Waking up at the crack of dawn is never a fun thing but when it is an exciting opportunity to drive to the Kaziranga national park and spend a weekend amidst the tall grass that hides within itself one of the most endangered species of animals in the world, is just another thing. What one does not always realize is that how really beautiful the state of Assam is. Grades of green flashing before your eyes as you drive along the fields of rice can never be just explained.
Living in Jorhat for almost three years had made me aware of how close to nature we really were. From the constant fear of getting dragged by foxes into the jungle to returning home early because a cheetah was loose. As tea gardens spread over across acres and acres, one almost felt as if this was the life in the north east with one bedraggled little airport in the mid 90s. Not yet declared a tiger reserve, Kaziranga in those days was more a weekend trip than anything else.
The early morning safari on the back of an elephant was one of the most exciting things for a twelve year old. But more than that was getting chased by a baby elephant for a pack of biscuits. Sitting on top of an elephant and getting a bird’s eye view from up above the tall elephant grass on which the elephant continuously fed along the way through the marshes, one would suddenly spot a wild boar or some colorful bird. Then the most surprising thing would happen to you. You would be looking along not expecting to find anything more than a couple of wild elephants, when the tall grass would clear and you would find the endangered and indigenous one horned rhinoceros playing in the mud.
This world heritage site along the banks of the Brahmaputra is the only natural habitat for the one horned rhino which was for the longest time, a threatened species. Tigers have also come up in numbers here in this moderated climate and low population. With other animals such as the wild buffalo, Indian elephant and the Indian civet, it is not only a most brilliant expedition for the winters months but it also a favorable sightseeing opportunity for those who have missed the north eastern forests.
On the way back, as a last glimpse of the national forest I will always remember this sight. A herd of wild elephants were migrating to the marshes for the winter months starting from small baby elephants to huge tusks taking pride in their movements. Eating and walking along in a leisurely pace, these elephants were the last beautiful moment in the even more beautiful park. It must be said though that on the way back we stopped at the Wild Grass resort for lunch and a sort of picnic before moving along on our way. It was a great stopover and was fashioned for tourists who were going to or coming from the national park.