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Old 20th May 2012, 19:58   #1
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Default Guwahati - Kaziranga - Shillong trip

Hi All,

This is my first travellogue and thought of sharing my experiences of travelling to North East India sometime last year.

Travel was going to be a flight from Bangalore to Guwahati - with a stop at Kolkatta.

From there on, it was to be car/bus/trains and any other forms of transports that came along the way!

As it was peak winter (January - February) and my kid just two years old, was not really sure whether a) it was the perfect time to go there - normally people tend to visit during the Durga Puja Celebrations b) What would be the impact of getting a 2 year old kid on a plane for the first time and how would she tolerate the 4 hours flight time given the fact that she'd never been on a plane before!

None the less, plans were made, leaves taken from work and preparations (minimal) underway.

Flight was at 9 AM on Saturday Morning and I reached home from work at 6 AM to find my wife already up and done with most of the packing.

Luggage was intentionally kept as minimal as possible and bulk of the packing was keeping in mind the needs of the baby.

As usual, Meru cabs came half an hour late (which I had gotten used to by now, and had booked the back half an hour earlier to my scheduled departure time)

So finally the cab arrives and we start off........

Nothing special to write about at the checkin and boarding. Both my wife and I were tensed as the minute to take off approached. By now, the kid was taking it in her stride: our only concern - what would she do at take off!

At take off time, we showed her that the plane was moving and to our relief, she looks at the busses passing by and goes .. Yea... Bus.... and lets out a giggle!

Soon we were airborne.. with the worst behind us... (or so we thought!)

Pic - plane about to touch down at Kolkatta/Calcutta
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Old 21st May 2012, 00:49   #2
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Default Re: Guwahati - Kaziranga - Shillong trip

Contd...

The stop at Kolkatta/Calcutta was for 45 minutes with the usual mellee of people alighting and boarding and the resultant commotion :-)

The kid by this time went hyperactive wondering just why are we staying back while so meany people were getting off.

So we had to tell her that we were still here to see something called the "Himalayas" :-)


Pic - Kanchanjunga Mountain range and Teesta River that flows nesr NJP/New Japlaiguri!
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Old 21st May 2012, 01:12   #3
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Default Re: Guwahati - Kaziranga - Shillong trip

Contd.... 3

Guwahati was uneventful, and after staying in Guwahati for a couple of days, (and the mandatory rounds to Kamakhya etc) got to know that the Elephant Festival of Kaziranga was just begining!

So we quickly booked a ticket to Kaziranga eager to see what Kaziranga had to offer!

Pics - Kamakhya and Kaziranga
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Old 21st May 2012, 01:29   #4
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Default Re: Guwahati - Kaziranga - Shillong trip

Contd...

Kaziranga we had reached in the evening round about 4 PM. We were stopping over for the night in the tourist bungalow and next morning 4 AM was the Elephant Ride. So decided to make the most of the evening and take a Gypsy Ride followed by checking out the open air Film Show and then an esrly dinner!
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Old 21st May 2012, 01:36   #5
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Default Re: Guwahati - Kaziranga - Shillong trip

The gypsy ride was uneventful till a herd of elephants suddenly crossed paths and in the process a calf was separated from it's mother!

Needless to say, the next 2 minutes were not for the faint hearted, as the heard literally chased the vehicles thinking we were out to get the calf!
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Old 21st May 2012, 10:11   #6
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Default Re: Guwahati - Kaziranga - Shillong trip

Evening was fun with an open air theatre, long walks around British time bungalows that had now been converted to hotels, dinner (surprisingly good) and a good night's sleep at one of the cleanest hotels I had been in a long while!
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Old 21st May 2012, 10:40   #7
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Default Re: Guwahati - Kaziranga - Shillong trip

We had set an alarm for 4 AM the next day but for the life of us, we had no clue as to just what would be the reaction of the kid on the elephant ride. As such, we thought up a plan wherein if the kid did not want to go on the elephant, we would return back and just do a Gypsy ride like the previous evening.

Trouble was, on an elephant, you get to be much more closer to the Rhinos and other other anilams, whereas on a Gypsy, you are basically stuck with being stranded on the well marked designated roads!

So 4 AM we got up - thankfully there was hot water in the bathroom. After a quick bath and the customary dozen or so cups of tea (straight out of the surrounding Tea gardens as I was assured!) we were finally on our way.

Now, the easiest way you can get accomodation+food+an elephant safari is booking the Assam Tourism official sight seeing guided tour.

Tickets are available at the Assam Tourism office near Pan Bazaar - en route to the Guwahati Railway Station and behind the RBI office.

After booking tickets it's either Assam Tourism Bus that you can take, or if you plan of hiring a car, can skip transport and just do the roads alone meeting up with the team directly at Kaziranga.

Getting an Elephant Safari ticket is otherwise a daunting affair as I found out after seeing a group of people who, even after an hour of efforts, were left making the rounds on Gypsies - that are OK for an evening drive through the park, but cannot be the best form of travel within the park early in the morning.
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Old 21st May 2012, 10:54   #8
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Default Re: Guwahati - Kaziranga - Shillong trip

The day was just breaking and the skies and surroundings were alive with birds and herds of animals as we made our way to the place which the Rhinos frequented the most.

Per our guide, every year, just before the tourist season starts, the wild elephant grass that Kaziranga is just teeming with, is burnt down on purpose.

This serves a dual purpose of augmenting fresh growth and bringing in the Rhinos and other game life into the more frequented and accessible regions of the park as Rhinos seem to like the fresh grass that just about coincides with the start of the tourist season.

And animals, of all hues and sizes and colours, we saw aplenty!
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Old 21st May 2012, 11:01   #9
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Default Re: Guwahati - Kaziranga - Shillong trip

More Pictures

We were told that the elephant calf that you can see with one of the pack elephants - was bred in captivity and was three months old.

It would take on the task of joining it's mother around when it was 5

The Rhino kid you see in the pics is just a month old!
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Old 21st May 2012, 11:09   #10
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Default Re: Guwahati - Kaziranga - Shillong trip

More Pics

A quick check to see how the kid was coping up thus far had the kiddo with big eyes surprised to see things like rhinos and elephants even existed outside of story books and TV

So we asked her how she was doing and she lets out a surprised .. "Eeee... Nyno"
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Old 21st May 2012, 11:40   #11
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Default Re: Guwahati - Kaziranga - Shillong trip

On the last leg of the elephant tour, we veered way from the grasslands and entered the semi forest region passing through a semi dried up stream.

Our guide showed us what looked like pug marks of animals that come down here for water.

Among the pug marks were deer, elephants etc

We ended the run at the further end of the park from where we were brought back by Gypsy

By now, the kiddo was hungry and we say a small shop that had eggs, the ever present Chips, and some local savouries.

Gave the kid a sweet puffed rice savory and came back to the hotel to have a well deserved breakfast.

That the kiddo was hungry was evident from the fact that it was just the aroma of breakfast that she seemed to be attacted to! (Lil Mask anyone!)
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Old 22nd May 2012, 16:45   #12
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The journey back took us to some quaint nooks around some of the most pictursque places I had seen in a while.

We reached Guwahati about 5 in the evening and plans were already afoot to visit Shillong the next couple of days.

Plans were finalized, taxi booked and we started off a couple of days later at 6 in the morning. From Guwahati to Shillong is a drive of about a hundred kilometers through hills and some of the densest pine forests.

Breakfast was at Nongphu. There were quaint shops selling knick knacks. Pickles were the flavour of the season and the pickles here are the tradidional Khasi pickpes that tend to be quite different to the ones we are accustomed to!

Bang in the midst of it all was a DTP/Computer shop! Hadn't seen a DTP shop in a while!

Next stop was "Umiam Lake" (Barapani)

Umiam Lake, also known as Barapani (Big Water) is a spot around 15 Km from Shillong where a massive hydro-electric dam has been constructed across the Umiam river stream. The Lake is popular for the Water Sport and adventure facilities that it offers. Kayaking, Water cycling/ scooting and boating are a few of the facilities available at the Umiam Lake. Meghalaya Tourism Department, runs the Orchid Tourist home overlooking the lake.
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Last edited by Jaggu : 22nd May 2012 at 17:59. Reason: Back to back post, please use EDIT once the posts are approved. Thank
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Old 22nd May 2012, 18:02   #13
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Default Re: Guwahati - Kaziranga - Shillong trip

Shillong, is a study in contrasts. On one hand you have British bungalows competing with RCC structures that are now slowly but steadily edging out the old world charm.

Shillong has long been home to some of the finest residential schools in the North East and some of the finest colleges.

List of educational institutions in Shillong - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

St. John's Whitehall has been my alma mater and it was fun driving around reliving old memories.

Shillong is called the "Scotland of the East" and with good reason.

Shillong - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


First stop was "Elephant Falls" (described in one of the pictures)

After spending some time there and having some of the best Khasi edibles (pork meat balls, local Kebabs etc) available at the entrance of the falls, we were off to check out the "Shillong View Point"

That's a peak from where the entire Shillong City can be seen!
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Old 22nd May 2012, 18:15   #14
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Default Re: Guwahati - Kaziranga - Shillong trip

Next stops were the famed Wards Lake : Known locally as Nan-Polok. Its an artificial lake with sprawling garden and some boating facility. Located right at the heart of Shillong

When I was a kid, we used to come here for boating and the lake used to be filled with Gold Fishes which we used to feed popcorn!

Though the water was slightly brackish, the fishes were there!

Ah! Old memories!

From there we went on to get a view of the "Victoria Falls" and the Golf Links

Golf link : Shillong has one of the largest golf courses (the world's wettest) in Asia and the golf course is called Gleneagles of the East. It enjoys the rare distinction of being one of the few natural golf courses in Asia. Not only is the Shillong golf course scenic and enjoyable, it is also challenging. A group of British Civil Service officers introduced golf to Shillong in 1898 by constructing a nine hole course. The present 18 hole course was inaugurated in 1924. The course is set in an undulating valley covered with pine and rhododendron trees. The tight fairways, carpeted with a unique local grass which hardens the soil, are difficult to negotiate. The number of out-of-bounds streams that criss-cross every fairway makes it all the more trying. Obstructions come in the form of bunkers, trees and rain. The longest hole is the 6th, which is a gruelling 594 yards.

From there on, we had luch and started our journey back to Guwahati!
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Old 22nd May 2012, 18:26   #15
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Default Re: Guwahati - Kaziranga - Shillong trip

The return trip was uneventful apart from a huge traffic snarl due to an accident.

Below pics were taken on the return leg....
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