On 15 December 2021, I had the opportunity to visit Kaziranga National Orchid and Biodiversity Park which is located in Golaghat district, Assam. Kaziranga is world famous for one horned rhino. It is known to all that tourists from different parts of the world visit the Kaziranga National Park to watch one horned rhino as well as many other animals’ and birds. Also pristine beauty can be seen in the place. Kaziranga is 230 Kilometres away from Guwahati and takes around 5 hours to reach by car. The surface road is very good. In Kaziranga there is an Orchid Park which is also an important place to visit as many things can be learned from the Orchid Park. In this article, a few points about the Orchid Park are highlighted so that readers can get an idea in this regard. Also those who are interested can take up research study. As already mentioned, the author visited the Orchid Park on 15 December 2021 and Mrs Sumitra Rabha local facilitator has explained each and every plant in general and special orchids in particular lucidly. It is pertinent to mention that Orchids in the world can be divided into two groups – monopodial or sympodial based on their habit of growth. Monopodial orchids such as Phalaenopsis, Renanthera and Vanda have a main stem which grows year after year as Cattleya, Cymbidium have a main Stem which terminates growth at the end of each season. A new shoot then grows from the base forming its own bulbous stem called pseudo-bulb which eventually flowers. The pseudo-bulb or thickened stem are very useful devices for the storage of food and water and function like bulbs. In addition to the epiphytic orchids, there are also ground orchids or terrestrial orchids which grow like ordinary plants with their roots in soil. Most of the temperate zone orchids are terrestrial and tropical orchids are epiphytes (orchidsasia.com/orcintro.htm). Orchids constitute 9 percent of our flora and are the largest botanical family of higher plants in India. It is estimated that about 1,300 species (140 genera) of orchids are found in India with Himalayas as their main home and others distributed in Eastern and Western Ghats. The following is the distribution of orchids’ species in different regions of India.
a) In North-Western Himalayas 200 species are found
b) In North-Eastern India 800 species are observed
c) In Western Ghats 300 species exist.
It is pertinent to mention here that in North-east India due to different climatic conditions the largest group of sub-tropical orchids are found. Some orchids endemic to Indian species are so ornamental and in demand that they have been over exploited. Some species in general like Arundina, Cymbidium, Coelogyne, Dendrobium, Paphiopedilum, Renanthera, and Vanda are almost extinct. The provisional list of 150 endangered plants of India includes many orchids like Acanthephippium sylhetense, Anoectochilussikkimensis, Aphyllorchis montana, Arachnanthe clarkei, Arundina graminifolio,Cymbidium macrorhizon, Dendrobium densiforum, Didiciea cunninghamii, Eriacrassicaulis, Galeola lindleyana, etc., (orchidsasia.com/orcintro.htm).
The Orchid Park in Kaziranga is spread over to an area of six acres located at Durgapur village in Golaghat district and is considered as the largest Orchid Park in the Northeast. In the Orchid Park, there are more than 500 varieties of wild orchids, 132 species of sour fruits and leafy vegetables, 46species of bamboo, 12 species of cane and many other plants. Some of the names of flowers/orchids which attracted me to mention here are in Assamese called ‘Baghar Dari’(Tiger beard) botanical name is Black Bat flower/Devil flower (this is simply flower not Orchid) and Dancing flower and some of the Orchids are Kopu phool (Assamese), botanical name is Rhynchostylis retusa (also called Foxtail Orchid). Kopu Phool/ Kopu flower (Foxtail Orchid) is the state flower of Assam. In addition, other varieties of Kopu Phools which can be seen in the Park are Aerides odorata (Assamese name -Bhato thuthiya kopu), Cymbium aloifolium (in Assamese Mota kopu) and Dendrobium aphyllum (Assamese name Halikithutia kopu). And some other botanical names of Orchids as observed in the Orchid Park are Coelogyne fimbriata, Phalaenopsis mannii, Phalaenopsis labbii, Phalaenopsis malipoensis, Eriabi flora etc.
So, I request the readers please visit Kaziranga National Park for watching the rhinos and other animals and birds, also visit Orchid Park.
I thank Thomas Cook Ltd which is an Indian travel agency, headquartered in Mumbai, for arranging the tour meticulously.