No visit to the North-East is ever complete without coming face-to-face with its iconic resident, the Indian one-horned Rhinoceros, shot here at Kaziranga National Park, Assam. Hunted to near extinction, the rhino has made a remarkable comeback over the last century, thanks to the conservation efforts of Viceroy Lord Curzon, who established Kaziranga as India's first wildlife preserve in 1905. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985, though poaching and floods remain a constant threat to the majestic animals. Hunting of Rhinos as trophy was banned in India in 1910, a decision way ahead of its time, when shikar culture was at its peak among India's maharajas and the British.
The great fun of taking an open cable-car to reach a mountain top at Rajgir, Bihar. The surrounding hills and bamboo groves was a favorite of the Buddha and Mahavira. After attaining enlightenment at Bodhgaya, Buddha himself introduced his teachings to Rajgir's king Bimbisara, thus setting a tradition of royal patronage which ensured the spread of the new religion across Asia over the next two thousand years. This ropeway is run by Bihar Tourism and take pilgrims to the top of Vulture's peak where Buddha stayed in a cave and meditated.
A shadow of its once former glory, a pile of red bricks is what remains of Sariputta's stupa at Nalanda, Bihar. This was once one of the grandest stupas in India, built to enshrine the relics of Sariputta, one of Buddha's closest disciples. He was born at Nalanda when it was just a nondescript village. A few hundred years later Mauryan Emperor Ashoka constructed the stupa and it took another few hundred years for the university to grow around it. Like many early Buddhist monuments, it is made of bricks and surrounded by smaller votive stupas dedicated to important monks and teachers at Nalanda.