Travelling in the North-East in the summer of 2006
Guwahati >> Eaglenest >> Tawang >> Nameri >> Kaziranga >> Shillong >> Cherrapunjee
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The next morning, I started out to Kacheri Ghat on the bank of Brahmaputra. I was taking a ferry from here to Peacock Island – a small landmass with a hillock housing the Umananda Temple.
Peacock Island. You can see how wide Brahmaputra is. Infact this is one of the areas where the river runs narrow compared to rest of Assam
As my ferry took off, I realized how huge Brahmaputra is. It was summer time when most of the rivers in India empty or at least mellow, but none of that applies to Brahmaputra. Even when the water level is low, it still is wide and flows at a considerable speed. Despite being so large, the map shows that Brahmaputra flows in a narrow channel near Guwahati compared to rest of Assam. I got to see her again in Tezpur where the bridge across the river is a few miles long.
Ferry to Peacock Island
I got down from the ferry and walked around on a bridle path that took me around the island. It took less than 10 minutes to complete the circle. The island has a mix of Bamboo and evergreen tropical trees and is rocky at some parts. The tiny island housed lot of life. I saw a few Asian Koels, some warblers, a Grey Tit, Magpie Robins, Jungle Babblers and a bunch of Mynas. I returned to this island a few weeks later to get photographs of the Golden Langurs, and also shot pictures of a pair of Grey Tits. The Langurs are a star attraction of the island.
Golden Langurs are endemic primates found only in Manas National Park bordering Assam and Bhutan. A priest of Umananda temple is said to have brought a few young ones to the island and let them free. They grew up in the island, confined by the Brahmaputra and have grown used to humans. They are so accustomed that you can sit right next to them like you would sit with a buddy, and they still ignore your presence. May be they would even be thinking about saying hello to you but are constrained of speech. The Langur’s eye is very human like and has a strange draw when you look at it. They also looked very bored and lazy as they have little to do but eat what people give them, and roam around in the tiny island.
Umananda temple is located at the center of the island on the top of a hillock. It is a small temple, with the sanctum sanctorum located below ground level. Sanctorum is lit by wick lamps and little sunlight enters in. The burning lamps and the darkness surrounding it create an atmosphere of peace in the room.
I returned from the island and checked if I can take an evening cruise on Brahmaputra. But the cruises were not operating owing to a holiday, so all I could do is to spend the evening in my hotel.
To be continued..