ASSAM DESPATCH 5 - FRONTIER LANDS (DOWNSTREAM)
Route : Guwahati Manas National Park Guwahati
Arrive Guwahati. Board and cruise to Sualkuchi (D)
Arrive Guwahati airport and embark on “Charaidew” close to the great Saraighat bridge. Cruise down early afternoon to the silk weaving village of Sualkuchi which you will explore on foot. Visit weaving workshops to see the whole process of silk manufacture, from cocoon to spinning to dyeing and finally to handweaving into exquisite saris and dress lengths.
Cruise and drive to Manas National Park (BLD)
This morning we cruise down to Tarabari Ghat, where we land and drive for 2 hours to Manas National Park on the borders with Bhutan, and check in to the simple Bansbari Lodge. This Project Tiger Reserve and World Heritage Site is now recovering well from earlier unrest – the tiger count is now estimated at around 30 and wild elephant number some 500. We take an afternoon jeep ride through grassland and forest as far as Mothanguri Lodge, right on the frontier, and see the sun set over the Manas River and the hills of Bhutan. Returning in the dusk, we should see some wildlife, perhaps including wild buffalo, sambar or gaur. After supper we watch a tribal dance around the camp fire.
Full day at Manas National Park (BLD)
We take an early morning jeep or elephant ride to see more of the park’s wildlife as well as some of the park’s 380 different species of birds, perhaps including the impressive Great Hornbill. After breakfast we drive around 3 hrs/130km to rejoin Charaidew at the great bridge at Jogighopa. Later we make a short excursion by road on the south bank to see the peaceful archaeological site of Sri Surya Pahar. Here we will see boulders which have been carved into stupas, lingams and bas-reliefs by early Buddhists, Hindus and Jains.
Full day cruise (BLD)
This is a day spent on the river, with a chance to enjoy the rich bird life and look out for Gangetic Dolphin. There will be time to stop and walk through a bankside village, to see a side of India that the average tourist never gets to see.
Cruise down to the river port of Dhubri. (B)
During breakfast we cruise down to the river port of Dhubri. Here we have time for a short ride on gaily painted cycle rickshaws past the great Sikh temple to admire the town’s surviving statue of Queen Victoria. Disembark mid-morning and drive 80km to Cooch Behar airport or railway station. If train or flight times allow, visit the great Indo-Saracenic palace of the Maharajahs of Cooch Behar, described by Gayatri Devi in “A Princess Remembers”.