I had heard a lot about the North-East and how it is the true gem of India. Obscured from the world lies the enticing land. The Northeastern states are surrounded by ageless forests and breathtaking mountains. The area is also one of the richest biodiversity areas in the world. So this travel season, it topped my list as I set out to explore the realms of nature. Here you find the perfect amalgamation of tribal cultures, scenic landscapes, all kinds of climate and rich cultural heritage. In this wonderland, you will find everything from glaciers to Assamese floodplains, dense wildlife as rhinos graze in Kaziranga’s swampy grasslands. Name it and you have it all, the untouched beauty of Northeast leaves you speechless.
After Shillong Peak, we proceeded to the beautiful Wards Lake. It is a must visit place in Shillong. The lake is named after the then Chief Commissioner of Assam, Sir William Ward.
It was a short day and we spent the rest of the time in Police Bazar Shillong. You can have all kids of food over here and this is the heart of Shillong. You can also find all kinds of stay options in Police Bazar.
After being left speechless by Dawki we started our journey onwards to the cleanest village in Asia, Mawlynnong. It is a perfect example the word needs to follow.
As we reach Dawki, we have to cross the beautiful Umngot river. The crystal clear river is a major tourist attraction and marks the separation between the Khasi and the Jaintia Hills. You can feel the brotherhood and patriotism with your heart beating faster as you cross the border till zero point. It is a very friendly border.
Laitlum Canyon Ridge
Our next stop was another viewpoint located just 10-15km from the bridge. Being situated on top a hill, just next to a waterfall, it presents you with an equally breathtaking view and is a must visit.
Day 3: Dawki & Mawlynnong
Apart from all our expectations, little did we know that this was going to be one of the best days of our trip. This day is sure going to remain with me for the rest of my life. Dawki is a small town in Jaintia Hills with Bangladesh on one side and the enticing crystal clear Umngot river. The drive to Dawki is one of it's kind, you travel through the breathtaking Laitlum canyons, and drive with a clear view of the Bangladesh border. This is a ride to remember. A small viewpoint has been built from where you can enjoy the mesmerizing view of the Laitlum canyons. The boat ride also takes you to the Bangladesh border where you can have tea prepared by Bangladeshis without crossing the border.
Day 4: Shillong to Kaziranga On the 4th day we set out for Kaziranga early in the morning. It is a nearly 8 hour drive and the roads are great. You will absolutely enjoy this road trip. We stayed at Aranya tourist lodge which is an Assam Tourism hotel. The hotel is excellent, undoubtedly the best hotel in Kaziranga. It is super cheap and cottages are very luxurious. Food is also good considering you are in the middle of a forest, it is rather really good. Super cooperative and helpful staff. We booked the Elephant Safari for next day western range from the hotel itself. On our way back we stopped by the beautiful Lake Umiam. It was still engulfed in fog but we sure were impressed.
Day 5: Kaziranga Safari We had booked an early morning elephant safari for the day, we went for the first slot that leaves at 5:30 so we reached Bagori at 5'o clock. People staying at Aranya sure get the privilege and are given early access. Little did we know what deep impression it was going to leave in our hearts. Seeing animals and the endangered rhino from up close we were left stunned. How cruel man is and how beautiful and innocent these beasts are. It is surely an experience of a lifetime. Kaziranga is one of the best national parks in India with rich biodiversity and a wide variety of flora and fauna. This experience is going to stay with you forever and you would always want to go back.
Day 6: Guwahati As the trip was coming to an end we returned back to Guwahati. It is a 4 hour drive from Kaziranga to Guwahati. Excellent roads make it really enjoyable. On our way back we visited the famous Balaji Temple and Kamakhya Temple. A trip to Northeast is not complete without visiting the Kamakhya Temple. We ended the day on a religious note and took a hotel in Paltan Bazar. You can find a lot of good budget hotels here.
Day 7: Final Day Guwahati local sightseeing On the final day, we decided to do local sightseeing around Guwahati which took us around 4-5 hours. The best part of this day was the visit to Umananda Island (Peacock Island). It is worlds smallest inhibited river island. Umananda also has a 17th century Shiva Temple located at the top. Peacock Island is situated in the middle of river Brahmaputra River just off Guwahati. Best way to visit the island is by taking a government-run ferry which charges Rs 20 per person and is a lot safer than private boats. Umananda Island is the home to the species of golden langur. There are 4 of these endangered golden langurs and to see them you can ask the tea stall owner to call the langur, they have adapted and learnt to stay with humans. The langurs come down to have food on their call and love being photographed. It is an absolutely amazing experience. It wouldn't be wrong to call them the 'Most photogenic monkeys of India'
Day 8: Time to say goodbye Bid adieu to the enticing magical wonderland, gods own garden and take along amazing tales to tell to friends, family and the world.