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Road Trip to North East – Arunachal, Assam & Meghalaya (Dec’ 2016)

Before I start covering some specific places we explored in North East, would like to share some important details.

Distance Covered – 8148 km

Duration – 17 Days

Dates – 10 December 2016 to 26 December 2016

No of Tolls – 78

Car: Mahindra XUV 500 W8

This wouldn’t have happened without my co-passengers as they had to sit idle for hours & hours as I kept driving to our next destination ruthlessly with very minimal breaks. This helped us to stick to our plan which conceived on paper a month ago and also accommodate a quick stop over in Darjeeling to take toy train ride. So, a big thanks to both of them.

Now, the day wise details on the route taken throughout our Journey and some road updates:

Dec 10: Chennai – Nellore – Vijaywada – Rajahmundry – Vizag – Srikakulam – Khurda – Bhubaneswar [1265 kms / 3 AM to 10.30 PM], roads were good throughout the journey

Dec 11: Bhubaneshwar – Balasore – Kharagpur – Kolkata – Asansol – Jamtara – Palajori – Deoghar – Banka – Bhagalpur [927 kms / 7.15 AM to 11.55 PM], roads were good till Asansol and from there on mixed roads with 2 lanes & occasional bad stretch. We took a wrong turn somewhere in between Deoghar & Banka and it costed us a couple of hours delay in reaching Bhagalpur. Encountered mild to heavy fog at stretches but manageable.

Dec 12: Bhagalpur – Purnea – Dalkhola – Islampur – Siliguri – Sevoke – Alipurduar – Bongaigaon – Nalbari – Guwahati(Beltola) [676 kms / 7.50 AM to 11.30 PM], Roads were good mostly but we encountered a couple of hours delay due to some procession near Islampur. Roads were blocked for nearly 2 hours on both sides, which delayed us reaching Guwahati, with mild fog enroute. Several check posts from Bongaigaon to Guwahati but none bothered to stop us and roads were almost good till Guwahati.

Dec 13: Guwahati(Beltola) – Nagaon – Kaliabor – Tezpur – Bhalukpong – Tenga – Bomdila [376 kms / 7.45 AM to 7.30 PM] – Very good roads till Bhalukpong and from there on it’s was a difficult terrain. We took a wrong turn after the iron bridge and went through Kimi, Khuppi & Nechifu. We thought of returning back but a gentleman stopped us and asked to proceed via this route as the return journey and the onward would take almost same time, alas it was a wrong decision as there were very very bad roads to no roads from Kimi to Nechifu. Though, we managed to navigate through those terrains with our XUV, but not recommended for sedans & hatchbacks.

Dec 14: Bomdila – Dirang – Sela Pass – Jang – Tawang [182 kms / 7.10 AM to 4.55 PM] – Pleasant drive all the way though due to the landscape, which unfolded in front of us.

Dec 15: Tawang – Pangateng Tso – Y Junction – Bumla – Tawang [86 kms / 7 AM to 1.30 PM] – Back breaking roads but the landscapes were awesome. Had to skip Sankatser lake due to AMS of co-passanger.

Dec 16: Tawang – Sela Pass – Bomdila – Bhalukpong [284 kms / 8 AM to 8 PM] – If you drive with very little stops, you can do Tawang to Bomdilla in 6 hours and Bomdilla to Bhalukpong in 3 hours.

Dec 17: Bhalukpong – Balipara – North Lakhimpur – Ghilamora – Majuli [325 kms / 7 AM to 2 PM] – Good roads till Ghilamora and from there on single lane with occasional bad roads, but the landscape was amazing throughout the drive. Didn’t take ferry as we would be taking it on return.

Dec 18: Majuli – Dakhinpat Satra – Samaguri Satra – Neamati Ghat Ferry – Jorhat – Kohora (Kaziranga) [236 kms / 2 PM to 6.30 PM] – The ferry at 1.30 is small one and can accommodate only 3 cars and 3 PM ferry can accommodate 6 cars. We missed the 1.30 ferry by 10 minutes. The ferry would take some 1.5 hours from Neamati Ghat to Jorhat. Roads to Kohora were good.

Dec 19: Kaziranga (Elephant Ride) – Kaliabor – Nagaon – Jorabat – Shillong – Cherrapunjee [369 kms / 10.45 AM to 5.30 PM] – Good roads all through except some traffic delay in Shillong to Cherrapunjee.

Dec 20: Cherrapunjee – Mawsmai Caves – Nohkalikai Falls – Double Root Bridge [35 kms / 9 AM to 12.45 PM]

Dec 21: Double Root Bridge – Cherrapunjee – Dawki – Mawlynnong [133 kms / 11.50 AM to 5 PM] – Some bad roads while nearing Dawki and other than that good roads almost.

Dec 22: Mawlynnong – Dawki – Krang Suri Falls – Jowai – Guwahati (Dinner Cruise) [250 kms / 7 AM to 5.30 PM] – Good roads all through except some occasional bad patches.

Dec 23: Guwahati – Nalbari – Bongaigaon – Alipurduar – Coronation Bridge – Khalijora – Melli (Sikkim) – Tista Bazzar – Sixth Mile – Darjeeling [528 kms / 8.20 AM to 6 PM]

Dec 24: Darjeeling – (Toy Train Ride to Ghoom and back) – Darjeeling – Kurseong – Sainikpuri – Siliguri – Islampur – Dalkhola – Purnea – Bhagalpur – Banka – Deogarh [430 kms / 1.30 PM to 11 PM]

Dec 25: Deogarh – Palajori – Chhota Tetariadangal – Anguthia – Tarapatiya – Patuliya – Nala – NadiGhat – -Gourangdi – Sen Railegh(Asansol) – Kolkata Bypass – Kharagpur – Balasore – Bhubaneshwar – Khurda – Brahmapur – Srikakulam [1078 kms / 6.30 AM to 11.55 PM] – We were supposed to take the route via Palajori – Jamtara – Asansol route, but took the route mentioned above. This route was more scenic and roads were almost good and can experience village life and it took almost the same time as the other route.

Dec 26: Srikakulam – Vizag – Rajahmundry – Vijaywada – Ongole – Nellore – Chennai [958 kms / 7 AM to 10 PM.

Hotels we stayed during our North East Trip:

Day 1: Bhubaneswar – Hotel South City (AC + Geyser + Covered Parking + Breakfast)

Day 2: Bhagalpur – CHD – (AC + Geyser + Open Parking + Breakfast)

Day 3: Guwahati – Imojin Guest House (AC + Geyser + Covered Parking + Breakfast) – Very close to Guwahati Bypass, ideal for night pitstop if not covering Guwahati.

Day 4: Bomdilla – Bomdilla Monestry Guest house (Geyser + Open Parking) – Very close to Bomdilla Monestry, clean and neat rooms, meals to be pre-ordered.

Day 5: Tawang – Gayki Khang Zhang – Suite Room (Geyser + Room Heater + Fridge + Coffee Maker + Covered Parking + Breakfast) – Best view of Tawang Monestry from the room as well as from the parking lot. Located 1.5kms from the Tawang Monestry.

Day 6: Tawang – Gayki Khang Zhang

Day 7: Bhalukpong – Hotel Mandal Ghang (Geyser + Open Parking) Best in town, value for money, overlooking the river Kameng.

Day 8: Majuli – La Maison De Ananda (Bamboo hut) / (Tented accommodation) – (Open Parking + Hot Water Rs. 50 per bucket)

Day 9: Kaziranga – Nature Hunt Eco Camp – Bamboo Cottage (Geyser + Open Parking + Breakfast)

Day 10: Cheerapunji – Pala Resort – Villa (AC + Geyser + Coffee Maker + Open Parking + Breakfast) – Car can be parked in front of the villa and few steps away from 7 sisters falls, and near to lime stone caves.

Day 11: Double Decker Living Root Bridge – Serene Home Stay – Rs. 250/- per bed and have 2 rooms with 3 bed per room – (Basic Stay + Hot Water Rs. 50 per bucket). The best you could get near the bridge. There are couple of other home stays as well. PM me in case you need it.

Day 12: Mawlynnong – Halarympei Home Stay (Geyser + Open Parking)

Day 13: Guwahati – Hotel Kiran Shree (AC + Geyser + Covered Parking + Breakfast) – 900 mts from Alfresco Grand cruise, hence chosen this one, narrow roads to reach the hotel, but very good rooms and delicious breakfast. It’s located above Kiran Shree sweets.

Day 14: Darjeeling – Sian Resorts (Geyser + Room Heater + Fridge + Coffee Maker + Open Parking + Breakfast) – Excellent view from the room, located a top and bit difficult to find the resort, need to walk a steep climb for 250-400 mts to reach the reception lobby.

Day 15: Deoghar – Hotel Raj (AC + Geyser + Open Parking) – 10 mins walk to the temple

Day 16: Srikakulam – Hotel Vijetha Inn (AC + Geyser + Open/Covered Parking)

Gavi, Ecotourism (Sep ‘2015)

Gavi, a part of Periyar tiger reserve is an eco-tourist spot in Kerala, located 45 kms from Thekkady. The route to Gavi is Thekkady – Kumily – Vandiperiyar – Gavi. If you wish to take your own car to Gavi, you have to get a permit from the KFDC office at Vandiperiyar. For this you have to reach the office by 8 AM so that you will be given a day pass to visit Gavi. Alternatively, you can book a stay at Green Mansion maintained by KDFC with Rooms & Swiss Cottage tents.

At least a day or two stay is recommended to explore Gavi to spot Wild animals and summer would be an ideal time to visit as animals will reach out to the lake to quench their thirst. During our stay we could spot the elephant crossing at the fag end of the day and also mist covered the entire place, so couldn’t get a decent shot of elephant. Mist covered next morning hasn’t helped either to spot any wild animals on day 2.

Things you can do at Gavi

Boat ride at Gavi Lake
Visit to Cardamon factory
Jeep Safari for 2.5 hrs
Sabarimala Viewpoint