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Balpakram National Park Tourism And Travel Guide
16.5° C / 61.6° F
October to March
1 to 2 Days
Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport (118 kms)
Guwahati Railway Station (135 kms)
Located in the Garo Hills of Meghalaya, Balpakram National Park is one of the most significant conservation sites in the state and covers an area of more than 200 sq. km. Home to numerous rare and exotic species of flora and fauna, Balpakram is a part of the designated Garo Hills Conservation Area, which is on the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. The beautiful forests are always teeming with diverse wildlife, making it one of the richest spots of biodiversity in the country. Moreover, a deep canyon in the park is famous for the myths attached to it and has often been compared to the Grand Canyon of the United States of America, helping to drive tourism in Balpakram. Read on to find out more about Balpakram National Park through this travel guide.
How to Reach
The closest airport from Balpakram National Park is the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport in Guwahati, which operates direct flights from several major cities across India. Travellers can also choose to fly into Shillong Airport instead of Guwahati. Taxis and buses are available from either airport to Tura, which is the nearest major town from the park. From Tura, Sumo taxis are available to take you to Balpakram via different smaller towns along the way. Travellers also have the option to catch a helicopter ride from Guwahati to Tura, and then hire a private cab from Tura to Balpakram National Park.
Mendipathar Railway Station is the first and only railway station in Meghalaya, which only operates passenger trains to and from Guwahati. Travellers who prefer to travel by train can choose to get onto a train to Guwahati Railway Station and then follow the road network to Balpakram National Park via Tura.
Balpakram National Park can be easily reached via road from Guwahati. Travellers are first required to reach Tura from Guwahati by either bus or taxi. The Meghalaya Transport and Development Corporation (MTDC) buses ply regularly between the two regions; there are also private buses available from Guwahati to Tura. From Tura, Tata Sumo taxis can be taken to Baghmara, followed by a subsequent taxi to Hatisia, where a board to ‘Balpakram National Park’ greets visitors at the entrance.
Weather & Best Time to Visit
Autumn (October – November) & Winter (December – March):
The autumn and winter months are the best time to visit Balpakram National Park. The weather is most ideal during this time and remains pleasant and cool throughout the season. Average temperature ranges between 25⁰C and 7⁰C and never gets too cold even during peak winters. Since chances of rainfall are also the least during these months, it is the best opportunity to see the animals out in the open, most of which can be seen when they step out of the wilderness to drink water from the rivers and lakes here.
Summer (April – May) & Monsoon (June – September):
Summers are not a good time to visit Balpakram National Park, as the weather gets uncomfortably hot and temperatures can reach highs of 37⁰C. The resident animals are rarely seen as well since most of them choose to remain in their shelters to avoid the scorching afternoon heat. During the monsoons, it’s usually the heavy rains that keep the animals out of sight, and while the precipitation does bring down the temperature, it also makes it an unsuitable time to visit the park.
Things to Do
Explore the Flora and Fauna:
The animals residing in Balpakram include rare species like the red panda, and other exotic varieties like the wild water buffalo, bison and barking deer. Elephants, baboons, monkeys, and about 8 different species of cats, including the tiger, make up some of the most commonly seen animals here. Amongst the species of flora, the rare and famous pitcher plant is the most prized attraction here.
Visit the Caves of Balpakram:
The Siju-Dobhakol Cave situated along the Simsang River is the most famous among the group of caves around Balpakram. The Tetengkol-Balwakol cave, also known as the Cave of the Dwarfs, is the second-longest cave in the country and is also situated here. Other prominent caves in the park are Bok Bak Dobhakol and Dobhakol Chibe Nala.
Learn the Myths about Balpakram National Park:
The Goncho Dare gorge/canyon in the park is the most famous spot in the park, which the locals believe to be the abode of the spirits of the dead. A large Boldak tree with a mysterious depression in its trunk is where it is believed the spirits tether their animals killed at their funeral before moving on to their final resting spot in the canyon. Then there is the Areng Patal, is known to be a magnetic structure with a hollow spot on its surface. Apparently any animal or bird that wanders close to the rock is magnetically drawn towards it and never gets a chance to escape, leading to the death of the animal.
Where to Eat
The nearest town from Balpakram National Park is Baghmara, about 50 km away. This is the closest spot from the park where one can find lodging and food options. In fact, the tourist lodges here offer great local dishes that would almost remind you of a home-cooked meal. A lot of people prefer to stay in the town of Tura though, which is a little farther away but is more commercial and has more options in places to stay and eat. While most people travel with their own water bottles to the national park, you might need permission to carry snacks with you.