India on the Road

From Guwahati to Aizwal

19 FEBRUARY 2016,
Guwahati, Kamakya Temple
Guwahati, Kamakya Temple

Route: Guwahati to Shillong on NH40, Shillong to Silchar via Jowai on NH44 and Silchar to Aizwal on NH54
Distance: 380 Kms
Driving Time: 8 hours

Guwahati

Ideally located on the banks of river Brahmaputra, the only male river of the world, Guwahati, the capital of Assam is the gateway city of North East India. It is a flourishing trading and commercial hub. The Guwahati tea auction center is amongst the largest in India and witnesses some of the highest tea auction bids anywhere in the world. Culturally too, the city has evolved on its own and it is a treat to watch the rhythmic Bihu dance during the festive season when the city is all decked up heralding the dawn of a new year. Like elsewhere in India, the winds of change as a result of globalization is very palpable in this city. As the gateway city of the North East, Guwahati has indeed come of age. Trendy multi cuisine restaurants, neon lit bars, deluxe hotels and a youth brigade which is constantly evolving to the demands of the new age are characteristic features of the city.

What to See:

Umananda temple, Kamakshya temple, Navagraha temple, Vasistha Ashram, Museum, Planetarium, Regional Science Center, Srimanta Sankardev Kalakshetra, temple of Bhubaneswar, Assam State Zoo, Botanical Garden, Dighalipukhuri.

Where to Stay:

ITDC Hotel Brahmaputra Ashok, Hotel Dynasty, Hotel Prag Continental, Belle View Hotel, Hotel Raj Mahal, Hotel Starline, Hotel Mayur, Hotel Nandan, Hotel Chilarai, Hotel Trimurti International, Assam Tourism’s Tourist Lodge, Hotel Kuber International.

Where to Eat:

Woodlands, Hotel Paradise, Ramble, Sunflower, Utsab, Piccadilly, Ming Room, Orbit.

What to Buy:

Bamboo and cane products, Assam Silk Sarees, Endi, Muga and Pat products, Bell Metal products.

Shillong

As you leave the city of Guwahati enroute to Aizwal along the NH 40, the wayside scenery is astonishingly beautiful and after traveling 20 Kms., you will encounter mountainous terrain with hairpin bends at regular intervals. The journey from Guwahti to Shillong can be covered in 4 hours. Shillong, the picturesque capital of the state of Meghalaya, located at an altitude of 1,496 meters above sea level is easily one of the most happening hill stations of North East India. It is also one of the most fashionable and rocking destinations in the whole of North East India. The best part about this quaint hill station is that it is a round the year tourist destination. The generous tourist facilities, breathtaking scenic vistas, happy and charming people, billowing clouds and stately pine trees, majestic mountains, gorges and lush green pastures all makes Shillong an irresistible mountain tourist destination.

The city extends for 6 Kms. on a lofty swathe. The city of Shillong is actually positioned on a highland terrain and is surrounded by the Umiam gorge in the north, on the imposing Diengiei Hills to the Northwest and the undulating hills of the Assam valley to the North East. The Diengiei hills in particular reach heights that are all of 6077 feet above sea level and makes for a truly intimidating mountain backdrop. The city’s primary source of water is derived from the glistening Umiam River, which is nourished by the Umshyrpi and the Umkhra streams.

What to See:

The English Homes, Mayurbhanj House, Tripura Castle, Umiam Lake, Sweet Falls, Spread Eagle Falls, Polo Ground, Ward Lake, Beadon Falls, Bishop Falls, Elephant Falls, Shillong Golf Club, Shillong Peak, Gorichen, Lady Hydari Park, State Museum, Butterfly Museum, Shillong Orchidarium.

Where to Stay:

Meghalaya Tourism’s Orchid Lake Resort, Hotel Pinewood, The Royal Heritage, Hotel Polo Towers, Hotel Alpine Continental, The Shillong Club, Hotel Monsoon, Hotel Center Point, Hotel Magnum, Pegasus Crown, Hotel Pine Borough.

Where to Eat:

Hong Kong, Bamboo Hut, Kimpoo, Kowloon, Broadway, Swiss Café, Bombay Bites, Dhabas in Bara Bazaar, Royal Heritage.

What to Buy:

Forest honey, handmade knives, cotton bags, shawls, traditional Khasi cutlery sets, bamboo handicrafts.

Jowai

From Shillong you take the NH 44 that extends all the way to Silchar via Jowai. The picturesque town of Jowai happens to be the headquarters of the Jaintia hills and is ideally nestled on the banks of the shimmering Myntdu river. One of the unique features of the Jaintia tribes is that they follow the matrilineal system and inheritance is traced through females. The Jaintias along with their Khasi bretherns of Meghalaya are part of an exclusive bandwagon and scholars have gone to the extent of including the Jaintias in the elite group of the world’s largest surviving matriarchal culture.

What to See:

Thadlaskein Lake, Nartlang, Syndai village caves.

What to Buy:

Traditional Jaintia tribal handicrafts.

Silchar

Leaving the mountainous terrain of Jowai, as you proceed further ahead to Aizwal, the bustling town of Silchar, located at a distance of 125 Kms. makes its presence felt. Most travelers to Aizwal make a brief halt here for snacks and refreshments. Silchar is the headquarters of Cachar district of Assam and is predominantly inhabited by Bengalis. The shimmering Barak River flows perennially through the town’s eastern flank. Silchar is amongst the most peaceful regions of the North East. After the discovery of the game of Polo by the British tea planters, they introduced this fascinating game at Silchar and this town has the distinction of holding the first official game of polo. A plaque commemorating this unique feat is well preserved at the District Library.

What to See:

Temple of Kancha Kanti Devi, Khaspur, Bhubaneswar temple.

Where to Eat:

Hotel Borail View, Hotel Sudakshina, Hotel Gitanjali, Hotel Indra Prastha, Hotel Ellora, Hotel Ajanta.

What to Buy:

Cane and bamboo handicraft items and a variety of sarees.

Aizwal

Aizwal, the capital of Mizoram is unlike other hill stations. In Darjeeling for instance you have the Mall, the Botanical Gardens, the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, the Toy Train, Tiger Hill, Batasia Loop, the Ghum monastery and a surfeit of other must-visit places. But not Aizwal. There is no specific tourist trail here. To be honest, Aizwal is less commercialized than say for instances of hill-stations like Shimla, Darjeeling etc… when it comes to tourism. And herein lies the charm of this captivating city of North East. The whole town is an invitation to you. You have the liberty of exploring the many facets of this beautiful hill city at your own pace and at your own terms. There are no touters to barge on you and the crowd too is pretty sophisticated and multi-ethnic.

On a typical day in Aizwal, you will find its bazaars bedecked with all kinds of electronic items, gizmos, handicraft items and curios. Most visitors to Aizwal prefer to buy shoes both foreign made and local. They are a craze with the tourists. You will find the upper class Mizos literally zooming about in their lethal 4 Wheel Drive Scorpios, Tata Safaris and modified bikes blaring all-time-hit Rock numbers from the albums of Guns & Roses to Mettalica in the hip neighborhood of Chanmari, which happens to be the town’s most trendy hangout zone. Chanmari is to Aizwal what the Mall is to Shimla.

For the avid cultural freak, there is the charming village of Kulikawn where you will come across traditional Mizo women trading in piglets in intricately woven baskets. If you have the energy, you would do well to climb uphill to Chaltlang, which is located at a height of 3,713 feet and is easily the highest point of Aizwal. The view from the top is mesmerizing as you can see the bustling city spread like a well-woven carpet. Nighttime is the best time to be here when the city springs to life.

What to See:

Chanmari, AR Grounds, Chapchar Kut, State Museum, Tlangnuam, Kulikawan, Chaltlang, Berawtlang Tourist Complex, Zemabawk.

Where to Stay:

Hotel Chief (tel: 0389-2346418), Hotel Ritz (tel: 2310409-10), Hotel Royale (tel: 2311577-78), Chaltalang Tourist Lodge (tel: 2349421 / 1083).

Where to Eat:

Zote Bakery, Glenary’s, Beijing Blue, The Dhaba Restaurant, Basilica Restaurant.

What to Buy:

Electronic goods, pirated CDs, Iptichei bags, Puanchei wraparounds, purses, leather shoes.