How beautiful would a place be, the name of which translates into the Abode of Clouds?! I am talking about Meghalaya, one of the seven states in Northeast India. The Northeast is arguably the least explored part of the country, and this is perhaps why it is not as chaotic and commercialised, and also as polluted as the rest of India. If you are anything like me, then you would want to stay in such a place, rather than concrete jungles. Now, I know it is a bit exaggerated as it is not possible for us to leave our job and comfort of city life to go live in the middle of nowhere. But, at least we can take a trip to a place like this; just to see how amazing nature looks, undisturbed by human influence.
“The bicycle is the noblest invention of mankind.” – William Saroyan
Bicycle tours are fast coming up as an exciting activity for both fitness and adventure enthusiasts. You can go on a bicycle tour in the hilliest of the cities, in the remotest of villages, in the densest of jungles, and in the most developed metros. Say no to over-crowded buses and pocket-burning cabs with any of these ultimate cycling trips in India that you just cannot miss!
Bicycle Tour in Leh
Cycling all the way from the picturesque Manali to the heavenly Leh is one of the most physically challenging, yet the most satisfying experiences. It takes you through some of the world’s highest passes, scenic trails and the mightiest of mountains. You will touch altitudes almost as high as 16000 feet on passes like Rohtang La, Tanglang La, Lachulung La and Baralacha La. Also, on this cycling tour, you get to witness the beauty and changing landscape of 2 mountain ranges, including the Zanskar Range and the Pir Panjal Range. And before you begin to worry about loneliness, it is wise to point out that plummeting valley, gushing rivers and herds of sheep are constantly going to keep you company.
It’s been almost 8 years since I started maintaining a travel diary and probably turned myself into a more observing traveller from a happy-go-lucky leisure tourist. Ah! 8 Years; seems like as if it was only yesterday that I had been to Goa.
Honestly, all these years of travelling has made me realise exactly what went through Aldous Huxley’s mind when he wrote the lines – “To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” In my case, it was more about leaving behind all my prejudices and learning about different cultures and people, which somehow my geography teacher in school never stressed upon, unfortunately. And thus, I consider myself lucky enough to have been able to visit quite a few states of the country, especially the 7 sister states of North-east India, with utmost curiosity.
My first tour to North-east India was to the land of proud Ahoms – Assam, and it was pure bliss; from relishing local delicacies and enjoying natural vistas to my interactions with some of the most wonderful people I have ever met. Here is my pick of the best travel experiences in northeast India.
Assam – Kaziranga Elephant Safari – A Ride to Remember
Being a nature lover, I chose to first visit Kaziranga National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This protected region, which lies in the Nagaon and Golaghat districts of Assam, was set up in 1908. It is not only home to a high density of great one-horned rhinoceroses and tigers, but also several species of birds. Drained by four rivers, including the mighty Brahmaputra, this National Park offers fantastic safari opportunities, across its 430 sq km area.
North-East is one of the most unexplored regions in India. When you visit the place you’ll be proud to say that it’s in India. It’s a small world full of surprises if you are ready to explore.The breathtaking views of mountains, the endless verdant, the magical waterfalls, the wild caves and the distinct culture of North-East India will leave you with an amazing travel experience.You will drool over the North-eastern cuisines as these have a lot of variety and are different from the rest of India.
North-East India has everything for you. You name it and you get to explore your kind of place. I wanted to experience the wilderness of the Natural caves. The caves are the home to many bats and different species of insects. Despite being scared of insects I dared to explore the dark caves and it was one of the wildest experiences of my life. Tiny waterfalls flowing through the lime-stones and the never ending darkness with bats all around made for one of the most memorable days of my trip!
The beautiful villages of North-East will take your breath away. Some of them have interesting facts about them with the beauty. Let’s explore the Scenic Villages of North-East India.
Ziro Valley, Arunachal Pradesh
The least known place in North-East India, Ziro Valley has pleasant climate throughout the year, so you backpack to this place any day you want. It is just 115 kms from the state capital Itanagar and will take you around 4 hours to reach. Ziro Valley, also known as Apatani Plateau is home to the Apatani Tribes. The green rice field patches make the place look stunning! The Taley wildlife sanctuary, Kile Pakho ridge and the Bamboo groves are worth a visit. If you are planning an offbeat and peaceful trip then this is the destination for you!
Located in the East Khasi Hills district in the state of Meghalaya, Cherrapunji (officially called Sohra) is often touted as the wettest place on Earth. It holds the world record for the most rainfall in a calendar year (1 August 1960 – 30 July 1861) and month (July 1861). Cherrapunji sits on a plateau rising 600 meters above the surrounding valleys. It receives both northeast and southwest monsoonal winds that give it a single monsoon season and it rains mostly at night. It lies on the downwind side of the Khasi Mountains.
People living in and around Cherrapunji are known as the Khasis. The most interesting and notable characteristic about Khasi people is that they are a matrilineal culture. The husband of the youngest daughter lives with his in-laws and the children take on their mother’s surname.
Cherrapunji is known all over the world not just for the heavy rainfall but also for the very popular living root bridges. The Southern Khasi and Jaintia hills around this town are humid and warm, and on these hills is found a species of Indian rubber tree. This tree has an unbelievably strong root system that has been thriving for many centuries. It also has a secondary root system originating from high up in the trunks. These secondary roots can easily roost atop big boulders or even in the middle of the rivers. A tribe in Meghalaya called the War-Khasis noticed this a long time ago and realized that these strong roots can offer an opportunity and means of easily crossing rivers in many places.
These have come to be known as the Living Root Bridges and one of the most popular one is the Umshiang Double-Decker Root Bridge.