Nagaland Arunachal Assam Tour

TRIP OVERVIEW

The holy cities of the Sikhs, sacred waters of the Ganges and spiritual retreats of Buddhist ashrams have given rise to the hauntingly beautiful religious ceremonies and ornate temples and shrines of India. Witness the gilded turrets of the Golden Temple of Amritsar, visit the Dalai Lama’s neighbourhood in the Buddhist enclave of Dharamshala and experience the evening prayer ritual on the shores of the Ganges as you tour India’s most spiritually significant sites.

ITINERARY & DETAILS

Ancient Tribes of the Hidden Northeast Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam Home to 26 major tribes, Arunachal Pradesh has been closed to foreigners for much of the past 50 years. As a result, the lush landscape and native cultures here have remained virtually untouched. The beauty of Assam with its expansive tea plantations and freely roaming wildlife as well as unique Assamese culture balances between the ruggedness of Arunachal and the tribal groups of mysterious Nagaland. Hornbill Festival is celebrated every year traditionally from December 1-7 but due to the popularity of the festival and the increasing number of visitors each year, the Government of Nagaland has extended the festival 3 more days. Though any date December 1-10 will offer a good experience in terms of culture, zest and color, we have scheduled our visit to be in Kohima when the Hornbill festival is on full swing.



Day 1 Arrival in Kolkata (Calcutta) after 12 noon. Early arrivals are subject to additional cost.

Met on arrival and transfer to Peerless Inn.

Day 2 Kolkata (Calcutta) / Peerless Inn. (B,L,D)

The name Calcutta is said to have been derived from the word Kalighat. Kolkatta was then subsequently anglicized into Calcutta. Today the city has reverted to its original name.

After breakfast, we depart at 9 am and begin with a two hour walking tour called Heritage Walk of Dalhousie Square, now a World Heritage Site. The walk takes place in the morning so that you can leisurely take in the architecture and history of the city's many unique and spectacular buildings without any traffic on the roads. We begin at The Flower Market on the River Hoogly - where it really "all" began. The walk then starts at the site of the terrible 'Black Hole,' takes you past the famous Writer's Building, the former HQ of the infamous East India Company, around the square to, among others, the magnificent Governor's House and the almost forgotten Charnock Mausoleum. The whole experience takes you back to the 18th and 19th century when the British ruled the entire subcontinent from Calcutta - at that time the most fashionable city in the world after London. After the walk, we will go to Indian Coffee House on College Ave (a lively local area) for a short break and from here to Kumartoli village, the home of the kumars or potters who make the life size deities that are worshipped throughout the year at festivals and pujas. The village is a unique open-air workshop where gods and goddesses are molded by hand, traditionally using dust from the thresholds of nearby brothels. Kali, the patron goddess of Calcutta, is usually seen in her bloodthirsty form, garlanded with skulls. A variety of artisans set up along Chitpur Road: makers of traditional perfumes, embroidered tunic sellers, purveyors of wigs, a row of musical instrument shops (at N. N. Mondal’s, Yehudi Menuhin got his violin repaired in 1952) and Chinese shoemakers.

We shall stop for lunch at the Ivory Restaurant.

After lunch, we visit Sishu Bhavan, one of Mother Theresa's many homes for the underprivileged and Victoria Memorial another landmark in the city that marks the British reign in India. A combination of Italian renaissance and Mughal architecture, the white marble architecture was the British attempt to replicate the Taj Mahal and is a monument to Queen Victoria and a museum dedicated to the Raj.

Afterwards we go to Kalighat temple, the main Kali temple (Durga) in Calcutta, for evening ceremony. Kali temple is located on the banks of the river Hooghly (Bhagirathi). The temple in its present form is only about 200 years old, built in 1809 on the site of a much older temple, although it has been referred in Mansar Bhasan in the 15th century, and in Kavi Kankan Chandi of the 17th century.

Kali is regarded as one of the principal deities of Bengal. There are other temples to Kali -Sahasrabhuja Kali, Sarvamangala, Tarasundari and Simhavaahini. Kali is alternately regarded as the destroyer or liberator and is depicted in a fearful form. Despite the terrifying visage, she is considered to deliver bliss to worshippers. The Kalighat temple is considered one of the 52 Shakti Peethams of India, where the various parts of Sati's body are said to have fallen, in the course of Shiva's Rudra Tandava. Kalighat represents the site where the toes of the right foot of Shakti or Sati fell. The temple attracts thousands of devotees throughout the year.

Legend has it that a devotee discovered a luminescent ray of light coming from the Bhagirathi riverbed, and upon investigating its source came upon a piece of stone carved in the form of a human toe. He also found a Syayambhu Lingam of Nakuleshwar Bhairav nearby, and started worshipping Kali in the midst of a thick jungle. This shrine grew to its present form over a period of time, thanks in particular to the Sabarna Roy Chowdhury family of Bengal. This family is also said to have built the Chitreswari Kali temple at Chitpur. It is believed that there was a pathway through the jungle between Chitpur and Kalighat, and this pathway is said to have become the Chitpur road of Calcutta.

Kalighat is also associated with the worship offered to Kali by a Dasanami Monk named Chowranga Giri, and the Chowringee area of Calcutta is said to have been named after him.

Return to the hotel for dinner at the Aaheli restaurant, one of the best in Calcutta.

Day 3 Kolkata-Dimapur-Kohima / Hotel Vivor or Razhu Pru.Hotel (B,L,D)

Transfer to airport for flight to Dimapur, AI 706 dep 1005 am, arr 1255 pm OR 6E 605 dep 1125 am, arr 1240 pm. On arrival, drive to Kohima (70 km). Check into the hotel and lunch.

Late afternoon visit the State Museum and local market. Dinner at hotel restaurant and overnight.

Day 4 Kohima – Khonoma – Kohima / Hotel Vivor or Razhu Pru.Hotel (B,L,D)

This morning we drive to Khonoma village (20kms/1 hr), an Angami tribal village. Khonoma is renowned for its valor and courage. The Khonoma gate tells the story of British infiltration into the Naga Hills and the indigenous men who fought them.

This afternoon return to Kohima and observe the locals preparing for the festival. Attend Hornbill Festival.

Day 5 Kohima – Touphema-Kohima (B,L,D) / Hotel Vivor or Razhu Pru.Hotel (B,L,D)

Morning drive (42 kms/ 1.5 hours) to Touphema village inhabited by Angami tribe.

Full day attendHornbill Festival. Different Naga tribes, dressed in traditional attire, will be singing, dancing and participating in indigenous sports.

The festivals are an organized event, by government of state of Nagaland. The main arena is an open ground encircled with bleacher-like concrete seats for visitors and performers waiting to perform. There is no assigned sitting area for visitors. Though organizers used to reserve some sitting areas for performing troops. Visitors are free to move around to take pictures without getting inside the main arena, without disturbing performers and obstructing others view.

You can walk around the entire area where 16 traditionally built pavilions/huts from each tribe of Nagaland, are built. Every day representing troops from each tribe are present at their respective pavilions wearing their traditional attire. One can freely roam around that entire area at their will and mingle with people. We always make sure to arrive at the festival grounds well in advance to have a good spot to sit, keeping our back to sun!

Day 6 : Kohima - Mokokchung /Tourist Lodge or Hotel Mestuben (B,L,D)

Morning depart driving to Mokokchung in north-central Nagaland. En-route we stop to visit the Ungma and Longkhum villages inhabited by the Ao Nagas.

We continue the drive to Mokokchung in north-central Nagaland (152 kms/ 5 hrs), stopping along the way at a local dhaba (roadside restaurant) in Wokha.

Day 7 Mokokchung - Mon (270 kms/7 hrs) / Paramount Guest House or similar (B,L,D)

The drive this morning will be on winding roads with spectacular landscapes. This district is inhabited by the Konyak Tribe. En-route we visit Mopinchuket village, close to Mokochung and known for crafts and woodwork. Dinner and overnight.

Day 8: Day Trip to Longwa Village / Paramount Guest House or similar (B,L,D)

After an early breakfast we will drive to Longwa village with packed lunch. True tradition is seen here where people are still not touched by modern ways. Meet village folk, see their way of life. This is one of the big Konyak villages and on the border ridge between India and Myanmar (Burma). The Angh (king) of Longwa commands about 50 villages from both the sides of the border. Return to Mon. Dinner and overnight.

Dec 9 Day 9: Day Trip to Hongphui, Wangla and Chui villages / Paramount Guest House or similar (B,L,D)

Today we visit Hongphui and Wangla villages of Konyak Nagas. These are also villages that have retained their traditional lifestyle. Later time permitting visit Chui village. Dinner and overnight. Note: We have made the above change this year because Langmeang village has become quite modern now and Wangla and Hongphui offers better tradition and culture to see.

Day 10 Mon - Dibrugarh -(180 km/6 hrs)/ Heritage Chang Bungalow (B,L,D)

This morning we shall visit Mon village and then drive on to Dibrugarh in Assam. Our accommodations are inside one of its lush tea estates. The majority of people here work in the tea estates or in the tea factories. Usually the women pick the tea. We will have an opportunity to interact with the tea pickers of Assam. After lunch, we tour the tea garden and enjoy a tea tasting. Note: Tea factories are closed December through March. Therefore, tea factory tour is subject to its operational schedule.

Day 11 Ferry to Bogibille. Drive to Along (160 Km / 7 hrs) / Hotel West. (B,L,D)

Today we enter the state of Arunachal Pradesh at Passighat. We cross the Brahmaputra River by ferry from Dibrugarah to Swaringhat (1.5- 2 hour) and one hour drive on dirt road before paved road begins. We will be climbing up the lower Himalayan ranges through thick tropical forest during the last hours of the drive. Day 12 Along /Hotel West. (B,L,D)

Along is the headquarters of West Saing district of Arunachal Pradesh located at an altitude of 300m. The Adis by nature are democratic and have an organized village council called Kebang. Their traditional dance called Ponung is famous all over Arunachal Pradesh. Adi villages are situated generally on the spurs of hills. Polyandy is practiced here (one wife multiple husbands--usually a woman marries brothers). Adi women are very good weavers and weave cloth with highly artistic designs.

We shall visit several villages today including Kabu, Paya and Pobdi which all remain quite traditional.

Day 13 Drive Along - Daporizo (1100 Ft / 161 Km / 8 hours) Hotel Singhik B,L,D)

During our drive we shall have opportunities to interface with Tagin people who have their dwellings in villages between Along & Damporizo. The Tagins are the main inhabitants of Upper Sunansiri district. Their primary occupation is agriculture. Polygamy is customary among them. Their dress is very simple, consisting of only one piece of cloth. The Sulungs or Puroik are considered to be one of the oldest of the tribes in the area. Their traditional attire is simple and the religion is a form of the primitive 'spirit culture.'

We will stop to visit villages of the Tagin and Adi Gallong tribes along the way to Daporizo.

Day 14 Drive Daporizo - Ziro. (5018 Ft / 166 Km / 7 hrs)./ Hotel Blue Pine. (B,L,D)

Drive to Ziro stopping to visit the Hill Miris and Nyishi villages along the way. The Nyishi and Tamens are among the main Hill Miri tribes who form the largest groups of people inhabiting the major part of Lower Subansiri district. The men wear their hair long and tie it in a knot just above the forehead. They wear cane bands around the waist. They believe that after death the spirit of a dead travels to the 'village of the ancestors.’ En-route enjoy the beauty of Kamala River. The Apatanis are settled agriculturists inhabiting the valley around Ziro-the headquarters of Lower Subansiri district. The Apatani are good cultivators and practice both wet and terrace cultivation. They grow rice on terraces on the Apatani Plateau and paddy cum fish culture is very popular among them. Unlike other tribes of Arunachal their economy is stable.

The older men tie their hair in topknots and tattoo their faces. Wearing of circular nose plugs and tattooing of faces is the most characteristic aspect of ornamentation of older Apatani women. However, the new generation of Apatani men and women have stopped this practice of hair knots, nose plugs and face tattooing since the early 1970s.

Day 15 Ziro / Hotel Blue Pine. (B,L,D)

Visit Hong, the largest tribal village in Asia; Hari, Dutta and Bamin villages near Ziro. Also visit the Tribal Arts Museum and in the evening stroll the local market.

Day 16 Ziro – North Lakhimpur-Majuli (130 km/5 hrs drive) / Hotel Maple Leaf (B,L,D)

After a leisurely breakfast, we head towards Majuli Island, stopping for the night in North Lakhimpur, which has a better quality hotel. This also breaks the driving up for easier travel on both today and tomorrow. Day 17 North Lakhimpur-Majuli-Jorhat / Banyan Grove Tea Bungalow (B,L,D) We depart at 730 am and start our journey to Majuli, the largest inhabited river island in the world and the seat of Vaishnava culture in Assam.

We drive about 1 hour to the ferry point and cross the mighty Brahmaputra River on a car ferry (about 1 hour ride) to Majuli. On arrival, we have a walk around the village to observe life and interact with the friendly locals. After lunch we shall visit the Satras

.

The great 15th century Assamese reformer and saint, Shankardeva came here and set up Satras ( Vaishnavite) monasteries to motivate people towards culture and religion. Visit these satras and interact with the monks and others.

At 3 pm, we board another ferry (1.5-2 hrs) to Jorhat. Enjoy a relaxing evening on the grounds of our estate .

Day 18 Drive Jorhat-Kaziranga National Park (120 kms / 3 hours) / Diphlu River Lodge (B, L, D)

Kaziranga lies on the south bank of the Brahmaputra, and is famous for its population of the great One-Horned Rhinoceros. Tigers are also present in sizable numbers: with a tiger count of 86, the highest density tiger population in India. Other attractions of this national park include the wild buffalo, magnificent Swamp Deer, Hog Deer, wild boar, Hoolok Gibbon, Capped Langur and Ratel (badger). A wide variety of snakes including the rock python and the monitor lizard are also found here. Amongst the birds, the crested serpent eagle is common while Palla's Fishing Eagle and the Gray Headed Fishing Eagle are frequently seen. On arrival we’ll have lunch and some time to enjoy the gorgeous resort grounds. The afternoon wildlife safari by jeep begins at 230 pm.



KAZIRANGA NATIONAL PARK, ASSAM

The National Park covers about 430 square km, bordered on the north by the Brahmaputra River and on the south by the Karbi Anglong hills. The largest number of One-Horned Rhinoceros in the world roams this refuge of swamps, grasslands, tall thickets of elephant grass and areas of mixed deciduous and tropical semi-evergreen forest. It is home to a wide variety of other animals and birds, and the open vistas make it relatively easy to see many species of wildlife in a day.

FAUNA

In addition to the Indian rhino, the Park contains about 35 major mammals, including wild elephant, tiger, a small population of Hoolock Gibbon, Capped Langur, Bristly Hare, Hog Badger, otter, Leopard, wild boar, Sambar, Swamp Deer, Hog Deer, Muntjac, Water Buffalo and Gaur. Among the rich birdlife are the rare Greater Adjutant Stork, Bengal Florican, Black-Necked Stork, Lesser Adjutant Stork, Pallas's Fishing Eagle, Swamp Partridge, Grey Peacock-Pheasant, Great Pied Hornbill, Green Imperial Pigeon, Babblers and thousands of migratory birds, seasonally attracted to the water areas of the park from as far away as Siberia.

DIPHLU RIVER LODGE

The grounds of the lodge have been carefully designed to preserve the natural environment. As you enter from the road you pass through a zone planted with trees and bamboo, and an open area where tribal dance performances are held. Steps lead down to railed bamboo walkways over the paddy field and other crops, linking the cottages and Machan without disturbing the agriculture. The eco-friendly operation of the resort includes re-cycling grey water for irrigation. Individual air-conditioned cottages raised on stilts above the ground, made of bamboo and thatch. All cottages are beautifully designed to make full use of local materials and artifacts and blend in with the stunning natural surroundings. Each has a seating area with comfortable cane furniture, a writing desk, mini-bar, safe, small fridge and tea & coffee machine as well as top-quality beds and mattresses. The very spacious cottages have a thatched veranda with inviting chairs that overlook the Diphlu River and National Park. Bathrooms are en-suite with roomy dressing area and wardrobe.

High above the river is the Machan. (pronounced ma chaan, means "jungle platform"). This has air-conditioned sitting and dining areas opening onto a large veranda with high thatch ceiling and bamboo floor. Guests can congregate here to swap the day's jungle stories over a drink or a delicious meal, sink onto sofas with a book from the library, relax by the fireplace on chilly winter evenings, enjoy an al fresco breakfast on the veranda after returning from early morning safari, watch for birds or scan the opposite bank for wild animals. Further along the river bank a jetty enables guests to embark on river trips in dugout canoes, from which they can look out for otters and for buffalo, deer or rhino grazing on the far bank. This River Bank area is also perfect spot to watch the vivid colors of sunset across the river.

Day 19 Kazaranga-Guwahati / Radisson Blu (220 kms / 4-5 hours) (B,L)

Early morning elephant safari. This is a thrilling highlight! The one-horned rhinoceros are startling. After breakfast drive to Guwahati, the largest city of Assam and a main river port city located on the south bank of the Brahmaputra River. Excavations trace the origins to around the 4th century and it was the capital of Assam until the 10th century. There are fine indigenous textiles to be found here in the shops. On arrival check into the hotel and lunch.

This afternoon, we’ll visit Umananda Temple, located beautifully in the riverine of Peacock Island. We will board a country boat across the River Brahmaputra to reach this Shiva Temple. (The temple remains open from sunrise to sunset). After a refreshing walk around the temple premises, we will return to the mainland. Further, drive to visit Srimanta Sankardev Kalakshetra which houses a cultural museum, library, and various conveniences for preserving, demonstrating and performing cultural items of Assam. Here, you will enjoy a light and dance show (starts at 1700 hrs / approx).

Day 20 Guwahati-Calcutta-Depart (B)

After an early breakfast, we set off to visit Nabagraha, an ancient center of astrological and astronomical research. The temple is enshrined with nine Shivalingams, representing the nine Celestial bodies and a Shivaligam in the center symbolizing the Sun.

From here, we will drive to the top of Nilachal Hill to visit Kamakhya Temple - famous for its religious and archeological heritage. The temple is known to be the most revered among the tantric shrines of Shakti worship. Animal sacrifice is a common practice here.. Both the temples open at sunrise.

Next, a brief visit to the Assam State Museum well-known for its varied collection of antiques of the prehistoric times, archeological displays of the rich cultural heritage of the area with many authentic prehistoric sculptures, metal, ivory paintings, woodwork and costumes.

Transfer to the airport for flight to Calcutta S2 364 dep. 1525, arr. 1640 OR fly to Delhi 9w690 dep 1540, arrive 1830 OR fly to Mumbai 6E433 dep. 1700 / arr. 2015, if that works better for your intl departure. On arrival in Calcutta transfer to hotel near airport for wash and change; for arrival in Mumbai it will be transfer to hotel shuttle; late night transfer to International airport.

CHAT