Manas Wildlife Sanctuary
The Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, a Project Tiger reserve, lies among the foothills
of the Bhutan Himalayas, in the far eastern state of Assam. The park, which
spreads over 2,837 sq km, is a vast, relatively unspoilt expanse of low-lying
sal forests and grasslands. The core area of the reserve lies in Kokrajhar
and Barpeta districts, whereas its outlying areas spread over the neighbouring
forest reserve divisions of North Kamrup, Western Assam Wildlife Division,
Kachugaon and Haltugaon. To the north lies the Royal Manas National Park,
Initially known as North Kamrup, Manas was designated a wildlife sanctuary
way back in 1928 and in 1985, was declared a `World Heritage in Danger
site. The only tiger reserve in Assam and also famous for the rare golden
langur and the red panda, Manas is one of the best-kept national parks
in India. Its home to Indias second-largest tiger population,
and although a ride through the park may not guarantee a tiger sighting,
you might see some other beauties. Manas other denizens include
elephants, rhinos, swamp deer, gaur, and more elusive species, such as
the clouded leopard, golden cat, pangolin, fishing cat, pygmy hog and
leopard. Manas has more than 450 species of birds, of which the great
pied hornbill and the Bengal florican are among the leading stars.
Entry fees for the park are Rs 200 for foreigners and Rs 10 for Indians,
with additional charges been tagged on for cameras.
Manas National Park is 176km from Guwahati, which is the nearest major airport.
The capital of Assam, Guwahati has regular flights coming in from most major
cities in India, and getting to Manas from here isnt a problem. It
actually makes a lot of sense to drive down because the roads are very motorable.
State transport authorities and private operators have bus services to Manas
from Guwahati. You can also hire taxis to Manas from Guwahati.
The roadhead closest to Manas is the town of Barpeta Road, which is at
a distance of 41 km from the park.
Within the park, elephant rides are your best bet for seeing wildlife,
although boats are also available for wildlife-watching trips down the
Manas and Hakua rivers. The wildlife is best seen on elephant back at
Best time to visit
The best months to visit are October to April. Avoid the monsoons (June
to September) when heavy rains can flood the park and wildlife stay away.