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Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Kaziranga National Park

I continue from here...Kaziranga Elephant Ride

29th Dec 2011
Episode 7 – Exploring Kaziranga

The hotel manager advised us to take a jeep safari during afternoon, reason being that it would be the last one for the day and the driver would not hurry. Taking his advice meant 6 hours between our two safaris, so after breakfast we decided to take a walk to an ethnic park nearby (2kms). As we walk away from the main road we realize that this place is still so rural with houses made of bamboo and mud packing to prevent them from weathering and a roof made of hay. Ethnic village has very nicely done sculptures representing the tribes of Assam and their houses.


Here, we met a group of Mangaloreans. While speaking to them we discovered common relatives. One of the couples where extremely friendly and while Preethi and the lady began to explore relations the man joked by saying – “We may suddenly discover an ammey or Suthaka now.” (Among Brahmins if there is a birth or death in the family we are bound to follow a rule called Ammey or Suthaka which does not allow us to go to temples, perform pooja etc for 11 days.) So he joked that the two women would discover one such case while they enquired about common relatives. They also invited us for dinner at their hotel.

During our return we stopped at a small store to buy some cold drink. The owner informed us about the bhand in the state regarding some electric power plant construction. The villagers were protesting against it. He said – “See they are constructing this power plant. It will flood the villages and it is very bad for people”. He blamed the government for it.

When he mentioned about the strike I realized how disconnected I am now from the rest of the world and specially politics. But irrespective of where you go Indian politics always makes its notice.

We paid Rs1540 for the jeep safari which includes Rs 1200 for jeep, some road tax, payment for an armed guard and camera charges. A jeep can carry 6 people. The resort authorities promptly arranged everything on time. I must say that they were very diligent in every matter.

The jeep had to stop by an office where we found an art and craft shop. We were looking for a nice wooden rhino and the shop keeper showed one of his creations; a very beautifully carved and lightly burnt to provide shades. He had used a special tool to even form a coining like texture on the body of the Rhino. I immediately fell in love with it and it was priced Rs650 and after discount of 15% I bought it for Rs500 which I think is less for the creativity behind it. It is made of a wood by name Garak.

The jeep safari was interesting with a good drive in the forest. We spotted a few Rhinos, herd of elephants, deers and a wild buffaloes. But something that was not expected was an Asian hornbill and many beautiful birds like storks, herons, bulbul, ratchet tailed drongo and a pelican. I regretted not having bought a lens with higher magnification because unlike in the elephant safari we could not get really close to the Rhinos or any other animals.


But the drive into the forest itself was an amazing experience. It was interesting to see a group of deers cross the road. Each one would approach the road, look left and then right and then cross the road hurriedly. No doubt the animals need to adapt to change and learn new things to deal with us crazy humans. The elephants that take people on ride were retiring for the day as they were being given some food and water. With the elephants tasting the grass in the backdrop of orange sky, we bid farewell to Kaziranga national park and its inhabitants.

We stopped at a small dabha near our resort hoping to find some curd. But this was a newly opened dhabha and they did not even have a menu card. But when we asked for some fresh milk instead of milk powder he said he could get it from his house and heat it up for us. We had some pakora, tea and of course the hot milk. He came to me smiling and asked if we found everything okay. When we answered yes he said – “This is my hotel. He is my dad (pointing at an old man sitting in the cash desk)”. There was a proud look on his face and lots of enthusiasm in his ambitious eyes. He had to open early in spite of pending work as the season of tourists had arrived. I wished him good luck and we returned to the hotel.

Since it was a bandh the buses to Guwhati on next day was crowded but somehow our journey was arranged by the resort staff.

Meanwhile the kind waiter informed us of a Bihu dance program arranged by a guest. So after our dinner we went to the open area where a camp fire was set for the dance. Bihu is the folk dance of the state and was very nice and lively. The men sang, laughed and used different instruments and the women gracefully danced to the rhythm. This evening became special because of this performance.
Thanks to the lovely people of Assam who made our stay very enjoyable.


Next morning the resort staff had booked buses for us and also arranged a travel till the bus stop; they also sent a boy to escort us which was very thoughtful of them to do. Buses ply from Johrat to Guwahati and we had to book it from the starting point for Rs250 per head.

While leaving, we met some armed guards at the resort entrance. One of them was very willing to befriend us and thus he started a conversation on how dusty the place was, which it indeed was. He had escorted a minister from shilling who was staying in the resort. He hailed from UP. He said they were next going to some other tourist spot hinting that the minister was on vacation.

At the bus stop we bought some more art and craft items. Here we found out that the guy who sold us a Rhino for Rs500 costs only 300. It is interesting to notice that how one such act spoils the image and I wondered if he really created the piece. We had parota (more like Kerala parota) with veg side dish in a small hotel next to bus stop. The bus to Guwahati arrived at 9 am.

To Be continued…

5 comments:

  1. Isn't it amazing how small the world is- when we go places and we meet people that we find out we are somehow related to. More and more, I find this to be true-- they know some friend- or family member etc etc.

    The jeep safari sounded amazing. I love the little anecdotes you share along the way- the conversations with shop owners- the experiences- the pics!!! LOVE IT ALL. Can't wait for the next installment. For some reason NO matter what I do- your feed doesn't update on my blogger feed- so I have to manually check your blog every few days to see if there is a new post. Strange!

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  2. A quality blog

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  3. Thanks Anjuli. I am sure you could subscribe to my blog so that it sends you an email when i publish a new one. did you try that?

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  4. good observation about a deer herd crossing the road ! am imagining that scene :-)

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  5. Ajay,

    your post remind me about my last month's vacation held at Kaziranga National Park. I was occupied with my family and one friend. To make my vacation more excited, I searched for information regarding the park but failed to get anything. If I could find your post earlier than my trip can be much better.

    Anyways thanks for informative post.

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