Coincidently, we end up taking our child to all sorts of places, in sorts of traveling modes and let him meet life with all sorts of stories and that’s why Manas becomes an important part of our north-east travel story
Surprisingly, many people born and brought up in Assam don’t seem to have heard of Manas. However, let me tell you that the lesser known and least crowded Manas is a UNESCO Natural World Heritage site, a Project Tiger reserve, an elephant reserve and a biosphere reserve in Assam.
We reached Manas National Park after a day at Pobitara. Not many people come to Manas unless they plan to go to Bhutan through Manas National Park.
Besides, this falls under the controversial Bodoland territory which was largely affected by terrorist activities in the 90s and hence was closed for many years.This we realized only after reaching there ???? No wonder, there were just two jeeps including ours for the safari the day we ventured and very few people in Florican cottages (the only popular & respected place) where we were staying.
A few people, fewer children, no TV, no internet, a small village, a mud road, fencing and then the national park just in the front of the gate. Ideal settings for the new (TV, I-pad and phone) generation to find a new meaning of life. Given that my son is a little more friendly than usual and loves talking, he caught hold of locals working in Florican cottage to tell his stories and listen to theirs. In simple words, rather than being in a room without any entertainment option, he preferred to disturb them throughout our stay with his non-stop talks.
On the first evening, he gave me a little introduction of his Krishna bhaiya, the one he had been talking to the most there. By the second evening, my son came with a chocolate in hand- ‘Krishna bhaiya gave.’
“I love Krishna bhaiya. He is in school but he is also working “. “How will he study and give exam??” After a pause…empathy+ emotions “I want to be rich only to help people. I can give everything.”
And we continued our conversations on what we could do, what he wanted me to do and what were our limitations.
Albeit his emotions were momentary, I never expected traveling to bring such lessons this way into my son’s life. The next day, of course, he denied sharing his favorite biscuits with me while I was really hungry????
That’s how all of us are carrying good and bad within us and depending on our interactions with the environment anything gets triggered. Anyway, my intention to write all this is not to tell another story but to request you to travel to places like Manas, stay with locals and do whatever possible to help lives here. I believe traveling has a greater meaning..it is also the friendships that we do, the love that we spread and a few healing words that we end up saying to the people we meet besides monetary exchanges.
Manas National Park- our experience
Our Manas experience was not limited to these personal emotional triggers but was also an enriching wildlife encounter. Just the two of us (me and my son), our driver Madan, a guard and a jeep safari driver on the safari tour of Manas Jungle, which is approx. 950 sq kms.
Manas was dense, beautiful and scary at times. We saw many wild elephants, some deers , peacocks and leeches (which were coming even inside the jeep). The tall elephant grass doesn’t really allow you to locate any wild cat in April during rains though this national park has 60 plus tigers.
Elephants, wild water buffaloes, rhinos and deers are in plenty, so much so that some of them enter the village too. We did see such incident the first night when an elephant had entered the barricaded house just next to our florican cottages to eat the crops.Was thrilling to hear crackers, drums and be a part of the hullabaloo to drive away the elephant from the village back to the national park. Wow!
The two-day stay in Manas was really knowing how is it to stay in a village bordering the dense jungle. Must visit if you love rustic life, pristine jungles, & virgin nature at its best!
About Manas National Park
Manas is at the foothills of the Bhutan-Himalayas in the state of Assam. The national park falls in India as well as in Bhutan. The river Manas that flows through the park comes from Bhutan into India and joins the mighty Brahmaputra river.The unique biodiversity and landscape make Manas, one of the first reserves included in the network of tiger reserve under Project Tiger in 1973. Manas is where pristine Terai Grasslands are seen merging with the Bhabar grasslands interspersed with diverse habitats ascending to Semi-Evergreen forests and then to Bhutan Himalayas. The Biodiversity is very rich here and is home to many endangered species. Best Season to travel to Manas- November to April
How to reach Manas National Park
Nearest airport- Guwahati Manas is accessible from Guwahati (176 km.), Kaziranga (403 km.), Darjeeling (466 km.), Shillong (287 km.) and Siliguri (386 km.) by road
Nearest railhead- Barpeta Road.
Where to stay in Manas
Florican cottages run by MEWS society.
Jeep Safari in Manas
You can book the jeep safari through your hotel. Assam wildlife parks are still not open for booking online however the rates are pretty good as compared to other national parks in the country. Jeep safari at Manas is for 3 hrs plus since the jungle is huge. It takes you to Manas river (the border) from where the road to Bhutan commences.
P.S- If you would like to help people like Krishna in any way possible, you could contact MEWS society in Manas National or write to us we can give the contact numbers.