Manas national park is part of Manas Biosphere reserve, located on the gentle slopes of Eastern Himalayas in Assam state. Eastern Himalayas territory includes Kingdom of Bhutan and Indian states like Assam, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. It is an alluvial savanna grassland with tropical forests nestled with Manas river, Beki river and its streams. Its name Manas is derived from Hindu serpent goddess called Mansa Devi. Manas wildlife sanctuary was declared as a natural UNESCO World Heritage Site in year 1985 which establishes the fact that it is a unique Biosphere offering shelter of many endangered species of mammals, birds and reptiles. This tiger reserve is contiguous to Royal Manas National Park of Bhutan thus it is vast forest area. In India, it covers many districts like Bongalgaon, Baksa, Darrang, Chirang, Kokrajhar and Udalguri. Some of the endangered species, found in this tiger reserve includes Pygmy Hog, Golden Langur, Tiger, Asiatic Elephant, Water Buffalo, Eastern Swamp Deer etc. It is difficult to have their sightings a same tiger reserve. This forest area was used as a hunting preserve of Cooch Behar princely state and British India officers in which shooting expeditions of tigers, one-horned rhino, water buffalo, swamp deer were common. It was popular wildlife tourism destination under Assam tourism but later political disturbance in this region overshadowed its popularity and thus Kaziranga national park got more North East India tourism attention. Now conditions has been totally changed and efforts are on the way to promote its wildlife tourism and invite tourists from all corners of the world.
Older name of Manas wildlife sanctuary was North Kamrup WIldlife Sanctuary. This forest is spread over the river basins of Manas river and Beki river who later joins Brahmaputra river, in Assam state. This region was earlier under the control of Kamrupa or Pragjyotisha kingdom and Davaka kingdom in 4th century. Kamrupa kingdom was more powerful thus they gained control over Davaka kingdom and thus they have full control over this forest area till 12th century. In later years, local small kingdom declared themselves free from Kamrup kingdom and continue to rule in their regions. Till 16th century Ahom kingdom emerged as powerful rulers of Assam who successfully resisted Mughals territory expansion in their Assam state.They ruled from 16th to 19th century. At the same time Cooch Behar princely state maintained control over the Western region forest. Cooch Behar was under Bengal Presidency thus survived during British India rule. In 19th century, rulers of Cooch Behar state and British officers undertook many camping in forests areas for hunting holidays. Majority of animals targeted by them are One-horned Rhinos, Wild buffalo, Swamp deer, Tigers. It was first proposed for reserve forest in year 1905 and declared in year 1907. In year 1928, it was declared as game sanctuary. On launching of Project tiger, it was included on first set of list in year 1973. In year 1985, Manas wildlife sanctuary was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was a proud moment for this forest. It was defamed due to political disturbance and civil unrest from 1990 to 1996 which adversely affected rhino & tiger population and tourism in Manas National Park. Recovery is still going on.
Manas forest have many reasons to visit. It is the only place in the world where we can see the backdrop of Eastern Himalayas with tropical semi-evergreen forest, tropical moist deciduous forest and merger of Bhabhar grassland with Terai grassland. It is a tiger reserve, biosphere reserve and wildlife sanctuary is listed in UNESCO World Heritage sites list. All this indicates that this forest must be having something special. Presence of a large number of endangered birds and mammals enhances the adventure of doing jungle safaris in this beautiful forest. Here we have a chance to enjoy elephant safari in addition to jeep safaris. Here Golden Langur is special attraction which can’t be seen any other region and formally came into the knowledge of world in 1954 only. Although sighted in different occasions also but overlooked. Due to moderate tourism, we can easily get safari tickets in the tourism season. More than 60 mammal species and around 500 bird species at the same national park means we will have great safari experience in which the probability of watching endangered species, mentioned in “IUCN Red list” is very high.
Here we have shared the safari timings of Manas national park. Here mainly two type of safaris are offered i.e. Elephant Safari and Jeep Safari. As mentioned safari timing is from 06:00 AM to 3:00 PM. Both the safaris are operated in between this duration only. Elephant ride is offered for 01:00 hrs duration and Jeep safari is offered for 04:00 hrs only.
|Period||Time Range||Safari Type|
|01 Nov - 30 Apr : Elephant Safari||06:00 - 09:00 Hrs||01:00 Hr Elephant Safari|
|01 Nov - 30 Apr : Jeep Safari||06:00 - 13:00 Hrs||04:00 Hrs Jeep Safari|
Jungle safari activities in Manas national park is very much similar to Kaziranga national park. Here we can mainly do two type of safaris i.e. Elephant safari and Jeep safari. Here we need a combination of both the safari modes as the best way to explore the majority of safari areas. Elephant safari allows access to wetlands, grasslands, offbeat locations which are not accessible by jeeps. Many mammal species and birds are found only in such locations. As elephant movement is slow so in a limited time period, we can explore a limited area by this safari ride thus we need a jeep safari option also to cover a vast area on laid safari trails. Here Bansbari gate is for elephant ride. Here camera fee is charged separately. In addition to this, we can do walking safari also, on buffer zone area like Kokoijana, about 80kms from Bansbari. Here we can walk through hilly terrain for Golden Langurs sighting which is main highlight of Manas national park. Here you can also try for river rafting option, as per condition of water level in river. Its route is from Mothanguri to Bispani whose booking is possible on the spot basis. It is a heaven for wildlife photographers to capture pictures of endangered species and panorama shots of natural beauty.
As per wildlife experts, more than 60 mammal species have been recorded in Manas tiger reserve which includes a long list of endangered species. While doing jungle safari drive in this national park, we have the chance to witness and photograph them at their natural habitat. Period from November to March is recommended for Manas national park tours. Some endangered mammal species like Pygmy hog, Gee’s Golden Langur, One horned Rhino, Water Buffalo, Eastern Swamp Deer, Barking Deer, Slow Loris, Tiger, Leopard, Hispid Hare etc. Wildlife photographers will must enjoy the jungle safari in Manas National Park as it offers photography of many endangered mammal and bird species. Some species like Golden Langur can be seen only in this region. Tiger photography will be challenging in such dense vegetation.
Manas biosphere reserve is the natural habitat of more than 500 bird species. As we know that national park is located on foothills of Eastern Himalayas thus this region (Sikkim, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh) is considered as best for bird watching. About 40% of the tiger reserve area is having savanna grasslands and wetland which offers ideal conditions for residential, migratory and seasonal birds to stay in Manas forest area. Several uncommon bird species includes Lesser Adjutant, Spot-billed Pelican, Greater Adjutant etc. Manas biosphere reserve offers shelter to largest population of Bengal Francolin (Houbaropsis bengalensis). Many of the tall wet grassland species like Swamp Francolin, Jerdon’s Babbler, Slender-billed Babbler, Marsh Babbler can be seen here. Here we can also have sightings of critically endangered bird species like Slender-billed vulture, Oriental White-backed vulture.
Nearby Airports= Guwahati Airport (150 kms), Bagdogra Airport (340kms) Nearby Railway Stations = Barpeta Station (20 kms), Bongaigaon Station (75 kms), Guwahati station Nearby Taxi Stands = Barpeta, Bongaigaon, Guwahati.
Manas national park is open for tourism, from October to May month but due to long monsoon duration, we recommend to undertake your trip from November to April month. Here best time to visit is decided by climatic condition as it is the best time for birding and mammal sighting.
As if now, accommodation options are limited in Manas national park as tourism is once again reviving in this region. It has overcame from civil unrest and thus destination is on path of progress. As if now, we can expect budget and standard category of accommodation options. Here we can’t expect luxury accommodation options but very soon it will regain its old status and thus luxury hoteliers Guwahati and other regions of India will do the investment.
After completion of Manas national park trip we have option to visit Kaziranga national park, Orang wildlife sanctuary and Shillong. We can also give one full-day sightseeing of Guwahati city where many older temples are located.