DAY ONE is mostly spent in traveling to the first pit stop and a laid back evening to charge up for a crazy roadtrip. Our flight from Mumbai reached agartala after a small pitstop in Kolkata by 4 pm. We checked into a homestay called A India, which was quite a pleasant surprise considering the location and the budget.
DAY TWO began with a cycle ride to ujjayanta palace. Pls note it opens after 11.30, so no entry there. Impromptu plan to visit the sepahilja wildlife sanctuary. A trek through the forest is what was essential to get the legs all worked up for the next 12-13 days..
Sepahilja is nothing major to talk about, just another zoo in the middle of the forest. Note: if you don't have it in you to walk back 7 km, pls do book a cab to and fro
We finished by lunchtime and head back to the city which was a 1 hr bus ride.
Got back to the city and took the cycle rickshaw to ujjayanta palace, lake and museum all combined into one. It was an assembly house, now converted to a tourist spot
The city has great local food joints serving authentic Bengali cuisine. We tried Kunthi Kadhai in the heart of the city which was both budget friendly as well as tasty.
You need to schedule your day well in advance coz in Winters, the sun sets by 5 and by 5.30 it's pitch dark. So whatever excursions have to happen, got to be done between 6am to 5pm.
Silchar is a quaint little town with a vibrant locale on the way to Shillong from agartala
DAY THREE welcomed the last day of 2018. So travelling on New year's Eve was not something that everyone was comfortable with. So a train from agartala to silchar would allow us some party time in the small town before we moved ahead. The entire day was spent getting from agartala to silchar and we checked into a local lodge - Shanti Sagar at around 8pm. Freshened up a bit and out we were to welcome the new year. Unfortunately, we forgot that it's not Mumbai and most places were booked in advance. We still managed a scrumptious dinner and a quick drink before welcoming 2019 with some fireworks and music.
The city among the clouds
DAY FOUR: Started out quite early as the only bus was at 6 am and thereafter at 7.30pm. The early morning bus ride got us to Shillong at 3pm.
Shillong is majestic to start off with, and a chilly 4 degrees breeze makes it magical. Checked in to Latie Villa inn. A startup hotel in the mountains away from the city.
Freshened up and the sunset from the hotel was spellbinding, left for the city center for some shopping and yummy food.
If your hotel is away from the city , the base fare for cabs is 200/-. The city was close to 7 km from the mountains.
Yummy Momos and noodles served as starters...then thukpa and thenchuk satiated the dinner quirk.
DAY FIVE was all about Shillong...we had one day at hand and we needed to cover 3 major locations - Laitlum Canyons, Mawphlong Sacred Grove and Wards Lake.
It was a unanimous decision to hire scooters to go around the place. We started quite late at 9am and our first stop was Laitlum. We were helped out with the map by Manbha, our host at Latie Villa Inn.
After a 90 minute bumpy ride, reached at the entrance to Laitlum, a majestic canyon ridge. The 400 step trek down to the village was both exhilarating and terrifying both at the same time. The 2 degree temperature with a strenuous trek was spellbinding to say the least.
Once back up, it was time for lunch and coffee at the local dhaba atop the mountain range.
Left for Mawphlong which was a 2 and a half hour ride from the outskirts. Mawphlong has absolutely beautiful sunsets and the David scott trail in the sacred Grove makes it a must see.
Evening turns into night quite swiftly as it is pitch dark even at 6pm.
Rode back to the city for some much needed snack, then Back to the hotel where the cab to agartala was waiting for us. It was time for a late night drive to agartala.
DAY FIVE started while still travelling from Shillong as we reached at 1am and checked into one of the highest rated homestay in guwahati- Casa Mia.
Guwahati was appearing on our itinerary twice, so it was decided to explore the city on our way back.
As this was a quick stop over, it was a laid back affair before we took the bus to bokakhat...our next destination, Kaziranga National Park.
By the time we reached, it was quite dark and not much to explore rather than the local market.
DAY SEVEN was dedicated to the wild. To the Kaziranga. A 5 am wake-up call meant it was time to first ride the elephant into the forest and then a Jeep safari which would take us deeper into the park. We spotted a lot of rhinos...of course it's the rhino state, a few types of deers, wild boars, bison and a lot of birds. Unfortunately, the only part of a Bengali tiger we spot was his pug mark.
The morning elephant safari starts at around 6am and lasts for around 45-50 mins. Then the Jeep safari which takes around 3 hrs. The private Jeep costs close to 3000 and the elephant safari is 1100 per person.
We finished by 3pm and had an authentic thaal at the hornbill.
It was time to wish bokakhat adios and head towards our next pitstop Bomdila, but not without a few surprises on the way..
The bus to tezpur would get us closer to the surprise awaiting us...
Day 7 ended with a huge surprise, an unpleasant one at that. The last bus from tezpur to Bomdila was at 6pm and we reached the city at 7.30.
Checking into a local lodge was the only option as we booked a cab for 5am in the morning to Bomdila.
To kill time we decided to visit the theatre festival being held near the tezpur bus depot.
Crossing into border states requires an inner line permit, which costs 350 per person. Do not forget to get that one. The cab costs 450 per person from tezpur to Bomdila.
DAY EIGHT started out quite early with a 5am cab ride to Bomdila. Early breakfast at the arunachal Pradesh border was satiating enough for a strong nap during the ride.
Bomdila is close to 7 hr away from tezpur including the breaks. We reached Bomdila at lunch time and checked into a mountain facing homestay. The temperature in the middle of the day was 3 deg and it was scheduled to drop to -2 by midnight.
Visiting the view points and the monasteries and managing the sunset all were planned before we could head back to bed.
The snow peaked mountains, the serene monasteries, the playful bylanes, the mesmerizing view points are unmissable.
Bomdila excursion got over right at the brink of sunset.
Great authentic cuisine awaited us and so did mind jarring cold.
We booked a cab back to guwahati for the next morning and called it a day.
Mumbai- Agartala- Silchar - Shillong- Guwahati- Kaziranga-Bomdilla-Guwahati-Jalpaiguri-Darjeeling-Kolkata-Mumbai
Cost per person : 30k including airfare/accommodation/food/sightseeing/travel arrangements
Time to head back to guwahati.
Guwahati had a few locations on our itinerary that we planned to visit,
The kamakhya temple
The alfresco grand cruise on the brahmaputra
We had visited a zoo already at agartala, so we dropped the idea due to shortage of time.
We reached mid afternoon, so chose this one as the rest day. Caught a movie in the evening in the city.
Time for the iconic kamakhya temple. The deity is worshipped as she is the menstruation goddess, one of a kind. You need half a day to successfully enter the inner sanctum. So start early.
We booked the cruise in advance and head directly to the boarding area after the kamakhya visit
Cruise costs 400 per head
By the time cruise ended, it was pitch dark. Called an Ola for the hotel. Last night in guwahati. Next stop, Siliguri....
The day of which marked the penultimate destination...before heading to Kolkata, Darjeeling was an obvious choice. However kalimpong is a better option I guess...
Contrary to popular belief, no buses from Siliguri to Darjeeling except Early morning and late evening.
Train from guwahati to new jalpaiguri, electric rickshaw to Siliguri bus stand. Cab to Darjeeling. The toy train wasn't an option as it takes close to 6 hrs.
The sunset at kurseong is unmissable. The street food at Darjeeling market is simply mouth watering. Checked into the oldest and most beautiful hotel in Darjeeling - the central heritage.
The sweetheart of the northeast has a lot of commercialization as any other hill station, but manages to surprise you in more ways than one.
The morning sunrise at tiger point was beyond us as it was already Day12 and we couldn't muster the 4.45 am alarm.
Breakfast fit for a king and one which could give the breakfast spread in any multi star hotel a run for it's money - kudos to the Central Heritage.
The day was planned in the following order,
👍The Padmaja Naidu Zoological Park
👍The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute
👍 Japanese Temple and Shanti Stupa
👍Toy train shed
👍Mall road and main market
Leaving a place you fall in love with isn't easy. But I guess you could call it infatuation and move to the next destination.
Back to Jalpaiguri for the final stop before we could head back home.
Train from NJP to Sealdah.
As desserts are left for the end of a scrumptious meal, the sweetest destination on Earth was left for the last day of the trip.
Kolkata. The enigmatic Calcutta. A city still left behind, in the chronicles of change.
The trams, the buses, the buildings, the lanes, the houses, the people, the shops, all reminiscing a golden time that other cities left behind for being shortchanged.
The visit to Eco park to new town is a must and of course The Howrah bridge.
KC Das, the oldest and the best sweet shop in the city. Do not miss at any cost
Time to wrap up and head back where the heart belongs....