At Manas ASSAM BENGAL NAVIGATION now has its own jungle accommodation, The Bansbari Lodge, situated in prime position right at the entrance to the national park, with tea gardens on one side, jungle and views of the Himalayan foothills on the other. The16 large twin-bedded rooms all have attached bathrooms and the Lodge is simply but comfortably furnished. The Lodge also has electricity.
There is a welcoming atmosphere to the Lodge, which includes an attractive dining room and a lobby where you can relax on sofas, browsing through books from our library. In fine weather tables and chairs are set outside for breakfast and the spacious grounds are fast becoming a delightful garden in which to stroll. Each bedroom has comfortable twin beds, a writing-cum-dressing table, cane chairs to relax in, and good hanging cupboard space, while the bathrooms have excellent hot and cold showers with basin and w.c. Our policy at ABN is to provide employment as much as possible within the area and most of our furniture has been beautifully made by local craftsmen to our specification.
Although simpler in style than ABN's Brahmaputra river cruises, our renowned standards of service prevail at The Bansbari Lodge as well. Our smiling staff includes an excellent chef who produces delicious home-cooked meals, be they of local Assamese cuisine, north Indian, Chinese or Continental origin.
MANAS NATIONAL PARK
2005 is the Centenary Year for Manas, elevated to National Park status in 1990. It was declared a Project Tiger Reserve in 1973, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985, and because of its beauty and importance to the environment was made a Biosphere Reserve in 1989. It is indeed breathtakingly beautiful, situated between the Sankos river in the west, the Dhansiri river in the east. Bounded by Himalayan foothills, the dense jungle forest alternates with alluvial grasslands, low alluvial savannah woodland and Assam valley semi-evergreen forests, providing a rich wilderness for a great variety of wildlife, including many endangered species. The Tiger Project reserve extends over an area of 2837 square kilometres with a core area of 519 sq. kms.
Vegetation and Topography
The vegetation that covers most of the park is of the mixed deciduous variety. This forest is interspersed with small grassy glades where large numbers of deer can be seen grazing. The topography of the park is mainly small meadows among thickly forested foothills with many rivulets, streams and natural drainage channels. The park is mainly drained by the river Manas which also forms the international boundary between India and Bhutan. In the lower reaches there are many smooth sandy stretches with clumps of trees growing in and around them.
Fauna at Manas
Three unique residents of Manas are the rare Pygmy Hog, the Hispid Hare and the Golden Langur, and the park is a haven for no less than 20 highly endangered species.
The diverse animal population of Manas includes some fierce or potentially aggressive creatures such as Tigers, Elephants, Indian one-horned Rhinoceros, Golden Cat, Fishing Cat, Wild Buffaloes, Leopards, Clouded Leopards, Civet Cat, Wild Dog, Indian Fox, Gaur and Himalayan Black Bear, as well as more timid creatures such as many varieties of deer.
Birds at Manas
Due to its climatic conditions and topography, Manas is home to many bird species, both resident and migratory. Amongst these are the Bengal Florican, Giant Hornbill, Jungle Fowls, Bulbul, Brahminy Duck, Khaleej Pheasant, Egret, Pelican, Fishing Eagle, Serpent Eagle, Falcon, Scarlet Minivet, Bee-eater, Kingfisher, Magpie Robin, Pied Hornbill, Gray Hornbill, Merganser, Harrier, Osprey, Heron, Buzzard, Lapwing, Plover, Sandpiper, Snipe, River Tern, Woodpecker, Warbler, Chat, Thrush, Tit, etc.
Jeep Jungle Safaris
We offer game-viewing excursions on open jeep, booked in advance through us. Manas spans a huge and varied area and there is much to see. Currently we offer 60 or 90 kilometre drives. The shorter one takes the following route, from The Bansbari Lodge-Lotajhar-Mothanguri-Gyati-Uchilla-Kuribheel-Buraburi and return; the 90 kilometre itinerary, of especial interest to the birdwatcher, takes in the area round the village of Koklabari, which is now being developed as a bird-watching area, then through jungle to Alabari and Namlang. There are a number of watch towers built by the forest department on both these routes. In addition ABN is endeavouring to open up new routes to combine with these, working in conjunction with the jungle authorities.
(Elephant safari does not include)
A recent guest at The Bansbari Lodge describes one day's safaris:
"Soon after dawn we mounted the elephants a few metres away from the lodge just inside the park. It was a magical experience, silently swaying through thick jungle cover to emerge on an expanse of grassland, the swishing sound of the elephant's steps the only competition for the symphony of birdsong and jungle sounds. The tips of tall elephant grasses and buzzing insects glowed luminous against the low morning light, distracting our gaze from a group of grazing hog deer we startled, who bounded elegantly away. A few lumbering paces further on, some wild buffalo studied us carefully before moving to more secluded pasture, and in the distance we could make out an elephant with her calf. Birds were everywhere, some rare, some colourful, all against the stunning background of vibrant green grassland, darker jungle beyond and the soft blue outlines of Himalayan foothills.
"Later, after a wonderful morning on a Village Trail and a visit down to the river to watch elephants being bathed with evident delight, we set off on a long jeep safari. The excellent naturalist who accompanied us soon pointed out wild hog and five piglets crossing the track as well as numerous birds and mammals including giant squirrels. Further into the park we had our first sighting of one of the stars of Manas, the Great Hornbill. Easily identified by its bright yellow beak, its flight from a branch startled us with the resounding "whoosh" of its powerful wings. In a later clearing we found another species for which Manas is famous, the Bengal Florican, three of them delicately picking their way. We passed the spot where a tiger had been sighted a few days earlier, where recent terrifyingly large and angry claw marks on the trunk of a tree bore witness to its presence. Just before we reached the Manas river where it tumbles over boulders at the border with Bhutan, jungle-clad mountains rising on the other side, we spotted a Gaur, or Indian Bison, in the undergrowth. Pictures do not do justice either to its huge bulk or the size of its intimidatingly vast horns. Our return trip was just as rewarding, with sambar deer, wild buffaloes, capped langur, Assamese macaques, hog deer and barking deer just visible in the gathering dusk. A truly momentous day.”
Some of the animals that come out on the banks of the river Manas, such as wild buffalo, deer and herds of elephants, can best be seen from the safety and serenity of a rubber boat which commences its ride from Mothanguri and ends about 35km away at Bispani, from where you will be picked up by pre-arranged transport. The boat men are very experienced.
The walk starts near the Mothanguri Forest Lodge and initally follows the bank of the Manas river, where there is the best chance of seeing several species of birds. Later the route turns from the river to follow an animal trail through dense jungle foliage underneath the high forest canopy where Capped Langur and even the rare Golden Langur may be seen. This walk is accompanied by forest guards and a naturalist.
A gentle walk on your own around the overgrown tea estate opposite the Lodge in the cool of the evening is also an enchanting experience.
Visits to Bodo villages
The Bodo tribe, indigenous to Assam, have a rich culture of textile, handloom and music. We organize walks through the villages where you can see Bodo women weaving their traditional fabrics and observe village lifestyle at close quarters.
At The Bansbari Lodge we arrange traditional dance performances of the local Bodo and tea tribes, where our guests greatly enjoy sitting round a camp fire watching age-old stories of rural life unfold through dance. These performances are a regular feature for residents, particularly for groups.
Best time to visit
The tourist season runs from October through to the end of April, and ABN's Lodge is open throughout this time. Peak time to visit the park is between November and early March.
Days can be quite warm in October, March and April with cooler evenings. During these months, particularly in April, a few showers are to be expected. From December to the end of February it can be quite cold, particularly at night when the temperature can drop to a single digit and jackets or pullovers are needed after sunset.
During the day in these months the temperature hovers around a very pleasant 18¢ C.
Getting to The Bansbari Lodge, Manas
The Lodge is 176 km from Guwahati and takes 4 hours by road. Guwahati is the nearest airport, well-served both by direct flights from Kolkata and Delhi and by international flights from Bangkok. The nearest railhead is at Barpeta Road, 20 kms away. Taxis are available at Barpeta Road and from Guwahati and we can organize to pick up from either place with prior notice.
TARIFF FOR THE BANSBARI LODGE, MANAS NATIONAL PARK
(OCTOBER 2016 TO END APRIL 2016)
Rs. 9, 000 per person per night on twin share.
Single supplement Rs. 3, 500 per night.
Under the scheme we not only cover accommodation and 3 meals but also cover entrance fees to the park, one Elephant ride and one jeep ride daily, excursions to tea garden or local villages, tribe dance at the Lodge for groups (8 members or more), services of an escort/ guide / naturalist, still non-professional camera charge, forest guard and government taxes.
Drinks, Park video and professional camera charges, boat ride, laundry, tips and any expenses of a personal nature.
AMERICAN PLAN FOR FOREIGN NATIONALS (includes accommodation and all meals B+L+D) :
Rs. 4, 500 per person per night on twin share.
Single supplement Rs. 1,500 per night.
Accommodation: Rs. 2, 450 per room per night, inclusive of Luxury + Service Tax (twin sharing)
Meals (B + L + D): Rs 912 per person per day
Morning and evening tea: Rs. 30 per cup
Airport pick up or drop. With prior notice we can arrange pick up or drop from Guwahati / Bongaigaon and Barpeta Road Railway Station to The Bansbari Lodge, Manas.
Those wishing to stay at The Bansbari Lodge need to book in advance through ABN's office (Guwahati Reservation Office). We regret that we cannot accept those without prior reservations.
All payments should be made in advance in Guwahati by cheque or banker's draft. Major credit cards are accepted in our Guwahati office but not at the Lodge.
Booking Contact for The Bansbari Lodge and Manas National Park visit:
ASSAM BENGAL NAVIGATION COMPANY PVT. LTD
3rd Floor, Dirang Arcade,
M.R.D. Road, Chandmari, Guwahati 781 003, Assam, India
Tel + 91(0) 361 266 7872, 73, 71
+91 92070 42330 / 31