Sunday, June 24, 2007
Chronologically this trip should be featured along with my Arunachal pradesh post .We were driving back from Tawang to Tezpur and went to kaziranga for a few days before returning home . And the highlight of the trip is the early morning safari on an elephant back
Now that , I call is an experience . Its dark and misty . If you are sleepy, you can easily mistake a tree for an elephant or a rhino . We are a motley crowd of wild life enthusiasts across the country who dont know each other and make polite conversation in the early hours , waiting for the elephants . A herd soon gathers including a couple of calves who totter beside their mothers and insist on meeting the rhinos
We mount the elephants and we are now almost as tall as the grass ...is that why they are called elephant grass ? I wouldnt know ..The tall dry grass - some of them have been burnt are tickling us as we cut through them . Its still dark and the expedition is almost surreal like ..The silence is mesmerising except for the rustle of the grass and then , there is a hush ...
A rhino stares at the elephant and poses for the camera. I alternated between the handy cam and the camera when suddenly there is chaos. The rhino charges at the elephant which in turn strikes back with a trumpet almost throwing all of us down; but for the mahout who holds on to the elephant..another rustle and its all over in a jiffy and the expedition continues ..We saw more rhinos , these well behaved and a few birds and bisons before returning .
Located on the banks of the river Brahmaputra , Kaziranga is home to the one horned Indian rhino .Over a 1000 live in this sanctuary along with elephants, bisons and some wonderful species of birds .Stretching over 400 sq feet of area, the sanctuary is divided into three zones and you can spend your entire day travelling from one to another and going on safaris .
For bird watchers , this place is awesome... Im quite a novice in this space and often had to look at Dr Salim Ali's guilde to understand the species ...from the pallas fishing eagle to the brahminy kite , to turle doves to migratory water birds, we were in for a treat
We went in the evening again on a jeep safari and chanced upon some more rhinos grazing .Its surprising that these burly fellows are vegetarians and they look as mild as sheep , except when they chance upon some elephants .
I didnt have enough of kaziranga and in my next trip, I planned to go to Manas as well ..maybe I will have some better pictures in my gallery then and will learn more about birds as well .
Kaziranga is in Assam and Jorhat is one the closest points (84 kms) if you are travelling by rail . My suggestion would be to get to Guwahati and drive down from there . The distance will be about 217 kms . The main gate is at Kohara and there are several resorts around the place.My suggestion would be Bon habi Resort though Wild Grass resport is one of the oldest around there ...there are several others which may suit your budget as well .
Best time to visit
November to March . During the monsoons the Brahmaputra floods the entire sanctuary and all animals are forced to move within .
I felt a strong urge to drop everything and run ... to the hills , to the open spaces and hide from the world..Its such a paradox if you think about it . Urban life with its claustrophobic environment binds you..there is big brother watching you...you are connected and networked all your life . Try breaking it and you can lose your self in the vast open arms of nature where silence greets you and you are cut off from the world ..I did just that and got away for a couple of hours one Saturday ,a recluse retreating into the hills , running away from civilisation
I was in God's own country when I heard of a lesser known hill station,Ponmudi. The images that flashed on my mind were some dirty motels, boating in a lake , tea shops selling snacks, loud tourists having a louder picnic,some drunken revellers and lots of kids... and yet I went , just to add another destination to my conquests ..
The journey was quick...about an hour through winding roads across hills ...the scenery changed from a mosaic of browns and greens to blues and greens ...we were the lone travellers ..
It was a dead end , all roads led to a panoramic 360* view of the hills . small hillocks branching into mountains as the western ghats stood tall amongst us ...hills , hills and more hills,some carpeted by grass and some by rocks...some barren and some fertile,some near and some far ..we climbed a few and reached to the top . We were soon joined by a group of school kids and some trekkers who were silent in their quest to conquer new heights
The clouds were scooping down , only to be brushed aside by the winds . The mountain winds gripped me in an embrace as I allowed myself to be swayed in its grip . The silence was all pervading...there were no motels or snack bars ...just us and the mountains .
As you climb and reach new heights , you see the world opening up at the other end . At every level, the view changes and so does your perspective . I let the moments sink in ...it seemed forever . It purged my soul and refreshed me from the urban chaos .. If you believe in magic , this is it .
It was the quickest getaway ..a couple of hours and life became the usual mundane cycle...and I had returned to the mad pace called life
Get to Trivandrum , the capital city of Kerala best known for Kovalam beaches and givernment offices . Ponmudi in the western ghats is a little more than an hour drive from there . Translated as the golden peak,its about 65 kms drive there and you could trek here