Manas National Park
A Unesco World Heritage Site
Manas National Park is the second UNESCO world heritage site of Assam; the other one being Kaziranga National Park. The Manas National Park is situated on the Himalayan foothills and extends to Bhutan where it is known as the Royal Manas National Park. It was declared a sanctuary in 1928 and became a National Park in the year 1990. Manas is also a Project Tiger Reserve, an Elephant Reserve and a Biosphere Reserve. The unparallel scenic beauty of the densely forested National Park along with its rare wild life makes a trip to Manas a truly enthralling experience.
The park is home for some of the most endangered wildlife species which cannot be found anywhere else. These include the Assam Roofed Turtle, Hispid Hare, Golden Langur and Pygmy Hog.
There are 55 species of mammals recorded in the sanctuary. The list includes tiger, Elephants, Indian one-horned Rhinoceros, Gaurs, Asian Water Buffaloes, Barasingha, Leopards, Clouded Leopards, Asian golden cat, Capped Langurs, Assamese Macaques, Slow Loris, Hoolock Gibbons, Smooth-coated Otters, Sloth Bears, Barking Deer, Hog Deer, Sambar Deer, Chital etc.
Manas National Park is home for about 380 species of birds. The major species include Bengal Florican, Giant Hornbills, Jungle Fowls, Bulbuls, Brahminy Ducks, Kalij Pheasants, Egrets, Pelicans, Fishing Eagles, Serpent Eagles, Falcons, Scarlet Minivets, Bee-Eaters, Magpie Robins, Pied Hornbills, Grey Hornbills, Mergansers, Harriers, Ospreys, Herons and many others.
Manas National Park also houses 50 species of reptiles, and 3 species of amphibians.
Indian Rhinoceros was extinct from this park due to heavy poaching during the Bodo insurgency period. The Rhino was re-introduced in the park in 2007 and its number is on the rise.
The Manas National Park derives its name from the Manas River, which is one of the major tributaries of the Brahmaputra River. Manas River passes through the west of the national park and splits into two separate rivers, the Beki and Bholkaduba. There are five other smaller rivers that flow through the Manas National Park.
Initially the area of the Manas National Park was 360 km². In 1951 and 1955 the area was increased to 391 km². Manas Tiger reserve was created in 1973. It was declared a World Heritage site in December 1985 by UNESCO. In 1990 the area of the park was further enhanced and it was declared as Manas National Park. In February 2008 the area was mapped at 950 Km2.
The park area is spread over five districts of Assam i.e. Kokrajhar, Chirang, Buxa, Udalguri, and Darrang. The park is divided into three ranges. The western range based at Panbari, the central at Bansbari, and the eastern at Bhuiyapara.
The natural landscape of the Manas National Park combines Sub-Himalayan Bhabar Terai formation along with Riverine succession continuing up to Sub-Himalayan mountain forest.
During the Monsoon months (June-September), the National Park witnesses heavy shower which averages to 333 cm in a year. The temperature in the park may vary between a low of 15 degrees to a high of about 35 degree Celsius.
There are elephant rides as well as jeep safaris available for the tourists to visit inside the park. Jeep safaris take you deeper into the jungle whereas the elephant rides are restricted within a few kilometers. On the other hand the elephant ride can give much better opportunity to explore the terrain due to the versatile nature of the ride. Boating in the Manas river is also quite popular.