Road Trip to North East from Chennai – Part I (Dec’ 2016)


Visiting North East was on the cards for a very long time. We were not very clear on the routes & road conditions on the roads less traveled, which kept us from visiting NE for long, but not any longer as we decided to take the plunge and visit North East last December. From that day, the preparation started by reading blogs about North East and the places I was intended to visit and the locations where we would stay in North East, both for strategic location to stay for some night photography (which never happened, as I lost the tripod before the trip begun) & also for our travel next day, as we won’t be spending more than a day in most of the locations. In about 20 days’ time, got the draft plan for the places & location where we would stay. The biggest catch was reaching Tawang, as most suggested it would take 4 days to reach Guwahati from Chennai and procuring ILP for Arunachal Pradesh, which would take another day in Guwahati. Since, we planned visting Tawang first, all other hotel bookings should be based on that and hence we couldn’t book any hotels in advance.

ILP for Tawang

Getting ILP online isn’t very much clear and had mixed reviews/results from earlier travelers. So, looked for someone in Guwahati who could procure ILP before we reach Guwahati. From Facebook, found a person in Guwahati who was organizing tours and spoke to him about getting an ILP. He promised to get us the ILP in a week’s time and asked for relevant documents (passport size photograph & an ID card) to be sent to his email id. We forwarded the documents and the got the ILP ready before a week of our travel. That saved a day for us in getting ILP. There is another way to get the ILP but you have to reach Bhalukpong before 4 PM and do the paper work done and get ILP, which would take 20 minutes, but I would recommend to get the ILP from a travel agent to avoid hassles on the travel day.

As we wanted to spend maximum time in North East as much as possible, we decided to reach Guwahati in 3 days and that meant we had to cover the maximum distance on the first 2 days, so that the foggy morning and early sunset doesn’t spoil our plans.

Onward Journey:

Day 1: As planned, we started as early as 2.30 AM so that we reach Bhubaneswar, which is 1200+ kms from Chennai. There is nothing much to report as the roads are mostly 4 laned and with the early start we could cross Vizag by 3 PM and reached Bhubaneswar by 10.30 PM as planned. We got the hotel booking through OYO and it was a good stay close to the NH.

Day 2: We were supposed to reach Purnea, but a wrong turn somewhere between Deoghar & Banka, meant we had to deal with early onset of Fog and a delay of couple of hours and also able to reach Bhagalpur only. Roads were good till Asansol and from there on bad to very bad roads till we reached Baghalpur.

Day 3: Today target was to reach Guwahati by sun down and try to experience the dinner cruise. Started around 7.45 and the roads were too good with early morning mist and a fresh outlook of the country roads with mustard plantation on either sides and we were able to quickly cross Purnea and reach close to Islampur. But then the road was blocked for processions due to celebrations and we had to wait for next 2.5 hours and from there on had to negotiate for another hour to hit the highway. There were several check posts from Bongaigaon to Guwahati but none bothered to stop us and roads were almost good till Guwahati. We took a pit stop at a place called Aranya Hotel, where we had some delicious pakoras. So, if you are passing by, don’t miss this place. However, the delay caused us to reach Guwahati only by 11.30 PM.

Day 4: We were relieved that we could reach Guwahati in 3 days as planned, and from here on we planned to take it slow as we had enough time in our hands to explore North East before we hit our first destination Tawang. We visited ECO Camp at Nameri, worth spending 45 mins there. Where we got to know about NE tradition, food eaten, medicinal values of fruits etc. Purchased Star Fish Pickle. We also got to know about river rafting there but due to time constraint, we couldn’t go for it, as we were told to get some permission inside and rafting time would take 2-3 hrs. Roads till Bhalukpong were excellent and from there on it was bad. We also took a wrong turn few kms after Bhalukpong after an iron bridge, that went through Kimi, Khuppi & Nechifu. We thought of returning back at initial few kms but a gentleman stopped us and detailed us to proceed via the lengthy route saying the return journey to the point and the onward would take almost the same time, alas it was a wrong decision as there are very very bad roads to no roads from Kimi to Nechifu. Though, we managed to navigate through those terrains with our XUV, it is definitely not recommended for sedans & hatchbacks and especially with cars having poor ground clearance.

It was getting darker, and none of the maps work there as we cannot see any sign boards. We just had hope that we would reach the place and hit the target for the day, that will power worked well too.

We had something enroute, as dinner but were hungry but since it got very late (7pm, you can expect shops closed, no food outlets open). So, we requested the Bomdila Monastery guest house care taker to make us maggi and had it hot, when the temperature at 8 pm was as low as 4 degrees, which kept decreasing hour after hour.

Road Trip to North East from Chennai – Part I

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