Manas Wildlife Sanctuary

The Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, a Project Tiger reserve, lies among the foothills of the Bhutan Himalayas, in the far eastern state of Assam. The park, which spreads over 2,837 sq km, is a vast, relatively unspoilt expanse of low-lying sal forests and grasslands. The core area of the reserve lies in Kokrajhar and Barpeta districts, whereas its outlying areas spread over the neighboring forest reserve divisions of North Kamrup, Western Assam Wildlife Division, Kachugaon and Haltugaon. To the north lies the Royal Manas National Park, in Bhutan.

Initially known as North Kamrup, Manas was designated a wildlife sanctuary way back in 1928 and in 1985, was declared a `World Heritage in Danger’ site. The only tiger reserve in Assam and also famous for the rare golden langur and the red panda, Manas is one of the best-kept national parks in India. It’s home to India’s second-largest tiger population, and although a ride through the park may not guarantee a tiger sighting, you might see some other beauties. Manas’ other denizens include elephants, rhinos, swamp deer, gaur, and more elusive species, such as the clouded leopard, golden cat, pangolin, fishing cat, pygmy hog and leopard. Manas has more than 450 species of birds, of which the great pied hornbill and the Bengal florican are among the leading stars.

Entry Requirements

Entry fees for the park are Rs 200 for foreigners and Rs 10 for Indians, with additional charges been tagged on for cameras.

Access

Manas National Park is 176km from Guwahati, which is the nearest major airport. The capital of Assam, Guwahati has regular flights coming in from most major cities in India, and getting to Manas from here isn’t a problem. It actually makes a lot of sense to drive down because the roads are very motorable. State transport authorities and private operators have bus services to Manas from Guwahati. You can also hire taxis to Manas from Guwahati.

The road head closest to Manas is the town of Barpeta Road, which is at a distance of 41 km from the park.

Within the park, elephant rides are your best bet for seeing wildlife, although boats are also available for wildlife-watching trips down the Manas and Hakua rivers. The wildlife is best seen on elephant back at dawn.

Best time to visit

The best months to visit are October to April. Avoid the monsoons (June to September) when heavy rains can flood the park and wildlife stay away.

Accommodation

For accommodation there are two lodges maintained and run by the tourist department. The state department has two bungalows located at Mathanguri inside the forest with little or no catering facilities. For reservations contact Tourist Information Officer, Barpeta Road, Assam, India 781315; Tel: 03666-232749.

Further information about Manas can be obtained from the Field Director, Project Tiger, P.O. Barpeta Road, District Barpeta, Assam-781315.