When it comes to photograph be in wildlife, birding, culture, festivals, traditions, historic monuments then Assam is a state to be visited on your next holiday. In case you are a proud owner of a DSLR and photography is your passion, then you have to ensure to plan your visit to Assam as the state is a delightful blend of culture, heritage, faith and beliefs of the numerous ethnic communities of region. Assam needs no introduction when it comes to describe it vast floral and faunal wealth as the state is renowned for being home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kaziranga National Park – the National Park that has been successful in writing down one of the very famous success stories of the conservation of the Indian One Horned Rhinoceros whose numbers were almost at the verge of extinction and today after the successful conservation efforts have risen to over 3000 in number across the State. Kaziranga National Park is also a Tiger Reserve and Important Bird Area and it is home to the highest population density of the Royal Bengal Tigers in a protected area anywhere in the World in the wild. The Park is also home to the highest population of the Asiatic Wild Water Buffaloes, Hog Deers, India’s only Ape the Hoolock Gibbons and there are around 495 species of bird both resident and migratory that are to be found inside Kaziranga National Park spread across five (5) ranges of Kohora, Bagori, Agoratoli, Burapahar and Panbari. And so Kaziranga National Park is one of the finest places to visit for wildlife and birding photography couple with the lush green tea gardens of Assam, the arts and crafts of bamboo and cane and the hand woven silks of Assam viz. Muga, Eri and Paat.
Assam is also home to four (4) other National Parks and Eighteen (18) Wildlife Sanctuaries, the highest concentration in India that are host to 24 percent of India’s floristic wealth and enormous faunal diversity including One Horned Rhinoceros, Royal Bengal Tigers, Indian Elephants, Hoolock Gibbons, Feral horses, Pygmy Hogs, etc. Manas National Park, also a World Heritage Site is a constituent unit of the Eastern Himalayan Bio-Diversity and is one of the two biodiversity ‘Hot Spots’ in the country. With more than 950 species of birds, Assam is home to 50% of the total bird species found in the Indian Sub-Continents. The mystery of bird suicide at Jatinga, is a subject of interest of all nature lovers and researchers.
Details of the National Parks of Assam:
|Name of National Park||Main Attractions||Name of District|
|Kaziranga National Park||One Horned Rhino, Elephants, Tigers, Wild Buffalo, Swamp Deer, Sambar, Wild Boar||Golaghat, Nagaon, Biswanath|
|Manas National Park||Tiger, Leopard, One Horned Rhino, Elephant, Red Panda, Assam Roofed Turtle, Hispid Hare, Golden langur, Pygmy Hog, Wild Buffalo||Baksa|
|Orang National Park||One Horned Rhino, Tiger, Leopard, Elephant, Barking Deer, Swamp Deer, Hog Deer, Wild Boar||Sonitpur|
|Nameri National Park||Tiger, Elephants, Gaur, Dhole, Himalayan Black Bear, Sloth Bear, Giant Indian Squirrel||Sonitpur|
|Dibru-Saikhowa National Park||Feral Horses, Elephants, Wild Buffaloes, River Dolphins and large Variety of Birds||Tinsukia|
Tips for Photography at the National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries in Assam
- Be patient, observant and wait for the action. Close encounters with large wild animals are rare, brief, unexpected and often anti-climatic. Do not violate their space, restrict their movements or invade their privacy. Do not restrain snakes or insects or approach a bird’s nest. Never harm your subject in any way and obey the rules of nature and that of the Kaziranga National Park.
- Read up on the subject before hand. And experiment with your camera and read the owner’s manual very carefully. Interact with officials, conservationists, forest guards and villagers of Kaziranga National Park. Knowledge will give you an edge and better images will be the result.
- Try to frame your image according to your own aesthetics, anchor your camera to ensure sharp images, try to include a little background so your subject looks natural. Don’t set up shots by moving insects, or placing flowers out of context.
- Try to understand wildlife behavior to anticipate a picture opportunity at Kaziranga National Park. Patience and perseverance will be always rewarded.
- Avoid taking pictures from moving vehicles, or even from vehicles whose engines are running. Even fast shutter speeds will show up camera shake.
- If you have just one or two frames remaining, your battery is exhausted or your data card full, take action early to avoid disappointment. The most amazing wildlife shots have been lost by those who ignored this advice.
- Shoot more rather than fewer frames. This will almost certainly result in a choice of better images on your return.
- If you are riding on an elephant, remember to take into account the steep angle of view and camera shake. Use a fast shutter speed, follow the rhythm of the elephant, shoot when the animal is steady.
- Color fidelity and lightning are vital. Side-lit and backlit scenes can be dramatic. Angular light (morning and evening), spotlight (light shafts shining through canopy), soft, diffused light can make the difference between a good and great photograph. Light conditions between 7.30 and 9.30 am and between 3.30 and 5 pm at Kaziranga National Park are great for nature photography.
- Keep the subject at the focal point of the frame. Try to get the catch light in your subject’s eye. Leave breathing space near the head of your subject, less behind its tail might be fine. Similarly, by and large, leave less space in the foreground than the background. Experiment with different angles,elevations and perspectives.
- Enhance contrast by framing a darker subject against a well lit background, or a light subject against a dark background.
- Use a tripod, shoulder pod, mono-pod or chest pod to avoid camera shake.
- Use the slowest possible shutter speed for still subjects such as landscapes. You can do so by placing camera on a rock or tripod. To avoid shake caused by the pressing of the click button, use a self timer. Use the fastest possible shutter speeds for moving objects.
- Protect your cameras, lenses and film from heat, dust and moisture and handle the equipment with respect. Follow a daily maintenance routine of brushing and cleaning lenses and accessories.
- Keep back up batteries and chargers. Check all of your equipment before going into the field by shooting frames in different conditions at home.
- Do not forget to enjoy the forest and its wildlife. Your eye is the best lens and your brain the best hard-disk.
Sample Itinerary for your Photography Tour at Kaziranga National Park ~
Welcome at Guwahati airport by our tour representative and directly transfer to Kaziranga National Park. On arrival you will be visiting the forest reserves of Kaziranga National Park in the Burapahar range. This tourism zone of Kaziranga is located around 40 km from the central zone of Kaziranga National Park. The entry gate of this zone is situated in the village of Ghorakati on the National Highway and the first zone on the way to Kaziranga from Guwahati by road. Jeep safari in the Burapahar zone is the best way explore the wildest side of Kaziranga. The Jeep safari starting point is the Rhinoland Park in the Ghorakati from where you can catch your Jeep Safari for this zone. The hilly landscape with the dense greenery makes this zone the best for the bird lovers. This zone has its own charm and is a very enriching experience to explore the forest up close. The Hoolock Gibbon and the Capped Langur can be primarily spotted in this zone along with a large number of Avifauna species. After that Check Inn at your hotel/guest house.
Night Stay: Kaziranga National Park
Early morning proceed for a jeep safari in the Eastern range. The Agratoli Range of the Kaziranga National Park spreads in the eastern side of the park along the National Highway nearby the Agartoli village. This zone is famous among the adventure-loving wildlife tourists and wildlife photographers as the zone is enriched with raw natural beauty and wildlife species. During the Jeep Safari in this zone, you can easily spot approx 250 types of Migrated Birds out of which the Crested Serpent Eagle, Grey Headed Fishing Eagle, Greater Adjutant Stork, Bar Headed Goose, Whistling Teal, Pelicans, Oriental Pied Hornbill, Great Indian Hornbill, Changeable hawk eagle, Brown Fish Owl, Spotted Owlet, Alexandrine Parakeets, Ruddy Shelduck, Black Headed Ibis,Spot Billed Ducks,Greenshank, Grey Headed Fishing Eagle,Brown Fish Owl,Bar Headed Geese, Lesser Whistling Duck, Bronzed Winged Jacana, Greater Cormorant, darter, Intermediate Egret, Little Egret,Large Egret,Grey Heron, Common Teal,Northern Lapwing, Grey Headed Lapwing,Black necked Crane, Stout Bill Kingfisher,White Breasted Kingfisher,Swamp Francolin,Red Jungle fowl, Common Mallard,Long Billed Vultures,Greater Coucal, Black Shouldered Kite,Indian Roller are worth mentioning. Grazing Rhinos in the thick bushy forest and the wild Buffalos or the herd of the Elephants can also be seen from the distance. There is no elephant safari in this zone so you have to rely only on the Jeep safari to explore the eastern zone of the Kaziranga.
Get refreshed and after lunch go for a Jeep Safari into the Kaziranga National Park from the Western Range at the National Park. The landscape of the Bagori ecotourism range of the Kaziranga National Park spreads in the western region of the forest and considered the best zone for the wildlife sighting. The zone has a magnificently beautiful landscape with an abundance of wildlife species and lush greenery. The Jeep safari in the Bagori zone offers an amazing sighting of the Rhinos, Elephant, Swamp deer, Buffalos and many other wild animals. The Jeep Safari and Elephant Safari both are organized in this zone by the forest officials. The entry gate of the Western zone is located in the village of Bagori from where registered Jeep is allowed to enter the park for the safari. After that come back to your hotel. Later in the evening you will be visiting the Kaziranga Orchid and Biodiversity Park at Kaziranga National Park. The Kaziranga Orchid and Biodiversity Park is the Largest Orchid Park in India.
Night Stay: Kaziranga National Park
Day 3: Kaziranga National Park – Nameri National Park
Early morning after breakfast go for a Jeep Safari at Central range of Kaziranga National Park. This zone of the Kaziranga National Park is the prime zone for the ecotourism in the Kaziranga forest. The wetlands, water bodies and highland with lush greenery makes it an ideal place for the avifauna and so the best for the wildlife photography. You are not allowed to get down from the Jeep in between your forest safari. The Jeep safari offers you some spectacular sighting of the Rhinos grazing or wallowing in the large grassland, a herd of elephants comprising of adorable baby elephants to big old elephants and many other species of the wild flora and fauna in this tourism zone.
After our safari at the central range of Kaziranga National Park is over we will go to have our breakfast and we pack our bags and board the luggage in our vehicles and we drive to the Kaziranga Orchid Park – the largest Orchid Park in India. The Kaziranga Orchid Park is one of the very fine tourism destinations at Kaziranga National Park and we will learn about the various orchid species of Assam and North East India to be found. In addition, the Kaziranga Orchid Park houses a rice museum, a section of indigenous handicrafts and handloom, a picture gallery of the various historical monuments, forts and temples shrines across North East India, a bamboo garden, a cactus garden, a souvenir shop and a stage area where traditional dance performances of the various indigenous tribes of North East India are hosted. We will explore the Kaziranga Orchid Park and later we start on our drive to Nameri National Park crossing Jakhlabandha and Koliabor to at first reach Tezpur where we will explore one of the very important historical monuments of Assam – the Agnigarh Fort. Called as the ‘Fortress of Fire’ this was where King Banasura had kept his daughter (Usha) in confinement so that she couldn’t marry Lord Krishna’s grandson Anniruddha. The fort was kept surrounded by fire at all times so that no one could enter the fort and a fight broke out between the followers of Lord Shiva and Lord Krishna as per the wishes of Banasura and blood flowed like a river hence the name ‘Tezpur’ – meaning the city of blood.
Later the Gods realized their wrong and Banasura had to give in to his daughter’s marriage with Anniruddha and this war is depicted here at the Agnigarh Fort located in the heart of Tezpur city and we explore the fort and later have our ouch and proceed on our drive to Nameri National Park and Tiger Reserve. Located at the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas, the Nameri National Park is home to various endangered bird species and also the Royal Bengal Tigers. We will check into our place of stay at the Camp Lalimou at Nameri National Park and later we go out to explore the banks of the Jia Bhoreli River and the place is surrounded by the beautiful forest cover where we might get lucky to sight the various bird species of Nameri National Park. Often very rare bird species are to be found along the banks of the Jia Bhoreli river and there is a tree in front of the Nameri Forest Range office that is home to the great Indian Hornbills and green parakeets that live in the holes on the tree trunk made by woodpeckers birds and the beauty of the nature around Nameri National Park is very pleasing to witness. After exploring the banks of the Jia Bhoreli River we return back to our place of stay at Camp Lalimou for night halt. We will savour a nice ethnic dinner at the camp and retire to our rooms as we will have an early day tomorrow and we need to get ready by 6 AM to reach the forest range office to make our permits for our visit to the forest reserves of Nameri National Park.
Night Halt: Camp Lalimou at Nameri National Park
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 4: Nameri National Park – Manas National Park
Today at around 6 AM we will travel from the Camp Lalimou to the forest office at the Nameri National Park and visitors who want to go to explore the forest reserves of Nameri National Park need to obtain their forest permit and they are assigned a forest guard in a group and this is for the safety of the guests as the forest reserves of Nameri National Park are not protected by fences and you are literally walking into the territory of Royal Bengal Tigers and the Wild Elephants. One thing to check out at the forest office in the camera trap pictures of the various animals of the wild that have been up on display here at the office. Also at the forest office you will get the opportunity to sight the Capped Langur species of Nameri National Park and post this we will head to the banks of the Jia Bhoreli river on our vehicles and here we need to cross the waters of the River on a country boat to reach the actual forest reserves of Nameri National Park.
Along the banks of the river on the other side we have to keep a strict vigil as we might be able to sight various bird species that are quite rare and are often spotted along the river banks and we will reach the Central forest office where we will start on our hike across the forest reserves of Nameri National Park and the forest guard escorts us and to spot the various species of animals and birds that are found inside Nameri National Park. Along the first leg we reach a watch tower area where we will need to climb the forest tower to catch an aerial glimpse of the forest reserves of Nameri National Park and this will allow us to see a big swamp area here that is located inside the Nameri National Park and this serves as a watering hole for the animals of Nameri National Park and this attracts the Tigers species to this place and they are often known to be sighted here. We will continue on our hike across the forest reserves of Nameri National Park and finally we come out of the reserves walking along the river banks and we will travel back to our camp and after freshening up we have our breakfast and continue on our drive to the 2nd UNESCO World Heritage Site of Assam at Manas National Park.
Night stay: Nameri National Park
Day 5: Manas National Park
Early morning, you are going to enjoy a jeep safari while in the afternoon, you will embark on another jeep safari. During your safari, you can spot the Wild Elephant, One Horned Rhinoceros, Golden Langur, Pygmy Hog and many types of Migratory Birds which are not found anywhere else in the world. This ride will take you deeper into the jungles of Manas to spot exotic species of birds, flora and fauna.
Our jeep will pick us up at the resort and we will drive to the forest reserves of Manas National Park at the Bansbari continuing up to Mathanguri. Manas National Park is located at the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas and is part of the Himalayan Biosphere and Manas National Park is the second only Biosphere in the country after the Nilgiri Biosphere. Manas National Park is in contiguous with the Royal Manas National Park of Bhutan and the National Park is home to some of the very rare animal and bird species. Out of the 55 mammals to be found inside the forest reserves of Manas National Park, around 31 of them are endangered and the number of bird species that have been recorded are around 450. The endangered Bengal Florican is known to be found in the forest reserves of Manas National Park along with many other rare bird species. The animals like Hispid Hare, Pygmy Hogs, Golden Langurs, Assam Roofed turtle are known to be only found in their natural habitat in the wild in the forest reserves of Manas National Park. The Red Panda that also is a near threatened species is to be found inside Manas National Park and our jeep ride takes us deeper into the forest reserves and the jeep driver will also act like our guide who will help us look out for the various bird species of Manas National Park along with our birding guide.
We have planned for two safari rides inside the forest of Manas along different routes and unlike Kaziranga National Park, Manas National Park is not divided into separate ranges and instead the entry point is the same but it is across the different circuits that the jeep rides are conducted. We will explore the forest reserves of Manas National Park and we sight many animals and bird species and we take time to capture these precious moments in our camera on this photography tour and later we come back to our place if stay at Manas National Park.
Night Halt: Florican Cottages at Manas National Park
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 6: Manas National Park – Guwahati – Garbhanga Reserve Forest
Today we will start on our drive to Guwahati from Manas National Park after an early breakfast and we will drive via Barpeta, Nalbari, Rangia and Changsari to reach Guwahati at Amingaon from where we drive to check into our place of stay at Guwahati. We will freshen up and have lunch at our hotel and we will drive to the Garbhanga Forest reserve to go to visit the forests of Garbhanga that is a very pristine location near Guwahati city at the border of Assam and Meghalaya. This forest reserves are home to various animals, birds and butterfly species and the animals to be found are Wild Elephants, Leopards, Tigers, Bears, Hoolock Gibbons, Assamese macaques, capped Langurs, Slow Loris, Burmese Pythons, etc. Various bird species are Egrets, Drongos, Cormorants, Hornbills, Harriers, Magpie Robins, Lesser Adjutants, Kingfishers, etc. We drive to the bird observatory site of the Garbhanga Reserve Forest and as this place is a dense forest with very less human habitation so there is a good scope for birding in these forests of Garbhanga Reserve Forest. We will take around an hour and half to explore the forest reserves of Garbhanga because it will get dark by 4 PM as the sunlight doesn’t cross the tall tree canopy and even otherwise in North East India, the sun sets very early in the winter season and by around 5 PM it gets completely dark and so we will come out of the forest reserves of Garbhanga by around 4.30 PM and we will drive to the Balaji temple near our hotel that is a very beautiful temple shrine in Guwahati dedicated to Tirupati Balaji.
In the evening the temple is lit us and the entire temple structure that is made up of marble gets illuminated and the place looks absolutely grand and it is worth clicking pictures of this temple shrine on your visit to Guwahati. We will explore the Balaji temple shrine and later call it a day and head back to our hotel for night halt. We will have our dinner at the hotel itself and prepare ourselves for our visit to the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary the next morning.
Night stay: Hotel Vrinda Residency at Guwahati
Day 7: Guwahati – Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary – Guwahati
Today in the morning we will head to travel to the interiors of the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary that is located around an hour and fifteen minutes’ drive from our place of stay in Guwahati. Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary is the land having the highest population density of the Indian One Horned Rhinoceros in the World and also referred to as the Bharatpur of the East because of its varied birdlife. The Great Indian Hornbills and the Oriental Pied Hornbills along with Black Necked Stork, Lesser Adjutants, Greater Adjutants are a pride of the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary. The birds of prey like Eagles, Kites, Ospreys are also to be spotted at Pobitora as well but what is a guaranteed sighting are the Indian One Horned Rhinoceros from up close that is a rare sight. We will have our breakfast at the Arya Eco Resort at Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary and post that we will start on our jeep safari ride. We drive from Guwahati crossing Borbari, Narengi, Panikheti to reach Chandrapur and later we will reach Burha Mayong – the land of Black Magic in India.
The black magic sorcerers of Mayong were known to have various supernatural powers like taming a wild tiger, converting humans to animals, causing immense physical harm to a person with their powers of black magic, cure people of various body ailments, making an entire army of men disappear, etc. The sorcerers of Mayong were renowned by people from across India and these sorcerers were devout followers of Goddess Kamakhya who is associated with the cult of Shakti and Tantra. We will explore these remnants of black magic practices at the Mayong museum of black magic once our jeep safari is done inside the forest reserves of Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary and we begin our drive back to Guwahati post this. We reach the Arya Eco Resort near the entrance of Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary and here we will sit down for breakfast and in the meantime our jeep rides will also arrive and your photography guide will proceed with the formalities at the forest office at Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary. We will start on our jeep ride at around 8 AM and upon entry you will not be disappointed on visiting the ‘Bharatpur of the East’ on your photography tour as you will sight some of the very beautiful and rare bird species of Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary here. There is a swamp land area at the entrance and the various bird species can be seen awaiting their turn to catch the fish here.
We go deeper into the forest reserves of Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary and we will get the opportunity to sight the One Horned Rhinoceros of Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary and more and more of birds are perched atop the tall trees of the forest reserves of Pobitora and also the Asiatic wild water buffaloes can be sighted. The next area are the farmlands and there are swamps all across and you will get the opportunity to sight the black necked stork, lesser adjutants and greater adjutants bird species here as well. But the good opportunity is the chance of sighting the Indian One Horned Rhinoceros from up close and capture the image of its grand armour and the jeep driver will take us close to the swamp area where we take our camera and click pictures of the pride of Assam and the Asiatic Wild Water Buffaloes here at Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary. We will drive and take a turn around the forest of Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary and alter the jeep driver will bring us out of the forest reserves and drop us at the Mayong Museum of black magic. At this museum we will witness the various remnants of black magic in the form of ancient scriptures written on the bark of trees (Sachipat), models depicting the art of black magic and pictures as well. This is a large display hall and all the artefacts are kept on display here along with various ancient ruins that were excavated from the area around Mayong.
Later we will drive back to Guwahati from Pobitora and we will head to visit the Guwahati World War II cemetery and the Navagraha temple but at first we will make a stop to have an ethnic Assamese lunch at a restaurant that is owned by the celebrity chef of Assam Atul Lahkar. We savour a very elaborate Assamese thali at this restaurant and later we travel to Navagraha area where we will first visit the Guwahati World War II cemetery. The Burma campaign of World War II was fought across North East India at eastern Assam, Nagaland and Manipur including the Battle of Kohima and the Battle of Imphal. The soldiers of the allied forces including the American Army were stationed here and they took up the task of building the Stilwell Road from Ledo (India) to Kunming (China) as the other supply route was cut off by the Japanese army. During the construction of this road across some of the harshest weather and round conditions, many soldiers had to put down their lives and many of them were buried across the war cemeteries of that are present across North East India at Digboi, Guwahati, Kohima, Imphal and Jairampur. The Guwahati War Cemetery was built and is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves mission and it has around 500 burials of the brave soldiers of the Allied Forces who laid down their lives.
The Guwahati War Cemetery also had 12 burials of the Japanese soldiers as well and in the year 2012, the Japanese Government in consultation with the Indian Government had formally dug out these graves and they took them back to Japan for a formal burial. The burials at the cemetery are well aligned and flowers grow across each burial paying tribute to the brave soldiers and the lawn is well kept with a centre cross overlooking the area of the cemetery. We pay our respects to the martyred soldiers and later we go to travel to the Navagraha temple nearby that is one of the ancient centres of astronomy and is dated back to several hundred years and the temple shrine that is present now was built by the Ahom Kings on mid-1700s. The Navagraha (nine planets) is a temple shrine that speaks about the nine celestial bodies of the universe and it depicts each planet in the form of Shiva Lingams. Each Shiva Lingam is dressed in separate attires symbolizing the nine forms of Lord Shiva. This is an ancient centre of astronomy and the study of planets of the universe was conducted at this temple when Assam was Kamrupa and Guwahati was Pragjyotishpura.
Next up we visit the Ambari area to buy our memoirs and souvenirs of our photography tour of Kaziranga National Park along with Nameri National Park, Manas National Park and other destinations of Assam. At Ambari, there are various emporiums of handicrafts and handlooms that are under the government and visitors can go there to buy the authentic bamboo handicrafts, cane handicrafts and the silks of Assam at these emporiums. These handicrafts and handlooms of Assam are renowned across the World and the craftsmanship as all done by hands that make these products exquisite and if demand. We explore the emporiums and make our purchase of souvenirs to gift to our friends and relatives and also remind us of our visit to Assam because once you travel across Assam it gets evident that ‘Once you visit Assam, it stays with you forever!’ Next up we will make a final stop at one of the very renowned temple shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva to see the power of devotion at the Sukreshwar temple near the Sukreshwar Ghat. This temple shrine is considered to have the widest Shiva Lingam anywhere in the World and it is said that Shukracharya (Guru of the Asuras) used to worship Lord Shiva at this site and hence the name Sukreshwar temple and it is located along the Itakhuli hills in Guwahati.
Along the temple flows the Brahmaputra River and you get to witness a very grand view of the temple shrine from here. After this we will head back to our hotel and call it a day and we have our dinner at the hotel itself. Today is our last day at Guwahati on this photography tour of Assam and the next morning we will be travelling to the Maa Kamakhya temple and later we will drop you off at the LGBI airport at Guwahati for your flight to your onward destination.
Night Halt: Hotel Vrinda Residency at Guwahati
Meals Included: Breakfast
Today we will have an early breakfast and we will pack our baggage and put the luggage in our vehicles and we drive to the Nilachal Hills in Guwahati where the holy temple shrine of Maa Kamakhya is located. Once we reach the parking area of the Kamakhya temple where we will be welcomed by a temple priest (Panda) who will assist us with the Darshan of the Kamakhya temple. The revered temple shrine of the Maa Kamakhya temple is one among the 51 Shakti Peethas, 18 Maha Shakti Peethas and 4 Adi Shakti Peethas in India and these Shakti Peethas are the places where the severed body parts of Goddess Sati had fallen after Lord Shiva was carrying her severed body in his hands and travelling around the World performing Tandava. Each of the body parts fell atop a tall mountain or hill and later a temple shrine was built across these places and today these are some of the most revered Hindu temple shrine around the World.
At the Nilachal Hills, the womb of Goddess Sati fell and hence the temple is associated with the celebration of womanhood and the ability of a woman to give birth to a child and every year in the month of June the Kamakhya temple celebrates the Ambubachi Mela festival that is a four day festival that is called as the Eastern Mahakumbh and it attracts devotees and holy Sadhus from across India and abroad come to the Kamakhya temple shrine to witness this festival where it is said that the Goddess menstruates and the temple doors are closed for the first three days and on the fourth day the temple doors are thrown open and devotees throng to the main inner sanctum of the Kamakhya temple to seek the blessings of Goddess Kamakhya. Maa Kamakhya as mentioned earlier is associated with the cult of Shakti and Tantra and the black magic sorcerers of Mayong we devout followers of the Goddess and they used to perform their Sadhana here and they achieved their supernatural powers of black magic here.
The mighty Ahom kings of Assam got very much interested with the cult of Shakti and Tantra associated with the Kamakhya temple and to learn more about this they even converted to Hinduism and later they rebuilt the temple shrine in the present form as it was earlier destroyed by a Muslim invader. The structure of temple we see today follows the Ahom temple architecture and the Gold Dome you see on top of the temple shrine has been donated by the Indian Industrialist Mukesh Ambani on behalf of Reliance Industries. The temple walls are adorned by beautiful stone sculptures of the various Gods and Goddesses of Hindu mythology and our intention of visit to the Kamakhya temple is not only to seek blessings of the Goddess but also to capture the pictures of the grand construction of this temple and these grand sculptures and the power of devotion of the masses here. We will start on our temple Darshan by at first walking atop the hill to reach the temple entrance door and we will go to cleanse our hands and feet and later we will visit the inner sanctum of the Kamakhya temple and we will be guided to visit the holy stone and the stream that feeds water to this stone and our Darshan completes by touching the holy water and splashing it on the back of our heads. With this we come out of the temple shrine and board our vehicles and we will drop you at the LGBI airport at Guwahati for your flight to your onward destination. Tour Ends! Bid Adieu!
Night Halt: NA
Meals Included: Breakfast
Photography in Assam ~
Not only Wildlife and Birding, Assam has much more to offer for passionate photographers when you travel across the State. The details of the various place that would interest a photographer is mentioned towards the end of this write up but just to provide you a gist once you are in Assam and you have arrived in Guwahati let the mysteries of this ancient land whose mentioned has been found in various Tantric, Vedic, Buddhist and Puranic literatures enthral you and you need to have your camera handy to capture the pictures of the various moments in the city. No wonder you will find a host of ancient history to explore in Assam as this State had figured prominently in the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. It is believed that the earliest study of the planets were carried out here in Guwahati at the Navagraha Temple (temple of nine celestial bodies) and Guwahati was earlier called as Pragjyotishpura (city of Eastern Lights). Assam or Kamrupa on the other hand is said to be the home of the Devi (the Mother Goddess) and several Hindu deities including Lord Shiva and Lord Krishna are said to have frequently visited this land, and the relationship is so deep that while Krishna’s wife Rukmini was from a place near Sadiya, the womb of Lord Shiva’s wife Sati fell atop the Nilachal Hills in Guwahati where the Kamakhya temple is located. Assam also has been a highway of migration from time immemorial. While the earliest human footprints here have been traced back to the Early Stone Age (40,000 – 35,000 BC), the roots of the various communities belonging to Assam are linked to Austric aborigines, pre-Dravidians, Eurasians, Austroloids, Mongoloids, Alpines, Mediterranean’s, Indo-Aryans and Irano-Scythians as well.
At Guwahati you can visit the various ancient temples to capture the spirit of faith of the devotees along with the grand architecture of the temples along with the various rock cut inscriptions. The Ahom Kingdom had patronized the powers of Shakti and Tantra and the Kings had built several temples across Guwahati some of them are the Kamakhya Temple (rebuilding the temple in the form it can be seen today), Umananda temple, Sukreshwar temple, Dirgheshwari temple, Basistha temple, etc. Guwahati is surrounded by various Wildlife Sanctuaries and Reserve Forests that include the Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary, Deepor Beel Wildlife Sanctuary, Rani Reserve Forest, Garbhanga Reserve Forest, Chandubi Reserve Forest and Lake and you can capture the marvels of nature be it in the form of flora, fauna, avifauna and butterflies at these areas. The natural beauty of the Chandubi Lake and forest is sure to enthral any photographer who knows wildlife and birding photography.
Also Guwahati is home to numerous indigenous tribes and you can capture their culture and traditions once you visit their places of habitat at Chandubi (Rabha), Lokhra and Garbhanga (Karbi and Bodo), Khanapara (Mishing), etc. Visit the holy land of Hajo to capture the epitome of faith at the Hayagriva Madhava temple and the Poa Mecca shrine at Hajo. Travel to Suwalkuchi (Manchester of the East) that is the largest silk weaving village in the World! At Suwalkuchi you can visit the various silk emporiums to capture the pictures of the finest silk fabrics in the World of Muga, Eri and Paat and even capture pictures of the traditional looms that ae to be found at the various silk weaving workshops and the fine hand movements of the weavers who work on these looms is a capture of a lifetime.
Then there has to be the mention of Majuli Island on your photography tour of Assam and Kaziranga National Park as Majuli is the largest river island in the World and it is home to the Neo Vaishnavism cult of Assam. The Satras of Majuli are Neo Vaishnavite monasteries that practice and preach the ideologies of the great Saint reformer of Assam Srimanta Shankardeva and his disciple Sri Madhavadeva. There Satras are centres of art and literature and the art forms of traditional mask making with hands, traditional pottery making, fan made out of cane, and the practice of the dance form of the Sattriya Nritya that is one of the 8 classical dance forms of India. Majuli is a paradise for photographers who want to capture images on culture, traditions, landscapes, etc. The Mishing people of Assam dwell across Majuli island and as they practice agriculture as their profession, you can capture some of the most amazing pictures of the sprawling mustard and paddy fields here. The Mishing people are expert in handicrafts and handlooms and once you travel across the island you can capture some of the amazing captures of the artisans in work at these activities.
Visit the Samaguri Satra in Majuli to witness the traditional art of mask making with hands and these masks are used in religious plays called as Bhaonas and they depict the various mythological characters of the Hindu epics. The traditional art of pottery making with hands without the use of the pottery wheel can be witnessed at the Salmora village in Majuli and the practice of the Sattriya Nritya dance form can be witnessed at the Sri Sri Uttar Kamalabari Satra in Majuli. Winding up your wildlife, birding and culture photography at Kaziranga National Park and Majuli next theme for photography will be history and monuments when you visit Sivasagar – the land of the mighty Ahom Kings of Assam. Sivasagar (ex-Rongpur) was the capital of the Ahom Kingdom and hence the Kings built various monuments across this place and today these monuments hold a place of significant historical interest of Assam. The architecture of the Ahoms were considered to be among the finest across the country and these monuments and temples they had built have survived two major earthquakes of Assam and are still standing tall. At Sivasagar take out your cameras to capture the historic Rang Ghar at Sivasagar (Asia’s first Amphitheatre and often referred to as the Collosseum of the East).
The unique construction of the Rang Ghar monument at Sivasagar is a unique thing to view and the roof of the Rang Ghar is in the shape of an inverted boat. The bright orange colour of the building is due to the colour of the brinks and the Ahom Kings were the first to introduce the concept of using bricks for building the monuments and temples across Assam. Earlier the temples were built with stone boulders and the inner sanctum generally used to be a huge rock that would be carved out of a single rock and the transportation of these rocks proved to be very expensive and so the Ahoms introduced the concept of bricks and these bricks were flat and half the size of the bricks that are made nowadays. The mortar that was used to build these Ahom monuments and bind the bricks were of a unique kind because the concept of cement had not yet been found and so the Ahoms found a way to bind these bricks by using a mortar created with a unique sticky rice variety (Bora Saul), Duck Eggs and lime and this mortar created such a strong bond that these Ahom monuments survived two major earthquakes without much damage to the structures. At the front of the Rang Ghar monument there is a huge lawn area where various traditional games like wrestling, bull fights, cock fights were held and the Ahom royals used to watch these performances from the Rang Ghar and the name ‘Rang Ghar’ itself meant ‘The House of Entertainment’.
Capture this beautiful monument with your camera lens and later head to the Talatal Ghar fort and the Kareng Ghar Palace that are two more important Ahom architecture and your theme of monuments and history photography gets a plus rating when you capture these two monuments that are very unique. The Talatal Ghar was the fort that housed the soldiers of the Ahom arm and the unique architecture of this fort is the presence of an underground tunnel that was in the form of a maze to confuse the enemy soldiers and the tunnel had two exits; one near the Dikhow river and the other at the Kareng Ghar – Royal Palace so in case of an enemy attack, the soldiers of the Ahom army could reach the banks of the river to prepare fight back and few soldiers could head to the Kareng Ghar palace to protect the Royal family. The Kareng Ghar is a very beautiful place that spreads across seven stories and is a delight to all photographers who are interested in palaces for photography. The last stop on this photography theme has to be at Charaideo Maidam – the Pyramids of India that were the burial grounds of the various Ahom Kings and queens and these historic monuments will surely take your breath away and keep you camera lenses busy when you explore these tombs that are said when the Ahom Kings died they were buried here and along with the King all his prized possessions including the Queens, Servants, Pets and Jewellery were all buried with the Kings at the Charaideo Maidams.
These Charaideo Maidams near Sivasagar is what draws visitors to admire the rich heritage of the ancestors of the Ahom Kingdom and these Maidam tombs have large underground chambers where the kings and his loved ones were buried and as the news had spread that the place contained riches and gems of the Kings, the miscreants started to vandalize these tombs in search of the gold that had destroyed various burials at the Charaideo Maidams and today only 21 are protected by the Archaeological Survey of India and we will take the opportunity to capture the Pyramids of India with our camera lenses. The last step at Sivasagar would be the Sivadoul temple that is one of the very important temple shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva built during the reign of the Ahom Kings and the unique thing about this temple is the presence of a Gold structure atop the temple dome and this is of pure gold. This is the perfect example of the ancient Ahom architecture of Assam and you will be see the resemblance to the structure of most of the temples across Assam that follow a similar architecture by the Ahom Kings. Known to be one of the very grand temple shrines of Assam after the Kamakhya temple, the Sivadoul temple draws devotees from across India to Assam and during the festival of Maha Shivaratri thousands of devotees throng this temples shrine to seek blessings of Lord Shiva.
The remarkable architecture of this temple is sure to enthral any photographer interested in monuments and you can take time to admire the architecture of this temple and click your pictures. After Sivasagar your theme of photography will be landscapes, culture, wildlife and birding when you travel to the beautiful Tai Phake villages of Namphake and Tipam and you get to witness the culture of the Tai Phake people of Assam. These parts of Upper Assam are inhabited by the various ethnic communities like the Tai Phake, Tai Khamti, Tai Ahoms, Tai Khamyangs, Singpho, Tangsa, Sumi Naga, Nepali and the tea garden people of Assam who have inhabited these areas of Assam since many years. The area is covered with the lush tea gardens of Assam extending up to the end of Assam at Jagun and the tea garden people who have stayed in Assam since the past century were brought to Assam by the British from places in Central India to work on the tea gardens of Upper Assam and they have since then settled here and have inculcated the culture of Assam in them. At Namphake and Tipam you will find the population of the Tai Phake people who are Buddhists by religion and this place offers some of the very pristine landscapes where you will find tall mountains of the Patkai Range, the tributaries of the Brahmaputra and the sprawling agricultural fields.
The Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary that is called as the ‘Amazon of the East’ is one of the very pristine rain forests of Indian that extends across many districts of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh and is home to a wide variety of flora, fauna and avifauna. The entrance to the Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary can be accessed from the Jeypore Rain Forest that is located in this area and you will not be disappointed with your visit here as your camera lenses will have the opportunity to capture some of the very rare flora, fauna, avifauna and butterfly species at this rainforest of Assam. We will start by exploring the Tai Phake villages and here you can witness the vibrant colours of the traditional handlooms that are woven at the local villages by the women folks on the traditional looms. The Buddhist Monastery at Naharkatia is a grand monastery that has been built recently and it is worth a while to capture this Monastery in your camera lenses. Witness the life of the villagers by going to the agricultural fields and capturing breathtaking views of the landscapes that will have the backdrop of the Dehing Patkai mountain range. Visit a local house to visit the kitchen and witness the traditional food of the Tai Phake people of Assam being made and you will be surprised as to how simple leafy vegetables from the garden are turned into delicious dishes.
Once you explore the Tai Phake village and the forest reserves of the Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary and then your theme of photography will be focussed on history and World War II once you travel to the eastern most parts of Assam at Digboi and Margherita. These are another tea garden areas of Upper Assam and also the mineral rich area where oil was first discovered in India and Asia’s first oil refinery was setup here at Digboi. The Makum coalfields near Digboi at Margherita are also some of the oldest coal mines of India that are present here. But why a photographer has to visit these places to witness the memoirs of the World War II at the historic Stilwell Road and the 20th General Hospital at Margherita along with the Digboi World War II Cemetery. To capture moments of India’s oil history at Digboi, to explore the India’s only Coal Museum at Margherita, the Ketetong village at Margherita that is home to the highest concentration of the various indigenous tribes in the country and perhaps the World as well to simply click pictures of the amazing natural landscapes that once can see around the place.
When you drive from Naharkatia to Digboi you will feel the awe of Mother Nature and the beautiful forests of the Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary along with the tea gardens of Assam make you want to capture your amazing moments with nature here and you get the true meaning of the caption of Assam Tourism viz. ‘Once you visit Assam, it stays with you forever’! The back drop of the Dehing Patkai Mountains is always to be seen and it continues up to Arunachal Pradesh when the mountains get covered with snow as well. Even though write up narrates about the photography tour of Assam but ensure not to miss out on a visit to the places in Arunachal Pradesh that are located around these places in Assam and are very near so the only permit you need to visit Arunachal Pradesh is the Inner Line Permit (ILP) that can be obtained online and your photography tour can even continue across Arunachal Pradesh as well at places like Namdapha National Park, Pangsau Pass continuing to the International border of India and Myanmar where you can even visit Myanmar at the Pangsau Pass market and sight the historic Lake of No Return. Places along this photography tour to visit are Digboi War Cemetery, Digboi Oil Refinery, Digboi Oil museum, Digboi Golf course. At Margherita we are to cover Ketetong village, the Singpho Eco Lodge, Coal Museum at Margherita, the remains of the 20th General Hospital, the Margherita Tea Factory and Tea gardens, the coal mines of Makum Coalfields continuing further to Ledo and Lekhapani where you will witness the historic Stilwell Road that was built during the World War II – Burma Campaign by the American Army and the Allied Forces along with an army of locals that stretched from Ledo (India) to Kunming (China) via Myanmar. The Stilwell road was built to supply forces and materials as the Japanese forces had cut the alternate route and the American Army took up this mammoth task of building the Stilwell Road across some of the most treacherous and harsh landscapes and climatic conditions and they successfully built the road within a year’s time. Continue on the Stilwell Road to travel to Tipong Colliery where you will get the opportunity to capture pictures of the oldest operating steam locomotive in the World of DAVID and the beautiful landscapes of Tipong are sure to enthral any environment photographer. You can continue to explore the parts of Arunachal Pradesh further from Jagun when you head straight tot eh third largest National Park in India – the Namdapha National Park that is home to the big Cat species – Royal Bengal Tigers, Leopards, Clouded Leopards and the Clouded Snow Leopards and also the very rare flying squirrels.
One of the very pristine National Parks in India, Namdapha National Park is sure to take your breath away with the beautiful tropical rain forest and this National park allows visitors to travel deep into the forest reserves on foot and off course accompanied by local guides and porters. Once you complete your photography at Namdapha National Park in Arunachal Pradesh you are back to Assam and then you can head to Tinsukia area where you can explore the Dibru Saikhowa National Park that is one of the 5 National Parks in Assam and is home to the Feral Horses. It is said that these feral horses were left behind by the soldiers of the Imperial Japanese army after the war and they managed to find a safe haven here at the forest reserves of Dibru Saikhowa National Park in Assam. Dibru Saikhowa National Park is also home to the Tigers and one very sure shot sighting you will have in the waters of the River Dibru is that of the Gangetic river dolphins that are an endangered species and are to be found in the warts of certain protected waters in the National parks of Assam. Located nearby is another place where you can sight migratory and resident bird species of along with pristine landscapes at the Maguri Motapung Beel that is home to various bird species and so you can get you cameras ready.
At the Maguri Beel near Dibru Saikhowa National Park in Assam you can capture images of birds like Ruddy Shelducks, Egrets, Drongos, Magpie Robins, Cormorants, Purple Swamphens, Eagles, Kites, Lesser Adjutants, etc. Continue further from the Dibru Saikhowa National Park to visit the longest bridge in India at the Dr. Bhupen Hazarika Setu that connects Dhola with Sadiya in Assam and spans across a distance of 9.15 km and in case you manage to get an aerial capture of this strategic bridge it would be a great memoir to your photography collection. And in case you are carrying your permit to Arunachal Pradesh then you can travel to the Namsai area to sight one of the very beautiful monasteries across the region of the Golden Pagoda temple that was a combined effort of the architects from India and Myanmar and the place looks absolutely breathtaking and this is a holy shrine of the Tai Phake people. You can head further to Tezu as that is a final big township on the easternmost part of India and this place offers great views of the River Lohit from the Lohit View point. Continue further to the border of India and China and the last township of Kibithoo and also the place that receives the first sunlight in India at Dong Village. Also you can continue from Tezu to Roing and Mayodia that receives snowfall around the year at the Mayodia Pass and the Mishmi hills around the place is a favourite bird watching site in Arunachal Pradesh.
You can come back to Assam to make a stop at the Tilinga Mandir temple that is a temple shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva and it is said that your wishes are granted true here once you tie a bell on the premises of the temple. Continue further to Dibrugarh to make a final stop on your photography tour of Assam and at Dibrugarh you can visit the Jagannath temple that is a replica of the Jagannath temple at Orissa and is a very sacred temple shrine in the region. The area across Dibrugarh is known for its various tea gardens and the heritage tea garden bungalows and you can get the opportunity of clicking pictures of the colonial era living style once you are visiting one of these tea garden bungalows. You also would be interested to visit the Bogibeel bridge that is India’s longest rail cum Road Bridge that connects Dibrugarh district with the Lakhimpur district in Assam. The beautiful cover of the lush tea gardens of Assam around Dibrugarh is simple breath taking as well and with this you can wind up your photography tour across Assam and carry with you a beautiful bouquet of memoirs and you will always love to visit back the ‘Land of Red River and Blue Hills’. A land that is blessed with the bounties of nature and it surely stands up to it tourism slogan ‘Once you visit Assam, it stays with you forever’!!