Saturday, March 26, 2011

India Northeast Trip Report - Kaziranga National Park + Tawang

Disclaimer: This post is written primarily that these memories stay with me.. rather than for a third person


When Ajay suggested that we might go for a trip to Northeast, my major motivation was to ensure that the holidays of this year did not lapse (My company has a policy of allowing only certain holidays can be carried forward to the next year) and also to make use of cheap Rs. 1 ticket fare.

Our Objectives of the trip was very simple..
1. Visit Kaziranga National Park and take as many jeep rides and elephant rides as possible
2. Visit Tawang in Arunchal Pradesh.

A Bad Start
First shock of the trip was the cancellation of the train from Guwahati to Furkating station near Kaziranga.. Thankfully, Guwahati bus stop was near to the railway station. So we took the bus to Kaziranga National Park. Actually this turned out to be a blessing in disguise since we landed at Kaziranga National Park at 4.30am rather than the expected noon landing.. Seeing me roaming on the road(actually trying to find a lodge to stay) with a trekking bag at 4.30am, the Assam police van promptly stopped and interrogated me & Ajay for 30 minutes.. (Hmm.. What a start to the tour.. )

Kaziranga National Park - Safari Ride
But all this was forgotten when we took out first jeep ride inside the Kaziranga National Park(Central Range -   Range nearest to most of the tourist lodges and hotels) And was lucky enough to sight my first rhino immediately after entering the park. And that started a day of sighting more rhinos, wild elephants, wild buffaloes, wild hen & cock, swamp deer, monkeys, birds, birds and more birds(especially in Eastern Range).  (Photos Here)..

Kaziranga National Park - Elephant Ride
Next day, we took the early morning elephant ride in the western range of Kaziranga National Park. As expected, saw quite a few rhinos very close - mostly in pairs (mom and a kid)..And with the elephant ride, our Kaziranga stay came to an end and it was time to move to next destination. (Photos Here)

Interesting Things I noticed in Assam:

  • Unlike most other states of India, I did not notice even a single malnourished kid on the roads during my travel. This might be because of the fertile land or because the state is not poor or both. 
  • Thatched roofs with Dish Antennas were the common sight during my trip. It was rare to see a home built with brick & cement. Either construction material is very expensive or the earthquake-prone Assam has learnt the hard way about building homes in brick & cement. 
Change & More Change in Plans:

Our initial plan was to travel from Kaziranga National Park to Tawang in 2 days - Kaziranga National Park to Bomdilla and Bomdilla to Tawang. But one of our friends recommended not to miss Nameri Eco Camp. So we left for Tezpur in the morning. But when we met the travel agents in Tezpur, the shortage of seats for the shared Tata Sumo travel from Tezpur to Tawang became quite apparent (Because of the usage of vehicles by parties for the Assam elections). So we decided to stay for the night in Tezpur and try out luck for the early morning ride from Tezpur to Tawang. And thanks to God, we got our seats.. And that started 14 hours of hell travel from Tezpur to Tawang. Funny/Idiotic BRO (Border Road Organization) boards and the beautiful scenery made the entire journey through no bad roads bearable.

Tawang:
But the morning walk to Tawang Monastery (Largest Buddhist Monastery in India) made me to forget those aching muscles (from the travel). First day was spent in walking through the small town to Tawang Monastery & War Memorial built in the memory of Indian Soldiers who sacrificed their lives in Indo-China War. It was great to read and see about the Indo-China War in Tawang. (Chinese claim to Tawang lies in the fact that Tawang is part of Tibet  - thereby belongs to India. India's claim is based on the British agreement with Tibet on the Territory)

Paradise Unexplored?
On the second day in Tawang, we travelled to Madhuri Lake..  (Would have loved to travel to Bumla Pass/Indo-China Border. But the army was not ready to allow people because of the recent snowfall. ) This was the day you realize that North East is really the the Paradise Unexplored (Claim about the NorthEast by Incredible India Campaign). It was a day of beautiful mountains, cold & frozen lakes, snow, snow and more snow. (Photos of Tawang Trip Here)

Interesting Things I noticed in Tawang:
  • Tawang's economy is built around the army and its troops. 
  • Town wakes up early. Don't expect to find breakfast after 8am. And most of the city closes by 6pm. 
  • It is surely not a touristy place. You can count the lodges by your fingers.14 Hour Journey keeps the tourist away. 
  • Entire trip from Tezpur to Tawang & Tawang to Madhuri Lake is infested with Army Training Institutes, Battalions and outposts. 
A Journey of Firsts:
It was the first time that I saw wild rhinos, Did my bird spotting, Saw snow in India, saw frozen lakes in India and took a helicopter ride. And it was a journey that i would never forget - thanks to this post. 

Regrets:
Though we met our initial objective of visiting Kaziranga National Park & Tawang, missed out on visiting  places we were considering during certain part of the trip. (Shillong & Nameri Eco Camp). 

2 comments:

drishan said...

hi, we r planing to visit tawang , can u give me the drivers no. & any hotels cont. no.

Robin said...

@drishan,

We stayed in Tawang View.. Don't have their numbers or hotel numbers anymore..

Search in indiamike.com. you should be able to find some numbers..