Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Assam Arunachal Pradesh And Meghalaya

Hello Readers!
Well, today I will be posting a travelogue from my journey to Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya over the summer vacations of my final year! I have also put in some of the pictures that I clicked while visiting these beautiful states of North East India. (29/5/13 – 8/6/13)


Day 1 (New Delhi - Guwahati)

It was a sunny Wednesday morning in Delhi when my parents and I boarded a flight from the New Delhi airport to Guwahati. It was a beautiful plane journey with long trails of clouds to look at, out of the plane window. Guwahati airport welcomed us with an overcast sky and drenching rain. But the love of rain and the little drops falling in our hands lifted up our mood and prepared us for a fun filled journey. Our first stop was the Kamakhya Devi Temple, in Guwahati. It was an auspicious start to our trip. We then returned to our hotel. After freshening up, my parents and I went on an our hour long cruise over the Brahmaputra river, stretching for miles and miles, the beauty was a treat to the eyes. With Honey Singh, and old as well as new bollywood songs playing for us to tap our feet on, and sites that were mesmerizing, the cruise got my definite thumbs up!

DAY 2 (Guwahati – Bhalukpong)

A coconut water stall on the way!
Jaybharoli river
On day two we continued our journey towards Tawang (Arunachal Pradesh) and headed for our destination for the day – Bhalukpong. Bhalukpong lies at Assam – Arunachal Pradesh border, and we stayed in Assam, and it took us about four hours for us to reach Bhalukpong from Guwahati. Heavy rains accompanied our journey, and it was difficult for us to see the road further ahead of us. On our way we had free nucleus, coconut water. It was really refreshing! On the way, we also crossed the Brahmaputra Bridge which was 3kms long! It boggles my mind to think just how much time and effort it would have taken to construct the bridge and towers for power supply.
On our way we took a small detour and went to a small village called Nameri. Through broken and rain clogged roads, we visited an Eco Camp set up in the heart of the village. There was a pigmy conservation program being run there by the government. We then went and saw a river – Jaybharoli (which changes its name in Arunachal Pradesh). It was a beautiful stream of clear running water. It felt like heaven’s manifestation on earth. We then finally arrived at our hotel where we had booked a cottage with a beautiful scenic view.
We went down trekking over pebbles to the stream that flowed just behind our cottage. It was then time for us to have dinner (Chiken Butter masala and naan – yumm!) and take rest, for we had another journey in 
the morning.

DAY 3 (Bhalukpong – Dirang)

After a filling breakfast of puri bhaji and clicking a few (a lot!) snaps, we headed for a seven and a half hour long journey to Dirang (even though the distance is just about 133kms). The weather was pleasant and by the evening everything turned chilly and cold. For those travelling via the same route, I advise you to please carry with yourselves some sweaters and jackets. On our way we stopped at a beautiful monastery in Bomdila, a small town in Arunachal Pradesh. With not much to eat and after travelling on bumpy roads for so long, we were too tired and went straight up to sleep. The next day demanded our full attention as we were to leave for Tawang (finally) in the morning.

DAY 4 (Dirang – Tawang)
Sela Pass
On this day, my parents and I woke up at five in the morning to leave for Tawang. Tawang is a city that lies on the Indo – China border in Arunachal Pradesh. It is maintained by the Indian Army. We hopped from one mountain to another crossing streams and falls throughout our journey. We had a few stops on the way. The first was Sela Pass, which is the peak of a mountain, and we were 13700 feet high! It had a beautiful lake and rocks all along. The scenery was a treat to all our senses. We decided to have tea and momos in the small hut set up by a woman out there. Over there, I met a young eight year old girl, Sancho. She was home from her boarding school in Tawang on vacation. She in many ways is an inspiration to young children, to many of those kids who come from poor backgrounds and cannot go to school. It is the place of birth that is not under our control, however, where life takes us as we grow lies in our hands.  
Sela Pass
So, after the yummiest momos ever, we continued our journey. The next stop was a place called Jaswantgarh. It had an army memorial for the Indian army leader, Jaswant Singh, during the 1962 Indo –China war. It is believed that his soul protects the people inhabiting that area. As a souvenir, I bought an Indian Army cap. After having samosas and tea, we sat back on a hired Tata Sumo and continued on the path. About 22 kms before Tawang, we saw the Tawang falls, which were beautiful with clear water flowing off rocks and striking pebbles on its way. Then we finally arrived in Tawang in chilly weather after a late lunch (at 6pm - go figure). It was night time then, and we settled in our hotel for a good night’s sleep.

DAY 5 (Tawang)

Tawang Falls
This was the day we spent in Tawang. Our first stop was the PTSO Lake. It was a beautiful lake surrounded by colourful flowers and had the most attractive scenery. Then we went to a gumpha which is a prayer area away from the main monastery. It was an extremely different experience. The people who had come there to pray spoke to my parents and I about their culture. They had also begun their prayers by then, and so they included us and made us join the prayer as well. We left the gumpha with happy smiles and went over to our next stop which was a nunnery for Buddhist women by the name – Tashi Delek, Tukje Choeling Nunnery.
We then moved on to see the main Tawang Monastery. It was really huge and a stark difference to all the other monasteries I had been to. It also had a museum which we had the opportunity to visit. Our next stop was Urgyelling, which is the birthplace of the sixth Dalai Lama. It was a small place, but had a completely different and spiritual aura to it. At this point, it had also started to drizzle!
Our next stop was the war memorial of the Indo – China war of 1962. At that point of time, it was undergoing some construction and repair work, nevertheless, the information in the memorial brought about a good feeling of patriotism and a new respect for all the people that work together, away from their homes, to protect a country (not just mine, but yours too!).
Main Monastery - Tawang 
Our next stop was the trade fare of Tawang, which for a Delhi girl like me, felt really little and we ended up walking in and out of the door within ten minutes, empty handed. We then went to meet The DC, Mr Abhishek Dev and his wife at their house in Tawang. They were really nice people and also gifted us with traditional souvenirs of Tawang. Thank you so much for the warm welcome!

After the yummiest meal of Paneer Butter Masala, my parents and I went for a peaceful sleep.

DAY 6 (Tawang - Bombdila)

Today we started early in the morning for a ten hour journey from Tawang to Bombdila. It was an interesting journey over non-existent roads, more like muddy trails. At a great height we were within the clouds. In fact, one could easily see water droplets around themselves! Now I know what it is like to look at clouds from below, from above, through the aeroplane and what it is like to be amongst them!
Other than dancing amongst the clouds, nothing eventful happened, and in about ten hours, we were in our 
hotel and off to sleep.

DAY 7 (Bombdila – Bhalukpong Kaziranga)

Hello there! Let’s continue our journey forward. I hope I’ve kept you with me till now, because this is where the twist in the tail happens!
Baathban, where we tried traditional Assamese food
As planned, we started from Bombdila to go on a four hour journey to Bhalukpong. However, like any great mind works, our minds started wandering much farther than Bhalukpong. So, betraying our pre-decided plan, we decided to go much ahead and instead stay in Kaziranga National Park. Since the national park was closed it was a faint possibility for us to see the Rhino; But guess what? We were in luck! On our way to our resort, we spotted Rhinos. And not just one or two, we saw four! Kaziranga National Park is the only place in the world where one can see these magnificent animals!
The resort was a beautiful place for us to relax and enjoy the evening. They had set up a ‘Baathban’ which was a restaurant where they served traditional assamese food. They also had a traditional seating area! We tried the assamese food, eating the traditional way. Want to know what was the best?  If you are going to try one food in Assam, the dish made with banana flowers and eaten with rice is a must!
It was then time for us to sit, relax and go to bed!

DAY 8 (Kaziranga - Guwahati)

My parents and I woke up in Iora Resort Kaziranga and went out for a healthy morning stroll. After refreshing ourselves with good oxygen and freshening up, we went up yo the restaurant for a buffet breakfast. Now that we had filled ourselves with certain amounts of yummy calories, my father and I decided to burn them. We went upto the badminton court and had a good long game of badminton. We then went to the table tennis room and tried our hand at TT (However, I was really bad at that – I got to learn).
It was then time for us to freshen up and leave for our next destination – Guwahati.
We started from Kaziranga at about noon. On our way back, we saw another group of four Rhinos. We then reached Guwahati and decided to see Srimanta Sankaradeva Kalakshetra. It was really beautiful. There was a museum, an art gallery and another museum for Bhupen Hazarika, the singer of dil hum hum kare. The main museum was nice and has the traditional elements of Assam that included masks, utensils, musical instruments and dresses.
It was then time for us to buy a new suitcase because we had shopped ourselves short of one!

DAY 9 (Guwahati - Shillong)

Seven Sister Falls
Our driver changed today and we then went on our trip to Shillong, in the beautiful state of Maghalaya. Shillong is a big city on the mountains with an equally huge amount of traffic. We reached Shilllong, a town thriving in the hills of Meghalaya by one in the afternoon and spent about two hours working our way through the traffic to find a good place to have lunch. After lunch, we went to visit Shillong Peak, the highest point from where the whole town of Shillong was visible.
We then went to Elephant Falls and Shillong Falls. The elephant falls were beautiful and a must see! However, I must say that the beauty of Tawang cannot be compared to anything I have ever seen. We gen went to shop at the bazaarof Shillong, from where my mother and I bought Jainsems – the traditional dress of Meghalaya for ourselves.

DAY 10 (Shillong – Cherrapunji - Shillong)

It was the day we saw the city with the highest amount of rainfall in the world. We started early in the morning to leave for Cherrapunji. Our first stop was the seven sister falls! It was a beauty to withhold. We could see seven falls from one point! Then we travelled further to see the Hidden Falls, which magically appeared from underneath the ground and travelled forward. The beginning of these falls is not yet known. 
The next point Ka Khoh Ramhah was a huge inverted stone that had developed over time in the place. As is custom, a story was made to support the presence of a giant rock, the story is as follows :
Ka Koh Ramhah Stone
Once upon a time there was a giant who used to torture the villagers. One day the villagers conspired to kill the giant and served him a meal with nails hidden inside. The giant died and the basket which he left on the ground became a big stone. People in Meghalaya use a cone-sized basket made of bamboo / cane to carry goods / vegetables etc. The shape of this stone is just like a cone-sized basket upside-down.

We then went to have a fun adventure in the Mawsmai Cave in Cherrapunji. The cave was huge with small bends and trenches, but travelling through it was one of the best experiences ever!

Mawsmai Cave!
 DAY 11 (Shillong - Guwahati)

It was the final day of our trip. My parents and I started early in the morning to leave for Guwahati. On reaching Guwahati, we visited the Tirupati Balaji Temple. With blessings, we then proceeded to the airport to once again, reach back home, and into the daily routine of life.

It was one of the most beautiful and amazing trips of my life! To all those who really wish to visit, I advise you to do it quick! Life is too short to make plans, and not act on them.
For all those visiting, please take your doctor’s advice before you leave if you are suffering from respiratory or heart diseases.  Health and safety are necessary for a fun life, after all.
I would like to end this eleven day long travelogue by saying that this trip is for people who love an adventure!