Walk in the Woods

The Bodoland Territorial Region offers adventurous trails and treks for those seeking an intimate tryst with nature
Mud puddling butterflies on the Saralpara road. Photo Credit Surajit Sharma
Mud puddling butterflies on the Saralpara road. Photo Credit Surajit Sharma

A walk through any of the lush forests of Bodoland is a delight in itself. A hike of any length, with the abundance of wildlife, and the possibility of sighting Golden langurs, elephants or hornbills makes walking through Bodoland a memorable adventure.

Road to Saralpara

Flanking the newly-declared Raimona National Park is the Bismuri Saralpara Sarbhong Road, home to a number of butterfly species. Northeast India has an extremely rich diversity of butterflies, and more than a 1000 species have been observed in the entire region. This particular area stretching across Raimona, Ultapani and Saralpara is truly stunning. 

This straight stretch of road, leading to Saralparaa, about 27 km in length, has Raimona National Park on one side and Ultapani Reserve Forest on the other and . These forests range from semi-deciduous to broad-leaved wet evergreen and Riparian forests, with Sal (Shorea robusta) being the predominant tree species. An exciting way to experience the natural beauty of this road is to park one&rsquos vehicle at a promising stretch, and start walking. What makes walking this tract special is the sight of hundreds of mud-puddling butterflies as they extract nutrients from the rich soil of the forest floor. Raimona lists about 150 species of butterflies &ndash but just that number doesn&rsquot prepare visitors for the astounding numbers of Lepidoptera that abound in this area. 

Academic and Lepidopterist Kushal Choudhury from theDepartment of Zoology at the Science College in Kokrajhar has reported two extremely rare butterflies &ndash the Yellow-crested Spangle (Papilio elephenor) and Moore&rsquos Cupid (Shijimia moorei) &ndash in these forests. The more commonly sighted ones are from species belonging to families Nymphalidae, Pieridae, Papilionidae and Lycaenidae. On the road to Saralpara, one will find innumerable instances of these gossamer creatures mud-puddling by the side of the road. This is behaviour very typical of butterflies, where they hover and settle in groups on the ground, sucking up nutrients and fluid from moist mud, rotting plant matter and&nbspcarrion. 

The Chakrashila Trail

With its green hills and azure lakes, Chakrashila Wildlife Sanctuary offers some excellent walks and treks. Specially designated in 1994 for long-term conservation and preservation of the Golden Langur (Trachypithecus geei), this fascinating sanctuary is spread across 45.58 sq km. A great variety of wildlife is found in Chakrashila. Among them are the Short-Tailed Mole, Indian Flying Fox, Short Nosed Fruit Bat, Indian False Vampire, Indian Pipistrelle, Rhesus Macaque, Chinese Pangolin, Asiatic Jackal and Bengal Fox. 

A trek that is commonly undertaken by the Bodo people is the climb up to Baukhungri Hill, near Kokrajhar. Considered highly auspicious, the devout undertake the hike to pay obeisance to the mighty Bwrai Bathau at the &lsquothansali&rsquo or shrine atop the sacred hill. 

There are a few adventurous trails in the Dangdufur Hills with grand views. Gigantic rocks, some split in half due to tectonic activity, forest floors strewn with leaves and the occasional skeletal remains of wild creatures, the Dangdufur Hills offers the sort of timeless walk that makes one forget which century it is. 

Recently, a new exciting trail has been opened up to trekkers. Starting from Shalbari village, this is a 12-km west-to-east trail with stunning views, which can be done as a one-day haul with an early start or taken across two days with a night halt around the 8km-mark at a nicely-appointed camp site. 

The Bodo Peace Accord signed in 2020 ensures initiatives that preserve, protect and promote Bodoland's natural heritage. Today, infrastructure and social development allow access to beautiful, unexplored places.

Bornadi Trail

Bornadi Wildlife Sanctuary, the small 26.22-sq km protected area in Udalguri district at the foothills of the Himalayas, is bordered by Bhutan to the north. Named after the river Bornadi that flows along its western border, the Sanctuary was established in 1980 to conserve two rare animals, the Hispid Hare (Caprolagus hispidus) and Pygmy Hog (Porcula salvania). 

There are two popular trekking routes here. The Border trail is a 4km/1.5-hr hike that begins from a campsite on the river bank, leading east. For about a kilometre, the trail runs along the Bornadi. The trail goes through thick forest for a couple of kilometres, then traverses a narrow water channel up to the river Oronga before looping west to return to the starting point. The second trek is a 3-km climb from the campsite to the Bhutan border, a wonderful view that overlooks the beautiful foothills of Bhutan. On a fair day, climbers can see habitation across the border. The climb is also famous for a wonderful statue of the Buddha.

What You Need To Know

For guidance and information about the Butterfly Walk in Raimona, contact local experts Bidinta Basumatary (7002393875) and Brojo Basumatary (9401072008). For trekking in Chakrashila, contact Bodoland Tourism (Asst. Tourist Information Officer 8811832288 JD Road, Kokrajhar, BTC, Assam, 783370). Also speak to MC Brahma (Tel 84028 91975), former Director Cum CHD who facilitates treks, excursions and paragliding at Chakrashila.  91 84028 91975

In Bornadi, Green Trek & Adventure (Campsite Tapovan, Across Bornadi River, Baksa, Assam 781368. Tel 9957819726, 9864242842, bogamati@gmail.com www.bogamati.in) facilitates trekking and other adventure activities from their wonderful campsite on the banks of Bornadi. 

Responsible Etiquette

  • While trekking, it is customary to wear dull clothing that blends with the surroundings. Greys, browns, dark greens or camouflage are best.
  • When out in the wild, take care to speak in low tones.
  • When photographing birds or other fauna, be careful not to advance too close and disturb the animals.

Many trails, particularly those that go through moist forests, are likely to have leeches. 

  • It is best to wear full-length clothes. 
  • Carrying salt or a mix of tobacco and castor oil will help deal with leeches.
  • It is best to keep moving at a fast pace through leech-infested patches.

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