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239 Kms from Thiksi
We chose to arrive in Lhasa by travelling on the world’s highest railway, a journey of breath-taking beauty that lasts...
We chose to arrive in Lhasa by travelling on the world’s highest railway, a journey of breath-taking beauty that lasts 24 hours from the Chinese city of Xining, and crosses the Tanggula Passat 5072m. Arriving late at night, we were greeted by our guide in Lhasa with khatags, the white silk ceremonial scarf that is commonly given in Tibet as a sign of welcome. This was the first of many khatags we received. Lhasa literally means 'The abode of the gods'.
The land of the abominable snowman,they call it.Our first major destination in Lhasa was the Potala Palace.The entire site was as clean as it was touristy. We were limited to a visit of only 1 hour due to the integrity of the structure (it could risk collapse from the weight of too many visitors) but all in all it was absolutely gorgeous. The temples were just breathtaking and I enjoyed watching the monks walking from room to room continuing their daily tasks all the while examining the hundreds of different rooms, shrines and statues.After taking in the Potala Palace, we were set free to enjoy Johkang Temple and the surrounding vicinity that’s known as the Backhor Streets. It was quite interesting to see the layers of culture in such a small place. Lhasa was a much larger city than I had anticipated. Shops and stalls lined every corner and were filled to the brim with Tibetan prayer beads, necklaces, singing bowls, yak blankets and many other ornaments. Tibetan & Chinese restaurants filled the streets with an almost intoxicating smell of yak meat, bread & other cultural foods.We then explored both the Drepung Monastery & Sera Monastery. The Drepung Monastery, which happened to be the Dalai Lama’s old winter residence (up until the 5th Dalai Lama moved it to the Potala Palace), happened to house the largest amounts of monks in Tibet. We were very lucky to arrive just as many of them were gathered for their afternoon lunch and meditation sessions. The energy that protruded from them was nothing short of intense!Later, we passed through Gangbala Pass with a quick pit stop at Yamdrok Lake where we took some very scenic pictures of turquoise blue waters that were overlooked by snow-peaked mountains.
226 Kms from Thiksi
Best time to visit - January,February,March,April,May,June,August,September,October,November,December
Meghalaya’s capital, Shillong is quaint hill-station flanked by pine forests and a few hundred waterfalls scattered ac...
Mawlynnong to Shillong via Dawki and Shnongpdeng (140 kilometers)There was not much to do at Mawlynnong so we started for the much anticipated Umngot river bed at Dawki. The road passed through narrow villages giving us a slice of life of the people of the Khasi hills. We reached Dawki by noon and were delighted to see the clear water of the river bed. We hired a boat and enjoyed the whole experiences. There were places where we could see the reflection of the boat all the way to the river bed and it seemed as though the boat is floating in thin air! At one place I saw a bamboo structure built for people to take a jump in the river. I couldn’t resist the temptation and thoroughly enjoyed my share of diving and jumping! After monkeying around for a couple of hours we continued to Shonongpdeng which was similar to Dawki except it had lots of options to camp beside the river and do a lot of adventure sports. We were tempted to stay for the night there but we realized we won’t do justice to the place by staying just one night so continued towards Shillong. We reached Shillong late in the evening and saw even more people at police bazaar probably because it was the Christmas week. Finding a hotel proved more difficult than last time and we had to go beyond our budget to spend the night. This was our last night in the land of the clouds and we were about to take the honeymoon ride to an international level the next day!
Bomdilla to Shillong (400 kilometers)This day was dedicated to transiting from Arunachal to Meghalaya via Assam. We started early and rode downhill to Bhalukhpong, all the way feeling surprised of the fact that we had covered this stretch of pure off roading in pitch dark of the night. We couldn’t resist the mustard fields this time and stopped to click a few pictures and videos. As promised, we stopped at Tezpur for a cup of tea with the riders of Tezpur Bikers Club. From Tezpur to Jorabat was a boring ride on straight four laned highway. By the time we entered Meghalaya it was late evening. We asked for road conditions and the locals assured us that the road is good all the way to Shillong. The road indeed was a bliss to ride on. It was a two laned hilly road with loads of bends and turns and even though it was dark, I was thoroughly enjoying leaning on this stretch to such an extent that the panniers scratched the road a couple of times. Shillong is just like any other popular hill city with loads of hotel, houses and traffic. The whole city was decked up with lights for the Christmas celebration. We headed straight to the police bazaar area which is supposedly the most happening place in Shillong and saw a sea of people there. Finding a hotel in our budget was difficult so we booked an OYO and checked in. We walked till late night enjoying the whole celebratory feeling of the city.
When we are talking about the best weekends getaways and places to visit from Guwahati, the most exotic places of all that comes to my mind is Shillong in Meghalaya district. It is also called Scotland of the east. The mesmerizing hills, the fresh cool breeze, the beautiful landscape is something that will linger in your mind forever. Some of the best places to visit and enjoy in Shillong are the Lady Hydari park, The Cathedral of Mary Help of Christians, the Polo grounds, etc. If you have a day or two in hand visit Cherrapunjee, go to Mawlynnong which is also the cleanest village in Asia, also visit the living root bridge there, visit Mawphlang which is famous for the sacred forests and also Laitlum canyons where clouds play hide and seek on the mountains.
One of the first pointers we noted was the early sunset and limited movement thereafter. Hence, to reach to our next destination , Shillong, we left Kaziranga at around 12 pm. Had lunch (fresh fish from the river Brahmaputra) . Touched down at 6 pm , already pitch dark , the stars out in the sky all bright. I had booked a bed and breakfast at 'Bed and Breakfast' near the Polo tower , a very cosy room , little small for three people but, if you want to bunk up real close, this is the place to be. Plus , the owner, Eric, was real helpful in giving us some ideas about the places around Meghalaya. A traveller back in Baroda, had asked me not to miss the 'Dylan cafe' in Shillong and well , you can guess , where we went for dinner that night !
Day 4 started with a our drive towards Cherrapunji . On the way , we saw the giant elephant falls . This was a three step waterfall , a short 15 min trek to its base. How often do you witness white waters falling in a bundle so close you could almost touch it.
Day 3 was kept for roaming about in Shillong city and Umiam lake. We decided to explore the unusual places and kept the usual ones for the next day. From farms of cabbage, potatoes and cauliflower to green expanse of fields, to narrow lanes, to rocks to wooden houses in the middle of nowhere and clouds appearing and engulfing us, the city kept enthralling us all the time of the day.
Explore Shillong and nearby areasSpend the morning exploring the Williamson Sangma State Museum, if you're a history buff, or head to Ward Lake, one of the most popular tourist spots in the city, if you want a piece of natural beauty. Shillong also has a number of lovely churches that provide an insight into the architecture in the state.
The volcanic Meghalaya plateau rises above the plains of Bangladesh to welcome the South West Monsoon. The play of water over a volcanic land mass, has created intricate underground cave networks with streams, crystals, stalactite and stalagmite formations; while on the surface, thundering waterfalls and rich vibrant forests flourish.
(Shillong-Scotland of the East):Neeraj was quick to respond and an arrangement for the bike to be picked up and repaired was made by him through the local Royal Enfield Service Centre. After handing over the bike, I left to explore Shillong. I was put up in a nice hotel in the main area of Shillong called Police Bazaar. I took a local cab, since my bike was getting ready for the road ahead. The day trip in Shillong consisted of certain places of importance. The first place I went to was the Shillong Peak also known as the Shillong Viewpoint. It is just a normal spot from where the entire capital city of Shillong is visible, In one glance. The peculiarity of this place is that it is located inside the Army Cantonment area, so there is thorough frisking of the travellers before entering. Also ensure that you have a photo identification proof ready for perusal. Next was the Elephant falls which is the shining star of Shillong. Divided into 3 separate areas of water flow, one has to descend a flight of around 50 steps for each area. It was just mesmerising. Some photographs and a steady climb up from the base area of the waterfall took me to the parking area. Then I set off to visit a lovely lake called the Ward's lake. This lake has it all. A big waterbody, clean grass all around, some beautiful flowers and above it all, a stunning silence. A silence in which you could hear yourself. Perks of travelling alone, ain't it? Moving on we halted at a zoo-park called the Lady Hydari park. Some unhappy Black Himalayan Bears and chirpy Geese was all that I could see. They were inside unclean enclosures. I hope that the entry fee that we pay, eventually is used for the actual development of these areas. The visit to the Cathedral Church followed. The silence and the serenity of the holy place was enough to freshen up and setup some really good vibes. It was now time to visit the Shillong Golf Links. This is a large area of lush green natural turf, where apparently golf is played on weekends by the locals. On seeing this place I was reminded of Khajjiar in Dalhousie and how Khajjiar is known as the Mini Switzerland of India. The Golf Course in Shillong was so much more clean than Khajjiar, which has now become a purely commercial place with lots of crap around. It clearly struck to me that Shillong is such an underrated hill station. It has a beautiful waterfall, a very calm lake, some lush green outfields, and a viewpoint just like any other hill station. Definitely Shillong doesn't receive the attention of a tourist like any other mainstream hill station in the north. I returned back to my room after having a light meal. Lots of good cafés around the Police Bazaar area, if you want to have an experience of the local culture. After walking down to another market area called the Barra Bazaar, I came back to my room and ensured that I get a good night's sleep before the drive next day to Mawlynnong-Asia's cleanest village.
231 Kms from Thiksi
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 wor...
You will have enough time to explore Paro (visit Tiger’s Nest perhaps!) and still reach Thimpu in time, because Paro to Thimpu is a short stretch of nearly 50km, and a smooth highway connecting two cities is moreover the best in the country, thus saving you enough time no matter when you leave.Since Paro has the only international airport in Bhutan, and Thimpu is the capital, the highway moreover stays good in shape throughout the year. It takes one and a half to two hours to travel between the two cities.
Day 3, Nov 3rd, 2017: Our hotel was right opposite to the clock tower which is supposed to be the most happening area of Thimphu. We strolled in the beautiful clean streets of Norzing Lam, which was surrounded by green mountains & pine trees everywhere. The mountains were running parallel to the road & the air was so fresh that you instantly will feel the happiness within you. We were amused to find that at 08:00 hrs no shop is open for breakfast or anything. They have this protocol of everything opening at 09:00, to which they strictly adhere to..Sharp at 09:00, we met Vishnu, our trip guide at the reception of the hotel. His attire, posture, body language everything was very formal & gentle.
The bus dropped us at the taxi stand in Thimphu by 7:30 pm. Our hotel was about 2 kms from the bus stop. While we were bargaining with the taxi driver, someone asked us if we wanted a lift to the hotel. My friend was a bit sceptical as we were new to the place and being from India, it is not easy to trust strangers; but later we agreed to take the lift. While driving us to the hotel, he introduced himself as the Chief Auditing Commissioner of Bhutan. Yes, that was when we realized how helpful Bhutanese people are to their guests. He not only dropped us to the hotel but also helped us plan places we should be visiting the next day.
1. Thimphu - We landed at the Paro International Airport from Kolkata and headed to Thimphu for a 2N stay (due to some delay in airlines departure from kolkata we reached Paro later than expected). The evening was spent exploring Thimphu on foot. This capital city is unique in the way that there are no traffic lights at intersections! All traffic movements are on mutual consent and needless to say, they rarely have any road accidents.
Only a 2-hour drive from Paro, Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan is the most happening town of the country. Here, you can give your honeymoon a touch of fun, frolic and party!Where To Stay:
National Institute for Zorig Chusum in Thimpu is a must visit! It’s a government initiative to preserve local art and craft. It offers courses on Bhutan’s 13 traditional arts which includes calligraphy, painting, sculpture, wood carving, casting, pottery, embroidery, tailoring, weaving, masonry, silver and gold smith workshops. The discipline and skills that the students exhibit is extremely impressive!
Next day, hail a cab and travel to the capital town, Thimphu. Aim to keeping this cab to get around in Thimphu, as it be a more convenient and cheaper option since cab fares are high there. Moreover, the cab drivers in Bhutan are very gracious and will always indulge in a conversation about His Highness, Bhutan, and Buddhism. Thus, you'll be learning a lot while you're in transit. You can contact Mr. Mangal Singh at +975 17607472 to book for a trip.** (Read Part 2 for Thimphu, Punakha and Haa Valley)Cover Image Credits: http://www.mountainechoes.org/
245 Kms from Thiksi
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 l...
The journey to Paro to Phuentsholing takes nearly 4 hour if you’re driving, or 6 hours if you’re taking a public bus. The journey is rather impressive and enjoyable. From the sea level of Phuentsholing you only pretty much go uphill throughout the journey before you end up a much colder town of Paro located at 2100+ meter altitude above the sea level.The well maintained four way highway, built by Indian Border Road Organisation (BRO), moreover makes Phuentsholing to Paro & Thimpu a very sought after Himalayan Roads for motorbikers in India wanting to ride in Bhutan.Day 2: Paro To Thimpu
Paro to tiger’s nest (40 kilometers ride and 4-5 kilometers trek)The last time I had visited Takstang Monastery, also known as The Tiger’s Nest, I was mesmerized by it and I wanted Swatabdi to witness the same. We first rode to the Drugyel Dzong which is a monastery which was burnt in a fire and now lay in ruins. We then proceeded to the base of the trek to the Tiger’s nest. The difficulty level of the trek to Tiger’s nest is slightly higher because of the altitude and the steep trail. Huffing and puffing we kept walking one step at a time. Swatabdi felt like quitting the trek a couple of times but I etched her on. The sight of the monastery which kept getting bigger and bigger was also inspiring. After almost 4 hours we saw the awe-inspiring view of the monastery. I fail to fathom the effort taken to build this monastery so high in the mountain. The monastery seems as though it is almost hanging on a cliff and can fall down to the deep valley below any moment! The trek was worth the effort. The trek downhill was slightly easier and we reached the base late in the evening. The rest of the evening we spent riding around in Paro and watching the beautiful Paro Dzong and the national museum which were lit up with vibrant lights in the night. We had hired the motorcycle for 16 days which meant that this was the last day of our trip. We celebrated the last 15 days over my favorite beer, the Druk 11000; and a plate of delicious momos.
Jaigaon to Paro (180 kilometers)The embassy at Phuntsholing opens at 10 AM and we reached there at 9:45 hoping to be among the first people to get the permits. We were proven terribly wrong when we saw that there about a thousand people already waiting. The situation was similar to a Durga Puja pandal in Kolkata. There was utter chaos. No one knew what to do or whom to approach for the permits. What made it worse was that there were agents who were standing in the queue with dozens of applications in their hands. For hours we stood in various queues which didn’t move an inch. There was a lot of pushing, shoving and shouting happening which pissed off Swatabdi. She went inside the embassy and somehow caught hold of an influential female officer and explained to her our situation rather sternly. In no time a new counter was opened for female applicants who were not in large groups and we managed to get our permits from that counter. By this time it was late evening and we rushed to the RTO office to get the permit for our motorcycle. There was a queue of drivers waiting for us and the office hours were coming to a close. Swatabdi again used the feminine card and we got preferential treatment and our permit was among the last to get approved that evening. Thousands had applied to visit Bhutan that day; only a lucky few were allowed to enter. While coming back from the RTO office I cut my toenail with the sharp side stand of the motorcycle and started our ride to Paro with a shoe on one leg and a bandaged toe in a flipflop on the other. We started for Paro with dying sunlight and braced ourselves for a cold ride. There was a brief spell of rain which made it worse. An hour into the ride my foot went numb. I somehow shoved my bandaged foot inside my shoe and continued riding. Thankfully the roads in Bhutan are good which made it easier to ride in the night. The cold though was still unforgiving. We reached Paro at 8:30 in the night and found most hotels to be either closed or fully occupied. Shivering and shaking we moved from one hotel to the other in search of a room. At a certain hotel Paro, the owner of the hotel took pity on our shivering souls and offered us a place to stay in the roof attic where the employees sleep. We took it! With temperatures dipping below zero and the roof attic becoming really cold, we tugged ourselves in the quilt, hugged each other tight and slept. It was a truly long day!
The morning drive from Thimphu to Paro was exciting. Paro is a very small town compared to Thimphu. Thimphu has ATMs but I found few in Paro. Once reached, I set out for Chelela Pass. Clouds were floating by and freezing wind was blowing. In the midst, prayer flags were fluttering as if they were protectors of this remote and mythical land.
4. Paro - The drive from Haa to Paro was a memorable one through the Chelala Pass (the highest motorable road in Bhutan). Chelela Pass was full of snow and we had a lot of fun engaging in snowball fights and making a ridiculous looking snowman. It was sunny up there and the air free of any pollution made the sun literally burn our skin. We had to take off our jackets and then too we were sweating with snow all around us.
Paro Tshechue/Paro Festival which happens in the month of April at the Rinpung Dzong is a series of dance performances by the monks and laymen wearing ornate costumes and masks. It is said that one gains merit by attending these festivals. (WooHoo! Brownie points for being a part of this) We woke up at 3am (we surprise ourselves by doing things like these :p ) to witness the Thongdrel festival – which is an unfurling of a massive embroidered painting of Guru Rinpoche. It is considered so sacred that simply seeing a Thongdrel unfurl is said to cleanse one’s sins!
Tiger’s Nest or Paro Taktsang monastery in Paro is by far the most iconic symbol of Bhutan. Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated at this monastery. Hence the name – ‘Tiger’s Nest’. The trek takes about 6 hours which includes the tour of the monastery. The trail is uphill but not very steep, pretty doable we must say. It is tiring yes, gives you a serious fitness check (if you don’t believe in any form of exercise, like us!) but believe us, once you reach the top and inhale the pure and serene air, you will forget the aching bones and the gasping you experienced. The scenery over the valley is just mind blowing – completely lined with prayer flags and prayer wheels.
Day 4: On our way to Paro. 2nd important city and in fact only city with airport in Bhutan.. 1.5 hr ride from Thimpu .. 50 kms.Bhutan major attraction - Tiger nest.. Have always been enticed by its wallpaper like pics.. Time to turn imaginations into reality..Taktsang, or the Tiger's Nest Monastery, is one of the most sacred sites in Bhutan. one of the most challenging monasteries to get to. Located at an elevation of over 10,000 feet, Taktsang is the birthplace of Bhutanese Buddhism.
256 Kms from Thiksi
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 water...
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 ~13 kms 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
Tourism department conduct one day trip to Cherrapunji which includes waterfalls (Nohkalikai is more famous), a cave, Ramkrishna Mission school and a garden. The high attractions are the waterfalls (during some seasons these get dry, one can avoid then) and the cave. The cave is quite big with some small openings for one to pass through. One should also visit double decker roots bridge for which transport would be through either local taxis or a reserved taxi. One has to walk up and down almost 3000 stairs to get to the place (almost 1.5-2hrs). I also liked spending a night in homestay nearby and visiting the bridge early in the morning again when there was no crowd and the environment was calm.
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.
270 Kms from Thiksi
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...
Though Bhutan and India have multiple border crossings, the most convenient and common among all is from the border of Jaigao-Phuentsholing -- where Jaigao is the last Indian town and from Pheutsholing the Bhutanese territory starts. Opened Monday-Friday from 9-5, it is in the immigration office of Phuentsholing where nearly all border accessing applications for tourists arrive. Provide a photo ID and you get the permission in a couple of hours, depending upon how long is the queue.To get a permit for your motrobike you need toIf you manage to get the permission before 2 pm, it is well worth using the same day and travelling to Paro. Those not hurrying can even consider staying for the first night in Phuentsholing, which has enough to offer to a tourist. But for those short with time, a 4 hour journey to Paro (from Phuentsholing) can be easily made the same day they applied for a tourist permit.To enter in Phuentsholing, you need not have a tourist permit with you. Even an Indian number plate vehicle can pass through with no problem. But as soon as you exit Phuentsholing, towards Thimpu or Paro, there’s an immigration checkpoint that asks for a valid tourist permit.
Day 2, Nov 2nd, 2017: Next day morning woke up to find a faded white streak of the Kanchenjunga range as the train was approaching NJP station. I had figured out that the train was already running 2.5 hours late. A spur of nervousness aroused within thinking about the permit timings, but as the train was traversing across the dense forest range of Sevoke, the turquoise blue Teestha River & the green carpet of the tea gardens of Sukna, I took a deep breathe, decided to calm down & enjoy the moments for now.At around 14:00 hrs, after a delay of almost 4 hours, we finally reached Hasimara, which is the nearest railway station from Bhutan border. Boarded a cab, for 400 bucks & reached Phuentsholing at around 14:30 hrs.At 15:00 hours Karan who was appointed by Tashi to help us with our permit processes approached us & we rushed to the immigration office to get our permits done. I was almost shattered to find there that the person who was in charge of collection of the documents was kind of rude & was rejecting every requests made before us since it was closing time for them, but I do not know what Karan spoke in Bhutanese with the guy, that he chose to grant our permits. Mine was the last permit which was granted for the day.Karan dropped us to the bus station. At 16:00 hrs the bus started for Thimphu and as soon as we crossed Phuentsholing, we could feel the fresh air of Bhutan. I kept watching the glorifying setting sun, playing hide & seek in the range of mountains we were crossing. I kept gazing at the moon & had become nostalgic over the fact that we don’t usually see such bright moonlight these days. I had gone back to my childhood.The bus halted at Karma hotel at around 19:30 hours where I had Suja (Butter tea) for the 1st time & I must say it’s a must try. We hogged rice, dal & Bhutanese pork curry and started for Thimphu again.At around 22:00 hrs Bhutanese time, we reached Thimphu & Tashi had already send his person Jimmy to pick us up from the bus station. It was cold as hell & as soon as we reached the hotel, Norkel Chopyel, the 1st thing I saw was the bed & I passed out.
Day 7, Nov 7th, 2017: This time Tashi came himself to pick us up at 06:00 hrs to drop us to the bus station. I could not thank him enough for the wonderful stay & trip management he coordinated. We bid farewell to Thimphu & Tashi with loads of memories to cherish before we started off our return journey.I was eager to walk in to my country & have some Bengali food for lunch. We had “Mach Bhaat” at Jaigaon & my appetite was completely satisfied to finally have ghar ka khaana after a long time. This time as we had a lot of time in hand, we chose to go in an auto to Hasimara station instead of a cab which costed us around 200 bucks. Our train was bang on time & we boarded for Kolkata. After dinner, as I was trying to sleep, Bhutan & its beauty kept on hovering in my mind & I knew that this hangover had to be there for few days.
We got up early the next day and visited the city bus stop at 7am to get our tickets reserved for Thimphu. They operate 18 seater comfortable buses with no standing passengers. We bought 2 tickets for Rs.245 each to Thimphu for the 2pm bus and planned to get our permits and do some sight seeing in Phuentsholing by then. Private cabs charge about Rs. 3000 and share cabs about Rs. 750 per head for the same route.
Day 1: Delhi -> Bagdogra -> PhuntsholingWe, a group of seven people had finalized our Bhutan trip in April. As four of us stay in Delhi and three were coming from Kerala, we opted for landing at Bagdogra Airport and then taking a cab provided by our travel agent to cross the border gate and reach Phuntsholing. We reached Phuntsholing in around four hours around 10 PM and instantly the unique and intricate building designs let us know that we have left our country behind. We went to our hotel to sleep, eagerly waiting for our trip to kick start properly the next day.
We got our local visa sorted at the passport office right next to the border and it roughly took an hour and a half. You can only take passes for Thimphu and Paro from this office, for all the other areas, you will have to take passes either from Thimphu or Paro. We took a traveller from Phuentsholing at around 2 pm and reached Thimphu around 8-8.30 in the night where we were welcomed by our amazing host at the pre-booked Airbnb Villa.
Day 3: The zeal was at its par once we reached to New Alipurduar from there we took mini bus to Pheuntsholing- The gateway of Bhutan by road from India.The next spot to explore was Zangtho Pelri Lhakhang: This city centre temple represents the heaven of Guru Rinpoche. Again the chilled evenings waited for the sun to rise with every single day getting close to summer.
Today, after breakfast drive back to Phuentsholing - the gateway to the south and thriving commercial trade centre on the northern edge of the Indian plains. On arrival, check in to your hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure. Overnight in Phuentsholing (B)
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.
272 Kms from Thiksi
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. ...
Gangtok to Jaigaon (230 Kilometers)Sikkim has given us valuable life lessons every time we visited. This time Sikkim gave us a lesson in destiny. Swatabdi had forgotten her scarf at one of the shops the previous evening. We were all set to start for Jaigaon but Swatabdi insisted on going to the shop again to get the scarf. We were walking towards the shop when I saw a familiar face sipping tea on the roadside. The familiar face was that of one of my inspirations in life; and with childlike excitement I just asked him, “Biru?” The Bhutanese embassy being closed on weekend, we finding a good hotel deal in Gangtok, Swatabdi forgetting her scarf and both of us taking a walk to get back the scarf at the precise moment when Biru was having tea, it all fell into place! The cosmic forces in the universe had inclined together to make us meet Rohit Upadhayay on the road! The fanboy in me started jumping around. We didn’t find the scarf but we got the privilege of spending some quality time listening to stories of Biru’s Eurotrip adventures. Our day was made. That night we dreamt of doing a roadtrip to Europe together.
Shillong to Jaigaon (480 kilometers)We bid adieu to the land of clouds and started our journey to the land of the thunder dragon! Our onward journey from Jorabat to Shillong was in pitch dark and we only realized the beauty of the road when we rode on it this morning. The road condition was excellent with gentle turns and amazing views, it was a dream downhill ride for any biker. We briefly stopped at the Umiam Lake to admire the huge lake. It took us some time to cross the traffic at Guwahati and once we did that it was a speedy ride on the plains with the tea gardens accompanying us on both sides. We kept munching hundreds of kilometers and reached the border town of Jaigaon-Phuntsholing. We checked into a hotel and that is where disaster struck! We were aware that the embassy in Phuntsholing would remain closed on weekends however it completely skipped out of our mind and we found ourselves in Jaigaon on a Friday evening. The excitement of riding international now turned into a disappointment. We were now looking at spending Christmas Eve in the sleepy and boring town of Jaigaon.
We boarded our train from Ahmedabad, yes you read it right. We started on a 52-hour journey from Ahmedabad to New Cooch Behar (Somewhere in West Bengal). The train got delayed, obviously while crossing UP and Bihar, and we reached our destination 16 hours late. Yes, we were in that train for 68 hours. After reaching Cooch Behar, we found a hotel to stay overnight and left for Phuentsholing the next morning. Jaigaon is the last town before we crossed the border and reached the beautiful country of Bhutan. The difference in the two sides, though just divided by a large gate, was clear and there were no honks, roads were clean, drivers were obeying traffic rules and you could sense the calm surroundings.
-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.