States of India
Location : Arunachal Pradesh
Coverage Area : 1,985-sq-kms
Significance : Largest National Park Of The Northeast Region And One of The largest Wildlife Protected Areas In India.
Best Time To Visit : October To April
It is now a legally protected area having been designated in 1983 as the Namdapha National Park under Wildlife (Protection) Act. The same year, it was also declared as a Tiger Reserve under project tiger. With a total area of 1,985-sq-kms, this is the largest national park in the Northeast and one of the larger protected areas in the country.
The farthest part of India in the northeast is named after the rising sun. Rightly so, because it is here every morning that the first rays of sunlight strike the Indian subcontinent heralding a new dawn of activity and expectations. This is the state of Arunachal Pradesh endowed with natural and cultural attributes, which make it verily a fantasyland. Here, forests and wilderness predominate in exuberance, extent, density and diversity, which is indeed rare and unique.
While the whole setting is fabulous, one area stands out far above the rest on account of its natural beauty and supreme wilderness. This is the area at the extreme end of Changland district In Arunachal Pradesh, bordering Myanmar (Burma) on two sides and watered by the Noa-Dehing and Namdapha Rivers.
The Uniqueness Of Namdapha
Certain aspects of Namdapha make it truly unique. The first is the altitude, which varies around 200 metres (nearly sea level) in the valleys to more than 4,500 metres with snow covered mountain peaks. Perhaps no other national park in the world can boast of such phenomenal altitudinal variation. As a result, the climate conditions inside the area are equally varied and unpredictable.
Though located at 27 degrees north of the equator and hence being in the sub-tropical zone having a tropical climate, the higher parts of the reserve, which are mountainous, and rugged experience cold and temperate conditions round the year. Similarly, rainfall is very variable - excessive in the tropical part and scanty in the higher reaches.
Another unique feature of Namdapha is its location at the junction of the Indian subcontinent's bio-geographic region and the Indo-China bio-geographic region. The whole area is part of the eastern Himalayas, which were formed, in the tertiary age across the gateway linking the Indian landmass with the pale Artic and the Indo Malayan realms.
It was through this gateway, prior to the formation of the mighty Himalayas that several faunal elements from both the aforesaid realms gained entry into the Indian subcontinent in the remote past which has undoubtedly added to India's spectacular biological diversity. Besides, its location at the farthest end of the country where it forms the national border with Myanmar on two sides, gives a certain strategic significance, which is on going and will always remain so.
Namdapha's amazing biography is matched by the tremendous variety of life forms found there, the sun total of which, in scientific language, is called biological diversity, in short bio-diversity. Both the floral and faunal aspects of Namadapha's bio diversity are rich, varied and dazzling.
For instance, the vegetation varies from the wet evergreen tropical and sub-tropical forests to temperate and alpine forests. About 150 species of trees have been identified which include Dipterocarps like the Hollong growing up to 50 metres. The floral species' richness and composition are very impressive indeed and show density, variation and endemicity, which may have few parallels. This includes a rich gene pool of indigenous crop plants along with their wild relatives and ecological variants such as the wild banana, citrus and mango. A formidable list of medicinal and ornamental plants including the wild orchids can be also be made.
It is to be noted that all this information is based on what is known so far, which is undoubtedly far less than what is not known to science so far. Considering the fact that most of the Namdapha national park is inaccessible and unsurveyed, the secrets of botanical wealth that lie hidden there is anybody's guess. This factor has to be kept in mind always and cannot possibly be under-played.
The faunal assemblage in Namdapha is equally staggering. Of a total of 135 kind of land mammals found in India, as many as 75 kind are represented in Namdapha which no other reserve in the country can match. An admixture of several Indo-Chinese and some Palearctic elements is clearly evident. Perhaps the richest assemblage is in the order carnivora with 22 kinds identified in Namdapha and it is surely the only protected area in the world having four big Cats- Tiger, Leopard, Snow Leopard and Clouded Leopard.
In herbivores also, the variety is amazing considering that apart from several Deer species, Namdapha is home to the bison as much as to the Himalayan Tahr and the Bharal. Besides, it has all the three Goat Antelopes found in India - Goral, Serow and Takin.
Amongst primates, it is the habitat of the rare and endangered Hoolock Gibbon, the only Ape species found in India. The different species of flying squirrels include one that is endemic which has been named as the Namdapha Flying Squirrel.
The bird life in Namdapha is easily the most dazzling with numerous beautiful species of Avifauna. Some notable ones are the great Indian Hornbill - Arunachal's state bird - the rare white winged wood duck, several colourful Pheasants and other species.
This is Nature and wilderness in its pure, pristine form, which must be safeguarded for posterity under any circumstances. The plain truth is that there is no other Namdapha and no human ingenuity can possibly remake even an iota of it if any part is lost or destroyed.
How to Get There
A major factor contributing to the wilderness of Namdapha is its remoteness and inaccessibility.
Air : The nearest point of entry via air is the airport at Dibrugarh, Assam.
Rail : The rail station is situated at Tinsukia in Assam.
Road : From Tinusukia or Dibugarh, the journey to Miao, headquarters of the National Park and the Tiger Reserve, has to be done by road, over a distance of 150-km. Then, a forest road stretching over around 28-km gives access to the protected area up to a place called Deban, which has a lovely forest rest house and some other accommodation for the field staff. Beyond this area there is no road as such and all movement inside the reserve has to be on foot through dense forest and steep hill ranges with streams and rivers flowing in between.