Biking across North east

Tripoto
30th Sep 2016

We started with a plan to visit Tawang, Thimpu/Paro (Bhutan), and Shillong from Guwahati, but ended up criss crossing the NE states like:

Photo of Biking across North east 1/2 by shishir gowda
places covered (pic courtsey Amar)

So after few years of thinking, and few months of planning, we booked our flights to Guwahati, and the usual suspects: Amar, Anil, Manjesh, Sac,Shreedharana, Srivatasa and last but not the least, my wife Jyothi :P.

We made Hotel D'Sapphire our base for NE, and they graciously put up with our mess, and luggages, and kept some bags with them for us to collect at the end of the trip. Bikes were rented from The Highland Outback Riders: THOR, and Shubham and Ovi was very very helpful in getting permits to visit Tawang. We picked up 6 bikes, 1 Himalayan (for me :) ), 2 500cc RE standards, 2 500cc RE classics, and 1 350cc Thunderbird.

Photo of Biking across North east 2/2 by shishir gowda
Day 1

Guwahati

Post checkin, we strolled around Dispur and ate food, and hit almost every street food places to stuff overselves. We couldn't find alcohol, as on 30,1st and 2nd of each month, Assam is a dry state (no sale of alcohol). We hit Gam's delicacy kitchen to try some local cuisine, but veg options were limited. Few of them did enjoy some different meats like pigeon, hilsa fish etc, and they seemed very satisfied. The veggies (majority of the group) then went back to small dhaba near our hotel.

Photo of Gauhati, Assam, India by shishir gowda
Day 2

Pobitora National Park

After picking up our bikes from THOR, and testing them and swapping 1-2 bikes for better ones, we headed to the mechanic's place(next to DannyZ garage on VIP road), to get them setup for our liking. The heat was unbearable and most of us got dehydrated, and then headed to Pobitora national park to get a hang of our bikes, and also try to sight some Rhinos (this park had opened by Oct-1st, and has highest density of Rhinos). Lunch was at Hot chilli @ Bonda Grant which served good Chinese, and loads of cold water. Ride was through narrow winding roads, with animals all over the road, but pleasant and a good break from the extreme heat. Since it was the first day the park had opened up, the tracks were not drivable so the safari was closed. But they let us walk across the hanging bridge, and were lucky to spot 2 Rhinos grazing around. Dinner was back at dispur, and we tried the Naga's Kitchen and ended up spending quite some time stuffing ourselves silly.

Photo of Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, Pabitara, Assam, India by shishir gowda
Day 3

Kaziranga-Tezpur

Early morning start, and good highways led us to reach outskirts of Nagaon for breakfast(Sunjukti dhaba) in no time.. thanks to 4 laned highways. Had breakfast at a dhaba and then decided to visit Kaziranga as we had made good time. From Nagaon the roads are single lane, and in assam its a problem as people drive real crazy. Roads close to kaziranga are in bad state, and we reached Kaziranga by 12, but had to wait for the safari to open at 1:30 (7-10am, and 1:30-3pm). Safari was good as again we were very few tourists (park opens on Oct 1st), and we saw Rhinos', elephants, deers, Monitor lizards, hornbills..

Photo of Kaziranga National Park, Kanchanjuri, Assam, India by shishir gowda

Lunch was at Hornbill restaurant close to Kaziranga on the way back towards tezpur. Food is amazing ,with close to 20+ veg side dishes in the the thali, served with a side of Bhootjalokia (ghost pepper/Raja mirch) and lime. Eating the chillis' was definitely a challenge, and our heads were blown away (you can say literally :P ).

Photo of Biking across North east by shishir gowda

We cleared the bad roads before it became dark, and crossed the 8+km long bridge across Bramhaputra in the dark and decided to stay over at tezpur, thanks to the crazy drivers on the road. We found Heritage Tezpur hotel on the highway and got ourselves rooms for the night. Dinner was at cafe woodbox opposite to the hotel, and the cafe food was good and affordable.

Note of caution: Drivers in Assam are pretty bad, and push 2 wheelers of the road without missing a heartbeat. Also be prepared to have cattle's and goats sleeping/walking across the highway, and they don't budge.

Bomdilla-Dirang

Ride from Tezpur to Bhalukpong(Border) was quick thanks to good roads, and lack of traffic. The scenery is good, with things getting greener and early morning weather. All Tourists crossing into Arunachal Pradesh need permits(except AP citizens), and after quick check of the Inline permits (ILP) and entering the bike details, we fueled ourselves up at a small eatery serving hot puris and then fueled up the bikes(keep an eye on fuel, very few bunks on the way). The weather, landscape and people change big time, with winding roads, hills and valleys with temperature dropping to almost being cold..

Photo of Tezpur, Assam, India by shishir gowda
Day 4

Roads till 20-km to Bomdilla was decent, but narrow roads and lot of army convoy movement slowed us down. The last 20Km was bad, and took us quite some time. Lunch was at a small eatery at Bomdilla.

Bomdilla to Dirang was slow progress due to bad and muddy roads. 40km took close to 2hrs of non stop riding, and we stayed @ hotel Pemaling, close to the petrol bunk(closes at 6pm) in dirang. The hotel management helped us getting local drinks like Bhangchung(corn beer) and Arai(corn alcohol).

Photo of Dirang by shishir gowda
Day 5

Tawang

We stopped at a army memorial close to dirang, and picked up some souvenirs like naga shawals, hunting knifes, scarfs etc, and had some amazing samosa and momos from the small canteen run by the army.

Photo of Sela Pass by shishir gowda

Roads nearing sela pass was decent, but very narrow and be prepared stop over when army convoys pass by. There is hardly any civilian traffic, few sumo taxis plying on the way. There are no roads leading to sela pass, just broken tracks, with land slides and huge potholes. The drops must have been huge, but the visibility was pretty bad, with fog/clouds hindering us not see the gorges :P. There was bit of snow on sela pass, and we again filled ourselves at the army canteen with hot samosas and tea.

Photo of Biking across North east by shishir gowda

Sela pass to tawang is mix bag of wide and narrow roads, but much better. Near another army war memorial, you can pull over the see the first sight of tawang at a distance, and once you climb down to get to the other side of the valley the road really narrows down. Jang water falls is very good, and just 1km deviation, before you start getting food options for lunch.

Photo of Biking across North east by shishir gowda

Once you cross over the valley, the roads widen up, and the ride to tawang is good, and we made quick time here. There are mechanics in jang and in tawang (more options) if needed, and we spend some time there. We stayed at hotel Uglenling close to the monetary.

Photo of Biking across North east by shishir gowda
Day 6

Bomdila

We had to turn back due to some family emergency, and the plan was to reach guwahati and fly back, and the whole group decided to ride back with us till guwahati. We visited the monastery pretty early in the morning, and pushed had to reach Bomdila. The skies were clear, and we were lucky to see the valleys, gorges and sights at sela pass. We stayed at upper monastery guest house, right next to bomdila monastery, and it was a amazing place, and very affordable. The food was veg, but very good.

Photo of Bomdila by shishir gowda

Pathasala

Day 7

We again started very early and made up good time and reached tezpur in no time. We took a right at Tezpur towards sipahjar to try another route. We spent 3-4hrs at RE showroom in tezpur getting some bikes fixed, and then headed forward. We checked at home and things were under control, so we decided to continue on the trip, so we headed towards Bhutan.

Photo of Sipajhar, Assam, India by shishir gowda

At Bezera we took a right and headed towards Nalbari, and after few kms we hit the 4 lane highways. We tried to find hotels in Rangia, Nalbari, but finally stayed in hotel Aathitya in Patashala.

Day 8

Phuentsholing

Following a late start, we got slowed down due to bad roads, lot of constructions on the road which slowed our progress. The weather also din't help, and we took a right at alipurduar towards Bhutan. Bad roads and heavy rains again slowed us down and we reached Bhutan past the chaotic traffic on the indian side of the border by 1:30PM.

Photo of Phuentsholing, Chhukha, Bhutan by shishir gowda

We were told Bhutan permit is easy and would get it in 1hr, and to our shock, we couldnt even get into the consulate. We picked up forms from a near by xerox shop and waited in the queue without any luck till 5pm. The line dint move an inch for 3+ hrs and then they closed the counters asking us to return on monday. The unruly crowd and badly kept consulate(no place to wait/sit..floor is the option) and lack of information did not help. Apparently they closed their quotas for the day by lunch, but kept everyone in line just for fun. We were frustrated due to lack of information, we could have made other plans if informed earlier.

Photo of Biking across North east by shishir gowda

Since it was late in the evening, we stayed over at hotel Damchen, which over looked a nice garden with a buddist shrine. We tried the Kizom bakery and liked it. Then we hit some local place behind the hotel to find some amazing Bhutan whiskey, not just cheap, but very smooth too. Dinner was at zen restaurant.

We slowly warmed up to Bhutan, as people clarified that during durga puja weekend this is what happens, and since thimpu/paro has very few hotels, they have to filter out people here itself.

Photo of Biking across North east by shishir gowda
Day 9

Pathasala

We made the call to go to Shillong instead of waiting for 2 days to get permits. Breakfast was at Kizom cafe with waffels, pancakes.. We decided to take it easy and took our time to start, and rode slow to the same hotel in Pathasala (Aathithya)

Photo of Pathsala, Assam, India by shishir gowda
Day 10

Shillong

Roads to Guwahati was good from Pathasala, and we reached there for breakfast thanks to early morning start. Then we took a right (well most of us did :P ) to shillong and the roads became even better. The 4 lane highway is full of curves, and banked to help take corners at higher speeds. Better yet the drivers were following traffic rules, and kept to their lanes. We made up the 100km in less than 1.5hrs.

Photo of Shillong, Meghalaya, India by shishir gowda

Hotels were at premium again thanks to durga puja rush, but after hrs of running around, we found rooms at Ashutosh inn. Lunch was at lamee restaurant, with good chinese food. Evening we hit Irish pub(good, but expensive) and the well bar(cheap, but bad) and tried some local meghalayan beers.

Day 11

Cherrapunjee

Breakfast was at madras cafe, where we ran into lot of people from Karnataka, and they helped us with different routes, and options. Vikas and his 2 friends infact joined us for 2 days in Meghalaya.

Photo of Cherrapunjee, Meghalaya, India by shishir gowda

The roads leading to cherrapunjee are great, with winding roads, and amazing views. That is if you can see anything when the fog/clouds clear. This is one thing that we learnt in school which turned out to be true, "It always rains in cherrapunjee". You see a lot of water falls, and at cherrapunjee town, take the extreme right(small uphill road) to visit the 7 sister falls. Try to eat a lot of the local berries and fruits being sold (black berry and pineapple..)

Photo of Mawsmai, Meghalaya, India by shishir gowda

Then we visited to maswami limestone caves, where you can walk and then crawl through 1-2 of the caves. There are lot of handicraft shops, and our group spent hours buying up souvenirs.

Photo of Biking across North east by shishir gowda
Day 12

Living Bridges

Others sped off to visit Dawki lake and Bangladesh border, while me and my wife decided to stay back to get Inline Permits(ILP) for Nagaland, instead of going to Bhutan. http://www.explorenagaland.com agreed to help us getting ILP's and accomodation too. Unlike AP, we could ride to Kohima and pick up ILP's, and if required she would talk to the checkpost guys over phone. Then we, booked our last stay in Majuli islands and headed out to see the living bridges

Photo of Riwai Village, Meghalaya, India by shishir gowda

We started late, around 11AM, and still the visibility was pathetic. We could hardly see 10 yards at walking speeds, and we pulled over to think whether to continue as it was too dangerous to ride. We then followed a convoy of vehicles for almost 1hr, tailgating them. Once the fog/clouds lifted, and roads became better, we were flying through some amazing grasslands and hills. The air is some of the freshest you can breathe, and weather was chill, with light drizzle. After taking a right exit to riwai village, the roads became narrower, and we drove through some plantations. The traffic was backed up big time, as the parking spots for the bridges was limited. But we were waived through as we were on bikes.

Photo of Biking across North east by shishir gowda

Living bridges is amazing sight, and a marvel in itself. The size and scale of something like this is what blows your mind. We kept eating a lot of fresh fruits, and boiled eggs. Lunch was at a canteen at the parking lot.

Photo of Biking across North east by shishir gowda

You can also visit the cleanest village in asia, which is just 2 km away, and you can see Bangladesh over the horizons (flat lands). Dinner was at red rice in shillong.

Day 13

Kohima

We took the route back to Guwahati, and had amazing fun on the roads, and reached Guwahati - Tezpur highway again in no time. Then we headed to Nagaon, and took a right after Nagaon towards kacharipara, and then followed directions on the road to dimapur. The roads were wide, and good with little traffic, and the light drizzle all along the way helped. There were dark clouds threatening in our rear view mirrors, so we pushed as much as possible. We reached Dimapur for lunch.

Dimapur traffic is very bad, and took us almost 1 hr to exit the town, and we were growing hungry, and we happened to spot Uncle Koreans Cafe (UFC) on the highway to Kohima. Some amazing authentic korean food and drinks later, we started our climb to Kohima.

Photo of Dimapur, Nagaland, India by shishir gowda

Roads climbing up the mountains to Kohima past the checkpost is really bad, with mud, slush, and muck not helping. The traffic is also a lot, and we were covered in mud from top to bottom. The progress was very very slow, and tiring. We were regretting riding to Kohima, but luckily for us we reached just as the sun was going down. The whole place had traffic jams, but again thanks to being on bikes we made it past to reach Morung Lodge.

These guys (explorenagaland.com) run a guest house, and was it a great relief. We got a dorm with bunker beds, and 1 more room, and they were clean, well kept, and felt like home. Our ILP's were ready, food was served hot, and they organised a taxi for tomorrow's sight seeing.

Day 14

Kohima

We decided to rent a Taxi for local sightseeing, as the road were pretty bad, and were worried that the bikes might break down, or we might fall.

Photo of Kohima, Nagaland, India by shishir gowda

We visited the naga village of Khonoma up in the mountains, the Kishama heritage village which showed how different tribes of nagaland build their huts, and then visited the WWII memorial sight. Do not miss the war memorial or the Kishama heritage village at any cost. The tennis court at the top of the war memorial is still marked out, this is where the bloodiest war was fought.

Photo of Biking across North east by shishir gowda
Photo of Biking across North east by shishir gowda

We visited various markets and saw snails, frogs, eels..and various different animals being sold. Also bought some Raja mirch in dried, andpickled formats. Shopped for their artifacts, and went back to the lodge by 5:30PM as all shops and restaurants close down early.

Photo of Biking across North east by shishir gowda

Thanks to the ladies(they run the show) at morung lodge, they got us liters of rice beer, and served amazing food for us. I can't stress enough, this is the place to stay in Kohima, very affordable, but more importantly you are in safe hands.

Photo of Biking across North east by shishir gowda
Day 15

Mokokchung

Our next stop was Majuli Islands in assam, so we headed towards Mokokchung via Wokha, and thats when we started seeing the real nagaland. Mist/cloud covered mountains, riding on top of mountains with valleys on both side of the road.

Photo of Mokokchung, Nagaland, India by shishir gowda

We also saw the real nagaland in many ways I guess, with people walking around with guns, kids running around with bows and arrows.. Sadly we saw some majestic hawks being sold after being hunted. Though it was scary, people are very friendly, as long as you don't mess with them I think.

Photo of Biking across North east by shishir gowda

We stayed over at Metsuben hotel, which is a huge hotel, and well kept. Lunch served was authentic naga cuisine, and we gulped down a lot and headed to the town for shopping, spending a lot of time exploring the market.

Photo of Biking across North east by shishir gowda
Day 16

Majuli Island - worlds largest river island

We headed towards Jorhat via Amguri, which was longer, but apparently better roads. The sun rise was magical, and we couldnt stop enough to take in the views.

Photo of Majuli, Assam, India by shishir gowda
Photo of Majuli, Assam, India by shishir gowda

Once we reached the highway, we took a left towards Jorhat, and then a right towards the bypass road to Jorhat. At the first right, ask for Nimiti ghat, and you will reach the boarding gate to the ferries.

Photo of Biking across North east by shishir gowda

We were shocked to see the Bramahaputra flow in full anger, and were scared about the size. Even more scary was the way our bikes were loaded (they charged us twice as our bikes were wider with luggage and ate up space on the ferry).

We checked into La Maison de Anand, and went around visiting various satras (Hindu monasteries specialising in different arts/skills/clans).

Photo of Nimati Ghat Road, Kumar Gaon, Assam, India by shishir gowda

In the evening we went to the Nimiti river to see the sunset, and spent time with the locals.

Photo of Biking across North east by shishir gowda

Later in the night, we went to a local temple where durga puja was being performed and few of them joined in the celebration.

Photo of Biking across North east by shishir gowda

Dinner was some authentic food, with local red rice beer at the hotel itself, and we called it a night. We met a traveller from AUS who knew more about India than us :p .

Photo of Biking across North east by shishir gowda
Day 17

Guwahati

We started our ride back, once again crossing the river on ferry, which took longer as it was upstream(1hr downstream,2 hrs upstream). We again rode in the pathetic assam traffic, and had lot of near misses.

Photo of Gauhati, Assam, India by shishir gowda

We again stopped at hornbill restaurant near Kaziranga and stuffed ourselves. We reached Guwahati late in the evening and gave our bikes back to Ovi and went to party @ cafe hedrix to celebrate our trip.

Photo of Biking across North east by shishir gowda

The END

Few of them flew back in the morning, I slept in the room, and some visited the famous Kamakya temple. Overall we rode for around 3,500KM and almost all of us fell except Sac I guess. Near misses were aplenty, with few deciding they would only ride offroad and avoiding highways. North East was a different experience, with each state having a different culture. Though it din't go as per plan, we thoroughly enjoyed some off the least explored regions of India. It was fun riding with friends and wifey :p .

Photo of Gauhati, Assam, India by shishir gowda

TIPS

1. Sun rises early by 4:30AM and sets 5:00 PM. So start early

2. Food options for vegetarians are fine, so don't worry about it

3. Watch out for cattle/goats on roads in Assam. Roads are narrow and people drive crazy in assam, so again give way to stay alive

4. Inline permits are necessary for visiting Arunachal, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura.

5. Shillong is vibrant and fun with lots of energy

6. Arunachal has hills and valleys and very friendly people, with amazing views

7. Nagaland is mystical and scary, but a place I will visit again for sure. Contact explorenagaland.com

8. Assam has very good food, but is hot, not cold as one would imagine.

9. Rent bikes from THOR if planning to ride in NE.

10. Special places to stay: Morung lodge(Kohima), upper monastery guest house(Bomdilla), Le anand(Majuli)

Just go for it, NE is very welcoming and amazing, and fun. 

1 Comment(s)
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Thanks a ton for posting it here! what's the gud tym to visit northeast,and do you ve any contacts for in line permits?
Mon 05 22 17, 00:19 · Reply · Report
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