Having completed many bike trips, here is a breakdown of Ankit Negi’s ‘North-East India Bike Trip’ from earlier this year.
All excited for a trip to the ‘Seven Sister States’, he wakes up early, packs his stuff and is ready to roll! He sets-up the luggage on the bikes. Since it is Day 1, organising stuff becomes a hassle. The first halt is none other than Kaziranga National Park, the roads to Kaziranga are exceptional, with few initial ghats entire stretch is in plains with good quality of roads.
In no time, its time for breakfast, desi style mutter paneer, paratha, omelette and a glass full of milk at a roadside dhaba!
Trip meter reading is approximately 250 km on the NH715.
An evening jeep safari for the National Park has already been booked. A perfect timing of the year to spot wildlife, the guide mentions spotting a full-size Royal Bengal Tiger a day before!
The safari is successful, he spots greater one-horned rhinos, wild elephants, several species of antelopes and deer.
Day 6, approximately 310 km on the odometer, Ankit bids farewell to Assam and gears up for Meghalaya. After covering about 270 odd kilometres, he finally reaches Umiam Lake around 4.30 PM. The sun was about to set over the lake.
Almost dark, we leave the lake, Shillong is only about an hour ride from the lake.
Not a normal hill town, there is traffic everywhere, some complex to one-way streets with no parking to be found anywhere
Riding across from one street to another in search for some reasonable hotels, however, Shillong proved to be pretty expensive. A guy on a ‘Hero Impulse’ bike spots him and helps in finding a budget hotel in the expensive town.
Majuli Island, Assam
Caves of Meghalaya
Travel Day 7, the odometer now reads 650 km, a long day, today Inner-Line Permits for the remaining North-East States (Mizoram, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh) is secured!
Now the main challenge, riding back to the Shillong city!
The Sun is down and the temperature dip is significant, riding back in a single layer of clothing with freezing hands and feet is fun too.
Travel Day 8, 710 km, next location is Cherrapunjee!
The route from Shillong to Cherrapunjee highlights the dense rain forests, amazing waterfalls of Meghalaya.
The month of March and it has already started raining here, well it’s Cherrapunjee! The hike starts, the target is to reach Nongrait Village, where lies the infamous Double Decker Living Root Bridge.
First Living bridge!
The forefathers of Khasi tribe were the original architects of living root bridges. Khasi tribe is one of the prominent tribes of Meghalaya.
Day 9, trip meter reading crosses 700 km, the most challenging part of the trek is to climb more than 3000 vertical stairs! This is achieved in around 2 hours, less than average time is taken, not to forget!
Next day, reaching the underworld, heading for some serious caving exploration. There are many caves in Meghalaya, it also has the largest cave network found in the Indian-Subcontinent.
However, Mawmluh Cave is a network of 7 km of natural underground tunnels. We climb a bit to enter the underworld. We have no idea what awaits us!
Waist height water crossings, a bit of rock climbing, crawling narrow passage to move any further as well.
And to add, there are large water holes throughout the patch, one wrong move and you’re stuck!
The day is not over yet, a visit to the tallest plunge waterfall in India, ‘Nohkalikai Falls’, Cherrapunjee.
Leaving for Dawki, it is famous for its boating in crystal clear waters of the Umngot river. 900 km down, he reaches Dawki in the evening and finds the place too crowded, later realising tourists from Bangladesh visit too!
Planning to camp on the riverside, a secluded place away from most of the tourists. Shnongpdeng around 10 km north of Dawki proves to be the perfect place for camping! A local named James takes cares of everything, homemade dinner, bonfire, starry night and the soothing sound of the river.
Day 14, Unakoti, Tripura which is famous for its rock structures carved on hills! Many folk stories associated with it nonetheless.
Unakoti’s name refers to the number of Gods turned into stone by the angry Shiva. i.e one less than a crore.
Allowed to pitch tents in the tea garden of Tripura, next morning is made to explore the tea gardens.
2280 km, somewhere in Mizoram, an interesting observation, the number of kids spotted on the entire journey.
Day 22, offroading into Mizoram makes one tired pretty quickly, and what else is required than fresh fruits to regain the energy?
One suggestion from everyone right from planning days was never riding after dark in Northeast India.
Day 24, exploring the local market of Myanmar and a beautiful local monastery! 3 days later, Nagaland, leaving for Dzukou Valley trek which is one of the scenic treks in North East India. Surprised to find a fully functional rest house at the top of the valley, it starts raining heavily, a glass of hot milk with an omelette sandwich couldn’t have been any better at that stage!
Majuli – largest River Island in the world, day 30!
Situated in Assam, a river island in between the mighty Brahmaputra River and the only ‘Island District’ in India.
Owing to its remote connectivity from the external world, it’s a different world out here. Rich in its cultures and old traditions, this place is gold-mine when in terms of community or culture-based tourism!
Travel Day 32, approximately 3700 Kms, Ziro Valley, a place where one will find a unique culture of ‘Facial Tattoos’!
Travel Day 35, 4250 Kms, en route the Sela Pass, Arunachal Pradesh.
Suddenly, a clicking sound, the bike loses its power, the chain has broken! This is the first mechanical issue since in 30 days of riding! The day is saved with the help of Indian army and a returning biker group.
Now is day 36, Sela Pass, Arunachal Pradesh. Icy roads, skiddy tyres and chilly winds, managed to reach the notorious Sela Pass and take shelter in the Indian Army Cafeteria as the weather turns bad!
Travel day 40, 4485 km down, a quick selfie from the other side of India, Bumla Border Area in China.
It is day 44!
Trip meter reading is exactly 5127, Ankit Negi reaches Guwahati, loads his bike on the train and catches a flight back to Mumbai. The ride has been intense and also one of the most epic journeys of his life!
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