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Road Trip to North East – Mizoram & Nagaland (Nov-Dec’ 2017)

Distance Travelled – 8440
Duration – 17 Days
Dates – 25th November 2017 to 11th December 2017
Vehicle – Mahindra XUV W8

Day wise details on the route taken and road conditions.

Day 1: Chennai – Vijayawada – Rajamundry – Vizag – Bhubaneswar – Cuttack – Bhadrak [12.30 AM – 10.45 PM] // ODO – 0-1440 / 1440 kms.

Roads were very good & free flowing till Vijayawada and from there on had to deal with 2 wheeler traffic and so many barricades till Vizag. Post lunch from Vizag, had to deal with city traffic and no dedicated fast tag lane till we crossed Andhra. All these caused considerable delay. Once we entered Orissa, our pace was better but road conditions remained patchy until Balugaon. Once we crossed Bhubaneswar roads were much better.

Day 2: Bhadrak – Kharagpur – Asansol – Jamtara – Palajori – Deogarh – Banka – Bhagalpur – Purnea [8.00 AM to 10.45 PM] // ODO – 2298 / 858 Kms.

Roads were good till Asansol bypass but once you take right for Jamtara you are on 2 lanes roads. Roads after Palajori is in very bad shape and it got better when we neared Deogarh. At Jharkhand – Bihar border, the road was suddenly closed. It was 6:33pm, the detour suggested by locals had fabulous road surface. There are very bad roads in Katoria & Banka and it was like that more or less that way until we reached Bhagalpur. Road from Bhagalpur was good.

Day 3: Purnea – Siliguri – Coronation Bridge – Bongaigon – Rangia – Guwahati – Shillong – Jowai [7.25 AM to 10.50 PM] // ODO – 3088 / 790 Kms

Roads were good almost on the entire stretch except some pot holes, under construction stretches until we cross the infamous Srirampur border. Roads improved after that and got better once we enter Meghalaya.

Day 4: Jowai – Silchar – Vairangte – Aizawl [7.45 AM to 7.00 PM] // ODO – 3428 / 340 kms

Roads from Jowai to Meghalaya border was good and it got bad after entering Assam. There is a junction at Kalain where both roads go to Silchar, we took the left one and the road is pretty bad. Lot of pot holes & craters all through, even beyond Silchar. From Vairengte to Aizawl, the road condition is pathetic and it took us 4.45 hrs to cover a distance of 130 kms, feel pity for those who travel on those road day in and day out. On our return we took Aizawl – Sihphir – Lundgai, which is much better compared to Sairang route.

Day 5: Aizawl – Selling – Keifang – Kawlkulh – Khawzawl – Champhai [9.00 AM to 6.50 PM] // ODO – 3621 / 190 kms

Roads are good at patches but not up to the mark. There are stretches where you will not find any traces of road as well. When you pass through villages & towns you will see some tarmac and that’s it. Once you cross them then the roads will bad, very bad & worse. The average speed will come down to 15kmph in some stretches and the max will be 30kmph. Though, we could see road work is happening in some stretches, it’s a long way to go.

Day 6: Champhai – Rih Dil – Champhai – Khawzawl – Biate – Lungdar – Keitum – Serchhip – Thenzawl [5.30 AM to 9.00 AM / 10.50 AM to 6.35 PM] // ODO – 3873 / 252 kms

Champhai to Rhi Dil is around 36kms but it will take about 1.5 hours. The roads are a mixed bag and there is road widening happening from Mualkawi. Once you enter Myanmar, road is much better, though you would travel only a few kms into Myanmar, it will be a relief after travelling Mizo roads.
Back to Champhai, the roads from Champhai to Biate is somewhat good compared to the roads we traveled so far. There were occasional pot holes, some bad patches but much better than the previous day. After Biate, the roads are bad and it took us 40 minutes to cover a distance of 13km to reach Lungdar. From Lundgar to Thenzawl the roads are okay in some stretches & bad to worse in some stretches. At Keitum, we intersected with NH 54 and the next 10 kms to Serchhip was fabulous and one of the best stretch in whole of Mizoram so far.

Day 7:
Thenzawl – Vangtawng – Lunglei – Lawngtlai – Zero Point – Saiha [7.45 AM – 4.00 PM] // ODO – 4103 / 230 kms

Roads from Thenzawl are decent until Tlawng bridge and one can do 35kmph easily (so far the best). The next 9km from Tlawng bridge is in very bad shape and roads are narrow in many places. After Lunglei till Hrangchalkawn junction roads are decent again. From there on till Saiha, the roads are fantastic 95% of the time and it got bad only when we were some 10km away from Saiha.

Day 8: Saiha – Kalchaw – Phura Rd – Kaladan River – Lawngtlai – Lunglei [9.30 AM to 6.00 PM] // ODO – 4278 / 175 kms

Saiha to Zeropoint the roads are good and at Kalchaw we turned off to try our luck to visit Phura. Locals said roads are OK, but when we ventured out we could find only the dirt track and it got treacherous and narrow with slush as we went on for about 7 kms. We decided against visiting Phura and took the road back to join the road to Lunglei. From here on, the roads are good until we reached Lunglei.

Day 9: Lunglei – Thenzawl – Sialsuk – Aizawl – Sihphir – Lungdai – Vairangte – Silchar [7.00 AM to 6.30 PM] // ODO – 4610 / 332 kms

Few kms after Lunglei the bad stretch is about 8kms and once you cross that roads got better and can drive at 35kmph speed all through till Aizawl. From Aizawl, we took the route Aizawl – Sihphir – Lungdai – Joined NH 306 before N.Kawnpui. This is much better than the sairang route. This will save you about 1 hour while reaching Vairangte compared to Sairang route.

Day 10: Silchar- Halflong bypass- Mahur- Langting- Lumding- Lanka- Nilbagan- Doboka-Dokmoka-Manja- Dimapur [6.30 AM to 6.30 PM] // ODO – 5025 / 415 kms

First 35kms from Silchar is a breeze and then the reality of the road hit us. There are a numerous potholes & craters, slush and what not. Follow the bypass route all through else you may end up in some very stretches. There is a railway underbridge before Hajrangjao and the road is very bad and even our XUV wouldn’t have made it due to such a bad road. There is an alternate route which is slightly better to avoid this bad stretch and joins at the start of the village. From there just follow the bypass until you reach Haflong. Roads are bad throughout but manageable. An horrendous drive of about 5 hours we crossed Haflong. After Haflong, the road will change to 4 lane and you could do a steady 90kmph until you reach Doboka. Roads will become 2 lane and is in decent condition until you reach Manja. From there on you will see a lot of potholes and bad stretches until you reach Dimapur.

Day 11: Dimapur – Kigwema [8.30 AM to 11.30 AM] // ODO – 5115 / 90 kms

Roads are OK to bad and there is a lot of road work happening throughout this stretch. It will take 2.5 to 3 hours to cover a distance of 90kms.

Day 12:
Kigwema – Viswema – Dzoku Valley [10.30 AM to 4.00 PM] / Took cab to Viswema village and then trekked to reach Dzoku Valley.

Day 13: Dzoku Valley – Viswema – Kigwema / Again a trek from Dzoku to Viswema and then took cab to reach Camp David.

Day 14: Kigwema – Dimapur – Manja – Nagaon – Guwahati – Bongaigaon – Alipurduar – Coronation Bridge – Siliguri – Purnea – Bhagalpur [6.15 AM to 2.30 AM] // ODO – 6201 / 1076 kms

Kigwema to Dimapur took about 2.5 hours and then crossing Dimapur city took another hour as there was so much traffic. Once you cross the city, roads are bad till Manja and become better until you reach the turn to Nagaon. From there on it’s 4 lane road all through and excellent to drive on till Bongaigon. Bad stretch & some under construction roads after crossing Srirampur and then onwards good roads all through.

Day 15: Bhagalpur – Banka – Deogarh – Sarath – Chitra – Chapria – Jamtara Bypass – Asansol Bypass – Kolkata [9.00 AM to 5.30 PM] // ODO – 6679 / 478 kms

Till Deogarh, road is a mix of decent and bad, especially the bad stretches around Banka and Katoria. To avoid the bad stretch to Palajori, we took the shortcut from Sarath to Chapria via Chitra, not only did we have much much better roads but we also saved quite some distance. At Jamtara, we bypassed the town by taking another parallel route which saved quite some time. Once we hit NH2 at Asansol, it was going to be GQ for rest of the journey.

Day 16: Kolkata – Bhubaneshwar – Srikakulam – Vizag – Rajahmundry – Tanuku [6.15 AM to 12.30 PM] // ODO – 7837 / 1158 kms

Roads are excellent throughout and FastTag lane was followed strictly in West Bengal and to some extent in Orissa. Once you touch Andhra it’s very difficult to find the fast tag lane as the indication isn’t correct and it may be in extreme left lane or the one before that.

Day 17: Tanuku – Vijaywada – Nellore – Chennai [6.00 AM to 12.30 PM] // ODO – 8440 / 603 kms

Roads are good throughout, no issues here.

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