Part#3 – Unleashing Northeast India – Land of Lamas, Rains, Rhinos and Momos!! By Abhimanyu

Arriving in Assam – land of tea, tradition & one horned Rhino!

After the lovely dinner and cosy night stay at luxurious Gonpalok home stay at Dirang it was the time to bid goodbyes to Mountains and hit the plains.

As always, we left early morning and Simanta was waiting for us with the engine on of innova. He seemed happier, may be because we were going to be in his state of Assam.

Our personalised travel consultant took special efforts to accommodate our modified plan of going to Assam. Waving hands and exchanging smiles with the sweet caretaker, we left for the state of Assam. Assam is famous for Tea, rice, history and wildlife.

Hold on, if you have landed to this page directly, please click Part#1 and Part#2 to read the prequels. Do come back here.

Day#5 –

  • Dirang to Kaziranga national park
  • Travel time – 9 hours  
  • Road Condition – Worst (mostly under construction) that I have ever seen
  • Stay – Bonhabi Resort, Kaziranga

It was not the best days of the journey. Yes, we left early but the route that Simanta took was the worst road that I have ever seen in my lifetime. About 100 Kms was totally under construction and full of bumps. It seemed we are driving on a bullock cart both by speed and jerks. Dust clouds prevailed almost on the full stretch of 100kms of that road.

Dirang to kazi

We were stopped on the mid-way of those 100kms because some blasting was going on for road construction. Here we were in the middle of nowhere, waiting on a check post. There were a few more vehicles waiting behind us. We tried to kill time by clicking some infact many pictures, taking a walk around the area.

We could find a small café which served Maggie and eggs. Yes, throughout our journey Maggie, mawa, sleeping like pigs and leaving early morning have been constants. Finally, after slowest 5 hours of my life, the post officer let us move past the barrier. Simanta, loaded his Mawa and we were back to life. Before crossing Arunachal’s border and entering Assam, we stopped to buy some more liquor stock to be brought back with us to Maharashtra.

The roads in Assam were smooth and scenic, I am sure driving would have been a pleasure on them. All off a sudden I noticed, Simanta opened his door and peeped outside the door bending downwards for a second and was back again on the wheel. We understood, he did that to spit the mawa stuff. We realised he was in his own state and his confidence was touching sky.  

Usually, we visit 1 national park every year because being in the jungle brings you closest to mother earth. The birds, wilderness and flora are the real kings and we humans are just a small part of this majestic nature. I will share the link to National part stories at the end of this post. Do read ‘em all. This time we got a chance to meet 1 horn Rhino and its friends in one of the most famous national parks of India – Kaziranga National Park.

While entering the buffer area of Kaziranga, we were lucky to see hundreds of 1 horn rhinos grazing and swaying carefree on the grasslands on both sides on the road.

One Horned Rhino - Courtesy Outlook India
Image Courtesy : Outlook India

We finally reached our resort, Bonhabi around 5pm and we were tired for sure because of pointless waiting and bumpy road. The car was full of dust and dirt, from the inside and outside.

We went to our rooms; took shower and relaxed for an hour before we meet again to clink glasses, bawaa! it was mine and Trisha’s anniversary day. Cheers to two amazing and enthralling years of married life, we had no complaints by far. We reached the dining area to find probably the best food that we had during the journey. Full credit to our talented trip curator who ensured that we were served authentic assamese vegetarian food along with a cake specially ordered for our anniversary. She also tried to arrange local rice brew but maybe it was not our day. If you have tasted, let us know how it tastes in comment section. Seeing all the food we were damn excited, and it seemed that we were never tired of today’s journey. There was a wide variety of delicacies and we could not decide from what to start and where to end. Trying to list a few below: –

1) Local white or red rice (depending on season and region)

2) Bhoot Jhukoliya (Ghost Chillis – the hottest chilli in the world) – handle with extreme care

3) Aloo and Baingan Pitika (Steamed and salted Potato and Eggplant)

4) Dhekiya or Lye saag depending on season

5) Aloo, Aloo Potol, Cabbage, Beetroot or any other vegetable in season Bhaaji (Assorted Vegetables)

6) Yellow or Black Masoor Dal (Thick Lentil Soup)

7) Khoreo (Highly pungent and delicious ground mustard served with onion, garlic and other spices)

8) Pudina, Coconut, Sesame Chutney (Mint, Coconut or Sesame paste prepared with herbs and spices)

9) Salad made from young bamboo shoots

10) Paste made from raw mangoes or ground jackfruit seeds, etc

It was indeed a beautiful evening full of chats, variety of food and lots of love.     

Next morning, we again woke up early to see our pre-booked jungle safari waiting at the resort parking area. Open Maruti gypsy it was! Hopped in to start the jungle safari with a hope to sight rhinos, tigers, elephants, wild water buffalo, swamp deer, birds and many more.

Day#6 –

  • Kaziranga national park
  • Safari time – 6 hours 
  • Road Condition – as in jungle
  • Stay – Bonhabi Resort, Kaziranga

Wikipedia: Situated on the banks of mighty Bhramaputra river, Kaziranga National Park is a national park in the Golaghat, Karbi Anglong and Nagaon districts of the state of Assam, India. The sanctuary, which hosts two-thirds of the world’s great one-horned rhinoceroses, is a World Heritage Site. The park is home to large breeding populations of tigers, elephants, wild water buffalo, and swamp deer. Kaziranga is recognized as an important Bird Area by BirdLife International for conservation of avifaunal species. When compared with other protected areas in India, Kaziranga has achieved notable success in wildlife conservation.IMG_20200213_103235IMG_20200213_093719

We left our resort at 8 am in the safari which was pre-booked by our trip curator. Agaratoli range was about 1-hour drive from our resort but we enjoyed the drive while we crossed tea plantations on both sides of the road and felt the wind pass through our hairs.

Over the last few years of travelling, I have realised the neither sea nor the mountains, but Jungle is my real calling. I love being in nature surrounded by greenery, blooms, birds, butterflies and animals other than humans. Oxygen loaded air unlike polluted one in cities. Blue skies, cool breeze rustling leaves and ant-hills of varied sizes.

We sighted no tigers, few elephants, some wild buffaloes, many birds, numerous dears and hell lot of ONE HORNED RHINOS. River Bramhaputra crosses the national park and the span of the river is massive. People in this region are used to floods every year.

It was a 6 hours safari for 4 of us which costed about INR. 3500/-.  

Our driver was our guide as well, and this was probably a mistake. I suggest hiring a trained forest guide who understands to calls (voices made by animals) precisely.

Back to Bonhabi resort by late afternoon we decided to take some rest and enjoyed the stay.  

Next morning, we were greeted by ever smiling Simanta again with a clean car, he got some time to relax and get the car cleaned yesterday. He took us to Kaziranga National Orchid and Biodiversity Park which was in close vicinity to our resort. This park houses about 500+ variety of orchids from all-over north-east India and you are briefed by learned guides about the variety, identification and importance of orchids.

Additionally this place also has a Bamboo garden, cactus garden, photo gallery and handloom display and weaving centre. One can witness the dying art of weaving the cloths by hand and also buy some shawls, stoles or gamchas to carry back home.

Next up was a stage which showcases Assamese folk dances like bamboo dance and other forms and every evening they depict special show of 1 hour. Try to catch that and let us know how was it, in comment section below. We had a good time cheering and applauding local folk artists but its sad that only 4 of us were doing so in an audience of about 25 people. All an artist need is applause and cheers, and we must do it.    

The entry fee is only 120 Rs per person and this place has a lot to offer.  

Reached our resort and packed our luggage for our last leg of trip where in we were about to experience the rains, dense forests, transparent rivers and living root bridges.

Also, as a bonus you will get to see Mr. Simanta. So, stay tuned for the last part of this journey of life time. 

While leaving kaziranga chai lovers like us purchased kilos of Tea for ourselves, friends and family.

Here are the links which will take you to our earlier travelogues about jungle trips. Enjoy reading and do share if you like them.

  1. Barnawapara – A not so famous Wildlife Sanctuary
  2. Bow Down to the King – Bandhavgarh
  3. Bastar – The land of whispering Mountains – Chhattisgarh
  4. YP Original || Rules of the Jungle by Abhimanyu

 

See you soon again!

Abhimanyu @ Yatripandit

YP Original || Rules of the Jungle by Abhimanyu

Spotting wild animals in the wilderness and sleeping under the sky full of stars, is what every traveler dreams of.

Running behind the colorful butterflies during the day and chasing a group of fireflies during the night hours, is what fascinates the kids when in Jungle.

Deers

Shooting (with camera) animals during an act and waiting for that perfect shot of a rare bird for hours is a photographer’s passion.

We all love jungles, don’t we?

That blissful morning with chirping sounds, that peaceful night around the bonfire, that cool breeze and the rough forest trails are the things what we crave for in cities. Don’t we?

But to keep our jungles and its inhabitants the way they are, we must abide by the some jungle rules.

We at yatripandit, have learnt these rules after our various trips to the wild.

  1. Let them cross, you must wait – We must understand the forests belong to animals like the towns belong to humans. While on a jungle safari, if you see any animal crossing the way, kindly stop the vehicle, switch off the engine and just wait till it crosses the way. However, I am sure it won’t mind you clicking some good pictures 😛let them cross 1st
  2. No-Honking – The only noise signal valid in the wild is the sound of the birds and animals. Please do not demonstrate poor manners by honking and spoiling the melody of the silence prevailing around.No Horn
  3. Do not jump out, stay in your safari – If you spot a tiger or any creature which excites you, please calm down your adrenaline rush and stay inside the safari because neither the animal nor your guide shall be responsible for any fatal accident.
  4. Do not litter – Trash, especially plastic is the biggest enemy of forests and the residents. Always carry a bag to collect trash back with you and never throw any waste in the jungle. It’s our moral responsibility to keep our jungles clean and green.Trash
  5. Be nice to your guide – Being a Jungle guide is a tough and risky job. Jungles are usually closed for tourism during rainy season and guides and jobless. Ask a lot of questions but at the same time be nice and respectful to them. Give them some tip and wishes before bidding adieu, let your guide remember you forever.
  6. Never try to scare animals – Always remember jungle belongs to animals, never try to scare them by any weapon or especially fire. Karma is a bitch and it bites back.
  7. Do not loose heart – If you could not spot a tiger, rhino or an elephant; do not be disheartened because of 2 reasons :-
                    – Their population is not as huge as ours

                    – They want you to come back soon to their territory

And as they say, “You might have not seen the tiger, but he has surely seen you.” Always leave the jungle with a smile and a promise to come back. 

I have seen u

We would love you to read our stories on some of our amazing jungle trips by clicking

  1. Kanger valley national park
  2. Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve and
  3. Barnavapara

Story By : Abhimanyu_Yatripandit

Images : Google Images

Barnawapara – A not so famous Wildlife Sanctuary

At yatripandit, we believe there should be no boundaries on travelling especially when it comes to jungle and wildlife. It is the only one, out of 543 wildlife sanctuaries in India where you can drive your own car inside the protected area. When we came about this unique fact about Barnawapara, we were already inside our Ford Ecosport heading towards the Jungle.IMG_20170203_155409672

My younger brother suggested us this trip and 3 of us along with him, left from the capital city of Chhattisgarh, Raipur at 2pm and within 2 hours we were at the entry gate of Barnawapara. The highways are maintained in tint condition and cruising on them gave us great adrenaline rush.

Where to stay: We chose to stay at CG Tourism’s, Hareli eco resort ditching the more famous ones like Muba Resort and celebration. We did not regret the stay and hospitality even one percent and saved some bucks as well. The resort is well maintained, wide spread, and located on a lake side. Its service is fabulous as well and can be booked from various online platforms.

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After getting our room keys and dumping our luggage, we boarded our car and headed straight to the protected area entry gate. A guide, who are usually local village boys can be hired from the entry gate at a nominal price of 300-500 INR. Getting a guide is a must otherwise you might get lost forever in the wilderness(just exaggerating a little more).  It was a good 1.5 hours ride on bumpy jungle roads. And we were lucky to spot a sloth bear lazing around by the road side, wild boar and a heard of deer.

Deers

Back to our machan like rooms in the Hareli resort, changed and got fresh to have a relaxed time sitting in balcony sharing some talks from our old jungle trips(read about Bandhavgarh and Bastar), laughs,  relishing some drinks with freshly cooked snacks and doodling over music. All we needed after that was a good dinner and some nice sleep. The dinner was cooked on demand and was more like a home cooked food. We truly enjoyed every bite of it.

What to do: Jungle safaris are all about waking up before dawn and in Hareli resort the chirping birds played our alarms clocks. Within minutes we were driving in our Ecosport again and reached the entry gate driving through the fog and mist in no time. Hired a new guide and there we were inside this beautiful jungle which is spread over an area of about 245 sq km in the Mahasamund district of Chhattisgarh. Bird watching in Barnawapara is one of the most enjoyed activities. The major fauna of the Barnawapara Sanctuary include Tigers, Sloth Bear, Flying Squirrels, Jackals, Striped Hyena, Wild Dogs, Chital, Sambar, Nilgai, Gaur, Muntjac, Wild Boar, Cobra, Python, Antelopes, Leopards, Chinkara, Black Buck, Jungle Cat, Barking Deer, Porcupine, Monkey, Bison, to name a few. The sanctuary also has a large population of birds that include Parrots, Bulbul, White-rumped Vultures, Green Avadavat, Lesser Kestrels, Peafowl, Wood Peckers and the list can go on and on. We could spot many of these but tiger. 😦

IMG_20170204_080922
Africa look alike lake

Do not miss climbing to the highest watch tower and observe the forest silently breathing pure and light. That greenery; spread till the horizon is the best treat you can offer to your eyes, tired of laptop and cell phone screens.

 

When to go: The protected area is closed for tourist during Monsoons(June to Sept) every year. The most suitable time of the year is winters i.e. November to March.

Not to worry if you donot have your own can to offroad, Gypsy’s and jungle safari’s can be hired at the entry gate or Hareli resort can arrange the same for you.

Bidding adieus to this self motorable jungle; we were back again to smaller concrete Jungle(Raipur) in 2 hours and next day to a bigger one(Pune). We captured many memories and pictures. We surely are returning back to this jungle very soon.

Stay tuned for our upcoming story on rules of the Jungle (Which are NOT location specific).

Story by: Abhimanyu

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Bastar – The land of whispering Mountains – Chhattisgarh

My parents live in Raipur with my younger brother. I had quit my job in Parker and still had 18 days to join TACO in Pune and trust me the best time you have in your corporate life is the layover between two jobs. No phone calls to attend, no emails to check upon, no reports to publish. The best utilization of this blissful period is to go on a trip. It had been a long time since I went on a trip with my lovely family.

So, to en-cash this opportunity we decided to explore Bastar in our Ford Eco sport. Bags packed, camera charged, hotel booked and Pendrive loaded with good music.

Bastar is tribal and cultural capital of Chhattisgarh and a home to many waterfalls, mountains and dense evergreen forest. Jagdalpur is approximately 300kms from Raipur and Chhattisgarh government has done wonders in maintaining the highways.

After a couple of pit stops to recharge our appetite we reached Jagdalpur hotel by 4pm (8 hours). After rest and freshening up in a couple of hours we left to see the Massive Chitrakote Falls aka Niagra falls of India. The beautiful waterfall is about 40 kms from Jagdalpur city and is located on Indravati River. The height of the fall is about 30 meters and it is the widest waterfall of India. The lights made the falls look even more mesmerizing and it was truly a sight to watch.

Next morning, we left for Kanger Valley National Park – One of the densest forests of India. Spread over an area of approximately 200 square kilometres (77 sq mi) consisting mainly of hilly terrain, the park derives its name from the Kanger River, which flows throughout its length. Trust me I have never seen a forest so green in the month of May when it’s the peak time of summers in India.

My father works for Central Government and hence he could get us a booking in forest resort located right in the middle of Kanger Valley.

The major attractions are:

  • Tirathgarh waterfalls – Tirathgarh Waterfalls can be termed as “Milky Fall” because of the white colour of the water as it descends down the rocky slope giving an impression as if milk is falling. You can have a bath with small fishes around you in the clear water of this magnificent water fall. The water flowing through the various streams and crossing numerous paths along the way in a zigzag manner and finally ending up in the falls is a treat to watch. Besides the natural beauty associated with this place, Tirathgarh Falls is also an important religious place featuring a temple which is dedicated to Shiva Parvati.
  • Kotumsar caves – These Natural caves are about 35 meters below ground level and around 1371 meters long. You can witness the stalactite and stalagmite formations. There is lack of oxygen when going deep into the caves. In view of which, for safety reasons, entry beyond certain points has been restricted. The cave is closed from 15 June to 31 October during rainy season. The caves are pitch dark and the fishes found here are naturally adapted to be blind as they cannot see even if had eyes.

Baster is called the land of Whispering Mountains because when you are here you will continuously hear a whispering sound created by amalgamation of sounds made by bats, frogs, snakes, crickets, spiders.

Visit Credible Chhattisgarh and experience a divine connection with soil, soul and nature.

This post was shared on Chhattisgarh Tourism Board’s  FB Page

–Abhimanyu@yatripandit

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