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Old 12th March 2009, 15:59   #1
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Default Guwahati, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura

hi all. sitting now (again) in guwahati waiting for permits to nagaland and AP. just spent the last several weeks in the above places.

first, road conditions. if coming from siliguri to guwahati, take the southern route via goalpara. better road as the other one is under construction. in sousthern assam the roads around silchar are atrocious...to say the least. also, i was warned by EVERYBODY to avoid the cachar hills from silchar to haflong. bandits are competing with militants for your money!!
the roads in megalaya are great! very good condition in most places. the ttrip down to cherapunjee is outstanding and to stay in latkinsew (sp?) to take the walking trek to see the living tree bridges is as spectacular as gruelling! i have heard from ones who did it, that the center road from shillong to tura is horrible. there is a southern one but the military may not let anyone go on it. i will try to find out later about this.
the road from shillong east to silchar is great until the sign welcomes you to assam. then you can kiss the good roads goodbye. crossing down into mizoram the road is bad until (yep, guessed it) the border and then it is a beautiful highway all the way to aizawl. there is a big part of about 60kms under construction but it should be done by june. same for the road to lunglei in the south.
tripura has nice roads through rolling hills and flat areas.
you can go from aizawl to tripura without going back to silchar. up NW to mamit and then a small road also under construction.

i would say that mizoram is the most beautiful of the states i have been so far. mostly because of the mountains and riding the bullet here. there is not a lot of east-west travel though because of all the mountain ridges. the whole northeast is hazy now too because of the slash and burn farming going on. jhum farming.
meghalaya is also very clean mountain country and i want to see the western part around tura b4 i finish.
tripura is flatter and hotter but you can make better time there. lots of things to see and do there.

waiting now for my permits. for indian citizens it is an easy matter. being a foreigner makes some things difficult and others easy. ie, at the state bhavans, they go out of their way to help me.
after getting the permit for mizoram, i went through the border and nobody stopped me to see it. dammit, i thought as i went through. i WANTED to show it off!! and so i was in and without any time restriction either as i was not required to show up in the govt office to 'check in' there.

i would say for those in india coming from the south and west, you could save yourself some time and wear on your vehicle if you cross through bangladesh and come out into tripura. from kolkata you could be in agartala in 2 days of driving. that beats going up to siliguri.

will hopefully give some good info on naga and AP soon.
take care and keep the rubber on the road
mitch
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Old 12th March 2009, 20:40   #2
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Hey Mitch by any chance you are German ?? I met a German today at Guwahati playing holi ??
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Old 12th March 2009, 21:29   #3
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Nice writeup. do post some pics and let us now the nature, vegetation, people in the Eastern part of our country...
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Old 12th March 2009, 23:41   #4
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thanks mitch, very few of us has ventured out there. So a travelogue of 7 sisters are always welcome.
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Old 13th March 2009, 00:53   #5
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That's a good trip you've embarked on, mitch! While at it, if opportunities present (which will be galore i know) do indulge yourself into the hospitality of the local people. Also, if wildlife beckons you a detour to Kaziranga in upper Assam (hour's drive from Nagaon)/Manas in lower Assam (hour's drive from Barpeta or couple of hours from Goalpara)/Jaldapara (hour's drive from Siliguri I reckon) may be worth it.

Do post your complete itinerary/experiences along with a lot of pictures
Btw - have you already done places like Darjeeling/Gangtok en-route to Guwahati. In the Guwahati-Silliguri leg should you need any local assistance feel free to let me know. Wish you have a pleasant experience and lots of wonderful memories to take back home
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Old 13th March 2009, 01:56   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mitchontheroad View Post
will hopefully give some good info on naga and AP soon.
take care and keep the rubber on the road
mitch
Oh.... that AP. It took me a while to realize AP is not Andhra Pradesh, but Arunachal Pradesh. Have not heard about them after the Geography lessons at school . Have a nice trip.
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Old 13th March 2009, 09:14   #7
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Thanks for the road condition update. Are you saying that it is better to drive through Tufanganj and Dhubri to Guwahati (NH31A?) instead of NH31 via Bongaigaon and Nalbari?

I think the bad roads around Silchar are a permanent condition, as are the Assam roads approaching Mizo border. In case you want some real adventure riding, you can try Nh53 between Silchar and Imphal via Jiribam and Nungba, which is surely the worst road in India.

In case you are still around those parts in second week of April, I am going to be in Sikkhim, Bhutan and Arunachal and maybe we meet. I am also planning to drive upto Tuting (Upper Siang neighbourhood), besides the West-East Bhutan. Any information on the Samdrup exit (Bhutan-Assam) will be useful.
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Old 13th March 2009, 15:55   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
Thanks for the road condition update. Are you saying that it is better to drive through Tufanganj and Dhubri to Guwahati (NH31A?) instead of NH31 via Bongaigaon and Nalbari?
Dear Kumar,

I know you are a veteran roadie in those parts of the country. However, to give you the benefit of my last experience here is a quick run down of Siliguri - Guwahati road and a few highlights, just in case you need to refresh your memories a bit

Yes, if you are driving from Siliguri to Guwahati it is MUCH better to take up the route via Goalpara (better, shorter route). Fortunately, flood last year wasn't so bad so the road conditions should not be any worse than what i saw last):
  • Siliguri to Coochbehar (~140kms): Moderate roads with pot holes but not awful. One can expect an average driving speed of 60kmph
  • Coochbehar to Gauripur (Dhubri) (~80kms): Good road with a significant portion now widened. Expect avge driving speed of 80kmph
  • Gauripur (Dhubri) to Bilasipara (~40kms): Most of this stretch was under construction and was awful. But what I last heard from my friends most of the repair & widening done. In that case it will be fair to expect 60kmph average driving speed. Highlight - the roads through Panbari (BSF area) are visual delight for a stretch of about 5 kms
  • Bilasipara to Chapar (~30kms): Roads have improved. Expect avge driving speed of 80kmph
  • Chapar to Guwahati via Jogighopa (~20kms), Goalpara(~30kms), Raja Para: Lovely roads. Once you leave Jogighopa behind the roads become delightful with very less traffic. Although of late traffic has been picking up on this road courtesy the normal Barpeta Road - Nalbari highway being widened yet you can easily expect average driving speed of 100kmph. Most of the stretch after Goalpara is very scenic besides it is 20kms shorter than the old regular highway. If you want to continue further Guwahati this road will take you past by the airport avoiding the hassles of city traffic and save you at least a couple of hours by passing the city.

    Don't forget to stop over at Raja para for a quick lunch/tea. I forgot the name of that roadside restaurant (I have the pics on my other laptop) which does decent food at decent price. But go to check its backyard. Amazing collection of vast varieties of flowers to treat your eyes.

Last edited by abk : 13th March 2009 at 15:59.
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Old 13th March 2009, 17:24   #9
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abk, thanks for the lengthy info note!

Is night driving still taboo in Assam region?

My route plan is as follows:
Bombay-Siliguri-Gangtok-Thimphu-Samdrup-Guwahati-Itanagar-Tuting-Dibrugarh-Guwahati-Goalpara-Dhubri-Tufanganj-Siliguri-Bombay

Any further inputs on road conditions welcome.
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Old 13th March 2009, 19:53   #10
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Wow, thats a great trip that you are doing Mitch. NE is always fascinating to visit. It does sound that the road conditions are improving in NE, in patches. Will look forward for an update of your travelogue

HVK: You sure love the roads. Can't wait to hear from you after your April trip. I have long planned a roadtrip of Kolkata-AP-Kaziranga-Kolkata.

To add to abk's post on wildlife, apart from Manas and Kaziranga, there are other places as well, like Nameri NP, enroute to Itanagar, near Bhalukpong. Nameri is a brider's paradise as well. There are elephants safaris available. Its also worth trying Namdhapa and Dibru-Saikhowa National Park (Tinsukia).
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Old 13th March 2009, 23:44   #11
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Thanks, Saurabh. I have been to Bhalukpong before (en route Tawang), but Nameri and Dibru I have not been to.

I have driven to all the 7 Sisters earlier, including Kaziranga (saw 13 Rhinos in one evening drive there!). This time, the trip is focussed on Sikkim, West-East Bhutan drive and Eastern Arunachal (Siang Valleys), and also Miao/Namdapha. On the return, I hope to do the East-West drive, starting form the eastern most part of India to the westernmost (Koteshwar, Kutch, Gujarat).
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Old 14th March 2009, 06:16   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
Thanks, Saurabh. I have been to Bhalukpong before (en route Tawang), but Nameri and Dibru I have not been to.

I have driven to all the 7 Sisters earlier, including Kaziranga (saw 13 Rhinos in one evening drive there!). This time, the trip is focussed on Sikkim, West-East Bhutan drive and Eastern Arunachal (Siang Valleys), and also Miao/Namdapha. On the return, I hope to do the East-West drive, starting form the eastern most part of India to the westernmost (Koteshwar, Kutch, Gujarat).
Mindblowing, is all I can say. This trip of yours would be some drive.

Sighting 13 rhinos in one evening is something very rare. You are extremely lucky.

If you are travelling to Miao, be on the looking of the famous and elusive Hoolock Gibbon. Very few people actually get to see it, though its said that you can hear it call from quite a distance. Its my dream to explore those areas. You might also wish to explore areas like Ziro, enroute from Guwahati to Tezpur.
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Old 14th March 2009, 11:45   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
abk, thanks for the lengthy info note!

Is night driving still taboo in Assam region?

My route plan is as follows:
Bombay-Siliguri-Gangtok-Thimphu-Samdrup-Guwahati-Itanagar-Tuting-Dibrugarh-Guwahati-Goalpara-Dhubri-Tufanganj-Siliguri-Bombay

Any further inputs on road conditions welcome.
Hey Kumar, not to worry, night driving is not at all a taboo in Assam any more. Most of my official visits to the Tea Gardens are at night so that I can work during the day and mind you the Tea gardens of our company start right from Nogaon near Guwahati and stretch till Sadia at the far east end of Assam. I however am based at Dibrugarh, do get in touch with me if you need any help. It would also be a pleasure for me to host you in my house. Best wishes

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Old 14th March 2009, 15:09   #14
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Originally Posted by mitchontheroad View Post
hi all. sitting now (again) in guwahati waiting for permits to nagaland and AP. just spent the last several weeks in the above places.
mitch

Why are you sitting idle...upload the photos. You know, the photos can increase the car traffic to those places from next weekend onwards .
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Old 15th March 2009, 16:23   #15
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thanx for the support guys.
no, not a german. usa
i drove from cooch behar to bongaigaon to goalpara to guwahati. the roads were just great.
i did stop in jaldapara. nice place. stayed 4 nights at the tourist lodge. saw 2 rhinos from our elephant. kaziranga gets a lot of media attention and is well touristed. but there is a park only 40 kms from gguwahati ( i cant remember the name ) which is supposed to be better to spot rhinos and they are bigger in size due to the better food conditions. i was also about 2 feet from the rhino in the zoo at sepahijala in tripura last week. feeding time and i was able to smell the animal and its breath. not pleasant but quite exhilerating to be so close all the same. dont know now if i will be impressed to see one at 50 meters away just standing there.
i have not been sitting idly. been with the mechanics for a few days and no time for the inet. and if photos will increase the car traffic...then i wont post any to keep the roads clear! lol
and, it takes forEVER to upload 20-30 shots. i do have a place on photobucket. mitchontheroad. all the albums are public so no need for a password.
hopefully into nagaland on tuesday. will try from here to dimapur...assumingg i get my permit tomorrow!
later
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