Sunday, September 13, 2009

About Assam

Assam is a land of myths and mystery. "The land of red rivers and blue hills," as it is described, has a unique landscape with sprawling tea gardens and unending stretches of paddy fields interspersed with groves of coconut, areca nuts, and banana trees. Its population is a confluence of streams of different races and tribes like the Austrics, the Aryans, Negroids, Indo-Burmese, Indo-Tibetans, and Mongoloid. They have enriched each other and have evolved to give a distinctive identity to the Assamese people.


Situated on the bank of the mighty river Brahmaputra, Guwahati - said to be the legendary Pragjyotishpur or City of Eastern Light - is the gateway to north eastern India. The name is a combination of two words: Guwa meaning areca nut and Hat meaning market. Guwahati is the commercial nerve centre of the North-East. The places to shop for handicrafts and handloom items include the State Government's department

store, Pragjyotika at Ambari as well as several private shops in Pan Bazar and Fancy Bazar, two of the main commercial markets.


Kaziranga is a national park in the Golaghat and Nagaon districts of Assam, India. It is a World Heritage Site, and two-thirds of the world’s Great One-horned Rhinoceroses live in the park.Kaziranga has the highest density of tigers among protected areas in the world and was declared a Tiger Reserve in 2006. The park has large breeding populations of elephants, water buffalo and swamp deer. Kaziranga is recognised as an Important Bird Area by Birdlife International for conservation of avifaunal species. The park has achieved notable success in wildlife conservation compared to other protected areas in India. Located on the edge of the Eastern Himalaya biodiversity hotspot, the park combines high-species diversity and visibility.

Kaziranga is a vast expanse of tall elephant grass, marshland and dense tropical moist broadleaf forests crisscrossed by four major rivers, including the Brahmaputra, and has numerous small bodies of water. Kaziranga has been the theme of several books, documentaries and songs. The park celebrated its
centenary in 2005 after its establishment in 1905 as a reserve forest.


Though the etymology of the name Kaziranga is not certain, there exist a number of possible explanations. According to one legend, a girl named Ranga, from a nearby village, and a youth named Kazi, from Karbi Anglong, fell in love. This match was not acceptable to their families, and the couple disappeared into the forest, never to be seen again. The forest was then named after them.
According to another legend, Srimanta Sankardeva, the 16th century Vaisnava saint-scholar, once blessed a childless couple, Kazi and Rangai, and asked them to dig a big pond in the region so that their name would live on. Testimony to the history of the name can be found in some records, which state that once, while the Ahom king Pratap Singha (17th century) was passing by the region, he was particularly impressed by the taste of fish and on inquiry, he was told it came from Kaziranga.


The history of Kaziranga as a protected area can be traced back to 1904, when Mary Victoria Leiter, the wife of the Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon, visited the area.After failing to spot a rhinoceros, for which the area was renowned, she persuaded her husband to take urgent measures to protect the dwindling species.On June 1, 1905, the Kaziranga Proposed Reserve Forest was created with an area of 232 km² (90 sq mi).Over the next three years, the park area was extended by 152 km² (59 sq mi), to the banks of the Brahmaputra River.In 1908, Kaziranga was designated a Reserve forest. In 1916, it was converted to a game sanctuary—The Kaziranga Game Sanctuary—and remained so till 1938, when hunting was prohibited and visitors were permitted to enter the park.The Kaziranga Game Sanctuary was renamed the Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary in 1950 by P.D. Stracey, the forest conservationist, in order to rid the name of hunting connotations.

In 1954, the government of Assam passed the Assam (Rhinoceros) Bill, which imposed heavy penalties for rhinoceros poaching. 14 years later, in 1968, the state government passed ‘The Assam National Park Act of 1968′, declaring Kaziranga a designated national park.The 430 km² (166 mi²) park was given official status by the central government on February 11, 1974. In 1985, Kaziranga was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for its unique natural environment


The park experiences three seasons: summer, monsoon, and winter. The winter season, between November and February, is mild and dry, with a mean high of 25 °C (77 °F) and low of 5 °C (41 °F).During this season, beels and nallahs (water channels) dry up.The summer season between March and May is hot, with temperatures reaching a high of 37 °C (99 °F).The rainy monsoon season lasts from June to September, and is responsible for most of Kaziranga’s annual rainfall of 2,220 mm (87 in).During the peak months of July and August, three-fourths of the western region of the park is submerged due to the rising water level of the Brahmaputra. The flooding causes most animals to migrate to elevated and forested regions outside the southern border of the park, such as the Mikir hills.However, occasional dry spells create problems as well, such as food shortages for the wildlife in the park.


Elephant Safari : The vast open country makes Kaziranga National Park very accessible and wildlife viewing fairly pleasurable. Here one can leave in the early hours of the dawn for an elephant-back-ride. Authorized and trained Mahouts who guide visitors through the park train the Elephants. One could see wild Elephant herds roaming around or Indian Rhinos browse past visitors unconcernedly. Since Kaziranga wildlife Sanctuary is easily accessible, its provides a chance to see animals in the wild at such close quarters, thus making a trip to this National Park a very rewarding experience.

Sightseeing in Kaziranga : Tourists can stroll through the lush coffee and rubber plantations of the nearby Karbi Anglong. Or visit the Karbi villages, meet the Karbi people and observe their way of living. Yiu can also venture through the tea gardens that Assam is so famous for and watch how one gets one’s daily cup of tea. Film shows on wildlife can be arranged at the various tourist lodges in Kaziranga, on request.

Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary:

The Kaziranga National Park remains open from 1st November - 30th April every year.

Best Time to Visit Kaziranga National Park:

Kaziranga’s visiting season is from mid-November to early April months. During the monsoons, the Brahmaputra River bursts its banks, flooding the low-lying grasslands and causing animals to migrate from one area to another within the Kaziranga National Park.


Sibsagar was the capital of the mighty Ahoms, who ruled Assam for more than six hundred years, before the advent of the British. The town, which literally means 'the ocean of Lord Shiva', is strewn with the tell-tale ruins of a powerful empire. The most remarkable landmark of the town is the 200 year old Sibsagar tank. On its banks are three significant temples - Shivadol, Vishnudol and Devidol. Modern Sibsagar is a fast developing urban settlement. It is the headquarters of the district Sibsagar, a leading tea and oil producing centre.


Situated on the banks of river Brahmaputra, this town replete with a raw natural beauty and fascinating archaeological ruins, is the headquarters of district Sonitpur. Undulating green valleys surrounded by the lofty hills and snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas, and lush tea gardens render Tezpur a tourist's delight.


Manas is situated in Kamrup-Golapara district, on the foothills of the Himalayas south east of river Manas along the Assam- Bhutan border. The beautiful park earlier known as North Kamrup is spread over an area of 391 sq km and was declared a sanctuary on December 01, 1928. It was established as the core of the Manas Tiger Reserve from April 1973 and elevated to the position of a National Park status on September 7, 1990. It was accorded the status of World Heritage Site in 1985 for its rare wealth of endangered species. The park extends over the national boundary to Bhutan where it is known as the Royal Manas Park.

Manas is home to 20 of the most endangered species of animals which include the rare golden langur, hispid hare, pygmy hog, red pandas etc. The main highlight of the park is the Giant hornbill, two subspecies of which, the pied and grey varieties are found here.

The park is rich in mammals and birds, which includes elephants, tiger, panther, leopard, clouded leopard, gaur, wild-buffalo, great one horned rhinoceros, rare golden langur, capped-langur, civet cat, squirrel, sloth beat, sambar, swamp deer, hog deer, otter, monitor lizard, gharial, python, great hornbill, florican cormorants, ergets and many other species of migratory and predatory birds. The major problem in the park is rhino poaching.

The forests here are tropical moist deciduous type. They are interspersed with swamps. The wetlands are essential for the survival of the fast disappearing hispid hare. The Vegetation ranges from Khairsissoo-bhabhar grass community to semi evergreens. There are intermediate stages of succession-deciduous forests, swampy reed lands and Sal forests. The simul, khoir, udal, sida, bohera and kanchan are the common trees in and around the park.

There are rides on boats, jeeps and elephants available. Elephant ride is the best to see the animals from close range rather than the boat rides. The 3 hour elephant ride starts from Mothanguri. Along the Manas river one can spot many water birds like mergansers, brahminy ducks, a range of egrets etc and otters can be commonly seen in the river.

Majuli is the largest fresh Water mid-river deltaic island in the world. It is situated in the upper reaches of the river Brahmaputra in Assam within the latitude of 26045’ N – 27012’ N & longitude of 93039’ E – 94035’ E with mean height of 84.5 Mt. above MSL. This landmass, with a population of 1.6 Lakhs, majority being tribals, has a very rich heritage and has been the abode of Assamese Vashnavite culture with tremendous option for spiritual and Eco-tourism. The island is a bio-diversity hotspot and has rich ecology with rare breeds of flora and fauna.

Majuli Island Protection and Development Council is a non-government organization promoted by the people of Majuli, who are concerned about the conservation and development of the Island. The primary objective of the organization is to build up mass awareness about the perilous future of this unique Island and its shrinking shoreline due to rapid erosion They are also trying their best to preserve the illustrious authenticity of its cultural and spiritual heritage by various means. The NGO has initiated a concerned

effort involving various national and international agencies including the Government authorities to conserve the unique attributes of this largest fresh water inhabitant island, which is also famous as a rare bio-diversity hotspot.

MIPADC has also been the sole motivator and advocacy role player in preserving and bringing concern for the Island from various quarters as a fit case for UNESCO – World Heritage site due to its uniqueness in cultural and natural heritage.

Situated in the District of Sonitpur, the Nameri is the third National Park of Assam. The Pakhui (Pakke) Sanctuary of Arunachal Pradesh adjoins the Park on its North-Eastern point. The area is criss-crossed by the river Jia- Bhoroli and its tributaries namely the Diji, Dinai, Doigurung, Nameri, Dikorai, Kharietc. A few jheels (during the rainy seasons) also dot the area. The Jia – Bhoroli river and the tributaries display devilish look when the incessant downpour in the upper reaches during the rainy season make it swell. The in-accessibility and continuity with neibouring forest areas has helped the wildlife of Nameri to flourish. There is a good prey –base in the form of –Sambar,Barking deer, Hog Deer, Wild Boar and gauri. About 3000 domestic cattle also form part of this prey base for Tiger and Leopards.

The inaccessibility and continuity with the neibouring forest areas have helped the wildlife of Nameri to flourish. There is a good prey base in the form of Sambar, Barking deer, Hog Deer, Wild Boar and Gaur. About 3000 domestic cattle also form part of this prey base for Tiger and Leopards.

Nameri and the adjoining forest areas, declared reserved for a considerable time, also qualify to be an Elephant Reserve. The Elephant population estimated in 1997 was 225.

Nameri and Sonai-Rupai are only Protected Areas in the North Bank of the Brahmaputra in the Civil District of Sonitpur, Lakhimpur and Dhemaji.

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