Thursday, January 31, 2008

Places to visit in Eastern Assam -- Golaghat District






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GOLAGHAT
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There are several places of tourist interest in Golaghat district :

Kaziranga National Park :

Kaziranga National Park is situated on the southern bank of the Brahmaputra river.


Established in 1908 as a game reserve, it became a national park in 1974 and is inscribed on the IUCN list of World Natural Heritage Site in 1985. It has an area of 430 sq. km. and lies between the Brahmaputra river and the Karbi Anglong hills. Much of the park is marshland interspersed with large water bodies, patches of elephant grass, scattered trees and bushes. Kaziranga's wildlife include the great Indian one-horned Rhinoceros, tiger, leopard, elephant, wild pig, hog deer, swamp deer, buffalo and other water fowl. Many migratory birds visit Kaziranga in the winter season.


For viewing wildlife in the swamp land, there are several watch towers. Elephant and jeep rides are also available. To stay in Kaziranga, there are several government and private guest houses at Kohora having single, double and dormitory accommodation facilities.


The park usually remains closed for visitors from May to October. The best period to visit is from December to March.




Visiting hours :

Elephant ride : 0500 hrs to 0600 hrs and 0630 hrs to 0730 hrs

By Vehicle : 0730 hrs to 1000 hrs and 1400 hrs to 1600 hrs

It is mandatory for tourists to take Armed Guards provided by the forest Department besides abiding by certain rules.

Tariffs :

Elephant charges : Indian - Adult Rs. 100/- Foreigner - Adult Rs. 525/-

Child @ 50% of Adult Child @ 50% of Adult

View fees : Indian - Rs. 10/- Foreigner - Rs.175/-

Extra charges are to be paid for vehicles, cameras and for professional photography.

DOs and DON'Ts for the visitors :

Please :

Obtain permit before entering the park.

Be accompanied by a guide authorised by the park authority.

Wait your turn for elephant ride.

Avoid bright coloured clothes.

Drive slowly, prescribed speed limit is 20 kms/hr.

Grant right of way to Animals.

Maintain silence, otherwise you will miss chance to see wildlife.

Drive vehicles only on specified routes.

Leave the park before sun set.

Please Do Not :

Enter the park after specified time.

Enter prohibited areas.

Carry pet, transistors, musical instruments inside park.

Try to cook anything inside the park.

Blow horn inside the park.


######____Comments from a visitor:_____#######

I do not want to harp upon the natural beauty of Kaziranga. The lush green forest extending more than 425 sq. km is bound to mesmerize you. It has been declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985. It is the homeland of the endangered one horned rhinoceros, and spotting of few of these magnificent beasts roaming in the wilderness is guaranteed in Kaziranga. I have seen a lot of these majestic beasts while travelling through the park since my childhood. The NH-37 from Guwahati to Dibrugarh runs right through the park and more often than not you will see rhinos, elephants and deers while passing through this stretch. The mighty river Brahmaputra flows on the northern boundary of the park thereby providing a very fertile area. The water surge from the river during the rainy season invariably inundates major portion of the park. Few elevated areas have been built close to the highway where animals take shelter during floods from where they cross over to the hills on the other side of the highway. One of my friends, Vaskar Barai had even seen a tiger once during a flood. That was indeed lucky as sighting a tiger in wild is absolutely rare. I have not been that lucky, but once I had almost bumped into a herd of elephants that were crossing the NH while driving from Guwahati to Nazira. Animals crossing the NH are quite common during the rainy season. The road through Kaziranga was a drivers delight and so hardly anyone followed the speed limit set. There always has been causality to animals crossing these corridors. Forest deptt. has now put several speed breakers to tackle this high speed driving through the designated park area.

There are three entry points for going into Kaziranga – Kohora, Bagori and Agratoli each of this being a separate ranges. The most popular range is Kohora followed by Bagori. Like most tourists, I also have been to Kohora only and hence my article is limited to Kohara only. My directions will be from Jorhat side rather than Guwahati side. Kohora is about 22 km from Bokakhat, the nearest town and looks like an ordinary alighting point on the highway. A small no. of shops and a welcome arch ensures that you do not miss it. The road on the left (or right if you are coming from Guwahati) with the big arch leads you to the point where most of the renowned hotels and rest houses are located. Though many new roadside hotels and resorts have come up in the area, this is the best place to stay as the forest office from where you are to obtain passes for entering the park is located here. The hotels here are Banani, Banashree and Aranya. Besides this, there is the Soil Conservation IB where I had stayed. Room rates starts from around 550 onwards. The famous Wild Grass Resort is however about 7 km from here and is located amidst a local village. It is built to give you an ethnic feel. Most foreign tourists stay at the Wild Grass. There is no road sign for Wild Grass and the kachha road that leads to it off the highway is at exactly 5 km from the Kohora point towards Bokakhat. You need to ask someone after traveling for 5 km for the way to Wild Grass. But if you are not a luxury class tourist, then prefer to stay in any of the places I have mentioned above. Their phone nos. are given at the end to confirm availability. Except Hotel Aranya, others accept telephonic bookings. Soon after you arrive rush to the forest office to register your name for elephant safari next morning. Which trip you get to go in depends on your serial no. in their register. The best trip is the second one at 6:30 am and so do not forget to register yourself early. During Mar- April, however the best trip will be the first trip at 5:30 am. If you stay in any far off hotel located along the highway, they may be having some agent to book on your behalf. Get it confirmed beforehand with the hotel. Each trip carries about 50 to 60 tourists depending on the availability of elephants.

I had arrived there around noon and so I had to take the afternoon jeep safari. You can choose to take it in the morning half as well. Afternoon timings are fixed from 3 pm to 5 pm. It was November and so by 5 pm it becomes quite dark in Assam. You have to hire the jeep yourself from market or through the hotel staff. They charge around 650 bucks per trip. Prefer to have a gypsy rather than a jeep as gypsy travels almost noiselessly. Afternoon trip gives you an opportunity to travel alone. If you are traveling in cavalcade, which is normal situation in morning, be sure to be in the front otherwise whirlwind of dust emanating from the kachha track inside the jungle will take some of the fun away. The forest deptt. charges are quite exorbitant. I had compared this with the rates in Periyar NP in Kerala in one of my earlier article. The charge are : Rs.200/- for vehicle entry fee, Rs.60/- per head entry fee, Rs.50/- for still camera, Rs.50/- as guard charges and Rs.500/- if you have a handycam. It is real loot-maar. They will however give you a forest guard who has an old .303 gun to scare animals away, especially elephants, if they attack you.

Day 1: Jeep safari
We entered the jungle through Mihimukh at around 3 pm. It was quite cool in Feb and so animals were around. A kutcha road leads you into the jungle. I am told that this road gets wiped out every year in flood and has to be rebuilt before the park opens. You can easily spot various species of deers and wild boars in swamps alongside the road. The drivers will invariably show you a tree which bears nail marks supposedly of tiger. Soon you will start spotting rhinos and buffalos either grazing or lying lazily in a mud pool. The driver was friendly and we were taken 4/5 km into the jungle to the Diphalu river where we could see some tortoise. They were dangling from trees lying on riverbed. Even the smallest of crackle will scare them to vanish within seconds into water. The air was carrying fragrance of jungle flower. It was a nice feeling to be so deep inside a dense forest. On the way we saw destruction caused by an elephant herd which had crossed that area the day before. If you get an elephant herd on the way, that is the end of safari for you as those beasts will not make for you. The road is very narrow; you cannot turn and run if chased by elephants. On our return, two barking deers, which are rarely seen, slowly walked onto the road hardly 100 meters away from us. They did not hear us coming. That is why I recommended having a gypsy rather than a jeep. Unfortunately my SLR struck in the snap I took with both the deers. However, the second snap with only one of the deers came good. As the sun was setting we were taken to the Diphalu lake for watching the sun set. Few tourist vehicles gathered there for enjoying the sunset. By the time we had returned it was complete dark.

The day was not over yet. At 7 pm the forest office opens for issuing passes for next morning's elephant safari. You had to be there personally to pay and collect passes. Even if you had registered yourself earlier, if you are not present when your name is called you will miss the chance to choose your trip. Although I had registered at around 3 pm, I got the chance to be in the second trip as many tourists were not present when their names were called. So collect your entry passes before going for dinner. The charges were Rs.120/- per head plus Rs.50/- for still camera.

Day2: Elephant safari
We had to face a cab operator strike and so had to drive down to Mihimukh, the elephant riding point located about 3 km from the highway. We left the vehicle there at the gate and walked down to the tower built for getting onto the elephant. In fact you can easily drive there. The cab operators typically charge Rs.200/- for ferrying you from hotel to Mihimukh and back. The area was still engulfed in thick fog. I felt lucky that I did not have to go in the 5:30 am trip. We waited on the machaan for the elephants to come back from the first trip. It was a wonderful sight to see the cavalcade of majestic animals emerging through the foggy landscape in the distance. There were 17 elephants in the troupe of which 15 are used for ferrying tourists and 2 were under training. Though most of the elephants belongs to the forest deptt., few of them are privately owned. Carrying capacity of each elephant varies depending on its size. We got into a 3 seater pachyderm. Slowly one by one all the elephants vanished into the fog. So did we. The elephants had great difficulty in maneuvering swamps and crossing a small river on the way. I was sitting at the back and felt at times like felling off from the elephant. Soon we were taken to a herd of wild water buffalo which were yet to make its move for the day. After traveling for some time we get to see a rhino. We did not get to see anything else in the one-hour trip. But traveling through the tall elephant grasses, which at times towers above the elephants, in the jungle through the fog was something special. The beauty of the elephant safari is that you can see whatever you get to see from very close. I have read that elephant safari in other national parks is more fun than animal watching. But here you get both the fun and animals. I had really enjoyed the ride. Honestly it was my first elephant ride and I am happy that it was a memorable one for reasons other than that. We came back to Mihimukh in about an hour. Before alighting we ensured to have photograph on the elephant. This was the time my SLR started giving problems. Fortunately our photos on elephant taken by another tourist came good.

That also brings an end to my trip. This is a typical Kaziranga trip we use to enjoy in Assam. If you have planned to spend two days, then you can have the jeep safari at Bagori on the second afternoon. The distance between Kohora and Bagori is about 10 km. It was November when I visited. The park opens for tourists in October and remains open till mid April. But the best time to visit is end March or early April around Bihu (or just before the rain starts). Till about December, your views of the landscape will be blocked by the tall elephant grass jungles that are everywhere. They dries up by January and the forest deptt. set them on fire to clear areas. Once the pre-monsoon rain start setting in, freshly sprouted grass brings out large number of animals into the open and you can enjoy this magnificent view in March - April. However, this window is small as park is closed once the rain gets regular by mid of April. Before ending here are the phone numbers of hotels ----

Contact :

If you would like to visit or know more about Kaziranga National Park, please contact Indian Diplomatic Mission in your country or any of the following addresses :

1. Government of India Tourist Office, B.K. Kakati Road, Ulubari, Guwahati 781007

2. Director of Tourism, Government of Assam, Station Road, Guwahati 781001

Tel: + 91 0361 547102, + 91 0361 542748

3. Tourist Lodge, Kaziranga (Under ATDC Ltd.), Reservation authority:Officer Incharge, Aranya Lodge

Kaziranga National Park, Golaghat, Assam

Tel: +91 03776 262429

4. Bonani, Bonoshree & Kunjobon Tourist Lodge, Kaziranga (Under Director of Tourism)

Reservation authority - Tourist Information Officer

Kaziranga National Park, Kaziranga, Golaghat, Assam

Tel: +91 03776 262423

5. Bamboo Groove Hotel, Wild Grass Resort Pvt. Ltd., Kaziranga

Tel: + 91 03776 262437

6. Director Kaziranga National Park

Tel: +91 03776 268095 (o)

+91 03776 268086 (r)

7. DFO Eastern Wildlife Division, Bokakhat

Tel: +91 03776 268007 (o)

Garampani :

It is a hot water spring inside the Nambar Reserve Forest, about 18 Km South of Golaghat town; only about 50 M. from the NH 39 on the way to Dimapur in Nagaland. One can visit it by hiring a taxi from Golaghat town or by public buses plying on the Golaghat Dimapur route. During winter season lucky visitors may get to see herds of wild elephants grazing by the side of the highway as NH 39 passes through the thickest portion of Nambar Forest.

Neghereting Shiva Mandir :

Perched on a hill top, it is an ancient Shiva temple built by Ahom kings. It is surrounded by lush green tea gardens and is a popular picnic spot. From the NH 37, it is only about 1 and 1/2 Km to the north. From Golaghat town, it is about 30 Kms and from Jorhat town it is about 32 Kms. Neghereting temple is also the home of hundreds of monkeys.

Deopahar Ruins, Numaligarh :

Is that ruins are always so much more appealing than restorations ? Deopahar is an example. Scattered on the hill top are ruins of an ancient temple with statues lying shattered and greenery sprouting from the heads of others. The climb to the top of the hill is exhausting, especially on a hot day, but the view from the top spanning across Numaligarh Tea Estate and nearby Karbi Anglong hills and forests is simply divine. Deoparbat is situated just by the side of road, about only 5 Kms. from Numaligarh Tinali on NH 37, from where the N.H. 39 leading to Dimapur starts.

Uncle Robin's Children Museum :

The museum is located on the main road in Golaghat town and within the residence of Dr Robin Banerjee, a naturalist of International repute. The museum is full of dolls, artifacts, mementos, movies and other personal collections of Dr Banerjee's lifetime.

Dolls : There are 587 dolls and 262 other show pieces. They have mostly been presented by admirers and children during his many trips to abroad and within the country as well.

Paintings/Photographs : There are 194 Paintings and 19 Award winning Photographs. All the paintings were done by Dr. Robin Banerjee and all the photographs taken by himself in very adverse conditions related to wildlife.

Artifacts : There are 93 pieces artifacts. For instance, (a) Naga Warrior's head hunting basket, (b) Dalai Lama from Patala palace, Tibet made up of Fish Bones and (c) One small beautiful Horse made up of Turquoise and was gifted from China.

Films : 26 documentary films started from 1953 to 1998 which were shot by him and six films are still in the cans without editing etc.

Contact name & Tel. No. :

Mission Road, Golaghat - 785621. Tel No. 91-0376-2480599.

Timings : From 10 A.M. to 1 P.M. and 2 P.M. to 4 P.M. (Museum)

Film : After 5 P.M. Open on Monday to Friday, Sunday by appointment.

GOLAGHAT BAPTIST CHURCH:

Golaghat Baptist Church, one of the oldest and biggest Baptist Churches in Assam, which celebrated its Centenary Jubilee in 1999, came into being in December 1898. The pioneering man in this Great Venture was Dr. O. L. Swanson, a missionary from America, who had come to Assam in 1893 along with his wife. Dr. Swanson was assisted by a number of local people.

Informations for Tourists Regarding The Provision of Accommodation in and around Kaziranga, Assam

Sl. No.

Name & Address of Hotels, Resorts, I.B., Guest House, Lodge Cottages, etc.

Telephone No.

Distance from Kohora Chariali

1

Bonani Lodge, Kaziranga (Kohora)

03776-262423

1K.M.

2

Bonoshree Lodge

03776-26243

1K.M.

3

Kunjabon Lodge

03776-262423

1K.M.

4

Aranya Lodge, Kaziranga (Kohora)

03776-262429

1K.M.

5

Prasanti Lodge (Old)

03776-262429

1K.M.

6

Prasanti Lodge (New)

9435350332

1K.M.

7

Doyang Lodge, NRL

03776-266406

36K.M.

8

Dhansiri Lodge, NRL

03776-276050

36K.M.

9

Riverview Lodge, NRL

03776-266237

36K.M.

10

P.W.D. Inspection Bunglow, Circuit House, Bokakhat

9435018495

22K.M.

11

Soil I.B., Kohora

3776-262409

2K.M.

12

Forest I.B., Kohora

9435154362

1K.M.

13

Forest Transit Camp, Kohora

9435146167

1K.M.

14

Forest I.B. Baguri

94352283463

12K.M.

15

Wild Grass Resort, Kaziranga

3776-262085

6K.M.

16

Kazirasnga Jungle Camp

9435011380

5K.M.

17

Wildlife Society

3776-262494

1K.M.

18

Green Reed Resort

3776-262417

1K.M.

19

Madhuban Lodge

03776-262715

1K.M.

20

Maa Kamala Lodge

03776-262447

1K.M.

21

The Park, Kohora

03776-262454

1K.M.

22

Aashray Lodge, Diring (Kaziranga)

03776-262163
03776-262616 ®

5K.M.

23

Unicorn Cottage & Associates, Kaziranga

9435197601

4.5K.M.

24

Kaziranga Florican Lodge

9435150124

0.5K.M.

25

Heritage Nest Resort, Diring, (Kaziranga)

9435249922
03776-262609

4.5K.M.

26

Network Trevels

03776-262699

0.5K.M.

27

Bon-Habi Resorts, Kohora (Kazaringa)

03776-262675

1K.M.

28

Regal Resort, Kohora

03776-262702

1K.M.

29

G.L.S. Resort, Fuloguri, Jakhalabandha

03672-279002

35K.M.

30

Dhansiri Lodge, Kohora, Kaziranga

03776-262501

2K.M.

31

Kaziranga Guest House, Bokakhat

03776-268321

22K.M.

32

Monalisha Hotel, Bokakhat

03776-268036

22K.M.

33


Dolphin Lodge, Bokakhat

9435095991

22K.M.

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