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Old 11th February 2019, 23:16   #1
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Default A swift journey from Kolkata to Meghalaya

The best part of any trip is the journey towards the destination. And this journey brings the best or worst out of you. Either you make it, or you don’t. For us, it was definitely not the later.
After lots of planning, we opted to drive to Cherrapunji during the durga puja festival last year.
We began the process of booking hotels and researching the routes. Going through Google maps and making a visual marking of the places that comes in between destinations etc.

Swifts boot space is not very exciting. So careful planning is definitely required for packing it up with luggages. A large suitcase and another duffle bag, that took almost half of the boot space, was stuffed with all the necessary clothes my son and wife needed. I took a decent sized duffle bag and stuffed all my clothes in it. That kind of sorted everything.

Our itinerary was as follows:
13th October (Saturday): Kolkata to Ambari
14th October (Sunday): Stay for the night
15th October (Monday): Ambari to Guwahati, Stay for the night
16th October (Tuesday): Start for Cherrapunji.
17th October (Wednesday): Sightseeing around Cherrapunji
18th October (Thursday): Checkout from Cherrapunji early morning for Shillong. Sightseeing on the way. Reach Shillong by evening.
19th October (Friday): Stay in Shillong and sightseeing
20th October (Saturday): Start from Shillong to Guwahati and visit Kamakhya temple.
21st October (Sunday): Start for Ambari, reach on the same day by evening.
22nd October (Monday): Stay in Ambari
23rd October (Tuesday): Start from Ambari to Kolkata

Kolkata to Siliguri was straight forward. Kolkata -SH7-Morgram-Farakka-Malda-Raiganj-Botolbari-Dhantola-Ghoshpukur route. Started our much anticipated journey by 9pm. I wanted to start much earlier but other obligations prevented me from doing so.
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Starting our journey with an obvious selfie..

We proceeded towards Bardhaman and connected with State Highway 7 (SH7) by midnight. All was going well, when suddenly I faced heavy fog which, I was not at all prepared for. Speed dropped to 40kmph. I was trying my best to judge the road ahead and concentrating. Reaching Moregram safely became my first priority. While my son slept peacefully on the backseat, my wife was constantly keeping me alert and going through the Google map. We kept ourselves motivated by talking to each other and slowly drove ahead. Finally around 3:30am, we crossed Moregram and stopped at the COCO pump for a much needed break and muscle relaxation. Tanked up and moved towards Farakka.

Since Farakka barrage was under repair and maintenance, all heavy goods vehicle movement was restricted from 7 a.m. till 5 p.m. I was aware of the news and took some pointers from fellow BHP-ians. Driving on the opposite flank was the only feasible option suggested. Drove smoothly and reached Farakka early in the morning. Progress on the barrage was slow but steady but the road surface was extremely bad. Crossed Malda in the early morning hours so did not face any traffic. Rest of the journey was smooth. Reached my brothers place at 1:30 in the afternoon and took rest for the day. It was then I realised how tired I was. Driving through that dense fog at night took a toll on me.

15th October (Monday): Ambari to Guwahati (approx 480 KMS)
We got ready for the 480 kms drive to Guwahati. Started at 5 a.m., we took the Gajoldoba route proceeding towards Kranti then Lataguri, driving through Gorumara National Park, which I must say is one of the finest roads I have ever driven and that too within a forest area. The area was so scenic and the road so smooth that we were both super excited. Stopped a few time to admire the dense forest, hearing the magnificent sound of birds and insects and of course take some selfies.

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Beautiful road
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Selfie halt
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Crossed Nagrakata, Birpara, we reached Hasimara (where I topped up the tank for the second time). Roads were in very good shape with occasional bad stretches and diversions due to road constructions.

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Around 1.30pm, we halted at a restaurant named Papari Restaurant and Dhaba, near Nalbari area for lunch.
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Noodles and Chicken thali.

After a stomach filling lunch, we drove steadily and reached our hotel at around 4:30 p.m. Spend the rest of the evening relaxing, looking around the place, chilling.

16th October (Tuesday) Guwahati to Cherrapunjee (approx 136 Kms)
After a peaceful night, we woke up at 5 a.m. and started our journey towards Cherrapunji which was not at a great distance. With smooth four lane roads, we made multiple photo stops.

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Open roads

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Quick halt at a local fruit seller

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Smooth curved roads lay ahead

Stopped to see the Umiam lake which falls just before reaching Shillong.
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Umiam lake from a different side

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Umiam lake

Faced traffic while entering Shillong, where we lost considerable amount of time. Once past that, the road was clear. Visited the beautiful Elephant Falls and Mawkdok Dympep Valley View Point on our way.

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Elephant Waterfall

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Mumma and beta happily posing

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Slow shutter artistic shot

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Suddenly being adventurous

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Mawkdok Dympep Valley

Reached our home stay at around 1pm
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Last edited by Red Panda : 12th February 2019 at 09:09.
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Old 11th February 2019, 23:33   #2
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17th October(Wednesday) Cherapunjee sightseeing

Since there was little driving involved, we were very relaxed. Woke up early, made tea, some noodles and went for sightseeing. Cherrapunji has numerous waterfalls and the most famous double root bridge. But visiting every waterfall was not possible due to the shortage of time. And some of them involves decent amount of trekking. The famous double root bridge also has its fare share of trekking which we found would be very difficult for our kid and it will take most of the day. So we visited the Arwah Lumshynna cave that was very close to our home stay. This place has its own parking lot but it also had steep climb at two sections. But every car can make it. I misjudged the situations and parked at the base of the first steep climb.
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Spot the panda

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The second uphill section.

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Safe guarded path created while approaching towards the cave.

Walked the whole route for more than 10-15 minutes and reached the entrance of the cave. It was the second time I have ever visited any naturally formed cave. The cave features many passages and tunnels, adequately lit, creating a nice ambiance.

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After spending a good amount of time in the cave taking pictures, it was time to head back all the way to our car.

While coming down, I was greatly disappointed to see every car be it an Innova, or an Alto 800 climbing those steep road and making it to the parking lot. May be I was not ready to take the chance. Next, we drove towards the Seven Sisters waterfall.

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My son took this photograph of which I am very proud of.

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Providing expert guidance

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Our last stop was the Nohkalikai waterfall. But our expectations were crushed by super dense fog. We were able to hear the sound but couldnít see it. So we decided to roam around, and return after having lunch. With our mood off, we clicked a couple of photos while returning.
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I never get bored of clicking photographs of Red Panda.

Strolled the local market just adjacent to our home stay, bought fruits, chocolates and other snacks for our next dayís journey and ended the day with a good dinner. The owner was very generous to sends the dinner we ordered right on time. By 10pm we were off to sleep.

Last edited by Red Panda : 12th February 2019 at 09:50.
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Old 12th February 2019, 09:48   #3
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18th October (Thursday): Cherapunjee to Shillong

Our plan for the day was to visit Dawki, Living root bridge and Mawlynnong Village and then return to Shillong. Started for Dwaki at 6 a.m. and after a few photo halts and scenic drive, we reached Dwaki early. The roads become narrow and traffic chaotic as the day progressed. So, early arrival and departure is highly recommended.

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Early morning on our way to Dawki

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Dawki river

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The bridge that connects the other side of the river.

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Trying to give some photography lessons.

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Happily posing boatman.

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Admiring the different shapes and sizes of the bed rocks.

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These food sellers are all from Bangladesh and they mark the border between India and Bangladesh. It is so astonishing to see how two countries are divided only by some local food sellers. No barbed wires, no fences.

After an enjoyable boat ride, it was time to head towards Nohwet village for the living root bridge and Mawlynnong village. By 12 pm, we took the same route back by, following the Google map which worked like charm. By 1.30 pm, we were at our destination. Parking scenario was a bit tricky due to rush in tourists. Since the entrance towards Nohwet village was narrow, the road got blocked with cars and buses. It was frustrating. Got stuck for almost half an hour, may be more I donít remember. Parked the car, and walked towards the living root bridge. With some decent amount of stairs, going downhill, the bridge offers a spectacular view. These are ancient handmade bridges made from the roots of Banyan trees. It was a surreal experience for us.

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The single root bridge.

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Just magical.

We drove on towards Mawlynnong Village, which is basically 2 kilometers away from the Nohwet village. For those who donít know, Mawlynnong Village is Asiaís cleanest village. When we reached, the place was already crowded with tourists. We roamed around a bit and decided to head back.
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With very little daylight in our hand, we hurried and started our journey back towards Shillong by 3:30pm. Reached Shillong by 6:30pm but due to traffic jam, we reached our hotel near Police bazar at 8:30pm. It was kind of frustrating. This stretch made us super tired. Quickly finished dinner and went off to bed. We had a long day, but it was a great eventful day.
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Old 12th February 2019, 10:09   #4
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19th October (Friday): Shillong sightseeing

We were very relaxed this day. Woke up late, got freshened up and went out. After breakfast, we visited the Ward’s Lake which was at a walking distance from Police Bazar. We surely had our fun filled moments riding the paddle boat.

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We had lots of fun paddling the boat.

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The beautiful Ward's lake.

The entire day was spent strolling through the local markets. In the evening, we retired into our hotel room, very tired. Had lovely momo’s that we bought from a local fast-food joint and went off to bed. Another day in Shillong would have been better.

20th October (Saturday): Shillong to Guwahati

Our plan was to visit the Kamakhya kali temple after reaching Guwahati. So, we started from Shillong at 6 am and reached our hotel at 8:30 am. Upon arrival, we quickly freshened up. The Kamakhya temple was 15 kilometers away from where we were staying. We easily navigated our way with Gmap.

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Next stop was the Assam State Zoo Cum Botanical Garden. Huge area with unique diversity of varied flora and fauna species. We roamed around almost till the closing time and our son was very excited to these animals.
We were very tired at the end of the day, so decided to head to our hotel. Topped up the tank that evening itself to save some time next morning, bought food for the night and spend the rest of the evening relaxing in our room. We were happy that all our expectation for the day was met without any issues whatsoever.

21st October (Sunday): Guwahati to Ambari

We left our hotel by 6 a.m. sharp. Smooth roads with occasional rough patches, we drove steadily hoping to cross Assam and reach Ambari before sundown. With the day coming to an end, we reached Murti at around 3 p.m. Stopped for a quick break as we were super hungry, and the biscuits, nuts and chocolates that we were carrying, were simply not enough. So after five plates of momo altogether and a cup of tea, we are satisfied at last. Spend some quality time near the river, feeling the cold water, throwing stones into the water and taking photographs.
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After a long tiring drive, the cold water completely refreshes your body.

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Enjoying the calm and cool water of Murti river.

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Throwing stones in the water and making a splash.

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Luckily, we even crossed Gorumara forest before sundown. I was determined to reach my brothers place before it gets dark. While, we were driving through Gajoldoba road, we saw a crowd, blocking our way. I thought to be an accident spot. But on reaching closer, we realized that these men were actually looking at a herd of 8 to 10 wild elephants standing quietly on the other side of the canal. Now, that was the icing on the cake for us. As the day was coming to an end, three of us were relatively tired, and wishing that the days journey ends with a smile, and suddenly we got to see these mighty animals, standing peacefully. Within seconds, we were refreshed. No tiredness, no fatigue, just sheer happiness.

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Wild elephants on the oppostite side of the canal.

Our energy level just got recharged. We happily reached our destination, super excited and supremely happier than ever.
I felt extremely happy and relaxed to visit my brother here. We spent the whole next day, relaxing and gossiping, narrating our beautiful journey, singing, laughing, and sharing photographs. Our last part of the journey was reaching home in Kolkata. Kept most of our luggage in the car the previous night to save a bit of time in the morning.

22nd October (Monday): Ambari to Kolkata

End of the trip always makes me a bit sad, but duty calls and other responsibilities remains to be fulfilled. It is also true that after 10 days, the desire to reach your own home, lying on your own bed hold a special place in your heart. So we started the final part of our journey by 6:00 am. Bid adieu to my loved ones and headed towards Ghoshpukur to connect with the Purnea –Siliguri road, that is the NH27. Basically we took the same route back. By 6pm, we reached Bardhaman where we stopped to satisfy our growling stomach. Reached home at 8:30 pm, quickly freshened up and by 10pm, we were in our bed.
The entire trip was a combination of delightful moments and unforgettable memories. We learnt a lot about our eating preferences, what to do and what not to do for the next trip. Our car performed flawlessly, the suspensions took pretty bad hit at few stretches but luckily, there wasn’t any unwanted situation. In total, we covered around 2623 kilometers and our Swift consumed approx around 156 liters of petrol.

In short… WE NAILED IT!

Lastly, I thank each and every one of you for keeping the patience and reading it till the end. This community is an inspiration for me. The wonderful travelogues give me enough courage to do my own long drives around our beautiful country. So thank you, to every contributor of this forum from the bottom of my heart. You guys are awesome.

Oh! And one more thing, please forgive me for any spelling errors and grammatical mistakes and also, apologies for posting so late.

Cheers
Avishek

Last edited by Aditya : 18th February 2019 at 07:30. Reason: Typos
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Old 12th February 2019, 13:29   #5
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Note from Support: Thread moved to the Travelogues section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 12th February 2019, 14:15   #6
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Fantastic travelogue. Yea, you guys definitely nailed it. Such trips are definitely a great learning curve for your son. He will carry some lovely memories as he grows up. Beautiful photographs that compliments the writeup and narration. Enjoyed every bit of it. Regards.
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Old 12th February 2019, 14:40   #7
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Started reading during lunch time in office and finished off an engrossing story. Wonderfully written and there is a good flow in your storytelling. You should travel more often and write about your experiences for all the journey made.

Hard luck for the dense fog at Nohkalikai. Destiny wants you to travel there once more.

Is this your longest trip in Red Panda?

Rated 5* and deservedly so!
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Old 12th February 2019, 14:54   #8
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Originally Posted by himadrimondal View Post
Fantastic travelogue. Yea, you guys definitely nailed it. Such trips are definitely a great learning curve for your son. He will carry some lovely memories as he grows up. Beautiful photographs that compliments the writeup and narration. Enjoyed every bit of it. Regards.
Thank you Himadri da.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gearhead_mait View Post
Started reading during lunch time in office and finished off an engrossing story. Wonderfully written and there is a good flow in your storytelling. You should travel more often and write about your experiences for all the journey made.

Hard luck for the dense fog at Nohkalikai. Destiny wants you to travel there once more.

Is this your longest trip in Red Panda?

Rated 5* and deservedly so!
I am glad that you liked it.

Our Goa trip was the longest if you remember.
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Old 12th February 2019, 14:58   #9
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Very nice travelogue, comprehensive and nice pictures. The picture of Dawki is interesting because the river is crystal clear as one expects from google searches. It seems season is the key and October is probably the right time to witness clear waters.

Thanks for sharing, keep traveling...
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Old 12th February 2019, 15:06   #10
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Our Goa trip was the longest if you remember.
My bad! What's next on the list?
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Old 12th February 2019, 15:09   #11
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A very well put up travelogue and some great set of pictures there!

Felt nostalgic looking at pictures of your son enjoying the places where I've spent a lot of my childhood days with family.

Meghalaya is truly a hidden wonder (not so anymore) of this country.
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Old 12th February 2019, 15:14   #12
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Very nice travelogue, comprehensive and nice pictures. The picture of Dawki is interesting because the river is crystal clear as one expects from google searches. It seems season is the key and October is probably the right time to witness clear waters.

Thanks for sharing, keep traveling...
Thank you. The entire Winter season is ideal for experiencing the clear waters of the river. I believe,the months of December, January and February are probably more suitable for witnessing clearer water.

Cheers,
Avishek
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Old 12th February 2019, 15:48   #13
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My bad! What's next on the list?
Hahahaha!

I have not planned out any trips for this year yet. My brother has been telling me to visit Delhi for quite some time now. In that case i will visit Varanasi and Delhi together. I also had a wild thought of driving to Dhanushkodi only if my wife agrees to it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ashkait Kapoor View Post
A very well put up travelogue and some great set of pictures there!

Felt nostalgic looking at pictures of your son enjoying the places where I've spent a lot of my childhood days with family.

Meghalaya is truly a hidden wonder (not so anymore) of this country.
I wish we had some more days in hand. We would have explored some more places around. Before our travel, we researched about so many places of interest. But realised, its definitely not a one or two day affair.

Hope to visit again.

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Old 12th February 2019, 16:37   #14
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Fantastic travelogue, I had been to Shillong in 2016, and yes the 4 lane twisties are simply fabulous for the keen driver in you, coupled with Figo 1.5 diesel, it was an amazing experience.
Quick question, how was the homestay, and if possible could you share the cost involved? Could this be an ideal stay for a group of 6 - 8 members?
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Old 12th February 2019, 19:27   #15
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Nice detailed travelogue. The pics came out fantastic.
Such road trips with family are like a blast of fresh air. These trips remain as a sweet memory for a long time.

I often read my own travelogues in Team-Bhp and relive my own trips.

Last edited by Samba : 12th February 2019 at 19:33.
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