NORTHEAST INDIA - part of the East Himalayan region, and extending from Sikkim eastwards - comprises of the seven sister states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura.
Connected to India by a narrow stretch of land called the "chicken's neck", NEI is strategically located with borders of Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Myanmar and Tibet. All seven states are within the Jurisdiction of Guwahati High Court. NE India area is endowed with forest wealth, and the natural resources of exotic flora and fauna are invaluable to the development of eco-tourism. Containing a high tribal population in states of Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland; each tribe has its distanct tradition of art and culture.
Another notable mention is the 2,900km Bramaputra River - the world's tallest river over sea level. Source from the Himalayas, it flows into the Indian Ocean then runs east for 1,800km through most of southern Tibet before it suddenly turns south and crosses the Himalays in 5,000-metres-deep gorges. Reaching India, the Bramaputra (son of Brahma) runs west and south through Assam and Bangladesh (there, the river is known as Jamuna), where it merges with the Ganges and forms a huge delta.
There is a quote that says NE India is a region that is "on the map, but off the mind...". Definitely there are many more such places on earth that would fit that quote, but particularly Northeast India would be worth a little more mention since it seemed "so near yet so far" in a region where people would know the Himalayas but missed its neighbour.
30 Nov 2007 (Fri)
OURS was a 9pm flight and after about 4.5 hours journey, and we arrived Calcutta. And interestingly as we were on a budgeted trip, when we arrived the budgeted hotel, the street outside as well as the hotel was pitch dark - meaning, there were no street lights and hotel's signboard and the hotel lobby was not lighted up. The hotel operator had to run the generator to let the lights run while we waited outside along the road. When the hotel was ready for receiving guests, we checked-in, and stayed for one night.
1 Dec 2007 (Sat)
CALCUTTA --> GUWAHATI --> SHILLONG
On the roads: 3 hours
It was not a very pleasant rest but made do with it, that's travelling on a budget. The room..
We waited for more than an hour for our breakfast, when only the coffee arrived first,
and about an hour later then the main course...
Calcutta street, viewed from room
To the Bengalis, Kolkata is a proud intellectual capital of India, with an outstanding contribution to the arts, services, medicine and social reform in its past, and a rich contemporary cultural life. As the former Imperial capital, Kolkata retains some of the country's most striking colonial buildings, yet at the same time it is truly an Indian city.
Pushpak Hotel where we stayed overnight
A short walk out in Calcutta streets...
Our supplement morning coffee/tea
Walking along street back to hotel... the rickshaws here are unique only to Calcutta
Took a domestic flight at noon and arrived Guwahati Borjhar Airport 1 hour 10 minutes later.
Local driver securing our luggage/bags atop the van with a rope...
A 3-hour drive towards Shillong
...stopover for lunch
Arrived Shillong, the capital of the state of Meghalaya.
Meghalaya has been called 'The Scotland of the East' because of the similarity of climate, terrain and scenery with the Scottish highlands.
Chantilli Orchid Lake Resort Hotel, where we stayed
Weather was chilly in the evening. Dinner was prepared for us in a restaurant (near hotel's lobby). Food was good
2 Dec 2007 (Sun)
ShILLONG --> CHERRAPUNJI/ ASSAM (Kaziranga National Park, Assam Tea Plantations)
On the roads: 10 hours
Breakfast... at same restaurant where we had our dinner last night
Our bags/luggages... ready to move to next destination
Drove southwards 2 hours towards Cherrapunji...
Spotted these beautiful flowers at a petrol kiosk
..hitting the roads again...
Stopped at Duwangsin viewpoint....
An hour later, arrived Cherrapunji.
Cherranpuni is universally known to be the wettest place on earth, and also is the only place in India which has just one season - the monsoon. Its been said there is no month without rain, though rain occurs mostly at night. Cherrapunji's average annual rainfall is 1,205cm (comparable to Singapore's of 234cm average annual rainfall amount)
Noh Kalikai Falls, world's fourth highest:-
Taking pictures of the surroundings seems more exciting to me than watching the falls, though it can be quite pretty.
Next we drove a short distance to arrive Mawsmaicave, a limestone cave with a large fossil passage and two stream ways...
Entrance to cave...
Next we headed for Thangkharang Park, vicinity of Cherrapunji.
This is the Prunus Cerasoides flowers - "India's Sakura" i thought! Nice pink...
By the time we reached this restaurant for lunch it was already 2.30pm. However the service was impeccably slow, we spent 2 hours in there...- 1 hour waiting for our food. And this place is crowded
A narrow pathway outside the restaurant led us to the toilet room at the back of the restaurant, and while waiting, I saw this bird
After the much-delayed lunch, we drove further northeast to Kaziranga National Park. It was 8pm when we stopped at a Chinese restaurant for dinner, simple enough to fill our stomachs.
We hit back on the roads again after dinner and a short rest. Then one of the jeeps ran out of petrol and 2 groups of us drove to a "petrol kiosk", but when hitting on the roads again an hour later, the jeep stalled and driver realised he had been tricked. It was not 'petrol' but with mixture of water that was being loaded!!! It was coming to midnight and the 3 children in that car were asleep.
We (group of us 4) were in this other jeep that had to tug the other behind (where the family group were in). Not forgetting the weight carried by the jeep and the no-lights road we were being driven along, we were all admiring our driver's skills!! My friend who sat at the back of the jeep was definitely wide awake as she was so worried that if the strap that towed the jeep behind snap, and of which would hit the rear window behind her, she would get hit.
Good thing that we all arrived safely at Bon-habi Resort , though very late, about 4.30am in the morning - and very cold!
And when we went into our own cottages, there were no electricity. With the cold night air and all of us feeling so tired, the hotel staffs helped run the generator so that we could get electricity - the 20 minutes wait seemed long.
3 Dec 2007 (Mon)
ASSAM (Kaziranga National Park, Assam Tea Plantations)
Everyone in the group woke up late so by the time we met for breakfast in the restaurant, it was about 11am.
After brunch, we headed to Assam Tea Plantations - world famous plantation for Assam tea - famous for its rich full bodied, bright liquor. The tea from Assam is best for those who prefer a strong cup. To know more about tea cultivation in Assam and the glorious period of its recognition, please go to fmldotcom
We stopped along the road outside Kaziranga National Park to catch a glimpse of the animals...
and these 3 local kids got curious with us onlookers that they decided to join in...
Men behind the preparation
After late lunch, we drove into Kaziranga National Park, to watch sunset and the elephants getting ready for bath and returning to their "home" to rest for the day
4 Dec 2007 (Tue)
ASSAM --> ARUNACHAL PRADESH (Itanagar)
On the roads: 4 hours
Arunachal Pradesh is Northeast India's largest and most remote state with a population of just over one million, and also the least densely populated state with about 13 people per sq km.
The entire region had remained isolated since 1873 when the British stopped free movement. After 1947 AP became part of the North East Frontier Agency (NEFA). Its strategic significance was demonstrated by the Chinese invasion in 1962, and the India government subsequently broke up the Agency giving statehood to all the territories surrounding Assam. AP became the 24th state in 1987, though China continues to argue that until the international border between it and India are agreed, some of the territory remains disputed. At the same time the state is disputing its southern border with Assam, and in April 2001, the state government lodged a petition with India's Supreme Court against the government of Assam for 'large scale encroachment' on its territory. Having long borders with China and Myanmar, it is a truly Frontier State. The state was opened to tourists in 1995. (source: lonely planet)
Kaziranga National Park is the home of the Great Indian One Horned Rhinoceros. Other residents we saw in our safari tour included elephants, deers, wild boar, eagle and some migratory birds.
This morning, we were very excited with our itinerary as we shall experience riding on an elephant inside the park - the central and western range, for an hour!
This was the platform where we got on in oder to ride on the elephant
what an interesting kingdom!
Best moments captured.. baby elephant cleansing itself! So adorable that i had the urge to jump off the big elephant I was riding on and run to hug it.
Returning to pavilion to 'unload' the elephants
I bet it must have felt lighter!
Close up of baby elephant!!!
(it was only after we returned back to the entrance meeting spot that we got to know our tour leader had paid for us a fee that the local trainers wanted to collect for having stayed below the platform to get close to the elephants and took pictures of them which was not in the itinerary). Fortunately ~ I thought.
Lunch at Green Arayana Restaurant, dishes were individually scooped and served to you to your choice and quantity...
Back to the safari, this time the central/eastern range...
The armoured heavy-built animal!! The rhinos were impressively prehistoric, massive and seemingly impregnable, with huge boat-shaped heads and three heavy folds of carbuncled skin arranged fore, centre, and aft, like armoured blankets. Though they look ponderous, rhinos are capable of amazing bursts of speed when on the attack.
Look at how the birds flew onto the rhino's back for a free ride!
This rhino slowly tailed us to the road while we watched. I was trying to imagine how it looked so clumpsy is able to 'charge' at a high speed??!
Leaving behind the armoured creature, we headed off deeper into the range looking for birds..
Spotted an eagle's nest!
And this was the apple tree which elephants enjoy eating its ripen apples. A local guide plugged one and cut a slice and I tried. Slightly sweet with a tad dryness - I liked it instantly, as for that moment I felt I could understand the elephant's diet!!!.... (though only their fruit meal from an apple tree!)
This was definitely one of the most enjoyable days I had thus far.
We were back to our hotel and packed our bags ready for the next move, to Itanagar - the capital of Arunachal Pradesh
Our early dinner, at the same Green Arayana Resort restaurant, during our stopover along the way...
We arrived ITANAGAR at night.
Hotel Itafort room
see the white door... open it and you've got a common (and narrow) balcony that leads to the next room...
view from balcony...
We had simple buffet in hotel's restaurant,