Kaziranga National Park
When Marco Polo first spotted the one-horned Rhino, he thought it was the legendary Unicorn.
With a population of over a thousand, Kaziranga National Park has the largest concentration of the one-horned Rhino in the subcontinent, saving it from near extinction.
Lying along the mighty Brahmaputra River, the Kaziranga National Park covers an area of about 430 sq. km. Its swamps and grasslands with tall thickets of elephant grass and patches of evergreen forest, support a large number of wild animals. An alarming depletion in numbers of the rhino, due to hunting and poaching, led to the conservation of this area in 1926.
The most ferocious bovine in the world, the rhino is impressive and can weigh up to 915 kg. An occasional herd of elephants or wild boar is also seen. The grasslands are raptor country and the crested serpent eagle, the Pallas fishing eagle and grey headed fishing eagle can be seen circling over the marshes.
Wildlife Attractions in Kaziranga National Park
The park houses around 15 species of India's threatened (Schedule I) mammal species. The best-known resident of course is the Rhinoceros unicornis
(rhino). The number of this once-threatened mammal has been regularly on the increase. From only a few dozen in 1908 to more than 1000 now, the route has been quite long.
Contrary to what one may have heard, rhinos browse past visitors non-chalantly. The rhino is a peace-loving animal and, instead of batting an eyelid about peaceful tourists who have invaded its territory, it keeps itself busy grazing in the wild. Moreover, the conditions at Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary are ideal for the rhino to survive. In addition to elephant rides, several watch towers have been set up for a bird's eye view of the park. Pleasant boat rides at the nearby Rhinoland Park can also be availed by tourists.
Kaziranga is also an ornithologist's delight and you can find a great number of avifaunal species here. The numerous water bodies of Kaziranga are rich reservoirs of food (including fish). Thousands of migratory birds visit the park seasonally from as far as Siberia. Major migratory birds are the grey pelican, black-necked stork, lesser adjutant stork, Pallas's fish eagle, grey-headed fish eagle, about 25-30 Bengal floricans, swamp partridge, grey peacock-pheasant, great pied hornbill, bar-headed goose, whistling teal, green imperial pigeon, and silver-breasted broadbill. Sunset is a pleasant sight as well, with the birds returning to their nests.
Kaziranga National Park is one of the most picturesque wildlife parks in India. Apart from being home to the one-horned rhino, it is also the natural habitat of wild buffaloes, wild boars, elephants, Barasinghas (swamp and hog deer), leopards, tigers, hoolock gibbons, capped langur, rock python and monitor lizards.
Large areas of the park comprise of marshland interspersed with large pools fringed with reeds, patches of elephant grass, scattered trees, and thickets.
The vast open areas make the sanctuary one of the best places to observe wild animals. Elephant safaris during early morning or late in the evening make it possible for visitors to observe the wild animals from close quaters. The Elephants drivers of mahouts also act as guides, who provide information about the park as you move along. Jeep safaris are also available, and the timings are 7:30-9:30 AM & 2-3:30 PM (Jeep), 5-6 AM & 6-7 PM (Elephant).
Besides watching animals there are other options for tourists around the park. Take a gentle stroll among the lush coffee or tea plantations
at the Karbi Anglong or visit the nearby villages
and observe the lifestyle of the local people. Visit the famous tea gardens of Assam and sip on a cup of the world's best tea.
How to Get There
Nearest airport Jorhat (96 km (W)/2 hrs) is connected by Indian Airlines flights with Calcutta (11:30, Tue & Sat). Calcutta in turn, is connected with all the major Indian and International cities including Delhi (daily at 7:00, 17:00 & 20:00), Mumbai (daily 6:10 & 18:15), Bangalore (daily 6:05) and Chennai (daily 10:30 & 17:00). Another major airport to access the park is Guwahati, well connected to major Indian cities.
Nearest railway station Furkating (75 kms from Kaziranga) is connected to Delhi through the Brahmaputra Mail (daily 20:55) and Chennai through the Dibrugarh Exp. (Tue, 22:55).
Another option would be to travel to Guwahati and take the Intercity Exp. (20:30) or the Kamrup Exp. (16:45). Major trains plying to Guwahati include the Guwahati Exp. (Mumbai-Guwahati, 7:45, Wed, Fri & Sat) and Guwahati Exp. (Bangalore-Guwahati, 23:45, Wed, Thu & Fri)
From Kaziranga (Kohora) to Jorhat it is 96 km, and Furkating is at 75 kms. The Assam Road Transport Corporation runs regular buses from Guwahati, Jorhat, Furkating which stop at Kohora, 5 kms outside the Park. Long distance night coaches run by private operators from Guwahati and Jorhat also stop here. The Tourist Department, Kaziranga Forest Lodge, has a reservation quota of 10 seats on the Kaziranga Express from Golaghat to Guwahati. To reach by road from Guwahati, take the NH37 to Kaziranga via Dispur, Nagaon, Jakhalabanda and Hatihkuli.
Distances from Major Cities
230 km (E)/4 hrs.
Travel Tips/Important Information
- The park is divided into three main tourist ranges, Kohora, Baghori and Agaratoli. All the major tourist facilities and entry formalities are based here. It is also the point of start for early morning safaris, where as vehicles can also be hired here for movement inside the park.
- Park charges are Entry Fee : Rs. 20 (Indians) & Rs. 250 (foreigners), Vehicle Entry : Rs. 200, Still Camera : Rs. 50 (Indians) & Rs. 500 (foreigners), Video Camera : Rs. 500 (Indians) & Rs. 1000 (foreigners), Safari : Rs. 120 (Indians) & Rs. 750 (foreigners).
- Park Timings are 7:30 AM to 4 PM
- The forest guard (can be hired at Baghori & Agaratoli) traveling with you on a safari doubles up as a guide. There are no fixed charges and you can tip him anywhere between Rs. 50-200
- Reach half an hour before the park gates open to complete the required formalities.
- When on an Elephant safari, follow the instructions of the mahout at all times.
- Although foreign currency is acceptable, it is recommended to carry a reasonable sum of Indian money.
- Binoculars and camera will enhance your wildlife watching experience.
- Foreign visitors are advised to contact the tourist office to complete all the required formalities.
- Consult the authorities before moving to remote areas in Assam.