November 26 — December 10, 2016
You will not see a single UNESCO world heritage architectural monument on this trip. And most probably not a single foreigner. We will see alternative India — absolutely different. To get the idea how DIVERSE and BEAUTIFUL this land is. We will enjoy the nature and get to know the 'real' people, tribal people — their lifestyle, beliefs — that’s the main point of this trip. We’ll go to the farthest North-East of India — the land between Bhutan, China, Myanmar and Bangladesh. We’ll see 3 out of 7 ‘sister’-states located here — Assam, Nagaland and Meghalaya.
—Tribes with strict patriarchy and matriarchy living side by side.
—Rhinos emerging out of the fog just before the dawn and birds soaring above the Brahmaputra waters at the sunset.
—Tea from famous Assam tea plantations — the most favourite of the British settlers.
—Bloody tantric cults of Shakti and music&theatre worship at the satra-monasteries.
—Living root bridges and the largest river island in the world.
—Hornbill — colorful tribal festival in Nagaland, the heaven for a photo-lover.
—Christianity neighboring shamanic cults and tribal chiefs authority inside a democratic state.
Guwahati – Kaziranga National Park – Majuli Island – Shivsagar and Assam tea plantations – Kohima and Hornbill Festival – Shillong – Cherrapunji – Guwahati
First week we explore Assam — the most ‘Indian’ state of all 7 ’sisters’. We see the capital of Guwahati with mystic temple of goddess Shakti, ride an elephant in Kaziranga National Park, learn how the tea is grown at the famous tea plantations, visit the largest river island in the world — Majuli and peek into fascinating culture of satra-monasteries there.
Next 2 days are full of colors and tribal activities at the Hornbill Festival in Nagaland. It’s the ‘wildest’ part of India to my mind, where the villages are still under local chiefs and some of them pay tributes to others.
And finally we reach ‘Scotland of the East’ — cosy scenic fairy-tale Meghalaya. We visit British built capital of Shillong and then we go into the wilderness for 3 days. 2 hours of trekking down to a small village at the bottom of the canyon to find ourselves in a fascinating Jumanji / hobbit world.
Itinerary with photos.
Group — 3-5 people.
Package price — $1450 for 15 days of full power traveling!
Included: all transportation according to the program (flight Delhi-Guwahati and Guwahati-Delhi; train Dimapur-Guwahati; most of the traveling is done by privately hired car; autorikshaws, ferry to Majuli Island);
accommodation in guesthouses on double-occupancy (single occupancy — $180 extra);
guide (Russian-national, speaks fluent English and Hindi);
excursions as per the tour program;
elephant safari and national park entrance fee;
tickets for all the sights, including elephant safari and national park entrance fee.
Not included: food (about $200 depending on your stomach, without alcohol);
flight to Delhi and back to your country;
Indian visa (visa on arrival available for many countries — $62);
Would you like to join us? Please drop me a line to firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment here. I’ll be glad to answer any of your questions.
Day 1 — November, 26.
Arrive in Delhi and fly to Guwahati, the capital of Assam. Check in at the guest-house. Lunch and short rest. Short walk around Guwahati followed by the Brahmaputra river cruise with a visit to the Peacock Island where the temple of Shiva Umananda is.
Night in Guwahati.
Day 2 — November, 27.
Visit Kamakhya Temple in the morning — one of the most mysterious places in the whole India. It is believed that the ‘hidden part’ of the goddess Sati’s body fell to the earth here after she immolated herself not being able to bear her farther’s insults towards her husband Shiva.
Drive by car / jeep to Kaziranga National Park (6 hours). Lunch in Tezpur on the way — where demon Banasura once kept his daughter Usha in the fire fortress. Enjoy the views over the city and the Brahmaputra from the top of the hill.
Night in Kaziranga.
Day 3 — November, 28.
Ride an elephant at the dawn in Kaziranga. Kaziranga is home to 80% of the one-horned rhino global population, and tigers, wild buffaloes, barasingha deers among others. Feel the magic of foggy dawn floating through the man-high elephant grass on the elephant back. When the sun is rising slowly one can see the rhinos raising their heads here and there. After breakfast — visit to a Karbi tribe village. After lunch — enjoy a jeep safari in the park. Afterwards we join the tribal dancers of Assam during the evening cultural show in Kaziranga.
Night in Kaziranga.
Day 4 — November, 29.
1,5 hour drive to a smaller sanctuary Hoolongapar — home to the only gibbon species found in India. 1 hour drive to Jorhat and lunch there.
2,5 hour ferry trip to Majuli Island — the largest river island in the world.
Night on Majuli.
Day 5 — November, 30.
Majuli is home to a special neo-Vaishnavite cult with music, dance, song and theater being a major part of it. The art is taught at the satras — monasteries. Local theater companies are invited to different parts of India to give shows. In the morning we see a short play on Ramayana epic. Then we drive around the island (possible on cycles and scooters too) to immense into local landscapes, monastery scenes and plunge into slow village life. Get to know the Missing tribe. Sunset at the river.
Night on Majuli.
Day 6 — December, 1.
Ferry back to Jorhat early in the morning. Tea tasting at the tea plantation. Drive to Shivsagar. Watch the people at the Shiva temple in the evening.
Night in Shivsagar.
Day 7 — December, 2.
Wander around 18 century palaces and temples of the Ahom dynasty which ruled this land for almost 600 years.
Catch a train from Jorhat to Dimapur at 14.10. Arrive in Dimapur, Nagaland at 16.30. Drive to Kohima, closer to the Hornbill Festival site.
Night in Kohima.
Day 8 — December, 3.
Hills of Nagaland are inhabited by many different tribes, all of which have their sacred festivals. The Hornbill Festival is the only festival when they all gather together. Tribal dance, sport competitions, food and colors. We spend 2 days here, in the place where National Geographic photographers take their fab photos.
Night in Kohima.
Day 9 — December, 4.
Night train to Guwahati.
Day 10 — December, 5.
Early morning arrival to Guwahati. Drive to Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya (2 hours). Watch the sunrise at the large Umiam lake. Short rest at the guest house.
The British loved this place when they discovered it in the 19th century, they called it — Scotland of the East. It once was the capital of Assam province which incorporated all the North-East.
In the morning we walk around narrow crooked streets of old market area where Khasi people sell everything one can think of. Then we visit Don Bosco Museum of tribes.
In the evening we join the men at the main Khasi entertainment — sort of a weird archery competition. The rules are simple: no matter who hits the goal. The main aim is to guess the last 2 digits of the exact number of the arrows to hit the goal — you can place a bet anywhere in the city.
Night in Shillong.
Day 11 — December, 6.
Drive to Cherrapunji (2 hours). It’s the wettest place on Earth boasting the record for the most rainfall in a calendar month and a year. No worries, it only happens during the summer and winter is the dry season there.
Crawl into the labyrinth of 2 karst caves, see high waterfalls (though not too much water during the dry season) and peek across the India — Bangladesh border.
Night in Cherrapunji.
Day 12 — December, 7.
Now it’s time for the most active part of our trip. Trek down into the canyon — into the world of Jumanji and hobbit land at the same time)) Tread the living root bridges above the streams, swing on suspension bridges of various length at various heights, swim in natural pools in the serenity of jungles. Meet the Khasi people living side by side with the nature and respecting its laws. The trek down is 2 hours.
Night in basic conditions in the village home-stay. Behave yourself and respect local ways! Or be punished)))
Day 13 — December, 8.
Full day wander around in the canyon — visit more villages and swim in the waterfalls.
Night in the village.
Day 14 — December, 9.
Trek up from the canyon back to the civilization — 3-4 hours. Drive to Shillong (2 hours).
Night in Shillong.
Day 15 — December, 10.
Drive to Guwahati (2 hours). Flight to Delhi. Flight back to your country.