Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Shillong- Tourism Capital of Northeast

Guwahati "super fast" express was 4 hours late and we reached Guwahati by 12 noon. Had a booking at Ananda Lodge (MN Rd, 03612544832 dbl Rs.250) but the ongoing book fair made all the rooms occupied. Sweaty Guwahati did not make us stay further. We headed to Shillong taking a share sumo (Rs.150, 4 hrs), occasional 4 lane road construction on the GS road and tree falling on the road delayed us by 30 min. We darted to Aaron's (9863115302) shop,sells hiking and fishing gear ( DD Laloo & Co. U Tirot Sing Syiem Rd, Tel: 0364 - 2502420, email: organizes off beat activities for students and corporates. After exchanging stories of last 2 years, we checked-in at Hotel Embassy (AC Lane, near Assam Studio, GS Road, dbl Rs.650). Rooms could be kept more clean for the price we pay. Shoddy toilet and metal tasting water are deterring but cheapest in the central area. Hotel Koshi Niwas (Hira Market, Thana Rd, Police Bazar, Tel: 0364 - 2500009, 9774040289, dbl Rs.700) is not so easy to find but best value for money. If you can stand the arrogance of the management, Earl Home Holiday (Oakland road, left turn from HDFC ATM, Tel: 0364-2228614, dbl Rs 350-3000) is a nice hotel with vast car parking area, the old hotel is the typical tin sheet roofed hill station building. Relishing the street food at Center Point (chowmein Rs.10, 3 eggs Rs.20) we called it a day, after travelling for 4 days from Cochin.

Called up HVK and updated about the status. After a quick breakfast at Gupta Restaurant in the Police Bazar next to U.P.Sweet Meat, we hopped on to supplementary transport service of Shillong ( TATA MAGIC) to Mawlai from Bara Bazar to visit Don Bosco Museum (Rs.60 admn fee) - the best place to start an expedition in Northeast. A thorough tour explaining the culture and tradition of Northeast, will take two hours and the view of sprawling Shillong city and outskirts from the sky walk on top of this seven storied building is spectacular. DBCIC (9.30a.m - 5.30p.m, Mon-Sat  1.30p.m-5.30p.m, Sunday). The next door Homely Hut restaurant offers mouth watering soups and delicious fried rice/chowmein (Rs 70).

Take any taxi  or bus heading to Guwahati and get down at Orchid Lake Resort at Bara Pani, 15 km from Shillong. Nehru Park (Rs.10) is close by and Water Sports Complex is 10 min walk with an admission fee of Rs.20 and boating extra. A good location to see the magnitude of Umiam Lake and magical Lumpondeng Island at a far distance. You get a great view from the bund next to the diversion to Airport without paying any admission fee. A few boys jumping from the bridge to the river and swimming back took us back to our childhood days.

Shillong comes to a virtual stand still on a Sunday with most of the shops closed and very few transport services, as locals go to church. Spend some time at well kept Ward's Lake and visit the architecturally magnificent wooden churches at the center of Shillong city to get over a lazy Sunday. All Saints Cathedral is the most remarkable for the it's wooden beams and stained glass paintings. The bells imported from England behind the church and the electrical ceramic switches and wiring inside the church take you back in time.

Finding Arunachal Deputy Commissioner's office, Old Arunachal Secretariat building (ITBP NE Head Quarters) near Anjalee petrol pump was not effortless. ILPs (Inner Line Permit) for Bomdila-Tawang circuit and Itanagar-Ziro-Along were obtained separately. Rs.25 for each permit and two passport size photographs along ID proof photocopies. Permits are given on same day unlike Arunachal House at Dispur where it takes two days to get the permit. Booked bus tickets to Itanagar Rs.380 at the tiny counter behind Old AP Secretariat building. Surprisingly the bus driver was a Keralite. Last row seats got moved to the very first row, Megha was saying all thanks to MMTP (Malyali-Malyali-Transfer-Protocol).  A truckload of vegetables was loaded on top of the bus-an indication that vegetarian food will be more expensive at Itanagar compared to Shillong. One of our co-passengers was a cute puppy. Bedford buses plying inside the city two years back gave way to swanky JNNRUM  city buses. Accommodation prices have been hiked up despite a reduction in luxury tax from 20% to 10%.Transport is cheap if you stick to state transport buses and TATA Magic, private shared taxi charges are more than double.Food is dirt cheap at small eateries and on the street. 


  1. That was a lovely introduction to Shillong. Rich info on hotel & transport facilities too. Any language issues - English works? What about Hindi? The AR Office - that means you need to visit twice, once to lodge the application, once again to pick up? Do they work on Sat & Sun also? You got permit based on itinerary for 15 days? How is mobile connectivity in Shillong region, especially data links?

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  3. English works mostly, but Hindi will definitely more helpful. You can wait at the office and get the permit if you are there after 10am. Permits are given based on the different circuits. Tezpur-Bomdila-Tawang and Itanagar-Ziro-Aalong-Passighat were the two circuits we got. You can write in the start date of the trip and 15days from that date will be given. Permits can be extended at any of the DC offices (Bomdila,Tawang). You can obtain permit at Tezpur also.

    Prepaid mobile works with pretty good data links in Shillong.