154 Kms from Cooch Behar
Best time to visit - October- April
Often called as the "Queen of all Hill Stations", this is one of the most popular in the whole world. This place is wrapped by everything beautiful nature has blessed the Earth with. Darjeeling is located in the lap of the Mountain Kanchenjunga and crowned by the mighty Himalayas, there is tranquility everywhere you see. There is the bright red hue of blooming rhododendrons, the peaceful white of the magnolias and also the silvery white firs all spread over the hills and the stretches of hills covered with the emerald color tea bushes. If you are out during the early mornings, the clouds will cross across your face. This is a perfect place for a tourist, ornithologist, trekker, a photographer and children too. The famous toytrain of Darjeeling is now a Heritage of Bengal. The other nearby attractions are Mirik, Mall, Batasia Loop, Kurseong, Kalimpong and Dooars Valley. A trip to this beautiful place is sure to fetch you a lot of memories to be etched in your heart forever.Read More
Often called as the "Queen of all Hill Stations", this is one of the most popular in the whole world. This place is wrapped by everything beautiful nature has blessed the Earth with. Darjeeling is located in the lap of the Mountain Kanchenjunga and crowned by the mighty Himalayas, there is tranquility everywhere you see. There is the bright red hue of blooming rhododendrons, the peaceful white of the magnolias and also the silvery white firs all spread over the hills and the stretches of hills covered with the emerald color tea bushes. If you are out during the early mornings, the clouds will cross across your face. This is a perfect place for a tourist, ornithologist, trekker, a photographer and children too. The famous toytrain of Darjeeling is now a Heritage of Bengal. The other nearby attractions are Mirik, Mall, Batasia Loop, Kurseong, Kalimpong and Dooars Valley. A trip to this beautiful place is sure to fetch you a lot of memories to be etched in your heart forever.
After our Journey of Darjeeling, we moved further towards Guwahati (Assam) as it is the major destination near Meghalaya. One can get majority of trains and flights to Guwahati easily. When we reached Guwahati and went out of railway station, shared taxi drivers were shouting "Shillong-Shillong" so we were somewhat relieved that we won't have to suffer in hunting for taxi/bus services. We then went to stay in a hotel for our stay at Guwahati for one day as we had decided to go Shillong next morning. The hotel was average but we stayed there as we had decided to save our money in Hotel costs so that we can spend more for tour.
We reached a cold and wet Darjeeling for Rs 200 per person in a shared jeep. After putting down our bags, we did a bit of Googling and decided to have dinner at the most popular bakery/restaurant in Darjeeling, Glenary's. But this highly recommended spot by Lonely Planet was a major disappointment. I would suggest eating at Shangri-La Restaurant instead, as we did on our second night.
The day before we had booked the cab for our other sight seeing for 1300 INR. The cab came at 4 am in the morning and we headed to Tigerhill for the sunrise.The view of the sunrise and the Kangchenjunga peaks are just breath taking but be prepared for the cold, its freezing out there. You have to go there as early at around 4 am to get a seat there and for a good view, if you are late it would be fully packed and you'll need to stand there for the sunrise.For a good view of the sunrise and if you don't want any one in front of you, you need to sit on east corner of the seating stand and enjoy the sip of hot coffee available there.The Kangchenjunga would be the right side of the sunrise, it was cloudy when we visited so didn't gt the view of the peaks .The next point is ghoom monastery which is sort of ordinary. After that we went to batasia loop,here you can see the toy train crossing by, but make sure you are reach here around 8 am in the morning. The is a must if you are visiting darjeeling. Our driver then took us to the rock garden which is also good, with all the waterfalls. Here we planned to have our breakfast.We had bread-omelette, coffee, maggi noodles and if you want to try something else try wai wai chicken noodles. Our next spot was Japanese Peace Pagoda and with all the darjeeling traffic it seemed to be, and was the most peaceful, calm and serene place in darjeeling. We just sat here for an hour enjoying the view and seeing the world pass-by and clicking some pics as this was our last spot in darjeeling.We came to our hotel around 12 noon and then went for shopping in the market you can get good jackets and other winter wear. And in the evening we left to NJP.NOTES:-1-Frankly, we went darjeeling with lots of expectation but we found it an average place with must-visit places being Tiger Hill Sunrise, Batasia Loop, Rock garden, Japanese Peace Pagoda and the Zoo for the panda.2- Site seeing cost depends on number of points. 3 points for 1000 5 points for 1500 and 8 points for 2000 INR. You can and you must bargain with the rates.3-Day starts early and the sunsets at around 5 at 6 its totally dark and so start your day as early as possible.
After days in the train we finally made it to New Jalpaiguri Railway Station at around in the morning 6 am.Just as you get out of the train you will get the travel agents asking for taxi and hotels.We had done our hotel booking in advance with deals from MMT(Hotel Broadway Annex), so we were just looking for taxi from NJP(New Jalpaiguri) to Darjeeling. We found one agent and he took us to his office outside the station but he was asking for 6000 INR for drop and sightseeing which was way high from our budget.We then went near the station for other options and booked a brand new Ford Figo for just 1600. Darjeeling is around 70-80 km from NJP with all the mountain route so people who get dizzy on such roads be prepared.The road to darjeeling is very scenic, you can see the tea gardens,mountains, good sunrise, toy train and even the Kangchenjunga range on a non-cloudy day. There was some problem with the tracks so the toy train started from kurseong to darjeeling instead of NJP to DarjeelingWe reached our hotel (Broadway Annex) in darjeeling and got fresh and had our breakfast and got ready. We did some local sight seeing on this day.1)Rope way - The ropeway costs you around 165 INR per head,there is a lot of crowd for it so make it early there as its functional till 3 pm. I'll rate the ropeway from low to avg, the carts are not well maintained,the ride is very slow and sloppy.But you can have a good view of the Tea Gardens and the mountain ranges. You can go down have a coffee or so in the cafe down with some photos around and return back up.2)Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park - Then we went to the zoo the attraction here would be the red panda ,bengal tiger and other animals there is also Himalayan Mountaineering Institute to visit.After that we visited the local market chauk bazaar. You can hire a cab for it but we took bicycle on rent from Off Road Adventure (+919832054944) they also have other activities like Paragliding.NOTES:-1-Fare from NJP to Darjeeling if you go by sharing would be 150 to 200 INR and private would cost you around 1500 to 2000 depending on the condition and type of car.2-In the map the distance from one spot to another is around 500M or 1 Km but the roads are full of uphill and downhill which would be tiring who are not used to.
Last year, 2016, we went on this soul refreshing journey to Darjeeling and Gangtok. That's when i knew i had to write. Write about this beautiful paradise, the people and lifestyle, which is a complete stark opposite of the place that i currently reside in, Bangalore. And i love Bangalore! I love the busy streets, the wonderful cafes, the punk pubs and rocking bars, the carnival malls and the buzz. I love it all. Yet, that is where the difference lies. Both Darjeeling and Gangtok have the same busy streets, pretty little cafes, their own hard rock pubs and in case of Gangtok (tax free) outlets, crowded markets and the buzz. A calmer one, an at-peace one. Maybe its the altitude, maybe the setting amongst those mystic hills but something helps you lay down that guard, that we (metro people) had taken years to build and fortify. And it all starts with the ride.Bagdogra Airport, is the only one that you can use to reach either Darjeeling or Gangtok. It takes about the same time to reach either of them from there, though we decided to visit Darjeeling first. Bear in mind we were the 'foolish' ones, to have decided to visit in August. Why foolish? Landslides. Incessant rain causes it and that makes traveling an ordeal. Bangalore has its own fair share of rain all through the year. So i thought, "Hey how bad could it be?". The ride to Darjeeling, didn't have landslides but when you're riding at the edge of a hill with zero visibility due to the rain and clouds (yes, clouds), one can't help but pray. Hence foolish. But were we?The exact reason of our foolishness made the whole scene so much better for photography and as a memory. Of course you had to wait till the rain stops and in all honesty apart from the first day, we were lucky not find any of it till the end of the trip in Darjeeling. The moist heavy air, the magical parade of clouds, the mysterious fog, the beautiful smell of earth and the green, Oh the green.You can easily find out what you want to visit in Darjeeling and they all are worth it. I'm not going to give you an itinerary. Once you make yours, you start making your own story. What i can tell you is that they are beautiful, all of it. The early morning rides for sunrise and Kanchenjunga sightings, the "tea bagan" visits, the Mall road strolls, the monastery visits. all of it is an experience. The food is healthy, the people are jolly and their smiles are infectious, as is the case in any part of the world.AstrophotographyIt gave me my first experience with something, i had dreamt as a kid even if i had no idea how to do it then. Remember i told you it rained the first day we were there, well that continued till 11 pm in the night and thanks to me, mucking around, i wasn't asleep by then even if it was cold as, well as one cozy sleep requires (important note to never stop mucking around, that's when the magic happens). So the rain was beating down and it was a kind of tranquility that you seldom experience. And then there was another. The literal one.Around 11:30 pm i notice the calm has changed its attire, its more unclad, more natural. I parted the curtains of my room and walked into the balcony. Into a sky that had the most number of stars i had seen in atleast a decade. I almost could tell without any instrument where the Milkyway was. Of course the camera does a better job at it, but boy, all alone walking to the bigger open balcony of the hotel room's floor, setting up the camera for the shot in that shivering cold, under a sky that was cleared, nay washed of its impurities by that blessed shower only to show the jewels it possessed. Unmatched.
Darjeeling Himalayan Railway:
Having graduated from University of Calcutta, I’ve always had an enormous love for this place. Something about it continues to appeal to me and each revisit brings me some kind of joy. How can I possibly say ‘No’ to another revisit! If not for the emotional attachment I have for the city of joy, I could still learn something new. The workshop on Forced Migration helped me view issues with a new perspective; I made new friends from all over; I enjoyed the rides with splendid views of sprawling tea gardens as we headed Darjeeling- one more place off my travel bucket list! I loved the beautiful Cedar Inn we made our home for a few days; I loved the food, the people, the visit to the Tibetan Refugee Self Help Centre…just everything about Darjeeling, that reminds me of home in some splendid ways, and simply how the art of travelling has broadened my mind in ways more than one.Delhi (November 2012)
At 2042 metres, Darjeeling was more urbanised than I initially thought. The winding alleys, the vibrant people, open drains that sounded like waterfalls, tea shops in abundance, the overhanging electric wires, the whistling toy train and the missing Kanchendzonga. There were pockets of colonial era buildings with the best views of the valleys down below, and then there are pockets where it is really cramped and congested, where it did not seem like Darjeeling the hill station at all. Our base was Youth Hostel Kadambari, where we settled down on our assigned bunk beds – the dorm was okay with all the bare essentials. YHAI, which organises treks like these is a non profit organisation and perhaps the cheapest around that may take you to the Himalayas. The Sandakphu trek cost me Rs. 5775 including food and accommodation. Moreover, there’s always a chance of bumping into fellow trekkers who will narrate experiences that can last a lifetime.
145 Kms from Cooch Behar
Best time to visit - September to December
Gangtok is the capital city of the north Indian state of Sikkim. Built up as a Buddhist journey site in the 1840s, the city got to be capital of an autonomous government after extinction of British principle, however it joined India in 1975. Today, it remains a Tibetan Buddhist focus and a base for climbers sorting out licenses and transport for treks through Sikkim's Himalayan mountain ranges. Settled inside higher crests of the Himalaya and relishing a year-round gentle calm atmosphere, Gangtok is at the center point of Sikkim's tourism industry. The accommodation business is the biggest business in Gangtok as the city is the main base for Sikkim tourism. Summer and spring seasons are the most prominent visitor seasons. Large portions of Gangtok's occupants are utilized specifically and in a roundabout way in the tourism business, with numerous inhabitants owning and working in Hotels. Ecotourism has risen as an essential monetary action in Gangtok which incorporates trekking, mountaineering, stream rafting and other practices. Read More
Gangtok is the capital city of the north Indian state of Sikkim. Built up as a Buddhist journey site in the 1840s, the city got to be capital of an autonomous government after extinction of British principle, however it joined India in 1975. Today, it remains a Tibetan Buddhist focus and a base for climbers sorting out licenses and transport for treks through Sikkim's Himalayan mountain ranges. Settled inside higher crests of the Himalaya and relishing a year-round gentle calm atmosphere, Gangtok is at the center point of Sikkim's tourism industry. The accommodation business is the biggest business in Gangtok as the city is the main base for Sikkim tourism. Summer and spring seasons are the most prominent visitor seasons. Large portions of Gangtok's occupants are utilized specifically and in a roundabout way in the tourism business, with numerous inhabitants owning and working in Hotels. Ecotourism has risen as an essential monetary action in Gangtok which incorporates trekking, mountaineering, stream rafting and other practices.
Let's start with GangtokGangtok is the capital of Sikkim and is the starting point of Sikkim as you'll be able to book your trip, hotels and cab/taxi from Gangtok. Gangtok is famous for MG-road which is the main center of attraction due to it's European street style. See the magical Gangtok through the eyes of roadaviator.
Gangtok from here is a little over one hour away. We booked a hotel online on the drive from Siliguri to Gangtok, a decision that would reap a variety of rewards. First and foremost, Gangtok has A LOT of options. Hotels are spread all over the city, from budget to luxury; every place offers the best of hospitality. So, it is highly suggested that you pre-book before reaching Gangtok so precious time is not wasted scouting around.
Sikkim had always been the dream destination. The state intrigued me with it's unusual terrains, beautiful people and magnificent vistas. Sikkim is a landlocked state and has three international borders i.e. for China, Nepal and Bhutan. This fact makes travelling to remote corners of Sikkim a bit tedious and expensive but believe me, it's all worth it.Zuluk is an unorthodox destination in East Sikkim, it's a village with a population less than few hundreds. But those few hundreds are more than welcoming and most likely the kindest people you will meet on this planet.How To ReachOne can directly reach Zuluk from Bagdogra airport and Jalpaiguri railway station through a 7-8 hour road trip but due to the unplanned nature of our vacation, we decided to go for Zuluk after we reached Gangtok. And that was a blessing in disguise. The road trip from Gangtok to Zuluk is roughly 100 kilometres and takes 4-5 hours based on the number of stops you take.PermitsYou need to have permits for Zuluk from the local authorities. These permits can be taken from the help of tour operators or hotel staff. The latter came in handy for us and our permits were ready for the very next morning. If you are planning to take your own car, you will need to spend more time in getting your permits.TransportFrom Gangtok, the only option available to us was hiring a private vehicle. No shared cabs, bus or government vehicles. You can get a private vehicle for this trip anywhere between 6,000 and 8,000 depending upon how good you are at negotiating and how much time you have. Although, it was bit expensive, I wouldn't have it any other way. I stopped the vehicle at a number of occasions because of the incredible views and that wouldn't have been possible in a shared cab.Where To StayZuluk has plenty of home stay options that range from 600 to 1000 per person. And it includes all three meals. I haven't seen any online options for booking these home stays other than Airbnb which I would highly recommend during season. As it was off season, we were able to get a nice home stay for two people at 800 per person without prior booking.I believe I have shared all the information you will need to plan this trip and now I will let my pictures do the talking.
How many times has it happened that right in the middle of a long trip, one that is meant to encompass many destinations, we find ourselves unwilling to let go of the "home". A place, that somehow steals your soul and hides it in its surreal aura. A place that makes you wonder your priorities and has the ability to fix that small niggle, that hairline fracture in your heart. A place... Or sometimes it's the road, the journey, the flight of transit that lets you be.
Covered in snow, and surrounded by Christmas trees tingling with fairly lights, Gangtok is the perfect place to enjoy the winter cheer. Perfect for places to visit in January in India for travellers who enjoy snowfall, because Gangtok will have plenty of it. You can also go around to the Nathu La pass, or visit the Namgyal Institute Of Buddhism, which is considered to be the largest institute in India for Buddhism studies. You can also drive to the Tsongmo Lake, which might just be absolutely frozen and a mind-boggling sight!How To Reach: The nearest airport is in Bagdogra, which is 120km away. You can also take a train to New Jalpaiguri and then take a taxi from there to Gangtok.
Next morning, when I woke up I had decided that this is not the time to remorse. I had come so far not to be disappointed or sad, happiness is always in our hands. I stood up in the line again hoping for a positive result and finally I withdrew cash. The next thing that I did was to file a complaint in the bank about my amount being debited. For a moment, I thought that my time was being wasted by visiting these banks and ATM. I had come so far not to do this....But this was a learning for me, I did discovered that in difficult times how did I react, what decisions did I take. I was left all alone in this situation and made to fight it, I had to be victorious.After doing all this work, I decided to do some local sightseeing. The first place I went to was Hanuman Tok.
Gangtok This honeymooners’ heaven is also the perfect place to let your wild side loose with your mad gang. Whether you go trekking, eating, or clubbing—Gangtok will assure that there’s a twist in the tale. The duty-free goods are just an added bonus. Don’t forget to make friends with a yak as you take a bumpy ride on its back through this amazing hill-station!
285 Kms from Cooch Behar
Best time to visit - March,April,May,June,July,August,September
The land of waterfalls, the Scotland of the East - Shillong needs no introduction and yet deserves so many. A must-visit if you are visiting the North-East, this lovely town offers you an experience that is unmatched. There is tons to see and do in Shillong and if you are a traveller who enjoys packing a lot of things in your vacation, you'll love Shillong. From numerous waterfalls to lakes to historical sites, you'll be spoilt for choice. Umiam Lake is a manmade lake that resembles the lakes of Scotland and is a wonderful way to spend your afternoon, but be prepared to walk a lot. The boating activity take place a little further from where you park your car and it's quite a long, long walk. Do check the weather before you step out since the weather here can be a little unpredictable. The Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous Cultures is another enlightening spot where you learn about the various cultures and tribes of Assam. The centre may get a little boring if you are not into history and it's best to head here if you are a history buff. Otherwise, you can spend your day at Elephant Falls, which are divine! The sight is incredible and the whole experience brings one much closer to nature. The beauty is mesmerising and the locals there are a treat to interact with. Do take back some bamboo goods when you are here and don't forget to bargain! Mawjymbuin Caves is another great touristy spot here and a treat to explore. The caves are well lit and not dangerous at all albeit a few tricky curves so if you are travelling with children, you can definitely bring them along. Do wear proper shoes when you are out on your expedition to avoid a fall. Reaching Shillong is hassle free and doesn't take too long from the urban city of Assam. Taxis ply at all times of the day and it's almost a 5 hour stunning drive. Do choose your hotels carefully in Shillong since the hotels here are absolutely splendid and you shouldn't miss a chance to enjoy the warm hospitality of this lovely town. Read More
The land of waterfalls, the Scotland of the East - Shillong needs no introduction and yet deserves so many. A must-visit if you are visiting the North-East, this lovely town offers you an experience that is unmatched. There is tons to see and do in Shillong and if you are a traveller who enjoys packing a lot of things in your vacation, you'll love Shillong. From numerous waterfalls to lakes to historical sites, you'll be spoilt for choice. Umiam Lake is a manmade lake that resembles the lakes of Scotland and is a wonderful way to spend your afternoon, but be prepared to walk a lot. The boating activity take place a little further from where you park your car and it's quite a long, long walk. Do check the weather before you step out since the weather here can be a little unpredictable. The Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous Cultures is another enlightening spot where you learn about the various cultures and tribes of Assam. The centre may get a little boring if you are not into history and it's best to head here if you are a history buff. Otherwise, you can spend your day at Elephant Falls, which are divine! The sight is incredible and the whole experience brings one much closer to nature. The beauty is mesmerising and the locals there are a treat to interact with. Do take back some bamboo goods when you are here and don't forget to bargain! Mawjymbuin Caves is another great touristy spot here and a treat to explore. The caves are well lit and not dangerous at all albeit a few tricky curves so if you are travelling with children, you can definitely bring them along. Do wear proper shoes when you are out on your expedition to avoid a fall. Reaching Shillong is hassle free and doesn't take too long from the urban city of Assam. Taxis ply at all times of the day and it's almost a 5 hour stunning drive. Do choose your hotels carefully in Shillong since the hotels here are absolutely splendid and you shouldn't miss a chance to enjoy the warm hospitality of this lovely town.
Before I first arrived in Shillong, I expected it to be yet another overrated tourist destination - similar to the likes of Shimla, or Darjeeling. I expected a Mall Road, a few hundred confused tourists and their cheeky kids brutalizing a city in the mountains. No wonder, I'd no plan to stay there even for one night, but because my next destination was Cherapunji, and I missed the last bus that left Shillong, I'd no other option. But it turned out that in only a couple of hours, I fell in love with this young, vibrant city in the northeast part of India. I loved its vibe, the local crowd and the super cheap food. And because of the fact that there was so much to see and do around Shillong, I ended up staying here for 3 nights, before I finally moved to Cherapunji. So if you too decided to give Shillong a visit, and are not sure what local attractions not to miss, here are my top 6 recommendations:
Next morning @ 06:00, we took a taxi to Shillong which was approx 90 kms and hilly highway. I travelled on a four track highway in mountains for first time. Entire path was very scenic and more natural and other hill stations. That was a great experience of combination of travelling on a developed four track highway and enjoying the most natural views. We reached Shillong at 08:30. In Shillong, the black taxis are only available public vehicle instead of auto rickshaw as it is a hill station. He took us to area where we could search for hotels. I went to find hotels but none of them were nice even at a rent of Rs.1250. We then decided to go to our pre-searched hotel named Orchid Hotel which was undertaken by Meghalaya Govt.
I finish this article deliberately with a Northeastern city because it'll ensure that part of India continues to linger in your thoughts after you're done reading it. Shillong is a beautiful city where the underground music scene has always produced some sublime artistes that are original in their approach. And the fact that Bacardi decided to organise a Weekender in the city in 2016 only reinstated the fact that the music scene here is slowly but surely getting the recognition it's worthy of.Some Major Music Festivals Hosted: Shillong Blues & Jazz Festival (Jazz) in Sept, NH7 Weekender (Various genres) in Oct.Read more about Shillong.So there you have it, musical travellers! I've just given you many reasons and options to check out the country and appreciate exemplary art. If you've already travelled far and wide to attend music festivals, do share your story on Tripoto! We'd love to share it around.
Shillong is a world apart. This capital of a tiny northeastern state is blessed with plenty of rain all year long, but late March is the time when the rain gods decide to take a foot back and relax. On the surface it may look like a typical modern Indian town, but its soul lies in its colonial era architecture still prevalent in some sectors. Definitely one of the most unique places to visit in March in India.Things to do: Picnicking with friends on the Shillong Peak. River rafting on Barapani Lake, just 17km from Shillong. Angling cat fishes and golden carps at Umiam Lake.Food: Since Meghalaya is home to the Mongoloid tribes as well, the cuisine is a bit different from the rest of the Seven Sisters with emphasis on spicy meat and fish curries.Weather: Average – 18 degrees Celsius. High – 26 degrees Celsius. Low – 10 degrees Celsius.Average Expenditure Per Head (excluding flights): Rs. 13,000 for 5 days.How to reach: The nearest airport is in Umroi, which is 40km away from Shillong. There are regular flights here from Delhi, Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Aizawl.For an extended guide on Shillong, refer to this trip.
Been here for a wedding earlier but I am the kind who loves revisits. Besides, who doesn’t love Shillong! A trip with an accomplished poet and novelist, Easterine Kire is an opportunity of a lifetime. We were part of the National Writers’ Meet. It excited me that the event was held at my Dad’s old college- St. Edmund’s College. The morning walk was pristine among other beautiful things that Shillong is made of.Kerala (July 2015)
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.
Shillong autumn festival is one of the most famous festivals of the NE region with quite a popularity among the foreign tourists. It marks the onset of a season of Khasi tribes which is generally celebrated in the month of October or early November.Along with lots of food, wine, flower shows and cultural extravaganza this festival also hosts fashion shows to showcase the local fabric and hand-loom industry. In addition to the fashion show, you also get to experience the local craftsmanship and talent through various exhibitions’ stalls. As the name suggest, it is celebrated every year in shillong which is the capital city of Meghalaya.5. Orange Festival, Dambuk
End your sojourn in Meghalaya's capital city. Vibrant, yet serene, Shillong will surprise you with its host of attractions. One of the most popular places to visit in Northeastern India .Shillong is an urban enclave amidst a largely untouched landscape. Visit Shillong to experience the thriving cosmopolitan side of North east India. From cafes and gigs to breathtaking outdoors, Shillong is a dream escape, sprinkled with all the creature comforts of modern life.Amazing Things to Do in North-East India Shillong
If you want to enjoy the spirit of Christmas in a quaint far away town, then you should definitely go to Shillong this December. Shillong is popularly known as the 'Abode of Clouds' and we could not agree more! While in Shillong, do not forget to go to the Umiam Lake and the Elephant Falls. In December, the entire town will be christmasy!How to reach Shillong:Guwahati is the nearest railway station, which is 100km away, and the nearest airport is in Umroi, which is only connected to Kolkata.
#TripototakeMeToSandakphuShillong happened just like any other trip, with a purpose awaiting an experience.Till now I've had experienced the New Year's eve in every cosy way that my parents could make possible for me, but this time it was my demand to make it different, like our generation says, "My plans, my rules." So anyway I tagged along with a friend of mine, both with literally very limited cash to spend but in sheer need of escape from the city and on those accounts Shillong proved to be a great host.We reached Shillong at around 7 in the evening of 30 th December after missing a train at Howrah, travelling in General for about 20 hours and not being able to reach the phone of the friend who was supposed to take us to a budget hotel, but all that exhaustion was soon going to be relieved; as it happened after shivering in the bone chilling breeze, gulping down litres of steaming hot tea that we finally could make a contact with that angel of a friend. He took us to the hotel; it was small but a very nice one. At the reception we were greeted by a happy to serve bell boy who would later become our man friday; he took us to our room which was again a very cosy one and welcomed us with a heater and a bathroom fitted with geyser, seriously that was indeed a bonus considering the very moderate tariff we were paying. A hot water bath and a joint got our tired and cramped asses on power mode again and we were ready to explore the capital city of Meghalaya, which the friend said will already be half asleep; wait, it was only 08:30 in the evening but the friend who was a resident of that place knew his home well, and surely we didn't get booze or anything much except some mind bogglingly delicious pork momos and a Vodafone recharge card.While returning to our hotel in the deep night chill, with our hoodies on, our mouth shut and our eyes open, I saw something which would accompany me for a very long time to come. The streets of shillong are exactly like the ones we would imagine while reading Enid Blyton's The Mystery Series again or the Famous Five, whirling and twirling in all its delight, at times it's just some bleak and old stone stairs that would take you to the other end of the town, that night I was walking the one that leads up to Rilbong, after walking all the way up to the junction I once turned back and instantly fell in love with the far away lights of the peak in front in the cold dark; it enunciated a romanticism of its own. I knew it was just the beginning of the strong concord I was about to develop with this place in these 2 nights and 1 day that I had planned my stay to be; yes, just planned. I was yet to witness Shillong in the day light. With that suspense and what already had unmasked, I must say I had the deepest sleep after a long time.I am not usually an early riser but the next morning I woke up, very fresh and energised, at 5:30 sharp. The sun hadn't risen yet but was about to in very less time. I could see fresh, virgin streaks of mildew sun light playing across the curtains, making patters on the bed. It was a 31 st December morning; winter was at its merciless best. It was an ordeal indeed to pull down the blanket and get out of the warmth, but the anticipation of what was outside was more than tempting. I saw Shoumik, my trip companion, sleeping soundly. I removed the curtains and was a little disappointed as the window offered no view; I cursed my budget for that. View or no view, what I could see from the window was enough for me to understand that I still had almost 15 minutes in my hand to prepare myself for the sunrise. I made tea in the electric kettle; the sound it made almost woke Shoumik up. Even before the tea was made, I had a perfectly rolled joint and more 7-8 minutes in hand. I decided to do something against my usual nature as I thought, it was, anyway going to be a day of firsts. I went to the washroom and took a cold water bath, the water almost went down freezing every cell and bone of my body but I was prepared, with a towel wrapped around by waist, bare-bodied with a cup of tea and a joint to welcome with open and shivering arms, The Sun. I walked all across the balcony until I found a suitable position to place my cup, light the joint and witness the sunrise from the back of the total panoramic East Khasi hills. The sun came out beaming bright and gold, its strong but warm rays touching and kissing all my body, the cold water was just a bye gone, the chill only a boon. Such mornings are one of the many reasons for my mountain cravings. I stood there still admiring every bit of everything within my range of sight. The bright flares played boyishly between the tree branches, the tinted tombs of a far away sanctum gleaming gold, the birds chirping, the smell of the wind, the people getting ready for their daily chores, our man friday washing his clothes downstairs in the open, the sound of maruti 800's, the smoke of the little chimneys, everything about that morning was so abundantly country-side'ish, so immensely John Denver'ish.With the sun completely out, the tea finished, the joint stubbed, I was hungry.Shillong is swag in its own sense; I almost envied everyone for their boots and jackets. The cars? Well they would put the most expensive Indian DC Avanti to shame; simple Maruti 800's customised with rugged tires that outsized the provided wheelbase, headlights replaced by miniature flood lights and what colours, reds, greens, yellows, and blues. Everyone had a sense of self-respect and an aura of authenticity about themselves, their love for mountains shone bright in their eyes, their voice, a genuine blend of polite and pride. If you are a non-vegetarian, Shillong has absolutely every reason to be on your wish list, from chicken stews to grilled pork, mutton kebabs to beef bhuna, you get all. Though, as tourism does everywhere, you even get specific thalis, but would help if you ask the locales than go hunting on your own.The nearest places to go sightseeing would be cherrapunjee, Mawlynlong, Umiam and the Daiko Lake, but our budget was shorter than our duration of stay so we instead went for walks. We took a silent stroll down the Cantonment Area, trekked up a different way to the point we started from, had tea and samosas and Temul here and there; the chun (lime powder) of the temul almost burned my tongue. After the lunch, we took a cab (again some less customised Maruti 800's) to the Golf Course, which I still talk about to everyone referring to as the open green eternity.In cities, these days the number of children playing in the park has reduced, as tuition attendance has increased. Here, under such vast open blue, with the vast open green at their disposal, kids were playing, rolling, running while elders without any apparent worries rejoiced an evening of freedom. I really wished I could be a kid again, run to the far end of the field, lie down, curl up and roll down as and along the slopes and curves of the Golf course. I remember, even buying a gas balloon for myself while coming out, I have always loved letting them go and watch till they go out of sight.Police Bazaar, the Amsterdam of ShillongIt was 6:30 P.M. by the time we reached Police Bazaar, which is the capital of the capital. We had no happening plans such as a terrace barbeque or a house party but something better than these. We had a few friends coming over from Guwahati, so to kill the wait while they come, Dragon bar became our rendezvous. The small and stone walled bar attracted me at the very first sight of it. It was run by a sturdy Tibetan lady, or I think she's Tibetan as the bar had posters all over that read - Save Tibet. The expressionless (but very beautiful, I noticed) lady came up to us and said, "Only rum and pork." We were extremely content at the offering and settled on a bottle of rum and Chilli Pork. The bottle was down and the alcohol lover in me pushed me for another bottle but Shoumik suggested otherwise, saying "Puri sham baki hai bhai, we'll drink more. Let them come." I [of course] didn't tell him that I was so engrossed in the ambience and the drink that I almost forgot about the friends we had to receive. For a guy like me, it's a New Year's gift to know that booze is so inexpensive; hence, I bought more than I could drink. Our party started at 9, in our hotel rooms with every sort of unexplainable substance we would need. We were 5 people by then; the night was cold beyond thoughts. I suddenly got up and declared that I wanted to take a walk, if someone wanted they could come but everyone was beyond comfortable in the room so I thanked them, put on my jacket and went out. I checked the time; it was just some minutes to 12. I called up home, wished my parents and my sister, switched the phone off and lit the only cigarette I had brought along. I had four ways to go, I took the one that looked darker and narrower. The cold breeze stung me right in the face; the chill burnt my eyes that felt good. I am very bad at remembering ways so I was very conscious at every left and right I was taking, I suddenly found myself on a road that overlooked a pitch dark cliff, and just as I stubbed my cigarette and tilted my head up, I knew it was already a new year. The brilliant fireworks went up one by one, I knew they were shot very far away but the gorgeous explosions and my sight shared the same dark, oblivious sky. I suddenly heard a fading Rabindra Sangeet coming from somewhere, laughs of people, merry was in the very smell and void of the place. I stood unnerved, alone, totally content and silent, being a part of the same merry in my own little, futile world. I missed so many people I have never had the time to remember, suddenly all my hate list was replaced by the good memories I've ever had. I was happy at my very existence, I was suddenly so important to me. Standing there, overlooking a cliff totally invisible in the dark, being a guest to such majestic display of welcoming the new, sounds of celebrations, I cried like a kid, not out of pain or loss but an unexplainable joy. I made a resolution, not one that would guide me through the entire 2016 but the resolution was today, the present, the moment I am in because in all the past, the present and future, now is the only time I realised I am fully, completely a live part of, an active member of. With a very light head, a feather heart I decided to forget the way I had consciously remembered and find a new way home. This world, isn't too large to be lost, neither is too small to not try to get lost. After a half an hour walk I did find my way. I suddenly heard someone calling me from behind, I turned, it was a group of 4 guys, and they had a bike and a car, and clear marks on their body to prove they were hooligans. I decided not to stop, but was there any point in running away? No. I went up to them, they wanted a lighter, and I had a matchbox with just one stick left. Knowing that I myself had no smokes on me, they rummaged through their pockets and found me the last biri they had, we all shared the flame.The sturdiest guy among them started the talk, 'Hey man! Are you alone? Let's go for a drive, its new year's man.""No, I got my friends up at the hotel; I was feeling a little tipsy so came out for a walk.""That's real cool bro, then let's go to your hotel and party, we got a car and booze."I suspected, they were shit drunk and it was 4 to one, it was clearly now way for me.I pressed, "Actually it's a small guest house and outsiders are not allowed so...""What about tomorrow morning?""No I am leaving tomorrow." I don't know why I acted such scared, or maybe I had every reason to be, or maybe none. They were equally perplexed at my withdrawal. I bid them a hurried goodbye, thanked them for the smoke [I genuinely needed one] and started walking a hurried pace. After I was clearly off, I stopped for a breath, the biri had gone off-flame midway, I had no light. I found a place to sit and spend some minutes there; when I got off I had already made 2 decisions. One - my parents always taught me to be careful of bad people whenever going out alone but I realised it's even more difficult to trust people than to suspect them and since suspicion comes naturally I must learn to trust people, believe them. The second? Well, I checked on my accounts, decided to stretch them a little as I wanted to stay there for a couple of days more.My roomies asked me when I was back, "Where did you get that biri from?" I noticed I was still holding it between my teeth. I gave it light, puffed deep and said, "Just made some new friends."-Happy New Year-Important InformationReach - The nearest railhead is Guwahati. The nearest airport is the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, Guwahati.From Guwahati Reserved and Shared Sumos and Cars are readily available.Shared - INR 180, Reserved - INR 2200 (approx).Stay - Accomodation isn't a trouble, from luxurious tri-star hotels to budget guest houses are available. Tariffs vary from INR 8500 to INR 700.Contacts - Meghalaya Tourism : http://www.megtourism.gov.in | (0364)2502166, 2500736Note - All tariffs and rates are approximations and information collected during the period of December - January (2015-2016) and are subject to change anytime. Do confirm with the desired departments before booking.None of the places mentioned or suggested have been advertised.This blog was originally published on 'Soham Biswas Project'
129 Kms from Cooch Behar
Best time to visit - March,April,May,June,October,November,December
One would assume that Thimphu is still settling into its role as the capital of one of the happiest countries in the world, Bhutan. Simple at heart, grappling with growing commercialisation, Thimphu is bustling with energy and is the heart of the country. Thimphu is a delight to explore if history interests you and also if you want a break from the quiet and serenity of Bhutan. Brimming with cafes, nightclubs and restaurants, the city welcomes people from all over the world with open arms. While here, do check out Changangkha Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan, the National Folk Heritage Museum which offers a peek into the life of the Bhutanese people, especially the rural way of life. There are tons of parks, gardens and galleries in and around Thimpu and you cover most of these in a single day depending on your interests. The exhibits here range from archaic to contemporary and are definitely worth taking a look at. Read More
One would assume that Thimphu is still settling into its role as the capital of one of the happiest countries in the world, Bhutan. Simple at heart, grappling with growing commercialisation, Thimphu is bustling with energy and is the heart of the country. Thimphu is a delight to explore if history interests you and also if you want a break from the quiet and serenity of Bhutan. Brimming with cafes, nightclubs and restaurants, the city welcomes people from all over the world with open arms. While here, do check out Changangkha Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan, the National Folk Heritage Museum which offers a peek into the life of the Bhutanese people, especially the rural way of life. There are tons of parks, gardens and galleries in and around Thimpu and you cover most of these in a single day depending on your interests. The exhibits here range from archaic to contemporary and are definitely worth taking a look at.
The next day we had planned to leave as early as 9am but the car needed separate permits as well. So anyone heading there please get these things in place for a smooth trip. Nonetheless we got our permits sorted and left for Thimpu. It takes about 5 hours to reach the capital city.Thimpu even though a small capital has its own charm and there is a vast difference of culture in spite of being a road across India. This Himalayan kingdom has kept its traditions intact and is still ruled by a King. After lunch we did some sightseeing like the Kuensel Phodrang (Buddha Point), National Memorial Chorten and the Tashichho Dzong. We also went to the Takin Reserve to see the national animal of Bhutan which is like a goat - antelope and is only found in the Eastern Himalayan Region.
The next morning, we hired a car for Thimphu sight seeing. The city has several exciting tourist spots. The scenic view from the 'Budha Point' was stunning. The King's Palace on the bank of the Thimphu river, surrounded by colorful alpine trees looked picture perfect.
Thimpu - The most busy and populated city, where vehicles drive in a queue, people use walkways to walk and cobbled by-lanes surprisingly lead you to a staircase which lead to parallel lanes. The traffic is so organised, that the city is the only capital city in the world with no traffic signals. A traffic police mans the entire traffic from a single traffic booth standing at the central square.Walk down the entire town, stop and browse the local shops to buy souvenirs, sit at cafés, enjoy a relaxed lifestyle and end the day with a Bhutanese meal at a restaurant suggested by the locals.26 October, 2016We went to Thimpu Immigration office, for both ours and the car and the drivers pass further to Punakha and Haa. Time taken 3 hours.Started for Punakha from Thimpu at around 12 noon. Reached at 4pm.
Thimpu :Next morning, I took a bus from Paro to Thimpu, It is a beautiful ride. The road goes in parllel with the Paro Chu River. And there I was in the capital city of Bhutan. First thing I did, was extension of my permit to Punakha and Dochula Pass in the Immigration office.
With 2 days in hand, Thimphu turned out to be very eventful. We stayed at Hotel Riverview. A local city tour was organised by Royal Enfield riders of Thimphu. They took us to the National Memorial Chorten (built in memory of the 4th King), Kuensel Phodrang ( Buddha Dordenma or Buddha Point), BBS Tower (photographic view of the valley below), Motithang Takin Preserve (Takin is the national animal - half goat half yak), Chagri Dorjeden Monastery (also called Cheri) and Phajoding Monastery. The market has a lot of goods and handicrafts to offer and live music/nightlife can be enjoyed at places like Mojo Park and Space 34.
Being budget travellers, my friend and I researched about the country about a month before backpacking. We decided to travel via the road from Siliguri in West Bengal. We had to do tran shifts which was quite tiresome but totally worthwhile. The best part about taking the road was encountering the locals and the information kept pouring in. We could halt whereever and whenever we wanted, viewing the scenic beauty and letting the aura sink in. It took us an entire day. By the time we reached Thimpu, the capital city we were exhausted and so we decided to hit the sack early. It was early fall hence we were greeted by a chilly morning. In no time we got charged up to explore the city. A local friend of mine drove us around. In a single day we ran the latitudes and longitudes of the city, occasionally halting at places, tasting the local gourmet, sipping the local drinks, talking to the localites and juicing out as much information from them. My eyes and my camera both have captured absolute scenic beauty of the city. To name a few we stepped in to the Buddha park, the Buddha point, which is supposedly to be one of the wonders of the world. The second day was the most beautiful part of my stay in Bhutan. We started early on for yet another gorgeous city, Paro. A few miles away from Paro is where the world famous Tiger's Nest lies. It was around 3 hours of trek! There are horses and mules carrying people to the monastery, but what better way than walk the walk to the top! We started the trek from Taksang. Each step gave us an adrenaline rush! Must haves for the trek are a pair of shades, a hat, enough water and lots of sunscreen! As we came closer to our destination, we were awestruck by what we saw! The entire monastery was carved into the mountains! It was the most beautiful thing I had seen, and the view of Paro from the top, how I wish I could describe it in words! It was a gloomy morning with no suns hining through. It was our last day in Thimpu and the weather added fuel to the fire. I did not want to return so soon but we had got a pass of only three days. A city without the night life is an incomplete city and Thimpu was nowhere near to imperfection. We went club hopping and to my surprise the Bhutanese nocturnals shook their feet to Bollywood numbers too! I got to interact a lot with the teenage population of the city. They were the most friendly souls I've met. They made us feel at home. After the party was over they drove us to a view point which was at a higher altitude. What I saw from there will forever be etched in my heart. The entire city burned in sparkles just like a thousand fireflies, the sky, clear and starry, the moon shone high above, below were we with our new Bhutanese friends sipping the local wine while we looked on. I'm still amazed when I go through the pictures. The stay wasn't quite enough but I'm definitely packing my bags for a second visit and this time it will be during the fall.
Next morning we went for local sightseeing of Thimphu . First we visited the BBS Tower that offered us a bird’s eye view of the picturesque Thimphu city. We then paid a visit to the majestic Great Buddha Dordenma Statue, Folk Heritage Museum , Tashi Choo Dzong while other times cruising in and around Thimphu on our bikes. In the evening we strolled in Norzim –La, the main street of Thimphu and later in the evening hopped on to a nightclub –‘The Thimphu Club’.The environment inside the club was quite different from the traditional Bhutanese way of life, as it was buzzing with western- influenced music and dance.
117 Kms from Cooch Behar
Best time to visit - March,April,May
Bhutan has gradually become a popular tourist destination. And if you are visiting Bhutan, you can't possibly miss the lovely city of Paro. Considered to be one of the most beautiful valleys in Bhutan, it is definitely a must visit! A perfect mix of culture, beauty, nature and history, Paro offers you an experience unlike another. Do visit the unofficial Taktsang Monastery or Tiger's Nest, which is a delight for trekkers and explorers! Located on a hill, the trek to this monastery is something you'll always remember. Do carry water, wear proper shoes before you start your trek lest the number of halts increases your trek time. Another wonderful place to visit is the National Museum of Bhutan which is located in a former watch tower and hosts a collection of artefacts tracing the history of Bhutan. Among other places to visit, Rinpung Dzong and Drakhapo are definitely worth visiting. The Paro market is also a great place to explore and makes for a perfect location for an evening stroll. If you don't want to stay in the city, Paro is where you should head to. The lush valleys here are a delight to explore and the streams and meadows are nothing less than a postcard. Read More
Bhutan has gradually become a popular tourist destination. And if you are visiting Bhutan, you can't possibly miss the lovely city of Paro. Considered to be one of the most beautiful valleys in Bhutan, it is definitely a must visit! A perfect mix of culture, beauty, nature and history, Paro offers you an experience unlike another. Do visit the unofficial Taktsang Monastery or Tiger's Nest, which is a delight for trekkers and explorers! Located on a hill, the trek to this monastery is something you'll always remember. Do carry water, wear proper shoes before you start your trek lest the number of halts increases your trek time. Another wonderful place to visit is the National Museum of Bhutan which is located in a former watch tower and hosts a collection of artefacts tracing the history of Bhutan. Among other places to visit, Rinpung Dzong and Drakhapo are definitely worth visiting. The Paro market is also a great place to explore and makes for a perfect location for an evening stroll. If you don't want to stay in the city, Paro is where you should head to. The lush valleys here are a delight to explore and the streams and meadows are nothing less than a postcard.
The next morning we headed off for Phuentsholing.For any avid traveller this country no matter how small should surely be on the to - be - done list. The country has very friendly people and some beautiful architecture. The climate is clean and soothing and you can immediately feel the change of place in spite of it being so close to India.
Today we started off early since we wanted to do the trek to the Taktsang Monastery which is commonly referred to as the Tigers Nest. The whole of Bhutan is naturally striking but this trek and the height where the monastery is located is enthralling and surprising. The whole place is on an absolute cliff and looks like it might fall off with a single poke and yet there it has been for centuries. The trek is difficult as there is no road at all and also it was drizzling on and off so the path became even more tough. We did the first few kilometres on a horse but the horses only go half way. The last uphill everyone has to do on foot and it is one of the toughest treks i've done. We reached at around 2 pm which is the lunch time there so we had to wait outside till we could finally enter.
Thimpu has a few more sightseeing spots but since we had a time constraint we headed out for the Dochula Pass. This is 30km from Thimpu. It is a mountain pass on the way from Thimpu to Punakha and consists of 108 memorial chortens or stupas. It is a wonderful sight to look at and on a clear day, one can spot the snow clad peaks from here.
The next morning it was time to drive to Paro. Only 50 kms away from Thimpu, it took us barely 3 hours to reach our hotel in Paro.Paro is where the international airport of Bhutan is located. Naturally, it is more of a ‘touristy’ town than Thimpu. The city built around the Paro River, needless to say, is abundant with nature and scenic beauty. One can easily laze around the city and feel enriched. However, we had a to-do list. First on the list was to visit the oldest Buddhist house of worship in Bhutan, the Kyichu Lhakhang. Built by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century. The legends say that the temple is one of 108 temples that were built to defeat an ogress (demon) that was lying over the entire Himalayas. Most monasteries and other significant places of Bhutan have interesting transcendental stories and parables. A local tour guide will always have so many magical stories to tell you. The monastery was a very quiet place and people were in serious prayers. After the temple we went to the market and did some shopping which consisted of home décor, antique jewellery and kilos of red rice to name a few .
Finally, you enter Paro, where the river welcomes you. The city if personified would be called a very disciplined, organised city. Rows of buildings of almost the same height, lit in the same way on both sides of the road, which opens up to a ground and similarly planned and structured by-lanes.Go for a stroll around the city, and then plan a day to climb up the Tatkshang Monastery on the Tiger Hills.28th October, 2016:
Paro :Paro is the main center for any tourist who is visiting Bhutan. It had Tiger's Nest, the symbol of Bhutan. I learnt the language of Bhutan, Dzongkha a bit. Simple words. First thing I did was I found a hotel and freshen up and bought new Floaters. If you want to take anything home from Bhutan, you can buy a lot of things here. From Souvenirs to dress, You can eat Pork/Beef. The only bad feeling in Bhutan was that the constant smell of Ghutka/Betel Nut. I bought some things back from Bhutan.
Reaching Paro was a task as immigration took too long and a situation came up at Tanalung checkpoint. One of our rider’s permit got swapped with somebody at the previous checkpoint Kharbandi. Despite the delay, we managed to reach the same day.
Located in a scenic valley it is a historical town with sacred sites and ancient structures. It also has the only international airport of Bhutan.
Paro - local sight seeing:Our new friend, Sonam, joined us at sharp 10:00 AM. We initially thought we shall roam around paro on bicycles but the cycle rental shops were closed. So we hired a cab from the nearby taxi stand for Rs. 1400/- and started our day excursion.We saw, Ta Dzong, Museum, Paro Dzong, Kichyu Lakhang, Drugyel Dzong (which was under renovation) and Jangsarpey Lakhang (a very old Monastery in the shape of a Sthupa, a 3 storeyed building - ground floor dedicated to Mahayana, 1st floor for Hinayana and 2nd floor for Vajrayana Buddhism). At each place, Sonam would tell us about the history of that place and make us understand different aspects of their culture. He brought a new dimension to our tour that day.
304 Kms from Cooch Behar
Best time to visit - March,April,May,June,July,August,September,October
Tawang has always been in the midst of conflict and controversy. But if you look beyond the controversy, you'll discover beauty incomparable to any other. Tawang is well connected from Tezpur by air and rail and summer is the best time to visit and plan a holiday. The major tourist attraction here is the Twang Monastery, which is celebrated as the birth place of the 6th Dala Lama. Besides the monastery, the Sela Pass and Jang Waterfalls are also touristy places and should definitely be a part of your itinerary. The Penga Teng Tso Lake is frozen for 5 months in a year, but makes for a wonderful sight all through. Do book a cab to visit the lake since the roads are a little tricky and are best managed by a local. Tawang is especially colourful in February when the Monpas, the native tribe, celebrate the Losar Festival (Tibetan New Year) and it really is a great time to be here. For foreign nationals, special permission is required to visit Tawang so do have all your papers in order. Before planning a holiday to Tawang, it's wise to research and also build contacts with the locals there to discover all the wonderful secrets of this splendid district!Read More
Tawang has always been in the midst of conflict and controversy. But if you look beyond the controversy, you'll discover beauty incomparable to any other. Tawang is well connected from Tezpur by air and rail and summer is the best time to visit and plan a holiday. The major tourist attraction here is the Twang Monastery, which is celebrated as the birth place of the 6th Dala Lama. Besides the monastery, the Sela Pass and Jang Waterfalls are also touristy places and should definitely be a part of your itinerary. The Penga Teng Tso Lake is frozen for 5 months in a year, but makes for a wonderful sight all through. Do book a cab to visit the lake since the roads are a little tricky and are best managed by a local. Tawang is especially colourful in February when the Monpas, the native tribe, celebrate the Losar Festival (Tibetan New Year) and it really is a great time to be here. For foreign nationals, special permission is required to visit Tawang so do have all your papers in order. Before planning a holiday to Tawang, it's wise to research and also build contacts with the locals there to discover all the wonderful secrets of this splendid district!
Tezpur-Bhalukpong-Bomdila-Tawang Tourist Circuit covers a total of 350 Km and can be a 14 hour long day journey if you want it that way. But it is more rewarding to break it up into parts and enjoy these beautiful places. It might be ideally a 7 day trip if you wish to do a relaxed multiple break journeys in your own bike or car. For passionate bikers this is a most coveted road, and can also be covered over a period of two days with interim halts in one of the bigger cities mentioned below.This is one of the most beautiful and well-kept cities of Assam with neatly laid out parks. The roads are beautiful, long and quite picturesque and is only a few hours drive from the city of Guwahati. Right after we set out off the city and even before we hit the ghat roads, we were surrounded by greenery and spellbinding beauty. Almost all houses had beautiful variety of flora and fauna and small ponds.
2. Tawang:Endowed with spirituality and natural beauty, Tawang offers visitors with a zillion reasons to visit. Connected to the rest of the country through the Sela Pass, which is known for being the only high altitude motorable mountain pass, Tawang has breathtaking views to offer. The Tawang monastery is the largest Buddhist monastery in India and is held in high regards by Buddhists around the world. Believed to be the land of 101 lakes, Tawang is considered to be holy by followers of Buddhism. For people interested in nature and spirituality, Tawang is one of the best places to visit in Spring in India. The nearest airport and railway station are in Tezpur, from where one can reach Tawang by road.
#TakeMeToBrahmatalThis is one of the most gorgeous places on earth, period. Beautiful place and eve more beautiful people. There's more army than civillians who live in such harmony. One state with 3 different country borders and nature in abundance. Its like the most virgin places. Lush green mountains and waterfalls. The waterfalls are from high up in the mountain tops and look like 'stairway to heaven'. You could travel from 1 town to the next in 2 hours but the journey is just awe inspiring through the winding mountains.I spent 5 days in and around tawang only and never wanted to leave. Its such a safe haven, you can walk around in the dark with not a care in the world. Theres a big Buddha in the centre of the town which is mesmerising and spreads peace and calm all over the place.The tawang monastery is one of the oldest monastery present and leaves you absolutely speechless.So this place should be on the top of everyones bucket list.Tawang is just plain Gorgeous.
People rarely read posts these days as they're just mesmerised with images and I thought, well... Why not I join the bandwagon?! These images are from my solo trip to the North East last summer where I spent 2 months spanning across 4 districts in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, West Bengal and Sikkim. Apart from my travels across Assam which was through an NGO, the rest of my travels were unplanned, guided by online blogs and websites, locals' recommendations and most importantly, absolutely safe so whoever tells you that it's unsafe for women to travel alone in this country, shut them up by trying it out for yourself!TAWANG
#Places to visit Tawang Monastery War memorial: There is a war memorial in Tawang dedicated to 1962 war like a Buddhist Monastery which can also be visited Bum la pass: To obtain permit for Bumla pass, the DC office opens at 10 am. Get the application from DC office. With the application give 4 copies of id proof and xerox of inner line permits.Once you submit the permit, you get it by afternoon 3 o’clock.
The following day we woke up early, as we wanted to visit the Tawang Gompa at the time when the monks offer their prayers. Tawang Gompa is the place where the 14th Dalai Lama hid himself after he fled from Tibet. A sense of peace and serenity prevailed at the Gompa . One can see the entire village of Tawang from there. There is a school attached with the Gompa , and we could see several Monpa (local) kids playing near the school.
Whenever I think of travelling, the first thing that comes to my mind are mountains. Arunachal Pradesh had always been in my bucket list, and this time I didn’t hesitate. I convinced four of my friends to join me for this trip. The time was fixed to be the last week of December, 2014. We planned to go to Tawang, a historically significant area rich in natural beauty.
Though the journey was tough, the views coupled with the adventures of encountering live landslides and the fear of the sumo falling off into the river below, helped me reinvigorate my insatiable hunger of getting up early in the morning as fresh as a freshwater dolphin and strolling around in content and happiness. I strolled up to the Tawang Monastery which is considered to be the largest monastery in India and also the largest vihara with more than 60 residential buildings. I managed to reach just in time for the morning prayers with all the lamas and the monks reciting prayers. I then made friends with the little lamas and enjoyed a day full of gully cricket, talks of IPL teams and lunch alongside them. The small alleys filled with the little lamas, criss-crossing the residences, foster warmth even when the sun refuses to shine.The Tawang MonasteryThe old structure on the left and the new temple on the rightI also visited the Ani Gompa. It’s a monastery that houses female lamas. Tugged on to the corner of a mountain opposite to the Tawang Monastery, it takes about 3.5 hours to reach. You have to depend on your legs to get you up there.Ani Gompa, nestled in the mountain
57 Kms from Cooch Behar
Best time to visit - March,April,May
Lying on the India-Bhutan border, Jaigaon is not a tourist place, but is frequented by tourists on their way to Bhutan. The border area is the location of the majestic Bhutan gate, which brings you face to face with Bhutanese architecture. The gateway is covered in beautiful illustrations of dragons and has authentic Bhutanese artwork all over it. The town has many small and big hotels, where you can halt the night before moving on to get the visa at Phuentsholing, on the other side of the gate. The border area has some street side food stalls, which sell momos and chowmein. The Jaigaon region is quite small and can be easily covered on foot. This destination also houses the very unique Dalsinghpara Buddist church, which is an amazing amalgamation of Buddhist engineering and Christian spirit. Read More
Lying on the India-Bhutan border, Jaigaon is not a tourist place, but is frequented by tourists on their way to Bhutan. The border area is the location of the majestic Bhutan gate, which brings you face to face with Bhutanese architecture. The gateway is covered in beautiful illustrations of dragons and has authentic Bhutanese artwork all over it. The town has many small and big hotels, where you can halt the night before moving on to get the visa at Phuentsholing, on the other side of the gate. The border area has some street side food stalls, which sell momos and chowmein. The Jaigaon region is quite small and can be easily covered on foot. This destination also houses the very unique Dalsinghpara Buddist church, which is an amazing amalgamation of Buddhist engineering and Christian spirit.
-The grilled wall running between the two villages is the Indo-Bhutan border.The friendship of the two countries is directly exhibited by the smooth traffic flow through the Bhutan Gate near Jaigaon. The Royal Kingdom Of Bhutan welcomes the Non- Bhutanese visitors with a stamp on their passports.
Gangtok to Thimphu via Phuentsholing Following the only plan we had, we took a shared cab from Gangtok and after crossing through a numerous tea garden on the route, we reached Jaigaon. Jaigaon is as 'India' as it can get. Excuse the adjective but what I mean is crowd, of thousands, traffic for over a kilometre and vendors on the streets, chilling like everything is just fine. And I'm too habitual to detest any of it.
As Bhutan immigration office was closed, I had to stay back at border town of Jaigaon. It is small place and mostly people who have come to visit Bhutan and are taking a day off for rest post their long journey stay there apart from locals. Interesting thing about this place is that they except Bhutanese currency. I suggest you take a Bhutan sim because if you have automatic network selected on your phone and get in Bhutan network you will be charged heavy roaming. I took Tashi sim. They have tourist sims of 1 month validity. Get it from their Phuentsholing office. Internet is really good throughout Bhutan on Tashi Network even at Tiger's Nest trail in Paro :D. Eat- Momos, Chowmein.
59 Kms from Cooch Behar
Best time to visit - March,April,May,September,October
A thriving commercial centre and a gentle mix of various ethnicities, Phuentsholing is a beautiful small town located in southern Bhutan. This is the town where the gorgeous big Bhutan gate is located and also where you can get your visa to visit Bhutan. While you wait for the visa, you can visit the Zangtho Pelri Lhakhang, a small temple representing the heaven of Guru Rinpoche, located at the city centre. This temple houses statues of manifestations of Guru Rinpoche and paintings on Buddha's life and times. The Kharbandi Goemba situated in the city is a charming monastery illustrating the life of the Buddha. From the monastery garden, you can get a fascinating view of Phuentsholing town and its surrounding plains. The local landscape and markets are fun to explore and offer the first peak in Bhutanese life! Phuentsholing has a great food scene as well. Don't forget to try the delicious meat dumplings and the chicken corn soup at the Zen restaurant. Once you are done exploring the quaint towns and completing all government formalities, take a bus or cab forward to visit Paro or Thimphu. Read More
A thriving commercial centre and a gentle mix of various ethnicities, Phuentsholing is a beautiful small town located in southern Bhutan. This is the town where the gorgeous big Bhutan gate is located and also where you can get your visa to visit Bhutan. While you wait for the visa, you can visit the Zangtho Pelri Lhakhang, a small temple representing the heaven of Guru Rinpoche, located at the city centre. This temple houses statues of manifestations of Guru Rinpoche and paintings on Buddha's life and times. The Kharbandi Goemba situated in the city is a charming monastery illustrating the life of the Buddha. From the monastery garden, you can get a fascinating view of Phuentsholing town and its surrounding plains. The local landscape and markets are fun to explore and offer the first peak in Bhutanese life! Phuentsholing has a great food scene as well. Don't forget to try the delicious meat dumplings and the chicken corn soup at the Zen restaurant. Once you are done exploring the quaint towns and completing all government formalities, take a bus or cab forward to visit Paro or Thimphu.
We went to Bhutan for a getaway as a small trip and it turned out to be as great as any other place we've been to. We reached the border town of Phuentsholing by train from Guwahati and checked into the Druk Hotel which is one of the good ones in this border town. Getting into this border town doesn't take any special permits or formalities since Bhutan and India are on very friendly terms. We only have cross the border gates and these close after 11pm.
PhuentsholingFollowing 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.
If the hotel doesn't give you the form, don't panic, you will get at the immigration office. Process takes 1 - 2 hours, because of long queue and slow execution. If you are taking a car on hire or driving your own car ( India registration number), the car and the driver too need the immigration approval. Saturdays and Sundays, office remains closed. So, plan accordingly.Spent the night at Phuentsholing. To go further into Bhutan, we booked a cab for our entire 5 day trip at a total cost of 2800/day.25 October, 2016Started for Thimpu from Phuentsholing at 10. 30 am and reached Thimpu at 3.30 pm.Here, on this route, you actually start witnessing every aspect of the 'Happiest Country of the World'. A drive through beautifully pitch-paved mountain roads, waterfalls on the way, rolling mountains and valleys, small village settlement with a cluster of 50-75 houses, meandering rivers, white fluffy clouds hanging down from a clear azure sky, thin air and a pleasant nip! Bliss.
Phuntsholing :As I was travelling in winter, it was cold. From -4 to 10 degrees, the climate changed. I was OK with that. So in the morning, i gave the place a try. I was accustomed to Bhutan tradition. I came to know the various temples and the people behaviors. Temples or Monasteries are called Dzongs. The thing you note about Bhutan is their Prayer flags. They are tied such that, their customs and tradition be spread along the air. I found a trail which showed me a way to a river called Torsa River.
You can see the difference as soon as you enter the gate. People of Bhutan usually follow dress code. You can even buy those in the market for around 2000 Ng. The roads are clean, People are friendly, It is happy Bhutan after all.As it was late, there were no busses and I had to stay in a hotel there for the night and thought of exploring Phuntsholing first. Remember Bhutan is 15 minutes ahead of us. If you cross the border, the time is different. If you have booked anything, follow BST not IST. If you reach Jaigon at 5:00 pm. It means it is 5:15 pm in Bhutan.
Phuentsholing is the first border town you enter. To win the permit race you have to reach the immigration office well in time. You get a 15 day window in Bhutan, so make the best of it. Taking a Druk-Air flight to Paro is a smoother option if comfort is priority. Passport is not mandatory, any other government authorized document (preferably Voter Id card) will do. Don't forget to carry 2 passport photos for the formalities.Time & MoneyThe currency (Ngultrum) is at par with the Indian Rupee sparing you of all the mental math. Also, Indian notes are accepted everywhere making it more convenient. Time Zone is GMT+6 i.e. half an hour ahead of us, so chances are you will always be running late.Elements of BhutanPeople and Culture
Sharing borders with Jaigaon the place appears to be an extension of our Tibetan market. Based in the lower hills the weather is comparatively hot. Small town with a small market and the Immigration office as the most sought after spot.
We went to see a monastery which was right on a hill-top at Phuntsholing and one could look down and have a birds-eye view of a vast expanse of lands below---towns and serpentine rivers. Beside the Monastery was a royal summer palace, and in between on a large green ground dotted with colourful Buddhist prayer-flags, many people were busy in picnics. It was a bright and pleasing place.
A border town in southern Bhutan adjoining the Indian town of Jaigaon. It holds a significant position strategically and administratively. Indians are luckily granted access to the country without a visa, but require an identity check and other security measures.
At some in their lives,every young guy desires to go on a motorcycle journey on a Royal Enfield . Words can’t define the feeling that you get when you turn your right wrist to boost up your ‘machine’ on an empty highway ! So I along with three of my friends finally decided to go on bike trip to Bhutan-the land of dragons.Stopping by a home to drink steaming hot tea , using dry grass to lit up fire to warm yourselves when you feel freezing cold- all these small pleasures can only be felt on a bike trip .Peaceful ,smooth paved roads, breadth taking scenery , nice people , organized traffic , beautiful girls , easily available local beer ; defines Bhutan.The landlocked kingdom is quite a mystery in itself where people worship the symbol of ‘penis’ for good luck ,where local’s still embraces their traditional dress ‘kira’.We started our journey from Bongaigaon ,Assam at around 10:30 am via NH 31C. The drive along the highway was smooth over well carpeted roads. On the way we went through through Buxa National Park and rode through acres of lush green tea garden of the Doars on either side of the road.Finally we reached Jaigaon ,the Indian border town at around 5 pm and checked into our hotels.In the evening we entered Phuentsholling as people are allowed to enter eitherside before 8 pm and checked into a local restaurant for dinner.
Designed after the royal Buckingham Palace, the Cooch Behar Palace is renowned for its grandeur and beauty. The double-storey structure is as western as an architectural design can be – from the arcaded verandahs to the projected porch entrance to Durbar Hall. A property of the royal Mantri family, this palace was built in 1887 to immortalise the reign of Maharaja Nripendra Narayan.