Located along the banks of the Brahmaputra River, the Alfresco park is the starting point for an exciting journey into the serene Brahmaputra River. With its vast expanse, the Brahmaputra is the widest river in India with a breadth spanning almost 4km-5km, and has a treasure trove of some of the largest fresh water fishes. I had always seen this point from the window of buses while passing over the MG. Road in Guwahati. This time though, I had made up my mind to take this trip at all costs…
It was 4:00 pm in the evening as I started from the Prashanti Udyan after witnessing the Digholi Pukhuri Lake and its peaceful surroundings. Just 2 km. walk from the park and I was right next to my most awaited tour, the Alfresco Park. I was not able to believe that it was finally happening as I had tried to take this trip several times before, but somehow, it always used to get delayed due to exigencies of time.
The day had been through a drizzle but was not going away without a ray of hope. Far off on the horizon, the sharp rays of sunlight showed up from between the clouds and I knew that the moment was just perfect. I stood at the banks of the Brahmaputra River along the Alfresco Park, to feel the gentle breeze and experience the gently fading sunshine to the west, which painted a calm hue over the skyline.
I moved inside the cruise line to inquire about the cruises. There were hordes of passengers waiting at the shoreline for the next cruise to cross over on the Northern Bank.The river cruises cut down a journey time of more than 2 hours towards North Guwahati by road, as one has to pass through the busy streets to reach on the other side of the city. It is definitely a blessing in disguise as the cruises also help to cross over the two wheelers and four wheelers across the river.
I enquired from one of the boat owners for a trip across the river, and realized that most of them worked as ferry operators, charging on passenger basis and charged Rs.20/- per person. But, I wanted to experience it in a better way, so I thought I will bargain. I spoke to one of the boat owners, and he agreed at Rs.300/-, for the whole boat. Not bad I thought. This boat is capable of accommodating 30 passengers along with 3-4 two wheelers in one trip. So, I guess Rs.300/- was not a bad deal, though I had to negotiate a little bit to bring him down from Rs.400/-.
It was time for me to mount the boat and I was all set to start the journey. The boatman cranked the engine and a black puff of smoke momentarily threw up in the air from the engines which gradually settled down as the boat started to move. It will be a great idea to book such a boat for a family trip or a group as they can enjoy at their solace.
The boat gently moved parallel to the shoreline from a distance though, and far off, I could see small lagoons jutting out of the water surface. Due to heavy rainfall, during the month of May (Yes, it rains here in May), it is not advisable to try going to the islands as the Brahmaputra river currents are very strong and can drift someone in seconds without giving any reaction time. That’s exactly the size of boats is quite big, and the small boats generally don’t try to venture mid-waters.
Along the banks of the river is the Shukleshwar Temple, which acted like a jewel in the crown. Located along the M.G Road, while traveling from the Prashanti Udyan to the Alfresco Park, the temple is located next to a metal foot over-bridge and can be distinctly identified with a huge crowd of shops selling flowers for offering inside the temple.
The boat had traveled some distance by now and was taking a left turn towards one of the bigger looking islands. Also called as the Peacock Island, it is the home to the Umananda Temple, although today, it was inaccessible due to the rise in water-table and the boatman advised that the right time to visit the temple can be during the day, considering the heavy rainfall which had eaten up the complete shoreline.
I could also notice the glitter of the sun on the water surface as the boat kept moving ahead. At a distance, a small hillock stood in front, facing my boat, brushed across by clouds on its tip. The hillock embraced the clouds as if it waited for the showers to pour on it deliberately.
It was time I made my way to the front of the boat, as I wanted to feel the breeze and sit in front for some time. So, I headed to the front and saw the boat streaming over the river waters. Large size fishes often popped up from one side or the other, and I was trying my best to capture them on my phone camera.
The boat now took a turn to head back home to the shore line. These 35 mins have been a remarkable experience. The cool breeze, the serenity, the breathtaking landscapes and most of all the sunset. As I neared the homeland, a small boat ventured at the shore, working on his day’s catch. The fishing net with its bamboo strands stood out of the water, as the boatman prepared to make his final moves.
A little further ahead, a large cruise liner waited to start on its course, as the sailors pulled up the anchors into the cruise. The cruise gently hooted the whistle as it prepared to venture into the waters, as if alerting everyone about their daredevil journey.
My boat finally reached the shore. It was time to say good bye, with a smile. I shook hands with the boatmen as they walked away to prepare for the next course. I was just another traveler for him, as many travel this way. I hope all those who travel here have a different story, and a different experience to share..
About the Cruises:
The cruises at the Alfresco Park connect the North Guwahati with the mainland over the Brahmaputra river. The boats run almost throughout the day from 08:00 am in the morning to 06:00 pm in the evening. Generally, the ferries move and charge on per passenger basis about Rs.20/-, but it will be generally overcrowded and give you little scope to move around as per your wish. If you are ready to spend a little extra, the boat can be bargained exclusively for your trip for Rs.300/- to Rs. 400/- and can be good deal as you are the boss of yourself and venture around undisturbed.
From Prashanti Udyan Park, the Alfresco Park is a walking distance of 3 Km and I recommend to sweat that out in order to enjoy the breeze on the cruise to the maximum.
If you want to know more about the Alfresco Park River cruises, just drop me a mail on [email protected] and I shall get back to you soon.