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Old 22nd July 2009, 15:24   #16
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Seems like Brahmaputra in full flow just before the flooding. Would love to cross Saikhowaghat sometime.
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Old 23rd July 2009, 11:57   #17
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We could not risk spending more time at the ghat because just 5 to 10 minutes of moderate rainfall would really put us in a soup. With a little manoueuvre here and some generouse guidance by a good old Amby we were back on tarmac without much fuss. The sun was still shining and we were in no mood to go straight back to Digboi. We decided to go Duliajan via Tinsukia and meet an old acquintance there.

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From Duliajan there is a direct road to Digboi through dense forest area. That is supposed to be a great drive during daytime. When We entered that
stretch it was already dark. At night the ambience of the forest is totally lost because the headlamp of the car makes it look like any other road.

Back in the Guest House I felt nervous with the thought of elephants damaging our car. B-i-l and I went out to another guest house about 3 km away (near the Digboi Club) to park the car for the night. We entered the club for some beverages. There we met the owner of the elephant dented Swift and had a jolly good time together. He offered us a lift in his car back to the guest house. It felt sheepish to tell him that we brought our car to park here for fear of any pachyderm inflicted damage.

Next morning we were accompanied by a local youth to a village of the Singpho community near Margherita. They have set up a eco tourist resort inside a small tea garden offering food and lodging in true Singpho community tradition. The livelihood of the households in the Singpho village are earned from small tea gardens owned by them. Most of the households are wealthy land owners.

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Their produce is generally lapped up by large corporates. The community has some isolated tea gardens where they don't use pesticides and chemical fertilizer. The leaves plucked from those gardens are processed inhouse and marketed as organic tea, which earn good price in the market.

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We spent some time in the village headman's home and had a Singpho traditional lunch in the eco lodge. Since we had to be back the next day we could not spend a night there. The structure of the eco lodge is predominantly bamboo based.

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Last edited by tortoiseNhare : 23rd July 2009 at 12:12.
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Old 23rd July 2009, 12:47   #18
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The structure of the eco lodge is predominantly bamboo based. It is thatched with the dried leaves of a tree (sorry I don't know the English name) you can see in the photo below.

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The dining hall

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The kitchen

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A hand loom.

The lunch was exciting, consisting of traditional soup, chicken with herbs, smoked fish etc. The interesting fact: in none of the delicacies any cooking oil was used.

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The resort had an interesting permanent inmate, a hullock gibbon. We were
told that the area was full of that species till about a quarter century ago.
But to the Singpho community its meat used to be a delicacy. Consequently they were hunted down indiscriminately. This gibbon (a female) is now the lone survivor. We were told that she was also shot once but survived after being cared for by some members of the same community. She lives in the resort more like a pet now.

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Here she is trying to find lice on my scalp.

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Old 23rd July 2009, 13:29   #19
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After lunch it was time to reach another frontier (though not far off).

Margherita, Ledo and Lekhapani are having some of the oldest colieries of India. We had grand views of open cast coal mining at Ledo. Equally exciting were the trucks specially imported for the job. The Brands we spotted were Volvo, Actros and Scania. Unfortunately we were not allowed to click any photograph in the site. We also went near a tunnel used for coal mining in the past. Due to some accidents tunnels are not used at present.

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More roadside tea gardens

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Lekhapani is the last railway station (Makum-Lekhapani stretch) and National highway 38 terminates here. NH 38 overlaps the historically important Stilwell road from Ledo, that had once connected Assam with China through Myanmar. From Lekhapani the road bifurcates into two new highways (forgot the numbers), one towards Namdapha sanctuary and the other along the erstwhile Stilwell road, both into Arunachal pradesh. We drove down the Stilwell road for as long as possible. We had to return from Arunachal Pradesh boarder since we didn't have the inner line permit to enter that state.

In the evening we all went to the Digboi club. The teetotaller sisters could not resist heavy temptations there and ended up with some fine wine. The kid was allowed to taste a drop. "Your cold drink tastes funny", was his remark.

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The kid trying his hand at the pool table

At the end of the evening I became bold enough to take on the elephants and gallantly parked my car in the CTA guest house premises. The next morning we would start our long drive back home.
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Last edited by ajmat : 31st July 2009 at 10:12.
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Old 23rd July 2009, 13:32   #20
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The Ford Prefect has a Kerala (Palakkad) registration!

Terrific greenery there...
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Old 23rd July 2009, 15:03   #21
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awesome Travelogue keep the pics coming.

did you bump the right front bumper that "popped" out the foglamp holder?
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Old 23rd July 2009, 16:36   #22
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On Sunday we set out at about 7 am for the journey back home. Two very well known Ahom monuments near Sivasagar namely Charaideo Maidam and Gargaon Palace were not seen by us. We took a detour from NH37 from Moranhat through Sonari to reach the two places. The road condition was awful and we could see many places under flood (an ubiquitous Assam speciality).

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Charaideo Maidam and Gargaon Palace, though important in historical context, could not really excite us.

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We had lunch at Sivasagar and was in Kaziranga by 5pm. And then we saw this at some distance from the highway.

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We proceeded further to see quite a few cars and buses parked on the wayside and people looking towards the jungle. We followed suit and our eyes were nicely treated.

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I rue the limitations of my photographic skills because I have missed quite a few potentially wonderful snaps there. The one that follows is a case in point. Try to spot the deer and the rhino looking on at the jumbos.

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We took the Nagon route to reach Mirza and by the time we were back at f-i-l's place it was midnight.

(concluded)
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Old 23rd July 2009, 17:40   #23
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Nice travellogue that. What greenery and how natural! I wish I were born in Assam too
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Old 23rd July 2009, 18:39   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by planet_rocker View Post
awesome Travelogue keep the pics coming.

did you bump the right front bumper that "popped" out the foglamp holder?
Yes, the bottom right of the front bumper had hit the earth in an uneven stretch on the field.


@ sandeepmdas, chakri400, planet_rocker: thanks for spending time with my travelogue.

To all readers: I'm sorry for poorly placed and repeated photographs in some posts. I am not yet good enough in handling 10 or more photographs in a post.

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Old 23rd July 2009, 20:04   #25
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Cool man, nice travelogue, thanks for sharing.
BTW, that road from Duliajan to Digboi is via Lakhipathar, the erstwhile ULFA HQ. That's a scary place to cross after dark. Around 2-3 years back, I had to go to Digboi from Duliajan and everyone has warned me not to cross that section after dusk. So it seems now the things are not that scary or probably you were lucky.
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Old 24th July 2009, 07:11   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaushik_s View Post
Cool man, nice travelogue, thanks for sharing.
BTW, that road from Duliajan to Digboi is via Lakhipathar, the erstwhile ULFA HQ. That's a scary place to cross after dark. Around 2-3 years back, I had to go to Digboi from Duliajan and everyone has warned me not to cross that section after dusk. So it seems now the things are not that scary or probably you were lucky.
The ULFA menace has subsided to a great extent. The terrorists were flushed out of Lakhipathar and an entire battalion who had held sway in that area surrendered about a year ago.

Hey Kaushik, did you tour the nooks and corners of Assam as a tourist or was this state your workplace sometime back? Your knowledge about our state is better than mine.
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Old 24th July 2009, 09:02   #27
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Beautiful travelogue of your drive along those roads less travelled! Lucky of you to have spotted the elephant herd alongside the rhinos just alongside the road, without needing to go deep into the forests, in Kaziranga. Assam in the monsoons appears so green and lush.
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Old 24th July 2009, 09:46   #28
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Wow, truly splendid snaps there. I am still seeing green all over and it's mind blowing stuff. I had a friend in my previous company and she used to say that its one of the most beautiful places. I can see that now. Great stuff.
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Old 30th July 2009, 23:25   #29
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@ SS-Traveller, muralisk

Thank you for your appreciation.
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Old 30th July 2009, 23:48   #30
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@tortoiseNhare - I had not seen a travlogue on Assam before. After seeing this travelogue, Assam has been added to my list of must visit places. I have many relatives in Assam but strangely I have never felt the urge to go there, maybe beacuse of the terrorist activities. I will contact you before I vist this lovely place.

Last edited by Samurai : 31st July 2009 at 07:24. Reason: typo
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