A tour of 5 states of Northeast - Nagaland, Assam (Cachar), Tripura, Mizoram and Meghalaya in Dec-2011. First attended the famous 'Hornbill Festival' of Naga Tribal Dances & Culture show, in Kisama, near Kohima. And then traveled extensively by MG-trains and Share-Sumos to see some interior areas of these 5 States. Manipur was also in the plan but did not go there, due to 'blockade' of roads into that state. 

Above Pictures: Two in each row from Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura and Meghalaya

The overall Route and major places visited: 
Nagaland: Dimapur > Kohima > Kisama > Khonoma > Dimapur
Cachar: Dimapur > Lumding > Haflong > Badarpur > Silchar
Tripura: Silchar > Karimganj > Agartala > Unakoti  > Udaipur > Matabari > Dharmapur > Silchar 
Mizoram: Silchar > Aizawl > Champhai > Rih-Dil (Burma) > Aizawl > Silchar
Meghalaya: Silchar > Jaintia Hills > Shillong > Cherrapunji > Mawlynnong > Shillong > Guwahati

KS Northeast Trip Dec-2011


Preface:

There are 4 states of Northeast that I have never visited in my life. Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura. Even Meghalaya can be included; as I had visited Shillong once, long ago, as a short trip from Guwahati. Visiting these 5 states has been on my mind for last 5-6 years. But I was concerned about the travel and security aspects in these regions. They seemed to be frequently in turmoil due to some local or regional agitations and insurgencies. 

However, since 2010, I noticed an improvement in the general situation and was surprised to find even “Incredible India” Ads promoting tourism in the Northeast.  This was a clear signal that these NE States were keen to have the Tourists visiting them and even Government machinery was being geared up to support that. Some NE Tourism departments were even offering organized packages to specific attractions in their States. 

Early in the year 2011, I decided I would visit this region in the coming winter season. The Hornbill Festival in Kohima, in the first week of December, became a focus-point and I decided to use that as a springboard and do a back-packing tour of the region, starting with Nagaland in the 1st week of December 2011.  Along the way Sadanand Kamath (SK, my usual trekking partner for Himalayan Treks) got interested and decided to join me on this Tour; but only for a fortnight.  

I was thinking of a unplanned, free-format, backpacking trip - but with SK on board it was not possible to do that as is a planning-perfectionist! - So I  let him plan the first fortnight in detail and decided I would do my 'unplanned backpack' for the remaining areas, after he returns to Mumbai. By October, we decided to drop Imphal, Manipur from our plan (due to the continuing road blockade there) and instead do the scenic North Cachar Hills by a MG-train. And so we now had only 4 states to cover. SK decided to do Nagaland and then Tripura to have an easy exit from Agartala via Kolkata. I decided to do Mizoram and Meghalaya in the latter half of the tour. 

The daily itinerary of the entire tour:

28th Nov 2011 (Day-1): Mumbai to Kolkata Indigo flight. N/H at Airways Lodge near airport
29th Nov 2011 (Day-2): Kolkata to Dimapur (with 1 stop at Dibrugarh) by Air India. Landed at 13:30 took an auto to Dimapur taxi-stand near Railway station to catch a share-taxi to Kohima. Stay in Kohima at Hotel Cimborg for 6 nights.
30th Nov 2011 (Day-3): Kohima local sight seeing Raj-Bhavan, DC Heritage Residence, WWII Cemetery, Bazaar, State Museum.
1st Dec 2011 (Day-4): Hornbill Festival (day-1) at Kisama Heritage Village
2nd Dec 2011 (Day-5): Hornbill Festival (day-2) at Kisama Heritage Village
3rd Dec 2011 (Day-6): Day trip in a reserved taxi to Khonoma Village
4th Dec 2011 (Day-7): Hornbill Festival (day-4) at Kisama Heritage Village
5th Dec 2011 (Day-8): Kohima to Dimapur by taxi. Dimapur Kachari ruins. Train to Lumding. N/H at Lumding in Hotel Global.
6th Dec 2011 (Day-9): Lumding to Silchar via Haflong by the MG train - Barak Valley Express (see: SK Report) - through scenic hilly terrain of Barak valley of Cachar, Assam. N/H at Silchar in Hotel Borail 
7th Dec2011 (Day-10): Silchar to Agartala by MG-train Agartala Passenger cutting across Cachar, Assam and along Tripura's border with Bangladesh via Badarpur, Karimganj and Dharmanagar. N/H in Ginger Hotel for 4 nights
8th Dec 2011 (Day-11): Day-trip in Hired taxi to South Tripura to Sipahijala (WLS & Zoo), Neer-Mahal on Rudra Sagar lake, Udaipur, Matabari (Tripureshwari temple).
9th Dec 2011 (Day-12): Day-trip in hired taxi to Unakoti (to see the huge Monoliths carved on rock-faces) through N.Tripura & Dhalai districts of Tripura.
10th Dec 2011 (Day-13): Agartala Local Sights – Rajar-bari (palace), Jagannath Temple, Lakshmi Narayan temple etc.
11th Dec 2011 (Day-14): SK flew back to Mumbai from here. I caught a morning train to Dharamapur. And from there by a share-Sumo to Silchar. N/H at Sudakshina Hotel. 
12th Dec 2011 (Day-15): Roaming around in dirty, dusty, down town of Silchar. Just a commercial centre; nothing much to see except the chaotic bustle of a NE hub-town.
13th Dec 2011 (Day-16): Share Sumo from Silchar to Aizawl (Mizoram) 9 hour scenic ride; reaching Zarkot Chowk in Aizawl at 16:30. Checked into Hotel Tropicana near sumo/taxi stands. Evening walk through Aizawl’s bazaar streets teeming with happy Mizos Christmas shopping in lit-up streets
14th Dec 2011 (Day-17): Day Trip by hired-taxi to Reiek Model Village (40KM) amazing display of model Mizo Homes in a village-setting, river views and State Museum. Visited KV paradise but was dark by then and closed.
15th Dec 2011 (Day-18): 9-hour Share Sumo ride to Champhai near Burma border. Awesome ride through green forests and hilly terrain. N/H at Champhai Mizoram Tourist G/H for 2 nights.
16th Dec 2011 (Day-19): Day-trip in a hired taxi from Champhai to Ridhil Lake, some 5 KM inside Burma border. Nice ride through hilly terrain and awesome misty views.
17th Dec 2011 (Day-20): Share-sumo repeat scenic ride back to Aizawl. Return sumos were running empty while onward ones to Champhai were overloaded, with Mizos going home for Christmas.
18th Dec 2011 (Day-21): Share-sumo scenic ride back to Silchar. N/H at same Sudakshina Hotel
19th Dec 2011 (Day-22): 12-Hour share-sumo ride from Silchar to Shillong thru scenic Jaintia Hills of East Meghalaya. N/H in Lamlyn Hotel in GS road for next 6 nights. 
20th Dec 2011 (Day-23): Visit to Don Bosco Museum of North East. Surprised by the quality of Museum displays of NE cultures and artifacts. Awesome place requiring a minimum 4-5 hours for a cursory walk through the 7-story 16-gallery museum.
21st Dec 2011 (Day-24): Shillong city sight-seeing tour (Meghalaya Tourism Coach) to Ward Lake, Golf Course, Don Bosco Church, Hydari Park, Shillong Peak etc.
22nd Dec 2011 (Day-25): Day Trip (Tourism coach tour) to Cherrapunji. Maw Dok Valley view, Eco-Park, Noshitiang Falls (running dry!), Mawsmai Caves, Monoliths, Thangkarang Park, Ramakrishna Mission, Nokhalikai Falls etc.
23rd Dec 2011 (Day-26): Shillong local walks in Police Bazaar & Bara Bazaar shopping areas with Christmas shopping crowds.
24th Dec 2011 (Day-27): Day Trip in hired share-taxi to Mawlynnong Cleanest Asian Village. Bamboo Skywalk to tree-tops for Bangladesh plains view and Riwai Root bridge crossing a stream. 
25th Dec 2011 (Day-28): Shillong walk around in bazaar areas on Christmas Day.
26th Dec 2011 (Day-29): 4-Hour Share taxi ride from Shillong to Guwahati Airport. On the way stopped at Umiam (Barapani) Lake for some pictures. Indigo flight to Kolkata.


The detailed travel stories, with pictures, are in following sub-pages: