Our Northeast India Road Trip
“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.”
This has held true for whatever trip I have been to till date. Today, Indians have an obsession with foreign trips, What they tend to forget is that India has everything from mountains to sea, deserts to the place which receives the highest rainfall in the world! This blog is about our adventures in northeast. Adventures? Because this was the most unplanned trip we have done in a land that is known to be dangerous due to its terrain.
To start with, we landed in Guwahati, Heart of Assam. We had no clue how are we going to reach Shillong, Cherrapunji, Tawang and the cities we are thinking of to visit. Everyone had recommended that we take a driver along, as the route is tough. But hot blooded (and fool-hardy) adults that we were, we chose the riskier option. Internet came to our rescue while searching for a self-drive rental car. We stumbled upon Awerides and the only car they had was Ford Figo Petrol. Not changing our minds we hired it and off we were for the exciting journey that awaited us. Of course, there are other options such as Zoomcar and Bube Rides. Also, it is always better to be planned while going on road trip (unlike us!) I would suggest going through these smart road trip hacks. Wish we would have read it before.
Our road trip looked like this starting with A (Guwahati, Assam) -> B (Shillong, Meghalaya) -> C (Cherrapunjee, Assam) ->D (Tezpur, Assam) -> E (Kaziranga National Park) -> F (Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh) and back to Guwahati.
Getting from Guwahati to Shillong with self-drive rental car
Contrary to popular notion, the road from Guwahati to Shillong is not dangerous and found to be in reasonable condition. Its like a normal Coorg or Ooty road trip to a hill station. Our trip was in May and the place was chilling cold even when the whole country was facing wrath of the sun. National Highway 6 (NH6) goes directly from Guwahati to Shillong. The distance is roughly 100 km and it will take about 3 hours to get from Guwahati to Shillong. NH6 is a toll road.
To get from Shillong to Cherrapunjee, take NH 206. Shillong to Cherrapunjee takes roughly 2 hours, and the total journey will be about 4-5 hours.
On our way to Shillong, we came across many Tata Sumo and similar jeeps carrying passengers. After probing with a local shopkeeper, we learnt that they are common means of shared transport is common to travel between villages and towns of North East. So, we found many jeeps all through our road trip in the North East be it Guwahati to Shillong or Shillong to Cherrapunji.
Cherrapunjee – Of highest rainfalls and living bridges
Cherrapunjee is one of the wettest places in India. Throughout our school life in geography we read about Cherrapunjee, the place with highest amount of rainfall in the world, we decided to explore the place. It would have been a crime to come so close (The place is about 60 km from Shillong) and not see the place and the place didn’t disappoint. Driving between clouds, breathtaking natural scenery and the cold weather, we were in a different world – a cleaner and prettier world I would say.
One of us had watched a documentary on living root bridges and he was hell bent of visiting them. One of the living root bridges which are deemed as UNESCO heritage site are found near Shillong around Cherrapunjee region in tiny village Nongriat. Nongriat is a small Kashi village in the jungle, home to several living root bridges, of which one is a double-decker. Nongriat can only be visited by walking for about 1.5-2 hours from nearby Tyrna, and the surroundings are absolutely gorgeous. We reached the place and lo there were stairs! Just stairs!! It is definitely not a trek for the faint-hearted and requires lot of stamina. You have to climb down a lot of stairs to reach the place (2500 steep stairs in total to the place and back! I counted each one of them!). But when you reach that place its just heavenly and magnificent. You actually walk on bridges that are living and the natural pond with crystal clear water just washes away your tiredness. Sparing our weird poses in the photograph, the entire place is really beautiful.
Untouched by humans, urban humans to be precise, and that would hopefully stay as is retained because nobody in their sane mind would climb so many steps! But insane people that we are, getting that rush from doing things which are normal we saw the whole place with a big detour where we landed somewhere in middle of the jungle scared to our bones.
Tired but thoroughly satisfied we headed back to Shillong, with a few pit stops at pretty places though. You just want to stay there for as long as you can but we knew it was just start of the journey and more amazing adventures awaited us.
Shillong’s natural beauty
Shillong is a nice, quaint place to be in. A small market with tasty food and pretty girls and boys! It is eye candy for all genders. For those who ever plan to visit Shillong, there are a lot of other places to go to which we couldn’t go to. Firstly there is Umiam Lake that has become popular these days due to annoying Airtel 4G advertisement and also Mawlynnong village that also has a living root bridge and was voted cleanest village in Asia! And also not to forget a lot of small falls and natural vista points along the curvy road!
Early next morning we were back on winding mountain roads en route to Tezpur amidst a downpour! What a start to next leg of the journey to Kaziranga!