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27 December 2006 @ 03:02 pm
Brahmaputra and Guwahati  
Minutes before landing, the scenery changes dramatically from the verdant hills of Meghalaya to the flood plains of Assam. Countless temporary alluvial islands and a large braided river system announce the presence of the Brahmaputra. From the high Himalayas, the Brahmaputra flows much of it's length in Tibet as Tsangpo, before entering India at it's Eastern frontier in Arunachal Pradesh and flows the length of Assam as the Brahmaputra and enters Bangladesh as Padma, where it joins up with the Ganga to form the world's largest delta before emptying into the Bay of Bengal. The river system is looks so enormous and the land so barren with silt, it can make you
wonder if there are any people living there at all. Yet, it is along this very river that we will find the some of the densest populations of mankind. Half a billion people live in the Ganga-Brahmaputra basin and more than a hundred million in the delta alone. No wonder then, that when the river floods, which it does almost every year, so much is lost in life and property.

Our first destination was the city of Guwahati. It's the largest city in those parts and sort of a gateway to Eastern India. Not many people from mainland India know much about Eastern India and all they hear about is violence in these parts and that's good reason for a lot of them to stay away. Of course, there's insurgency related violence, and it is very apparent from what we saw as soon as we landed at the airport. The place had dug-outs, police and military personnel armed with sophisticated automatic weapons and armoured vehicles. It can be rather unsettling if you're not used to seeing so many armed men. I really hope peace makes a swift return to this wonderful place. Without the police and the military, Guwahati is just like any other Indian city - same cars, same hoardings and same unruly traffic. Our stay in Guwahati was a short one - just a day, so things had to be planned out properly. First, We headed out to the Guwahati zoo, which was supposed to be an insurance trip to see the Great Indian Rhinoceros, just in case we miss it in the wild. In the end, I got a lot more than what I had hoped for. Two specialties which I doubt I'll ever see in the wild: The rare, mysterious and beautiful little big cat, the clouded leopard, which is the smallest big cat in the world and the rare Brow-antlered deer, of which only fifty remain in the wild. The enclosures in the Guwhati zoo seem to be in a bad shape, but importantly, the animals there look well taken care off.

After the short zoo trip, it was time to take a boat and head out to an island in the middle of the Brahmaputra. There's an ancient temple there dedicated to Lord Shiva and the island also has an isolated population of the most beautiful and most rare of the primates - the Golden Langur. These langurs are known to science only since the 1950s and no one really knows how many of them still exist in the wild. And since there are so many people visiting the island, the langurs have become used to having people around them and it was real pleasure to watch them from so close. Of course, they were kind enough to pose for the cameras and being as photogenic as they are, it's easy to make good photographs. :)

The Brahmaputra as we see it from the plane. Notice the cultivation on the temporary islands and the size of the river in comparison to the fields and houses. The river can swell to eight kilometers in width during the monsoons!!

A boat on the Brahmaputra sails past an ancient pillar.

Our boat in the middle of the Brahmaputra

The Peacock island

Lesser Whistling ducks. There were thousands of them in the Guwahati beels (lakes)

A wild Rhesus macaque

The rare Brow-antlered Deer (captive, Guwahati zoo)

Clouded Leopard (captive, Guwahati zoo)

Golden Langur. You really have to see this animal to believe it's colours!

Premnath Kudvapremkudva on December 27th, 2006 07:47 am (UTC)
The Golden Langur was looking fantastic, like an old man outside a temple. Did he say thank you or give you his address to send a print after you took that photo? :-)
Yathinyathin on December 29th, 2006 03:11 am (UTC)
> Did he say thank you or give you his address?

His address is simple:
Mr. Alpha Male
Golden Langur colony,
Peacock Island,
Guwahati, Assam.

Premnath Kudvapremkudva on December 29th, 2006 03:25 am (UTC)
Heh! Heh! Heh!
Aragorn, Son of Arathorncode_martial on December 27th, 2006 07:51 am (UTC)
Awesome pictures!
velvetinkvelvetink on December 27th, 2006 09:07 am (UTC)
fantastic photos, scrolling down each one a new delight, can't decide which one I like best, esp love the ducks, the boat by the pillar and the languar! Looks like you had an amazing time.
ZuZusuzan_s on December 27th, 2006 11:13 am (UTC)
WOW! Incredible photos (as per usual)! The Brahmaputra is beautiful but I can see where there would be a major problem with high water.
goofy_duck2004: Asterixgoofy_duck2004 on December 27th, 2006 05:20 pm (UTC)
Loved the picture of the Brahmaputra. It looks a little scary too when you think of the vast expanse of the river.

Is that an adult deer? Looks like a fawn to me.
Yathinyathin on December 27th, 2006 11:47 pm (UTC)
Yep. It's a fawn.
bchandan on December 28th, 2006 02:37 am (UTC)
The Lesser whistling ducks can become the cover of "Origin of species"!
depontideponti on December 28th, 2006 04:26 am (UTC)
the aerial pic of the Brahmaputra was just SUPERB...well, so were the other pics...but this really looked like a painting. Are you back in Blr?
Yathinyathin on December 28th, 2006 08:25 am (UTC)
Yep. I'm in Blr.
kejnkejn on December 28th, 2006 07:35 am (UTC)
you give a very interesting insight to the landscape around this mighty - and for me exotic - river.

the boat picture is so lovely, and the golden langur head is absolutely stunning. it makes me wonder just how much energy they must put into grooming, to keep that fur clean and radiant like that
Yathinyathin on December 28th, 2006 08:27 am (UTC)
Oh, monkeys just love to groom each other.
ashbirderashbirder on December 28th, 2006 03:12 pm (UTC)

the golden langur is really exotic!! the first photo is also v interesting and unique, never seen something like that before..
ajat: Andre Nelajat on January 1st, 2007 10:03 am (UTC)
Beautiful eyes, that one.


And the fur ! Ooowaou !

(Anonymous) on January 29th, 2007 02:24 am (UTC)

Great pictures. Brahmaputra from the sky really looks awesome.

sandilya on March 28th, 2007 07:37 pm (UTC)
Hey Yathin,

Nice post, but the snaps are awesome.

Specially the snap of Brahmaputra from the flight and the Golden Langur.

Keep up the good job.
Yathinyathin on April 1st, 2007 07:18 am (UTC)

Sorry for the rather late reply as I was travelling in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam for the last couple of weeks.