Manas : The Virgin Forest of Assam
We left for Manas on 04/09/2018. We booked our tickets in Kamrup Express. The train was on time and reached Jalpaiguri Road Station at 7.10 am. It was a cold morning. We crossed several stations. New Alipurduar is the last station of Bengal. We packed our lunch from New Alipurduar. The train stopped for a few minutes at New Alipurduar. On the fringes of Bengal border is the Fakiagram junction – first station of Assam. We boarded down at Barpeta Road around 12.40 pm for our onward journey towards – Manas National Park.
We pre-booked the cab for onward journey from Barpeta Road to Manas. Vehicle was at the station. From Barpeta Road to Manas National Park is about 40 km. Condition of the road is not great and it takes about 2 hrs to reach Manas. As we are about to enter our resort, we saw two rhinos grazing just in-front of the resort. We checked-in to our resort and took a bath. Resort staff informed us that a few other rhinos have joined. We took out our cameras and captured a few photographs. The angle of the shots were really good – eye level shots, which is not always possible in jeep safari.
We walked down the path to reach Manas River. Sunset over boisterous Manas is a delight for the eyes. We spend the rest of the evening on the banks of river Manas. A tea stall and a Forest Watchtower are the only residents on the bank, overlooking the Manas River. We took early dinner and was waiting for the first lights of the sun – to drive into Bansbari Range(Central Range) of Manas National Park. The other ranges of the park are – Panbari and Bhuiyapara – which were not yet opened for the tourists after the heavy monsoon in Manas.
Habitat & Wildlife at Manas:
Manas is the land of big five – Tiger, Elephant, Rhino, Wild Water Buffalo and Leopard along with a host of bird species including critically endangered Bengal Florican. Manas is one of the most beautiful National Parks of Eastern India. Its landscape is of semi-evergreen forest interspersed with grasslands. Tall and short grasses(locally called Barenga), open grasslands and numerous water bodies offer an environment for the BIG FIVE wildlife to thrive. We heard that tiger was spotted in the morning safari day before and we were excited to get a glimpse of the King of the Jungle.
Jungle Safari at Manas:
We dove into Manas at around 6 am, accompanied by a forest guard and a naturalist. We were greeted by an immature Indian Gaur – popping its head from the grass. As we drove along we saw some four-legged animals far off. We gazed through our binoculars – it was a pack of Dhole – wild dog. We headed towards famous – Mathanguri Lodge. As we were about to reach Mathanguri – we saw Wild Water Buffalo, busking under the sun in a swamp.
As we reached Mathanguri – a breeze started to blow. We heard that it’s always very windy at Mathanguri. Mathanguri Lodge(Upper Bungalow) is on a hillock on the banks of River Manas. On the other side of the river is – Royal Manas National Park – lies in the territory of Bhutan. Wild animals come to the river to drink water. It’s very likely you will spot wildlife at Mathanguri. We saw a herd of Elephant and Wild Water Buffalo on the other side of the river.
At the time of return to drove through the Lotajar area to the park, in search of elusive Bengal Tiger. We saw pug marks of a Female Tiger with a cub. No Tiger could be spotted.
We returned to the resort and had our breakfast. Reviewed the photographs of the trip and had lunch with local Bourali fish of Manas River.
We again drove into the park. We took a different path this time and headed for Kuri Bil area of the park in search of Bengal Florican. Manas is home to last remnants of this shy bird. As the grass was thick it was virtually impossible to spot Bengal Florican hiding in between. Bengal Florican is a very shy bird and does not come out in open too often. However, we were lucky to see the beautiful display of male Bengal Florican in air. Other wildlife spotted were – Capped Langur, Hog Deer, Kalij Pheasant, Peafowl, Black Shoulder Kite.
Safari is for nearly 4 hours per trip. We returned back to the resort at around 6.30 pm. A campfire was arranged by the resort staff.
Next day we had our breakfast and checked-out from the resort and arrived at Barpeta Road Station. Boarded Brahmaputra Mail for onward return to Jalpaiguri. Arrived at Jalpaiguri around 9.00 pm. Our tour ended with thrilling memories of Manas.
Captures of Manas National Park:
Rhino in front of resort