Kaziranga National Park in Assam has to be the most beautiful and attractive place you can choose to visit in north-eastern India. An UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kaziranga's 470 sq kms of lush green flood plains is home to some of the most fascinating wildlife in Asia.
The Burma Monsoon Forests of Kaziranga lies in the flood plains of the mighty Brahmaputra river at an altitude of 50 -80m . The habitat consists primarily of tall, dense grasslands interspersed with cane brakes, open woodlands, interconnecting streams and numerous lakes or 'beels'. The three primary types of vegetation are alluvial grasslands, tropical wet semi-evergreen and evergreen forests.
The Park is divided into four ranges. The Agoratoli range covers the eastern part and covers woodland interspersed with grassland and water-bodies. The Kohora range covers the central part and is the most easily accessible from the range office at Kohora. The Baguri range covers the western part of the Park and has the highest rhinoceros density. Burhapahar, 4th range, covers the first additional area attached to the Park.
Vegetation: Wet savanna grassland covers 65 - 70% of Kaziranga. The grassland comprises of tall elephant-grass, chief amongst which are Erianthus ravannae, Phragmites karka, Arundo donax, Saccharum elephantinus, Saccharum arundinaceum, Imperata cylindrica and Poinia ciliata. The forested portions consist of species such as Bombax ceiba, Albizzia odorotissima, Carreya arborea, Lagerstromia parviflora, Dillenia pentagyna and Zizyphus jujuba.
Fauna: Everything about Kaziranga is large. From 5 meter tall elephant-grass to Greater Adjutants, Bengal Floricans, Pallas's Fish Eagle, Black-necked Storks, Greater One-horned Rhinoceros and Asian Elephants, size dominates the vast grasslands. The rarity and restricted range of most of these giants adds to the excitement and experience.
Greater One-horned Rhinoceros
Birds: Kaziranga is a birding paradise with a checklist of almost 500 species. Key species include Swamp Francolin, Pale-capped Pigeon, Bengal Florican, Great and Wreathed Hornbill, Jerdon's Baza, Slender-billed Vulture, Pallas’s Fishing Eagle , Greater Spotted Eagle, Imperial Eagle, Pied Harrier, Pied Falconet, Oriental Hobby, Black-necked Stork, Greater Adjutant, Hodgson’s Bushchat, White-vented Myna, Rufous-vented Prinia , Marsh Babbler, Jerdon’s Babbler, Black-breasted Parrotbill and Finn’s Weaver . There is a breeding colony of Spot-billed Pelicans near Koladuar in the Agoratoli area.
Greay-headed Fish Eagle
Mammals and reptiles: Kaziranga is popularly known as the home of the "Big Five" - the elephant, rhinoceros, wild buffalo, tiger and Swamp Deer. A total of 52 mammalian species has been recorded in the Park itself and include such rarities like Gangetic Dolphin, Chinese Pangolin, Hoolock Gibbon, Hog-Badger and Parti-coloured Flying Squirrel. 39 reptiles make the list and include the endangered Gharial and the rare Assam Roofed Turtle. Both the Reticulated and Rock Pythons occur in the area.
How to reach: Kaziranga is on National Highway 37 which connects Guwahati with Jorhat on the east. Jorhat is the nearest airport, 97 kms. away. Guwahati airport is 240kms from Kohora by road via Nowgong. The nearest convenient railhead and airport is at Jorhat. Numerous long distances buses are available from Guwahati, Jorhat and Nowgong for road travel to the Park.
Where to stay: Wild Grass Lodge is strongly recommended. I stayed with them on 2 visits and could not have asked for more. They arrange for everything and can provide top class forest guides.
Tel no. 099544 16945, 91-3776-2662085. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Forest Dept. runs Tourist Bungalows are also available and should be booked in advance. The Aranya Lodge (91-3776-262429) and Bonani Lodge ( 91-3776-262423) will provide comfortable quarters.
Contact and permits:
i) Director, Kaziranga National Park
Dist - Golaghat, Assam, India
ii) Dy. Director Tourism: 03776-262423
Best Season: November to April. The Park is generally closed between May and October. Temperatures range from 80c in winter to 380C in summer.
Elephant ride, Kohora
1) Elephant rides are available between 5.00am and 6.00am from Kohora. One ride is recommended to get a feel of the place and, if lucky, to get up close to the Bengal Florican, an endangered rarity.
2) Four-wheel drive vehicles are available for hire to tour the 3 ranges. The Eastern Range is about 30 kms from Kohora. Factor in the travel time plus the fact that this is the longest trip inside the forest before you set off. The Western range is the shortest circuit but great for rhinos and buffalos.
3) Walking is not permitted in the Park area. Given the number of potentially dangerous mammals found in the area it is a foolhardy risk.
4) The tea gardens near Panbari are a good place to look for Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush, Rufous-necked Laughingthrush and White-browed Scimitar Babblers.
Location: 26°39'18.21"N; 93°23'1.84"E
Kaziranga World Heritage Site: The official site of the Park
UNESCO World Heritage Site