A Biker’s Guide to North-East India: Sixty Days of Solo Ride to Seven Sisters
Anyone working in the service sector knows the importance of job change, commonly known as Job Switch. It gives individuals a chance to raise his/her salary and move to a new organization and environment. A person working in a private company sees this period many times in his profession. When the same thing happened to me, and I decided to change my organization after serving there for three years. It was time for me to move to a new organization as life was getting monotonous. This time the job change for me was significant as I had thought that I would be joining the new organization after taking a long break and visiting the places which were in my bucket list form a long time. So, when my offer letter arrived, I dropped a mail to HR stating the reason for delayed joining and after checking with the business, she agreed for a late joining. Now I had two months in my hand and a perfect chance to visit North-East India. In the past, I had made a similar plan for Trip to North-East India multiple times, but deep down, I knew that North-East India is not a place to be covered in a week or two. It requires sufficient time and money, and now I had both in my hand.
Once I was relieved from my organization, I headed to Guwahati and spend the next 60 Days in the less explored parts of India. It was like a dream come true, and I visited some of the remotest and amazing places I have ever visited in my whole life. As usual, after completing the journey, I decided to share my experience with all the readers so, here is my detailed travelogue of North-East India. In this series of North-East India, I will be sharing my whole journey. I will be sharing the route I followed, places where I stayed, places to visit in every North-East Indian states as well as places not to miss. Also, I will be sharing my North-East India ride in chronological order for better understanding. I will divide the trip into states I covered, so if anyone is interested in covering any particular state, he/she can get a good idea as not everyone gets a chance as I got.
One more reason for me to share my traveling experience was to give a genuine review of which places to visit in North-East India and which one to skip. I am saying this because before starting my journey, I did a lot of research and came up with places to visit. Though most of them were good, few disappointed me. The problem with most of the Travel Websites is that they praise every site existing on earth with a lot of fancy words. I am not sure whether the writer had visited those places before writing them or it’s just the usual copy/paste business. I was most disappointed in Churachandpur, also known as CC Pur. It cost me a day which I could have utilized in Imphal rather than finding the Waterfall and Museum, which in reality never existed. Keeping this in mind, I will be mentioning if the place I visited is worth to go or it can be skipped, and a person can visit something different. Throughout my journey, I encountered this scenario multiple times, had I ignored those places I could have covered a few more. Also, though this travelogue I will be mentioning precautions to take while visiting North-East India, d
Time of My Travel and the Route I followed:
Before describing the route, I followed, it is necessary to mention the dates when I traveled to North-East India. I divided the whole journey into two parts wherein first leg I traveled by Two-Wheeler (Honda Activa), and in the second leg, I relied on public transport. I had to come back to Delhi to attend the wedding of my close friend. Once I was free, I again headed back to North-East India, and this time I traveled in Train, Bus and Local taxis. I traveled in the month of November-December and January and tried covering all the states as much as possible.
Initially, I planned to start from Guwahati and head towards Arunachal Pradesh. From Arunachal Pradesh, I planned to enter Nagaland and from there onwards continue journey southwards to Manipur, Mizoram, and Tripura and finally via Meghalaya back to Guwahati. I had made a detailed itinerary, but then I got to know about the Hornbill Festival of Nagaland, and I had to re-write the whole plan again. So this time I started from Guwahati and then visited Meghalaya. From Meghalaya, I came back to Guwahati and then from there I started towards Mizoram. I made my plan in such a way that by the time Hornbill Festival starts in Nagaland I will be there to enjoy it. To my surprise when I was in Manipur they too had their state festival called Sangai. Sangai Festival is not as famous as Hornbill is but is worth to attend. So after covering Mizoram, I went to Manipur, and from there, I entered Nagaland. I attended the Hornbill for four days and then entered Assam and returned via Guwahati. Arunachal Pradesh was covered separately, and so was the Tripura which I explored on public transport. One reason for choosing Tripura via public transport was to visit the Lumding-Haflong-Silchar-Agartala route on the train.
Once the route finalized, it was time to allocate how many I need to spend in each state. I know a few people will judge me and say these many days are less for a particular state. But then the bottom line is you have to do best in what you got, and I had only 60 days in hand. So I decided to cover the sates in the following days:
Meghalaya: 5 Days
Assam: 7 Days Plus multiple in and out when entering or leaving a particular state
Mizoram: 9 Days
Nagaland: 7 Days
Manipur: 6 Days
Tripura: 10 Days
Arunachal Pradesh: 16 Days
Here I would like to mention that I do miss a few places which were in my mind, but then due to time restriction and other factors, I was not able to go. For example, I thought of visiting Tura Meghalaya, but due to the shortage of days, I skipped that. A similar thing happened when I was in Mizoram. Initially, I thought of visiting Palak Dil Lake but then skipped it due to adverse road conditions after Thenzwal. There were a few more places which I skipped due to some constraints, but I am still determined to visit them once I get an opportunity.
Famous Places Covered In My Journey:
Though I covered most of the places in North-East India and it is not fair to compare sites on specific parameters, but as a human, we always tend to compare one thing with others, and I am no exception. Out of the many places I visited, I was amazed by Kaziranga National Park for its area and Rhino Population. The Lumding-Maibang Highway for its fantastic construction, Haflong for its tag of only hill station in Assam. Vantwang Waterfall, Rih-Dil Lake, Longwa Village in Mon District of Nagaland and Keibul Lamjao National Park, the only floating National Park in the world. I also visited the Dumboor Lake in Tripura and was amazed by its vastness. The Ujayanta Palace and a Neel Mahal in Udaipur were something to be cherished for life. I even trekked to the Double Root Bride in Meghalaya and then traveled further to the Rainbow Waterfalls. The crystal clear water of the fall was the best I have ever seen in my life. I got an opportunity to hike the famous Bamboo Trail in Meghalaya and enjoyed the view from the top.
Throughout my journey, I got the chance to visit places that lie on the International Border of India and crossed the border many times (only a few kilometers) to visit the neighboring country. I crossed the border at almost every state in North-East India like Akhaura Check Post in Tripura and Moreh in Manipur. In a nutshell, this trip allowed me to enjoy not only nature but also the places divided by Man and the sites known for architectural beauty.
- National Parks Covered: Kaziranga National Park in Assam, Manas National Park in Assam,
MurlenNational Park in Mizoram, Cherrapunji-Mawsynram Reserve Forest in Meghalaya, Sipahijala Wildlife Sanctuary in Tripura and Keibul Lamjao National Park in Manipur.
- Lakes Covered: Loktak Lake in Manipur, TamDil in Mizoram, Umiam Lake in Meghalaya, Dumboor Lake in Tripura, Khuga Lake Manipur, Rih-Dil Lake in Myanmar, Chabimura Boat Ride in Tripura.
- Waterfalls Covered: Rainbow Waterfall in Meghalaya, Wai-Se-Dong Waterfall in Meghalaya, NohKaLikai Falls in Meghalaya, Seven Sister Falls in Meghalaya, Vantawng Waterfall in Mizoram, Tuirihiau Falls in Mizoram.
- Museums Visited: Assam State Museum, Mizoram State Museum, Manipur State Museum, INA Museum Manipur, Nagaland State Museum, Lachit Borphukan’s Museum, and Tripura State Museum.
- Famous Buildings/Temple/Architecture: Kamakhya Temple in Assam, Umananda Temple in Assam, Solomon Temple Mizoram, Kangla Fort Manipur, Andro Village in Imphal, Kisama Heritage Village in Nagaland, Neermahal Palace in Tripura, Ujjayanta Palace in Tripura, Chaturdasha Temple in Tripura, Tripura Sundari Temple in Tripura, Unakoti Rock Carvings, Cathedral of Kohima in Nagaland, Sivasagar Sivadol in Assam.
- Border Crossed: Tamabail in Meghalaya, Zokhawthar in Mizoram, Moreh in Manipur, Mathanguri on India-Bhutan Border in Assam, Akhaura Check Post in Tripura, Moreh in Manipur and Longwa in Nagaland.
One thing to notice here is when I say crossed border it means at max 4 kilometers on another side of the border. For example, Indian citizens are allowed to visit Tamu in Maynmar after crossing Moreh. Also, you should return by 5 PM as the pass is issued for a day and never meant for night stay.
Route Followed by me to cover each State:
Here I will be sharing a short description of the route I followed to cover each state, to know the detailed itinerary of my travel please follow the link of the state you want to visit.
- Assam: Guwahati-> Barpeta > Guwahati-> Kohora-> Lumding-> Haflong-> Silchar-> Entry into Mizoram. Then exit from Dimapur-> Sivsagar-> Jorhat-> Guwahati.
- Meghalaya: Guwahati-> Shillong-> Cherrapunjee (Sohra) -> Dwaki-> Guwahati.
- Mizoram: Silchar-> Aizwal-> Reiek-> Thenzawl-> Serchhip-> Seling-> Champhai-> Ngopa-> Churachandpur.
- Manipur: Churachandpur-> Moirang-> Moreh-> Imphal-> Ukhrul-> Imphal-> Kohima.
- Nagaland: Kohima-> Pfutsero-> Dimapur-> Mon-> Sivsagar
- Tripura: Silchar-> Dharmanagar-> Kumarghat-> Vanghmun-> Ambassa-> Agartala-> Udaipur-> Amarpur-> Agartala.
As mentioned, the route described is just an excerpt from my whole travel itinerary. It is done to avoid the article getting longer than required. To know the detailed course, kindly follow the route for each state. One more reason to read the detailed course is that as I mentioned earlier, I completed these states in 3 parts. If anyone wants to cover two states or three in one go, he will get a better idea of different entry and exit points for each state.
Inner Line Permit Requirement & Documentation
The Inner Line Permit or ILP is a document that is required by every traveler visiting North-East India. Out of seven states I covered, visiting each state doesn’t require ILP. ILP is mandatory for the state of Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, and Nagaland. No documentation is needed to visit Assam, Tripura, and Meghalaya. Few blogs mentioned ILP is a must for even Manipur, which is not valid. In case if you are traveling in Manipur, try reaching the city before sunset as the area has a bit of militancy and security personals patrol in the night. It can cause additional checking and verifications. As I mentioned while I was traveling, I crossed the border multiple times and visited the check post. If you envision to do the same, carry authorized ID proof else you won’t be allowed to cross the border. The passport will be the best ID proof but if you don’t have that carry Aadhar Card and Driving License for verification purposes. One more thing to keep in mind is to bring an extra 5-6 copies of passport size photos, which might be helpful in case of additional permits. I carried an additional ten copies, but they were never used. At the same time, there is no harm in being extra prepared.
Availability of Public Transport and Private Vehicle and Hotels
In recent times North-East India has become a major tourist destination for people from all over India. States like Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh already host a large number of tourists every year. If anyone is planning to visit North-East India, he won’t face any issue with above mentioned two states due to their vicinity from Guwahati. If you plan to travel via Two-Wheeler for states like Mizoram, Manipur, and Nagaland you have to ride a vehicle from Guwahati as there are no bike rental services in states. I tried to rent a bike in Tripura and even checked in Silchar if there is any bike rental services available but no gain. There was one bike rental operating in Silchar, but he had stopped renting when I was traveling, forcing me to rely on public transport. Public transport in all the states is in good condition, although the same is not valid for roads. You will find buses plying on important routes and between major cities. The thing to notice when traveling in North-East India is that the sun rises early in the eastern part, so most of the buses start running by 6 AM. So if you are relying on public transport, better reach the bus stand before 6 AM. In case you miss the bus, there is no need to worry as a private taxi (Winger) carries local people on these routes. You can use them to reach the destination the only disadvantage is they take more time than buses.
Hotels are readily available in almost all the states unless you are visiting the remotest of town or place. I will strongly recommend opting for State Government Tourist Guest House while visiting Tripura and Mizoram. Assam, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh have plenty of private hotels so no need to worry. For Nagaland and Manipur, if you are in the capital, you will find multiple private hotels. If you are visiting any remote place in these states, it is better to make a booking. One more thing to keep in mind is that the state of Meghalaya, Manipur, Nagaland, and Mizoram are Christian dominant. Therefore on Sunday, the entire state remains close, including Hotels and Petrol Pumps. Thus if your travel date includes Sunday ensure you have made a booking and carrying sufficient petrol. I faced this problem in Mizoram and Manipur and then avoided the same mistake in Nagaland. Apart from this, I will be giving detailed info about the availability of hotels and other necessary things while covering each state and important places.
Last But Not Least:
Though I will try my best to provide a detail description and will continue to expand this article. In case, I missed something do let me know, and I would be glad to add further information. Kindly let me know via comments, Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube, and I would love to help you out.
Travel Safe, Travel More