As the ban on the inter-district movement knocks the state doors in view of the pandemic and recent spike in positive cases, the picturesque “Violet Roads of Kaziranga” would go amiss for many. For those, frequenting the tea rich Upper Assam by the National Highway 37 at this time of the year, Kaziranga is a must-stop destination. If not for the one horn rhino or the giant horned Asiatic Buffalo, one definitely needs to take a break to enjoy the NH 37, especially the stretch that bisects the world-famous national park where April showers bring May flowers.
Kaziranga is at its finest “Spring Collection” and the theme is violet. The tall thick foliage on either side of the NH37 and the roads that take one into the heart of the park are in their best bloom these days. From the 4th of May onwards the roads, which have not seen vehicular movement on them, wear a “Blue Carpet”. The flowers of Ejar (Lagerstroemia speciosa) better known as the Pride of India have woven a blue carpet on these roads.
Pride of India is one of the most spectacular flowering trees in the world. Also, one of the most outstanding summer bloomers, the scientific name of this tree is Lagerstroemia flosreginae. The tree is also the state tree of Maharashtra. This tree is also known as Queen Crape Myrtle in English. It is a fast-growing, almost evergreen, moderate-sized species which has many uses to its name. The tree is said to have been used as the tree for achieving enlightenment, or Bodhi by the eleventh Lord Buddha. Native to India, the Crape Myrtle is an upright or large shrub of stature that can be single or multi-stemmed. The trees are mostly grown in avenues and gardens for their beautiful flowers which won’t wither for months. In full bloom, the pale greens and variegated clusters of beautiful flowers stand out as a relief.
The long stretches of the violets are interlaced with the fiery red Gulmohars. The Gulmohars not only add to the bright dimension of the forest fabric but also infuses the poetic space too. Driving on the Violet NH37 with the Burapahar Hills in the backdrop is a perfect mid-May sunset boulevard.
With the red and violet canopy above and the pied carpet below, Kaziranga definitely springs a new definition. Ideal for long strolls with loved ones, away from the maddening crowd and the concrete chaos, the NH 37 Ejars are a good reason to stop by the woods on a spring evening.
The National park which opened for tourist on the 21st October 2020 after a gap of seven months, closed its gates on the 4th May on the national directive owing to COVID spread. Usually, the park closes for the season around 15th of May as a flow of tourist continues beyond April. The most sought elephant safari through the tall elephant grass of the park giving a proximal experience of the one horn rhino was stopped on the 30th of April this year.
Amidst all adversities, the world heritage national park in 2020-2021 created an all-time highest tourist registration record with 1,99,240 tourists visiting the park. Since 1997 this was the highest as per park records, while the numbers in 2017-18 were 1,88,000. Park authorities informed that though the flow of tourist was high this year the turnover was about 30 per cent less as a foreign tourist could not make it to the preferred destination in large numbers.
The national park which hosts two-thirds of the world’s great one-horned rhinoceroses is a World Heritage Site. According to the census held in March 2018 which was jointly conducted by the Forest Department of the Government of Assam and some recognized wildlife NGOs, the rhino population in Kaziranga National Park is 2,413. It comprises 1,641 adult rhinos (642 males, 793 females, 206 unsexed); 387 sub-adults (116 males, 149 females, 122 unsexed); and 385 calves.
In 2015, the rhino population stood at 2401. Kaziranga is also home to the highest density of tigers among protected areas in the world and was declared a Tiger Reserve in 2006. The park is home to large breeding populations of elephants, wild water buffalo, and swamp deer.