Namdapha National Park is a biodiversity hotspot and the largest national park in India. Situated in Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh, near the border with Myanmar, it spans an area of 1985 sq km. The core area is stretched over an area of 1808 sq km while the buffer zone comprises about 177 sq km making Namdapha the largest protected area in Eastern Himalayas.
Namdapha shot into prominence during the Second World War. It lay on the famous ‘hump’ air-route from Assam to China used by the Allies to support Chian Kai Shek’s Kuo Min Tang army.
The national park is nestled between the Patkai range and Dapha bum range of Mishmi Hills, the park is home to about 425 bird species of flora and fauna. It is one of the few national parks where camping is allowed inside the forest.
Habitat in the park keeps on changing with altitude. While the lower reaches of the park has sub-tropical, it is replaced by subtropical pine forests, temperate forests, alpine meadows and perennial snow as you move up. The higher elevations remain snowbound for most part of the year. Dapha Bum, a ridge on Mishmi hills, is the highest point (4571 m) of the park.
The park’s fauna comprises of snow leopards, clouded leopards, common leopards, tigers, dholes, wolves, Asiatic black bears, red panda, red fox, yellow-throated marten, Slow Loris, Hoolock Gibbons, Capped Langurs, Assamese Macaques and Rhesus Macaques can be sighted in the park. The critically endangered Namdapha Flying Squirrel is found only at the park.
The avian diversity includes hornbills, snowy throated babblers, rufous-necked hornbill, green cochoa, purple cochoa and beautiful nuthatch.
Settlements of Lisu, Chakma, Tangsa and Singpho are also inside the park. Their villages are located mainly in community and reserve forests. Several places inside the park have interesting names like Mihi-phi-phi (place where wind blows all the time) and Bulbulia (place of bubbling water) which adds to the allure of the park.
The park is open throughout the year to tourists. Inner line permits are essential for visiting Namdapha.
Namdapha was established as a wildlife sanctuary in 1972. It was declared a tiger reserve and national park in 1983.
Namdapha first came to international prominence during the Second World War. After the Japanese invasion of China’s Pacific coast and Burma, allied planes regularly flew supply missions from Chabua in Assam to Kunming to support Generalissimo Chian Kai Shek’s Kuo Min Tang army.
Pilots had to fly over Namdapha and surrounding areas notorious for the severe air turbulence. Several Allied pilots lost their lives and the route was dubbed the hump.
- Foreign tourists require Restricted Area Permit (RAP) issued by Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India (F-1, Lok Nayak Bhavan, Khan Market, New Delhi – 110 001).
- Two permits are essential for visiting Namdapha – the Inner Line Permit for entry into Arunachal Pradesh and permit issued by Field Director of the park.
- ILPs for Namdapha are valid for 15 days and are valid only for check-post of Namchik. Visitors must enter and leave the district within the 15-day period.
- A fee has to be paid for entry in to the park.
- Carry insect-repellants for bugs, ticks and mosquitoes that you will encounter in the park.
WHERE TO STAY
Government-run circuit houses and inspection bungalows (IB) are the best places to stay in Namdapha. Camping in tents at the designated campsites is also a good idea. Forest rest house, tourist lodge, tourist huts and dormitory are available for stay in Deban (26 km from Miao). Gibbon’s Land (10th mile), Haldibari, Hornbill, Rani Jheel and Firmbase are the main tourist campsites designated by Forest Department. Prior permission from the forest department is reuired. Camping is usually organised and supervised by tour operators. Public Works Department (PWD) maintains inspection bungalow (IB) at Gandhigram and Vijaynagar.
Advance reservations can be made on the phone at the Field Director’s Office, Namdapha National Park at: The Field Director, Project Tiger Namdapha National Park, Miao.
WHERE TO EAT
Several small eateries in Miao serve variety of foods, including Tibetan momos and noodles. Several inspection bungalow caretakers arrange for food on request. However, it would be advisable to carry provisions. Carry food items like Maggi, etc. which can be cooked easily.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
November to February months are cold, relatively drier season. March and April period witnesses sporadic showers. May is hot and largely rainless. The wet season is from June to October.
Namdapha receives rains twice in a year. During southwest monsoon (June to October), rivers and perennial streams are in spate and become impassable. Rains also cause landslides which increases the risk.
October to March is the best time for visiting the park.
WHAT TO SEE
Miao Reserve Forest: Great for watching birds like the streaked wren-babbler, golden-crested myna, wreathed and rufous-necked hornbills. Permission to visit the reserve forest is issued by Divisional Forest Officer, Jairampur.
Miao Museum: Maintained by Namdapha park authorities, Miao Museum is situated near the Field Director’s Office. One room is devoted to animal specimens collected from Namdapha and surrounding areas. A second room displays clothing, tools and village life of the local people. The museum is open on all working days.
Miao Mini Zoo: Situated opposite museum near the Field Director’s Office. Several primates found in Namdapha are housed in the zoo, including hoolock gibbons, Assamese macaques, stump-tailed macaque, pig-tailed macaque and slow loris. Tuesday closed. Entry fee charged.
Moti Jheel: Small natural pool atop Gibbon’s Land. The path to Moti Jheel is ideal for spotting birds.
Deban: Ideal for birding and sighting primates like gibbons, capped langur and barking deer. About three km before Deban is Anamika falls. Extremely windy during the day, it is called Mihi-phi-phi or ‘place where wind blows all the time’ by the Lisu.
Hornbill: About six km from Haldibari, Hornbill is popular birding site. Popular for sighting birds like the white-throated brown hornbill, gibbons and capped langurs.
Bulbulia: Known to the Lisu as the ‘place of bubbling water’, the sulphur spring is located about two km from Hornbill. The route to Bulbulia is a bird watcher’s dream.
Rani Jheel: About five hour walk from Hornbill, the evergreen forests around the lake are excellent for bird watching and gibbons. If luck smiles; the crab-eating mongoose can be spotted.
Raja Jheel: About an hour’s walk from Rani Jheel, Raja Jheel is a forest swamp completely overgrown with vegetation.
Firmbase: Site of former army camp on the banks of Dihing River, camping at Firmbase is on the sands at the river bank. Extensive grasslands at Firmbase is a sight to watch.
NEAR TO NAMDAPHA NATIONAL PARK
Gandhigram: Called Shidi (flat land) by the Lisus, Gandhigram is the largest settlement near Namdapha. Gandhigram is a neat and well-planned village, with the traditional chang-houses built in rows along several parallel streets.
Vijaynagar: About 18 km from Gandhigram, Assam Rifles is stationed here and Indian Air Force also maintains an advanced landing ground or ALG.
The average minimum and maximum temperature of Namdapha national park is as given below. The best time to visit Namdapha national park is also specified.