Mr. Martin had contacted us from Slovakia and had explained to us his interest of exploring and sighting endangered Reticulated Python Species that are found across parts of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh in North East India. We had identified certain places in Assam where we would carry out our search for these creatures and two of these places in out Itinerary were Garbhanga Reserve Forest and the Chandubi Lake areas near Guwahati city of Assam. He also wanted to film some of the ornamental fish varieties found across Assam. he had contacted us in the month of December 2017 to plan his visit to Assam and Meghalaya. After many attempts of refining the Itinerary we were finally able to fine tune it to complete his visit across Assam and Meghalaya in 20 days. The final date of his arrival was scheduled on April 7, 2018. The Itinerary for our travel looked like this:
- April 7th – Arrive at Guwahati Airport
- April 8th – Garbhanga Reserve Forest Area
- April 9th – Chandubi Lake
- April 10th – Chandubi Lake
- April 11th – Chandubi Lake
- April 12th – Chandubi – Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary (late afternoon Jeep Safari)
- April 13th – Pobitora (early morning Elephant Safari) – Mawphlang – Cherrapunji
- April 14th – Cherrapunji (Double Decker Living Root Bridge Trek)
- April 15th – Cherrapunji – Guwahati (Evening Rongali Bihu celebrations)
- April 16th – Guwahati – Hajo
- April 17th – Guwahati – Zoo and Umananda Island
- April 18th – Guwahati – Nameri National Park
- April 19th – Nameri National Park
- April 20th – Nameri National Park – Majuli Island
- April 21st – Majuli Island
- April 22nd – Majuli Island
- April 23rd – Majuli Island – Dibru Saikhowa National Park
- April 24th – Dibru Saikhowa National Park
- April 25th – Dibru Saikhowa National Park – Guwahati
- April 26th – Dipor Bil area – Guwahati Airport
We will include the details of his tour across Assam with us starting from his arrival at the Airport spreading across the different areas of Assam and our fun filled ride exploring the various National Park, Wildlife Sanctuaries, the culture of Assam, the food and many other adventure filled activities during his visit to Assam in brief.
Day 1 ~ Guwahati Airport – Guwahati
I had just finished my tour with Mr. Vivek and family from Bangalore on April 6th where we covered parts of Assam and Meghalaya. And it so happened that I had bumped my car into a tree near the Kaziranga Orchid Park and I didn’t have much time to get it repaired. In the morning of April 7th I decided to pay a visit to the Hyundai Service Area near my house at Beltola in Guwahati. I did not have much time in hand as I had to start to the Airport by 5 PM to reach in order to welcome Mr. Martin who was scheduled to arrive at 6.30 PM. The service center had accepted my car and they took almost three hours to get the job done. It was already 12 PM and I had to rush back home. My passport renewal application was pending at the local police station where they had kept my application on hold as I had to verify my documents. It took me another hour time there and finally rushed home to have some lunch and take some rest after a long 8 day tour and another 20 days to go. I finally left home at around 5 PM to the airport. I decided to grab a coffee and a burger at a small joint near the airport called as the Hits Cafe and by the time I reached Airport it was around 6.10 PM. The fight from Delhi was scheduled to arrive at 6.30 PM but it got delayed by 15 minutes and the flight finally landed at 6.45 Pm. It was another 20 minute wait as Martin had brought in a lot of luggage which included fishing rods from Slovakia and it took time for him to clear the airport baggage redemption center. Finally we left the airport and went on to my home where he was scheduled to halt for the next 2 days.
We decided to make a quick stop at the Decathlon store at Azara in Guwahati as Martin had to pick up some items for his fishing requirements. After shopping at Decathlon we headed home and reached at around 9.00 PM. Martin was completely exhausted after his long flight from Slovakia to Assam with transit at New Delhi so he decided to get fresh quickly and have his dinner and retire to bed early. We discussed our plans for the next few days over dinner and then we went to bed. The next day we had planned to go to explore the Garbhanga Reserve Forest area after a quick stop at the local fish market to get a glimpse of the various fish species that are sold here and are available in the Brahmaputra river and the local ponds and fisheries of Assam.
Day 2 ~ Lokhra Market – Garbhanga Reserve Forest
We got up in the morning and examined the area surrounding my home. The beautiful forests cover intrigued Martin and he wanted to explore the area more to identify the varied species of flora and fauna around the place. After our breakfast we headed to the local market where we were to check out the fishes. It was Sunday and every week on a sunday there is a huge market which is setup and traders from across various parts of Guwahati come to sell their goods at the Lokhra sunday bazaar as it is called locally. Villagers who reside in villages in the nearby forest reserves come down with their fresh produce of vegetables and fruits and other local items like dried fishes, locally grown dal and rice, freshly caught fishes, crabs and snails, locally prepared rice beer, silk worms, etc. we explored the products for a while and headed to the fish market where we could see various fishes being sold. Local fishes like Rohu, Catla, Sital, Glass Carp, Bridget, Assamese Carp, Kusia (snakeheads), Sand (a kind of Piranha species), etc. were on sale by various traders. While some species were caught from the Brahmaputra river the rest were brought in from nearby fisheries. Martin was amazed with the variety of fresh water fishes available in the market. He filmed the market for his documentary and after about an hour we left the market to head on to Garbhanga Reserve Forest.
Located in the outskirts of the beautiful city of Guwahati in Assam, the Garbhanga Reserve Forest is a mountainous area covering an area of almost 1500 hectares of land. Providing a green cover to the city of Guwahati, Garbhanga Reserve Forest border the majestic mountain ranges of Meghalaya on the east and north and is bounded by the Rani Reserve Forest to its west and the city of Guwahati and Deepor Beel Wildlife Sanctuary to its south. The area of the Garbhanga Reserve Forest forms a part of the Green Belt region adjoining Guwahati and the forest area of Garbhanga is mostly dominated by the teak tree species. The Garbhanga Reserve Forest are also has moist deciduous forests, mix forests, evergreen and semi evergreen patches along the interiors of the forest area. The Garbhanga Reserve Forest welcomes you to the singing and chirping of hundred of birds species here. Various species of rare butterflies too are home at the Garbhanga Reserve Forest area.
The vast forest cover, unending supply of water from the perennial streams of Meghalaya, the humid yet pleasant climate harbours a variety of wildlife at the Garbhanga Reserve Forest area. Various mammal species of the likes of Elephants, Hoolock Gibbons, Langurs, Leopards, Gibbons, Deer, Sambar, etc. live inside the forests of Garbhanga. For the bird lovers, Garbhanga is home to hundreds of birds belonging to over 128 species. Some of the bird species to be found at Garbhanga are ~
- Black Kite
- Asian Koel
- Indian Cuckoo
- Small Headed Malkova
- White–Browed piculet
- Crimson Sunbird
- Large Woodshrike
- Yellow-bellied Warbler
- Dark–necked Tailorbird
- White-rumped Shama
- White–bellied Erpornis
- Black –crested Bulbul
- Pin-striped Tit Babbler
- Rufescent Prinia
- Common Iora
- White–browed Scimitar Babbler
- Greater Coucal
- Barn Owl
- Spotted owl
- Brown Fish-Owl
- Small Bee–eater
- Blue-tailed bee-eater
- Lineated barbet
- Blue–throated barbet
- Coppersmith barbet
- Small Blue kingfisher
- White-breasted Kingfisher
- Lesser Pied Kingfisher
- Great Slaty Woodpecker
- Fulvous-breasted Pied Woodpecker
- Small Yellow-naped Woodpecker
- Large Yellow-naped Woodpecker
- Greater Golden-backed Woodpecker
- Blue Whistling–Thrush
- Tickell’s Thrush
- Black–backed Forktail
- Spotted Forktail
- Common Stonechat
- Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush
- Jungle Babbler
- Small Niltava
- Black-naped Monarch–Flycatcher
- Great Tit
- Chestnut–bellied Nuthatch
- Spotted Munia
- Grey-headed Starling
- Bronzed Drongo
- Jungle Myna
- Grey headed Flycatcher
For complete list of birds at Garbhanga Reserve Forest: Click Here
Garbhanga Reserve Forest is also known for its various species of colorful butterflies. Any visitor to Garbhanga can anytime spot these butterflies flying in front of their eyes. As per records, over 26 species of butterflies are alone recorded here at the Garbhanga Reserve Forest. Some of these species are ~
- Ancistroides nigrita
- Astictopterus jama
- Laubrix salsala
- Matapa cresta
- Notocrypta paralysos
- Ochus subvittatus
- Udaspes folus
- Potanthus spp
- Tagiades gana
- Curetis saronis
- Heliophorus epicles
- Megisba malaya
- Prosotas dubiosa
For complete list of butterflies at Garbhanga Reserve Forest: Click Here
My friends had planned a picnic outing at the Garbhanga Reserve Forest as it was a sunday and they decided to cook traditional Karbi tribe style food here inside the forest. The food was cooked inside bamboo trunks that were put on fire and slow cooking of the meat was done. The menu consisted of rice, pork, country chicken and salad. The food was served on banana leaves do that we do not leave any plastic waste inside the forest and everything would have decomposed in a small garbage pit that was dug keeping the mind the ecology. While the food was cooking we explored the area around the forest. We could hear Elephants roaring at a distant and dared not to venture inside the forest. We walked along the road the road that leads to the local villages inside the Garbhanga Forest. Finally the food was ready and we enjoyed the meal here. Martin did not taste the pork but enjoyed his share of chicken gravy and rice. After a late lunch we headed back home. Since Martin couldn’t find any snakes at the Garbhanga Reserve Forest he decided to go out in search of them at the jungles near my home in the evening. We searched for almost about an hour but our attempt to film a snake was successful and we couldn’t find any snakes although we got to hear may stories about how snakes haunt the daily chores of the local people. We decided to call it a day and came back home to rest for the night.
Day 3 ~ Guwahati – Chandubi Lake
The next morning our visit was planned to the beautiful Chandubi Lake area near Guwahati. It was a pleasant April morning here, not too cold and neither very hot either. At Chandubi, we had planned our stay at the beautiful Chandubi Jungle Camp which is located just near to the Lake and the reserve forest area of Chandubi. At Chandubi we had a plan of going fishing for various local fish species an also go out looking in search of Python species which are known to inhabit the forest reserves of Chandubi. The Co-owner of the Chandubi Jungle Camp Mr. Kaushik Das had agreed to join us on this expedition to his Camp and we planned to start at around 10 AM to Chandubi from guwahati. After our breakfast we got our bags packed and loaded the items into the car and headed towards Chandubi. Kaushik would be joining us on our way along with our intern Ms. Monisha at Deepor Beel area near Guwahati. We made our first halt at the outskirts of Guwahati which is famous for its bird species especially during winters. Deepor Beel is a beautiful area near Guwahati to spend some time away from the hustle and bustle of the city life. While we waited here we decided to climb the watchtower here and catch a glimpse of the various bird species here.
We grouped together at the Deepor Beel area and started on our long journey to Chandubi Lake after a planned short halt at Pani area to pick up some meat to be cooked for night dinner. The drive to Rani took us around 30 minutes from Deepor Beel area and we gradually reached a huge market area. Today was market area at Rani and traders like in Lokhra Sunday Bazaar had come down from various areas to sell their produce at this market. We stopped for a while at the local market and then continued on our journey to Chandubi.
The road after Rani starts getting isolated after a while as there is not much of human settlement here. This part of the area falls under the Rani reserve forest division and one can see the forests starting to gradually appear along the driveway. Once we reached the forest watchtower at Rani we had to take a right to Chandubi. We continued on our drive and could see the lush tea gardens of Assam appearing along our journey. There is a small village market area that comes on the way and this is the last point where we can get mobile signal strength after which the network coverage is not strong enough to make any calls to to have data connectivity on the phone. We made a quick stop here making a few phone calls back home and related to work and then continued on our journey to Chandubi.
From here it takes another 20 minutes to reach Chandubi lake. After a while we reached the Chandubi picnic spot area from where we had to cross the lake on a country boat to reach the Chandubi Jungle Camp. We took a while to park our car at a safe spot, unload our luggage from the car onto a boat and then after Martin admiring the natural beauty of the place we headed on to the Chandubi Jungle Camp. On arrival at the Chandubi Jungle Camp we were greeted by the other owner of the Camp, Mr Diganta Rabha, a local who has initiated a lot on the development of the tourism scenario at Chandubi and two young boy Horu and Nayan who helped us carry our luggage to the camp. There were no other guests on that day mostly it being a monday and a working day so we had the camp to ourselves. We were allotted two jungle tents for our stay here for three nights at Chandubi. After settling our luggage in the tents we went on to have lunch. It was already 3 PM by the time we settled down here at Chandubi and we were all famished. Lunch was served that was simple yet delicious offering of rice, dal, sabji, chicken, papad, pickles and salad.
After lunch we examined the beautiful Chandubi Lake for sometime and Martin got his fishing rods ready to go fishing near the area of the Chandubi Jungle Camp . We arranged for earthworms for martin and we sat down along with him to fish. It was not fruitful as we couldn’t catch any fish that day. We decided to go for boating around the Chandubi Lake for a while to observe the areas where fishes could be found. After a while we returned back to our camp. It was time for evening tea and we were served with cups of tea black tea and biscuits. The tea was very flavorful and we discussed stories of how the villagers of Chandubi have relocated many pythons from the village areas into the nearby hills. Martin was in search of a particular species of pythons – the reticulated and the locals did not know the difference between Burmese pythons, Rock python and Reticulated pythons so we had to show them pictures to help them to identity each species an whether or not they have ever sighted a reticulated python in the Chandubi area. Although they confirmed having seen reticulated pythons here but Martin was in doubt so the next day we decided to go out trekking into the nearby forest reserve to search for reticulated pythons.
Martin wanted to check out the area again so at around 7 PM we headed out with Bokhonto (our guide) to see the marshy areas around Chandubi and the hollowed out tree trunks which turn out to be snake’s favorite hideout. We headed out carrying a torch and the mobile torches in search of reticulates. We checked out the marsh area along with the inside of the trunk of dead trees but we couldn’t find any snakes. We continued our search for about an hours time but were unsuccessful to trace any snake. We decided to call it a day and return back to Chandubi Jungle Camp. We came back and sat down to discuss further about the python species at Chandubi. One local guy had come in and he had handled many pythons and relocated them from village areas to the nearby forests. It seems he had just relocated a python just two weeks back, He told us the people around the border of Assam and Meghalaya mostly the Garo tribal people of Meghalaya kill these python for their meat. The belly fat of the Python, these Garo tribal people believe has medicinal properties and can cure ailments and also boost physical immunity. This has led to a major loss in the population of pythons around the area. Martin expressed his regrets against such actions of the people an requested the local people of Chandubi to take possible steps to save the number of these pythons. After a while our dinner was served. It was an elaborate feast with various local herbs, chicken, fish, chutneys, salad, papad, pickles, etc. We enjoyed our dinner and then went to bed.
Day 4 – Chandubi
The next day morning we were scheduled to go trekking and hiking into the nearby hills in search of the python that was relocated by the locals of Chandubi from their village. We would be accompanied by Bokhonto who would take us to the hilltop to look out for the python. We just had tea and biscuits and carried our breakfast to be had along the way. The sky was not in our favour as we could see clouds looming over us but we hoped it would change and we continued on. We had to cross through a village and agricultural fields to reach the hill where we were scheduled to climb. We could see huge rocks on one side and Martin said that this would be an ideal place to look out for snakes. I was asked to take control of the camera and Martin and Bokhonto ventured to look out for snakes in the holes of these rocks. They went deep into the rocks and looked out for snakes. But unfortunately the weather was cold and the snakes did not come out of their holes so we had to come back from there disappointed.
Next up we headed to the hills to go to the place where they had relocated the python. It is an adventurous trek going into the depth of the forests cutting across trees and listening to the sounds of the animals around before taking out steps forward. We could hear the roaring of wild elephants and the chirping of various birds that inhabit the forests. It had rained the previous night so we could except leeches on our way to the hills. We just climbed a little to the hills and I could see creatures crawling on my shoes. It did not take me much time to realize that we had entered leech territory and immediately we went aside to remove them from the shoes. Martin had applied some repellent so th leeches did not catch hold of him. We asked Bokhonto to take us from a different route that would not have leeches. There was a way but that would be very steep hike he said. We agreed to take it and it was not a wise decision at all. This route was like rock climbing on a steep hill without any gear. It was indeed a tough hike and finally we reached the top of the hill where we were supposed to look out for the python.
We went to nearby place to rest for a while. While we were resting we could hear the roar of elephants from a close distance. Bokhonto asked us to wait as he would go check out where the elephants were resting before we could begin our search for the python. He went a little ahead and just when he got down from the high area to the lower one we could see him coming back to us very quickly warning us that the elephants were sitting on a place where they had relocated the python. We thought for a while and Martin took a decision to go back as teasing these elephants would be a huge mistake and waiting was of no use as they would go back from the area where we were waiting. So we decided to head down. It was sad for us as even after all our efforts of climbing the hill we had to come down with no result. We came down the hill and stopped for a while on the plains where we decided to have our breakfast or brunch rather. After resting for a while we walked back to Chandubi Jungle Camp.
We rested for sometime at the Camp and had our lunch at around 2 PM. At 3 PM we decided to go fishing. Bokhonto took us on a boat ride to the other side of the camp where we set our boat and Martin set up his fishing rods. He put the fish feed in the water and then we waited. I set up a contest between Martin and Bokhonto as to who would be able to catch the fish first. Martin with all his modern equipment and Bokhonto with his traditional fishing rod made with bamboo and nylon fiber. We waited for an hour and nothing happened. We couldn’t catch even a single fish. It was another unfruitful day for us an we returned back to our camp. We sat down in the evening to plan down our course of action for the next day and then we had our dinner and went to bed.
Day 5 ~ Chandubi
The next day I got up in the morning and saw Martin already fishing near the camp. The sun was not yet out properly and I went to see Martin fishing. After a while we came back for breakfast. Today Bokhonto was not there so Diganta had offered to take us out fishing. We decided to go to another area for fishing today and we would step out of our boat for fishing today. We took our boat and headed to the area of another camp where we expected to find more fish. We reached the area and set up our fishing rods to find dark clouds covering up the sky. By the time we fixed our rods the downpour started and we had to leave our rods there and run to seek cover at the camp. It rained for almost an hour and we could do nothing but wait at the camp. Diganta brought us some hot tea and biscuits and we waited at the Camp till the rain subsided. We went back to the place where we had kept our rods to see if any fish bit the rod but our luck was again not in our favor. We waited for a little more time but had to return empty handed. While boating back to the camp Martin was able to spot a shoal of baby fishes. These were the Saal fish and the babies were bright orange in color. Martin managed to capture them on an underwater camera and we headed back to the Camp. It was time for lunch and we decided whether to go back fishing again or to look out for snakes. Martin decided to go for fishing again and so we planned another place to look out for fish. This time we went to another part of the lake and decided to fish from the boat itself. Martin set up his rods again and we waited for fish to bite. While waiting we saw our first snake at Chandubi. It got down from the land into the water and then swiftly swam across to the other side. It was about 3 feet long snake. Diganta told us the this was a poisonous snake. After waiting for thirty minutes Martin was successful in catching his first fish at Chandubi lake. It was a small catch but atleast the first catch. We were delighted after and after cutting the fish off the line Martin threw it back into the water. After continuing to fish for another hour and catching two more fishes we finally called it a day and headed back to Chandubi Jungle Camp.
Day 6 ~ Chandubi – Guwahati – Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary
The next morning we were scheduled to leave Chandubi to go to Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary near Guwahati. Martin decided to try some quick fishing around the camp but today was no luck. He returned back empty handed. We had breakfast quickly and Martin went on to pack his stuff. He had unloaded quite some stuff from his bags so packing it all back took him almost an hour. By the time we were ready to leave it was around 12 PM. Diganta took us on the boat to the other side of the camp and we bid goodbye to everyone at Chandubi Jungle Camp and moved on our journey to Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary. We had to come back to Guwahati first to go to Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary. At Guwahati we stopped at a market in Narengi to buy fruits, some other stuff and Martin had to withdraw cash from an ATM. After it was over we headed to Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary. We reached Pobitora at around 4 PM in the afternoon. Our stay was booked at the Maibong Eco Resort at Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary and we were greeted here by the owner of the Resort Mr. Nripen Nath. A pioneer in promoting tourism across the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary region, Mr. Nripen Nath was awarded by the Department of Tourism Govt. of Assam for his excellent contribution in the field of tourism here at Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary. We decided to have a cup of tea and some light snacks at the dining hall of the Maibong Eco Resort. There was a pond inside the premises of the Maibong Eco Resort and Martin was immediately interested in fishing here. We seeked permission from the owner to fish here and he readily agreed. I was scheduled to return back to Guwahati so I checked Martin into his room and I bid him goodbye and wished him luck in fishing. After sometime I returned back to my home in Guwahati.
Day 7 ~ Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary – Cherrapunji
Next morning I reached Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary an Martin was already done with his Elephant Safari here. He was waiting at the dining hall and I greeted him. We were scheduled to leave to Cherrapunji in meghalaya but Martin wanted to see if we had time to go for a Jeep Safari ride into Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary. We checked that we had time on our hands and also checked for the availability of a Jeep. The owner of Maibong Eco Resort offered us his Jeep to take into Pobitora an after a while an armed guard escorted us into the forest reserves of Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary. We asked the Jeep driver to take us to areas where pythons were spotted in Pobitora and he was ready to take us there. Wesaw many rhinoceros on our way and also some asiatic water buffaloes, black necked crane and many other birds. We arrived at the point where Pythons are generally sighted here at Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary but there was none to be seen today. The guard told us that he had sighted on here in January. We traveled further into the jungle and could see the beautiful orchids flowering on the branches of the trees. Martin clicked his pictures and while coming back we were able to sight a King Cobra resting under the sun. However when we approached our vehicle a little more closer it went away into the jungle. At Least we were able to spot one snake here at Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary if not a python. We came back to the Maibong Eco Resort. Martin packed his bags and at around 11 AM we left Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary to head to Cherrapunji in Meghalaya where we were scheduled to do our trek to the Double Decker Living Root Bridge at Nongriat village.
We started to Cherrapunji from Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary at around 11 AM and we had to drive quickly as Cherrapunji was around 6 hours drive from here at Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary if we didn’t get stuck in Shillong traffic. We crossed Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary from the inner road that connects it to Sonapur to bypass the Guwahati city traffic and at around 12 PM we were in the State of Meghalaya. As we didn’t have time today to make any stopovers apart from lunch we decided to skip our visit to Mawphlang today and planned it on our return back to Guwahati in Assam. We crossed Burnihat in sometime and at around 1.15 PM we reached the Umiam lake area near Barapani after crossing Nongpoh in Meghalaya. Since the vehicle was continuously on for over 2 hours that too on a hilly terrain with air-conditioning on we decided to give it a break and allow it to rest for 15 minutes and we took an opportunity to sight the largest artificial water reservoir of North East India with crystal clear blue waters at Umiam. There were numerous tea stalls here and we decided to have a cup of black tea each along with biscuits as lunch was another hours time left. The Umiam Lake it a very popular tourist spot in Meghalaya. Everyday hundred of visitors come here to sight the Umiam Lake as well as to experience boating on the waters of this lake. There is also a resort area near the lake that offers stay and fooding facilities at the Orchid Lake Resort in Umiam. We clicked a few pictures here and at 1.30 PM we started back on our drive to Cherrapunji.
We crossed Shillong at around 2 PM as there was less traffic today in Shillong and reached to the Rhino point from where we took a right to continue on our drive to Upper Shillong. In sometime we reached Upper Shillong at the Air Force area at Eastern Air Command. The entire area is occupied by the Eastern Air Command and it is one of the prominent location of the Indian Air Force in eastern India. We crossed Upper Shillong in sometime at 2.30 PM and we halted for lunch at the Soilyna Huts Restaurant at Mylliem Marbaniang near Shillong. This is a very clean and nice place and we halt here whenever we have visitors from abroad and the place serves Indian, Chinese and Khasi cuisine as well. We sat down and ordered for lunch egg fried rice and mushroom in oyster sauce as Martin didn’t want to eat pork or chicken here. The food was served in 15 minutes and it was indeed very tasty. We were done with our lunch at 3 PM and we continued on our drive to Cherrapunji. At 4 PM we reached a view point near Cherrapunji and we decided to halt for a while as the cloud cover over the mountains was looking very beautiful. Martin filmed this for a while and we again started on our drive to Cherrapunji. We reached Cherrapunji at 4.45 PM and checked into the Sohra Plaza Homestay where Martin’s stay was booked for the night. The manager lady greeted us upon our arrival and Martin checked into his room. I went in too and we ordered for tea before I left the place to check into another homestay where I was supposed to stay for the night. Martin had already ordered his dinner at the Sohra Plaza Homestay at Cherrapunji for sandwiches and soup to be served at 7.30 PM and I ordered for rice, dal and chicken curry for myself to be served at 9 PM before I retired to bed.
Day 8 ~ Double Decker Living Root Bridge Trek to Nongriat Village – Cherrapunji
It had rained heavily the previous night here at Cherrapunji and in the morning the weather was clear. We were scheduled today to go to the Double Decker Living Root Bridge trek to Nongriat Village near Cherrapunji. I got up at 5.30 AM and got ready quickly and I reached the Sohra Plaza Homestay at 7 AM and went to greet Martin. Martin was not feeling very well as the mushroom didn’t suit his appetite and he had an upset stomach. He was feeling tired and weak and we were worried whether or not we could go for the trek today and we did not have time too as per our tight schedule. He took some medicines and at 8 AM we decided to go ahead with the trek. Martin only had juice for breakfast and I had bread toast and omelette before heading out for the trek to the Double Decker Living Root Bridge at Nongriat village from Cherrapunji. I informed our local guide Jerry of our arrival and he would be present at the parking area and guide us to the Double Decker trek. We reached the Tyrna village at around 9.15 AM and Jerry was there to greet us. We had bought along bananas, apples, juice and ORSL energy drink and sufficient water to take with us along on the trek as Martin was unwell and I informed Jerry to walk slowly so that we don’t put more of exertion on Martin. Martin took a stick along with him to assist him on the trek and at around 9.30 AM we started on our trek to the Double Decker Living Root Bridge at Nongriat village from Cherrapunji.
At first we crossed a small village and then proceeded further. Martin was asking Jerry about the various animal that are to be found in the forest area here along with information about snakes. Jerry tried his best to provide the answers accurately. Martin on seeing the flight of 3500 stairs knew very well that the journey back would be a tough climb. We were taking adequate breaks along our way and in about 45 minutes we climbed down the entire fleet of 3500 stairs. Next up we reached another local village. There was a cave area nearby and we asked Martin if he would be interested in exploring. Martin did not want to put more pressure on his body and so he decided just to complete the Double Decker Root Bridge trek and return back to the Homestay as quickly as possible. Next up we reached a hanging bridge and we crossed it carefully. Further there was a steep hike for a while and we reached another suspension bridge in sometime. After crossing this bridge we gradually approached Nongriat village. We stopped for a little while at a small local shop and Martin had some ORSL here. Gradually we approached the first small living root bridge near the Nongriat village. After clicking our pictures here we headed to Nongriat village. Martin wanted to use the restroom here so we paid the owner of the Serene Homestay at Nongriat village some money to be able to use the restroom here. In sometime Martin came back and we proceeded to the Double Decker Living Root Bridge entrance at Nongriat village.
Martin was enthralled with the sheer beauty and the bio-engineering marvel of the Double Decker Living Root Bridge. He clicked his pictures and made videos of the Double Decker Living Root Bridge. Jerry and I headed to the local shop to have tea and maggi noodles while Martin admired the Double Decker Living Root Bridge at Nongriat. After about 30 minutes Martin joined us at the shop and we ordered for a bottle of ORSL energy drink. There were a group of boys from Manipur who had come to admire the Double Decker Root Bridge at Nongriat and they were not wearing their shirts. They looked like athletes and were posing on the Double Decker Root Bridge for picture. Martin wanted to click pictures with one of the boys and upon asking him the boy readily agreed to pose for a picture with Martin. After clicking our pictures at the Double Decker Root Bridge we proceeded on our way back to Tyrna village from Nongriat. Martin stopped to admire the beauty of the landscape from a view point here and we headed back on our trek. The first half of the trek was easy as it was a flat and downhill climb. The second phase started to be a challenge once we had to conquer the high rising fleet of 3500 stairs. As Martin was not at a 100% we took adequate breaks along our way to the top. Gradually at around 2.15 PM we reached back on top at the Tyrna village. We thanked our guide Jerry and after paying him his guide fee we headed back to our Homestay at Cherrapunji. Since Martin did not eat any solid food for the entire day I ordered for salad, apples and mango drink for him once we arrived at the Sohra Plaza Homestay in Cherrapunji and I ordered for Aloo Parathas for myself.
Martin wanted to rest for sometime and so I headed back to my homestay. At 6 PM I came back again to check on Martin and he was feeling a little better now. I ordered for black tea for us and Martin spoke of his desire to watch some international news on TV is possible. The homestay had satellite television but I was not sure whether it would have the required channel subscription or not. I checked by browsing through the channels and yes I could find Russia TV and CNN on the news. I put on Russia TV and there was news on attack on Syria. Martin discussed the situation and his views and opinions on the war for sometime. It was 7 PM and I ordered for his dinner and took leave to return back to my homestay for adequate rest as the next day I had to dive back to Guwahati. I bid goodbye to Martin and came back to my homestay where I ordered chicken fried rice for dinner and retired to bed.
Day 9 ~ Cherrapunji – Mawphlang – Shillong – Guwahati
I got up in the morning and could see that it had rained again the previous night. After getting ready I went to meet Martin. He was feeling much better and he ordered for fruits and mango drink in his room. He was getting his bags packed by the time I arrived. After having breakfast we left Cherrapunji at 9 AM in the morning. We drove past the view point in sometime and Martin asked me to stop for a while as he wanted to click pictures here. After 15 minutes we started on our drive back again. At around 10.30 AM we reached Upper Shillong area. Since we couldn’t visit Mawphlang on our drive to Cherrapunji we decided to head to Mawphlang now to sight orchids at the Khasi Hills sacred groves at Mawphlang in Meghalaya. We arrived at Mawphlang at 10.50 AM and I met up our guide Ban Lyngdoh who would show us around the sacred grove. The Khasi Hills sacred groves is an important and sacred place for the Khasi people as many sacred ceremonies were used to be performed inside the forest area here. The Khasi people revere these sacred groves and do not allow any act of nuisance to be committed inside the sacred groves. No tree is allowed to be cut from the inside the forest area here and hence this has helped to preserve this forest and also the varied flora and fauna inside this forest. Ancient rituals and prayers used to be performed inside the monolith area if the forest where God used to appear in the form of an animal depicting the upcoming year for the people of Meghalaya. God appearing in the form of a tiger would mean a successful harvest while in the form of a snake would mean severe famine in the year. There are many species of trees inside the forest even ones whose bark can be used to treat cancer. There are over 150 species of orchids inside the forest too. We were there in the month of April and it was not flowering season for orchids and hence we could spot only a few flowering orchids. After spending 30 minutes inside the forest we came out and headed on our drive back to Upper Shillong area. Since Martin did not get a chance to view the waterfalls at Cherrapunji, I decided to take him to see the Elephant Falls in the Upper Shillong area. We reached the Elephant Falls at around 11.45 AM and we headed down to check the waterfalls after buying our entrance tickets.
The Elephant Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls of Shillong and hundreds of tourists visit this place everyday. The Elephant Falls in Shillong is a cascading waterfall that has three levels. One smaller level at top and then two levels below. It is called as the Elephant Falls because of a rock that was present near the area in the shape of an Elephant. The British came and named this falls as the Elephant Falls after the rock. This rock was however destroyed in the earthquake of 1897 in North East India. We at first viewed the first waterfall on top and clicked pictures and later moved down to view the two more waterfalls below. The waterfalls below are much more grand and beautiful. Martin saw a giant rock formation at the area down and after click pictures here we headed back on top to leave the Elephant falls in Shillong. Since we had time I asked Martin is he would want to sight the Shillong Peak area here. Martin agreed and we headed to sight the Shillong Peak. The Shillong Peak is the highest point in the East Khasi Hills area and is another popular tourist spot from where we can get a bird’s eye view of Shillong city and the mountains and valleys of Meghalaya. While travelling to the Shillong Peak we could see a Fire Department truck moving ahead of us. We thought that some mishap must have occurred in the Air Force area near the Shillong Peak but we continued to move further behind the truck. On reaching the area of the Shillong Peak we could see a long line of vehicles waiting in front of us. We immediately realized that it would not be possible for us to view the peak area today as the line was very long and it would not be worth the wait so we decided to head back to Guwahati as we did not want to spend the entire day just to view the Shilling peak. We continued on our drive to Guwahati. Shillong traffic was ok and by around 2 PM we reached Nongpoh area in Meghalaya. We halted at the Woodland’s Dhaba at Nongpoh. We ordered for veg fried rice and chicken Manchurian boneless and around 2.45 PM started on our journey back to Guwahati in Assam. We reached Guwahati at around 4 PM an we headed to my home where Martin was scheduled to halt for the next 2 days.
It was Bihu time in Assam – the Assamese New Year and various celebrations were going on around during the festive time. My relatives had come over to my place and my mother had prepared an elaborate feast to celebrate the Bihu festival of Assam. There was fish and chicken curry for dinner along with certain vegetable curries too. I asked my mother to serve dinner a little early as we both were tired. At around 8 PM I went downstairs to bring the dinner on top floor where Martin and I were staying and after a short conversation we retired to bed.
Day 10 ~ Guwahati – Hajo – Suwalkuchi – Guwahati
Today we were scheduled to visit the Holy land of Hajo from Guwahati where we would go to watch varied species of turtles at the pond near the Hayagriva Madhava Temple at Hajo in Assam. Later we would visit the local fish market and on our return back to Guwahati in Assam. We had our breakfast and after loading Martin’s fishing gear into the vehicle we headed to explore Hajo in Assam. We had to cross the Brahmaputra river of Assam over the Saraighat bridge on our way to Hajo. We reached Hajo at around 9.45 AM and at first we stopped at a local market here. The fish market had varied types of fishes and the sizes of the fishes were huge too. The fishes were bought here by local traders from the nearby fisheries as well as from the river Brahmaputra in Assam. The prices were much cheaper that the price in Guwahati and we decided to pick up some fish on our way back home from Hajo. Next we headed to the Hayagriva Madhava temple area. Along our way we could see many children split into groups and wearing traditional dress of the Bihu festival. I immediately halted the car and asked them to perform a Bihu song and dance for us. They had a wonderful performance and I paid them some money. Next we arrived at the Hayagriva Madhava Temple at Hajo in Assam. We had to remove our shoes inside the car as it is a holy place and shoes are not permitted. We went to the pond area and immediately we could see many turtles inside the pond. There were people around who were feeding the turtles in the pond at Hajo with certain eatables that we available for purchase here at INR 10 per plate. We too bought a plate and started feeding the turtles. Martin was thrilled to see these highly endangered species and the size of the turtles were very huge. He fixed his camera on a tripod and started filming these turtles. We spent around an hour here and by the time we were done it was around 11.00 AM.
Next up we headed to look out for a fishery where we would spend time fishing at Hajo in Assam. A local boy named Nitul owned a fishery here and we approached him. He gladly agreed to let us fish at a price of INR 1,500 and Martin set up his fishing rods to start fishing. We arranged for a few earthworms for Martin and he immediately caught his first fish at Hajo in Assam. Nitul asked whether we would like to eat lunch and he would cook it in the small house near the Fishery. I paid him some money to buy chicken and groceries and Nitul and his friend started to cook lunch here. Martin did not want lunch and so we arranged for mango juice for him. It was a great day of fishing here as Martin went to catch a total of around 7 fishes here at Hajo in Assam. At around 1.30 PM our lunch was ready and the boys and myself sat down for lunch. The food was cooked on fire an it imparted a real good taste to the food. We were over with our lunch by 2 PM and Martin also started packing his fishing rods. We were to head on our way to Suwalkuchi after buying fish at Hajo and then head back to Guwahati. By 2.30 all the things we packed and we headed to the market area.
Our luck did not favor us as the market area was closed at the time we went there. So we decided to head to Suwalkuchi to admire the grandeur of the Silks of Assam. We reached Suwalkuchi at 3.30 PM. This is a small village of Assam and has the highest concentration of weavers anywhere in the World and this earns it as a tag of being called as the “Manchester of the East”. Suwalkuchi produces the three varieties of the Silks of Assam – Muga, Eri and Pat. While Muga is the most popular, exquisite and expensive silk variety of Assam, Eri and Pat also are becoming popular across the World. We checked into one of the shops here that sells various silk varieties. I knew the owner of the Shop and he agreed to take us inside his small factory where workers work on the loom and weave out exquisite silk handlooms. It was a very interesting sight to see the workers working on the loom and the rhythmic sound of the ‘Taal Haal’ as it is called in Assamese. Martin admired the craftsmanship of the workers here and we went back to again to the showroom to check out the various silk varieties of Suwalkuchi. The shop owner showed him exquisite pieces of handloom made out of Pat silk. Martin bought one Mekhela Chador and some fancy designer purses made out of silk for his wife. We had a cup of tea and later drove back to Guwahati. Martin wanted to eat Pizza at Guwahati and so I took him to a Domino z Pizza outlet at Lalganesh area in Guwahati. We ordered for a Meat delight pizza and coke for us and Martin informed me that it was not as good as they make Pizza in Slovakia. We paid our bill and came back home to prepare for our next day of exploring the city of Guwahati in Assam.
Day 11 ~ Guwahati
Today we set to explore the city of Guwahati in Assam. Martin wanted to check out a wholesale fish market and after inquiry I found that there was one near to my house at the Bhetapara area at Guwahati in Assam. This is one of the three wholesale fish markets in Guwahati the other ones being at Pandu and Uzanbazar area respectively. We got up early at 5.30 AM and at 6.15 AM we headed to the wholesale market area. The market starts as early as 4 AM in the morning with vendors from various parts of Assam like Hajo, Barpeta and Jagiroad bringing in their fish loaded trucks into the city and gathering at the Bhetapara area. Here the fish quantity are auctioned and the highest bidder takes way the fish to be sold in local markets across the city of Guwahati. We reached the market at 6.30 AM and parked out vehicle and walked into the market area. There we could see varieties of fish being auctioned. There were carps, small fishes, rohu, catla, snakeheads, prawns, magur, sital, kos, etc. We explored the market for about 45 minutes and Martin clicked his pictures. We arrived late at the market and hence a majority of the fish was already auctioned and taken away. Martin decided to buy some fish here and take it home as a gift to my parents. We bought Magur (around 5 kgs) and giant prawns (around 3 kgs) and headed back home. My mother was surprised and she thanked Martin for it.
Next up we got fresh and had breakfast and set out to explore the city again. Our first step was to explore a local fish market in the heart of Guwahati city at the Ganeshguri area. This is one of the most popular market area in the city. As it was festival time in Assam, there was very less traffic on the roads and hence driving in the city was not a harrowing experience. We reached Ganeshguri in sometime and we headed to explore the local market here. The fish market was a little inside and we walked till there. Once we arrived we could see a wide variety of various fishes here. There were fishes caught locally from the various fisheries, lakes and rivers of Assam and there was also fish bought in from other States of India like Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. The fishes from Uttar Pradesh especially Kanpur were humongous in size. So too were the ones caught in the Brahmaputra river of Assam. These were the Borali and Sital fish varieties. We continued to explore the market area for sometime and the fish traders were all surprised to see a foreigner in the local fish market which is not a usual sight. Many of them came forward requesting Martin for a selfie but as we had to rush we took one common picture with them. At around 10.30 AM we were out of the market in Ganeshguri area.
Next up we headed to explore the Guwahati zoo. Martin had read about the presence of a Burmese Python being present here so we wanted to explore the zoo to check it out. We bought our entrance tickets and proceeded to explore the Assam State Zoo cum Botanical Garden in Guwahati. Upon entering we were handed a pamphlet that illustrated the map of the Guwahati zoo along with the details of the animal enclosures. At first there was the enclosure of the Golden Langur. One of the highly endangered primate species this Golden Langur is a pride of the Assam Zoo. Next up there was the enclosure of the Hollock Gibbons. Though we could hear their cries we couldn’t spot as the Hollock Gibbons were hidden inside a huge tree in the enclosure. We proceeded to see crocodiles, sambar deer, deer, various birds, rhinoceros and we finally came to the enclosure of Burmese Python. But our luck did not favor us again. Martin’s struggle to spot a python in Assam continued. Due to some issues the python was relocated from the zoo to an undisclosed location. Anyhow we continued to explore the zoo and we sighted pygmy hogs, lions, hippopotamus, leopards, black panthers and many more animals. At around 1 PM we were finished exploring and after having refreshments we proceeded to our next destination – the Smallest inhabited river island in the World at Umananda in Guwahati, Assam.
On our way to Umananda we suddenly spotted a pond in the city before reaching the area. Martin was asking me about the presence of turtles within the city but I was unaware of it. It seems that this was the pond where to conserve these turtle species of Assam an NGO had kept these turtles inside this pond. So we parked our car and set to explore the pond area. The pond had many varieties of fishes as well and also Geese around. We at first couldn’t sight any turtles as the waters were not very clear and sight was limited. There was a bamboo made raft like structure floating inside the pond and upon close observation we could see something on top of it. It turned out to be an Assamese Roofed Top turtle species. Martin was thrilled to spot this species and he went about clicking pictures. After sometime we left the place and proceeded to have our lunch at the Uzanbazaar area in Guwahati. We opted for the JBs restaurant to eat our lunch. I ordered for masala dosa while Martin ordered for cheese sandwich. We finished our lunch and proceeded to board the ferry to go to Umananda Island. As it was a holiday many people were travelling along with us to the Umananda Island. In sometime the boat started and we reached the Umananda Island. This island is famous for the presence of a Shiva temple and it is believed that Lord Shiva used to meditate on this Island. It so happened once that when Lord Shiva was meditating in the Umananda Island, Lord Kamadeva was trying to distract him. Lord Shiva got so angry that he opened his third eye and burnt Kamadeva to ashes here in Umananda Island in Guwahati. Since then the hill atop which the temple is located is called as the Bhasmacala Hill.
Our motto of visiting the Umananda Island was something else, it was to sight the last surviving species of the Golden Langur in the wild here at Umananda Island in Guwahati city. We learnt that the Golden Langur we saw in the Assam zoo was earlier present here. But authorities removed it and took it away to the zoo. This was a female species while the last surviving male was present at the Umananda Island. Martin expressed his concern over the government not paying attention to conserve this species because the only Langur would mean no further reproduction and this would bring an end to the population of Golden Langur here at Umananda Island in Guwahati. Expressing our thoughts we finally bid goodbye to the Umananda Island to catch our ferry back to Guwahati. Our next halt was at Ganeshguri market to buy some fish feed as would be requiring it for our fishing near near the Nameri National Park area and Majuli Island as well. We reached home at around 6 PM. My mother served dinner at 8 PM. After dinner Martin wanted to call his wife and he would send her a watsapp message and she would call back on my phone. They spoke for sometime and Martin told her about his days experience at Guwahati in Assam. After this we retired to bed to prepare for our next day’s drive to Nameri National Park in Assam.
Day 12 ~ Guwahati – Nameri National Park
Today we were scheduled to travel to Nameri National Park at Sonitpur district in Assam near Tezpur town. We got up in the morning and Martin was admiring the beautiful forest cover on the hills of the Garbhanga Reserve Forest that could be seen from my home. We had our breakfast at 8 AM and by the time we loaded our luggage in the car and started on our drive it was around 9.30 AM. The weather was looking fine and we started on a happy note from my home from Guwahati in Assam to Nameri National Park. In sometime we crossed the Khanapara area heading onto Jorabat at the Assam and Meghalaya border. Here I refueled with a full tank and we proceeded on our drive to Sonapur in Assam. As we were driving we could see dark clouds hovering in the sky. After continuing our drive for about 45 minutes we reached Jagiroad town in Assam. Jagiroad is a small township famous for the Asia’s largest dry fish market and the Nagaon Paper Mill of the Hindustan Paper Corporation Ltd. Every year Jagiroad also plays host to the only Barter Trade festival in the World – the Jonbeel Mela every year in the month of January. We crossed Jagiroad to continue on our journey to Nagaon.
Next up we reached Raha near Nagaon in Assam. The sky was still covered with black clouds but it had not started raining yet. The weather was making me feel a little sleepy so we decided to pull over to have a cup of tea here at Raha. We stopped at a Punjabi Dhaba here and ordered for tea. I like the tandoori rotis here so I ordered for a plate of rotis and sabji. Martin didn’t eat anything and just had his tea. In sometime we started on our journey again. While driving for a little more time it started to pour heavily. It was a storm and the rain drops were lashing heavily on our windshield so I had to lower the speed of the car. After sometime it stopped raining and we approached Nagaon in Assam. The next big town after Guwahati, Nagaon is a prime business hub of Assam. We didn’t enter the town and instead we took the four way lane bypass at Nagaon. After sometime the four lane highway ended and we crossed Nagaon sub-divisional limits. From here the roads become a two way lane and it is also narrow. We crossed Puronigudam area and reached Amoni in sometime.
Next up we reached the Koliabor area. From Koliabor we had to take a left diversion to continue to Tezpur while the straight road leads to Kaziranga National Park and Upper Assam upto the eastern most frontiers of India at East Arunachal Pradesh continuing to Myanmar and Kunming in China. We headed on our drive to Tezpur town. Before reaching the bridge over the Brahmaputra river – the Kaliabhumura Bridge we happened to notice some local fishermen fishing on a huge lake area. We stopped our vehicle and headed to explore their catch from this lake. The fishermen had a good catch of many small fish species and a few big ones too. Martin tried to identify the various fish species and one particular species that caught his interest was the small fish that had tiger like stripes on its body. He clicked a few pictures and these fishes and we interacted with the fishermen. They use to catch these fishes for their own consumption and if they catch in abundance they will sell it off in the local markets. After spending little more time we headed on our drive to Tezpur.
We arrived at Tezpur at around 1.15 PM and I stopped for lunch here at the Spring Valley Restaurant. While Martin ordered for Sandwich and juice I ordered for Chicken Fried Rice. The food arrived shortly and after lunch we headed to Balipara area near Tezpur. After arriving at Mission Charali, Martin asked me to stop at a local market as he wanted to withdraw cash from an ATM and also wanted to buy a small bucket to aid him during fishing. He didn’t take long and we continued to Balipara in Sonitpur district. We arrive at Balipara at around 2.30 PM and as Martin wanted to sight the Jia Bhoreli river we took a right here first to see the river before Biswanath Charali. We reached the area at around 3.30 PM and Martin went down a bridge that was present here to film the Jia Bhoreli river. At 3.45 PM we turned back to Balipara to go to Nameri National Park in Assam.
By the time we arrived at the entrance of the Nameri National Park it was around 4.15 PM. Our stay at Nameri National Park was booked at the Cottages of Camp Lalimou here and so we headed to the camp area. We arrived at the camp and were greeted by the manager of the Camp Mr. Jadoo who welcomed us and asked Martin to fill in his details in the guest register. While he was filling in the details I could see a group of local villagers heading towards the camp all dressed in their traditional attire. I knew that they had come to perform a folk dance at Camp Lalimou. The group put up a splendid performance at the dining area of the Camp Lalimou at Nameri National Park. Martin and I quickly went out again to check out the banks of the Jia Bhoreli river at Nameri National Park from where we were scheduled to go for our day of trekking at Nameri National Park in search of pythons at Nameri. We arrived at the river banks of the Jia Bhoreli river and Martin was struck in awe with the natural beauty of and the calm waters of the Jia Bhoreli river at Nameri National Park in Assam. He went around clicking pictures. After sometime we could see a boat approaching towards us and onboard were a forest guard, a local guide and a tourist from abroad. I spoke to the forest guard who informed me that the guest was from Britain and the guide accompanying him was an employee of Jungle Travels India. I introduced the forest guard to Martin and informed him of our plans to explore the interiors of Nameri National Park the following morning. The guard whose name was Dipankar agreed to accompany us tomorrow morning into Nameri and after thanking him we returned to Camp Lalimou.
We arrived by 6.30 PM and Martin ordered for dinner. I had booked a small cottage for myself here and so I didn’t have any place to go and I sat down discussing with Martin our further plans. Dinner was served at 7 PM and after having his dinner Martin went to freshen up in his cottage while I ended up meeting a driver whom I knew from Guwahati and I chatted with him for sometime. Martin wanted my phone to call his wife and so I gave it to him. I too had my dinner and in sometime I retired to bed as we had to get up early morning at 5 AM to book our slot for trekking into the Nameri National Park at the forest office here.
Day 13 ~ Nameri National Park
I got up at 5 AM and went to knock on Martin’s door to awake him. Martin got up and both of us got ready. We were out at 5.45 AM to go to the Forest Range Office at Nameri National Park. The officials were not yet up and so we had to wait for sometime. There were many Capped Langurs perched atop a tree here and we observed them for sometime. At around 6.30 AM the office doors opened and we went inside to do our entry and pay the fees for entrance. Dipankar was waiting for us and at 6.45 AM we headed to the river banks where we would start our journey into the forest reserves of Nameri National Park in Assam. At first we had to cross the Jia Bhoreli river on a small country boat to reach the other side of the river bank where the forest reserve of Nameri begins. Dipankar guided us along the way and on our arrival we spotted a very rare species of bird here. Dipankar explained to us that we were very lucky to spot this bird species as many times tourist come over all the way to Nameri just to spot this bird species but are unable to sight it and leave disappointed. Our motto was however different and it was to be able to sight Python species here. We continued to trek further until we reached another smaller forest office here. Dipankar took us to the local forest office and after making another entry we started walking inside the Nameri National Park. Dipankar and Martin continued on their search for pythons along the designated tracks of Nameri National Park while I was just behind them admiring the flora of Nameri. In sometime we reached a watch tower area and we climbed on top of it to get an aerial view of Nameri National Park. Here we could spot deers in the wild. We came down and Dipankar narrated us his earlier experiences of spotting tigers, wild elephant herds, sambars, Asiatic water buffaloes, pythons, etc. inside here at Nameri National Park. We continued on our trek and in sometime reached the spot where pythons are normally spotted here. They both set out to explore the area but come back only with leeches on their shoes and no sight of pythons. After removing the leeches we headed back to the forest office. Here we had some water to drink and Martin and Dipankar got busy removing leeches from their shoes. We sat there for a while exploring the videos on Dipankar’s mobile where he showed us him handling pythons and relocating them into the forest area of Nameri National Park.
At around 11 AM we came back to camp Lalimou. We ordered for tea and had our breakfast of Aloo Parathas. After sometime we packed our stuff to go to the banks of the Jia Bhoreli river where we had been to yesterday to continue our day of fishing near Nameri as we are not allowed to fish inside Nameri National Park. The jurisdiction doesn’t allow fishing here and so we had to step away from the area of the Nameri National Park. We headed to the other side of the Nameri National Park to begin our session for fishing for the day. After crossing the bridge we took a small diversion route on the left to reach the river bank of the Jia Bhoreli river. I asked a few local boys if the spot would be ideal for fishing and they said yes and we parked our car and got down to explore the place. There was a local fisherman who had just caught a big catfish (Borali) on his hook and it intrigues Martin. The fish was around 6 kilograms in weight and the fisherman asked us if we wanted to buy it. As we had no option of cooking it we had to refuse the offer and instead look to catch our own fish. Some local boys had gathered around us and I offered them some money to help us set up the fishing kit and to dig some earthworms for Martin. They got to work and we had everything to start our session of fishing.
While Martin fished on the Jia Bhoreli river I got talking to some of the local people who had come to see Martin fish. They told me about their fishing expeditions where they used to travel to various parts of Assam to fish on the Brahmaputra river and catch a huge load of fishes mostly during the night time. They used fishing nets unlike Martin who believed in fishing using fishing rods and not nets. Martin was continuing to fish and people passing by the area came forward to see him fish. In sometime Martin caught his first fish on Jia Bhoreli. It was a small one but a good catch none the less. He released it back into the waters and continued to fish for more. Luck did not seem to favor us today as Martin had to wait for long to find another fish in his rod hook. We waited for a long time but were unable to catch another fish. It was around 4.30 PM and Martin decided to call it a day and we started to pack our things and load it into our car and started to drive back to Camp Lalimou at Nameri National Park in Assam. We arrived back to the Camp at around 5.30 PM. Today all the cottages at Camp Lalimou was full and so I had to find a separate place for myself to sleep for the night. All the other places were expensive for me to stay and so I had to head back to Balipara area to find a budget lodge for myself to stay. Martin ordered for his dinner and I bid goodbye to him and came to Balipara area near Tezpur in Assam. I found myself a decent Lodge and I checked in here and ordered for dinner and then went to sleep to prepare for the next days drive to Majuli Island in Assam.
Day 14 ~ Nameri National Park – Kaziranga National Park – Majuli Island
I got up in the morning and got ready to pick up Martin from Camp Lalimou at Nameri National Park. Martin was up and ready by the time I arrived and I ordered for breakfast. Today we had to drive for about 4 hours to Neemati Ghat near Jorhat and then another hours time by a ferry boat to reach the Largest River Island in the World – Majuli Island in Assam. Breakfast was served to us at 7.45 AM and we were finished by 8 AM. I settled the bill at Camp Lalimou and we started on our journey to Majuli Island from Nameri National Park. We reached Tezpur at around 9 AM and Martin wanted to by mango juice and withdraw cash at an ATM. I too decided to refuel the vehicle here at a petrol bunk in Tezpur. We left Tezpur to continue on our drive to Kaziranga National Park in Assam. At around 10.15 AM we entered the Kaziranga National Park area at Burapahar Safari range. The beautiful tea gardens of Assam started to welcome us and the entire area looked like a green carpet. Martin was left in awe of the natural beauty and immediately made up his mind to come back again to Assam. In sometime we reached the Bagori Safari range at Kaziranga National Park. We continued on our drive and in sometime we reached the view point midway between the Kohora and Bagori Safari ranges of Kaziranga National Park in Assam. We stopped here for a while to sight the pride of Assam – the endangered One Horned Rhinoceros species along Asiatic Wild Water Buffaloes and Deer species who were all grazing in the open area at a distance.
We admired the beauty of the Rhinoceros in the wild at Kaziranga National Park for a while and then headed back on our drive to Majuli Island in Assam. Shortly we reached the Kohora Safari range at Kaziranga National Park. I wanted to take Martin to visit the Kaziranga National Orchid and Biodiversity Park – the Largest Orchid Park in India to sight varied orchid species. Martin however told me that he was only interested in looking at orchids growing and flowering in the wild and not in a green house setup so we decided to skip the visit here. After a while we reached the Agaratoli Safari range of Kaziranga National Park leading to Bokakhat town. We reached Numaligarh oil town at around 11.20 AM and I stopped the car for an early lunch as there were no good restaurants ahead and the Numaligarh Dhaba serves delicious and fresh cuisine here. They have a fish pond nearby and the fish they cook here is picked freshly everyday from this pond itself. Martin would get a chance here to spot a local fishery and also enjoy a special Assamese fish thali. We ordered for two fish thalis. While I ordered for fish curry, Martin had ordered for fish fry. The food arrived shortly and it had an assorted variety of food. We had our food and by the time we were finished it was 12 PM and we continued on our drive to Neemati Ghat near Jorhat in Assam.
We crossed Dergaon and then the roads were not so good. We had to lower our car speed and drive slowly to reach Jorhat town and bypass. We took the bypass to continue to Neemati Ghat. By the time we arrived at Neemati Ghat it was around 2 PM. There was already a line of cars awaiting to board the ferry to reach the Kamalabari Ghat in Majuli Island. I put my vehicle in line and we awaited for the ferry. Martin took our his video camera and started recording the varied activities at Neemati Ghat. He was left amazed with the chaos around. By the time the first ferry came around 5 cars were loaded onto it and we didn’t get a chance to board this ferry. The next ferry arrived at 2.45 PM and we were second in line to load our vehicle onto this ferry. It was a smaller boat and Martin couldn’t believe that it would be able to carry 3 vehicles on it across the mighty Brahmaputra river of Assam. He was also left puzzled as to how I would drive my car on it. I told him not to worry as I had taken my car loaded on the ferry many times to Majuli Island. He believed in me and in sometime I loaded my vehicle on the ferry boat. It was around 3.30 PM and we were ready to leave Neemati Ghat to go to Majuli Island. It generally takes about an hours time to reach Kamalabari Ghat in Majuli Island downstream of the Brahmaputra. The river looked beautiful and also the sky horizon. A cool breeze was blowing which was very soothing. We arrived at the Kamalabari Ghat at 4.30 PM and I went ahead and offloaded my vehicle to drive to Garmur area in Majuli Island.
At around 5 PM we reached Garamur in Majuli. Our stay was booked at my Camp here in Majuli Island – the La Lolat Eco Camp. Initiated in 2017, the La Lolat Eco Camp was an initiative to provide an affordable accommodation option to all the backpackers to Majuli Island. It is a basic setup with tented accommodations, a share bathroom facility and an ethnic kitchen, all built in a traditional Mishing style architecture made up with bamboos and minimal concrete. We reached the Camp and the caretakers Anil and Baskor came out to assist us to take the luggage out of the car and put in into the tent allocated to Martin. There was another female traveller from Hyderabad who had come to Majuli staying with us in one of the other tents. It was already dark here and we couldn’t plan to go out anywhere as this is a village area and everything closes here by around 7 PM in the evening on regular days. My friend here at Majuli, Mr. Rupam Regon had come over to meet me and he was the person who would take us around certain villages in search of pythons and assist Martin to fish around in Majuli Island. We discussed our plans for the next couple of days here at Majuli Island in Assam. I went to the kitchen area to check out what Anil had planned to cook for dinner tonight. He was already busy preparing black tea for all of us and he served it to us with biscuits. For dinner they had bought chicken from the market and they planned to prepare chicken curry, rice, dal, cauliflower sabji and roasted brinjal chutney.
While Anil and Baskor got busy with preparations for dinner and Martin started to arrange his things inside the tent, I headed out to the nearby village with Rupam to meet some of my other friends in Majuli Island. We went to a close by village to meet Mr. Mantu Kaman and his family. A local person Mantu Da always welcomes me to his home during my visit to Majuli Island. Mantu Da greeted and welcomed us into his bamboo cottage home. Rupam and I went inside. We discussed our personal life for sometime and Mantu Da’s wife served us rice beer and pork. The rice beer called Apong is a traditional alcoholic beverage of Majuli Island and is made by fermenting a special kind of rice. It is of a white color and is offered to all guests to homes at Majuli Island. It is generally served on a bell metal bowl. We had two bowls of rice beer and after about 4 minutes we headed back to our camp. Once we reached I saw Martin and the female guest staying with us were speaking to one another and Martin was describing his experience so far in Assam. The girl was listening to him and noting down the next places to visit as she had come over directly to Majuli Island after landing at the Guwahati airport and she didn’t have anything planned on her Itinerary. They were engaged in their conversation when we arrived and I greeted them and asked if they wanted to have their dinner. They said they were ready and so I asked Anil to serve them dinner.
I had another tour running parallely in Arunachal Pradesh so I called on my colleague to check if everything was fine and the guests were having a good time or not. Apart from a minute glitches everything was fine he informed. Dinner was served and both our guests enjoyed the dinner. I would have it a little later with Anil, Baskor and Rupam. Martin wanted to call his wife so I gave him my phone. After discussing future plans on how to improve our camp at Majuli Island we four had our dinner. Martin too was finished with his call and we retired to our tents for the night to prepare ourselves for the next day’s exploration of the largest river island in the World – Majuli Island.
Day 15 ~ Majuli Island
We got up early in the morning as everyone had slept early. I got up at 5.30 AM and once I got out of my tent, I could see Martin already fishing with his rod at a nearby lake. He was using a plastic frog as a bite and once he came back he told me that a few fishes did bite his frog indicating the presence of cat fishes in the lake here in Majuli Island in Assam. The female guest was also up and Anil prepared tea for all of us. By the time everyone got ready it was 8.30 AM. Breakfast was bread toast, butter and boiled eggs. Rupam came over from his home and at 9 AM we started on our journey to a nearby village where we would continue on our search for pythons and other snake species. We arrived at the village at 9.20 AM and as the road was quite narrow we had to park our car in a local person’s home and walk ahead to continue on our expedition. The weather was cloudy and it didn’t look favorable as snakes generally come out of their holes on a hot day when the sun is shining. Still we were not disheartened and continued on our search. Rupam had arranged for a local man to take us to places where they had sightings of snakes an he joined us on our search for pythons. We went to densely covered bushy areas and forests and also around paddy fields but couldn’t sight any signs of snakes today. The only genuine sign of snakes being present in the area was our discovery of a snake skin. We continued on our search for some more time along the bases of the bamboo grooves which are the most prominent places where snakes hide.
In sometime, the news spread around the village that a foreigner had come by and is out looking for snakes. Gradually, the village people started to come near us to take a look at Martin. Everyone had their own inputs as to where snakes were to be found. Martin realized that with so many people around it would be impossible for any snake to come out of their holes. So we decided to explore the village for a while and then leave. Next up, it was around 11 AM and we decided to at first get back to our camp and then get the fishing gears ready and then start on our fishing expedition for the day. By the time we reached our camp it started to rain heavily. It seemed it would be a wise decision to wait before we stepped out again. Anil had prepared our lunch and so we decided to have our lunch at first and then go out for fishing. After our lunch it had stopped raining and we packed our stuff in the car and headed to a lake near Rupam’s house at Phutuki village in Majuli Island. This lake is well known to have many varieties of fish species and so we parked our vehicle and went out at first to check out for a proper spot to fish. There was another fisherman laying his nets on the waters of the lake and he had a very good catch of fishes the previous day. After identifying the spot we went back to the car and unloaded the fish gear to start the session of fishing.
While Martin was fishing, Rupam and I went to take our seat at a nearby construction site. In about an hours time it started to pour again and we took shelter at the construction site. After it stopped raining, Martin went out to check his rods again. But luck was not in our favor today and Martin was unable to catch any fish. He decided to call it a day and we started to pack and load the fishing gear back into the car. We reached the local market and we headed to see the varieties of fish available in the market. There were different varieties of fish in the market from smaller ones to bigger ones. There was one particular interesting fish which looked like an ornamental fish of Assam and it had green colored fins on top. I wanted to treat Martin with a local delicacy ‘Hol Fish’ for dinner and so I bought one complete fish to be taken with us to the camp. By the time we arrived it was 6 PM and Anil prepared tea for us. I gave the fish to him and they got to work to clean the fish and prepare a fish curry with ground pepper. They would also make a mashed potato chutney and dal for dinner. We were discussing our next days plan and Martin brought out a bottle of Slovakian liquor for all of us. We arranged for glasses and he poured a little of it on the glasses and we all had the liquor. It had a very strong taste and we could feel our throat burning for quite sometime. None the less we finished our drink and by the time it was around 8 PM.
Dinner was ready and Anil served us dinner. The girls had made some local friends so she was out and would come back in an hour. Martin enjoyed the fish curry a lot along with the mashed potato chutney. It was the second time he had asked for a second serving of rice after dinner at my home. We were done with our dinner at 9 PM and the girl called me stating that she had her dinner and would be back in another 15 minutes. We were discussing life at Majuli Island and how set back the life here was far away from the hustle and bustle of a busy city life. Martin wanted to know about the presence of some ornamental fishes in the ponds and lakes around and Anil told him that he had seen some of these fishes in the lakes and ponds of Majuli Island. At 9.30 PM the girl came back and she described her experience of the day exploring Majuli Island with us. At 10.30 PM we all retired to out tents and Rupam went back to his home. He had work the next day so could join us only in the afternoon.
Day 16 ~ Majuli Island
It was a pleasant morning today in Majuli Island. The sun was shining brightly and the temperature was very favorable – not too hot and not too cold. Everyone was up and ready by 8 AM. Anil served us breakfast of maggi noodles, boiled eggs and black tea. The girl was scheduled to leave from Majuli today so we bid her goodbye before we ventured out on our days plan of first going to fish at a nearby river Luit and in the afternoon go out in search of pythons at a virgin forest area near the Salmora village in Majuli. At 9.30 AM we reached the banks of the river Luit nearby our camp. It is a calm and beautiful river that is a lifeline for the people of Majuli Island in Assam. We could see fisherman in boats fishing on the river and Martin setup his fishing rods to begin fishing. A cool breeze was blowing and the weather was perfect for a day out here. Anil and I took our seats nearby to watch Martin fish. After about half an hour luck favored and Martin was able to catch his first fish in Majuli Island. It was a medium sized catfish that had whiskers and Martin looked very happy with his catch. He continued to fish for another two hours and was able to catch 2 more fishes as well as film as shoal of baby ‘Sal’ fishes here. At 12 PM we ended the session of fishing and headed back to the camp.
Today Baskor had prepared our lunch and it was a simple meal of rice, dal, mixed vegetables, papad and pickles. We finished our lunch and Rupam called to inform that the Chief Minister of Assam was on a visit to Majuli Island and the entire area near Salmora village was filled with government and police vehicles so he advised us to stay at the camp until the function ended. I informed the same to Martin and we had no other choice than to wait. After about an hour Rupam called me and told me to come over and pick him up along the way and we were off to Salmora village forest. We arrived at 3 PM and headed into the forest reserve to check out if we could spot any pythons here. Martin went ahead and we stayed close to him. We did not venture deep into the forest but stayed close by the village as we were told there were wild elephants and leopards inside the forest. We could find traces of snake holes here and there but unfortunately we couldn’t spot any snake. We did spot various birds here. At 4.30 PM we came out of the forest and Rupam had collected some ferns from here called ‘Dhekia’ and brought it along with us to the camp to be cooked for dinner. I bought another variety of fish for dinner and we reached our camp by 6 PM. Anil got ready to prepare dinner and Rupam assisted him to make the fern sabji. Dinner was served at 8 PM and Martin loved the fern sabji. It was indeed very tasty and also the fish curry was amazing as it was prepared in a sour broth of a special local vegetable called as ‘Ou Tenga’. It was truly and amazing dinner and all credit went to Rupam, Anil and Baskor for it. We retired to our tents to prepare for our next day drive to Dibru Saikhowa National Park in Upper Assam.
Day 16 ~ Majuli Island – Dibru Saikhowa National Park
We had to catch the early morning 7.30 AM ferry so we left our Camp at 6.45 AM to go to Kamalabari Ghat. It had rained the previous night and so the road to the ghat was quite muddy. We had to drive carefully and we reached the ghat at 7.10 AM and I loaded my vehicle on the ferry boat. The journey upstream takes around 1 hour and 30 minutes and so we were expecting to reach Neemati Ghat by around 9 AM to continue our journey to Dibru Saikhowa National Park in Tinsukia district in Upper Assam. About half an hour into the ferry ride as the water level was shallow the ferry got stuck in the sand bed. It took around 30 minutes to remove it and by the time we arrived at Neemati Ghat it was 9.30 AM. Our plan got delayed by 30 minutes and so I started to drive a little fast. However, the road condition did not allow me to do so. We reached a small town at 10.15 AM and I pulled over to have our breakfast. There was chicken noodles available here. We ordered for two plates and finished by 10.45 AM and continued on our drive. We reached Sivasagar in sometime and then continued to Demow and Moran. We reached Dibrugarh at around 1 PM and I halted to refuel the vehicle. Two of the petrol bunks I visited were running dry and I finally found luck on the third and refueled my tank. At around 1.40 PM we reached Lahoal.
There was a long line of cars ahead of us and I came to know that some incident might have occurred on the road so I pulled over for lunch at a nearby Dhaba. We ordered for fried rice and chicken Manchurian. By the time we were done it was around 3 PM and the traffic had also cleared. We started on our drive to the market at Tinsukia as Martin wanted to buy a ‘Khukri’ knife. We reached Tinsukia market and went out to look out for the knife. We searched in 3 shops but it was not available. So we decided to leave the idea and continue to Dibru Saikhowa National Park. Martin’s stay at Dibru Saikhowa National Park was arranged at the Banashree Eco Camp and so we headed there. We arrived at 5 PM and the caretakers Dilip and Sanjay were there to greet us and Martin checked in here. They helped Martin to check into his cottage here. While I were to stay at my relative’s home in Tinsukia town. I had to prepare for the plan of the next day ans as Martin was interested in fishes I asked him to go to the Guijan ghat nearby where everyday early in the morning at 5 AM various fishermen bring in their catch from the Dibru and Brahmaputra rivers here. I would be here by 7 AM so I could assist him to see around the Dibru Saikhowa National Park. Martin inquired about the presence of pythons in the locality and Dilip informed him that he has spotted these snakes around the vicinity of the Dibru Saikhowa National Park many times and also in the dense tea gardens areas around. Dinner was being prepared and I bid goodbye to Martin to travel to Tinsukia to meet him the next day. I reached my Aunt’s home in Tinsukia and after dinner I retired to bed.
Day 18 ~ Dibru Saikhowa National Park
I reached Banashree Eco Resort at 7 AM and Martin was out in the nearby tea gardens to look around. I meanwhile went to the nearby forest office to make an entry and pay the requisite fees for our entrance to the Dibru Saikhowa National Park. While I reached, Martin was back from the tea gardens. It seems he got up a little late in the morning and so by the time he reached the Guijan ghat, most of the fishes were already auctioned and taken off. Anyways, while coming back he was successful in arranging a ferry boat for us that would take us to the other side of the river Dibru to the Dibru Saikhowa National Park. We ordered for breakfast and in sometime two forest guards came by to accompany us into the forest reserves of Dibru Saikhowa National Park. The boat owner was also there and at around 9.30 AM we headed on the boat to continue our journey to visit the Kekjori tree at Dibru Saikhowa National Park in Assam. Two young boys who were plying the boat also came along with us and at around 10 AM we started on our trek to go to the Kekjori tree. Martin, myself, two forest guards and the two young boatmen, we all set out to look for the presence of pythons near the Kekjori tree area.
Due to the recent rains here, there was slight water logging in the area and we had to be careful while walking not to slip into the mud. Martin was observing hollowed out tree trunks to check for the presence of snakes but to no avail. In around 30 minutes we reached the ‘Saal Beel’ area that is a dried out lake bed famous for its population of migratory birds. As it was the month of end April, the season for migratory birds was over and only a few local bird species were to be spotted here. We continued on our trek and shortly we reached the Kekjori tree area. It is a beautiful tree that spreads over a huge area and has branches spread out across acres of land. This tree is one of the prime attractions of the Dibru Saikhowa National Park and visitors from far and near come here. Martin offered anyone who could help him spot a snake to film an amount of INR 1000 and the two young boys got to work to see if they could spot one and show it to Martin. However, luck did not favor us at the Kekjori tree and we decided to return back to. Along our way one of the boys started running very fast and called us. He spotted a snake and it was hidden inside the root of a tree. We approached to see the snake and it looked like a cobra. Martin quickly filmed the snake and we rushed away from the spot to avoid any danger. We reached our boat and it was around 12 PM and we headed to the Dolphin point to sight the River Dolphins here. The river Dibru is one of the few river in Assam that has the population of these river dolphins along with the Brahmaputra in Assam as rampant hunting declined their numbers to a surviving few.
The boys stalled the boat and we waited to sight these river dolphins. In about 10 minutes we sighted the first river dolphin and then at gradual intervals we spotted a total of 7 river dolphins. It was around 1 PM and we headed back to Banashree Eco Resort to have our lunch. Lunch was served and we had fish curry, rice, dal and potato sabji. At 3 PM we headed to the Maguri Beel area to do some fishing. We reached a small cycle repair shop here and I knew the owner who rents out boat for visitors to travel across Maguri Beel. Shortly Martin loaded his fishing rods and we went by boat to an area where there would be availability of fishes. We tied the boat to a pole and Martin started to fish. There were many other local fishermen around who had set fish traps in the Maguri Beel and who also were using nets to catch fishes here. There were a lot of aqua hyacinths floating along the waters of the Beel and Martin feared that his hook might get entangled in one of these thereby damaging his rod. It did not turn out to be a good day of fishing as Martin was unable to catch any fish. At 5 PM we decided to head back to the Banashree Eco Resort. Martin opened his laptop to download all the video from his camera into it. It was the last day of exploring Assam’s wildlife and flora today so he took his time to appreciate all the moments captured. I took leave at 7 PM to return to my Aunt’s home after intimating the kitchen staff to provide dinner on time to Martin.
Day 19 ~ Dibru Saikhowa National Park – Guwahati
We had a long 11 hour drive back to Guwahati today and I had already informed Martin that we would be leaving as early as possible in the morning o reach by evening to Guwahati. I reached Banashree Eco Resort at 6.45 AM and Martin was packing his bags. I woke the caretakers and asked them to give us bread, butter, boiled eggs and tea for breakfast. At 7.15 AM we had our breakfast loaded our things into the car and started on our drive to Guwahati. We crossed Dibrugarh at 9 AM heading onto Moran and Demow. When we were approaching Sivasagar bypass, there was a long line of cars ahead of us. We were stuck again and it seemed that two trucks had collided in the middle of the road and authorities were trying to clear the blockade. After 20 minutes the blockade was cleared and we crossed Sivasagar. We did not make any halt and continued on our journey to Teok where we halted as Martin wanted to take picture of a Satra entrance gate. He somehow forgot to tell me this in Majuli Island so we waited here. Next up we crossed Jorhat at around 11.30 AM and then continued to Numaligarh. We halted again at the Numaligarh Dhaba to have our lunch. We ordered the same menu as last time of Assamese thali and fish curry and fried fish for Martin.
After lunch we continued to drive to Kaziranga National Park where we halted at the Amalgamated Plantation tea outlet as Martin wanted to but Assam Tea to take home. Next up we crossed Jakhalabandha, Koliabor, Nagaon and finally arrives Guwahati at my home at 7 PM. Both of us were extremely exhausted and we went to take a shower. At 8.30 PM we had our dinner and Martin spoke to his wife for sometime and we returned to bed.
Day 20 ~ Guwahati City – Guwahati Airport
Today morning Martin got up and he wanted to check out the jungles near my home one last time for signs of any snake before leaving to the city to buy Assamese Jewelry and then come back home pack and leave to the airport. I asked one local person to help clear the jungle to help Martin look around. They searched for about an hour and half but had to return empty handed. At 9.30 AM we headed to Guwahati city at Zoo Road Tinali area to look out for Assamese Jewelry. We reached a shpo here and the shop owner showed Martin a variety of Assamese jewelry. Martin bought quite some stuff for his wife. Next up we headed to Ambari area in Guwahati to look out for traditional Assamese souveniors for Martin to carry home. He bought some stuff here at the Artfed showroom. It was time for lunch and I took Martin to an authentic Assamese restaurant closeby called the Khorika owned by the best celebrity chef of Assam. We ordered for ethnic Assamese dishes like duck, local ferns and fishes along with traditional rice. It was a sumptuous meal and Martin loved the food. He paid the bill as a treat for me. We continued to G S Road where Martin checked for gold at a showroom here and next we reached home. Martin got busy packing his bags and at 5 PM we headed to the airport. Martin’s flight was at 7.30 PM to Delhi and we reached at 5.30 PM to the airport. I helped him carry his luggage to the check in gate and bid my goodbye to Martin and wished him a safe flight back to Slovakia. Martin thanked me for everything and wished me luck in all my future endeavors and promised to come back to visit Assam soon as indeed spoken in the campaign of Assam Tourism – ‘Once you visit Assam, it stays with you forever….!’