Never too old to travel: Kaziranga & Sibsagar tour with senior citizens

Author: Harvestina Lepcha
Date: 2019-06-19

So here I come with the story of visiting Kaziranga, which is located in the heart of Assam. I had never, even in my wildest dreams, thought I’d one day visit this place with a large group of senior citizens. I was asked by the travel company I work for to accompany a group of over 40 senior citizens on a 5-day tour, and it surprisingly turned out to be a good experience. 

A scenic ride to Kaziranga

We left the hot, noisy city of horns (Guwahati) at 2:30 in the afternoon and proceeded towards the land of wild animals, sitting in the last seat of a tempo traveler and listening to old songs. After we reached the Assam & Meghalaya border, the journey forward became quite enjoyable—the lovely songs, mesmerizing views, and to top it off the beautiful roads—when you come from the hills, where the roads are so bumpy, you develop a new found appreciation for smooth roads.

                              

On the way, we stopped for a short tea break at Anurag Dhaba, where we drank tea and hot & crispy pakoras, and resumed our journey, which would take another 2 hours before reaching Kaziranga. It was getting dark and our group was getting worried since we preferred not to travel at night. After a long and tiring journey (almost 20km) we finally reached the Dhanshree Resort in Kaziranga, our accommodation for our entire stay.  It was already 8:15 PM, so we checked in, had dinner, and headed off to bed. 

Sightseeing, shopping, and lots of dancing

Next day post breakfast we were ready for Kaziranga sightseeing. We left at 10:00 am and took a stroll through the coffee, tea, and rubber plantations, which were 15 to 20 minutes away from the resort. Afterwards, we took a half an hour drive to a place called “Kaziranga Haat.” This place is run by Rupjyoti Saikai Gogai, who started a community initiative for the village ladies, where they learn to make different handicrafts such as table mats from waste products like plastic and glass bottles. She also owns a small boutique where she sells traditional dresses, bamboo stuff etc.

                             

Post lunch we visited National Orchid Park, which is about 30 minutes away from the resort. At the entrance you can find shops selling traditional dresses, black rice, wine, honey, ethnic jewellery, and much more. Once you walk inside, you will be greeted by more than 2000 species of orchids. There is also a traditional Assamese museum, a Gorkha museum, medicinal plant garden, and bamboo garden inside the premises. After enjoying our walk around, we were treated to a cultural program, where we were regaled by traditional dances by three local Assamese tribes. The group then headed to the local bazaar for some local shopping. In the evening there was a grand cultural program organized by the minority group of Assam. We had fun taking part in the dancing and learning some cool dance moves. We ended the day with a local Assamese vegetarian meal. 

Safari inside Kaziranga National Park

Usually from May to September the Kaziranga National Park remains closed because of the rainy season, but we were lucky to go on a jeep safari (another option is an elephant safari, which starts early in the morning). We started at 7:20am (per jeep 2600/- & entry fee per person 100/-); from the resort it takes half an hour to reach the National Park.

                                                              

We spotted many wild animals like the one-horned rhino, elephant, deer, and varieties of birds. After the jeep safari we spent the rest of the day indoors because of the heavy torrential rain; Assam was presently bearing the effects of Fani storm that hit India. 

Historical excursion and farewell

Next day we visited Sivasagar, previously spelled Sibsagar, a small city in the Sivasagar District of Assam. The distance from Kaziranga to Sivasagar is around 4 hours, and on the way we spotted a cattle auction place. The sightseeing in Sivasagar included all the historical places of the Ahom dynasty like Ghola Ghar and Ranghar Talatar. Compared with all the Ahom ruins, it is one of the grandest examples of Tai Ahom architecture. The Talatal Ghar is also the largest of all Tai Ahom monuments. Visitors nowadays can only view the ground floor, the first floor, and what remains of the 2nd and 3rd floors of the Talatal Ghar; the floors of the Talatal Ghar below the ground have been sealed off. We reached Sivsagar market (Brahmaputra hotel for lunch) and had our lunch.

                                

Post lunch we visited Siva Dol (Temple of Shiv) & Shiv Lake—a group of structures comprising three Hindu temples of Sivadol, Vishnudol (meaning temple of the Lord Vishnu), and Devidol (meaning temple of the Goddess Durga) and a museum. These are located on the banks of the Sivasagar ("the ocean of the god Shiva") tank, also known as the Borpukhuri tank. The tank was constructed between 1731 and 1738, and the temples were built in 1734 by Bar Raja Ambika, queen of Ahom king Swargadeo Siba Singha (1714–1744). It is crowned with an 8-foot high golden-do me. After visiting the historical places and temples, we left the place by 3:30pm and reached the resort at 8:30pm. After the tiring journey of the day, we quickly had our dinner and headed off to bed. Next day we woke up early to bid farewell to the land of the one-horned rhino. 


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