Assam, birding, Brahmaputra, Dibru Shaikowa national park, India, Indian rains, majuri beel, Northeast
The trip to this sanctuary was added to an assignment in the tea gardens in Assam that began on a Sunday. So I decided to fly into Dibrugarh a day earlier and visit the Dibru Shaikowa national park, renowned for its rich bird life. My friend Nisha decided to join me and later extended her stay to visit Kaziranga. We took the flight together from Delhi to Dibrugarh and landed there at 9:30 in the morning.
It was at the end of March which is usually the best time to visit this region. But when we landed at Dibrugarh airport, the sky was overcast. We were met at the airport by Sanjeeb, our guide. He took us straight away to the camp on Majuri Beel, a lake adjoining the park. The camp was very basic but its location was amazing – at the very edge of the lake so we could greet the fishermen rowing in their tiny canoes. It had rained heavily the night before and the waters of the Brahmaputra had moved swiftly into the lake, swelling its level. This made it dangerous for us to go into the park. So, we decided to go for a long drive instead. See https://wordpress.com/post/ocdfortravel.com/981
Early next morning we headed off to the park. It was completely overcast but thankfully there wasn’t any rain. We took a jeep and went to one of the banks of the park where a small canoe was waiting to take us to the grassy islands that dot the park.
You have to know that the Dibru Shaikowa national park is a highly unusual park. It is a swamp forest, on exposed patches of land, completely surrounded by the Brahmaputra and Lohit rivers in the north and the Dibru river in the south. Each of these rivers is massive with many streams. So, picture tiny bits of grasslands encircled by countless fingers of water and you will see Dibru Shaikowa. Add to this a dense cloud-laden sky and you will have a vision of us on that day, with water above, below, and around us.
As we sat in the tiny canoe, I wasn’t sure if the sky was seeping into the water or if the water was dissolving into the sky. In that brief moment, I thought I was suspended in space. I struggled to come out of my trance as we approached the island. In the grasslands, we walked in a single line, trampling dense undergrowth, listening to bird sounds. A weak sun came up, giving us hope to see the parrotbills. But soon, the clouds moved in and the sun gave up completely. We had to return. We raced back to the canoe but by the time we sat, it felt as if the whole sky had collapsed. It poured torrents of rain. Our raincoats were hapless fragments in the fierce downpour. But sitting there, soaking, the canoe swaying side to side, I felt immersed in the beauty and fury of nature. And that moment will stay as the abiding memory of this park. Just as it remains beholden to nature, all months of the year struggling to stay afloat, that showery morning, so were we…