CLOSE QUARTERS WITH THE WILD: KAZIRANGA SANCTUARY

My brush with Kaziranga Sanctuary happened in 2006. It was my second time here, and I had missed seeing the Sanctuary once before, so, this time, there was no way I wanted to miss out on it. The idea of venturing into the wild was thrilling and it was a wait worthwhile.
I started my trip along with three of my colleagues on a Sunday afternoon. Just an hour drive from Tezpur town, the lush green tea gardens on the way added to the thrill and excitement. A viewpoint on the way caught my attention and I just took a break. The scenic view of the entire Kaziranga Sanctuary with the glowing sun exposed a herd of elephants afar. With the senior ones at the periphery, they were trying to keep the young and the pepped ones from breaking free from the herd.
Quite often on the way, it is not surprising to see the animals trying to cross the road, which often makes them vulnerable to traffic, which is why, it is important to keep our wheels in control.
A UNESCO world heritage site, Kaziranga Sanctuary is home to more than 2800 of the rare species single horned rhinoceroses and Asian Elephants. The tigers are rarely seen, but trying to take a Night Safari can prove fruitful, for the jungle enthusiasts.
The entrance gate was crowded with travellers. Wild Life enthusiasts from all walks of life filled the place. Regular travellers, Wild Life photographers, Researchers and students, nature lovers…etc…And some people like me, who just wanted to witness the natural beauty in person.
The reception centre had a magnificent display of Assam handicrafts… Bamboo and cane furniture, hand-woven linen, cane decoratives, souvenirs, and of course, the Assam tea, the aroma of which could be sensed from a distance.
The open gypsy at the entrance along with a forest guard took us inside the sanctuary. Such facilities are common here and it is suggested that one makes use of these. The forest guard had a rifle and took the co-driver’s seat. The open jeep moved slowly along a narrow and elevated bund, often jerking on the undulating profile, taking our cameras off balance most of the times.
From the top, the animals could be viewed on the either side of the bund. The high grassland offered a splendid camouflage, often surprising us as we got real close to the animals peeping from the grass. But the animals didn’t seem to react much, as it must have been just another day when the human species would have been passing by. The experience of watching the wild up close was thrilling and exciting.
There was a drizzle and the water drops seemed to slowly pour down our faces. Yet we continued to move. And then there was sun again, with a welcome change, making the entire scene more beautiful than before. A small family of elephants played across the river. They had a fun time with their kids splashing around in the water. We came across a bridge, from where we could see a rhino taking a cool dip in the water. The short rainfall session added to his refreshing delight in the pool. And finally, the moment came when I was able to see the native of the jungle; the greater one horned or the Indian one horned rhinoceros.
It was a unique moment for me, as I had awaited this for a long, long time. My lenses captured few of these moments which I pen down today. I thought I might have forgotten most of it, but still after 8 years, the memories seem to be afresh. As the sun went down, it bid an adieu and hinting us to be back again, for no one can remain from witnessing this experience just once. I look forward to retake this journey, in a wholly new way. This has definitely been the most remarkable experiences of my life…