I was visiting Assam for some work in the development sector. I took two days from work for sightseeing. I am a huge animal lover, although I don't really enjoy seeing them cooped up in cages. I was informed by my friend in Assam that Manas is not like any other national park and is a must-visit.
I changed my mind and my friend decided to join me. Manas National Park, at the base of the foothills of the Himalayas in Assam, is a national park with unique biodiversity and landscape. It is in very close proximity to Bhutan. Manas National Park covers an area of 39100 hectares.
Best Time To Visit Manas National Park:
The national park witnesses heavy rainfall from May to September. It is best to avoid this season. The minimum temperature is 15 degrees Celsius and hits a maximum of 37 degrees Celsius. The best time to visit is between November and April.
Things To Carry:
Raincoat, umbrella, torch light, walking stick, shoes, water, snacks, camera and binoculars.
How To Reach Manas National Park?
I took a flight to Guwahati from Bangalore. From Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, I took a cab to reach Manas National Park, which is at a distance of 140 kms.
When we visited, Manas National Park was not really crowded and we hired a guide to help us with the history and geography of the park. I checked my watch to find the park's elevation was 85 m above sea level.
The guide told us that Kajitama Reserved Forest, Kokilabari Reserved Forest and Panbari Reserved forest were added together by the Indian Government in 1990 to form Manas National park. It is one of the first reserves included under Project Tiger in 1973.
Prior to this, it was used as a hunting reserve by the families of Cooch Behar and Raja of Gauripur. Manas National Park has six national and international designations, namely World Heritage Site, National Park, Tiger Reserve, Biosphere Reserve, Elephant Reserve and Important Bird Area.
Apparently, in 1992, Manas National Park was declared as a world heritage site in danger because of the increased terrorist enterprise and poaching. Manas National Park is known for rare species and endemic species on the brink of endangerment and extinction.
Some of the endangered species found here are Assam roofed turtle, hispid hare, golden langur and pygmy dog. Wild water buffalo is found in plenty in Manas National Park. The park derives its name from river Manas, named after the snake Goddess Manasa.
This river is a tributary of the mighty Brahmaputra, which passes through the centre of Manas National Park. Wildlife Trust of India and the forest department of Assam started getting back rhinos and elephants to the park. All in all, 6 rhinos and 11 elephants have been welcomed back into the park.
The park is divided into three ranges, namely Panbari (western range), Bansbari (central range) and Bhuiyapara (Eastern range). People who plan to visit Manas National Park arrive at Bansbari, and spend some time inside the forest at Mathanguri.
PC: Lonav Bharali
Manas National Park is bound on the north by Royal Manas National Park of Bhutan and on the east and west by Manas Tiger Reserve.
It provides home to 22 of the most threatened mammal species in India. Some of them are elephant, tiger, greater one-horned rhino, clouded leopard and sloth bear. The wild buffalo population found here is the only pure species still thriving in India.
Manas National Park exhibits high plant diversity that includes 89 tree species, 49 shrubs, 37 undershrubs, 172 herbs (some of which are considered medicinal) and 236 climbers. 18 species of fern, 15 species of orchids and 43 species of grasses are also found.
Limestone and sandstone form an important part of the bedrock in Savanna whereas fine alluvium is steeped deep in the grasslands in the south. In addition, Manas National Park is home to 400 variations of wild rice, making it extremely important to food security.
PC: Dr. Raju Kasambe
Some of the prevailing animals here are tiger, leopard, Indian rhinoceres, capped langurs, black panther, Asian golden cat, clouded leopard, hoolock gibbons, hog deer, Assamese macaques, Indian rhino, sambhar deer, chital, barking deer, barasigha, smooth-coated otters and gaurs.
I had some previous experience with bird watching and could identify a few of them. Where I failed, I had our guide help us. We saw Bengal florican, como duck, Ibis bill, scarlet minivets, Marsh and Jerdon's babblers, red-headed trogon, swamp francolin, mergansers, serpent eagles, falcons, Brahminy ducks, egrets, pelicans, grey hornbills, giant hornbills, bulbuls, pied harrier, etc.
Some reptiles found here are snakes, Assam roofed turtle, monitor lizard and gharial.
I had a great deal of fun and am so thankful to my friend for persuading to go ahead and visit the national park. It is one of those experiences I wish to never forget in my life.