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Manas – Mysterious Magical Mystical

Md. Sabir Nishat
The gateway to Northeast, Assam’s stunning scenic grandeur entices the adventurer and tourist alike with its verdant valleys, lush green tea gardens and paddy fields, misty mountain peaks, swift

rivers and the finest sanctuaries and World Heritage Sites for some of India’s most endangered flora and fauna. One of the World Heritage Sites, Manas National Park – a wildlife enthusiast’s and nature lover’s dream – completed its centenary on December 13, 2005.

Set amidst bounteous vistas of untrammelled beauty and pristine glory, Manas sustains a host of rare and endemic plant and animal life.

About 176 km north-west of Guwahati, Manas National Park apart from being a World Heritage Site is also a project Tiger Reserve. Manas was notified as reserved forest in 1905 and declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985. Its rich biodiversity supports an immense range of rare and endangered creatures. It’s also a paradise for birdwatchers for it has a stunning selection of avian life. The stunning variety of terrain, splendid landscapes and sparkling rivers offer adventure sports lovers a vast choice of activities. Amongst the popular adventure activities are angling, boating, river rafting, trekking. You can also go jeep safari savouring the scenic beauty along with wildlife. You can stay at the forest bungalow at Mathunguri inside the forest.

Singing paeans on Manas Biosphere Reserve and Manas National Park, noted Naturalist EP Gee said, “Both plentiful wildlife and magnificent scenery are found together….a rare occurrence anywhere in the world.”

Spread across 500 sq km, Manas National Park now falls in the newly created districts of the then undivided Kokrajhar district vis-à-vis Baksa and Chirang districts in Bodoland Territorial Council. The Bhutan Hills rolls down to form an extensive ‘Bhabar’ and ‘Tarai’ area on the north bank of the river Brahmaputra. The river Manas criss-crosses the park dividing the park into two halves, further drained by large number of rivulets and streams.

Contiguous with the Royal Manas National Park in Bhutan, the park offers excellent ecosystem for the wild denizens of the area to thrive and flourish. It forms the core area of Manas Tiger Reserve. It stretches for 150 km as a continuous belt of forests along the foothills between the two rivers – Sonkosh and Dhansiri. As the Park is situated at the strategic confluence of Indo-Gangetic, Indo-Malayan and Indo-Bhutan realms, it is a key conservation area in the Eastern Himalayan eco-system.

Nestled at the foot of the Himalayas, Manas, with a variety of habitat types supports a diverse fauna. It is home to rare denizens such as the Pygmy Hog, Hispid Hare, Golden Langur, Bengal Florican, Asian Elephant, Tiger, Gaur, One-horned Rhino, Assam Roofed Turtle and Rat Snake. There are 60 species of mammals, 312 species of birds (among which 26 species are globally endangered), 42 species of reptiles, 7 amphibians, 54 species of fishes and 103 species of invertebrates.

Exotic 550 plant species reveals the high utility value of floral diversity of Manas. Its stunning variety of aquatic flora along the river banks, wetlands and pools is a feast for the senses.

The area is also a treasure-trove of ethnic diversity and ancient traditions moulded by its geographic setting. Living in peaceful co-existence since ages these simple, hospitable people are still moored to the traditional lifestyles. The Bodos are the main community of this area with the other inhabitants like the Assamese, Bengali, Nepali and Adivasi.

Journalist Sabir Nishat is based in Guwahati.  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Image Courtesy: UB PHOTOS, Guwahati