Duration: 29/06/2009 to 12/07/2009
Organized by: GypsyFeet, an alternative travel company, and BuddhaSmiles, a charitable organization.
Location: North-East India – specifically, the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Meghalaya
29/06/2009: We drive from Guwahati to Shillong, passing by the beautiful Umiam Lake, and the markets where you will see Khasi women selling betel-nut and fruit ( and chewing as much betel-nut as they are selling). At Shillong, we’ll check out the roaring Elephant Falls ( believe us, it does roar in the monsoons) and the misty Shillong Peak, and stay overnight at Shillong . It’s a pleasant place for walks – we will be exploring this town on foot in the evening and seeing why it was called the “Scotland of the East” by the Brits – steaming Momos to look forward to after all that walking
30/06/2009: Shillong to Cherrapunjee, about an hour and a half’s drive along some spectacular scenery crossing numerous waterfalls – at Cherrapunjee (once the Wettest place on earth) we will be going to a few limestone caves ( can be spooky!) and the living root bridges ( mind your step here, watch the sure-footed Khasis!), and look onto Bangladesh over the Clouds – we come back to Shillong and stay overnight.
01/07/2009: Shillong to Bhalukpung (will take us half the day to drive), we will be staying next to the Jia-Bhorali river, famous for angling. Walks along the river ( and a dip or two) are part of the itinerary.
02/07/2009: From Bhalukpung we go to Tipi for the famous orchidarium, and then on to Bomdila in Arunachal Pradesh, ascending up the foot-hills of the Himalayas. We’ll reach in the evening at Bomdila and stay overnight at Bomdila.
03/07/2009: Bomdila to Tawang/ ( if the rain gods don’t play spoil-sport), it’s a beautiful drive over the Sela-pass, onto Tawang,. Along the way, we will cross the place till which the Chinese army had advanced during the Sino-Indian war.
04/07/2009: We’ll go to the Tawang monastery, a 400 year old monastery, the second largest after Potala, Tibet, and we’ll try to get as close as possible to the Sino-India border ( as far as Indian Army permits us).
05/07/2009: At Tawang , we explore the town itself, including the handi-crafts shops, and walk around the town doing monastery-hopping, and mix with local tribes.
06/07/2009: We go back from Tawang to Bhalukpung and stay overnight at Bhalukpung.
< If the above does not work out due to weather conditions, we will spend more time near and around Bomdila, possibly visiting a tribal house in the area and the vicinity of the Nameri Tiger Reserve>
07/07/2009: From Bhalukpung we go to Jorhat, entering heart of the tea country. We cross the Brahmaputra river at Tezpur which will be in full fury at this time of the year and pass by the Kaziranga National Park ( closed at this time due to monsoons). We stay overnight at Jorhat, a small town close to the Brahmaputra.
08/07/2009: From Jorhat we do a day trip to Sibsagar, where we will look at the ruins of the old Ahom Kingdom – the Ahoms ruled Assam for over 600 years. We come back and stay overnight at Jorhat. We see the Rong Ghar where the AHom kings watched Bihu dances and buffalo fighting, and more recently, where the Assam insurgency had taken root.
09/07/2009: Jorhat to Margherita is a pleasant drive through tea-country! We’ll be driving by the largest tea-growing region in India – at Margherita we will do a lot of tea-garden walks ( Dirok tea garden, with its abandoned WWII air-strip is picturesque and interesting), visit a tea-factory, and possibly a heritage planter’s bungalow. We will stay in Margherita or Tinsukia overnight.
10/07/2009: Margherita/Ledo – where we will go as far as we can along the Stil-well road, an old WW II road that had seen much action in bygone days. We will see a small market at the Indo-Burma border where the Burmese come over to trade. We stay overnight at Margherita or Tinsukia . Along the way we may visit a Sema Naga village to see the ethnic houses.
11/07/2009: Margherita back to Jorhat where we will visit the Tea Research Association . Along the way, we will stop at Digboi, where we will see the second oldest petroleum refinery in the world ( we’re not big museum goers, but the museum at Digboi is worth it since it shows us the growth of the tea, coal and oil industry in this part of the country, and makes for a nice story ), and a WWII museum preserved by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
12/07/2009: Jorhat we get back to Guwahati by late afternoon/ Disperse.In Guwahati,we will take a boat ride to Umananda, a temple situated in an island in the Brahmaputra river
Wherever possible we will taste the local cuisine – momos, fish steamed in banana leaves, fish in bamboo shoots, the tangy elephant apple curry, Jadoh- spicy dish of rice and pork, pickled bamboo shoots.And to wash it all down we will taste local wine and beer, each a speciality of every tribe-Apong,Kyat or even Butter tea.
Cost per person : Rs 25,000 – this includes food, transportation (by car, 3 person per car to ensure your maximum comfort), stay.
Doesnot include costs of personal nature.
About Buddha Smiles
Buddha Smiles organises eco-walks in the country and spiritual walks in the Himalayas every year. This eco-retreat is being organised for the second successive year. Buddha Smiles also organises Natural building workshops and Permaculture courses every year at the alternative school “Garden of Peace”. Buddha Smiles is a programme of the Spirit in Life Movement-A Public Educational and Charitable Trust. Buddha Smiles is a global initiative for peace, education and development of nonviolent alternatives. For more information on Buddha Smiles, please contact :