered all over the property. Here are some pics of the place –
(the runner on the bed in the above pic is the traditional Bodo weave)
After we checked in, we immediately went out for rafting. The six of us along with our naturalist cum guide Mr. Martin & a security guard representing the Park authority, boarded on an open jeep & headed towards Mathanguri. As we made our way through the jungle over the stony & dusty roads, all of us could feel the excitement fill us. We were lucky enough to spot some exotic birds (the names I don’t remember now), a deer, jungle fowl & a group of langurs. And once we reached Mathanguri, the view that awaited us was ‘breathtaking’. On the other side of the river Manas (also called Biki) were the Bhutan lands. Here is a pic of the view we had:
The rafting lasted for about 2 hours over the river Manas. The river was calm most of the time but every now & then we came across some high current which made the ride enjoyable & thrilling too. The calmness & serenity of the surroundings enveloped us & filled us with peace. The experience was a memorable one, for sure. Here are some pics of what we saw during the ride –
By the end of our ride our tummies were grumbling & we were happy when we saw some resort people waiting for us by the river bank with our late lunch. We gorged on some extremely tasty rice, daal fry, local chicken curry & fish fry; all the while witnessing the sun painting the sky with a slight orangish hue.
While we were busy polishing off the food & then posing for some pics too, Mr. Martin and our jeep driver told us to hurry because they came to know about a herd of elephants on the road somewhere. They added that if we were lucky, we might even spot them! And just like we anticipated, on our way back, we saw a family of elephants – father, mother & a child. The lil’ one was playing with the dust – picking it up with its trunk & sprinkling it on itself. It was a cute sight. But soon the air was filled with their trumpeting. It was frightening, I swear! We could also hear similar sounds from somewhere distant. Mr Martin informed us that the family & the other group were communicating with each other. Soon the family- first the mother, then the child & finally the father – made their way inside the jungle. To see these wild elephants, from such close quarter, made the entire experience a thrilling & exciting one – definitely an once-in-a-lifetime experience!:) Here is a gif image of the family we met –
Mr. Martin was excited for he too had seen such a group from so close after a very long time. He told us that one has to be lucky to see animals in a wildlife sanctuary. On our way back we also spotted the following –
It was indeed a lucky day for us! 🙂
“The Wilderness holds answers to more questions than we have yet learned to ask.” ~ Nancy Wynne Newhall
Day 2 coming soon! 🙂
P.S. Click on the pics for a better view