The Northeastern part of India, with its lush green valleys and lofty mountains ranges, consist of numerous small and big pocket of rich forest cover, is home to a large variety of flora and fauna, some of which are exclusively confined to this segregated geographical paradise. One such beautiful and serene pocket of this region is Namdhapa. Gifted with exquisite scenic beauty and a rich store of rare and even the local people of neighboring districts, the place is a prime destination for scientific excursion and tracking expeditions. I had the opportunity to distinguish myself with the rich hospitality of this wild, yet unforgettable Eden.
Located in the mountainous state of Arunachal Pradesh, Namdhapa lies at 27o 15`N and 27o 39`E and 96o 58`E longitude in the Changlang district, covering a total area of 245 Sq. Km. Originally, a Reserved Forest under the Assam Regulation Act, 1891, Namadhapa was declared a wildlife sanctuary on 2nd Oct.1972.
Our tour began early in the morning from Tinsukia, it was camping expedition organized by a local NGO, and the Dibru-Saikhowa Wildlife Conservation Society. It was early October and as winter let its icy hand all around us, our jeep tore through the mist that had settled upon the road. Namdhapa is situated about 135 Km from Tinsukia and the journey from here is an experience on its own. Through the travel, one comes across such memorable destinations like a part of the Stilwell Road, a true reflection of human courage and will power, the Memorial Graveyard, reminding us of the days of China War. The Tibetan Institute of Handicrafts, a shelter for Tibetan Refugees, famous for its carpet industry the Mioa Bio-Diversity Musuem, where one can get a glimpse of the diverse ecological life of Namdhapa and a ropeway from Mao to Pho villages of Adis and Khamptis for those adventures freaks, who could test their nerves to the very edges.
After travelling for nearly four hours, we finally reached Namdhapha. Around midway our jeep bumped along the mountainous passages of the park; we feasted ourselves with the wild hospitality of the place. On one side small and big creeper's, high and green full of trees, small and carelessly one on top of the other as if in a frenzy to welcome us with shriek of joy and emotion. The other side of the road was steep fall, about 30 meters to another forest down below and the very through of slip would send on one's nerves ducking for halt. We have reached 'Anamika', declared our team leader Mr.Rana Changmai. 'Anamika' is a beautiful waterfall about 10 meters high and literally; flows through the road damaged due the forest below. The road was damaged due to landslides and the rest of passages had to be covered on foot while our jeep received a grand elephant ride, bestowed by the forest department. Our halt at Anamika was short, but sensational. The ice-cold water of the cataract slashed all around us, wild flowers in a smiley bloom grew all over the cataract and the occasional song of the 'maina' echoed our own excitement. Nevertheless, our sensation soon ended in a scraper, for the itchy bites of leaches had us run for dry grounds.
We reached our campsite near the Deban Rest house around midway where the Astt.Director of the NamdhapaTiger Projects, Aparesh Gupta Chowdhary (Apuda), an ardent lover of wildlife, man of rich experience and an effective speaker joined us. We spent the wildlife and tracking. The night was cold. As the fury of wind crashed against our tents and the trees swayed, we knew our adventure had just begun.
Namdhapa falls at the junction of the Indian sub-continents extensive diversity of flora and fauna. The biomes recognized in this region are Evergreen forest, Moist Deciduous forest, sub-Tropical forest, Temperate from Deciduous forest, sub- tropical forest. From Nagaland and upper Assam walking through the forest one is forced to believe that Namdhapa is a botanist paradise. Every plant is unique and distinct from the other. As we made our way through the forest the ground felt wet and sticky, for sunlight rarely touch these as the rich vegetation always provided an umbrella of green foliage. Apart from the plants and spiders, moths and butterfly all seemed busy with their own selves. Neglecting always made us remember that perfumes, deodorants and and shaving lotion are a strict prohibition as the pheromones tend to excite these blood sucking annelids for a more vicious attack.
Leaving the forest we walked about the banks of the ferocious Noa-Dihing. Wedges between the Dapha Bum ridges of Misime hills, out spurs of North-Eastern Himalayas and the Patkai Ranges the Namdapha protected areas is a labyrinth of several small and big rivers. The main rivers of the protected area is the Nao-Dihing or Diyun which originates from the mountains near the chokan pass and the indo-Myanmar border and flowing in East West direction finally falls into the Brahamaputra Namdhapa Rivers, Deban Rivers Karwai Hka. Apart from the river, there are a number of natural pools or beels like Raja Jheel, Rani Jheel, and Moti Jheel etc. that are also the seasonal spots for birds migrating from far as Siberia.
By the banks of the Nao-Dihing the valley was of breathtaking beauty. The sun-rays kissed a part of the mountain while it shadowed the other side; at the rapid the rivers were violent and at times. All these perplexing faces of nature are bound to have an instant appeal to a viewer. Although Namdhapa as a tourist destination is a less known spots the government has made adequate arrangements.
As the day ended, we returned to our camps. The afternoon was bright and sunny occasioned by a soft breeze which instilled freshness to the very core of our body, but the days tracking had left us lifelessly tired and after a heavy meal we could think of nothing but to spare the rest of the evening all to ourselves snuggled in our sleeping bags. We were almost carried into the mephitic delusion when all of a sudden we were surprised by our team leader, with an invitation to a watchtower at the far end of the Deban guesthouse. Very reluctantly, we dragged ourselves like a band of retreating soldiers, led by a proud general who despises to accept defeat.
On the top of the tower the atmosphere was clam and peaceful ' the only sound caming from the rustle of leaves and hustle of water of the mighty Deban. On the plain below we could see the Deban merge with the Noa-Dihing. The water dazzled and sparkled in the bright afternoon rays of the sun like a million jewels strewn carelessly by mother nature and their reflection could be seen in the lush green mountains (which stood like sentries on guard) every now and then. The tall rapier grasses also called the tiger grasses swayed in the breeze as if dancing mad in wild ecstasy under the clear blue sky. Everyone would aspire to have the top of the tower all by himself to spend the rest of the afternoon enjoying the rare and beautiful view.
It was long past darkness, when we all wake up at once. A cold breeze chilled us to the bones. Nevertheless, the moment we opened we were awestruck. The only words that came from Mr.Changmai were a beautiful quotation from Keats, 'Beauty is truth, truth beauty, which is all'And how true it was for silvery best. We could hear the beat of the CHAKMA drums, which echoed in the mountains, and mingling with the sounds of nature produced the most mystical note we ever heard. As night grew heavy upon us it seemed the whole forest of Namdapha had come to life. On the bank of the river down below, we could see the silvery shades of the big cats of Namdapha, those nocturnal creatures that came to quench their thirst on the cover of darkness, now ran wild along the sandy banks and splashed into the water.
How the night passed we know not. It was morning and time for us to leave Namdapha. As our jeep traveled down the slopes of Deban; our hearts were filled with reverences for this small pocket of the Northeast, which had in such a small span instilled in us maturity and love for nature, we never felt before. In addition, the mind was filled with just one thought. It had been true Romance. The Romance of life.