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March 1, 2010

Development of Kaziranga National Park attracts tourists

     Guwahati: If you were to visit Kaziranga National Park in Assam some 20 years ago, chances are, you would probably stay at the 'Wild Grass', the park's sole resort or face a 50-kilometre journey outside the park to find lodging. Today, visitors to the park have the choice of more than 30 places to stay. Apart from boosting tourist numbers, development at the Kaziranga National Park has also bettered the lives of local residents who are employed by the numerous hotels and work as tour guides. Dhiren Duwara, who has been working as a tour guide for the last 18 years, said he has seen a lot of changes take place since he first started working. "It has really developed over the years. Earlier, there was only one resort which was 'Wild Grass', that's where we trained to become tour guides. Today, there are lot more foreign tourists that come to the park," said Duwara. Sitting atop elephants while a handler, or mahout, guides the animal through the forests, gives tourists a unique experience. "Kaziranga is awesome. We saw some rhinos and a lot of hog deer. Very, very interesting and it's close to nature," said Henrik Henrikssen, a tourist from Denmark . The history of Kaziranga dates back to 1904 when Mary Victoria Leiter Curzon, the wife of Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India, visited the area. After failing to see a single rhinoceros, for which the area was renowned, she pressed her husband to protect the dwindling species. The following year 230 square kilometers were set-aside as a protected area, which has since then doubled in size. Kaziranga National Park is now home to two-thirds of the world's one-horned rhinoceroses. UNESCO declared the park a world heritage site in 1985.
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