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Old 10th March 2013, 23:01   #1
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Default A trip to Dehing Patkai Rain Forest, Dibrugarh (Assam)

An extraordinary day in the lap of nature.

A glimpse of what lies ahead...

The Canopy of Trees at the Rain Forest.

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Mating Bugs inside the Rain forest


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The Namsang River

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Prologue:
I did this trip in December,2012. I had some official works in the Jorhat district, so decided to break free for some time from my office at Guwahati. My father-in-laws place is in Sivasagar. A break from the mundane work schedule elevated the desire for a trip. I knew about the only Rain forest of Assam from some books and always had a desire to visit this. I contacted Mr. Prasenjit Karmakar, a resident of Naharkatiya town in Dibrugarh district and discussed about the proposed trip. He gave his confirmation to join me and taken the responsibilities of contacting some fellow members for the trip.

So, I started from Guwahati and completed the official work at Jorhat and reached my in-laws house in Sivasagar by the evening. The 360 km journey from Guwahati to Sivasagar was a pleasant one and I did not felt any fatigue at the end of the journey.

I woke up pretty early and sipped a cup of hot tea prepared by my mother-in-law. Checked the car and took the required things. Finally I cranked the engine for an exciting day !


About Dehing-Patkai Rain Forest :


Quote:
Dehing Patkai, is the only rainforest in Assam. It is a sanctuary with an area of 119.9 km2 located in the Dibrugarh and Tinsukia Districts of Assam. It falls under the category of Assam valley tropical wet evergreen forest. This sanctuary consists of three parts, Jeypore, upper Dihing River and Dirok rainforest. It was declared as sanctuary on 13 January 2004. This sanctuary is also a part of Dehing- Patkai Elephant Reserve. The area also has some historic attractions, including several World War II cemeteries, the Stillwell road and the Digboi refinery, the oldest in Asia.

The rainforest stretches for more than 575 km2 in the districts of Dibrugarh, Tinsukia and Sivasagar. A part of the forest was declared as a wildlife sanctuary by the Government of Assam, while another part falls under the Dibru-Deomali elephants reserve. The forest further spreads over in the Tirap and Changlang districts of Arunachal Pradesh. The Dehing Patkai forms the largest stretch of Tropical low-land rainforests in India. The forest is often referred as "The Amazon of the east" due to its largest area and the thick forests.

Source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dehing_Patkai_rainforest


The Trip :

Started from Sivasagar at around 5.00 am to get a taste of a virgin rain forest of Assam, Dehing Patkai, situated at Dibrugarh District of Assam. The road was very scenic and amidst the green cover of Tea Gardens. I started to burn rubber in the misty morning of Saturday along the NH 37. At some areas the road was blanketed by thick fog and I had to drive in a very cautious manner. I stopped after 15 kms to take a P break and to take some shots of the road which was covered by dense fog.

Just after crossing Sivasagar Town, NH 37
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Then I started cautiously although the road was clear with almost no traffic.

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I stopped just after crossing Dimou to take some shots of the road and to feel the misty morning in the midst of tea gardens.


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I had taken a diversion at Moran towards Naharkatiya leaving the NH37 to a very pretty road by the tea-gardens. The road was good to drive on a cold December morning.

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After crossing Rajgarh I stopped for a moment and taken some shots of the Tea Garden. That was the start of a quest for soothing the thirst of all senses on a serene location of my own native land in a misty morning. The tea gardens are at its best sight in that time.

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I reached Naharkatiya Town after driving for around 90 kms. Already I felt a little bit of excitement thinking of the day ahead. I met my other fellow tracking partners for the day, Mr. Prasenjit Karmakar, Mr. Mridupaban Phukan and Mr. Debojit Sonowal. Mr. Phukan is an experienced wildlife conservationist, an eminent bird watcher and writer. I just mesmerized by his deep knowledge of the Bio-diversity of the region and his passion for the wildlife. Mr. Debojit Sonowal, a reporter who is the regional correspondent of Assamese daily Janasadharan. He is a nature photographer with a warm heart for the nature. Mr. Prasenjit Karmakar, an educational entrepreneur from Naharkatiya who have developed a public library in Naharkatiya having more than 10000 books with a facility with reading rooms, resource centre, internet connectivity etc.

The route : Sivasagar-Moran-Rajgarh-Naharkatia-Jeypore

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After exchanging pleasantries we have started the journey to the lap of the nature from the hassle bustle of polluted city life. Just after 5 kilometers we have reached the Jeypur Range of Dehing Patkai Sanctuary. A thick green cover of trees had welcomed us to this rain forest. The road was in dilapidated condition although it was a connecting road to places like Deomali, Khunsa of Arunachal Pradesh. But my 7 years old Alto did managed to maneuver at the patchy and bumpy road effortlessly. The morning was quiet and a mesmerizing silence had engulfed us, the chirps of the birds welcomed us and all we knew that we are at their territory. On the left side of the road was the rain forest and on the other side of the road was paddy cultivation. Mr. Phukan informed us about this specific region, the paddy field is at just near the forest and so herds of elephants always comes from the forest to the paddy field. This is a very big problem for the farmers. The forest department had come up with the idea of power fencing the entire stretch of the paddy field and once successfully installed solar powered fencing to protect the crops. I have seen many areas are open may be due to lack of maintenance and I was informed that the entire project is no more functioning.

Satellite view of the Rain Forest in Google Map
The Co-ordinates of the place are 27.216472,95.440922 (Google Map)

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Another view of Google Map.

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Around 8.30am we were inside the forest but still driving on the road. Mr. Phukan advised us to stop for a moment. I just pulled the car to the side in the road and all of us were greeted with the eerie silence of the jungle. Suddenly we were greeted with the chirps of birds just enjoying their territory. Time for bird watching and photography!

-Contd.

Last edited by jyotirupam : 11th March 2013 at 16:40.
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Old 11th March 2013, 17:53   #2
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First sight of Birds inside the Forest.

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I tried to click some pics but the birds were very smart to dupe my 21x Zoom PS. I did manage to click a few shots. Debojit and Mr. Phukon got some very interesting shots of the birds by their DSLRs. Mr. Phukon also showed some elephant trails and foot mark of elephants. There was a place which has a very unique nature in the soil of the place. The soil contains salt and minerals which attracts elephant and that place is frequently visited by herds of elephants to feast on the salted soils. The place is just near the road and the side of the road is damaged by the elephants.

Elephant Trail
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We again started our journey through the road enjoying the green cover of the forest and suddenly Mr. Karmakar had seen some movements and told us that he had seen some monkeys at a distance. We got down and Mr. Phukan told us that these are capped Langurs. Wow ! Just after 30 minutes of entering the jungle we have seen a herd of rare Capped Langurs.

The first sight of Langurs.
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The Langurs were munching seeds and fruits from the trees and watching our movements. This is an endangered species and their population is declining drastically. It was a treat to watch the Langurs in the branches atop the tall trees. Their sounds echoed in the forest and a thrilling feel gutted all of us.

From Left, Mr. Karmakar, Mr. Debojit and Mr. Phukon


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My Alto resting for some moments

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The thick vegetation
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Some towering trees
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We spent some times with the capped Langurs and again started our journey though the broken road.

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We got down near a bridge for another glimpse of the nature. There is a small rivulet passing through the road and the scenery was really breathtaking. There is a concrete bridge over the rivulet and a small cute temple near the road. We stopped there for a moment and Mr. Phukan suggested to venture into the eastern side of the nearby forest. The area is full of varied vegetation, from fern, creepers to big trees like Hollong, Mekai, Nahor etc. Lots of birds were there feasting on the fruits of trees and enjoying their own undisturbed area. The sounds of the birds were so enchanting that we all were engulfed by the surroundings. But the birds were smart enough to hide in the thick canopy of the trees and we could only manage to take some glimpse of them.

The Rivulet
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A small temple in the forest

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This tree had about 15 different species of Orchids.

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Then a surreal sound just shook all of us. 'Hookoo', 'hookoo', 'hookoo'. I spotted some movement at the top branches of the tree and just froze in disbelief. Am I dreaming? Mr. Phukon whispered, "Holou!", its Hullock Gibbon. There were two of them, one male and a female feasting on the seeds of a tall tree. I just tried to capture the moment on my camera. It was very hard to control my emotions seeing a rare species just within one hour of our trip. I did manage to have a few good shots of the female but the male was very hard to capture in camera due to his black colour and most of the time he was hidden behind the branches. But we were sure that they were watching us from their own territory. Then after a few moments the female Gibbon moved to another tree by just waking like humans with two legs. It's an ape after all, so walking with two legs is a normal in case of Gibbons. What an exhilarating experience for me!

The Hullock Gibbons. The black male can be spotted here.

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Best Shot of the day so far. Its the Female one.
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Soon after a few moments they both disappeared into the thick forest but still we can hear their signature sounds which echoed the forest. We decided to come back to the bridge with a filled heart.

The Bridge on the Rivulet
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A Jungle Track.
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Another Track.
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Spotted a tree with some small fruits.
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I tasted one of this fruit suggested by Mr. Phukan, a tangy sweet flavoured tasty fruit.
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Mr. Lakhi Sonowal, forest guard of the Jeypore Range was waiting for us along with one of his fellow forest guard. Mr. Sonowal knows the jungle very well and worked with many nature loving enthusiasts from across the globe. I was stunned to know about his knowledge of birds and the ecological surroundings. He can even identify birds from their sounds. I was taken aback when he told some scientific names of some birds and species. The forest guards of the sanctuary were equipped with only a Khukri and their own instinct of the jungle to tackle any situation inside the jungle. Truly, they really deserve kudos as the real protectors of this worthy piece of Gem of Mother Nature.

Contd.

Last edited by jyotirupam : 11th March 2013 at 22:29.
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Old 12th March 2013, 09:40   #3
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Default Re: A trip to Dehing Patkai Rain Forest, Dibrugarh, Assam

The two Forest Guards joined us to the Forest Beat office of Kathalguri which falls under Jeypore Division. The Alto carried six persons on that 5 km distance to the Beat office. I was driving, Mr. Phukan was next to me and Debojit, Karmakar and the two guards were cramped in the rear seat of the Alto. Somehow I managed that part of the broken road without touching the under-body of the car.
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We reached the Beat Office and parked my Alto amidst of Hollong trees near the beat office. Then we headed off for tracking. Mr. Sonowal accompanied us in the track by describing the jungle and about the species found there. We took the road to Khunsa for some distance and spotted some lovely birds and tried to capture them. Mr. Phukon did an interesting thing to lure the hidden birds to view. He has a good collection of birds’ chirps and when he plays them in his mobile the birds become anxious about the sounds and responds by calling back. The silence of the jungle is really enjoyable which gives anyone a feeling of lifetime.

After walking some distance we ventured into the jungle track as instructed by Mr. Sonowal. We needed to climb a small hill in the track and the vegetation of the area is really stunning. Various creepers, ferns and big trees can be seen in the thick forest. The towering Hollong trees, the state tree of Assam are a real treat for the eye. Mr. Phukon explained about the competition among the trees to get sun rays in the dense forest. We have seen may trees try to grow taller to take the share of the sun rays and the creepers also join them in the race for the sun. The soil is covered with moisture always and ferns can be seen everywhere. The rain forest is full of leeches and they are called protectors of the forest for any unwanted visitor. Even I got bitten by one which I had realised after reaching home only. The Leech managed to go down into my ankle somehow and took his sip from one of my veins and silently got off me in somewhere. I noticed blood stains in the socks after reaching home.

It was only 10.40am at that time and inside the forest it seems that it’s the evening time. The canopies of the trees are so dense that sun rays cannot enter easily and gives a damp, quiet atmosphere in the middle. We have seen some huge Hollong, Mekai trees with lots of orchids in it. Some trees are covered with Bird Nest Fern and some of them are having orchids. We spotted some birds and tried to capture them. But for me it was very hard to get a clear shot. Mr. Debojit showed me to take some close range macro shots and I happily obliged. I took some macro shots as well as some zoom shots adjusting the settings within a very short time. At times I took a long shot and in the next shot I tried to capture a macro shot. The entire forest was at its best which cannot be described nor can be captured in any form, but to experience it.
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Old 12th March 2013, 10:00   #4
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Default Re: A trip to Dehing Patkai Rain Forest, Dibrugarh (Assam)

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 12th March 2013, 11:38   #5
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Default Re: A trip to Dehing Patkai Rain Forest, Dibrugarh (Assam)

Fantastic. Let me be the first to congratulate you for bringing Dehing Patkai to the forum. Mesmerizing pictures. I seemed to be almost there with you.

Nature is at its unspoilt best in these forests. Thank you once again.
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Old 12th March 2013, 13:32   #6
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Mr. Lakhi Sonowal showed us some foot marks of barking deer. Deboit showed me a seed of Hollong tree. Mr. Phukon then explained about the natural seed distribution mechanism of Hollong trees. The seed has two wings and it just flies with the direction of winds after falling from the tree. It can go very far due to the wings and that is the secret of spreading of a jungle. Mr. Lakhi Sonowal, the forest guard then told me about a very interesting jungle survival strategy. He showed me a creeper and told me that this contain about 3 liters of clean water which can be drink directly by cutting it. The water is so pure and they use it when needed in the deep jungle. He also pointed into a place where he had seen a Royal Bengal Tiger few weeks ago. We decided to take some rest and sip some tea at that place ! Mr. Karmakar joked that as he is a Bengali the Royal Bengal Tiger won't disturb him and for others he is not sure !

Spot the Bird!
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The Track
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A towering Mekai Tree
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Creepers ! The sizes are enormous.

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Foot mark of a Barking Deer.
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Seed of Barhamthuri. Magnolia Hodgsonii.
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Seed of Hollong Tree (Dipterocarpus Macrocarpus)
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War of Trees ! A seed once fell into a branch of the tree with a lump (as seen in the pic). Sooner the seed grown into a big tree by sending the roots to earth as seen in this pics. But the original tree starts almost 10 meter above ground and slowly it has started to engulf the mother tree which will die in this process after a few year. This process is very common in the rain forest as every tree tries to grow taller for getting sun rays.
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The roots of the attacking tree slowing engulfing the old tree.
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Contd.
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Old 12th March 2013, 14:33   #7
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Arrow Re: A trip to Dehing Patkai Rain Forest, Dibrugarh (Assam)

Mr. Phukon spotted some wild variety of tea plants in the forest. The tea plant is not a new discovery or a planted one. The forests of Assam already had these plants and the British people had spotted it and made efforts to a controlled cultivation and marketing of the product. I did manage to spot another tea plant with some flowers in it. The Tea flower is a very rare sight in the Tea-Gardens as buds are always plucked which prevents flowering of the plant. The flower resembles with the Nahar flower to some extent. On that tea plant I have spotted two beautiful beetles and took some macro shots. Wow! This was the only word I could say at that time.

The kids!
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Flower of a tea plant.
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Matting Beetles.
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Where is the sky ?
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The place where Lakhi Sonowal spotted a Royal Bengal Tiger a few days back and we sipped some tea there!
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Dense Dark forest
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Towering Hollong Trees
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The forest was full of such insects which always finds a path to sneak into our clothes.
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A dead creeper

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A small butterfly
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The towering trees dwarfed Mr. Karmakar
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Mr. Lakhi Sonowal guided us for a detour by a short but cute trail towards the road. We again found ourselves in the road. The road will get us to the Beat Office of Kathalguri. The sides of the road were a treat to watch. Towering and big Hollong, Mekai trees and the different ferns were at its best sight in that road.

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Wild Banana trees
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This was a Huge tree !
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Contd/
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Old 12th March 2013, 14:40   #8
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Default Re: A trip to Dehing Patkai Rain Forest, Dibrugarh (Assam)

Nice and secluded place it seems. I liked the second pic of the first post (of the beetles mating), it has come out outstanding!

I also noticed the strange clothing of the Forest guard (seems a pyjama tucked into shoes and then a cargo over it!). Any particular reason for this way of dressing?
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Old 12th March 2013, 15:05   #9
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Default Re: A trip to Dehing Patkai Rain Forest, Dibrugarh (Assam)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nonstop-driver View Post
Nice and secluded place it seems. I liked the second pic of the first post (of the beetles mating), it has come out outstanding!
Thanks Nonstop-driver.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nonstop-driver View Post
I also noticed the strange clothing of the Forest guard (seems a pyjama tucked into shoes and then a cargo over it!). Any particular reason for this way of dressing?
That is a leech proof clothing ! A Juggad used by them ! The Guard told me that they tucks their pants into the socks which prevents the leeches sneak into the body. When leeches tries to climb towards upper body along the clothes they can be spotted and removed easily.
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Old 12th March 2013, 15:10   #10
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Default Re: A trip to Dehing Patkai Rain Forest, Dibrugarh (Assam)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nonstop-driver View Post
I also noticed the strange clothing of the Forest guard (seems a pyjama tucked into shoes and then a cargo over it!). Any particular reason for this way of dressing?
Its not a pyjama tucked in to the shoe

Its as follows:

You wear your normal pant/cargos. Then you were a almost knee legth 'L' shapped (like a socks) bag (with draw strings to close the bag ) on your feet and pull the draw string and secure the bag just over your calf muscles over your pant/cargo. Then you were your foot-ware - best is something like Rubber Beach Footware which look like Bata Quo-vadis or equivelent.

This is the best protection you can have whilst working in leech infested forests - specially rain forests. I can testify that it is much more effective than the gum-boots or wellingdons. Beauty of this is that it is not expensive and you can have two or three pairs of this and can dry out over a fire/fan pretty easily.

I have seen this set up being used in forests - specially by forest department staff - from North East India through Burmah/Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and Combodia - I used it many times when I was associated a while ago with some "Earthwatch" projects in these area as a volunteer under the sponsoship of my then employer HSBC.

JRD - Very nice report.

Best Regards & Drive Ride Safe

Ram

Last edited by r_nairtvm : 12th March 2013 at 15:15.
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Old 12th March 2013, 15:29   #11
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Default Re: A trip to Dehing Patkai Rain Forest, Dibrugarh (Assam)

An amazing log! Thanks for sharing some glimpses of this virgin rainforest. It seems to have an amazing diversity of mammals and birds, including rarities like the clouded leopard. Lovely capture of the female Hoolock Gibbon.
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Old 12th March 2013, 23:22   #12
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Smile Re: A trip to Dehing Patkai Rain Forest, Dibrugarh (Assam)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Saurabh M View Post
Fantastic. Let me be the first to congratulate you for bringing Dehing Patkai to the forum. Mesmerizing pictures. I seemed to be almost there with you.

Nature is at its unspoilt best in these forests. Thank you once again.
Thanks a lot Saurabh. Hope one day you will give me the privilege of accompany you in a trip.



Continuing the Trip Report

We spotted a big 4-5 cm long yellow-black spider and a small about 1 cm long orange coloured spider in a same web. Mr. Phukan told us that the big yellow black spider is the female and the small orange coloured one is a male ! Creation of nature or just the reflection of our lives here ;-)

The female one
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The Yellow-Black is the female spider and the small Red one is a male !
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The male spider.
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Tree Fern.
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After walking for around 2 hours in the forest we came back to the beat office. We reached the beat office and took some light refreshments generously arranged by Mr. Karmakar. After a few moments Mr. Phukon suggested to venture into a different route. This route will lead to us to a river. We have started at around 12.45 pm. The jungle is thick in this track and full of mosquitoes. I knew that these are the dreaded carrier of Malaria which is very common in this place and the track is full of fern which had leeches. Mr. Phukon warned us not to give a chance to the mosquitoes to bite. But I got bitten by one in my forehead :-( Just prayed at that time that the mosquito was not infested with malaria parasite!


A Hollong Tree.
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Elephant foot marks are visible.
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A spider on top of the coloured leaf.

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Elephant foot marks

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The environment was moist.
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Contd.
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Old 13th March 2013, 09:45   #13
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Default Re: A trip to Dehing Patkai Rain Forest, Dibrugarh (Assam)

Awesome narration and pictures JRD. Good to see some more parts of Assam coming into the travelogue section of this forum.

By the way your initials JRD reminds me of JRD Tata
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Old 13th March 2013, 11:44   #14
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Default Re: A trip to Dehing Patkai Rain Forest, Dibrugarh (Assam)

Superb write-up and Pictures. I always wanted to do Trip to these forests but unfortunately so far it has not become reality. Last disaster was when my plan to visit Dibru-Soikhowa National Park was cancelled after reaching Dibrugarh .

Couple of question for you
How is the Current road condition Sibsagar onwards?
Is there any accommodation around the park?
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Old 13th March 2013, 13:16   #15
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Default Travelogue under construction - A trip to Dehing Patkai Rain Forest, Dibrugarh -Assam

The track was beautiful with a green and dense forest. The silence of the jungle trail was really wonderful. Suddenly Mr. Lakhi Sonowal asked us to stop and listened for some sounds in the jungle. He is an experienced guide who knows the characteristics of the jungle as back of his hand. There was nothing but my adrenalin rushed to the top with the eerie feeling. The forest had several elephant trails and we have seen numerous elephant dumps. He showed us a mark in the soil and told us that it is a territorial mark of a Leopard who marks their own territory by nails and by urinating in the bushes nearby. May be he is watching us from a tree or inside the thick bushes. We continued walking and found some springs. The loose soils near the spring were full of elephant foot prints. We spotted another spring and took some photographs of mushrooms. The track was full of different butterflies and I did manage to capture some of them.

Then we needed to walk by a spring which was full of stones and had water flowing by them. The end of the spring was the beautiful Namsang River which originated from Arunachal Pradesh. The Namsang River falls into Dihing River after about 10 kilometers. The sound of the flowing river gripped us to the core. This is Mother Nature at its best. Some villagers were seen searching for some ants near and beneath the stones of river beds. Mr. Phukon told us that these ants makes a good recipe and contains good amount of protein. The Namsang River is the border of Arunachal and Assam at that region. I have reached the Arunachal Border finally in the day, what a feeling !


Mushrooms on Elephant Drops
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Different types of Mushrooms
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The Guard asked us to keep quiet and wait. He tried to listen some sounds and finally told us to proceed.
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A very tiny spider camouflaged its size !
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Make shift cross overs on the streams
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The most exciting part of the track.. Choose / make / Create / Decide your own track inside the jungle!! The only way was through the stream !
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Finally arrived in the river bank. Namsang River, Border of Assam and Arunachal.
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The vegetation of the Arunachal Side is very less compared to the Assam side due to deforestation activities.
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The lone Hollong tree stands tall in the Arunachal Side.
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Searching for some Ants beneath the stones in the riverbed
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River Namsang

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After staying some time by the river we walked back to the beat office by the same track. I was walking from morning but no fatigue was felt at that time. I was in the midst of a green paradise where unknown sounds of birds and others echoed through the dense rain forest. I took some macro shots of some mushrooms and a beautiful spider on the way. I also chatted with Mr. Phukon about the bio diversity of the region. Debojit took some very good macro snaps. I found that his wife and even his toddler is also a nature lover. Hats off to him and his wonderful family. Mr. Karmakar said he had a great experience that day in the green lap of Mother Nature.

Contd/

Last edited by jyotirupam : 14th March 2013 at 13:59.
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