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Trip Advice for Guwahati-Shillong-Tawang Trip

Discussion in 'Travel advice' started by Ankit Verma, Jan 11, 2017.

  1. Ankit Verma

    Ankit Verma New Member

    Hello everyone!

    First things first... We are a group of 6 Software Engineers from Hyderabad and we are planning a trip to North East India in the month of March.

    We will be travelling from Hyderabad to Guwahati on the night of 3rd/4th March and we are planning to cover Shillong, Cherrapunjee/Dawki and Tawang over the course of next 12 days, and we'll be returning back to Hyderabad on March 14th.

    P.S. We have booked the flights for both the outward and return journeys already.

    Here's the initial draft of Itinerary we have prepared ourselves:

    Day 1: 03-Mar-2017: Flight from Hyd to Kol at 11:30 p.m. IST

    Day 2:04-Mar-2017: Flight from Kol to Guw at 07:35 a.m. IST.
    (Will hopefully move out of the airport by 10 a.m. IST)

    - Activities of Interest In Guwahati: Visit to Kamakhya Temple
    - We intend to reach Shillong by evening and can take a stroll across Police bazar if time Permits.

    Q1: Is the time sufficient to visit Kamakhya and then reach Shillong by evening?

    Day3: 05-Mar-2017 : We either want to cover Cherrapunjee on this day or we can either go for Dawki-Mawllynnong.

    We want to be back in Shillong by the end of the day.

    Q2: Which of the two places (Cherrapunjee/Dawki) would be a better alternative?

    Day 4: 06-Mar-2017: Shillong to Bhalukpong

    Day 5: 07-Mar-2017: Bhalukpong to Dirang

    Day 6: 08-Mar-2017: Dirang to Tawang ( Covering Sela Pass, Jung Falls, Jaswant Garh Memorial enroute to Tawang)

    Day 7: 09-Mar-2017 : Tawang town sight seeing (Monastery in particular)

    Day 8: 10-Mar-2017 : Tawang - Bumla - Tawang (plus Madhuri Lake)

    Day 9: 11-Mar-2017 : Tawang - Bomdila

    Day 10: 12- Mar-2017 : Bomdila - Kaziranga

    Day 11:13-Mar-2017 : Safaris in Kaziranga

    Day 12: 14-Mar-2017: Kaziranga to Guwahati to Hyderabad (Flight departs at 5:30 p.m. IST

    Some might argue that Kaziranga can be covered in the first leg of our trip itself but we want to keep Kaziranga for the later half only.
    Reason being if our stay in Tawang gets stretched due to landslides and stuff, we want to have a cushion of 1-2 days with us. In that case we can put our Kaziranga plan in the back burner and chuck it if need be, as our priority is Tawang.

    That was the itinerary part of the tour and now i have some questions for the same:

    1) Shall we take a single cab from Guwahati uptil Tawang covering Shillong on the way.
    Can anyone please provide contacts of the cab drivers/services which would be apt for our itinerary or we can get quotations from regarding the prices.

    2) ILP is one thing we are very concerned about. We'll be reaching Guwahati on Saturday and we are not sure if ILP is issued on weekends at the airport.

    Or can we rely on the cab driver to get ILPs for us? Please suggest. If no, which would be the best place to get our ILPs from as per our itinerary?

    3) Can anyone please suggest affordable hotels/zostels or couchsurfing if available for the following places:
    - Shillong
    - Bhalukpong
    - Dirang
    - Tawang
    - Bomdilla
    - Kaziranga

    Please provide suggestions/advises which you feel our plan needs. Will be happy to fix the loose ends.

    Warm Regards,

  2. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hello, welcome to the forum!

    Northeast India-2.jpg
    (Images from Neptune, Masrur, Sunanda and Saurabh)


    Northeast India is one of the lesser explored regions of the country. Perhaps this has to do with its relative isolation, plus lack of information that tourists need to venture into the region. As such, the northeastern part of India remains under the shadow of its more popular neighbor states. It's such a relief to find tourists inquiring about this region of India, mainly because it means it now receives the attention that it so much deserves. Comprised of the seven sister states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura, along with Sikkim, get ready to enjoy pristine landscapes of mountains and virgin forests, because that's what Northeast India is all about. The rich culture and intact traditions of the tribes of the region are also part of the package that you get when you visit this part of India.

    Kamakhya Temple (Guwahati) to Shillong (Meghalaya)

    The Kamakhya Temple is regarded as the oldest of the 51 Shakti Pithas. It is believed to have been built around the 9th century during the rule of the Mlechchha dynasty. The present structure though was built during the reign of the Koch dynasty in the 16th century. The temple is especially important because this was where Goddess Sati's yoni fell during the destructive dance of Lord Shiva. The exteriors and interiors are largely made from stone materials. The deity is represented here by a stone yoni image, which remains wet due to the water springs surrounding it. Every year, the yoni supposedly menstruates and the temple is closed for three days for that. Thereafter, on the fourth day, a festival is held in celebration of the fertility and strength of the goddess, known as the Ambubachi Mela.

    The Kamakhya Temple is located on the northern part of Guwahati, on the banks of the Brahmaputra River. It is around 17 kilometers away from the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport or the Guwahati International Airport. It can take around 35 minutes of driving to reach the temple from the airport. So if you are able to depart at around 10:00 in the morning from the airport, you would reach the temple before 11:00 of the same morning if you choose to take a cab, which is the easiest way of reaching it. Now, once you reach the temple, you can queue for the regular darshan, which can take around three to five hours, depending on the rush of pilgrims that day. Alternatively, you can opt for VIP darshan (Rs. 500) which won't take more than one to two hours of queuing time. Keep in mind that the temple closes an hour and a half each day, from 13:00 to 14:30 in the afternoon.

    From the Kamakhya Temple, Shillong is around 108 kilometers away, or 4 to 5 hours of driving. So let's say you opt for the special VIP darshan and completed your pilgrimage to the temple by 13:00, you're all set to go to Shillong. You would then arrive in the capital of Meghalaya by around 18:00 in the evening, more or less. But if you opt for the regular darshan, then you would need to wait for at least four hours to view the yoni of the deity. Considering that the temple closes from 13:00 to 14:30 each day, you would have completed darshan at least at 17:00 or 18:00 that day. You can still reach Shillong by road but the journey can be more dangerous since it's night time. So it's better to stay overnight in Guwahati and leave for Shillong the next day instead. For budget travelers, you can ride a shared sumo from Khanapara in Guwahati that would be running to Shillong proper, fare rate is around Rs. 170 per person.

    Cherrapunjee Versus Dawki/Mawlynnong

    Cherrapunjee and Dawki/Mawlynnong are two excursions usually taken from Shillong. Both are under 2 hours and 30 minutes of driving away from the capital. The downside is that both destinations require at least a day trip from Shillong, you can't combine them both in one day trip. Thus, it's essential to choose just one destination especially for those who only have a limited time during their trip. Both destinations are charming in their own ways, truly worth a detour for those visiting Meghalaya. In the guide below, we would highlight the best features of these places and which would be the best time for visiting them so you can plan your itinerary accordingly.

    Known as one of the wettest places on the world, Cherrapunjee is a delightful getaway from the city life. The culture and natural attractions of this hill station is so distinct that it has garnered the attention of offbeat travelers around the world. Cherrapunjee is home to the Khasi tribes, a matrilineal society, which is rare to find in such tribal communities. Replete with natural attractions, mainly waterfalls, a visit to the hill station during monsoon is guaranteed to take your breath away. The hill station is also home to the living root bridges, which are simply bridges formed from the shaping of the roots of rubber trees into betel trees. You also can't miss the numerous natural caves with various limestone formations that can be found in Cherrapunjee.

    Next we have Dawki/Mawlynnong, another excursion that you can take from Shillong. Dawki's prime attraction is the border point between India and Bangladesh, known as the Dawki Tamabil Border Post. Unlike other border restricted areas of the country, this one is very friendly and movement between the two areas isn't limited by the armies of both sides. Other attractions that you can cover here are the Umngot River and Dawki Suspension Bridge. Mawlynnong is around 30 kilometers away from Dawki and is renowned for being the cleanest village in Asia. It has the same living root bridges and streams to keep one occupied for a day or two.

    So it really depends on your interests and preferences which would be the best destination for you. One recommendation though is to choose Cherrapunjee during the monsoon season, from April to September, as it becomes more worthy of visiting then. The surrounding greenery and powerful waterfalls are sure to entice you. If your trip falls in the other months, from October to March, then you can opt for Dawki/Mawlynnong instead since you won't enjoy much of the waterfalls of Cherrapunjee during these months.

    Cab Services from Guwahati to Tawang (With Shillong)

    Your best option to cover the 666 kilometers distance between Guwahati, Shillong and Tawang is to hire a shared sumo. You can usually find shared sumos in the Paltan Bazaar of Guwahati where you can negotiate for prices from. You can also opt to just wait for fellow tourists to board the shared sumo so you can save money instead of hiring the entire sumo by yourself. Some adventure seekers opt to reach Tezpur by bus and from there, one can also find shared sumos going to Tawang. The downside with such shared sumos is that you cannot control the route and you cannot ask the driver to stop en route for photograph taking. This is the most economical option though at Rs. 750 per head especially for budget travelers.

    There are some car rental agencies that you can also find that offer attractive package options for tourists. They usually include Guwahati, Shillong and Tawang in their packages. You can negotiate for the price as well as for the included itinerary since their contact details would be given below. These are just two of the popular and easy to reach car rental agencies for this circuit. You can also find local car rental agencies or even individuals in Guwahati itself. But for convenience purposes, you can try out the two agencies which would be mentioned below, along with their rates.

    Anshuman Travels (Rates for Guwahati to Tawang Taxi Services)

    VehicleMaximum CapacityCharge Per Day (Excludes Fuel)Per Kilometre ExcessNight Halt Fee
    Xylo6Rs. 2,500Rs. 10Rs. 500
    Innova4Rs. 2,700Rs. 10Rs. 500
    Sumo7Rs. 2,700Rs. 10Rs. 500
    Traveller15Rs. 2,500Rs. 15Rs. 500
    Anshuman Travels is an Assam-based travel agency which also rents out vehicles for tourists. Their rates are showcased above for a Guwahati to Tawang taxi service. You can choose from different types of vehicles, a xylo, an innova, a sumo or a traveller. You can refer to the table above for the seating capacities as well as the fixed rates. If you exceed the kilometers per day, there's an additional Rs. 10 or Rs. 15 charge per kilometer excess. For each night halt that you take, there's also an additional charge of Rs. 500 per night.

    Greenlimon Holidays (Rates for Guwahati to Tawang Taxi Services)

    Tour DescriptionTotal DaysInnovaScorpioXylo
    Shillong, Cherrapunjee, Kaziranga, Dirang, Tawang, Bomdila and Guwahati10Rs. 50,000Rs. 50,000Rs. 50,000
    Greenlimon Holidays is an Assam-based travel agency as well but they do have a corporate office in Delhi as well. They also provide for taxi services from Guwahati to Tawang. As you can see from the table above, their itinerary fits quite well within your own itinerary. Their rates are on the higher side but do keep in mind that these rates are already for a 10-day itinerary from Guwahati to Tawang.

    Getting Inner Line Permit (ILP) for Tawang

    An Inner Line Permit (ILP) allows for an Indian citizen to access a restricted area or protected area in the country. Tawang, located in the state of Arunachal Pradesh, is one of such places that requires for this permit. Recently, the Arunachal Pradesh Tourism Department has launched their own Inner Line Permit application website. With this website, you can apply for your permit without any hassles, you only need one of the specified documents, an acceptable scanned photograph, a completely filled application form and also the fee of Rs. 123 per head. You still need to apply for the permit per place, so if you intent to visit many districts in Arunachal Pradesh, aside from Tawang, you need to apply separately for each. You can print your own permit and carry your original documents presented in the online application and you're good to go.

    Alternatively, you can also just acquire for the Inner Line Permit on arrival at the Guwahati International Airport. There's an Arunachal Tourism Office counter in the Guwahati International Airport, just past the Baggage Claim area. Again, you need any government-issued identification card that clearly states your address, along with your passport-sized photograph and the required fee of Rs. 450. You can get your permit on the spot with this process, usually around a 30-minute waiting time only. However, during weekends and public holidays, the counter will not be in operation so you cannot avail of your permit via this process.

    Another alternative, in case you're reaching Guwahati on a Saturday, is to get your Inner Line Permit from the Assam Tourism Development Corporation or Asom Paryatan Bhawan in Paltan Bazar. This office is open from Mondays to Saturdays, from 10:00 in the morning until 17:00 in the afternoon. If you apply in the morning, you can get your Inner Line Permit the same day in the afternoon. However, if you apply in the afternoon, you can get your permit the next working day instead. You need the same requirements that were mentioned above along with the required fee.

    Your last option is to get the Inner Line Permit from the Bhalukpong Entry Gate, in the border between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. This option is only for tourists who want to travel to Tawang. For those who want to explore other districts in the state, you need to procure your Inner Line Permit via the other methods that were mentioned above. This option also works for those who would be reaching Tawang on a weekend, like a Saturday or Sunday. Simply reach the Bhalukpong Entry Gate before 16:00 in the afternoon and you can get your Inner Line Permit with proper documentations mentioned above. Pay the required Rs. 100 per head and you can get your permit within two hours, more or less.

    Budget Hotels in Northeast India

    Generally, the rates for hotels and other accommodation options in Shillong are on the higher side. You would find a few decent budget options but you still need to spend around Rs. 750 to Rs. 2,000 per night for them. Below, you would be given a list of the best budget hotels within Shillong, Bhalukpong, Dirang, Tawang, Bomdila and Kaziranga. Facilities won't be as extensive with these properties, but for their affordable rates, the lapses are acceptable.

    Budget Hotels in Shillong

    Hotel NameAreaRate Per Night (Room)Inclusion/sContact NumberBook Via
    Hotel Barbareek InnMawlonghatRs. 750 (Standard Single Room)Room Only+91 36 4254 5660Goibibo
    Hotel Shaurya InnPolice BazarRs. 1,574 (Budget Room)Room Only+91 90 8906 2345Oyo Rooms
    Lake View InnSecretariat HillsRs. 1,616 (Standard Room)Room Only+91 36 4221 0128Lake View Inn Website
    Hotel YalanaLaitumkhrahRs. 990 (Standard Single Room)Room Only+91 36 4221 1240Hotel Yalana Website
    Budget Hotels in Bhalukpong

    Hotel NameAreaRate Per Night (Room)Inclusion/sContact NumberBook Via
    Hotel DrukUpper BhalukpongRs. 1,350 (Standard Single Room)Room Only+91 94 0299 7779Hotel Druk Website
    Hotel SoluConaAvailable on RequestRoom Only+91 37 8023 4955Contact Number
    Hotel Kameng InnConaAvailable on RequestRoom Only+91 37 8223 4865Contact Number
    Prashanti LodgeConaAvailable on RequestRoom Only+91 98 3107 0828Contact Number
    Budget Hotels in Dirang

    Hotel NameAreaRate Per Night (Room)Inclusion/sContact NumberBook Via
    Hotel PemalingNear Petrol PumpRs. 1,500 (Standard Double Room)Room Only+91 82 5891 9962Hotel Pemaling Website
    Hotel Samdup KhangNH 229Available on RequestRoom Only+91 94 0286 9201Contact Number
    Tourist LodgeNarangchiloRs. 1,700 (Standard Double Room)Room Only+91 70 5556 7250Contact Number
    Budget Hotels in Tawang

    Hotel NameAreaRate Per Night (Room)Inclusion/sContact NumberBook Via
    Bumla InnOld MarketRs. 1,500 (Standard Double Room)Room Only+91 87 2990 2020Contact Number
    Ugyenling HotelOld MarketRs. 1,200 (Standard Room)Room Only+91 90 5123 4885Contact Number
    Hotel Zax StarNarangchiloRs. 1,700 (Luxury Room)Room Only+91 37 9422 4652Hotel Zax Star Website
    Budget Hotels in Bomdila

    Hotel NameAreaRate Per Night (Room)Inclusion/sContact NumberBook Via
    Lungta ResidencyCentre PointRs. 1,500 (Deluxe Room)Room Only+91 37 8222 2555Contact Number
    Doe-Gu-Khil Guest HouseGaden Rabgye Ling MonasteryRs. 900 (Standard Double Room)Room Only+91 37 8222 3643Contact Number
    Tsepal YangjomMain Bazar LineRs. 800 (Economy Single Room)Room Only+91 87 2988 1887Tsepal Yangjom Website
    Budget Hotels in Kaziranga

    Hotel NameAreaRate Per Night (Room)Inclusion/sContact NumberBook Via
    Pallabi Home StayKohoraRs. 1,344 (Deluxe Room)Room + Breakfast+91 99 5718 7414Booking
    Kaziranga ResortGolaghatRs. 1,544 (Executive Room)Room Only+91 94 3515 2968Kaziranga Resort Website
    Manorama LodgeKohoraRs. 1,705 (Standard Double Room)Room OnlyN/AYatra

    I hope that you enjoy your trip to Northeast India as it is one of the least explored regions of the country. While it can be a bit daunting and tricky to find the proper transportation options and even the permits for some areas, a trip to this part of India can be very rewarding. You are granted the most intact cultural immersions, amazing vistas of mountains and even natural attractions that can be hard to appreciate in touristy areas. Good luck and I hope this helps you!

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