A trifecta of national parks, an incredible array of exotic species, and acres of unspoilt forests: this is Assam at its very best
Words: Anjuman Deodhar
Photographs: T Krishna Prabakar
Assam has five national parks – Kaziranga, Manas, Nameri, Orang and Dibru-Saikhowa – and getting to visit even one of them is an absolute treat. We got to visit three. In succession. One day, we were shivering in a tent in Manas; less than a week later, walking through the enchanted moist-deciduous forests of Nameri, and, a few days later, kicking up our heels in decadent luxury in Kaziranga. The transitions were spectacular, as were the 10 days we spent in the wild.
Each of these parks is nothing like the other. Manas continues into the Royal Bhutan National Park; you can just drive through into a foreign country. It also boasts the last viable population of pygmy hogs in the wild, apart from supposedly regular sightings of a clouded leopard, arguably the most beautiful member of the feline family. Nameri is a birder’s paradise, and home to another endangered species, the white-winged wood duck. Kaziranga is known for the world’s largest population of the greater one-horned rhino, and the wild water buffalo, as well as one of the highest densities of the royal Bengal tiger. Be it flocks of the great hornbill noisily coming to roost, mallards gently floating down the river, brilliantly-coloured geckos peeking out from bark, or elephants nonchalantly standing in our way, there was a surprise around almost every corner.