The beautiful state of Assam was my first introduction to the North-East. I am not too happy to admit that it took Covid and difficulty in international travel for us to plan our first trip to the North-East, starting with Assam. Kaziranga national park, I would say was the highlight was the trip. This was a 7 day laid-back vacation with kids that included stay in Guwahati, Wild Mahaseer Tea Estate and Diphlu Lodge near Kaziranga national park. It can be easily fit into a 5 day Assam Itinerary with a night at Guwahati, 2 nights at a tea estate and the last 2 nights at a resort near Kaziranga.
Another thing to do is combine 5 -6 days in Assam with travel to the neighbouring state of Meghalaya. A combined Assam and Meghalaya itinerary for 10 days is quite popular. You can easily travel from Guwahati to Shillong and further to Cherrapunji in Meghalaya.
I have done several family holidays in Asia, but this trip to Assam felt more serene with far more time with nature.
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Assam Travel Tips
Assam is best visited from November to May. The weather is perfect, with pleasant days and chilly nights.
The North-East part of India has seen less tourism earlier due to several reasons. There was insurgency and safety issues in Assam that are completely under control now. The distance from rest of India, the food options, the roads and the stay options all have had a role to play. This has left many areas in these 7 states unspoilt and not crowded. So, as the infrastructure to North-East India is improving, the time to visit is now. You get a unhurried way of travel from earlier times.
Guwahati, the capital city of Assam is well connected to other Indian cities via domestic flights. We took a direct flight from Delhi to Guwahati to start our trip. It was easy to move around the city using taxis and auto-rickshaws. We had booked a car rental with a driver the next morning to take us to Balipara where our tea estate was located. And the same car rental was with us through the Assam road trip further to Kaziranga and back to Guwahati airport.
There were plenty of vegetarian food dishes available in Guwahati and in little roadside shacks where we stopped en route. So you won’t be left in crisis mode in Assam if you are a vegetarian. For others, the pork, chicken and fish options are plenty.
Assam Itinerary for 7 days: Start with Guwahati
You would most likely start with Assam trip with the capital city of Guwahati. My first impression of the city was it is cleaner than many other cities in India, at least the parts we encountered. We flew in from Delhi and stayed for just a night in the city. A local cuisine thali was the highlight of our easy afternoon in Guwahati.
For the religious minded, there is Kamakhya Temple and the Basistha Temple to visit. A river cruise over the mighty Brahmaputra would be a calming activity. And Guwahati is close enough to Shillong to plan a Meghalaya and Assam trip together.
Things to do in Assam: Back to the colonial era at a Tea Estate
Assam is famous for its tea and has numerous tea plantations spread over large tracts of land. Apart from buying the finest Assamese tea on your way back, I would urge you to stay at one of thees British-styled tea estates. There are many to choose from.
Scenic vistas. Colonial lifestyle. A rejuvenating stay at a Tea Estate is a must for your Assam itinerary.
We chose a 3 night stay at Wild Mahaseer, one of the oldest tea estates in the region. We had booked a taxi car to drive us from Guwahati to Balipara. It is a 4.5 to 5 hr road journey that combined with a quick lunch stop got us to Balipara in mid-afternoon. In hindsight, I would add a night more in Guwahati for some sightseeing and cultural activities and a night less at the tea estate. Don’t get me wrong! Our stay was all that we had hoped for. But even with a 5 hour road drive, 2 nights gives you plenty of time to explore the estate and relax fully.
We did a guided tour of the tea gardens adjacent to Wild Mahaseer. Some tea estates provide a tour of the factory processing the tea in some months, but this would require advance notice to them. Exploring the gardens, playing board games, visiting the tea gardens, reading a book, no better way to spend with friends or family.
What to do in Assam: Enjoy the wildlife at Kaziranga national park
The best was reserved for the end of our 7-day Assam itinerary. Unlike many national parks in India, Kaziranga has an air of being untouched. In November, when we visited, there would be large portions when we had the forest mostly to ourselves. The tourism does pick up in December and January here, but the crowds would be still lesser than other national parks, especially the ones in Madhya Pradesh.
A 2 hour road drive got us from Balipara to Diphlu River Lodge, near Kaziranga. This national park is spread over 430 square kilometres. In 1985, the park was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO. With the increase in tiger population, the park was also declared a Tiger Reserve in 2006. The show stopper here is the one-horned rhinoceros.
About 2/3rd of the total world population of one-horned rhinoceros resides in Kaziranga. You will not leave the forest without one, or most likely, many!
It is one of the most beautiful national parks that I have visited in India. Tall grasslands, marshy areas, and the presence of Brahmapautra river, make it scenic. November to April is the best time to visit Kaziranga national park. There are regular jeep forest safaris available in the morning and afternoon. There is also an elephant safari available in early mornings.
Day Trips near Kaziranga national park
The highlight of our stay at Diphlu River Lodge was the afternoon safari and the morning elephant safari at Kaziranga. We also did 2 enjoyable day excursions. The Dolphin Boat Safari was arranged by the lodge including the transport, the boat excursion and the champagne. The sunset view while cruising over Brahmaputra was quite special. We didn’t encounter any river dolphins but the boat cruise is worth it.
We also did a morning excursion to Nameri national park. This was a full day outing with a 3 hour road drive and then a short boat ride to cross the Jia-Bhorelli river. Nameri Park allows visitors to trek through its terrain. It is a haven for bird lovers’ with more than 300 species of birds found here.
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What was your favourite place in North-East India? Share with us in the comments below.
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