244 Kms from Sualkuchi
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:
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.
Next morning we drove back towards Phuentsholling and after about 25kms we reached Chunzom and took the right turn towards Paro. The road to Paro was silky-smooth, appearing and disappearing along the many folds of the mountain of Alpine forests. First landmark we came across on our way to Paro was the one and only airport of Bhutan ,a beautiful landstrip surrounded by mystic mountains and green fields . Few kilometres before entering Paro we were greeted by the majestic Paro Dzong, an imposing citadel .After crossing Paro Dzong ,we entered Paro town. We were awestruck by this out of the world scenario . Paro was original ,pure and traditional Bhutan. Both sides of the main road were lined by traditional stone-wood Bhutanese style buildings that housed shops, restaurents etc.
73 Kms from Sualkuchi
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.
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'
Shillong, MeghalayaNestled away in the hills of Meghalaya, Shillong is quite a town. It offers a break from the heat wave, of course, but what makes it an incredible getaway is how it has retained its wilderness despite becoming increasingly urban every day. Shillong boasts of so, so many water bodies worth your interest, and boy, are they worth it. Be it Ward Lake, Elephant Falls or Umiam Lake – each deserves its own day and its own pan shot. The many museums and galleries (Butterfly Museum, anthropological Museum, Zoological Museum etc) will make your stay an enriching one too!
Day 2 Early head start to Shillong, took a cab from Guwahati costs around Rs.1500 for dropping to Shillong.Stopover @ Umiam or Barapani lake (Airtel 4G lake with the highest network!),mesmerizing views, boating , jetski & fun! Lunch @ Lamee restaurant in Police bazaar - good food, service & ambiance. Boating @ Ward's lake, Shillong Enjoy local fruits & jute,cane & bamboo shopping in Police Bazaar Stay@ Best Holiday Inn, Upper Lauchumiere - really new & reasonable hotel, 2kms from police bazaar, good location & view, food - limited options for vegetarians.
So, we without getting too much attached to it we started to shillong. Waited for police bazaar to start and took little time roaming around shopping. We unfortunately reached to shillong peak at 3:05. But the entrance was only open till 3:00 PM. Security was very particular of not allowing anyone through the gates after 3:00. So we had to adjust with few view points around, visited elephant falls and started to cherrapunji.
There are three main points in Shillong: Shillong Peak, Golf course and waterfalls. If you are travelling in group you can vsery well hire a taxi which will ask you to pay 1500-2000. But do not pay them more than 600-700.Well I observed few college guys looking to hire a taxi to some location. It was already 3PM. Sun sets by 4:45PM in East. I thought let me go to some place at least today.
240 Kms from Sualkuchi
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.
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.
113 Kms from Sualkuchi
Best time to visit - January,February,March,April,May,September,October,November,December
The road towards Mawlynnong passes through some of the most beautiful landscapes in Meghalaya. You'll see forests, cliffs, valleys, gorges and waterfalls. As you come closer to the village, the road will become narrow and the bamboo forests will begin. And suddenly you'll be at the village, which is even more beautiful than its introduction. Blessed with pristine natural beauty, Mawlynnong, is located in the East Khasi district. It is 92 km from Cherrapunji and 90 km from Shillong. The village won the title of Asia's cleanest village in 2003. Climb up to the many tree huts, built out of locally grown bamboo, to get the most spellbinding view of neighbouring Bangladesh and gorges and valleys. There isn't much else to do here but walk around the quaint village. Take the opportunity to interact with the locals and savour some native fruit and vegetables. Once you've had your fill of this village, explore attractions such as the famous root bridges, Nohkalikai Falls etc, that are located at a close distance from Mawlynnong. Best way to reach here is by taking a taxi from Shillong or Cherrapunji. There are no hotels, but many locals offer homestays at affordable rates. Read More
The road towards Mawlynnong passes through some of the most beautiful landscapes in Meghalaya. You'll see forests, cliffs, valleys, gorges and waterfalls. As you come closer to the village, the road will become narrow and the bamboo forests will begin. And suddenly you'll be at the village, which is even more beautiful than its introduction. Blessed with pristine natural beauty, Mawlynnong, is located in the East Khasi district. It is 92 km from Cherrapunji and 90 km from Shillong. The village won the title of Asia's cleanest village in 2003. Climb up to the many tree huts, built out of locally grown bamboo, to get the most spellbinding view of neighbouring Bangladesh and gorges and valleys. There isn't much else to do here but walk around the quaint village. Take the opportunity to interact with the locals and savour some native fruit and vegetables. Once you've had your fill of this village, explore attractions such as the famous root bridges, Nohkalikai Falls etc, that are located at a close distance from Mawlynnong. Best way to reach here is by taking a taxi from Shillong or Cherrapunji. There are no hotels, but many locals offer homestays at affordable rates.
Take a nap in the thatched cottages of Asia’s cleanest village, Mawlynnong – a destination, surrounded by green oasis and warm people, perfect to welcome the new year.
Cross into the other-worldly realm of living root bridges in Mawlynnong, which also is famously regarded as the cleanest village in Asia. Spend the night at a homestay in Mawlynnong, and return to Cherrapunji the following morning.
Mawlynnong Village :Finally we reached to the most awaited Mawlynnong village which is famous as "Asia's cleanest village". People are so nice here, they welcome you with smile and you realize that you are far away from the city of crowds. We ordered for lunch and till the time it is prepared, we started exploring the village. It has a tree house in the village from where you can take a glimpse of Bangladesh and a big rock which is maintaining its balance on a small rock for many years. The food was excellent that i could not stop till my stomach gets filled. After the delicious lunch we drove towards our next Destination, "Dawki River".
Shillong to Mawlynnong: We checked out from Shillong and sailed towards Mawlynnong which was around 79 km journey. The road was so beautiful that we forgot about our destination and we stopped wherever our heart skipped a bit. After crossing a cemetery, a flock of sheep, a graceful narrow river and a pleasant view point, we reached near the famous "Living Root Bridge" which is few kms away from Mawlynnong village.
Day 4 After spending an amazing time at Shillong we started for Mawlynnong village, which is awarded as the cleanest village in Asia and is about 60 km from Shillong. On our way we spent some time at Elephanta Waterfalls which is quite a touristy spot. The route to Mawlynnong is quite incredible as you pass through high grass fields. Just 2km before Mawlynnong, we stopped over to see the stunning Living Root Bridge at Riwai village. The trek down to the living root bridge is quite delicious as you get to eat really fresh fruits pineapple, jackfruit & other local fruits. The living root bridges are tangles of massive thick roots, which have been intermingled to form a bridge that can hold several people at a time. Khasi people have been trained to grow these bridges across the raised banks of streams to form a solid bridge, made from roots. The living bridges are made from the roots of the Ficus elastica tree, which produces a series of secondary roots that are perched atop huge boulders along the streams or the riverbanks to form bridges. Check out more about them on : http://www.livingrootbridge.com/About-Living-Root-Bridge.php After a great trek and fun, we reached our HA -LA -TYNGKONG guest house at Mawlynnong village. There are very few places to live in the village and generally people just visit the village and return, but we had decided to stay and experience and it was worth it. It was very difficult to find the guesthouses in the village while we were planning the trip, so I have posted the photographs of various advertised boards. We had a really homely stay, the village is quite wonderful like a landscaped garden with few houses powered by solar lights and proper garbage disposal. Our host was also quite friendly and provided us with basic homely food. Charges for one room were Rs 1500 per night. We explored the village to the fullest and made a lot of little friends.
This is a tiny village about 2 kms further from the Living Root Bridge. It has become a very famous tourist spot because it was named as the Cleanest Village in Asia in 2003. Yes, that was 13 years ago. The people of this village have turned this title into a very flourishing business. You can see a hoard of taxis when you enter and there is a parking fee, which is basically entrance fee, of Rs.50/Car. This fee is collected even if there is no place to park. :| The village is clean for sure, but so are many other villages on the way here. So nothing surprising about it. The roads are dotted with plants and colorful flowers. Aesthetically very pleasing. There is 100% literacy in this village and it is a matrilineal society. Almost all of the shops and restaurants were run by women. What a refreshing change!
We then decided to go to Mawlynnong, the cleanest village in asia. People are very friendly over there. Accepting every guest with smile. We met a bunch of friends over there who were total fun. We were offered dinner on the village street and the dishes were just mouth watering.
I was roaming here and there asking people share transport to Cherrapunji or Mawlynnong - Cleanest Village in Asia. Luckily two local ladies observed me and approached to help.Lesson 3: Searching places, transport or getting information may take some time - Have Patience and go along with the situations.With their guidance I walked till Anjali Complex - 300m from Bada Bazaar which is the main Taxi stand.
First stop Pongtung village, still 18kms till Mawlynnong. Ban took me inside the compound of a guest house under construction right on the main highway road. The guest house has an impressive garden and a sitting area providing a bird’s eye view of the Kliar tyrsaw waterfall. The thunderous impact of the waterfall with the rocks giving rise to the sprinkled mist made the panorama bewitching. The guest house is supposed to be ready by next year.Ban was bearing enough to click a few crazy pictures of me, sitting on the tar road with beautiful mountain backdrop or the signboards, the weather smudging the frames in different corners. Passing vehicles gave vile looks. Ban suggested we wait near the Seng Trelang Sports Club at the crossroads. Moments later, a maxi cab came that dropped us at Riwai village. A small entry fee and a hike led us to the magnificent living root bridge. This was first of an experience. How nature can work wonders if nurtured by people. The nexus of roots has made the bridge robust over the years. A gurgling stream flowed underneath. The bridge connected to Nohwet viewpoint, about 2kms from there but Ban promised he would take me there next morning as it was already getting dark.The last leg of the day’s journey was thrilling as I sat on the roof with other villagers, something I had always wanted to do, while Ban suspended himself at the rear holding on to the steel ladder; such fabulous weather and refreshing breeze. Most of the road is confined between tall shrubs. It’s so relaxing when after a day’s travel you reach a place so serene and pure that is Mawlynnong. As apparent from clean roads, bamboo dustbins put up at every corner and the whole place with diverse fauna brimming with colors, no doubt it’s rightly called as God’s own garden. I comforted myself at Hala Tyngkong that cost me 500bucks for a single bed room. The family who owns this, Don Bok Shabong are such beautiful and welcoming people. Their little kids Eiba & Labyang do all the leg work to help their mother in taking care of the guests. Their English might as well surprise you, such fluency. Daylight was slowly retreating. Ban & I sat on a rock, sipping tea while he acquainted me more about the village. “Maw” translates to rocks, and “lynnong” translates to holes in the rocks, as evident from the one we were sitting on and all the other rocks in that village. Here all the homestays start with “Hala” meaning my own. Prayer chants coming from the Church of Epiphany echoed in that silence. Such peaceful pious environment is pacifying to the soul. It was only around 2004 when a group of women from England had a chance visit here by word of mouth. Soon the village got noticed by the media, led to fame, being conferred “Asia’s cleanest village”. An extensive family of 100 households is what constitutes this safe haven. Ban returned home soon after and I ended my day with a nice home cooked dinner. With Eiba’s cat.
A surprise in the itinerary - the village of Mawlynnong, Asia's cleanest village!Though not planned in the itinerary, the village of Mawlynnong, declared as Asia's cleanest village, came as a wonderful surprise on the next day. A good, tiring, if I may add 84 kms drive from the capital city, the village is simply gorgeous.Located in the East Khasi hills district, the green & clean hamlet is popular for its cleanliness. And rightly so! Hats off to the one-of-its-kind community based ecotourism endeavor of the local people.Sadly, due to the ongoing construction, we were not able to stay in the 80-feet high "machan", the biggest tourist attraction in the village, but we did manage to click a number of priceless pictures of the village.
97 Kms from Sualkuchi
Best time to visit - January,February,March,April,May,October,November,December
More than the land of oranges as its original name Sohra connotes, this 'wettest place on the planet' is a land of waterfalls and rainfall. The Seven Sisters Falls and Nohkalikai Falls, Dain Thlen Falls and Nohsngithiang Falls remain the top most attractions for nature lovers. Adventure seekers and outdoor activity enthusiasts should visit during winters from November to February, when they can go river canyoning, explore the natural limestone Mawsmai Cave, Krem Mawmluh Cave, which is the fourth longest cave in the Indian subcontinent, and delve into solitude and quiet at the Eco Park, which explored more, can lead you to yet another quiet isolated waterfall leading to a deep gorge. Another star attraction of this East Khasi district, is the Double Decker Living Root Bridge, which can be reached after a steep but stunning trek through dense forests, also crossing bay leaf gardens and picturesque hamlets on the way. One can go atop an 80 feet observatory made of bamboo shoots, a daring but mesmerising climb immersed in the abundance of nature, from where the scenic plains of Bangladesh are clearly visible. Cherrapunji is a land painted with mystical beauty and its stories of deep rooted culture and history remain within a traveller after interacting with locals throughout their journey before finally carrying back life long souvenirs from the vibrant Cherrapunji Indigenous Festival, which is an annual event. Read More
More than the land of oranges as its original name Sohra connotes, this 'wettest place on the planet' is a land of waterfalls and rainfall. The Seven Sisters Falls and Nohkalikai Falls, Dain Thlen Falls and Nohsngithiang Falls remain the top most attractions for nature lovers. Adventure seekers and outdoor activity enthusiasts should visit during winters from November to February, when they can go river canyoning, explore the natural limestone Mawsmai Cave, Krem Mawmluh Cave, which is the fourth longest cave in the Indian subcontinent, and delve into solitude and quiet at the Eco Park, which explored more, can lead you to yet another quiet isolated waterfall leading to a deep gorge. Another star attraction of this East Khasi district, is the Double Decker Living Root Bridge, which can be reached after a steep but stunning trek through dense forests, also crossing bay leaf gardens and picturesque hamlets on the way. One can go atop an 80 feet observatory made of bamboo shoots, a daring but mesmerising climb immersed in the abundance of nature, from where the scenic plains of Bangladesh are clearly visible. Cherrapunji is a land painted with mystical beauty and its stories of deep rooted culture and history remain within a traveller after interacting with locals throughout their journey before finally carrying back life long souvenirs from the vibrant Cherrapunji Indigenous Festival, which is an annual event.
On the way there are many amazing views and waterfalls. All you have to do is enjoy the ride and do not get tempted for every scenic beauty on the way. We reached cherrapunji around 6 again. Damn, it was dark. As it was wet all around we wanted to take cheap room or camp this time within a compound. Luckily, we met a rider who offered us place with tent. We offered him some drinks in return ;) Now this is where we made nearly 4 very good friends.. sharing their life experiences driving Sumo around meghalaya. Its so good, how few drinks can get you such an amazing conversation with strangers. All you have to do is smile, and there are many stories waiting to be told.
After breakfast, set off for Cherrapunji, well known for receiving one of the highest rainfall in the world. Cherrapunjee is localy known as Sohra and is situated at a distance of 56 kms from Shillong. On the way is the Mawkdok Valley which is a very prominent sighseeing for tourists. Then on the way we visit the Nohsngithiang falls (Seven sisters falls) which is known to be the symbol of the Unity of the Seven States of North East India. After that we head for Thangkharang park, located just besides the Khoh Ramhah rock and offers a 180 degree view of the Bangladesh plains. Later than we visit the Mawsmai cave, a major crowd puller that leaves tourists spellbound. After trekking in the majestic cave we move for Eco Park, which hosts several hybrid and indigenous orchids. It also offers a breathtaking view of distant Sylhet Plains of neighbouring Banladesh.Attractions: Mawkdok Valley, Nohsngithiang (Seven sisters), Thangkharang, Mawsmai Cave, Eco Park.Part 4:
The next morning Ban took me to the tree house of Mawlynnong, managed by Lajong guest house, where one can get a get a glimpse of Bangladesh. After the morning tea, I bid goodbye to the Don Bok family and as arranged by Ban we set out for Nohwet View point, in his friend’s Ambrose’s taxi. The mountains of Sohra are right in front at this viewpoint. I was longing for the waterfalls that lied ahead, their thundering plunge calling out. Ambrose dropped me at the Pongtung cross roads (400rs) from where I got another cab till Pynrsula (50rs) from where another cab helped me reach Shillong (70rs). Reaching Shillong, I went straight to the Police bazaar and had a heavy Chinese cuisine for lunch. I made a mental note, avoid Chinese food before traveling. It made me gastric and sleepy. But then hunger pangs and the foodie in me goes berserk. Even before I reached Sohra (70rs) it started pouring. How wet can God be. From Sohra it was ~12-15kms till Nongriat. Being a Sunday, no cabs were available further (in general even). (3pm) I started walking and was prepared mentally to cover the distance in 4 hours; by 7pm I should reach Nongriat. To keep track of distance left, I asked every occasional face I spotted, "Nongriat kitna door hai". People gave such frowning doubtful looks. An old lady deemed it impossible, her voice mocking my spirit. Above that I did two wrong things already, I could have managed to reach early, daylight recedes quickly in such a rainy weather and I was wearing floaters; floaters maybe convenient for short distances, beaches but never for long distance walking, especially if it’s raining. It was only after I crossed the cement factory at Mawmluh, did I encounter civilization and cars started making appearances. I tried my luck asking for lift but nobody seemed to care about a stupid guy getting himself wet walking in the rain. After walking certain stretch, a car stopped and windows rolled; perhaps my luck is back again. Two men with their driver were going towards a border area. They were Bengalis and owned a mining area near the Bangladesh border. Being Bengali helped. After hearing what I embarked upon, they put sense into me that it would had been a futile effort trying to reach Nongriat at this hour. I had my return train from Guwahati next day at 12.30pm. Somewhere, I might have miscalculated my timings. Even somehow if I had been able to reach Nongriat, there was possibly no way I would have been able to enjoy the place per se and make it back to Guwahati station on time. So I tagged along with my newfound saviors. Throughout they took care of me as their own, provided me with dinner on our return way where we stopped somewhere, at a road side eatery. By that time, it was pitch dark, car tail lights glowed devil red. It was still raining heavily, sprayed by winds blowing in full gust; I was trembling. I wished how soon would I return to a warm bed. It was 11pm when we hit Shillong. They wished me luck and I thanked them a lot. I got into the first hotel I could find a room (600rs), as loitering alone at night might not be a good idea; they tend to trouble outsiders. That night sleeping in the hotel room, I could only dream, had I continued on my path how things would have been different. But things not going my way were perhaps a blessing in disguise; another reason for me to come back again and explore the picturesque beauty that lies in Sohra, Nongriat and many such places hidden in Meghalaya's chest.Khublei . Kynduhpat !(Bye, See you again)
If you love the rain, this is the place. A place far from all the hustle of the city and close to the clouds. Carry an umbrella , the weather is unpredictable but you will definitely love this place. Best place for the nature lovers.Norkhalika falls , one of the best scenic beauty.Double Decker Living Root Bridge, a must visit for adventurers.
Nohkalikai Waterfalls, Single Decker Living Root Bridge, Nohsngithiang Falls, Mawsmai Cave
Day5: According to the plan, all the passangers were supposed to congregate outside Tourism dev. corporation's office at 9 am, and so was everyone. Next moment a mini bus stood in front of us to take us to this would be memorable journey to the rainiest place on earth- Cherrapunji! As the bus started, a beautiful girl- Mary- in her early 20's introduced herself as our guide for the day! After a quick introduction of all the passangers with eachother, Mary started telling us about Meghalaya, Shillong, Khasis and their customs. With her beautiful smile, she made sure noone would get bored even for a fraction of second. As we came out of Shilliong, the road started winding around the beautiful but shallow valleys of pine forests of the Khasi hills and then happened the best thing that could happen at that particular time....it started drizzling! Here i was experiencing rain in Cherrapunji! Wow! After about an hour's bus ride, we reached our first point which was the Duwansyngh Syiem point 15 kilometers before Cherrapunji which offers an amazing view of lush green hills of Cherrapunji. As Cherrapunji started approaching near, the roads started occupying themselves with thick cover of fog and mist, something of this kind which i was seeing for the first time from so close! An experience that i will fail to put in words. Another half an hour ride through hamlets of weirdly long names (sounding like random alphabets stacked together), many sacred Khasi monoliths and n number of churches, we finally reached Cherrapunji's Ramakrishna mission school. One of its kind, the school is located in one of the most beautiful parts of this small town, with deep down valleys surrounding it on the rear side. School has a massive playground done with beautiful rose and orchid plantations overlooking the valley. A small museum is opened for visitors on its first floor showcasing the local culture. What one will surely spot while on a visit to this school are the local kids selling cinamom packets running behind the visitors. Even thou its a matter of choice, the cinamom tastes too bland for the spicy tongue of the mainland Indians hence certainly unsuitable! Next point where our bus stopped were the extremely beautiful - Nohkalikai falls, named after a mother who commited suicide from the same place when she realised her step husband killed and cooked her baby for food after she consumed it without knowing about it.. These are the second highest waterfalls in India. Afternoon after 12 is the best time to view these waterfalls as 50 percent of the times, the whole area is covered in thick fog which makes the falls completely invisible to the naked eyes. A few kilometers away was the Mot-trob. A huge huge really huge monolith rock considered sacred by the local Khasis. This incredible rock with its massive size is surely a natural wonder worth a visit. Just across the rock a few miles away, one can see a view of Bangladesh border demarcated naturally by many rivulets flowing in the area. From mot-trob, the bus went to Cherrapunji's eco park. An artificial park developed overlooking valleys which is the starting point of many waterfalls including 'missing waterfalls' which runs under the park surface and jumps down into the deep valleys. Eco park which also has a small resort for overnight stays, offers a panoramic view of the surrounding pine and oak forests and thousands of small water streams and falls carving their way down hills till they meet river waters. On the way to and fro seen are the Seven sisters watrefalls also called Nohsngithiang falls named after the seven northeastern states of India. Again you need to be really lucky to spot these seven falls clearly through Cherrapunji's thick clouds. Next and the second last location was the Mawsmai limestone caves- one of the many found in this area. A walk..sometimes a crawl...even some creeping along the ups and downs and narrow mouths of the slippery limestone cave is nothing less than a mini adventure. At this point i was so glad i made it to Cherrapunji coz this place just in 3-4 hours gave me some of the most beautiful experiences and moments of this trip. Wondered what more this 'soon to end' trip had to offer me. This afternoon halt at caves also had our lunch break included. With no proper Indian food available around (even if it was i doubt if i dared to eat shahi paneer made by a khasi lady pewwk) other than maggi, I decided to settle on some local khasi meal which included chicken curry with eggs, dal and lots and lots and more and even more of rice!! Pretty tasty i must say! Our last destination today was the Thangkhrang park..the most beautiful in Cherrapunji. This park faces many of the important waterfalls in the area including the earlier spotted Nohkalikai falls. This extremely clean and out of the world park has a mini orchid nursery which grows Orchids to exhibit to the visitors. I was lucky enough to see a few of the species blooming in their pots. Following this visit to Thangkhrang park, we were done with all the point in Cherrapunji hence started our journey back to Shillong. After an hour or two, our bus dropped us at Police bazaar. It was just 5pm and pretty much sunny. After saying goodbye to everyone and Mary, I started walking towards the Ward's lake. Adjacent to the lake on the other side is Shillong's almost abandoned Botanical park. Had a quick walk in the park with almost no one around eating the so very sweet pineapples of Shillong and headed towards the hotel thinking how this beautiful trip so quickly came to an end as i had my flight back to Mumbai lined up day after tomorrow's early morning.
“Even though, goodbye dear Cherra, And your rain goodbye, I’m off to my home, For my life is yonder, Though my love is here. “ Cherrapunji, or Cherra as I fondly call it is no less than a trip to the paradise. Humble households, smiling and hardworking people but overall a scanty population. Hundreds of small churches with crematories on small hills were also a sight to remember. And yes the pineapples, the juiciest ever in the history of this universe. Period. High above misty valleys and foaming rivers, ensconced in swirling clouds and perched on an escarpment, lies Cherrapunji. This is a stunning location and the year-round rain earned Cherrapunji coveted entry long ago into the Guinness Book of World Records as the wettest place on earth, the place where the rainfall can be recorded in feet rather than in millimeters. Amidst all the surprises of Cherrapunji, perhaps the most abiding is the startling realization that the wettest place on earth where it rains every month also has an amazing amount of warm sunshine. When the clouds drift away, there are a series of memorable views, and one can see as far as Bangladesh. Orchids bloom a few feet away from patches devoid of vegetation. Dense woods interspersed by rocky, cliffs furrowed by erosion.
236 Kms from Sualkuchi
Best time to visit - March,April,May,September,October,November
Nestled in the midst of the breathtaking sceneries of Bhutan, Punakha is famous for its picturesque beauty and Buddhist majestic dzongs. Among the many fascinating things to explore here is the Punakha Dzong, which is a stunning piece of architecture with an amazing view of the sparkling water. This dzong or palace is also the administrative centre of the Punakha district. Discover your spiritual self at the Chimi L'hakhang Temple, which can be reached by hiking through some charming paddy fields. The Punakha suspension bridge here gives you a perfect bird's-eye view of the surrounding mountains and the magnificent river flowing below. This bridge is an adventure in itself, and is definitely not for the faint hearted! You can enjoy some river rafting at the Druk Rafting Service, which makes for a fantastic experience. Although the rapids are small, but they are enough to get the adrenalin flowing! Punakha is an ideal destination to savour the authentic flavours of Bhutan. The Chimi Lakhang Cafeteria and Dochula Resort Restaurant are great for some authentic food. Since Punakha is quite popular with tourists, one can easily find suitable accommodation here. Endowed with natural beauty, Punakha is sure to make for a memorable trip!Read More
Nestled in the midst of the breathtaking sceneries of Bhutan, Punakha is famous for its picturesque beauty and Buddhist majestic dzongs. Among the many fascinating things to explore here is the Punakha Dzong, which is a stunning piece of architecture with an amazing view of the sparkling water. This dzong or palace is also the administrative centre of the Punakha district. Discover your spiritual self at the Chimi L'hakhang Temple, which can be reached by hiking through some charming paddy fields. The Punakha suspension bridge here gives you a perfect bird's-eye view of the surrounding mountains and the magnificent river flowing below. This bridge is an adventure in itself, and is definitely not for the faint hearted! You can enjoy some river rafting at the Druk Rafting Service, which makes for a fantastic experience. Although the rapids are small, but they are enough to get the adrenalin flowing! Punakha is an ideal destination to savour the authentic flavours of Bhutan. The Chimi Lakhang Cafeteria and Dochula Resort Restaurant are great for some authentic food. Since Punakha is quite popular with tourists, one can easily find suitable accommodation here. Endowed with natural beauty, Punakha is sure to make for a memorable trip!
Punakha - Hike & Raft!Our day started with a refreshing hike to Khamsum Yule Namgyel chorten (a temple above a small hill which takes an hour to hike). Cab driver took Rs. 300 to take us to the starting point of the hike. The hike was not very strenuous. We could reach the chorten in 45 min. The view was amazing from up there with the river zigzagging across the valley. Clear blue skies with thick white clouds made the view even more spectacular. The chorten was a 4 storeyed temple with Guru Rinpoche on the Ground, 1st and 2nd floors and Buddha on the 4th floor which also is a sort of small terrace with a breathtaking 360° view of the valley.
The old capital of Bhutan and people speak dzongkha(the language of the dzongs).It homes one of the most beautiful Dzong, The Punakha Dzong. This Dzong is placed right at the confluence of two Chhus(river or water in dzongkha) namely the Pho and the Mo. It is believed that Pho (the male one) and Mo(the female one) ad the dzong sits right in between these two.
the winter capital of Bhutan. It is slightly warmer with very distinctive cultural norms. Road from Punakha to Thimpu is an arduous one, due to road widening work. On the way, make sure to spend some time on Dochula Pass, second highest motorable road in Bhutan. The wind here is chilly and view of the Himalayan ranges is breathtaking.the most sacred place in Bhutan- Punakha Dzong. A humbling structure in itself, it is situated at the confluence of Mo-chu and Po-chu (Male and Female River). The dzong serves as the administrative office in the winter, the tranquillity its surrounding offers is unmatched for
159 Kms from Sualkuchi
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!
#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
We dedicated this day for local sightseeing. In the morning we walked to the nearby market. The roads of Tawang are very deserted as there is very less population in this area. There are wild flowers on both sides of the road. We visited the Tawang Monastery which is 400 years old and is the second largest monastery in Asia.It was founded near the small town of the same name in the northwestern part of Arunachal Pradesh, by Merak Lama Lodre Gyatso in 1680-1681 in accordance with the wishes of the 5th Dalai Lama, Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso.Situated at the top of a mountain,this is a very important place of worship for the Buddhists.According to the legend, a white horse of the Prince of Lhasa had wandered into Monpa region. People, who went in search of the horse, found the horse grazing at the present location of the monastery. The people of the area then worshiped the horse and the location where it was found and venerated it every year. Eventually to honour the sacred site the Tawang Monastery was built at the site. The Monastery also has a huge library and museum.China had invaded India on 20 October 1962 from the northeastern border forcing the Indian army to retreat. They had occupied Tawang, including the monastery, for six months; they did not desecrate the monastery. China claimed that Tawang belonged to be their territory.In 1959, the 14th Dalai Lama had fled from Tibet, and after a tough journey, crossed into India on 30 March 1959, and had reached Tawang and taken shelter in the monastery for a few days before moving to Tezpur on 18 April 1959 seeking asylum in India.(Source:Wikipedia)For more trivia about this place,look here:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tawang_MonasteryWe then visited the Urgelling Monastery which happens to be the birthplace of the 6th Dalai Lama. Next we went to the Tawang War Memorial. It was built to pay homage to the soldiers who had sacrified their lives in the Indo-Sino war in 1962. It has blessing of the Dalai Lama.It also has to memorial halls having artifacts and information of these brave men.A light and sound show is also organised here every evening which depicts the story behind Tawang and the Chinese war.In the evening you can go for shopping,however the shops mostly close by 7pm and being remote the things are bit overpriced.Day 5We were supposed to see the three destinations namely Shungester Lake,PTSO Lake and Y Junction. Amongst these the Y Junction is 13937 feet high. Shungester Lake is situated 33kms off Tawang at a height of about 12000 feet. It was actually a village but in 1950s an earthquake followed by a flash flood destroyed the village and it was were the lake got formed. The place is heavenly and has rhododendrons everywhere with the snow capped mountains in the background. Migratory birds like the Ruddy Shell duck can also be spotted. This place gained prominence when a song from the movie Koyla having Madhuri Dixit and Shah Rukh Khan in the lead was shot here.That is why it is also fondly called Madhuri Lake.The Y Junction is mostly covered with snow and has many lakes. The PTSO lake is beautiful too. The Tawang Visit is never be complete without visiting these places. Another place Bum La Pass can be visited too situated at a height of 16500 feet but needs another permit. These three points can be visited only by local cars from Tawang. There are specific cars available at the starting point for visiting these three points. The road is bit bumpy. You should carry some camphor with you,just incase you suffer from breathlessness at such heights as oxygen levels are low here. You should also carry some amount of light food and water along with you.Day 6We had to leave Tawang with a heavy heart and started our journey towards Bomdila where we would stay for the night. On our way we stopped at the Nuranang or Jang Falls which is mighty and huge. Never had I seen such a beautiful waterfalls ever in my life. The water falls on the river Tawang Chu which flows downstream.We reached Bomdila in the evening. Since we had already seen the Bomdila Monastery on the way,we didnt have any other things to see there and therefore rested for the day.We stayed at the hotel Siphiyang Phong which was just okay.Day 7Our final destination was the Nameri Tiger Reserve which is around 120 kilometres from Bomdila.On our way we stopped at the Tippi Orchidarium which was a visual treat. Never had a seen so many orchids growing wildly and also in greenhouses at the same place.This place should not be missed. We reached the Nameri Tiger Reserve and checked into the Nameri Eco Camp which was simply the best accommodation in this entire trip.We stayed at the tent cottages. The feeling living inside a jungle has always excited me and that is why forests are my first love.We also went for river rafting in the Jia Bharali river and it was by far the best adventure I had done.It was thrilling! The forest is closed during this time of the year that is why unfortunately we could not avail a safari trip.However he saw many birds like Hornbills etc. The forest arranges a walk inside the main forest when the forest is open which is something you dont find anywhere else. This place is a must visit. You can also try activities like Angling here.The Eco Camp has every cuisine in its menu and it is amazing how they get you everything inside a forest too. The best place was seriously reserved for the last.Day 8We reached Guwahati and stayed there for the night,did some shopping. We took the flight next day early morning.however you can start early and take the flight the day you reach Guwahati itself. Guwahati is 220 kilometres from Nameri.P.S- You should carry mineral water and light food with you all the time.The journeys are time taking and strenuous.Be prepared for it. Take some breaks in between the journey. Try reaching the places before the sunset as roads are situated at high altitudes. This trip will surely be one of your best trips till date I can guarantee.
229 Kms from Sualkuchi
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.
Less than hour away from Panikhaiti is Sualkuchi, the centre of India's silk-based textile manufacturing. the village also hosts an annual rowing competition (Naokhel).