India : Assam : Along the Brahmaputra # 3

One morning, we left the MV Mahabaahu before dawn for a jeep drive to the Kaziranga National Park.  Apart from a track accident on the road which slowed us down, the trip in the dark was uneventful – in fact most of the occupants in my vehicle dozed some/most of the way.  Not far from our destination the dawn broke, so the drive became a little more interesting as we could see the landscape and villages we were passing.

P1010316  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1010316 © DY of jtdytravels

We eventually stopped by the roadside, seemingly nowhere.  But before long, some elephants came lumbering down the road.  The excitement levels began to rise.  We climbed back into our vehicles and drove a short distance along a levee to a staging point.  Some staging point !  It turned out to be just a wash-away surrounding a culvert, but at least it provided a place where we could get onto our elephant – elephant in the culvert, passengers on top of the culvert.  All very simple but very effective!

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P1010318  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1010318 © DY of jtdytravels

Love those eyelashes – no mascara needed.

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P1010324  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1010324 © DY of jtdytravels

We were already on our elephants by the time the sun peeped above the horizon.

 A ground fog hung around creating an eerie atmosphere.

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P1010325  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1010325 © DY of jtdytravels

The elephants walked along interconnecting levees at their slow lumbering pace while their passengers, perched high on their backs, were pitched from side to side .  The mahouts needed to do little.  These elephants had walked this track many times before and more than knew the way.

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P1010331  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1010331 © DY of jtdytravels

As the sun rose slowly, nearby vegetation was silhouetted against the fog.

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P1010355  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1010355 © DY of jtdytravels

After the elephant ride, we stopped at a resort type place in the park for our breakfast. Here, in the grounds, I saw a Spice Finch or Scaley-breasted Munia (Lonchura punctulata) hanging on the roots of an epiphytic orchid.  These birds are endemic to Asia and live in flocks.  They generally like open grasslands where they eat seeds, fruits and small insects.  They build their dome-shaped nests in grass clumps and bamboo thickets.

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P1010357  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1010357 © DY of jtdytravels

A brilliant red hibiscus contrasted against a blue, blue Indian sky.

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P1010358  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1010358 DY of jtdytravels

A small spider, the same colour as the petals of this flower, hid in its centre.

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P1010362  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1010362 © DY of jtdytravels

These ridiculously tall coconut trunks appear to be far too thin to support their leafy tops.  I’ll bet they whip around in a high wind, but obviously survive as they have grown so tall.

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P1010365  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1010365 © DY of jtdytravels

As we drove back out of the park, I was able to take photos from the bus window.

A newspaper seller squatted on a shop verandah preparing papers for sale.

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P1010367  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1010367 © DY of jtdytravels

Water lily flowers sitting above the water surface.  The level of the water must have dropped as water lilies usually float on the surface.  Lotus flowers are held high above the surface.

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P1010402  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1010402 © DY of jtdytravels

Three down, one to go!

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P1010410  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1010410 © DY of jtdytravels

Thre was great excitement when we spotted an Indian rhinocerus (Rhinoceros unicornis). These lumbering animals once roamed over the whole of the Indo-Gangetic Plain.  Numbers of rhinos have been drastically reduced by hunting.  They have also been very much affected by dwindling habitat due to increasing agriculture and forestry needs.  Today only an estimated 3000 individuals exist in the wild, 2000 of those in Assam. The rest are in the Terai in lowland Nepal.

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P1010411  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1010411 © DY of jtdytravels

The single horn of the Indian rhinoceros is found on both males and females.  The warty lumps and bumps typical of this species of rhinoceros can be seen on the front legs and neck.  They are even more pronounced on the hind legs.  A fully grown male can weigh as much as 4000kg (8818lb).

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P1010423  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1010423 © DY of jtdytravels

A water buffalo made a good photographic subject amongst some water hyacinths. There are two extant types of water buffalo recognised – the river buffalo of the Indian sub-Continent and the swamp buffalo found in Assam through to SE Asia.  It has been suggested that the Swamp buffalo may have originated in China and was domesticated some 4000 years ago while the River buffalo originated in India and was domesticated 5000 years ago.  It is estimated that there are 130 million domesticated water buffalo and that more human beings depend on them than any other domesticated animal.

Swamp buffalo are heavy bodied.  They have a short body and large belly and have 48 chromosomes whereas the River buffalo has 50 chromosomes.  Fertile offspring between the two have occurred but are not common.  A large male can weigh as much as 1000kg (2200lb).

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P1010434  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1010434 © DY of jtdytravels

Back again on the river, one of our boatmen skilfully manoeuvred the lighter around, over, across and through the numerous and ever-changing sand bars of the Brahmaputra River.

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P1010440  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1010440 © DY of jtdytravels

The MV Mahabaahu.  She was purpose built in India for plying the Brahmaputra River.  She is 55m. (180½ft.) long and 10.25m. (33½ft.) wide.  She can accommodate 46 passengers, all in outside cabins, and has a crew of 34.

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P1010443  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1010443 © DY of jtdytravels

We had started the day with the sun rising and we finished the day with it setting.

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P1010447  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1010447 © DY of jtdytravels

Still lower with  a clump of water hyacinth silhouetted against the fading rays of the sun.

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P1010456  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1010456 © DY of jtdytravels

The last of another wonderful day on the Brahmaputra River.

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more anon

David

Photography copyright ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

more of our travel stories can be found on

www.jtdytravels.com

and

www.jtlifesgood.wordpress.com

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