Raindance in Meghalaya

Monsoons of Meghalaya have the power to captivate all hearts. The Nature in motion with some of the heaviest rainfall on earth create some of the prettiest vistas and the most gorgeous waterfalls in Meghalaya during monsoons. If winters and springs of Meghalaya are ideal for photography, monsoons of Meghalaya are ideal for filming the boisterous rain. The thrill begins when the clouds show up midway, and in some places, you may also get to actually drive through the clouds. Embrace the rains and clouds in the wettest place of our planet. You may sneeze, cough and run for medicines later, but all will be forgiven for experiencing the thrill. Rain is not a spoilsport here, it only calls out the locals for a game of football. These places in Meghalaya look most amazing during monsoons.

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Cherrapunjee (Sohra, East Khasi Hills)

The white-marked, coal-black, polished roads of Meghalaya that twist and turn with style, look even cleaner during monsoons with the regular wash of rain. While you are having your Formula 1 moment with your shades on or off, hair flown back or set, have a picture or two at the earliest chance you get because clouds have a habit of playing pranks and throwing surprises in this part of Khasi hills. The ever-changing state of the clouds and lavish rain can give a variety of shots and videos to fill your memory card. And the waterfalls on the way throwing up the bulk, you can’t have a gorgeous monsoon than in Cherrapunjee, where even the rocks seem to be strategically placed to enhance the beauty. Waterfalls like Nohkalikai Falls and Nohsngithiang Falls (7 sisters falls) etc., look best during monsoon. While the clouds make you blind, waterfalls make you deaf and of course dumb too, (for the sound of the waterfalls will surely overpower your cries) cry your heart out and dance like nobody’s watching you! This place as a summer retreat can drench all the heat.

Mawsynram (East Khasi Hills):

If you know Mawsynram for the garrulous Mawsynram falls only (for being the fourth largest in the world), well this place tops the chart unofficially for the rains. Yes, it does, with an average of 11,872mm (about 39 ft) that makes it the wettest place on earth, though Cherrapunjee is recorded as the receiver of highest rainfall as there is no meteorological department in this area. If the envelope of mist allows, you’ll find yourself covered in lush green on the most majestic rocks and waterfalls. The market is busy and you will have to maneuver your umbrella through the sea of them in the market. You may see the rain children braving their bones against the rain unaffected, playing football or betting on arrows all drenched. Mawsynram has a lot of caves too. Of all the caves in Mawsynram, Mawjymbuin Cave is well known for the stalagmites, one of which has taken the shape of a massive Shiva Linga. But caves cannot be visited during monsoons as water enters the caves, however, waterfalls are the best during the season.

Laitlum (East Khasi Hills):

Aloof but in peace, the less visited Laitlum Canyons give a closer look at the gorges and hills. This place looks more beautiful during monsoons as it is greener this season. The whole of the plateau can be covered on foot. It’s amazing to get to see every edge of the tableland within walkable range and then to stand at the edge and feel at the top of the world alongside the enormous hills. Whenever the sky is clear of clouds, you can see the depth of the gorges or see the rain feeding the streams. The interesting thing about the rain of Meghalaya is that it rains mostly in the morning. So when you cross the Smit village that falls on the way to the Laitlum Canyon it may rain. Of course, you can’t predict rain in the abode of clouds, but just for the sake of informing you that if it rains just before reaching the 100-year-old Ing Sad of Smit, you will see a greener row of pine trees and a shinier path to the palace. Both Smit and Laitlum are near the style icon of Meghalaya, Shillong that is, so passing through these places on the same day gives you all the tastes -of fashion, culture, and grandness of nature.

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Image source: https://www.holidify.com/blog/must-do-things-in-meghalaya/

Mawlyngbna (East Khasi Hills):

Mawlyngbna was once a part of the ocean bed. So when this place evolved into a land, it brought up with it the secrets of the sea. Fossils of sea animals, carnivorous plants that can be seen rarely though (as they have become endangered now) on the way while canyoning and trekking keep reminding one of the ocean floor that it was. Formations on the rocks that look like footprints of huge animals (which is also explained in the folklore that says that this place was a marketplace of the animals in the past), and ‘the Law Adong’ (a forest preserved by the villagers) all of this, along with the beauty of the place makes it enticing for the tourists. The villagers participate in the tourism of the place to give the tourists a complete yet a non-touristy experience. The waterfalls are more active during monsoons and the rivers pass by the beautiful rocks and greenery more swiftly. Clouds are always in action to participate in the surprise party of the ocean bed. What better place than this can be to add to the checklist of summer retreat.

Nongriat (East Khasi Hills):

“You need some rain for the rainbows”. This line that I saw on a website comes to my mind when Nongriat comes to mind. The view of the village downwards while trekking down 3000 steps to Nongriat is no way less beautiful than your willpower to trek it. If you count the deal of trekking down the stairs to how much you get in return under the envelope of lush green, butterflies of all size, and colours enchanting you midway, and insects consistently adding life to the arena, till you reach the extraordinarily indigenous living root bridges, your returns exceed way too much. And if counting the stairs alone would make you tired, then you have another task of counting, of the time taken for root bridges to grow. The Khasi and Jaintia tribe build bridges by guiding roots of rubber tree through hollow canes that take 10 to 15 years to grow. Only root bridges could stand the heavy rain of the place. The Living Root Bridges of Meghalaya are recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites. Take a look at the village of Nongriat that glisten in the dew and rain, fresh and full of life and share the happiness of the earth and wisdom of the elders.

Nongkhnum Island (West Khasi Hills)

To get to set foot on the grasses so less trodden and a sight that just seems like being freshly created for you, may make you feel like Adam or Eve. The Nongkhnum Island near Nongstoin, that is very less discovered even by the dwellers, has all the advantages of not being inhabited. The river Kynshi creates some of the most majestic beaches,
lakes and falls to make this place seem like ‘heaven on earth’. The valleys are beautiful with very few inhabitants. Lakes are full of fishes and falls are maddening, especially during monsoon.

The valley tilts downwards from the point where Weinia Fall starts so that one can walk down the hill along the fall, to see the fall from a closer distance. The fall and the rocks shaping each other look splendid. The state of mind that is aimed in meditation (i.e., the zero state of mind) is brought in seconds by the deafening waterfall. The mind frees itself from all the thoughts (even the thought of how grand the waterfall is), and one would just want to keep on lading looking at it. The route makes it possible for the onlooker to see the powerful fall from so close that it almost feels like sharing the aura of the waterfall. And all of it doesn’t end here. If you were awestruck by the closeness of the Weinia Falls, you will have your wish of being a part of it fulfilled by the War Falls, where you can walk in to. And if you are not done with the waterfalls yet, you can move on for some more till you get to see Langshiang Falls in Nongstoin, which is the highest waterfall in Meghalaya.

P.S: While you may have thought after reading this post that these places do not have a scarcity of water, let me tell you drinking water s scarce here. Especially in the elevated areas. That’s because drinking water has to be brought from the lowlands where it gets deposited.

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Monasteries in Arunachal Pradesh

What better place can you find to meditate if not in the camaraderie of the monasteries and the gigantic beauty of Himalayas? This freezing point when mellowed by the sun unveils beautiful lakes and forests to which the prayer flags blow out countless “Om Mani Padme Hum”. When you become deaf to the perils of your limbs and focus on what’s in store after the beautiful passes, and realize that only happiness matters than anything else, you have already excelled in Tai Chi with your own energy! Now let the monasteries pacify your palpitating heart. Turn the prayer wheel for yourself to spread the message of peace.  To the mosaic of truth and enlightenment from which the followers sometimes meander, bring in all the positive energy and learn the secret of being content in life. Reach out to the highest level of meditation. Make it to Arunachal Pradesh at least once in a lifetime and bask in the peaceful beauty of the monasteries embellishing the snow.

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As Lord Buddha preached Buddhism here, people mostly follow Buddhism in Arunachal. The pre-Buddhism faith of many tribes added elements of Bon religion/animism to Buddhism. Altogether six sects of Buddhism is practiced in Arunachal Pradesh. The Tawang festival organized by the tourism department does showcase the monastic tribe through fairs, but a natural doze from the monasteries and the locals is an experience richer than an event. Like the Mahayana sect of Buddhism that is vivid with narrations and beautiful elements of Bon-religion can be experienced closely only by witnessing the locals’ daily rituals and festivals.

The Grandeurs:

The Samten Yongcha monastery in Mechuka, Arunachal Pradesh is 400 years old. The Mahayana sect of Buddhism practiced here makes for an exhibition of color with lots of statues and masks for narrations. The statue and paintings of Guru Padmasambhava can be seen here. Not as old but big enough to be called the biggest in India and second biggest in the world is Tawang Monastery. Beautiful paintings decorate the entrance of the monastery. The fifth Dalai Lama has contributed in the construction of this monastery. The 26 feet high statue of Buddha here is the largest statue of Lord Buddha in Arunachal Pradesh. There is also a monastery in Bomdila which is not too old and has similarity with the design of Tsona Gontse monastery of Tibet. The Bomdila monastery has three Gompas and Blue Medicine Buddha. The Golden Pagoda at Thengapani looks beautiful with all the 13 golden domes, 12 sub-domes and 1 main dome at the center. Not only is the gold painted monastery beautiful but the statue of Buddha is also one of the most beautiful statues. 15 km from Rupa village, in West Kameng District, sequestered in the dense beauty of nature and Buddhist art is the Chillipam Gompa. This colorful gompa brightens another corner of the Himalaya with its beautiful art and carvings.

Enchanting the air:

Enchanting more around the rainforests and the mountains are the stupas of Zemithlang, for which you’ll be winding through the roads of mystery. It is said that the Gorsam Chorten stupa was built like the Swayambhunath temple of Kathmandu by Lama Sangye Pradhar to ward off evil spirit. The fourteenth Dalai Lama took rest first in this place after entering India from Tibet. Driving through Zemithlang to Tawang is like disappearing into the steep curves and slopes of the Himalayas. The roads are cut in the mountains in such a way that you only tend to see mountains and sky while driving on the interesting dissection on the foothills. At some turns, the roads seem to disappear into the sky until you drive up into the maze. The houses look interesting. You get a bit of the lifestyle of the locals by merely looking at the fire woods piled and stacked under the space made below roofs or organized outside the houses. You may also see the beer bottles piled like the fire woods that show how the people make the chilling weather a boon. In this beauty cut through the rocks stands high the Gorsam Chorten stupa. The adorns the village of Zemithlang beautifully, giving in more towards the magical experience of the place. This stupa is opened once every 12 years for the public to climb up.  The 100 feet tall Stupa captures the aura of Lord Buddha in the eyes of Buddha painted just below the pyramid of the dome. The largest stupa of the Northeast, Gorsam Chorten has mysteries about its age just like the Zemithlang village it is in. The people of the village has many interesting stories to tell you. Their beliefs and superstitions add a lot of character to the village.

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Gorsam Chorten (Image source: http://www.travelstory.in/threads/10-Exotic-Travel-Known-and-Unknown-Western-Arunachal-and-Nameri-Assam/page5)

low angle shot of the temple
Photo by Jake Young on Pexels.com

Swayambhunath temple, Kathmandu.

Freezing the past:

Without much of the architectural grandeur, but with much religious significance the Urgelling monastery and Lhagyala Gompa sit solemnly holding history and beauty. Lhagya Gompa was found in the 7th century by Kachen Lama. With the huge mountains at one side and the beautiful Morshing valley on the other, it is a sight to behold. The Gompa reserves the treasures and relics of the religion. Not just that, it also proposes to preserve the nature as the Mon-Lhagyala Buddist Cultural Society has banned hunting and exploitation of the forests around. Like the Lhagyala Gompa the Urgelling Gompa is not amplified much with modernity, but the prayer flags, make it colorful and the old trees revere this Gompa just like it was revered earlier, as a birthplace of the 6th Dalai Lama. This temple was held high for worship as a birthplace of the 6th Dalai Lama Tsangyang Gyatso till his deposition by an emperor of China. It is said that, when the 6th Dalai Lama had to leave, he buried his walking stick and said he would return when three trunks from it would grow to equal length. It is believed that actually happened and he returned as the 14th Dalai Lama.  When you know that this temple has so much history you long for its walls to speak.

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image source: http://www.arunachalonline.in/about/tourism/religious-spots

The two Gompas may not be festooned as much as they adorn the pages of history but they deserve a visit as remnants of the 7th century and 15th-century glory. Your eyes would not have observed each brick, had they been freshly painted with loud architectural patterns. The moss on them, the bright color against the remnant of the 7th and the 15th-century construction, the big trees and strings of prayer flags calling out to the sky, the big mountains, the valleys and the forests, they all have stories to tell. The modest-looking Gompas can give you a rich experience when you try to meditate with them and get lost in the beauty of nature and the reel of time. To know more about the old Gompas that has so many stories, contemplate. Do something you haven’t done for long –talk to yourself. Discover the age of the place from the moss. Go back to see how bygones looked like and how far we have moved since then. Identify the tree that was once a walking stick of the 6th Dalai Lama who had planted it there and understand the simplicity and faith of the people then. Feel the contrast of the restlessness of the prayer flags against the peace within. Just be in the times they hold. The fact that you love the moment of peace they share tells you this is what they have to offer. A moment to connect to yourself. To validate yourself and validate life and existence.

The Mantra:

The traditional mantra Om Mani Padme Hum which carries all the teachings of Buddha is written in the prayer flags, prayer wheels and carved in the stones and places that can be seen by people. Seeing the inscription of the prayer is considered the same as saying it. The mantra is believed to be said the number of times the prayer wheel spins and the flags flutter.

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The Thangka Art:

The beautiful imprints of Thangka art that can be seen in cutleries, showpieces, and other household goods are the eight auspicious signs to spread a spiritual message. Ashtamangala or the eight auspicious signs that are used in Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism are infinite knots, Lotus, Victory banner, Dharmachakra (fly-whisk in Nepali Buddhism), Treasure vase, Pair of golden fish, Parasol and Conch. These signs embody spiritual teachings, energy and mind power, In Buddhism, it is believed that the gods offered this eight symbols of good fortune to Shakyamani Buddha after he gained enlightenment. The art looks creatively placed in the household and public items, but it is made with set rules and patterns from which an artist cannot deviate. The symbols not only have attributed to life through different interpretation, but they also help in meditation. The Thangka art and the interpretation of the auspicious signs are a part of the monastic education along with other aspects of Buddhism. The Monpa tribe who is believed to be the only nomadic tribe in the Northeast with the touch of animism, adds more unique patterns to the thangka art. The wood carvings and carpet designs of the Monpa tribes have nomadic elements along with thangka art that make them stand out.

These are only a few of the Gompas in Arunachal Pradesh. Northeast India never falls short of such interesting facts. I will come back with some more of this. Until then, Tashi Delek!

Dambuk breaking free

You pack your bag for the most awaited destination. You plan like a pro to not miss even the best sunset you’ve once seen in a picture and thought you’d make it. And your perfect schedule was ruined by choosing the wrong time of the year when clouds never let the sun appear or maybe because the meadow or the roads you’ve seen is now submerged. Wouldn’t it be good if someone had warned you before or made this information available? Keeping that in mind, I want to be that someone for Dambuk. Let me help you in deciding the best time to visit Dambuk (which mostly remain landlocked) in Arunachal Pradesh.

Dambuk has Orange Festival of Music and Adventure, orange orchards, Adi village and a river bed that remains flooded during monsoons and dries up and glisten like pearl dust for ATV rides during winters. You’ll love all of them. But if you want the juiciest oranges winter is the season. At the start of monsoon two rivers, Dibang and Sisar break in from east and west. From April till late October, the place remains cut-off as the two rainfed rivers submerge the roads. The beauty of the place manifolds, and so does the difficulty of lives. Boats become the only mode of transportation, but for the rivers of the mountain, the boats seem rickety. Everything has a pause, or a slow-down –cultivation, farming, transportation.

People still come to visit the place on elephant backs to get a submerged view of the place. (Please use other modes of communication if possible). This place is worth visiting even otherwise for an experience of the local Idu Mishimi and Adi tribe’s culture. Even without the orange festival, there are too many things going on to keep you busy. From fishing by the riverside to weaving and rice wine making tutorials, you have them all. After you’ve surveyed the orange orchards or the ruins of the battle between the active Adis and British, you may also come up with community bamboo house building parties in this village between the rivers. You can see the in-house production of the bamboos crafts and clothes in the beautiful Adi village. The orange orchards fill all the blanks of the village between the mountains.

 

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The Orange festival of Adventure and Music (OFAM) may not be as organized as the orange orchards, but it serves a lot in covering the stoned economy during monsoon. The four days’ festival is held just before spring, during the season of the fruit, which attracts a lot of tourists from the world. That’s an inside story. The real thing is, the tangy jest of the citrus has a kick to make you jump into action. And while your adrenaline is already pumped up in the rocky terrain archery, zip lining, mud run, ATV rides, white water rafting, motocross and orange run does justice. You can’t take rest yet, for your spirit would be already high for a rock concert too. This festival has a line-up of local, national and international artists performing live. You’ll love to have a large piece of music with the hot-dog of your choice. This is a meeting point for the music lovers and the artists. Join them, cheer for them and cry your heart out with a spirit higher than the mountains itself (or keep it for the Ziro music festival). You will want to stay awake on all the four days of the festival. Go back to sleep with the sounds of the ATVs still buzzing and sand from the motor race still blurring your view, in your countless dreams after the festival, till you come back again.

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The infant event does let you have some mini Utah life and a mini Ziro zest. And if you are just interested in the oranges and a rural life, it’s always there. The Adis also celebrate Aran in March that promises a festive spirit.  Just chose the time right to get what you want.

 

Explore Salt Lake City on ATVs

 

 

If we say Salt Lake City is most populous and you ask why is everyone moving to Utah, we would probably say to ride on and off road. Salt Lake City has terrains and imprints of history that makes exploration a part of the deal when you simply visit the city. Of course with all the mountains and the hustle around it’s impossible for the adrenaline to stay calm till it gets a hit. And ATV rentals in Salt Lake City are efficiently catering to that spirit to keep you in your sports gear all day long. Why Salt Lake City? Because you can also explore the city on ATV.

The mountainous county has many temples and statues and Mormon and non-Mormon cultural co-existence. There’s a lot to see. Have you considered exploring the city on ATV? Let’s check these exciting ATV trails in and around Salt Lake City.

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Photo by Archie Binamira on Pexels.com

Wasatch Mountain State Park.

An ATV ride into the vast fields that turn out to be an elevated flatland and you get to dive into the greener flat land that takes you to the sand dunes till you come up to a peak that overlooks a wetland. You stop for a view before you blow off the sands till the water splash on your face, and you move on for more.. that’s Wasatch Mountain, State Park. An ultimate ATV experience. Let the sun rise and set on you, and you’ll still not be done. The never-ending Uinta Wasatch Cache National forest that extends into Wyoming has landscapes covering the mountains and the foothills that get you to master yourself to test every bone and taste every bit of the landscape. The terrain makes it even engaging for an ATV ride with different levels of difficulty. Atv ride Knolls OHV Area has everything you can even challenge the snow.

 

Arapeen ATV trails of Central Utah:

The moderately elevated landscapes of Central Utah has more Panorama and extensive rides than challenges. You’ll love to see the small hills and plains forming beautiful landscapes while getting a chance to cruise in between. In the alpines, you’ll get to see the remains of the Highest Columbian Mammoth discovered. Apart from exploring history, you can go up the accessible hills and enjoy the view of the small towns and wonderful vistas. This part lets you enjoy your ATV ride more with the thrilling views and facts from history.

Paiute ATV trail:

Another beautiful and extensive ATV trail in central Utah that meets the need of both nature lover and adventurer. The terrains have difficulty levels starting from easy to hard. It is best to get a map and the guidance from the ATV rentals to explore every corner of it. The mountains and plains combine to form different patterns and you would love to get lost to explore something you think you’ve probably never seen. The Fishlake National forest nearby and the Millsite Park (which is also nearby the Arapeen ATV trails) are some places you can ride up to.

Moab’s Poison Spider:

A rocky terrain that makes you ride up rocks so steep that you face the sky. When you challenge yourself to cross the huge stairs of rock, you may have to stop for a  while to appreciate the formations and snow peak mountains, for that can’t be done while maneuvering the tires through the steep rocks. You’ll need focus more than thrill. The best part is when you move up to the edge of a  rock till you meet the horizon and you have to ride down the slop, you realize you’re not done yet. There’s more.

 Tour to the lost civilization of the Anasazi Indians:

While Uinta Wasatch Cache National forest gives you a challenge, a tour to the lost civilization of the Anasazi Indians will make to see the dust flying with more purpose and solidity. Your ATV ride will include some major sightseeings -of canyons and bluffs. You can tear through the rocks for more of the enormous rock formations and tableland that will give your ATV experience a Herculean feel. The remains of the village and the humongous cliffs will linger as a part of your ATV expedition memories. If you are in Salt Lake Lake city don’t miss the ATV rides to have this otherworldly experience. About the ATV rentals to this part though, information is very less. Very few offer service to this place.

Coral Pink Sand Dunes of Utah:

Blow the dust and blur the view of the table land at the horizon till it opens up to marvelous vistas. Find Wire Passes or go to the Lower Craft Creek Falls slicing down the rocks. The ATV ride along the dotted mountains opens to beautiful views along the way. You won’t miss the Lion Back Moab as much with the all-encompassing nature ride in the Coral Pink Sand Dunes. Especially when the view of the Devil’s Garden entice you. You may want to leave the plains for precipices, or you may want to walk on the enormous rocks. But you’ll not be ready to end the ride.

While you make ATV your basic locomotive, make sure you take the required safety measures. And if you want some time in peace to recollect then go to Antelope Island State Park.

Camping Antelope Island State Park:

You can either visit this place and be back for more around Salt lake city or if you chose can camp on the peaceful island. It’s an open area with never-ending trails for a walk or a horse-ride. It’s best for leisure. Whether you love to watch the herds of Bison or to spend time doing nothing on the beach, your surely love to indulge in simply enjoying the place. If you are done enjoying the view of the beach and the snow peaks, you can trek and explore more about the place –it never ends.

A hidden garden -Dzukou Valley

Why Dzukou Valley…

Nothing can match the wavelength of Dzukou valley’s beauty. It’s unbelievable how the tiny hills look so enchanting like a bubble of beauty -ongoing, within reach and endless. Your heart will have countless leaps when you see the countless hills sometimes covered with Rhododendrons, Lilies and other flowers; sometimes green and softened by the sunrays; and sometimes frozen with snow. Trekking through them is a joyride for all the senses. You can feel the breeze along, chase the clouds and stop by when a puff of fragrance surprise you. Close your eyes and imagine the beauty of the bloom, open your eyes and see how butterflies think alike and be surprised that beauty can be so everlasting!

The Colors…

The hills have a soft velvety look with the carpet of grass. In summers flowers mellow into the horizon and open up to the fellow hills creating a cascade of color. The hills remain covered with flowers from June till September, the Dzukou Lily being the most famous of all. The crystal clear water of the Dzukou and Japfu rivers flowing through the valley will ensure you are in heaven where even the rivers carry dew. Get lost like “Alice in the wonderland” and discover some more of small yet enchanting surprises in the valley -may be a wooden bridge, or a small stream or even see a hill being covered within a minute by mist. And while doing all of these if you reach the Japfu range, have the moment of your life, for you can see the beautiful blooms cheerfully painting the hills and different colors flowing down the huge slopes. Yes, you can live this dream called Dzukou valley for this is real!!

Where is this beauty…

This beautiful valley of flower falls in Nagaland and Manipur in northeast India. The valley does have bitterness spawn by its ownership been claimed by both the states. The valley is spread impartially in the two states. Geographically Manipur has a hold over the valley of flowers with the bigger stretch of it falling within its part, and etymologically the Angami tribe of Nagaland has a hold over the place, as they inhabit the valley.

You can enter the valley through Viswema village in Nagaland or from Mount Isii of Manipur. An Inner Line Permit, ILP is required for Indian domestic tourists to enter Nagaland. So when you have to go to Dzukou valley from Nagaland, you’ll need ILP, which is not required when you go from Manipur. If the valley is nearer to the entry point of Nagaland, Manipur has a bigger area.

Just like it lay open to nature’s artwork, this flowered corner lays open a book of thoughts for the minds to imprint the views. Whether you take the valley’s features as a sign of harmony or to mark demarcation, it is up to you. But the valley holds together both the states and their egos fairly. Interestingly, the name Dzukou Valley is derived from the word “Dzu-Ko” which means soulless and dull. Now that happened because harvesting couldn’t be done here due to harsh weather conditions, and the ancestors called the valley “very beautiful but dull and soulless”.

So can we say that God has made this garden just to be enjoyed and to be happy? And can we say that this valley is the favorite book for our observation, just the way it happens to be the favorite canvas of Nature? Just to observe how God has never planned to have any boundary, all He has planned is happiness you’re bound to have, and we human spoil the plan by finding reasons to be unhappy.

Five National Parks in northeast India you must visit

Did you know how exotic the backyard of colorful India is? If I say that out of 1300 orchid variety found in India, 800 varieties are found in the Northeast just imagine how beautiful will the forests look with the exotic flowers springing out to sight everywhere.

I call this region the country’s backyard because it is connected to India by a small corridor in West Bengal called Siliguri corridor or the ‘Chicken’s Neck’. But this small corridor will lead you to a massive beauty. And when conserved, it has the best of the region catered for nature lovers. So let me name some of the natural museums (I mean National Parks) of the endemic and diversity rich region. Even though I am from northeast India, I haven’t been to all of them. That’s how we are negligent towards what is easily available, even if it is one of a kind.

  1. Keibul Lamjao National Park (Manipur): 

It is the only floating national park in the world. A major portion of the Loktak Lake –the largest freshwater lake in India is in the middle of the park.

Image source: http://www.thehindu.com

The waterway through Keibul Lamjao national park gives access to canoes coming through the Loktak Lake towards the Pabot Lake.

So you can also canoe into the park.

The most interesting part of the lake is the round shaped floating decomposed plant materials called ‘Phumdis’  by locals which form almost 3/4th of the park. The floating mass is created by the accrual of organic garbage and biomass. The swamps touch the ground during the dry season and float up during the monsoons. This park which is too deep to be called marsh, and too shallow, to be called a lake, is surrounded by three hills. Summing up, with all the amazing work this is the final look of the place (a bird’s-eye view).

Image source: northeasttourism.gov.in

The wonder doesn’t end here. Let me tell you a bit about the state animal of Manipur which is conserved in this park. Shanghai or the brow-antlered deer is housed in this park. Sangai was almost on the verge of extinction. It increased from 6 individual to 14 and after continuous and strict conservation measures to around 250 now. This park is the only home in the world for the endangered beauty.

The Manipur Forest department filmed Keibul Lamjao National Park in a documentary “The Return of Sangai” which featured the endangered Sangai –the brow-antlered deer or the dancing deer of Manipur.

*Some trivia about the place:  In Manipuri tradition respecting Sangai means respecting nature, and slaying of Sangai is considered a sin.

What to do: Fishing and canoeing in the peaceful lake with scenic beauty around makes for a richer experience.

What to see: Eld’s deer, Thamin deer, Sangai, otter, large Indian civet, wild boar, Fox, Jungle Cat, Bay Bamboo Rat, Musk Shrew, Flying Fox, Sambar, fishes, and both migratory and resident birds can be seen. During monsoons, most of the animals migrate uphill.

Best time to visit the place: October to April. If you like to see the animals before their drift to the hills, come before the monsoon, if you want to see the ‘Phumdis’ floating come during the monsoons and trek the hills.

How to reach:  The park is accessible by air, rail and road. The nearest Airport is Imphal airport, and the nearest railway station Dimapur.

Where to stay: Hotels are available in and nearby Imphal. Basic accommodation of forest rest house without boarding facilities is available at Phubala and Sendra islands inside the park and at Moirang town not very far from the park.

  1. Namdpha National Park in Arunachal Pradesh:

In India, this is the only park that houses four out of five big cat species found in the country –leopard, snow leopard, clouded leopard, and tiger. This is Namdpha’s pride.

The third largest park in India in terms of area is recognized as one of the richest in biodiversity. Home to a variety of birds, big cats, endangered Hoolock Gibbon and a whole reserve of butterflies, this park became a tiger reserve under the Project Tiger Scheme in 1983.

It is the largest protected area in the Eastern Himalayas. Namdpha stretches along the international border between India and Myanmar.

http://www.jinghpawland.org/

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*Some trivia about the place: The park derives its name from the words ‘Nam’ that means forest and ‘Dapha’ that means keeping. This indicates that forest shouldn’t be cut down. What else can cause the park to be the largest protected area in a region?

What to do: The tallest trees which are almost 150 meters add to the density of the forest making navigation difficult after a certain point. It thus offers challenging trails for trekking.

Image source: taxidiarist.blogspot.in

 What to see: Rare orchids like the Lady’s SlipperBlue VandalFoxtail and Dendrobium are found in this park. Even if you couldn’t make it to the Sessa Orchid Sanctuary, the land of orchid will not disappoint you.

Have chance encounters with any of the Leopards, Snow Leopards, Clouded Leopards, or Tigers, or maybe all of them.

Smaller carnivores like Red Panda, various otters, civet and two mongoose species can be seen.

Herbivores like Indian Elephant, Wild Boar, Musk Deer Indian Muntjac, Hog Deer, Sambar, Gaur, Goral, Serow, Takin, Bharal, Stump-tailed Macaque, Slow Loris, Hoolock Gibbon, Capped Langur, Assamese Macaque, and Rhesus Macaque are found.

The park has about 425 bird species. The park has a very wide variety of butterflies and moths. Have you seen butterflies of your palm size? You will see it here.

Best time to visit: Throughout the year. Every season of Arunachal Pradesh has wonder. The months from November to March is mostly recommended though.

 

How to reach: You can take a flight till Assam. From Assam, you can go by road till Miao. From there one has to take a link road. Yes, it does sound interesting to be linked to a place named ‘Miao’ to get to see a place full of cats. Tinsukia and New Jalpaiguri are the nearest railway stations.

Where to stay: Forest rest houses are available that can be reserved. The forest department also offers campsites in Bul-bulia, Haldibari, Hornbill, Rani Jheel and Firmbase, near Noa Dihing River.

  1. The Murlen National Park in Mizoram:

The Murlen National Park which falls in Champai district and is adjacent to Lengteng National Park is one of a kind, surrounded by six caves, small rivulets and brooks, and precipices. The total area of the park is around 200 sq km. The park has evergreen and semi-evergreen forest where some of the trees are about 350 years old.  The forest is so thick that in the area of about 80 sq. km only 1% of the sun rays can penetrate on a sunny day. Thus, gaining the name ‘losing area of seven fellow-man’ where not even a single ray of light is seen. So if you get ready to get lost in a Harry Potter forest, just avoid this spot. Stick to the caves and precipices.

Image source: thenortheasttoday.com

One visiting this park can also visit Phawngpui National Park that has the magnificent shaped Thlazuang Kham cliff. The cliff has a sight every trekker would want to behold. The mountains of Phawngpui are mostly covered with a thin stretch of cloud because of which it is also called Blue Mountain National Park.

Image source: thenortheasttoday.com

*Some trivia from the place: The conservation of animals faced challenges due to the tradition of hunting for New Year’s feast. But the government was successful in stopping the practice of hunting by 2010.

What to do: 

The forest has peaks, rivers, caves, and plains which makes trekking a complete experience.

What to see:

Birds: Birds such as Humes Bar-tailed Pheasant, Kallej Pheasant, Grey Peacock-Pheasant.

Image source: www.flickr.com/photos/36917655@N08/4432553087) – Grey Peacock-Pheasant

Animals: the Bengal tiger, Hoolock Gibbon, Serrow, Ghoral, Leopard, Himalayan Black Bear, Sambar, Barking Deer, Malayan Giant Squirrel, Rhesus Macaque, Common Partridges, Hill Myna, Dark-rumped Swift and Wild Boar.

Best time to visit: The park is over throughout the year. This park is full of orchids, so visiting during spring is best to see most of the orchid varieties.

How to reach: The park is situated near Aizawl. Nearest airports are Aizawl and Shillong. The nearest rail station is Silchar. By road, Aizawl is connected with the rest of the country through Silchar. Buses and taxis are available from Silchar to Aizawl.

Where to stay: There are a number of hotels in Aizawl.

  1. Kaziranga National Park:

There is enough information about this park in Assam, hence we will keep it short. But if you haven’t been here yet, plan a trip soon. This world heritage site hosts two-thirds of the world’s one-horned Rhinoceroses. Kaziranga National also has the highest density of tigers among the protected areas in the world and was declared a tiger reserve in 2006.

image source: http://www.kaziranga-national-park.com

An orchid park which was opened in 2015 will give an easy access to get to see most variety of orchids at one place.

*Some trivia about the place: This Park has three different types of vegetation, from marshlands to grasslands (with tall elephant grass) to broad-leafed forests. The park has only three seasons -summer, monsoon and winter.

What to do: Jeep Safari. While spotting other endangered animals spot as many rhinoceroses as you can because they are found the most here.

What to see: This is the oldest sanctuary and the forest has grasslands, marshes and shallow pools. You can see one-horned Rhinoceros and Swamp Deer –the only place where Swamp Deer is found.

Best time to visit: The park remains closed from mid-April to mid-October due to monsoons, so anytime other than this period.

Image source: http://www.nenow.in

How to reach: Jorhat and Dimapur are the nearest airports from Kaziranga. Furkating is the nearest railway station. It is connected by road through NH 37.

Where to stay: There are a number of resorts in Kaziranga.

  1. Manas National Park:

Located at the base of the foothills of Himalaya and extending itself into Bhutan, it is a tiger and elephant reserve. The extended part in Bhutan is called Royal Manas National Park. Manas Wildlife Sanctuary was declared a sanctuary in 1928 and in 1985 it was designated as a World Heritage site.

The best thing about the place is the river Manas flowing through it and the Himalayas surrounding the rich habitat.

image source: www.indiamart.com

*Some trivia about the place:  The sanctuary was initially a reserve forest used by the Cooch Behar royal family and Raja of Gauripur as a hunting reserve. Later the area was increased and declared a sanctuary. It was also declared a World Heritage due to poaching and terrorist activities, but later was removed from the list of danger and was commended for its preservation efforts.

What to do: Go for a jeep safari, capture the royal beast proudly splashing the water if you are lucky to find it being sporty in the water (I am only saying so because of the picture above –lucky photographer!), or see the elephants basking in the sun or go for river rafting in Manas River that flows through the park.

What to see: Manas wildlife sanctuary is home to a great variety of wildlife like Tiger, Golden Langur, Wild Buffalo, Hispid Hare, Pigmy Hog, Capped Langur, Indian One-horned Rhinoceros, Elephant, Gaur, Hog Deer, etc.

Manas has 55 species of mammal out of which 21 are India’s Schedule 1 mammal and 31 of them are endangered.

Image source: http://www.tripoto.com

Best time to visit: Throughout the year. Monsoons make the river swell, Winters make the Himalayas beautiful, and springs make everything bloom.

How to reach: It is close to Guwahati Airport. It is also close to Jorhat, Dibrugarh and Bagdogra. By rail, the nearest station is Barpeta road railway station and New Bongaigaon railway station. It is connected by road by NH 31.

Where to stay: Hotels and resorts are easily available near the park.

Kaju village: Shyly tucked up in the Himalayas

In this website, I plan to discuss the unpopular places that turn out to be hidden gems. So far I am mostly aware of the places in northeast India, so I’ll start with them. When I plan on picking up unseen places to talk about why not start with the one which many haven’t heard of much.  Any information that is available on the internet about the village is blocked by the wrongly spelled name of the place as Kabu village. The correct name is Kaju village. So yes, I am going to start my website with a blog on Kaju village in Arunachal Pradesh. You may find it strange that I’ve left so many happening places for this. But those who’ve been there will know why I did that.

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Image source: https://media.gettyimages.com/photos/extremely-long-hanging-suspension-bridge-made-of-bamboo-along-north-picture-id533634434

The memory of Kaju village on our trip to Mechuka claims its presence in the simple moments of life. The red bamboo bridge that we saw in a picture was the motivator to visit the place. Well, the first mistake we made was with the name of the place. We searched for Kabu village that turned out to be incorrect. So Kaju village it is. Serene, occupied in the daily affairs with bamboo, and beautiful (needless to say. as in the case of every part of the Northeast). It was only half an hour from Along and didn’t seem to be visited by many tourists. But we couldn’t have seen a village life with more proximity in a more tourism-centric village.

Houses were all made on stilts. Two kids who didn’t even reach the height of our shoulders carrying a baby each, tied to their back with cloth passed by. Yes, people of the Northeast have discovered the convenience of the babywearing way before. A small boy busy mending a catapult and another one pulling the bamboo string of a toy car made from an empty gallon and a circular piece of wood nailed to it to form a tire, spared only a couple of minutes to look at us. We came to the house where our lunch was pre-arranged. We would have lunch later, but we wanted our host to guide us to the bamboo bridge.

By now we got used to the smell of rice beer as every house reeked of the locally brewed beer. One thing we have noticed is that something is always drying, if not rice or chili or fish under the sun, they have meats and fish hanging over the fireplace to smoke-dry.

We went towards the Yomgo River. At midday, we reached the funnel-shaped Bamboo Bridge and shot furiously over the semi-circles. When we were done we watched the fisherman angling from their canoe. Villagers continued crossing the bridge with loads of bamboos. The hanging bridge where we couldn’t wait to go and pose for a shot was a daily affair for the locals.

People have pretty much nothing to do here. They are busy making things edible for nature –constructing and reconstructing everything from bamboo and retiring perfectly with bliss and finding life abundant with the limited supply.

I was happy for them. Till they have not seen the alternatives out there, in the rest of the world they are good to go. Basking under the sun, untouched by pesticides and radiations. A fair ‘give and take’ relationship with nature.

 

Note:

The river won’t leave your company till Mechuka, where it is called the river Siang. If you fall in love with the clear water of the river and want to have a rendezvous with it, the hanging bridge gives a beautiful view of the river and the pebbles, and you may also get surprised by the unpredictable rain pelting into the water sometimes.