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Kaziranga to be thrown open to tourists from October

Tourists riding on elephants catch a glimpse of a one-horned rhinoceros bathing at Kaziranga National Park in Assam.

Guwahati Sept. 9. The sprawling Kaziranga National Park (KNP) in Assam, the famed abode of one-horned rhinoceros, will be thrown open for tourists from October one after the flood-ravaged roads and bridges within the park are restored.

The park is one of the top line tourist destinations of the North-East, located along the river Brahmaputra's southern bank.

Park officials informed that in the initial days tourists would be allowed to go inside only two ranges, Bagori and Kohora, while the other areas inside the Park were still under patches of water left by the waves of flood that recessed only late last month.

Last year the Park authority increased fees for different categories of tourists by at least five times. However, the hike did not dampen the tourist flow to the Park and the authorities are expecting similar response from the tourists this year too.

To accommodate visitors arriving during the off-season, the authority has kept some accessible portion of the Park open during this summer and the response was good as a large number of visitors had gone <243>inside to have look at the <243>rhino.

The State tourist departments and forest departments have also given a facelift to its lodges and bungalows located near the Park to accommodate the visitors, while private lodges near the Park which have mushroomed over the years have started intensive campaigning of the facilities available at their disposals to attract tourists through various travel agencies.

To add attraction to the tourist season this year, the Park authority has chalked out a plan to organise three-day elephant festival during January 30 to February 1 this tourist season, which will last till April 30 next year.

About 100 elephants from different parts of Assam will converge at Kaziranga on those days to add colour to the fun in the enchanting Kaziranga which boasts of about 1700 one-horned rhinoceros, over 85 Royal Bengal Tigers, a sizeable population of deer of different species, wild buffaloes, elephants, bears, slow loris, pythons besides numerous other animals and reptiles.

Thousands of colourful winged visitors converge at Kaziranga National Park to feast on fish species available in its wet lands during the winter every year.

Spurred by the popularity of the national park among the tourists within and outside the country, a five-member team of World Bank headed by its Country Director visited the park for two days on Friday and Saturday to assess the facilities and infrastructure within the abode of the one-horned Asiatic rhino to explore possibility of funding projects for its further development and protection of animal habitats.

Despite the activities of militants in Assam, not a single visitor to Kaziranga National Park or other tourists destinations in the State have so far been harmed by the extremists, much to the relief of Assam Tourism and Forest departments. -- UNI

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