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shriram81 26th January 2019 13:25

An enchanting drive from West to North East India - Pune to Arunachal, Assam & Meghalaya
5 Attachment(s)
"Baba, how many days we need to reach North East?", Anvi asked with curiosity.

Before answering, I paused for a while as I realized my little one of 5 years age has now good understanding of long road journeys and time it takes to reach there. Instead of asking time in hours, she was asking me time in days. I was happy to answer her question as she is getting more used to these kind of journeys or instead enjoying these long travels.

"Three to Four days" I answered seeing at her sparkling eyes.

"that is too long" she expressed.. as she couldn't want to wait that long to play in the snow.

Being in the snow capped mountain and play there is one of the most attractive reason for Anvi to have such excitement for tarvel to North East.

Before planning for North East tour in December 2018, I have another option of visiting Sikkim and Bhutan. Initially even I have had prepared itinerary for Sikkim and Bhutan but after talking to friends and recommendation by hvkumar, I finalized my plan for North East as Bhutan and Sikkim are best to explore in March/April and North East is best to explore in Winter months December/January.

Brief Summary of tour before I post detailed updates for each day.

It was full fun with family and Anvi enjoyed it to fullest. We visited many places of distinctive identity and met people from different ethnic, cultural and economic diversities. This kind of travel experience of 18 days enriched our lives and we have many memories that we would cherish forever.

We traveled through heart of India (Madhya Pradesh), Gangetic plains of UP and Bihar, Siliguri aka Chickens neck of India to reach our destination in North East. We were blessed with darshan of Ram Janma Bhumi at Ayodhya on the way with one day stay over there.

While returning we took different route from Purnea, Bihar. We traveled through Eastern Coastal High Ways by Kharagpur, West Bengal, Bhubaneshwar, Vishakhapattanam, Hyderabad and then Pune. All coastal highways has nice landscapes and views.


North East States Visited - Arunachal, Assam, Meghalaya

Total Distance - 7748.2 kms

Total Days - 18 ( 14 Dec to 31 Dec)

Total Diesel Expenses - Rs. 40747

Diesel Consumed - 590 Liters

Fuel Economy - 13.13 Kms/Ltr

Total Trip Expenses (all inclusive) - Rs. 135101 (Exlcusive of Mahesh's Flight charges )

Persons Travelled - Anvi, Shriram, Sumedha, Sushant, Mahesh ( Mahesh joined us from Kaziranga)

States Travelled - 13 ( Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Jharkhand, Odisa, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka)

Few Teasers

Sela Pass, Arunachal
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Sela Lake, Arunachal
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Dawki River, Meghalaya
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Kaziranga, Assam
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Duble Decker Living Root Bridge, Cherapunji, Meghalaya
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shriram81 27th January 2019 23:00

re: An enchanting drive from West to North East India - Pune to Arunachal, Assam & Meghalaya
3 Attachment(s)
Tour Preparations

Before writing further, I would like to thank each and everyone who helped me for planning and execution of this epic tour and also my friends who always supported and few of them guided me by sharing whatever useful information they have for any part of my tour.

I am thankful to hvkumar and team who has been very helpful throughout my journey.

As a part of tour preparation and planning of itinerary, plenty of travelogues on Team-bhp helped. However following are the few one which helped a lot with detailed information about many places and processes and routes.

Thanks dhanushmenon and ARAY for these travelogues. These are very helpful for all fellow travelers.

The very first part of tour planning comes to preparing an itinerary. As always for road travel, planned and actual itinerary never matches, this tour was no exception. We sticked to planned itinerary for most part of journey except 3-4 days by adjusting the unexpected delays/events/traffic jams during some patches of journey. Following is the actual plan we traveled. I have mentioned about deviations from our planned itinerary in subsequent respective daily updates.

Itinerary North East – Dec 2018

Day 1/2 (14/15 Dec) - Pune – Indore – Bhopal – Vidisha-Jhansi (1141 Kms)
Includes overnight travel

Day 3 (16 Dec) – Jhansi- Kanpur-Lucknow – Ayodhya (451 Kms)

Day 4 (17 Dec) – Ayodhya-Gorakhpur-Kushinagar -Muzaffarpur – Purnea (685 Kms)

Day 5 (18 Dec) – Purnea- Siliguri – Sevoke- Shrirampur - Bongaigaon (460 Kms)

Day 6 (19 Dec) - Bongaigaon - Nalbari - Mangaldoi – Rowta –Balemu- Kalaktang- Rupa- Bomdila (400 Kms)

Day 7 (20 Dec) – Bomdila - Dirang – Sela Pass- JaswantGarh – Tawang (171 Kms)

Day 8 (21 Dec) - Around Tawang

Day 9 (22 Dec) - Tawang – Sela Pass - Bomdila (171Kms)

Day 10 (23 Dec) – Bomdila- Bhalukpong - Tezpur – Kaziranga (205 Kms)

Day 11 (24 Dec) - Kaziranga – Shillong (255 Kms)

Day 12 (25 Dec) - Shillong – Dawki – Mawlynnong (116 Kms)

Day 13 (26 Dec) - Mawlynnong – Cherapunjee - Shillong (154 Kms)

Day 14 (27 Dec) - Shillong – Guwahati (100 Kms)

Day 15 (28 Dec) – Guwahati – Nalbari - Bongaigaon - Purnea(670 Kms)

Day 16/17 (29/30 Dec) – Purnea - Bhagalpur - Asansol - Kharagpur - Bhubaneshwar - Vishakhapattanam - Rajamundry - Vijaywada
(1585 kms)
Includes overnight travel

Day 18 (31 Dec) – Vijaywada – Pune (857Kms)

Arunachal Permit

Its mandatory to have the Arunachal Inner Line Permit (ILP) as its necessary to enter the Arunachal Pradesh state. Its been checked at Arunachal border at the time of entry and also required to present a copy to all hotels where we are staying. It is also required for getting another special Permit to visit Bum La. At Tawang, we can get the permit for Bum La with validity of one day.

However Arunachal ILP is valid for 30 days.

One can source the Arunachal ILP from many places like Guwahati, Tezpur by direct walk in during office hours. There is online process too and its very convenient. Online process takes about one day to seven days for processing your permit. Mine was ready in one day.

I have selected two district for getting permit and those were West Kameng and Tawang. Once districts to be visited are selected, by default entry points to Arunachal appears on the form being filled. For my selection, Balemu and Bhalukpong appeared as entry points. That means I can enter Arunachal from any of these entry points.

All information is available on above official website.

List of Items
I have had prepared a detailed list of items on paper and at the time of starting from home, I tick marked each and every items that is loaded/kept in the car and made sure nothing is missed/left.

Following is only high level list of items

1 - Car Documents (RC, DL, PUC, Insurance and Owners Manual), Arunachal Permit, ID/Aadhar card of every member
2 - Body warmers, Sweaters, Jackets for everyone
3 - Dry Fruits, packaged food items (enough for 2 days if we stuck somewhere)
4 - Four boxes of water bottles (1 liter and 2 liters water bottles)
5 - Medicine box

One important item (that I carried during travel), I would like to mention here is "Bhimsen Camphor". Image below. I generally buy this item whenever I visit places of high altitudes where oxygen level is low. We have prepared pouches of cotton and kept this camphor in cotton cloth pouches. Like inhaler, these pouches can be used while breathing. The camphor vapors helps to carry more oxygen while breathing and has some other medical benefits too. This is a special type of camphor known as "Bhimsen Camphor" and available in shops which sell Puja articles. In Pune its available in shops near to Mandai. Shop name is "Gholap Sugandhalay". There are couple of more shops too in the same building. While preparing the pouches, please make sure to mix rice grains along with camphor to save it from vaporizing rapidly.

I have carried 5-6 pouches of this camphor. You will get to know benefit I had of this in one of my subsequent daily update.

Bhimsen Camphor
Attachment 1844598

Though I have got XUV serviced @50K kms and current reading is above 51K, I got the XUV checked at near by Mahindra service station before leaving and did basic checks along with mechanic.

Basic Checks at Service Center
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Odo reading before start
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shriram81 3rd February 2019 18:11

re: An enchanting drive from West to North East India - Pune to Arunachal, Assam & Meghalaya
12 Attachment(s)
Day 1/2 (14/15 Dec)

Pune-Ahmednagar-Shirdi-Malegaon-Dhule-Indore-Bhopal-Vidisha-Sagar-Jhansi (1141 Kms)

We have loaded everything in the car in morning except few last minute items. I completed my office work in first half from home and had a good rest for about couple of hours post lunch. We (Me, wife and daughter) started from home around 6 pm. We picked up Sushant from Kharadi bypass on the way to Ahmednagar. The peak hour traffic took almost one and half hour to get out of Pune City.

We reached Ahmednagar around 10 pm and had dinner at Sandeep Hotel, Kedgaon (5 kms before Nagar City). Met my school friends here and started for onward journey around 11 pm. Till Shirdi, road was four lane but uneven surface therefore maintained speed not more than 80 kmph. At Malegaon touched Mumbai-Agra national highway and traveling was all smooth from here with less traffic.

Reached Dhule by 3 am and had a tea at roadside tapari. After Dhule, night driving was not very tedious and we reached Indore bypass by 6:30 am.

Around 7:30 am we took a break after Sonakach City on Indore-Bhopal highway to get fresh and have some break fast @ Sol retreat.

Restaurant Sol Retreat
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We bypassed Bhopal and took Bhopal-Vidisha-Sagar highway and reached line of Cancer before Sanchi around 10 am and had a quick stop over to capture some pics.

Bhopal Byapss
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Line of Cancer
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We reached Sanchi around 11 am and visited this place. The place is well maintained and guide services are available. You can take your car uphill near the Stupa. It takes around one hour to visit all places/monuments here.

Sanchi Stupa
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We started after 12:30 pm from here and started looking for some good restaurant but there are very few restaurants on this stretch. We have RoutO maps by HVK and decided to stop at one of the MPTDC approved restaurant before Sagar as per placeholder on the map.

We had lunch at this restaurant and by 3 pm started for onward journey. We have planned for stay at Jhansi and got to know that the day we are staying at Jhansi, all good hotels are already booked due to some Doctor's conference. We got confirmation for hotel booking couple of hours advance and it was a nice hotel on the highway few kms before Jhansi. We reached the hotel by 6 pm and retired to bed early after quick dinner as all of us needed it quickly due to long strecth of journey we have covered overnight and the entire day.

The long stretch of 24 hours driving with few breaks comes to an end of Day 1 and that sets the tone for whole tour as it involves lots of travelling over remaining days.

shriram81 6th February 2019 00:22

re: An enchanting drive from West to North East India - Pune to Arunachal, Assam & Meghalaya
4 Attachment(s)
Day 3 (16 Dec)

Jhansi- Kanpur-Lucknow – Ayodhya (451 Kms)

North South Corridor before Jhansi
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We started off from Jhansi around 8 am. At Jhansi East West Corridor and Noth South Corridor highways cross each other. We traveled on north south corridor from Sagar to Jhansi a day before and today we took Eash West Corridor (NH 27). This National highway ends at Silchar in Assam and we travelled on this highway till Nalbari in Assam. This is the longest traveled highway by us during this epic journey and the condition of this highway is superb. Its four lane all along except few places of very short distance.

We reached Kanpur by 11:30 am and took elevated flyover which bypasses Kanpur City. We were welcomed by UP traffic here. vehicles were coming from opposite direction on this elevated flyover and its all traffic mess. We were stuck for almost 3 hours here.

Earlier the plan was to reach Kushinagar, however this traffic delay forced us to stay much before. As per my plan we were supposed to Visit Ram Janmabhumi today evening but due to this delay we decided to stay at Ayodhya and have darshan next day morning.

Finally by 2:30, we were out from elevated Fly over but traffic was still very heavy and local cars/bikes were driving with no traffic sense.

We were overwhelmed to see mighty Ganga while crossing the bridge over Ganga at Kanpur.

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Traffic was still slow moving and we reached a square where Police were managing heavy traffic. I was at the front line when police signaled go ahead for our side. I have started with slow speed and within few seconds Booom. A truck brushed me from behind at right side. Sushant and Sumedha were at the back seat and Anvi was with me at front. All of us panicked a lot with this sudden incident. Both vehicles stopped and 3-4 policemen came near to my car. There were many policemen who were controlling traffic at this junction. I tried to take my car to left but some part of car got interlocked with trucks side bar. To avoid any further damage I came out of the car and assessed the damage. I kept calm as there were few scratches only and nothing major has happened except my rear bumper is locked with truck's front bar. I asked truck driver to reverse a little bit and he did so. Policeman asked me to take my car to left. As I turned around towards driver side door and before I sit on the driver's seat of my car, truck driver second time banged me and this time it was bigger impact which caused dents though not so major and cracks rear bumper. The rear bumper came out tangling from right side. We and police realized something wrong with truck or driver, as he dashed me 2nd time and this time it was very close for the policeman too who was standing beside my car. Policemen got angry with this repeat incident and they asked driver to get down and immediately started hitting trucks front windshield and driver side glasses with lathis. They beat the driver like hell and finally caught him with his shirt collar and pushed him inside police van. When Police were pushing the driver towards their van, while they were passing by near to me, we could smell strong smell of alcohol and we realized what is wrong.

After 5 mins one police constable came and started writing all details about me and my car. He inspected the damage and asked me to what can be done. As I have car insurance and don't want to waste more time here, I calmly said "I don't want to register complaint". I moved ahead from this incident location within 15 mins.

After a km, I stopped car at roadside and tied rear bumper with metal wire to make sure it does not come out of its position again.

Ahhh.. All well.. We talked to each other and settled ourselves. Thankfully no physical harm to any one of us and car was in running condition with dents and scratches on rear right and broken rear bumper.

Traffic near Lucknow
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Car Damage
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We decided to get all this fixed when we return to Pune as we don't want to waste any day or days fixing this at Mahindra ASS on our way.

We had our lunch after 30 mins from the incident place and moved further.

We crossed city of Nawabs - Lucknow - during evening. We like the way all roads were illuminated and specially the bypass road of Lucknow which starts from airport till the junction towards Ayodhya. Looks of City were really Nawabi including traffic ;) :p

We reached Ayodhya by 8 pm and retired for day after dinner

shriram81 12th February 2019 23:16

re: An enchanting drive from West to North East India - Pune to Arunachal, Assam & Meghalaya
4 Attachment(s)
Day 4 (17 Dec)

Ayodhya-Gorakhpur-Kushinagar -Muzaffarpur – Purnea (685 Kms)

The hotel at Ayodhya was best. After over hearing our conversation in marathi, the man at reception informed us that Shivesena Leader Uddhav Thakre have stayed at same hotel during his visit few days back at Ram Janmbhumi.

We were ready by 7:30 am to start from hotel, however manager at hotel insisted us to have complementary breakfast which starts from 8 am. We told him we are going to travel long distance today and need to start asap. We couldn't deny his request due to his warm-heartedness. He arranged break fast little earlier and we started off from hotel after having break fast.

We directly went towards Ram Janmbhumi, however we can not take four wheeler till entry point of Janm Bhumi since roads are very narrow and high security before the gate.

There were many touts/guides who were following us and insisting to take their services. We denied many but we were not able to find the place for parking and finally agreed to one guide who promised us that he will take us to a parking place near to Janm Bhumi. Guide insisted us to have darshan at 4-5 places of spiritual significance, however we insisted only for the main place. He took us to a place known as Raj Gaddi of King Shriram where parking place is available.

We parked the car and went inside the Rajgaddi temple. Here shrines of Shriram, Laxman and Sita are kept securely. As per Pujari present there, these are the original shrines that are found in Sharayu river, hundreds of year back and same shrines would be moved to main temple after building the same.

Here Pujari insisted for donation of Shila (founding stones) for temple and mentioned that your name would be scripted on this stone which would be used for building the temple and asked us to pay heavy amount for it. We sensed the nexus between guide and Pujari here and got to understand why guide was insisting for visiting many temples here.

We offered some Rupees to Pujari for providing us some historical information about the place.

Since we didn't pay anything as expected inside the temple our guide left us after showing the way towards the main temple as he realized, we are not the one he is looking for. We paid him Rs 100 for showing us the way towards temple and parking place near it.

We had darshan of holy place of Ram Janm Bhumi. Its a place with very high security, they even don't allow remote car keys with us inside.
There are lockers available to keep your valuables. We had kept everything in car and we just had keys with us. Actual darshan like walking around a place which is now a big ground and the darshan way is through iron barricades/cage around the whole place and at actual Janm Bhumi there is temporary tent where we can have a darshan. Photography not allowed around this whole place.

After darshan we left Ayodhya around 10:30 am with a plan to reach Purnea today.

Attachment 1854200

The road all along is super four lane highway. Only care has to be taken of vehicles coming in opposite direction on wrong side. Buses here continuously keep honking and its very irritating. At some point I was thinking these UP buses have a push button to turn off their horn otherwise by default it is always ON.

NH-27 between Kushinagar and Gopalganj
Attachment 1854201

Finding a good restaurant in UP/Bihar for family is a challenge. When we started looking for a restaurant for lunch, we couldn't locate any good for long time. All were Dhabas and crowd there was from trucks. We finally found a better place before Bihar border. Its was not a Dhaba but small restaurant which is newly started.

A Restaurant near UP-Bihar border
Attachment 1854202

After lunch, we crossed UP-Bihar border. The huge traffic with long queue of trucks welcome us at this border, however we decided to follow local small cars which were traveling on wrong side which was almost free. Finally one has to adopt to local customs to make life easy, and we drove on wrong side for couple of kms. This saved lot of time and small vehicles and buses were driving on wrong side to get out of this place.

We crossed Muzaffarpur and had tea around 6:30 pm at roadside dhaba. It gets dark early here, being winter and eastern India.

We were traveling with a average speed of 100 kmph very little traffic on road and suddenly a warning sound with ENGINE warning light blown up on Dashboard. This warning light was not blinking and was continuously ON. I pulled my car to side of the road and stopped without turning off the engine. I called HVK sir after sending him photo of Dashborad warning light and here is the conversation went

Me : Sir, there is ENGINE warning light on Dashboard
HVK : Where are you? Make sure you are stopped at safe place
Me : I am before Kosi bridge and place is kind of secluded with no signs of Dhaba or Petrol pump nearby.
HVK : Is there any performance drop? Is your car in running condition.
Me : No there is no performance drop and car is in running condition. Pick up and all other performance parameters are normal.
HVK : When did this warning light appear?
Me : It appeared when I was driving at 100 kmph speed and I didn't feel engine issues while driving when this warning light appeared. Car is running smooth with no jerks or other noises/issues.
HVK : ENGINE warning light is anything related to ECU and which can be caused by any part or loosening of any wire joints. Since you are not experiencing any performance drop, you can travel further and get checked your vehicle at Purnea or Siliguri.
Me : Ok, Thank you sir.

I called up Mahindra Service Adviser and he also mentioned, no issue as long as performance is good.

Dashboard "ENGINE" warning
Attachment 1854203

We traveled further 3-4 kms and spotted a petrol pump on left side. We decided to stop here and turn off the engine. We stopped, opened bonnet and inspected if anything is disconnected or leaking in engine bay, but we didn't find anything concerning and we decided to travel further. As we crossed Kosi bridge it started drizzling and we maintained speed of 80 kmph just to avoid any further issues which may cause due to high speed and finally we reached Purnea by 10 pm. We checked in to Hotel and retired for day after dinner.

shriram81 2nd March 2019 23:32

re: An enchanting drive from West to North East India - Pune to Arunachal, Assam & Meghalaya
9 Attachment(s)
Day 5 (18 Dec)

Purnea- Siliguri – Sevoke- Shrirampur - Bongaigaon (460 Kms)

Got up early morning and had a look outside window and it was still drizzling.
It rained though out the night.

We were ready for next leg of journey after breakfast from hotel.

I cranked engine with the hope "ENGINE" warning on Dashboard would have disappeared, but to my disappointment it was still there. Talked couple of taxi drivers there and got to know that Siliguri has better Mahindra ASC than Purnea. I was also more inclined to get the car check done at Siliguri as I did not wanted to wait till 10 am at Purnea.

Started towards Siliguri by 8:30 am with moderate speed around 80 kmph keeping in mind Dashboard warning. Landscape alongside road very awesome with rice fields all along and few yellow patches in between of Mustard fields.

Starting from Purnea
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thorugh Purnea
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Mustard Fields along side
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Traffic was very moderate till the point we reached a junction road coming from Bagdogra Airport just before Siliguri.

There are couple of Mahindra Service Centers at Siliguri and we decided to visit "Khokan Motors" as it was on the way.

We decided to call the Service center in advance to save time when we actually reach there get the appointment. We were still one hour away from Siliguri and we started making contact to Mahindra ASC.

We Googled for contact information of Khokan Motors but none of the numbers were working. We pulled out Owner's manual and dialed a number and this time it worked. However lady who picked up the phone seems to me the owner of the Service Center and she provided me another number who was Service Advisor working there in XUV department. I called up Service Advisor and he asked me all details and my location. I told him all details and informed him I can reach there in 30 mins. However Service Advisor denied taking appointment today as he told me there is huge rush today for Servicing and today's quota is already full and there are already many vehicles outside Service Center in queue for Servicing. He told me he can check our vehicle tomorrow.

Siliguri being hilly region Mahindra Pickups, Bolero, Max and Scorpio are popular here and Siliguri is largest town for all nearby locations to get their vehicles serviced from.

We called up the owner Lady gain and explained our situation, she provided us another contact number who is General Manager for the region for Khokan Motors. We got to know Khokan Motors have many facilities in the region and have couple of sales offices and 2-3 Service Centers for Mahindra.

We called up GM "Mr Chakraborty" a quite decent man who understood our situation, appreciated our travel plans and agreed to provide all support on priority and mentioned that we will get a call from his Service Advisor shortly.

We got welcome call now from same service advisor and mentioned us that he is waiting for us at Service Center. We reached Service Center by 12 noon and got a Royal Treatment. They allowed me inside the workshop with them.

Service Advisor did the primary inspection of vehicle by inspecting all wire joints under the Bonnet, accelerating vehicle to max rpm it can and he didn't find any issue. He mentioned me by primary inspection issue doesn't seems to be major, however we will connect Laptop and perform a full ECU inspection. He told me that if issue is minor then they can deliver the vehicle in an hour and if issue is major then it may take a day or two.

Then he called up technician and asked him to connect the Laptop to XUV. Technician connected the Laptop and then performed some checks in Engine bay. After some time they informed to one of the Vacuum Modulator is malfunctioning.
fortunately it was a minor issue and can be fixed within an hour. There are two vacuum modulators and one is not working properly. He recommended to replace both Vacuum Modulators and I agreed. We waited in Customer Lounge till they finished their work. Finally I got my car back by 3 pm with Total Bill around Rs 4000.

Inside Service station
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Khokan Motors
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I thanked all the technical staff over here who provided prompt service. I called up Mr Chakraborty and thanked him for all cooperation he and his staff has provided.

We quickly had our lunch in Siliguri and left for onward journey by 3:40 pm. As we left Siliguri, landscape started changing we got feeling of entering North East.

Road views after Siliguri
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We could observe many security personnel while approaching the West Bengal and Assam border. At this border check post we have been asked to if we have all car documents. We said YES and they let us go without actually checking the docs.

We reached Bongaigaon around 9:30 pm. We got the news at this time that Sela pass for Tawang is closed due to heavy snow at pass from last 2 days. Generally Sela pass is open through out the year but sometimes heavy snow fall can cause closure for few hours to days. However generally during December chances of closure of Sela Pass are very low since this is not a season for snow fall. This time it was non seasonal. We still have one day more for crossing Sela pass as our tomorrow's stay was planned at Bomdila before Sela pass. With the hope of opening Sela pass at the earliest we retired for the day.

shriram81 9th March 2019 16:32

re: An enchanting drive from West to North East India - Pune to Arunachal, Assam & Meghalaya
16 Attachment(s)
Day 6 (19 Dec)

Bongaigaon - Nalbari - Mangaldoi – Rowta –Balemu- Kalaktang- Rupa- Bomdila (400 Kms)

We started early at 7 am from hotel as we have to cover long distance through hills of Arunachal. National highways in Assam are good with nicely laid cemented roads for most parts with less traffic. We had brunch around 10 am after Mangaldai and filled the Diesel to the brim.

NH27 in Assam
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NH27 in Assam
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We observed standard practice of topping up the fuel frequently when Fuel Filling station is available and keeping the fuel level always at high when driving through hilly region where uncertainties of any landslide or any untoward natural event can put you stranded for longer time.

We took left from Rowta towards Balemu which is one of the entry point to Arunachal. We reached Balemu check post around 12 noon and entered all required details in the register. Security personnel checked our Inner Line Permits and allowed us to pass. We need to carry valid identity proof in original for all travelling members. In our case Security person did not see the original documents which may not be the case every time. Only a copy of Inner Line Permit is handed over.

near Arunachal Border
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near Arunachal Border
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near Arunachal Border
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near Arunachal Border
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One car at a time..narrow bridge just before Arunachal Border
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As we crossed Balemu, Arunachal welcomed us with winding roads through hills of thick forest and on top of it thick fog added all excitement for me driving first time in Arunachal. The visibility was hardly for few feet and I had to be extra careful. The fog was present for more than 40 kms and we stopped to have tea at road side hotel to enjoy this weather with tea. Fog disappeared before Kalaktang and thereafter it was all Sunny till Rupa.

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We reached Bomdila by 5:30 and it was totally dark by then and outside temp was chilling 2 degrees. First time during the trip we were feeling too cold here. Fortunately hotel rooms had heaters here otherwise it would have been challenging for us to have a good sleep.

I checked at hotel reception and with few taxi drivers outside about Sela pass status and they mentioned that few small vehicles could pass through today. This was good news for us as we can travel through Sela pass tomorrow for Tawang.

shriram81 13th March 2019 00:27

re: An enchanting drive from West to North East India - Pune to Arunachal, Assam & Meghalaya
23 Attachment(s)
Day 7 (20 Dec)

Bomdila - Dirang – Sela Pass- JaswantGarh – Tawang (171 Kms)

Morning at Bomdila
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We started from Bomdila around 7:30 am in chilling cold weather. Bomdila being the District Headquarters is one of the developed City in hilly region. As per advise, we decided to carry a nylon rope to put on tyres which can help to get traction in snow patched areas. We have been informed about the snow level at Sela Pass and need to carry snow chains or nylon ropes.

We checked at local market, however only couple of shops were opened and they don't have nylon ropes. We decided to buy in from next town, Dirang, which is 40 kms from Bomdila and shops would be open in Dirang by the time we reach there.

Sign-Distance Board for Tawang
Attachment 1870088

We visited Hot Water Springs which are just before the Dirang Town. We have to park the vehicle alongside of road and get down around 100 steps to visit these Hot Water Springs. These springs has warm water when we visited them. I have experienced much hotter water Springs at Badrinath and Yamunotri before. Badrinath hot water spring besides the temple is too hot.
This was comparatively warm.

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Dirang Hot Springs
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We topped up the Diesel upto the brim at fuel filling station before Dirang.

We checked for shop with nylon ropes and we got the one. It was being sold on wight and we got around 2.5 kgs. Its long enough to put on 2 tyres.
We have plan to put it on least two cross tyres if we face any difficulties for getting traction.

Nylon rope (not fitted/tied on tyres as tyres were having good traction)
Attachment 1870075

We reached half way of climb to Sela pass and observed line of vehicles, most of them were Army trucks, waiting for BRO to clear the road from landslide that was recently happened.

Landslide before Sela
Attachment 1870073

I had chat with one of the Army Jawan and learnt that they were planning to travel to Tawang from Dirang from last 2-3 days but Sela pass was not motorable due to large snowfall that happened in last few days. He mentioned that few vehicles crossed yesterday evening after BRO cleared the snow and they have received information that today it would be easy to get through as BRO may have cleared it more and weather was sunny yesterday and today.

Finally we had a confirmed news about status of Sela pass and we were delighted to see all snow and reach Tawang by today evening.

Withing 30 mins road is cleared from landslide debris by BRO and we started for next leg with lot of excitement.

We have registered the car number and number of people at one of the Army check post on the way before Sela pass.

As we were approaching the pass, we started seeing lots of snow by roadside and all around hill slopes. My little one was most excited to play in snow and she insisted me to stop the car to enjoy playing in snow. However there was not enough place for parking and we continued till we find some wider place for parking at side of road.

Before Sela
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Ice Capped mountains
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Road to Sela Top
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Finally we stopped at couple of places and had fun in snow there. Weather was all good Sunny day, fresh snow and cool breeze.

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We reached at the top and sopped for few customary clicks at the top with "Welcome to Tawang" arc in the background. This pass separates West Kameng and Tawang districts of Arunachal.

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What a view it has, FROZEN Sela Lake down below, Fresh snow all around, however wind was flowing in high speed just after the pass. Therefore we stopped only for few mins and proceeded descending by the beautiful Sela lake over a road fully covered by snow. Fortunately there was track created by ongoing truck traffic and I didn't face any difficulty traversing this patch.

Once we moved ahead of Sela pass, we saw more snow on other side with many vehicles piled up on both sides, BRO working to clear the snow and we got first trailer of what we have next till we pass thorough this critical patch.

Sela Lake
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Snow at Top
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Snow Clearing in progress
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No vehicles can move untill snow is being cleared. Many vehicles, trucks, cars were stuck in between which is causing difficulties for other vehicles to pass them.

There was a track for at least next few kms as we can see where only single vehicle can pass through and there are some locations where snow is cleared little-bit wider to pass two vehicles from opposite direction.

All descending vehicles were maintaining safe distance from each other to avoid collision if vehicles slides over the snow/ice and control is lost.

We got stuck in this traffic initially for few mins, however all vehicles were moving once upcoming vehicles are being provided passage.

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During one hour from 12 noon to 1 pm we could cover only one km and we thought anyway by evening we can pass this mess even if we keep moving with same pace. However all descending vehicles were stopped at some point as there were few trucks stuck in snow ahead of us no other vehicle is passing. By this time we were at 4100 mtrs height above sea level and and having low oxygen level. Fortunately the point where we were stuck has a small shop which was serving Hot Maggie and tea. But this place was overcrowded as everyone is hanging up there. I kept my car engine running throughout and AC on heater mode with all Windows half down to avoid any further Oxygen issues inside the car due to thin air.

Fortunately we were not affected with any AMS symptoms. Thanks To Bhimsen Camphor that we have carried in cotton pouches. We all have been continuously breathing the Camphor since we reached at Sela pass. It really helped at this situation.

Now its been more than 2 hours we have been at same place. We stuck at this place by 2 pm and its around 4 pm now ans Sun is already behind the hills and about to set in few mins. Temperature was sinking rapidly. We have almost 4 layers of clothing and on top of that shawls and blanket to protect us from this cold. We had enough food items and water with us that is sufficient for 2 days in case of such emergency.

We had Maggie and tea from the small outlet near to us. I got chance to talk with many people over here and everyone is sharing his past experiences about Sela pass but all were stuck for first time for such a long time here.

Since Sela pass was closed for last 2-3 days and it got opened today, all people who were stuck on either side of Sela pass made an attempt today and it caused heavy traffic jam in snow due to large number of passenger vehicles and trucks.

Many Army Jawans were helping the travelers and assuring safety of everyone.

BRO personnel stopped working by 4:30 as they were working hard throughout the day and We lost hope of getting out of this place by today night.

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Many Marathi Army Jawans came to us after seeing MH number plate and boosted our confidence for safety.

It was a night before Full Moon night and what a sight to behold, glowing snow all around with moon in its 14th day glory with sky full of stars with no light pollution. One of the Army Officer mentioned me its a good place to get trapped at this time. I was amazed with this positive outlook.

By 7 pm, more Army personnel came to help by nearby camps and they started helping vehicles stuck in snow by removing snow, pushing it.

Temperature was dropped to -4 degrees now.

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Traffic moved little further and now Army decided to pass all descending vehicles as some of the upcoming trucks were stuck so badly and they can not be rescued at this time.

Movement was very slow and we had to wait around 15 mins for every 200-300 mtrs stretch.

We gave lift to one of the Innova driver whose car was stuck and he was shivering with cold outside and requesting everyone for lift. We had capacity to accommodate him. He told us that he started from Tawang at 5 am today and was stuck here since morning. There were many cars who started from Tawang early morning but could not pass till midnight.

Around 2 months before this tour, I got two tyres replaced of my XUV after 50,000 kms running. I got them fitted on 2 front wheels being my XUV Front Wheel Drive only. These are new Yokohama Geolander which are suitable for off roads as wells as for highways. And I like the way tyres performed in the snow. We didn't feel any need to put nylon ropes or chains on tyre though most of the other vehicles there wre using chains or nylon ropes on tyres.

We could move only 3-4 kms till 12 midnight, but there was hope now that we can get out of it soon. Temperature has dropped to -8. I really appreciated all Army and BRO personnel who were working in such adverse conditions to ease the traffic.

Finally we were out of this patch by 1 am and now road was clear towards Tawang. We reached Twang by 3 am and directly went to bed without any delay. Rooms were having heaters which are must at this place during this time of year.

shriram81 14th March 2019 23:45

re: An enchanting drive from West to North East India - Pune to Arunachal, Assam & Meghalaya
10 Attachment(s)
Day 8 (21 Dec) - Around Tawang

We had hard time yesterday and today we wanted to take more rest. We woke up late and had brunch at hotel.

The Hotel owner and other staff surprised to see that we have come by Sela pass yesterday night. He mentioned that many locals yesterday could not get through Sela pass. They even mentioned that their hotel booking was full for these 2-3 days and no tourist turned up due to closure of Sela pass even they have had their confirmed bookings. We were the only guest at this hotel.

Hotel Tashi Ga
Attachment 1870146

We decided to visit local tourist spots in City today. We handed over required documents to hotel reception and they agreed to take care of getting permit for Bum la pass tomorrow. Getting permit is an easy task but I did not wanted to invest time for this task and prefer to do local site seeing and have proper rest for the remaining time. Hotel charged us Rs 500 for arranging the Bum La Permit. Permit is needed to be approved from DC office and Army Brigade office at Tawang.

We visited Buddha Statue and Tawang monastery in the afternoon.

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Monastery Entrance
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Tawang Monastery
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Tawang City View from Monastery
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We visited Tawang war memorial in the evening which has been built for the Indian Army soldiers who were martyred here during 1962 India-China war. Our visit was followed by Light and sound show at this war memorial which is must to attend when in Tawang. We get good information about bravery of soldiers in India-China war during this show.

Tawang War Memorial
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We have been informed by hotel reception that our Bum La permit is ready and I need to collect the permit from Brigade office by tomorrow 7:30 am as they hand over daily permit on same day morning which is valid for same day only.

shriram81 15th March 2019 23:35

re: An enchanting drive from West to North East India - Pune to Arunachal, Assam & Meghalaya
10 Attachment(s)
Day 9 (22 Dec)

I collected the Bum La permit from Brigade office around 7:20 am and after top up of diesel, returned to hotel for breakfast by 7:45 am. By this time all were ready and waiting for me for break fast.

We started from hotel around 8 am towards Bum la pass. There were very few vehicles towards Bum La today. We carried unused nylon rope with us which we have got with us before Sela pass but we didn't used it as we could manage to pass snow layered Sela pass without it.

But I have been informed by few local taxi drivers to carry the rope or chain as snow level would be high as the road may not be cleared to the extent due to lesser number of vehicles plying to Bum La as compared to Sela pass.

As we started ascending the hill, we could see much snow from the start by road side. All along the road there are many Army camps/buildings as this area being very close to China border.

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We reached the first check post and I got down for document check. The Army Jawan asked me where we are visiting and conversation went as follows in Hindi

Army Jawan - What places you are visiting Sir?
Me - Bum La pass and Sangestar TSO lake
Army Jawan - The road is opened till Y junction only and you can not go beyond that . I will permit you till Y junction only.
Me - Not even Sangestar Lake?
Army Jawan - No Sir, Even Army vehicles are not going due to heavy snow on the road.
Me - Then there is no point going till Y junction too.
Army Jawan - Its upto you Sir. Or you can visit P-Tso lake which is 3-4 kms from here and road till there is motorable.
Me - There are many local taxi vehicles are coming from town for Bum La. Are going to deny permission to all local taxi vehicles too?
Army Jawan - Yes Sir. No vehicles are allowed today.
Me - Then how come we have been granted permission from Brigade office at War memorial?
Army Jawan - As per latest update we have from camps up there, it is not motorable today. We have received this information few mins before and the same is communicated to Brigade office at War memorial. They wont be allowing any vehicles hereafter.
Me - Will it open tomorrow?
Army Jawan - It seems difficult sir as per current situation and less amount of snow being cleared in last two days even both days were sunny.
Me - Ok.. Thank you for all update. We will visit P-Tso lake and return from there.
Army Jawan - Ok Sir, I am making entry in register for your car till P-Tso lake.

He checked all required documents and let us go.

We were disappointed but quickly accepted the reality and not everything will go as per plan. We went few kms ahead and road was superb. Even at his location heavy snow was present and two vehicles can not pass at same time. Road was decorated with fresh white snow from both sides and driving on this patch was amazing. We enjoyed this section as much as we can and returned towards Tawang. When we returned the same check post, most taxi vehicles have reached by this time and all tourist were having disappointed emotions.

Tawang – Sela Pass - Bomdila (171Kms)

We made a decision to return to Bomdila today due to uncertainty of getting access on tomorrow as well and have sufficient time/days for remaining places to visit. We still have few places pending to visit in Assam and Meghalaya as per our initial plan.

We returned to hotel by 10 am and by 10:30 we started towards Bomdila. We have to again return via Sela pass today and we were hoping improved condition of Sela pass today.

We reached Jaswantgarh by 12:30 pm. Initially I had planned to visit Jaswantgarh during onward journey, however since we were stuck at Sela pass, we couldn't visit Jaswantgarh while coming. Maratha Infantry was posted at Jaswantgarh and it was a great experience to talking to those marathi soldiers, who were also happy to talk to people from their state. Everywhere was fresh snow layer of about couple of feet around the memorial.

Jaswantgarh is the place where Jaswant Sigh had blocked Chinese Army proceeding further and two local girls named Sela and Noora had helped him while defending the chinese troops.

At Tawang war memorial there is information about Jaswant Singh and how he fought against Chinese Army with help of Sela and Noora. Also during light and sound show at war memorial, a brief info is provided about bravery act by Jaswant Singh.

Witnessing war stories by visiting actual places is altogether different kind of experience. I hope these stories of Sela and Noora would be ever remembered by my duaghter as she heard/read it at a location where it happeded along with all pcitures.

After 1962 war, this place converted to Jaswantgarh war memorial and pass is named after Sela and a valley named after Noora.

We had tea and food at Jaswantgarh canteen. Near to canteen is a view point where we get a good view of full valley. Tea is seved here complementary by Army.

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After crossing a bridge as we started asceding towards Sela pass I started experiencing litlle bit difficulty due to snow. Snow was still not cleared to the extent. However this time traffic was far less, hardly few vehicles were coming from opposite direction, therefore we were not hoping any adverse situation this time.

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While descending gravity helps to get traction but while asceding for definitely its a test for driving skills if its snow on the road. We have to always keep the momentum and stopping in between is a risk. Either car need to be pushed or we have to put on nylon ropes on tyres. We decided to drive as long as we really face tough time. Hopefully everyone traveling here are very helpful if your vehciles stucks. Locals guide tourist vehicles in case of any difficulty.

As we proceeded towards Sela pass we observed that few vehicles ahead of us has tough time negotiating the snow. We kept safe distance from them to avoid getting stuck in snow patches. However one of Innova was getting stuck very frequently and it was becoming difficult to stop and again get momentum as everywhere snow was there on road. Many times my car tyres were spinning in the snow but hopefully we did not stuck. However at one of the steep U turn where I could not see Innova was stuck right after the turn, our car got stuck behind the Innova.

Ahh I realised, now getting out of this would be difficult. However local persons from other vehicles came to rescue us. Innova was rescued first and therefater we had to do some back and forth with some push from all good folks and we were out of the mess.

I decided to stop at some safe place and when that Innova stucks again then overtake it if space is available. And again Innova stucked, I talked to Innova driver requested him let me go as I have risk of getting stuck everytime behind him.

Finally I overtook Innova and thereafter no other vehicle was ahead me except few vehicles coming from opposite direction.
We have to carefully pass the vehicles coming from other direction due to high level of snow at side of the road.

With some difficulty we managed to climb the Sela pass. The car was sliding on snow/ice and had to be very careful while applying acceleration or brake. At one point we almost slided/rotated over snow/Ice in 45 degress angle and it was scary.

It was full sunny day till we reached Sela pass. As soon as we passed Sela pass and moved to other part of hill, weather changed drastically from sunny to foggy weather. Fog was very thick for few distance and then its intensity reduced as we travel further but weather was cloudy.

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We reached Bomdila by 5 pm and retired for the day.

shriram81 16th March 2019 23:54

re: An enchanting drive from West to North East India - Pune to Arunachal, Assam & Meghalaya
11 Attachment(s)
Day 10 (23 Dec)

Bomdila- Bhalukpong - Tezpur – Kaziranga (205 Kms)

Today Mahesh is going to join us and we were excited to welcome him in NE as companion for our rest part of North East travel. We decided to meet at Tezpur as his flight was expected to land early morning at Guwahati Airport. There after he can take taxi from airport and meet us at Tezpur which is midpoint for both of us. We decided to meet around 12 noon.

I had driven all along till today from the day we started from Pune and today onwards I will have some rest during travel as Mahesh can help with driving in rotation.

We started around 7:30 am. We were travelling by Bhalukpong route today as we are going towards Kaziranga. While coming to Bodila from Guwahati side we preferred Kalaktang route as its is much better than Bhalukpong route.

Towards Bhalukpong
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There is road work in progess on Bhalukpong route and this section between Bhalukpong and Tenga is closed for public during 9 am to 2 pm and again 5 pm to 5 am. That means we have to reach this patch before 8:30 am or after 2 pm. However we learnt that this road closure restrictions are not applied on Sunday as its a holiday for workers and staff working there. We were relieved after this update as we can travel as per our convenience for this section.

Arunachal hills
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Road Carved Through Hills
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We stopped for breakfast and got to know that Mahesh's flight was delayed by couple of hours and he will be starting from Guwahati soon by taxi. We decided to meet at Kaziranga directly.

We were also running late due to work in progress at many places on this route. However all hilly landscape was awesome and tempted us to have many breaks at many view points.

Alongside Kameng River
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We reached Bhalukpong checkpost around 12 and nor needed to submit any documnets here. They let us go after asking couole of questions.

We passed Tezpur and contacted Mahesh and he was also near to Tezpur. We stopped at a beautifully constructed dhaba by bamboo sticks just before Bramhaputra bridge and requested Mahesh to join this place for lunch and he reached there in 10 mins.

Dhaba Samaroh
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Brahmputra Bridge
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We had lunch and started towards Kaziranga by 3 pm. Once we crossed Brahmaputra, we joined main road coming from Guwahati and has more traffic. However road was scenic with grasslands on both sides. As we were approaching Kaziranga we saw many vehciles stopped by side as couple of Rhions were grazing nearby. We stopped to have our first glipms of state Animal of Assam - Single Horned Rhino.

Many signboards were on the road for speed limit as animals can cross the road anytime. However most of the vehicles were not observing the speed limit.

I really liked all greenary and landscape Assam has on this side of state.

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We reached Kaziranga by 4:30 pm and went directly for booking next day's Safari at Kohora booking office. We wanted to book Elephant Safari for early morning. Howecer upon arrival got to know that Elephant Safari booking will start at 7 pm and preference will be given to foreign tourist. And there are only 25 bookings available for Elephant Safari.

Queue was about to form from the ticket window and we were 3rd in queue. Sushant waited in queue and rest of us went to hotel. I returned from hotel and found a very long queue behind Sushant.

Ticket window opened at 7 pm and all tickets were sold of to foreigners. It was very frustrating after waiting in queue for more than 2 hours. We all protested this discrimination between foreign and Indian tourist done by Forest Authorities.

This is worst managed National Park I have experienced in terms of booking of Safari tickets as compared to other parks such as Ranthanbor, Gir or Tadoba. At this National park there is no transperancy at all in booking process. For all national parks I mentioned earlier there is an online facility to book the Safari, however for Kaziranga there is no such online facility.

We decided to do two Jeep safaris tomorrow and for which we need to be at booking center by 6:30 am. All tourist can get confirmed Jeep Safari and there is no hard restrictions on number of Jeeps being allowed. Everyone gets this Safari if we reach before time at booking center. There are timings for booking morning and afternoon Jeep Safari.

Kaziranga was full of crowd as this is being holiday season and week end connected with X'mas holiday.

shriram81 20th March 2019 11:47

re: An enchanting drive from West to North East India - Pune to Arunachal, Assam & Meghalaya
24 Attachment(s)
Day 11 (24 Dec) - Kaziranga

We started from hotel around 5:30 am and we were delighted with superb morning view in Kaziranga. We stopped by roadside for few clicks. It was awesome view with fog all around, tea plantation on both side of road and huge trees around this tea plantation with morning sun rays coming through trees.

Welcome Mahesh
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Morning views at Kaziranaga
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Tea at Kohora
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We reached Kohora by 6 am and enjoyed hot tea outside reservation counter. After talking to couple of forest department personnel we decided to do morning Safari at Bagori range.

Kaziranga has 3 Safari ranges

Kohora - The Central Range
Bagori - The Eastern Range
Agartoli - The Western Range.

We quickly moved to Bagori range and hired a jeep for Safari there. Jeep driver took care of getting Safari tickets for us from booking counter.

Ready for Safari
Attachment 1870208

We started our Safari around 7:30 am. The Bagori range is whole grass land with comparatively less trees and only couple of water bodies. Its a good experience going through high grass land areas and sighting animals in between. By jeep safari we could not sight Rhinos from close distance as Rhinos were inside grass lands and Jeep Safari has definite path to follow. By Elephant ride one can see the Rhinos very closely as compared to Jeep Safari. Jeep Safari had two small breaks near view points and then it ended by 9:30 am.

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Bagori Grassland
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Bagori Grassland
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We went on see the place "Kaziranga Orchid and Biodiveristy park". However we didnt find it interesting and after some shopping at this place we went to hotel.

We started towards Agartoli range by 1:30 pm and reached booking center by 2 pm. Jeep driver done the entry ticket booking for us and our Jeep was accompanied by a forest guide this time.

Agartoli Booking office
Attachment 1870196

Agartoli is known for bird watching as it has many water bodies, this range hosts many migratory and native bird species. Even for afternoon Safari, we got opportunity to see many types of birds.

It was around 3:30 pm, we stopped for watching a type of eagle sitting on a tree, there was one more Jeep before us. I was experiencing the calmness and silence of forest. And suddenly there was movement from deers on left side at some distance. Our guide and driver realised that this is a call made by deers for presence of tiger. And within few seconds two tigers came out of trees at some distance from us and crosses grass land area and then disaapeared. It was a complete grand walk before us for a minute or two. Our guide and drivers were also very excited to spot them as its a rare occasion for them too. They mentioned that once in a month or two, they get opportunity to spot tigers.

This range was more eventful, we spotted tigers, wild buffalos, deers, herd of elephants and obviously Rhions but from some distance.

We reached the end of track which was at the bank of Brahmalutra and guide allowed us to get down. We had few clicks here and it was first time for us to have close view Brahmaputra. The river was flowing with very high current and has very large width. There were many small islands inbetween the river flow. I can imagine the water current and spread during monsoon of Brahmputra and realised why Kaziranga is closed during monsoon.

Agartoli Range
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Agartoli Range
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Agartoli Range
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Sunset at Agartoli
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Sunset at Agartoli
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Sunset at Agartoli
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We started return Safari from this point and by 5 pm we were at exit gate of Agartoli.

Kaziranga – Shillong (255 Kms)

We reached hotel by 5:30 and immediaely started for Shillong. We have kept luggage ready in afternoon to save time after Safari.

We spotted a deer on the way back crossing the road.

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The road was smooth all along and we reached Shillong by 11 pm with one break for dinner after Nagaon.

shriram81 25th March 2019 23:28

re: An enchanting drive from West to North East India - Pune to Arunachal, Assam & Meghalaya
16 Attachment(s)
Day 12 (25 Dec)

Shillong Dawki Mawlynnong (116 Kms)

Today's attraction was Crystal clear Dawki river, cleanest village Mawlynnong and single root bridge.

We started through winding roads of Meghalaya towards Dawki around 9 am after breakfast from hotel. It was amazing experience driving through Meghalaya hills. The landscape was similar to Western Maharashtra hilly roads.

There were many view points on the way and we had stop at couple of places. We reached Dawki river by noon and there was a huge traffic jam before the boating point. We parked the car 1 km before the boating point on advise by one of the local tourist.

Meghalaya Landscapes
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We reached the river bank and delighted to see all transparent water and it was an awesome view and experience. We were witnessing the Dawki river as per set expectation from internet pics we have seen. No river or lake can match its crystal clearness. Its so transparent that we can see our shadows at the bottom of river and this view was awesome.

We were all delighted and now ready for boat ride. The small boats here are also traditional ones. A very narrow in breadth and made from local single piece wood. They charged us Rs 1000 for one hour ride. Being this peak holiday period boating charges were surged.

We enjoyed boating through this Crystal Clear waters of Dawki river.

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We can see Bangladesh border on the other side of this river. This boating point is on the border itself. You cross few meters on other side and you are in Bangladesh.

India-Bangladesh Border
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We returned from Boating and were hungry by that time. It was around 1:30 pm but no good restaurant nearby. We decided to start towards Mawlynnong and have the lunch on the way.

There was one good restaurant but it was very crowded and had to wait for more than 45 mins to get food on the table. Finally we started towards Mawlynnong - The Cleanest Village of Asia as per 2008 Survey.

Restaurant before taking turn towards Mawlynnong
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First attraction near Mawlynnong was Signle Root Bridge. We reached the place by 3:30 and again huge traffic welcome us. Its a tourist circuit near Shillong. People start from Shillong and cover Dawki and Mawlinnong in a day and therefore expect huge traffic during holiday season. There is no sufficient parking place available there provided number of vehicles visiting this place. However villagers were managing traffic and crowd effectively.

Its just a 10 mins walk downside from Riwai village till Single root bridge and we first time saw a natural living root bridge.

Living root bridges are a form of tree shaping common in the southern part of the Northeast Indian state of Meghalaya. They are handmade from the aerial roots of rubber fig trees by the Khasi and Jaintia peoples of the mountainous terrain along the southern part of the Shillong Plateau. The most popular root bridges are one near Mawlynnong village as its easily accessible and another one is near Cherapunji which is double is decker and needs a day's trekking to reach this place. The latter one is in our plan for next day.

Single Living Root Bridge
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By the time we returned from Single Root Bridge it was started getting dark and we decided to call it a day.

We got a very good cottage nearby this village for stay in the midst of thick jungle and it was an awesome stay.

shriram81 6th April 2019 13:09

re: An enchanting drive from West to North East India - Pune to Arunachal, Assam & Meghalaya
18 Attachment(s)
Day 13 (26 Dec)

Mawlynnong – Cherapunjee - Shillong (154 Kms)

We started our a day with leisurely morning walk through the small lanes Mawlynnong village and admired the cleanliness maintained by villagers.

Mawlynnong Village
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Though this was the cleanest village, however we have observed cleanliness in all the places/villages that we passed by in Meghalaya.

After visiting Mawlynnong we started towards Cherapunji and reached Nohkalikai falls and view point by 9:30 am. After a great view of fall and having few clicks we started towards starting point of Double Decker Root bridge trek which is Nongriat village near Cherapunji.

Nohkalikai falls
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Our today's main attraction was Trek to Double Decker Living Root Bridge thorough the hills and forest of Meghalaya. There is no better way experience the Meghalaya nature than a day's trek through its hills and forest.

On the way Nongriat Village
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We reached Nongriat village by 11:30 and started towards the Root Bridge trail. Its around 3000 steps one way towards the bridge and it takes around 2 to 3 hours to reach the destination. Its unlike the normal trek that we do, as for this trek we need to climb down towards the bridge first and then while return one has to climb up all the 3000 steps. Therefore more efforts are going to be needed while returning.

It was a very scenic trek and views were breathtaking. You are in the midst of nature of North East and what better experience of North East one needs apart from this.

Crossing natural water streams, walking over narrow swinging iron mesh bridges, experiencing the silence of Jungle and recording all these awesome views, back in the mind is one of the best experience during this trek.

We reached Double Decker Root bridge by 2 pm. On the way we had maggi and frooti from the small shops which are operated by residents from the village on this route.

We stayed at this place for an hour and soaked ourselves in the natural beauty of this place.

Church at Nongriat Village - The Starting point for trek
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Double Decker Living Root Bridge
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By 3 pm, we started our return trek. We stopped by few water bodies for a while with intention to swim but in interest of time we decided carry on return trek as it will start getting dark by 4:15 pm here.

Climbing up was very exhaustive as expected, but we all managed to do it with frequent stops for rest. For the last couple of Kms we walked in the dark with Anvi guiding everyone in the team with torch in her hand. She was not that tired and was all excited to show path to everyone in the dark.

We reached the Nongriat village by 6 pm and started travel towards Shillong.
We reached Shillong by 8 pm and rested after having dinner.

shriram81 6th April 2019 13:41

re: An enchanting drive from West to North East India - Pune to Arunachal, Assam & Meghalaya
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Day 14 (27 Dec)

Shillong – Guwahati (100 Kms)

Everyone woke up late today due to tiring trek we did a day before. Our today's plan was only Shillong Site seeing and then travel to Guwahati.

after heavy brunch from hotel we started around 10:30 towards Shillong City view point which is away from City on a hill top. As we reached City view point, there was no place for parking and there was a heavy traffic. We had City view from other near by place and proceeded to next point - Elephant Falls.

Elephant Falls is a typical tourist point with all shops around and having a big parking ground and full crowd of tourist as being very close to city and easily accessible.

There are 3 steps of falls and I found them no so great. Compared to our yesterday's experience this is nothing.

Elephant Falls
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Elephant Falls
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Then we visited Air Force Museum and it was all worth to visit this place.

Air Force Museum
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We returned the hotel by 1, checked out, loaded luggage and went to shopping market of Shillong called as Police Bazar. Its central shopping place in Shillong and lots of street shopping stalls and mall shopping is available at this place .

Police Bazar
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Sumedha shopped few sweaters and other local handicraft items here and I was carrying all bags ;)

I liked the Shillong City and its culture and Khasi people here.

Finally, we left Shillong by 4:30 and reached Guwahati by 6:30 pm.

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