North East India, by Road.
Been to north east india recently (Sept, 30th — Oct 17th, 2016). Travelled around on Road.
I will try to give the itinerary and points to consider on each of the places.
Day 1: Landing in Guwahati (Haven’t done much, time went in meeting teammates, finding place to eat etc).
Day 2: Collecting bikes and test ride.
Day 3: Towards Tawang, covered Kaziranga, stayed in Tejpur. Had Assamese meal for lunch at Hornbill restaurant near Kaziranga, it was great. Got taste of Bhut-jolokia. It is something out of this world.
Day 4: Went up to Bomdi-la. Went further and stayed in Dirang. Tried local rice/wheat beer (Apong). Later, Shishir got a call, about his mom having Dengue.
Day 5: Left comfortably. Went to Tawang. On the way, covered a 1961 Indo-China war memorial. Had to ride in cloud before passing through Sela pass (13,700 ft). It was very scenic ride all along. By night, Shishir got a call to head back home, as things didn’t look good.
Day 6: China border and Boom-la pass were closed due to border training activities of military. Visited Monastery, and headed back towards Guwahati. Stayed in Bomdi-la Monastery guest house.
Day 7: Headed towards Phuentsholing, Bhutan. In Tezpur, got all bikes checked in Enfield showroom, to ensure better trip ahead. Started searching for staying option from 4pm, got a place after 100+ kms, 5hrs later in Pathsala. Almost 450kms covered for the day, also, only day where we had to ride in night, and in highway with bad traffic. Shishir’s mom improved, and he decided to continue the tour.
Day 8: Reached Phuentsholing. Didn’t get permit to visit Paro/Thimpu, as there was no hotels available in due to Thimpu festival. Stayed there for the night.
NOTE For Indians: the permit office is closed on Saturday, Sunday and National holidays of Bhutan. Recommended way to get into Bhutan is to book a guide, and get permit like any other foreign citizens. People of Bhutan may be happiest people, but they don’t like Indians so much as they don’t spend much in Bhutan, where as people of any other country has to spend a minimum amount there.
Day 9: We had to re-plan. Most of us thought staying in Bhutan for 4 more days in hope of getting permit was not a good idea. We decided to head back, and depending on how it works out, to plan Bhutan again after 5 days. Headed back at 12pm, stayed in Pathsala again.
Day 10: Reached Shillong, Meghalaya. Stayed there. Roads from Guwahati to Shillong was amazing. Had an amazing ride. Shillong was crowded like crazy due to Durga pooja celebrations.
Day 11: Visited Chirrapunji. Rode in clouds and rain, was good experience. Stayed in Shillong. Decide to skip Bhutan altogether, and try Nagaland and Majuli Islands instead.
Day 12: Visited Dawki, Bangladesh Border, Living roots bridge. Stayed in Shillong. Shishir missed Dawki, instead got permits for Nagaland and also got plans for next 5days worked out. He reached Living roots bridge directly.
Day 13: Reached Kohima, Nagaland. One of the long journeys. Had to cover 450kms. Also it rained for most part of the day.
Day 14: No bikes day. Went to Konoma valley, Kisama Heritage village and World war 2 memorial, by hiring a Tata Sumo. Had rice beer in night. Stayed in Kohima.
Day 15: Roads were unpredictable. People fell (nothing serious though). Anil was sick. Stayed in Mokokchung, even though we reached there by 12pm, no one had motivation to go further for the day.
Day 16: Went on ferry through Brahmaputra, to Majuli Island, Assam. We left early, were in Jorhat by 8:30am, after covering 150kms. Covered some Satra’s in Majuli island. Went in search of swimming place, but didn’t find one. In night, there was full supply of red rice beer. In cottage, had some good discussions with Australian friend Henry, who was more Indian than most of us (because of travel) :-)
Day 17: Came back to Guwahati, gave the bikes back. Ride on Highways was not at all pleasant. Saw an accident which was fresh, the dead body was still on the road. Decided to never ride again on highways during trip, it was not worth it.
Day 18: Visited Kamakya Temple in morning. Later, headed back to Bangalore.
Some notes for travelers to NorthEast.
- Visiting NorthEast exactly on the dates of Durga pooja (or Puja as most of call it) is not a good idea, as it will be lot of crowd everywhere, and even locals will be on holidays.
- Timezone is IST, but they are actually +01:30 ahead of Bangalore timezone. It gets morning by 5am, and dark by 4:30–5pm.
- Assam is not a hill station (don’t get fooled by Assam Tea etc). It is river bed of Brahmaputra river, and connects all the other NorthEastern states. The moment hills start, you can assume its different state :-)
- If you are visiting Majuli Island, the ferry ride with bikes on top of roof would give almost heart attack. Be mentally prepared.
- Arunachal is pristine and not so populated. Roads are getting better now, hopefully in another 2years, we will have very good roads.
- Similar to Arunachal’s ILP (InnerLine Permit), you need ILP for visiting Nagaland also. No strict check on it though. It is safer to have one if you are going through the itinerary we followed.
- Roads leading to Nagaland were empty, but the cities were well populated.
Overall, 2 country borders (Bhutan, Bangladesh), 4 States (Assam, Arunachal, Meghalaya, Nagaland), 6 bikes, 8 people, 18 days, ~3500kms covered.
- Credits: Shreedhar Tumballi: https://goo.gl/photos/sFa94W14nT77fcXY6
- Credits: Majesh Honnappa: https://goo.gl/photos/GYvVwEvpRT4ZU7Y58
- Credits: Sachidananda Urs: https://goo.gl/photos/qEiRS6YeKrUKCysXA
For more details on hotels and map, checkout Shishir’s Trip log.