We were back to pack our bags in the hotel room in Cherrapunji. It was about twelve o’ clock in the afternoon and we had to reach Shillong and take rest in our room at the Habitat Hotel. The next place, of course the last one in our itinerary was the Balpakram National Park, which is located on the Garo Hills. The place is quite far away from Shillong at a distance of over 210 km, which needed at least 5 to 6 hours of journey by bus.
We started at 6 in the morning the next day and reached the bus station. The super deluxe buses offered extra comforts with push-back seats and they were pretty fast. With the summer becoming intense in May, it was quite hot; however, the travel was comfortable. We passed Tura and then, Baghmara and reached Balpakram at 11.30 am.
The park is located at an altitude of 3000 feet above sea level in the Himalayan range of mountains. It was established in 1987 to preserve the biodiversity in Meghalaya. With an extensive area of about 200 square kilometers, it offers immense wealth of flora and fauna. We walked in enjoying the every bit of nature. I found a trail that was leading deep inside the forest. I presumed visitors were allowed to travel by vehicle to approximately 10 to 15 km inside the forest.
Further inside the park, we could see the thick vegetation and presence of animals. We could spot wild buffaloes and cows, hoolock gibbon, deer, wild cats, barking deer, civets and elephants. There were also many species of birds such as pheasants, Indian hornbill, and so on.
As far as the flora is concerned, we read a few varieties of pitcher plants, orchids, drosera, and many more. The pitcher plants, which are carnivores, caught insects. We saw a stream running down and waited for some time to spot a lion or a tiger, but in vain. It was a great trek and we experienced nature in its full form.
The Balpakram National Park, which is known as “The land of perpetual winds”, carried certain mythologies. The Garos believed this park to be sacred for dead spirits lived here. Let what the belief may be, the park is truly the jewel of Meghalaya for its rich biodiversity.