Northeast India: A Journey Through the Forbidden Seven Sisters (Mega Tour) 2019
|Tour Dates||10 Nov 2019 - 11 Dec 2019 (32 days)|
|Tour Price (Per Person)||Price to be announced|
|Spaces Available||Spaces available|
A groundbreaking and one-of-a-kind tour to each of the once-forbidden Seven Sisters of India (Manipur, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Assam, Tripura).
This is one of the least-traveled areas in all of Asia, and therefore a region of the world where time has largely stood still for the many unique and varied tribal cultures. This tour is certainly not for a first-time visitor to India, and it will be incredibly busy and active, but for those intrepid travelers that venture along will be rewarded and guaranteed a truly electrifying and unforgettable journey in one of the planet’s most unknown, fascinating and obscure regions.
- Enjoy the architecture heritage, stone carvings and rock cuts of Tripura.
- In Mizoram, visit Reiek and meet one of the largest families in the world at Baktwang.
- Cross the mighty Brahmaputra River by boat, one of Asia’s major rivers.
- Explore Majuli Island, the largest river island in the world, with its unique Hindu monasteries and riverine tribal culture of the Mishing tribe.
- Trek to the mindblowing, double-decker root bridges of Cherrapunjee.
- Scope for wildlife on elephant back and by jeep around Kaziranga National Park with its one-horned rhino population, 70% of the world population of the Eastern Swamp Deer and 75% of the world’s wild Asiatic water buffalo.
- Experience the happy co-existence of Vaishovite Monks and Mishing tribes.
- Witness the vibrant tribal culture of different tribes of Arunachal Pradesh and visit the land of the Apatanis – famous for their wooden nose plugs and facial tattoos; and meet the Adi Galos of Aalo.
- Be amazed at the extravaganza of the world-famous Hornbill festival, in Kohima.
- Admire the beautiful Loktak Lake — a distinct bio-diversity spot of the region.
- Full services of an Out of Bounds Tours leader with local guides and drivers.
- All meals from arrival until departure.
- Drinking water provided.
- All transport within the itinerary.
- All accommodations.
- All entrance fees, sightseeing, excursions and activities as per the itinerary.
|Tour Fact Sheet|
|Max Group Size||12 with 1 Out of Bounds leader|
Day 01: Agartala
Arrive into Agartala, the capital and largest city in Tripura, where you will be met and transferred to the hotel. After settling in and lunch, we will visit the Ujjayanta (Agartala) Palace, a stunning former royal palace compound established in 1901 that also houses Northeast India’s largest museum; the historic Fourteen Goddess Temple; Rabindra Kanan, a sprawling park nestled among an abundance of flowers; and the Portuguese church (Shantir Rani Catholic Church). In the evening, we will take a stroll in the colorful local market. Overnight in Agartala.
Day 02: Agartala — Udaipur (53km / 2 hrs)
After breakfast drive to Udaipur, where en route we will visit the majestic Neermahal, which means water palace and was constructed by King Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya as a summer resort in 1930. Located in the middle of a lake, this water palace has a fine combination of architectural design among Muslim and Hindu.
Later on, we will visit one of the most popular temples of Udaipur, the Tripura Sundari, which is also known as Matabari, and is the earliest holy place of Hinduism in this part of Tripura state. In the evening return to Agartala and overnight.
Day 03: Kailasahar via Unakoti (186km / 4 hrs)
This morning we will drive to Unakoti. On the slope of the hills, you can see rock-cut and stone images belonging to 7th to 9th century. The pebbly walls, the enormous Siva’s head, and the thirty feet tall statue of Ganesha are of particular interest along the way. Overnight in Kailasahar.
Day 04: Silchar (160km / 6 hrs)
A long and scenic day driving is ahead today as we spend several hours navigating our way north to Silchar in Assam. On arrival, we will take a walk around the town before having dinner and resting for the evening after an eventful day on the road. Overnight in Silchar.
Day 05: Aizawl (170km / 6 hrs)
Today we will have another full and interesting day driving throughout Assam to the lively and pretty town of Aizawl, the capital of Mizoram, located just north of the Tropic of Cancer. We will enjoy some time stretching our legs on a walk around the compact city center. Overnight in Aizwal.
Day 06: Reiek
We will have breakfast in our hotel and then take a short drive to Reiek Hill, which sprawls along a prominent mountain 5110 feet above sea level on which Reiek village is located. The mountain itself, though appearing to be of gentle slopes on its eastern sides, has spectacular rocky cliffs filled with caves and caverns on the northern and western sides. The mountain road will take us through the lush green hills, crosses the Tlawng River as it gushes through a narrow rocky gorge, and then climbs up the hills winding up gradually, making for a comfortable drive. We will spend some time walking around a Mizo village and make a soft trek to the peak of the mountain (about 30 minutes uphill trek at leisure), where we will enjoy 360-degree views. Overnight in Aizwal.
Day 07: Chana Pawl and Baktawng
This morning we will depart for Baktawng and visit Chana Pawl along the way, which is a religious sect settled in Baktawng village. The members of the sect do not mind being called a religious sect because they take pride in nurturing the legacy of “Lalpa Kohhran” (God’s church) founded by their ‘godfather’ Chana in 1966. Chana, who was said to have married over 20 women, died in 1997; after him, the legacy of “Lalpa Kohhran” was carried on by his eldest son, Ziona. Ziona, married to 47 wives and father to over 100 children, is responsible for the spiritual, social and economic welfare of all his family members.
Later we will drive back to Aizawl and visit Martarte Thlan en route, which is a striking martyr’s memorial constructed in the memory of volunteers of the Mizo National Army, who sacrificed their lives for the sake of Mizos and Mizoram freedom movement between 1956 and 1986. Overnight in Aizawl.
Day 08: Guwahati (Flight)
After a leisurely breakfast, we will head to Aizawl airport and take a short flight to Guwahati. We will visit the Kamakhya Temple, famous for its religious and archaeological heritage, as well as Nabagraha, an ancient center of astrological and astronomical research.
In the evening we will take a one-hour evening cruise on the River Brahmaputra, one of the major rivers of Asia.
Day 09: Cherrapunjee via Shillong (176km / 5 hrs)
After breakfast drive to Shillong to visit Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous Cultures, which provides a look into the many cultures of Northeast India. Then, after lunch, drive towards Cherrapunjee, where we will stop along the way at Shillong Peak for panoramic views, and Elephant Falls, a two-tier waterfall set in the dingles of the rocks on the outskirts of Shillong.
Cherrapunjee, locally and officially known as Sohra, and apart from being the record holder for the heaviest rainfall, was the headquarters of the Khasi/Jaintia province during British rule, and later shifted to Shillong in 1864, due to the inconvenience caused by excessive rain during the monsoon months. The average rainfall is 12,000 mm a year and the record for a single day was 2455 mm recorded in 1974 confirming it as the “Wettest place on Earth”. Overnight at the Cherrapunjee Holiday Resort in Cherrapunjee.
Day 10: Trek to visit Living Root Bridge (8 hrs)
After a filling breakfast this morning on our seven sisters of India tour, we will embark on what must be one of the most spectacular hikes in the world. We will walk along the meandering edge of the cliff face and then start the descent downwards, trekking through the lush green vegetation. Passing small villages on the way, you will be awestruck by the phenomenal Living Root Bridge. To make a rubber tree’s roots grow in the right direction – such as over a river – the Khasi people use betel nut trunks sliced down the middle and hollowed out to create root-guidance systems. The thin, tender roots of the rubber tree prevented from fanning out by the betel nut trunks grow straight out. When they reach the other side of the river, they’re allowed to take root in the soil. Given enough time, a sturdy living bridge is produced.
The root bridges, some of which are over a hundred feet long, take ten to fifteen years to become fully functional but they’re extraordinarily strong – strong enough that some of them can support the weight of fifty or more people at a time. Because they are alive and still growing the bridges actually gain strength over time – and some of the ancient root bridges used daily by the people of the villages around Cherrapunji are well over five hundred years old.
After a picnic lunch, we will start the climb back up, stopping off at one of the natural pools for a swim. Wander back through the villages dotted along the hillside back to the Cherrapunjee Resort.
*NOTE: This trek requires a high level of fitness. Alternatively, less arduous treks can be arranged to other living root bridges.
Day 11: Cherrapunjee and Shillong (56km / 2 hrs)
This morning we will explore around Cherrapunjee, visiting the Thangkharang Park (from where one can see the plains of Bangladesh), Mawsmai Cave, where we will admire the low passages of the 150m-long natural limestone formation, and the Nohkalikai Falls, which is set among the lush green hills and is the tallest plunge waterfall in India at 1115 feet.
Later we will drive back to Shillong, and in the afternoon, walk around Barra Bazar, or Lewduh. The name of this marketplace means ‘the market of common people’ in local parlance, which is justified by the huge presence of natives. A special thing about this market is that most of the shopkeepers are women from local villages. Overnight in Shillong.
Day 12 & 13: Kaziranga National Park
After breakfast this morning on our seven sisters of India tour, we will drive roughly 320km (7-hours) to the stunning Kaziranga National Park.
A paradise for the greater one-horned rhino, as well as a haven for birders, the area comprises of 860 square km and is rich in flora and fauna. It is one of the places with the highest population density of the Royal Bengal Tiger, Asiatic elephant, Asiatic Wild Buffalo and Swamp Deer. Other species include sambar, hog deer and hoolock gibbons. We will check into our lodge, our base for the next two nights, and go for a leisurely walk along the banks of Diphlu River.
On our second morning, we will rise early and head to the entrance of Kaziranga, where we will take a safari on elephant back through the Central Range area of the park, which is very good for mammal sightings as well as birds (Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Great Hornbill, Rufous Woodpecker). After lunch, we will begin a jeep ride in a different range of the park. The Western Range has the highest density of rhinos, as this part is swampier with extensive Haemarthia compressa stands. It is also good for grassland birds and raptors (Swamp Francolin, Pallas’s Fish-Eagle). Smooth-coated otters are sometimes seen fishing in the ox-bow lakes.
Day 14: Majuli via Jorhat (115km / 3 hrs + 1½ hrs ferry)
After breakfast we drive to Neamati Ghat near Jorhat to take a ferry to Majuli Island. This island is the largest inhabited river island in the world and the seat of Vaishnava culture in Assam.
The Mishing are the riverine plain tribes of Assam, which is the second largest group of scheduled tribe of the state. As a riverine tribe, they construct their houses on stilts about five feet from the ground which is about 30 – 40 meter in length. In the evening, we walk around a nearby Mising village. Overnight in Majuli Island.
Day 15: Majuli Island
Today we will spend a full day around Majuli, where we will visit villages known for pottery and mask making. We will drive to visit the ‘satras’ and interact with the monks and may get the opportunity also to witness a satra dance performance demonstrated by the monks. Later we will also explore around the shoreline in a boat to view birds and see the sunset on the river. Overnight in Majuli Island.
Day 16: Ziro (130km / 5 hrs + 30 min ferry)
This morning we will venture to Ziro, in central Arunachal Pradesh, where en route we will visit villages inhabited by the Nishi tribes. The Nishis are a proud hill tribe, considered independent, and turbulent during the British “Raj”. They live in “long houses” and each may shelter up to 20 families. They are individualistic – the society has no chiefs, and no council of elders. They have a strong belief in different spirits – good and evil, each with assigned habitat. The spirits are placated by sacrifice of animals.
Ziro is home to the Apatani tribes and it is located in an extremely picturesque valley called Apatani Plateau, surrounded by pine-covered mountains. The Apatani tribes themselves are Ziro’s greatest attraction. The older men-folk tie their hair in top-knots and tattoo their faces. Apatani women wear wooden nose plugs and also tattoo their faces. However, a new generation of Apatani men and women have stopped this since early 1970s, so the elder generation are primarily the last surviving people that practice this tradition. The Apatani are good cultivators and practice both wet and terrace cultivation, and the field work is done entirely by iron hoes, digging sticks and batons. Later in the evening we will visit an interesting local market. Overnight in Ziro.
Day 17: Ziro
We will explore the Ziro valley by visiting the villages of the Apatani tribe. When walking through the streets of Hong, Hija, Bula, Hari or Duta, we will see the rows of terraced houses and meet the locals to learn about the people and their customs. The highlight of the day will be arts and craft – The Babo and lapang, the totem and animist ritual sacrificial altars and totem poles, the cane backpack, the head gears of Apatani tribe. Later we will visit a local museum and emporium. Overnight in Ziro.
Day 18: Daporijo
This morning we will begin our long journey to Daporijo (160km / 7 hours) where along the way we will visit the remote Hill Miri and Tagin villages, the main tribes of this area. For some villages we will have to cross old bamboo suspension bridges.
The Tagins are very volatile and independent people, and had a history of massacring outsiders (the last of which was in 1953). They are known to grow tobacco and are habitual smokers as well as expert hunters and use poison from plants for arrows. Selling of land is considered taboo, as they believe the presiding spirit is likely to be annoyed and bring misfortune. On arrival in Daporijo, and after dinner, we will have the evening at leisure to relax or stroll the town after a full day. Overnight at the Hotel Singhik in Daporijo.
Day 19: Aalo (150km / 7 hrs)
Today we will be heading to the land of the Adi tribes, meaning “hill man” or “man of hill”, is one of the largest tribes of Arunachal Pradesh and a very prosperous tribe who still prefer to live in traditional broad huge houses made of bamboo, cane and wood and the are known for their unique architecture and designs. The religion of the Adi is centered on Donyi-Polo, the Sun-Moon god, who is regarded as the eye of the world. They believe in the world of spirits and perform ceremonies to appease malignant ones to ward off the evil. Aalo is set amid a brilliant surroundings with impenetrable forests, wide rivers, deep gorges, beautiful villages and a plantation. Overnight in Aalo.
Day 20: Aalo
After the previous long day of travel, we will have a relaxed and enjoyable day focusing on exploring the villages around this fascinating area and meeting the unique tribal people, as well as visiting a local market. Overnight in Aalo.
Day 21: Dibrugarh (220km + ferry / 7 hrs)
Today we start our journey to Dibrugarh, known as the “Tea City of India,” where along the way we will cross the mighty Brahmaputra River by ferry, one of the major rivers of Asia. Overnight at the Mancotta Tea Bungalow in Dibrugarh.
Day 22: Mon via Sibsagar (180km / 6 hrs)
After breakfast, we will drive to Sibsagar, the old capital of the Ahoms who ruled Assam for 600 years before the arrival of the British into these parts. A number of old monuments built by them remain; the most significant being the huge man-made tank ‘Sibsagar’ from which the town got its name. We will also visit Shiva Dol – a popular temple with a nearby tank build during the Ahom reign. Later we will continue on to Mon. This district is inhabited by the Konyak tribe, who are are seen as the most traditional of the sixteen Naga tribes. They have given up their head-hunting ways, but still lives in a very traditional lifestyle. Overnight at the Paramount Guesthouse in Mon.
Day 23: Mon & Longwa Village
We will head towards the border of India and Myanmar to Longwa. The traditional lifestyle still prevails in this village. Konyak is adapt artisan and skilled craftsman; here you can find excellent woodcarvings, guns and gunpowder, head brushes, necklaces and other bead ornaments, bone carvings, and tribal weapons such as decorated machete, muzzleloader guns and spears. Overnight at the Paramount Guesthouse in Mon.
Day 24: Mokokchung (270km / 7-8 hours)
Today we will make our long and scenic drive to Mokokchung in the north-central Nagaland. This district is inhabited by the Ao Naga tribe. Overnight in Mokokchung.
Day 25: Mokokchung
After breakfast, we will head to nearby villages of the Ao Naga tribes, where we will visit the Ungma, Longkhum and Settsu villages. Racially the Ao Nagas are Mongolians, therefore all Mokokchung villagers are Mongolians and is believed to have migrated from the Far East. There are five clans within the village — Pongener, Longkumer, Jamir, Atsongchanger and Kechutzar. Overnight in Mokokchung.
Day 26: Kohima via Touphema (175km / 7 hrs)
A long and interesting day is ahead today as we journey to Kohima. En route we will visit the villages of the Angami Naga in Touphema. Kohima is perched at an altitude of 1444 above sea level, a pretty and unspoilt hill station, with panoramic views of the rugged Naga Hills. It is the land of the Angami Naga tribe, which is one of the major tribe in Nagaland. Angamis were traditionally warriors, and in the past the Angami men spent the majority of their time in warfare with hostile villages and taking heads. Kohima had witnessed the fiercest fighting during WWII. Overnight in Kohima.
Day 27 & 28: Hornbill Festival
We will begin our morning with a visit to Khonoma village and the war cemetery. Later we will spend the first of two days (surely a major highlight of this tour) enjoying the exotic Hornbill Festival.
The Hornbill Festival is a premier event celebrating Nagaland’s rich culture and traditions where sixteen Naga tribes unite for one explosive festival. It is held every year only in December. Overnight in Kohima.
Day 29: Loktak Lake (196km / 6-7 hrs)
After breakfast this morning on our seven sisters of India tour, we will begin our long journey to Loktak Lake, which is the largest freshwater lake in India and is known as the only floating lake in the world due to the floating phumdis (which is a mass of vegetation, soil, and organic matters at various stages of decomposition) on it. Because of this unique feature, this is also home to the endangered Sangai or Manipur brow-antlered deer. In the evening we will enjoy the beautiful sunset over the lake. Dinner and overnight at the Sendra Resort at Loktak Lake.
Day 30: Loktak Lake & Keibul Lamjao National Park
Today we visit the Keibul Lamjao National Park (the one and only floating national park in the world) early in the morning to have the best possible chance of sighting the highly endangered Sangai Deer – also known as “Dancing Deer of Manipur”. Later we will visit Indian National Army (INA) Museum in Moirang before boarding our boat to explore the various parts of Loktak, especially the people living on phumdis, and also visit Karang – a lake island village where we will explore the life and traditions of the local people. Overnight at the Sendra Resort at Loktak Lake.
Day 31: Imphal via Andor
In the morning we will head to the village of Andro, one of the oldest in Manipur, where we will visit the Cultural Heritage Complex. Here the practice of fire worshiping is still continued in the temple of Panam Ningthou. It is prepared in turn by every house-hold member of the village. The community of Andro has occupied a major portion in the map of traditional pot making culture. They still preserve the traditional rituals and norms relating to the process of pot making. Moreover, the villagers are nature loving people and always maintain a good relation with nature to keep a pollution free ecosystem. In brief, we can call the village as the living heritage village. Interact with the villagers and see pottery making. Return to Imphal. Time permitting also visit Kangla Fort. Dinner and overnight in Imphal.
Day 32: Imphal and departure
This morning we will visit the Shree Govindajee Temple, the Imphal War Cemetery, which has 1,600 Commonwealth burials of World War II, and the 150-year-old Ima Keithel (Mothers’ Market), which is managed entirely by 3500+ women and where Manipuri women sell traditional wares sitting on raised platforms. Later we will transfer to Imphal International Airport for a flight to Delhi or Kolkata.