The Kaziranga National Park is situated in the northeastern state of Assam in India on the southern bank of the mighty Brahmaputra River. It covers an area of 430 sq km and is located 40-80 m above sea level. It was formed as a reserve forest in 1926, primarily to safeguard the future of the diminishing Rhino population. It is now the natural habitat to one of the most endangered species in the world, the one-horned rhino. It was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1940 and contains about 15 species of India’s threatened mammal species.
The Kaziranga National Park is one with a difference for apart from enjoying the sight of rhinos, you will also get the opportunity to encounter its other natural inhabitants, the mammoth pachyderms, deer and herds of wild bufallo, wild pigs, otters, tigers and leopards. And don’t forget that your day is not governed by your watches but by the rhino’s schedules!
There are many attractions in and around Kaziranga. The areas adjoining the parkare easily accessible on the backs of elephants, though they sound like tough terrains. Mihimukh is the starting point for the park and elephants can be hired from here to enter the sanctuary. An elephant-ride during early hours of dawn offers an excellent opportunity for seeing wildlife at a close range. The elephants are managed by authorized mahouts (trainers), who guide visitors through the park.
Watching a rhino at close hand is an everyday experience at the Kaziranga. The rhino is a peace-loving animal that ignores peaceful tourists who have invaded its territory, it keeps grazing in the wild. The conditions at Kaziranga are ideal for the rhino to survive and they have made it their largest home anywhere in the world. Theoir population has increased from only a few dozen in 1908 to more than 1000 now. In addition to elephant rides, several watch towers have been set up for elevated viewing of the wildlife park. Pleasant boat rides at the nearby Rhinoland Park can also be availed by tourists.
Apart from being the home of the one-horned rhino, Kaziranga is also the natural habitat of wild buffaloes, wild boars, elephants, barasingha (swamp deer), leopards, tigers, hoolock gibbons, capped langur, rock python, and monitor lizards. Although tigers inhabit this park, it is quite difficult to sight one.
Kaziranga is also an ornithologist’s delight and you can find a great number of avifaunal species here. The numerous water bodies of Kaziranga are rich reservoirs of food (including fish) and thousands of migratory birds, representing over 100 species, visit the park seasonally from as far as Siberia. Major migratory birds are the grey pelican, black-necked stork, lesser adjutant stork, Pallas’s fish eagle, grey-headed fish eagle, about 25-30 Bengal floricans, swamp partridge, grey peacock-pheasant, great pied hornbill, green imperial pigeon, and silver-breasted broadbill. Sunset is a pleasant sight as well, with the birds returning to their nests.
The forest department has also constructed some observation towers for good watch of wildlife. These towers are located at Sohola, Mihimukh, Kathpara, Foliamari and Harmoti, and are good location points for photography.
The weather in Kaziranga is pleasant throughout the year. There are no extremities in terms of temperature variation. The winters (November-January) are cool and summers warm (temperature does not exceed 38°C). Monsoon (June-July) season is dominant and lasts for a long time in this area. Mild showers may be experienced throughout the year. Mid-April to mid-October is the closed season and you are advised not to venture out during this period. For summers, light cottons would be suitable, but in winters, it is advisable to carry heavy woollen clothing. The best season to visit the park is from November to March.