Our Northeast Tour to Nagaland, Cachar (Assam), Tripura, Mizoram, Meghalaya

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#61 Jan 14th, 2012, 18:53
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Originally Posted by kshil View Post Thanks a lot SK for the very useful information on Hornbill. I guess I would also keep roughly 3/4 days for the festival and as you mentioned I noted few tips like no missing of day1 and 2 and morning is usually better than afternoon.

KS, thanks for that superb set of snaps in Flicker.

Now a long list of questions for both of you, please take your time to answer, I am in no hurry:

1. I looked into your route plan but I am still thinking if I would travel by roads completely which definitely is more attractive to me but considering the road conditions and disturbances and other uncertainties, also thinking if I locally visit Nagaland from Dimapur, Manipur from Imphal, Nagaland from Aizwal and Tripura from Agartala all overland and the in between hubs (Dimapur-Imphal or Imphal-Aizwal or Aizwal - Agartala) I will take flight. Would you suggest going by mixed mode of air/surface? Does it have any advantage or will it force me to miss something interesting enroute the portion I am flying?

2. Why you included Mokokchung and any idea how that NH61 is that subsequently connects Shivsagar and Dibrugarh?

3. If I plan a trip starting from flying in to Dibrugarh and take a car from there to follow Shivsagar - Tuli - Mokokchung - Wokha - Kohima, does it make sense? (What are the attractions in your route from Wokha - Merapani - Golaghat - Sukhajan - Dimapur that was being shown in Google maps?)

4. How many days to be kept for Nagaland other than Hornbill considering I will be hiring a car for the whole trip?

5. Kohima - Senapati - Imphal would be next logical leg, any idea how the roads and other conditions are, safe for drive? Imphal - Moreh and back how much time would be needed?

6. I would also visit Loktak etc. but that might be enroute to south towards Aizwal. How many days should be kept for Manipur?

7. I can see without touching Aizwal, one can go from Imphal to Champghai via Churachandpur - Khawdungsei. Is it a feasible connection and how is road condition and how long is the expected route, seems a night halt would be required in between.

8. I can see NH54 goes down south for quite long to Burma border via serchhip, Pangzwal, Saiha etc. Have you done any research on this area?

9. Aizwal - Agartala how long the journey is and what to see in between, whats the road condition?

10. How many days required in Agartala to cover prominant places of Tripura?

I am not interested to touch Assam / Meghalaya much as my primary interest would be Nagaland - Manipur - Mizoram - Tripura only, If the road condition force me to come to Assam plains then only I would come, else only Dibrugarh/Shivsagar section in my trip would be in Assam plain.
@kshil - Long list of question ... longer answers, one-by-one:

A1: Flying into Dimapur (for Kohima/Nagaland), Flying into Imphal (for Manipur), into Aizawl (for Mizoram) and into Agartala (for Tripura) makes great sense and time-savings; if you are looking to see the major tourist sights in and around these capitals. You will get local State drivers/vehicles, who will know the routes well. Choosing this mode depends on your 'touring-blood-type' ... my 'type' is travelling in local share-sumos, packed 10-in-1, and seeing the roadside views from 8-10Hrs long rides! Choosing the flight-mode, you will not miss any major tourist attractions (there is none on the way, i think) but you will the miss the gradual change of local color, scenery and culture as you transition from one region/state to another.

A2: Actually Mokukchung was in my original plan. (And I guess most of your questions are based on my original road plan from Google Map's i.e. KS NE backpack Plan); but we didn't do Mokukchung. Because we entered from Dimapur. Its a beautiful place i.e. Mokukchung and road is 'ok'. I was told told this by some others who went there, after Hornbill and exited to Assam, to see Majuli Island.

So coming into Nagaland, from Dibrugarh makes sense. Especially for your type of tour i.e. one Xylo/Scorp from end-to-end. But you will have to deal with multiple states and so a driver who knows all these states is important.

A3: Already answered in 2 above. Makes sense. Not sure of specific stop-by attractions, but the scenery itself is good enough. Just fly (in GoogleEarth) over the ridge top road from Mokukchung to Kohima; and you will see what I am saying.

A4: Actually Kohima to Imphal is the normal entry into Imphal/Manipur. I was told the Imphal road is good. Some parts were recently repaired. We didn't go to Imphal due to blockade. Safety aspects you must check around the time you go.

A5: Moreh, of course, must on a trip to Manipur. I would keep 3 days (minimum), maybe even 4 days for Imphal-Moreh-Imphal, whenever I do it. Cant say more, as we didn't go there. Manipur would require 5-6-7 days for me.

A6: Loktak and onward to Aizawl by road is logical. That was how SK and I had planned; but blockade put a stop to that plan.

A7: Yes, I saw this route on G-Maps. Not sure how good and practical the route is. You will have to ask some others (locals) on this.

A8: Yes you can go down to NH54 all the way to Saiha. And also Lunglie, Champhai and many more destination in rural Mizoram areas.

In fact, most of the these routes are functional, many share-Sumos go 'full' to all these exotic name-places. I found Mizoram to be very peaceful and bustling with life. From my hotel balcony (at Zarkot), I have watched the streets below suddenly bursting into noisy life at 5:30AM, each day, with Mizos boarding (with plenty of luggage), some 30-40 Sumos, heading to different remote rural places. A line of street-food hawkers appear at dawn, along the narrow pavements here to sell breakfast - Puris, aloo-Sabzi, Pork-chops and tea - to this travelling crowd. By 7:00AM the place is quite and deserted, with no sign of the crowds and the vendors! I don't know if this was normal scene or just pre-christmas vacation rush to rural homes?

I consulted an elderly Bengali Sumo-counter gentleman, about which rural places to visit from Aizawl. He suggested, I cancel the Lunglie sumo-seat (that I had already booked) and instead go to Champhai. He also said Saiha is a good scenic route to go; but there are many important spots to see on the way, but off-the-main-road, and so going in a share-sumo will mean I can't see those.

Any of these (Champhai, Saiha, Lunglie or some others too) will each mean 7-8 hours of travel, each way, that means 2 days for each of these.

A9: Aizawl to Agartala there is no direct road! G-Maps shows a road NH44A but it doesnt exist (as told by the Kodas' of Borderline-Drive forum on FB and also on HVK's FB forum). But while on the road to Unakoti (Dharmanagar) from Agartala, I remember our driver showing us at Manu, the RTO going to Jamphui Hills. At that place there was a signpost showing 'Way to Mizoram'! I am sure that road goes to Mizoram. But not sure if it goes all the way to Aizawl or just some border villages? This requires research.


A10: In Tripura you require 3 days (minm), Unakoti-1, NeerMahal-Matabari-1 and Agartala Local-1. BTW: If you are going to Unakoti from Agartala, it may take 2 days (to and fro) because some parts of NH are closed after dark. Those sections require TSR armed escort .. due to some local 'robberies' by tribals in Ghat section after it is dark. Its not possible to leave Agartala at 6AM and return before 4PM when it gets dark.
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Last edited by ks_bluechip; Jan 15th, 2012 at 04:44.. Reason: more spell-corrns
#62 Jan 14th, 2012, 19:41
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I've also heard that the India-Burma border is open during local festivals, but other than that don't expect the Burmese authorities to open land borders for tourism in a hurry, regardless of the PR releases. And let's not forget that it takes a long long time for the authorities to set up Immigration and Customs posts - that includes our Bharat Sarkar.
#63 Jan 14th, 2012, 22:38
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KS, thanks for the detailed reply, this could easily be a solid base to start my research on this region. I have atleast got fair idea on Mizoram and Tripura from you. I have to actually get more information and then have to put them logically to find out the points of night halts and finally the number of days and sequence of travel and finally the first draft itinerary. A Bottom - Up approach

As you have done enough research can you please let me know which states require ILP for Indians to visit at present? I know there are lengthy threads and discussions on this but in case you know the updated situation as on date from your experiences. Also for what duration ILPs are issued?
#64 Jan 15th, 2012, 04:00
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Originally Posted by kshil View Post KS, thanks for the detailed reply, this could easily be a solid base to start my research on this region. I have atleast got fair idea on Mizoram and Tripura from you. I have to actually get more information and then have to put them logically to find out the points of night halts and finally the number of days and sequence of travel and finally the first draft itinerary. A Bottom - Up approach

As you have done enough research can you please let me know which states require ILP for Indians to visit at present? I know there are lengthy threads and discussions on this but in case you know the updated situation as on date from your experiences. Also for what duration ILPs are issued?
Planning for this region of NE can be tricky! Due to terrain conditions and varying 'local' situations. Add to that the Travelers own interest and preferences. A heady cocktail!!

btw: 2 IMers sbballer33 (don't miss his website pics & journals) and piran-e can be useful IM resources for NE.

When you have an overall route plan (as per your approach), let me know. I will whet it for you.

Out of the 4 states (in this thread) Nagaland and Mizoram require ILPs (for Indians). Nagaland ILP was issued for 1 month. Mizoram was for 15 days.
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Last edited by ks_bluechip; Jan 15th, 2012 at 04:55.. Reason: added more stuff
#65 Jan 15th, 2012, 08:01
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A10: In Tripura you require 3 days (minm), Unakoti-1, NeerMahal-Matabari-1 and Agartala Local-1. BTW: If you are going to Unakoti from Agartala, it may take 2 days (to and fro) because some parts of NH are closed after dark. Those sections require TSR armed escort .. due to some local 'robberies' by tribals in Ghat section after it is dark. Its not possible to leave Agartala at 6AM and return before 4PM when it gets dark.


The distance between Agartala and Unakoti is 178 kms of which about 100 kms passes through the 'disturbed area' .Hence, there is a gate system in some parts of NH.44( I guess, it is betweeen Telimura and Kumarghat). The gate starts at 8.00 a.m. and closes at 4.00 p.m. on both sides. So it is practically not possible to do Unakoti trip as a day trip from Agartala.

For visitors coming from Silchar side, it makes sense to visit Unakoti first by staying overnight at Dharmanagar or Kumarghat before reaching Agartala. In this way, one can get to see Unakoti in the morning hours before it becomes warm. Unakoti was warm and humid even in December when we visited in the afternoon.
#66 Jan 15th, 2012, 08:47
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Originally Posted by Sadanand Kamath View Post The gate starts at 8.00 a.m. and closes at 4.00 p.m. on both sides. So it is practically not possible to do Unakoti trip as a day trip from Agartala.
Exactly right, SK!

But, that is what we managed to do, as an exception, on 9th-Dec!

Mr Biswas, who operates the Ginger Hotel's Travel/Taxi desk, is also a transport-contractor to a sub-contractor of ONGC, in Agartala. On 9th Dec he had to go to Assam border to pick up some stuff for ONGC, with a TSR Escort (Tripura State Rifles). So he suggested we hire his taxi, join him in that escort, branch-off at Kumarghat for Unakoti and then rejoin his returning escort party. Thats how Unakoti got done as a day-trip for us!

PS: My Tripura pictures upload is now complete and HERE for those interested in seeing them ALL. Will post a few highlights from that in this thread later today.

PS1: Mr Biswas has re-constructed a broken down temple on the highway NH44 just out of Agartala. His pictures while we stopped there to offer prayers below:


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Last edited by ks_bluechip; Jan 15th, 2012 at 09:46.. Reason: added PS: with Picture link
#67 Jan 15th, 2012, 10:15
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Some pictures from Tripura:

The NH44 road-bridge crossing over Borak River as we approach Badarpur Jn, on train way to Agartala:


Spectacled Langurs (Monkeys) at Sipahijala WLS south of Agartala:


Bears (at Sipahija-WLS) get excited and stand up on two legs, when they spot there regular feeder:


A Leopard (in Sipahijala-WLS) that was dozing suddenly wakes-up, on hearing some noise, and looks up:


Neer-Mahal in Rudra Sagar Lake in South Tripura:


Again the Neer-Mahal, the entire length of it:


Matabari near Udaipur in South Tripura:


Tripura Sundari in the Matabari Temple near Udaipur, S. Tripura:


Monlith Rock carvings of Unakoti, North Tripura:


Another view of Rock Carvings at Unakoti:


Amazingly elegant Agartala Railway station:


Rajar-Bari (Raja's Palace) under renovation at Agartala city:


The main diety at Lakshmi Narayan Temple in Agartala:


Closeup of diety at Lakshmi Narayan Temple (surprised me that we were allowed to take pictures here):

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#68 Jan 15th, 2012, 10:32
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Lovely pics.

Those monolithic carvings look very interesting. Of what antiquity would they be?

The bears, leopard, langurs, they are gorgeous. Are they in an enclosure or you saw them in the wild? Was a bit confused since you mentioned WLS but then referred to 'regular feeder'.

This is tempting me to plan a trip to that region sooner rather than later!

EDIT: Happy Pongal
Travelpod / Flickr


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#69 Jan 15th, 2012, 10:44
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@snonymous: Thanks .... and Happy Pongal to you, your hubby and family

Sipahijala is a Wild Life Sanctuary that includes a largish-zoo of the open-air kind ... i.e. big open spaces for each species to roam around a bit ... and some private spaces too (for them to hide from human beings if they are fed up with the zoo visitors).

The NE-region is pretty amazing! Worth visiting. It helped me see some amazing cultures & people ... and shed some imagined 'fears' too.

PS: reg Unakoti from LP: Unakoti is an ancient pilgrimage center, famous for 8th century bas-relief rock carvings, including a 10m high Shiva
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Last edited by ks_bluechip; Jan 15th, 2012 at 10:51.. Reason: added PS:
#70 Jan 15th, 2012, 19:15
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Thanks, for the info too.

And what "fears" might those be if I may ask?
#71 Jan 15th, 2012, 20:10
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Originally Posted by snonymous View Post Thanks, for the info too.

And what "fears" might those be if I may ask?
I used to think travel in the NE, particularly in remote areas, will have some safety and security issues. It used to be so ... but now greatly improved.
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#72 Jan 16th, 2012, 00:16
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Thank you, KS, for the detailed stories from the NE.

kshil, do not be fooled by Google Maps and other maps that show lots of roads in the region - but most of them are either non-existent like the Kumarhat-Aizwal road or in almost non-motorable condition like NH53 between Silchar & IMphal. Even arterial roads such as Silchar-Nagaon (the so-called East West Corridor) are still being widened and are in terrible condition. Thanks to the raging insurgency in the region, many road contractors are unable to carry out their work or work done is very shoddy.

I think KS was quite lucky - despite the Manipur blockade - that his trip overall was not affected by the innumerable blockades/ strikes in the region. You will have to keep lots of buffer in your drive plans, and reschedule accordingly. e.g. during my (along with KS) 2009 drive in Arunachal, I got stuck outside Daporigo because a bailey bridge was being dismantled and rebuilt, we discovered that Pangin-Tuting would take longer than expected and consequently, we had to cut out both Mechuka & Tuting from the plan or else face major time overruns.
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#73 Jan 16th, 2012, 09:55
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HVK, Thanks for the words of caution. I would not think even finalizing plan until I validate the roads/plans with you which I usually do for all my trips. I am sure that would act as a solid filter to get an idea of the real situation there.

Yes, would certainly keep lots of time for backup.
#74 Jan 16th, 2012, 10:43
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Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post ..... or in almost non-motorable condition like NH53 between Silchar & IMphal .....
HVK: Just FYI - At Silchar's Capital Sumo-stand I saw some share-Maxx/Sumos leaving for Imphal via Jiribam. They seemed to be running that route despite the bad roads, at Rs 475/- a Seat! Perhaps for them its a matter of passenger's demand that they must not lose, despite the road conditions! Anyway, that route is open, it seems.
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#75 Jan 16th, 2012, 14:18
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Showing a few pictures from Mizoram below:

A Typical Mizo home in rural villages; this pic from Reiek Model village:


A typical Mizo village layout - as displayed at Reiek Village:


Traditional dress worn by Mizo girls during during Festivals (from a framed picture in Reiek resort):


Misty Blue Hills seen at dawn from Champhai; looking East towrds Burma border:


Superb dawn view Blue-Green Hills from the balcony of my Champhai Tourist Cottage:



Clearer view from the forest slopes below Champhai GH


Another view towards the Myanmar border in East


A little later with more sunlight Champhai village homes and road below the Tourist-GH became visible:


A zoomed view of the Champhai Town on the Hill-top as seen from Tourist-GH roof:


Next day on way to Burma border this scenic view seen from the hired taxi:


As we Zhokhawthar we could see the river which is the border with Burma in the valley below:


The India Arch as we enter the bridge to cross over into Burma


The Republic of Myanmar's welcome sign on their end of the bridge:


The RiH-Dil Lake 5 KMs inside Burma - considerd as Holy lake by all Mizos


Rih Dil Lake - Mizos believe Spirits of all dead people come here first before going to heaven


Another view of Rih Dil lake


Returning from Rih-Dil we see the River and the Bridge way down there:


Zoom in to the border bridge - India (L) Burma (R):


An aerial view of Rih-Dil-Lake - a Google Earth Image from altitude of 3.95KM looking North:


*********

To see ALL pictures of Mizoram click below:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ks_blue...7628876154163/
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