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Old 19th April 2010, 17:48   #31
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if you re looking for a good place to stay in guwahati, try the tourist lodge behind the railway station. next to RBI. good rates and a nice place.
i stayed 5 months in the northeast last year. let me know if you need any details.
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Old 24th April 2010, 10:01   #32
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Guys,

sorry for not updating this travelogue for the past one week, my Reliance Netconnect Broadband+ screwed up and it was not having service in Assam and Megalaya (inspite of the call center guys said they support all over India roaming).

Just returned today from my great northeast trip, I will scrip them all in series with in a short time.
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Old 24th April 2010, 11:16   #33
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Hey Trammway,
This was indeed an awesome trip. I have spent a few years in Guwahati and Hathigarh in Assam when I was a kid. But unfortunately dont remember much. The north-east is definitely in my future plans. Lets hope it happens soon.
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Old 24th April 2010, 11:28   #34
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After enjoying the Darjeeling to the core and the comfort of Sir Alec’s & Bimal’s help, we were bidding adieu to Darjeeling on a Toy Train. As everyone stated no doubt the train journey was fun but only if you are not stuck with any obstacles en-route.

The station in Darjeeling was almost on the road with very minimal space(I guess it is not practical to find a flat surface in Darjeeling), the train station got a beautiful Pakoda of a Sivan mandir.
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We packed all the bags and reached the station well ahead of time, I spent some in the locomotive where the steam powered old beauties are services. In fact there is no restriction to any one to enter even in the room where the tools are kept, most of the engineers seems to be understanding the enthusiasm people show around the cutie steam engine.
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While I was around, I could see they were cleaning the front door where the ashes have seen and steam was out from every possible side of the engine. After this short trip to the locomotive I returned to the platform where my family was waiting for me and the train.
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Then only I came to know that my journey to New Jalpaiguri will be on a Diesel engine in stead of the much awaited steam engine. I was bit disappointed but it is still ok. Initially I thought that the steam engined toy train was only to local (Batasia or Ghoom) trips but later on the same day I have seen a steam engine came on opposite direction with full of steam breaths, and the train stopped for pumping more coal in to the oven.
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Out journey started around 30mins delayed schedule (just for the railways employees to prepare the 4 couches to be added to the engine, they started the work only at the scheduled departure of the train, it would have been good for them if they started bit ahead of the departure schedule)

We were at the 2nd class sitting compartment; I only came to know that there was a firstclass arrangement (2 couches) with bush back seats. The 2nd class arrangement was bit strange as the seats are setup in 90 degree sitting angle and really uncomfortable for the long journey ahead.
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We have seen so many closure encounters of shops, houses and shelters almost with in 2inches gap between the establishments and the train couch. It was scary and not practical to even put you little finger outside the window for quite some distance on the travel. I was bit worried as my kids were on the window seat, I wish if some railway officials / Govt. to probe in and clear if any encroachments on the railway track clearance area.
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After crossing the Darjeeling town the snail paced toy train started competing with the tourist taxis on the National Highway (9 and 55), what a beautiful day it was with so much of secnic sports on the train window, I throughly enjoyed it. The fog at times extended it's screen over the beauty denying me enjoying the sight, but it was another experience to sail through the white smoke.
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Then we saw lots of ticketless travelers trying to board and hang on the sides of the train for long distances and no one was worried about it. At time they came very close to fences of houses and shops just around 5-10 millimeter gap and if even they were touched by those fences I’m sure they would have faced the fatal end.
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As we had only 2 hours gap between our toy train arrival train at New Jalpaiguri and Departure time of my Guwahati bound train I was too much into looking at the wrist watch than looking outside the window.


Though I was looking at the wrist watch most of the time, I did have some good view against the beauty at places where the nature and people merged together, the wooden houses and tea gardens it was a complete WoW package.
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We had nice journey till the last hour as suppose to be the scheduled arrival time, I witnessed the sky closing its blue shade with grey clouds. I also was in impression only one train to go up and one to go down between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling but during my travel I have seen atleast 4 trains on the opposite track.
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Not a good symptom and as I scared the rain started and the train slowed down, after few minutes of very slow travel all of sudden the entire train was in good speed and with the slipping 90 degree seats at times we couldn’t even sit on the seat as it was slipping badly. We have heard lots of creeping sound with rattle all over the train and I felt the wheels were skidding, my god my instincts were correct and the train was sliding on the rails till we reached a point where till no slop area reached, the driver stopped the train and I was looking through the window and found one of the man from driver cabin walked out from his cabin with a bag full of sand and walking on the track leaving a small amount of sand on the rails.
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Not only that the train was leaking badly and it was raining inside the couch, I had to shift the baggage couple of places with in the last hour travel in Toy Train.
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I could definitely say that he walked for more than 2-3 kms distance infront of the train and the train was in slowest pace speed, the sand was sprayed on the track to create friction that is what I understood from the railway staff after reached siliguri station.

The entire drama slowed and delayed the entire scheduled and we reached around 1 hour delay in Siliguri and still need to move 2 stations on the plains to reach New Jalpaiguri. I Thought having one hour in hand to catch the next train I can stay in Toy train but I was wrong as the railway officials at Siliguri told me that the train will be stalled at Siliguri for one hour before departing its journey again.

We were rushing to catch a taxi outside the station to go to New Jalpaiguri as we need to take the Guwahati train, with little bargain I got a taxi for Rs.250 and reached the New Jalpaiguri in time and there we had our India’s far east travel started.

to be continued…

Last edited by trammway : 24th April 2010 at 11:31.
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Old 24th April 2010, 14:06   #35
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Superb pics, Loved the one with the train on the road
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Old 24th April 2010, 21:08   #36
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thats, I think 779B. the oldest of the lot. Built in 1889 by sharp stewart. Its nick named Himalayan Bird. Out of 34 only 13 survives and one has left the country (778B) and its still working in UK. The youngest of the lot is 82 years old.


The one you traveled in is NDM6, made in india by SAN. There are two of them which does the round, one is Buccaneer and other Maverick.
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Old 25th April 2010, 00:38   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SirAlec View Post
thats, I think 779B. the oldest of the lot. Built in 1889 by sharp stewart. Its nick named Himalayan Bird. Out of 34 only 13 survives and one has left the country (778B) and its still working in UK. The youngest of the lot is 82 years old.


The one you traveled in is NDM6, made in india by SAN. There are two of them which does the round, one is Buccaneer and other Maverick.
Great information. I have personally seen 7 of the steam engines while on the toy train travel. (3 of them in Darjeeling station, 2 of them in Dhoom station, 1 was on track on opposite side almost near to siliguri and one was found in a shed near some hill station railway locomotive and I really couldn't remember the name of the place)

NDM6 was good too, I only wish if some one jumps in to the narrow track setup and bring a additional gear track on the center of two rails like the one seen in Ooty railway track to bring some good traction.
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Old 25th April 2010, 01:20   #38
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Default Guwahati tour

We reached Guwahati on a Friday morning and straight headed towards Starline hotel for our accommodation as I booked before reaching the place. It was 4 bedded room so we all 7 members (4 adults and 3 children) stayed in the same room. The hotel do not have water geyser at the bathroom but they provide hot water in a bucket on demand, other than that I found the hotel room comfortable.
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When we reached Guwahati I was told by a friend of mine that it was likely to rain but that day was sunny and we started out trip for city tour in the morning hours itself.

Our first stop is to go to Guwahati Zoo as the children were waiting for this day to come, we took a Maruti Alto (White board taxi) and reached the zoo entrance it was almost empty and with little bit of reading in the main entrance I understood that the zoo is closed on Fridays, I really had to disappoint the kids.
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After convincing them that I will bring them back to the zoo in another day of the trip, we moved towards Umananda temple. Just before getting on the the river bed, under a tree avenue I found the colorful Kali of Kolkata
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The Umananda temple is located in a island in Brahmaputra river, the river looked like a huge lake and if you closely notice the entire river water is so wild and running really fast.
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The Assam State Water transport department runs boats from the city side to the island for pilgrims. However the boats are in a very bad shape and rust is seen everywhere in the boat, seats are also badly damaged and some places people have to sit on the poles that holds the plastic seats, I leave that issue with Umananda to deal with
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The temple was located in a cool place and the steps to the temple were made by marble stone giving a classy look.
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I found the design of temples in northeast is unique and had a touch to it, also every where I found that the sanctorum is below ground level compare to the south where we have our temple’s sanctorum always placed above all the ground level in the temple premises.
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While coming down from the temple I noticed a heart sign engraving on the woods, I only remembered “Love is God”
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After giving our prayers I took few pics and return on the boat to the city side, I should say that the chat walah in river bed of city side showcased most colorful edible item on the entire trip hence the picture below.
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stay tuned, next on the series is Kamakya temple

to be continued...
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Old 25th April 2010, 17:35   #39
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Hey Welcome back, was thinking that you might soon start your travelogue and here you are. Now keep on going and don't let the steam loose ;-)
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Old 25th April 2010, 19:05   #40
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Default Kamakhya Temple

I should once again state that we were all jam packed in a Alto car to reach the foot hills of Kamakya temple, the driver stopped the car and asked me to hop on to a doorless (no interiors too) Tata Sumo (socio) taxi just to reduce some weight in the Alto :-) he he he. Look at the Socio Sumo with Mahindra Scorpio grill.
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It was a short drive and we all landed in the top of the Kamakya hills, we had a fast food to feed our hungry stomachs. In the whole trip we really missed good cuisine. My parents wanted to take some curd to mix with the rice and we only got sweetened yogurt.

While the Alto was resting in the car parking we moved to the temple bay which was fully colored in red color with the ribbon kind of cloth used for pooja purposes.
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Much of the shops have had either the pooja items on showcases or souvenirs for the tourists visiting the temple.
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Overall the temple and its surroundings were in red color theme, be it a colored goat or the Sadhu requesting for alms at the entrance.
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The temple had lots of goats inside and the entire temple was filled with lots of goat droppings, some of the goats have even entered in the Hanuman sanctorum.
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Due to lack of time my family wanted to get into the temple with paid Darshan ticket, and the tickets were quoted Rs. 500 per person and Rs. 100 per person. That’s it, I backed off from the plan and searched for free Darshan entrance that’s were the miracle happened, someone pulled us into the line very close to the sanctorum entrance and with in 10minutes we all presented in front of Kamakya sanctorum. Till that second I was thinking Kamakya means the Kaman (cupid) and Pandit inside the temple revealed the goddess as Kamakshi an avatar of Uma.

I also must say that the Pandits in the sanctorum seem to be highly corrupted and money minded converting the pilgrims to pour money into their basket. I have witnessed the pandits keeping Rs. 100 Rs.500 and Rs.1000 bills spread in a basket and asking every individual to donate their part.
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After praying the god to give these pandits some good grey cells I slowly moved out of the temple.

The outer wall of the sanctorum was decorated with sculptures and they were beautiful, as once again we clicked couple of pictures before ending the Guwahati city tour.
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Coming up next Chill Chill Chill Shillong, Stay tuned.

to be continued…

Last edited by trammway : 25th April 2010 at 19:07.
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Old 26th April 2010, 00:19   #41
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the one you saw in ghoom is Baby Sivok. It was built in 1881 by Orenstein & Koppel, completely dismanteled and rebuilt in 1999 at Tindharia Loco Works, DHR's own dedicated loco shed by experts veteran loco mechanic there.

This is probably world's smallest surviving loco engine. Its kept as a museum piece in Ghoom station, but its said if its loaded with coal, it will be ready to go within half a day.
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I totally forgot to remind you about Ghoom DHR museum. It has some of the most rarest article and images of the days when DHR was being built.

Last edited by SirAlec : 26th April 2010 at 00:20.
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Old 26th April 2010, 09:16   #42
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Looks like reasons for me to think coming back to Darjeeling is increasing, I'm expecting to know your May visit schedule
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Old 26th April 2010, 10:18   #43
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Hi Trammway,
Very nice TL and expecting more photos of your travel. I need some information of your stay in Shillong and your exp in this place since I will be visiting Shillong next week with Family . Could you please recommend some good hotels which are not too expensive in Shillong?

Please throw some light on this.

Thanks
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Old 26th April 2010, 14:22   #44
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Default Bad part of Guwahati transport industry

Quote:
Originally Posted by sanju.iitm View Post
Hi Trammway,
Very nice TL and expecting more photos of your travel. I need some information of your stay in Shillong and your exp in this place since I will be visiting Shillong next week with Family . Could you please recommend some good hotels which are not too expensive in Shillong?

Please throw some light on this.

Thanks
Please wait till my today's 2nd post in the night which will have the information you are looking for. (I tried sending you PM but you have disabled hence didn't sent it, cant share the information before my next episode on the forum)


We hired a Toyota Innova taxi in Guwahati to go to Shillong, A highly corrupted travels Industry smilingly welcomes you in Assam, as most of the taxis in Assam are operated with white board making huge loss to the state revenue considering Tourism contributes a large part of their income every year. The 2 days of my Shillong and Cheerapunjee aka Sohra(new name) trip has been planned to cover 380kms in total and we need to pay Rs. 1800 per day for the Innova and Fuel extra.

Even before going to the tour information just for the sake of information, please aware even after you pay the rental of taxi and agreed upon the fuel charges, the morons in Guwahati taxi operations will demand you to calculate the fuel economy as 10kmpl basis and no full tank to full tank business. I got a cab in Guwahati and it came with quarter tank fuel in it, after making sure I communicated to the cab operator that I will opt only full tank to full tank model, he said he didn’t have money to fill up the tank first so he took Rs.1402 from me and filled the tank. While returning the cab I need to fill up the cab and adjust the Rs.1402 on the cab rental. But at the end of our trip he don’t wanted to fill up the cab and asked me to pay in full (the rentals ) in spite of the fuel gauge showing half a tank(effectively quarter tank of the fuel is mine). When ask he said 380/10 = 38L diesel and which is more than the normal fuel economy of 10kmpl, what a crap? (You also have to add Driver Food and his accommodation which will not be communicated in the first bargain)

I feel the best way to got to shillong is to book the Assam or Megalaya government or private valvo bus ticket and enjoy your trip instead of taking taxi from Guwahati. In the most cases staying in Guwahati is not really going to make your trip memorable except the temples, hence I would recommend you landing in Guwahati and deposit your belongings in the Clock room near railway station and use local cabs to do a city ride and travel in the bus to reach Shillong and extend your stay in Shillong.

Also don’t forget the local taxi in Guwahati is also very costly compare to any other city in India and you are mostly end up in travelling in a white board vehicle which is not commercially endorsed by government.

Last edited by trammway : 26th April 2010 at 14:34.
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Old 26th April 2010, 14:40   #45
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After hiring a taxi for two days, all of us started our trip to shillong from Guwahati. We estimated to start the trip at 8:00am in the morning but the taxi came only at 9:30am credits go to the bad weather and rain.

Guwahati is a better looking city compare to Kolkata in my views with a single larger high road connecting the whole city and end of the road starts with beautiful scenic mountains.
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With in few minutes we are already passed Assam border and touching the most beautiful state of the country called Magalaya (House of Clouds).
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I have been heard lots of people saying Magalaya is a beautiful state but the first time experience is something which cannot be described in words. The 90 odd kilometers stretch twisted road trip is awesome and green green more green is what welcomes you every other corner.
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When I saw Welcome to Megalaya board was having some civil construction on the National Highway and road was pathetic contributing to huge traffic jam, we had to spend around 30mins but moving inch by inch, but never felt tired as we do in city.
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In another incidents trucks parked in opposite direction almost in the middle of road again caused traffic jam, the red lighted cars also added it's part by making the jam more jammed.
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Most of the places the climate was so chilled with partially drizzling all over the stretch.
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During the road trip, at time we felt we are in Kerala but this place offers much more than what any other place can offer to a tourist, lots of lonely places, beautiful wooden houses which are built on a raised platform from ground level, Paddy fields, Tall trees, British time bridges, Yellow colored Mahindra commanders (taxi) and most importantly Jeeps with trailers attached(the most number of jeeps with trailers are only found in this part of the country I guess).
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Our family thoroughly enjoyed the whole trip to Shillong, enroute to Shillong we had cruised along with the Umtru River and the road goes above reservoir built on Umiam Lake (Barapani), I think this lake gets water from Umtru River just before it joins hands with Brahmaputra River. I had initial plans to go to this river but while cruising over the lake we really didn’t feel like stopping over and hence passed the sight, but it was a huge lake.

The total travel took around 2 and half hours and when we entered the Shillong city we started spotting cook automobiles that are Maruti 800s serving as taxis, Tata trucks converted into buses with nose, Yellow Commander taxis and numerous SWB Jeeps.
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The Shillong city is also on the hills but not like the Darjeeling where I couldn’t find a single flat surface. If only I can award a state for cleanliness I will surely present the award to Megalaya, what a clean city and state it was.
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Looks like more than civilian’s settlement the Shillong hosts more Air-force and Army people, you can see lots of Cantonment around the city.

Our cab directly reached Elephant Falls before proceeding further to accommodation; the first thing to surprise me is what was seen on the ticket booth’s wall that was saying “All the armed forces are requested to obey the rules and regulations of the management”, I guess there are stories behind these sentences and indeed I believed the armed forces are more disciplined than the normal public and the board was only mentioned about Armed forces.

Lots more to be followed, stay tuned.

to be continued…

Last edited by trammway : 26th April 2010 at 14:51.
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