Mountains and Rain Forests of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam
As the mountains of the Himalayas merge with the South-East Asian rain forests, the states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh show up as some of the most beautiful and diverse states in India. From the tiger sanctuary known for the one-horned rhinoceros in Assam to the World War II horses in Arunachal to the Slow Loris that you may be lucky to see, the rain forests and foothills of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh make for some great travel and some great wildlife sightings.
The Himalayas in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh are a crucial juncture where various geographical regions meet. The Eastern Himalayas merge here with the Deccan Plateau of the South, and the Northern Plains that span across to Myanmar and Southern China. Together, these mountains and plains harbor one of the largest Intact Forest Landscapes – areas of Forests that have not been disrupted by humans.
Kaziranga National Park
The plains of Assam harbor some of the most amazing green landscapes – amongst which the Kaziranga National Park is now a case study in conservation. The National Park has recently played host to the Dutchess and Duke of Cambridge and is known for the success in conserving the endangered One-Horned Rhinoceros. The Park is also a tiger sanctuary with one of the largest populations of the big cat. During the winters, the wetlands of the park turn into a birdwatchers delight. Many lifers can be spotted at the park. Other big animals include the Water Buffalo and the Asiatic Elephant. Beyond the plains, you can see the Himalayan mountains rising.
The Gibbon Sanctuary lies close to the park and it is a treat to hear the Hoolock of the Hoolock Gibbons early in the morning. The Hoolock Gibbon is the only ape species present in India and quite a sight and sound to behold. An hour away from the park lies the confluence of the Brahmaputra (arising from the mountains of Tibet) and the Jia Baroli. A short boat ride to the middle of the river, and you will see one of the greatest river spectacles. Pods of Gangetic River Dolphins breach and drive as they find fish. The beautiful sound of the dolphins’ SONAR can also be easily heard. If you are lucky, you might see a few crocodiles as well.
Nameri National Park
The Nameri National Park then lies equidistant from Guwahati and the Kaziranga National Park. The park is a hiker’s delight and there are some very exciting options possible for the intrepid traveler. There are great hikes possible into the forest. An armed Forest Guard is always there to escort you and take you into some great broadleaf rainforests. The National Park is now also a great place to see the reintroduction of the pygmy hog – one of the smallest and most docile creatures to ever walk on the surface of the Earth.
Dibru Saikhowa National Park
The Dibru Saikhowa National Park lies further East. While it is a great place to spot dolphins and some great migratory birds, the park is known for its more elusive member. In the 1940s, World War II was nearing its end and the messy, gruesome Theater of the East had to be wrapped up. The war with Myanmar and Japan was nearing its end and the troops were desperate to pull out. During this time, a lot of military equipment was left behind – including some of its horses. The horses found their way to the Dibru Saikhowa National Park and today, their descendants roam free in the wilderness. You would have to camp in the Park to see them and even then, the chances are rare.
Assam’s urban and rural spaces are quite interesting as well. The state boasts of the smallest riverine island in the world – the Umananda island in Guwahati. A trip to the island will take you to see some reintroduced Golden Langurs – of which only roughly 500 remain in the world. Similarly, a trip to one of the largest riverine islands in the world will take you to see the huge Greater Adjutant Stork nesting in the trees.
While a lot about Arunachal Pradesh remains to be discovered, what has been discovered is a veritable paradise. Eagle Nest Wildlife Sanctuary and Namdapha National Park make for some amazing travel and to places not explored by many.
Eagle Nest Wildlife Sanctuary
If you’re a birder and there was only one place you could travel to, Eagle Nest would be it. The sanctuary ranges in altitude from 500m to 3250m and thus has avian life of all altitude in its mountains. These include comorants, herons, storks, finches, nightjars, old world flycatchers and a lot more. The animal life in Eagle Nest includes the Asiatic Black Bear, tigers, leopards and more. Even if you’re not a birder, it is a beautiful place. You would find it difficult to avert your gaze from the beautiful sunrises and the rich forest canopy that you see in Eagle Nest and the hills beyond. The Sanctuary derives its name from the Red Eagle division of the Army that was stationed here in the 1950s.
Namdapha National Park
In the week that you could possibly spend in the Namdapha National Park, you would find a plethora of small and large animals. It would be difficult to spot predators like the Indian Wolf or the leopard. Asiatic Black Bears are also quite shy. But you will find a plethora of bird life and the famous Namdapha Flying Squirrel. The park is again, one of the few where you can actually hike and has a beautiful 7-day hiking trail that can be followed.
The temperate and tropical forests and mountains of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh are truly a nature lover’s delight. For the inquisitive traveler, they open up a new world – a world of tropical wildlife, of great adventure and one that is easily accessible. It isn’t too difficult to find a flight, a train or a bus to take you from one place to the other. But you must have time on hand. Then, not only will the natural treasures open up to you, the cultural ones will open up too. You can also participate in the region’s numerous festivals and fairs. These places are still pristine and show us a great way of living in harmony.
Featured Photo by gozef