Area : 2800sq km
Nearest Railway Station : Barpeta (40km)
Nearest Town : Mothanguri (40km)
Nearest Airport : Guwahati (176km)
Best season to visit : November to March
Status : World Heritage Site
About 176 kilometres from Guwahati, the world heritage site, Manas National Park lies just in between Kaziranga and Jaldapada. Make a trip to Manas National Park - a world heritage site, one of those few places that has the ability to hold a visitor spellbound, the main reason being the 540sq km of diverse topography and rich flora and fauna.
The lifeline of the Park, Manas River forms a natural boundary between India and the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan. In the lower stretches of the river basin, small clusters of trees dot vast stretches of sand.
This kind of topography is home to small herds of wild buffaloes and fishing birds that fly screeching over the river in search of prey. Move a little away from the bank and you will enter a thick jungle of broad-leaved trees, where even sunlight fails to make its way to the ground. On the other side of the jungle, majestic herds of elephants wade through swamps and tall elephant grass (although in comparison to the other National Parks, it is very difficult to spot the elephants here). There are nullahs, or streams, hillocks; almost everything that you would wish to see in a Manas National Park situated in the foothills of the Himalayas.Just make a holiday trip to Manas National Park
Manas National Park enjoys a very special status in terms of wildlife in the sub continent for two reasons: it has a much longer visiting season and it is home to twenty-two of the sub-continent’s fifty-four endangered species. Some like the hispid hare and pigmy hog are found only here. Yet, unlike in Kaziranga, where sightings are very common because of open spaces and swamps, in Manas a visitor may not come across too many animals. By taking up a holiday trip to Manas national park to sight the wild at such close quarters that often the visitor is left spell bound.
Make a trip through the gravel road from Barpeta to Manas National Park during the wee hours of the morning or late in the evening. Drive past the Bansbari tea estate and as you enter the open grassland, look out for the extremely rare species of the hispid hare. This is an elusive rabbit-like animal, about 47 centimetres in length. The back and the tail are dark brown and the breast is whitish in colour. After a sharp turn, you might find an extremely alert pair staring directly into the headlights of your jeep.
Another species that deserves a special mention is the golden langur. This beautiful animal is 48 to 50 centimetres in length and the tail adds another 75 centimetres to it. The colour of its coat changes with each season. During winters, when the body needs to absorb more heat, the colour of the coat is light golden or deep yellow. It gradually changes to off-white as the hot summer months are round the corner. The face, however, remains black all through the year.
For those interested in big mammals, Manas National Park has a deep pocket. It has a considerable population of rhinos (although much less in numbers than in Kaziranga), elephants, wild buffaloes, gaurs, swamp deer, sambar, hog deer and barking deer. Besides these animals, cats form a sizeable group in the Park. Going by the last count, there were 80 tigers, clouded leopards and golden cats. Inspite of such a large number of tigers, sightings are very difficult and sometimes possible due to sheer happenstance.
Wild Buffaloes make an interesting subject for photography, but take care while shooting, as the animal is quite weary and can attack without any provocation. In fact, wild buffaloes are known to drive even tigers away.
Another major attraction at Manas National Park is its bird population. Visitors can see giant hornbills gliding over their heads. The giant hornbill shares its habitat with two of its smaller cousins – the pied hornbill and the grey hornbill. All kinds of herons and egrets can be seen near the water bodies. Birds of prey such as eagles, falcons and harriers are also a common sight.
Yet, the richest Manas National Park of India is also the most unfortunate. The entire region has been taken over by Bodo extremists. Political unrest in the region has also taken its toll on the Park. The Bodos, allegedly, are misusing the Park’s resources to make their ends meet. This, sadly, has lead to the closure of the Park from time to time. It is therefore advisable to check out the latest position before planning a visit to the Park. For the past few years, Manas has also been receiving funds from international agencies like the UNESCO to heal the wounds inflicted on it by the Bodos.
The best way to commute inside the Manas National Parkis on trained elephants that can be hired from the Mothanguri at the rate of 20$ per visit for foreigners. Each safari lasts three hours. Under normal conditions, the elephants leave from Mothanguri at 0900-1200 hrs in the morning and at 1400-1700 hrs in the afternoon.
Boats are also available for hire from the forest beat officer at Mothanguri. Each boat can accommodate 2-8 people (excluding the pilot) and the ride lasts 4-8 hours.
The Forest Department’s Forest Lodge is a simple and clean place to stay. For bookings contact – The Field Director, Manas Tiger Reserve, P.O. Barpeta Road, Manas.
Hotel Doli on the Barpeta Road has 18 rooms.
For further details contact – Tourist Information Centre.