Manas Tiger Reserve

ABOUT THE PARK

Contiguous with the Royal Manas National Park on it borders in Bhutan, this park in the North Eastern State of Assam will leave you absolutely enchanted and is historically at least, the only park in India where you could have seen the ‘big five’ on the same game drive – herds of elephant, wild water buffalo, leopard, tiger and the Indian one-horned rhino – making it singularly unique as a safari destination. Search hard enough and you could add the clouded leopard, golden cat, hoolock gibbon and even Gangetic dolphins to your list. This is one reason it has also been designated a UNESCO Natural World Heritage site, a tiger reserve, an elephant reserve and a biosphere reserve - all at the same time.

Against the backdrop of the Himalayan foothills, it is named after the Manas River, which in turn borrowed its identity from the serpent goddess, Manasa. The river meanders through the heart of the park and supports one of the richest flora and fauna biodiversity in the world. You would be interested to know that it is also an important migratory corridor for the elephant population of the entire Indo-Bhutan region, and a huge 380 species of birds have been recorded here too.

Spread across 3150.92 sq. km., Manas is lush with patches of dense jungle interspersed with grassland and thick undergrowth. It is best known for its rare and endangered wildlife, more than any other park in India, like the pygmy hog, Bengal florican, golden langur, Assam roofed turtle, and its population of wild water buffalo.

In the early 1990’s the park was at the centre of a period of militant unrest, resulting in widespread poaching, that was to have a devastating effect on its biodiversity, but thankfully it has ended and the park is now recovering – but slowly. 

The park is a fascinating place for nature lovers to observe wildlife away from the ‘tiger crowds’, with great birding and wonderful vistas. It is most accessible through the Bansbari gate. 

 

What you can do inside the park

If you like adventure, the park has a lot in store for you. Opt for extensive birdwatching, jeep safaris, elephant safaris, river rafting, visits to the India-Bhutan border or the eastern range, and jungle treks in the buffer zone. If peace and quiet is what you seek, head towards the Mathanguri tourist site on the bank of the Manas River, close to Bhutan to experience nature at its tranquil best.

What to look out for

Keep a watchful eye out for the Asiatic elephant, the elusive tiger, leopard, gaur, wild hog, hog deer and the golden and capped langurs in the trees. If you are lucky, you can sight some highly endangered species like the pygmy hog, slow loris and Bengal florican. In fact, Manas boasts of housing the world’s largest population of the Bengal florican in the world. The park is a birdwatcher’s delight with around 380 species of birds, including the Greater Adjutant, Black-tailed Crake, Red-headed Trogo, Swamp Francolin, three hornbills - the Great, Wreathed and Rufous-necked, and Marsh and Jerdon’s Babbler to name a very few. The forest consists of more than 650 species of flowering plants, while some of the common trees you will observe are the Simul, Oxi, Sissoo, Khaie and Gamari.

Fun things to see and do outside the park

When you want to explore life outside the park, try the village trail, tea garden visits, bicycle rides, ethnic cuisine of the Bodo Community, and interactions with the poacher-turned-volunteers safeguarding the forest.

Conservation issues

The park faces problems due to excessive cattle grazing, extensive growth of invasive plant species, human-wildlife conflict and the problem of annual fires affecting biodiversity. However, measures are being taken to address these issues. For example, weeds are being uprooted; fencing restricts cattle from grazing within the park; people are forbidden to enter the park for firewood collection; and fencing and forest camps set up outside the park are working to ensure that wildlife doesn’t venture out. Still, there is a long way to go.

Park Information

How to Book:

Safaris can be booked through your lodge or tour operator. Make sure you book in advance.

Park Timings:

The park is open for visitors in the morning from 6 am up till 5 pm.

Getting Around the Park:

Jeeps safaris run for 3.5 hours (half day) and elephant safaris for 1 hour. You can also opt for the raft for riverside sightings.

Entry Fees:

Rs.100 per person

Jeep Safari – Half day: Rs. 2960-3410 for Indian nationals; Rs.3565-6435 for foreign nationals

Full day: Rs.6270 to 7150 for Indian nationals (this includes jeep rental charges, toll charges, entry fees and escort charges)

Elephant Safari – Rs.990 per person for Indian nationals; Rs.2145 per person for foreign nationals.

How to get there:

By Air: Guwahati Airport (180 km). It is a 2.5 hour drive and taxis are available to take you to the park.

By Rail: Barpeta Road Station (24 km), New Bongaigaon Junction (70 km)

By Road: Via Barpeta Road (24 km). Manas is also accessible from Guwahati (176 km.), Kaziranga (403 km.), Darjeeling (466 km.), Shillong (287 km.) and Siliguri (386 km.) by road.

 

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