A Scintillating safari

K Sivaprasad

The fast-paced life has taken away the fun element from our lives. Amidst the hectic schedule, a week of vacation always proves to be an oasis. And speaking of the oasis, nothing is more refreshing than connecting with the nature. So whenever an opportunity is at hand, there is a hardly a second thought before dashing off like a kid to his mother nature's lap.

My family plans a vacation during every summer, when the school vacation is on. We were in constant discussions last year as to where we should set our compass to. An advertisement on North-East India caught our attention, and thus the destination was fixed - to explore the most scenic part of our enchanting nation. While preparing the tour itinerary, Kaziranga National Park topped the list and was allotted four days in our two-week plan.

Renowned the world over for its endangered one-horned Rhino and a variety of other wildlife, Kaziranga National Park is an important wildlife destination of India. Set ideally on the banks of river Brahmaputra, it is a World Heritage Site located in the naturally endowed state of Assam. It has the highest density of tigers among protected areas in the world. It was recognised as a tiger reserve in 2006. It is also declared as an important bird area by Birdlife International for conservation of bird species. This park has played a significant role in wildlife conservation. It was recognised as a wildlife sanctuary in 1940.

Covering an area of 430 sq km, this park is home to mesmerising wildlife such as Indian elephants, hog deer, Indian bison, capped langur, swamp deer, tiger, leopard cat, sloth bear, jungle cat, jackal, otter, hog badger, wild boar, python, wild buffalo, monitor lizard and what not.

Its landscape encompasses tall elephant grass, marshland and dense tropical moist broadleaf forests. There are several water bodies in the park, which serve as promising sites for wildlife sighting. This also makes the park a birds watchers' paradise where you can sight a variety of colourful birds such as Oriental Honey Buzzard, Black Kite, Himalayan Griffon, Pallas’s Fishing Eagle, White-Tailed Eagle, Black-Shouldered Kite and Grey-Headed Fish Eagle.

If you visit the park during winter you might be lucky enough to see beautiful migratory birds such as Greylag Geese, Gadwall, Ruddy Shelduck, Bar-Headed Geese, Red-Crested Pochard, Falcated Duck and Northern Shoveller.

The park is a 220 km drive from Guwahati, the capital of Assam, through NH 37. The perfectly stretching highway ensures a quick glance of the North-Eastern topography. On crossing the Miza military base, we are welcomed by the sign boards of the park. Plenty of lodging facilities are available close to the national park, such as jungle lodges, resorts etc. They will also arrange the safari inside the park. Except during the rainy season, visitors can choose between a jeep safari and an elephant safari. During the monsoons, there will not be elephant safari.

November to April is considered the ideal time to visit the park. The safari within the park is segmented into various zones and every zone promises a wide variety of wildlife sighting. We started off very early and the ride through the blanket of mist was something beyond words. Completing the zones by the end of the day, the full memory cards indicated the feast our cameras had.

When it was time to say goodbye to Kaziranga, our minds were filled with a peace and joy, which only mother nature can provide. Gifted with hoards of wonderful memories, we left the park, knowing that not many holidays can match the Kaziranga one.

(JTO, BSNL, Thiruvananthapuram)