Tucked away in the far north-east of India, wedged between the borders of Bhutan, Burma and Tibet, Arunachal Pradesh is India’s lesser known state. Before the region was elevated to statehood in 1986, Arunachal Pradesh, along with Assam, Nagaland and 4 other states was known as the North-East Frontier Agency (NEFA). Except for occasional forays by administrators and anthropologists during the time of the British, nothing much was known about this area for most of the 20th century. The isolation of the North East Frontier Agency was legally safeguarded by India's own government; before laws permitting limited tourism were passed in 1995, even Indian citizens were not allowed to visit. The North East Frontier Agency lands never belonged to ancient India. They were, and still are, peopled by Mongoloid and Mon-Khmer austere stock, far removed from Aryan-Dravidian blood of the mainstream. The people here are animists (except the area of Tawang where they accepted Buddhism); in the Highlands, wild Burmese tribes enthusiastically practiced indiscriminate headhunting until as late as the fifties. To the north, Mongoloid tribals, bare-bodied in breech-clouts, are today still encountering “civilization". Nagaland is almost entirely inhabited by 16 groups of Tibeto-Burmese tribes. Among them are Angamis, Aos, Konyaks, Kukis, Lothas, Semas and Wanchus. The Nagas, who were once head hunters, have been known for their fierceness and the regular raids they made on Assam and Burma. The hilltop villages are protected by stone walls. The morung, a meeting house, acts as a boy’s dormitory, and is used for storing weapons and once displayed the prizes of war i.e. the enemy heads. The huge sacred drum, which stands by each morung is hallowed out tree trunk carved to resemble a buffalo head. On this tour, we will participate in the great Aoling festival. It is a great time to see the Konyak warriors in their finest as they celebrate this festival with dance and music.
Delhi/ Kolkata-Guwahati-Tezpur (By flight + By surface approx. 190 Kms/04 Hrs)
After breakfast transfer to the airport in order to board the flight to Guwahati. On arrival, visit Kamakhya temple. The Kamakhya Temple is a Shakti temple situated on the Nilachal Hill in western part of Guwahati city in Assam, India. It is the main temple in a complex of individual temples dedicated to different forms of the mother goddess that include Bhubaneshwari, Bagalamukhi, Chinnamasta, Tara, etc. It is an important pilgrimage destination for general Hindu and Tantric worshipers. It used be a place of human sacrifices in the past, but now a day’s only animal sacrifices are conducted. Tezpur has a very old connection with the Tea Gardens and British. During British rule it used be a leading point for loading Tea for carrying them in Steamers. The graveyard of Alexander Bruce , the father of Indian tea Industry is at Christian Cemetry at Tezpur. The Rail station and the existng railway line towards Rangapara was built by British. The old stations at Saloni Bari & Tezpur still have the old structures intact. The Monabarie Tea estate is once the largest tea estate existing. Early morning you can also catch the glimpse of Mt Sela & Mt Kangto in Arunachal Pradesh from here. On arrival, check in to the Hotel
03-04 Apr’18: Mon
We have two full days is to witness the colorful tribal festival of Konyak tribes who have been head hunters in the recent past. Depending upon where the festival will be on 3rd & 4th April, we will drive to that village. Aoling is the main festival of the Konyaks from northern Nagaland. It is celebrated in the first week of April every year. It is observed after the time of sowing seeds in new fields. Aoling celebrations also mark the end of the year and welcome the beginning of the new-year with the spring season. It is the time to pray for a bountiful harvest of crops.. Each day of the festival has its own significance, custom rituals and merry making. It is a festival of sharing and forging ahead with renewed vigor into the coming year. One of the main events of a Konyak festival takes place in the Morungs of the village where they dance and beat the wooden boat with small wooden stumps. There are also cow and pig sacrifices Visit Longwa, Shangnyu and Hongpoi villages and to interact with some of the most awesome tattooed Konyak warriors. A head hunting tribe, display of enemy heads in Morungs was considered a matter of pride in not so distant past and men got tattoos depending upon how many heads they were able to collect. Longwa village has the distinction of being half in India and half in Myanmar!
Mon-Dibrugarh (By surface approx. 220 Kms/07-08 Hrs)
Morning drive to Dibrugarh. On arrival, check in to the hotel. Dibrugarh is situated at the northern most tip of Assam. Lush and green tea plantations set the backdrop for this small town. Situated along the banks of the mighty Brahmaputra, Dibrugarh is one of oldest and most important cities in Assam.
Dibrugarh-Kolkata (By flight)
Morning is free. Afternoon transfer to the airport in order to board the flight to Kolkata.
Tezpur-Ziro (By surface approx. 290 Kms/08 Hrs)
Early morning drive to Ziro en-route visit Nishi tribal villages. On arrival, check in to the hotel. One of the most beautiful hill station of Arunachal Pradesh, located at about 1500 metres above mean sea level in the midst of the pine clad mountains, a Hidden land by Ursula G. Bowler, Ziro is the headquarter of Lower Subansiri District inhabited by more than have 50,000 friendly Apatani’s people. The land of Apatani’s is a valley, uneven and dotted with a number of hillocks beneath the lust paddy field. Overnight in the Hotel Blue Pine (B, L, D)
Using Ziro as a base, the entire day is spent visiting the Hong and other Apatani Villages. Everywhere we go we are warmly welcomed. As E.T. Dalton noted in 1845, “The men do not rejoice in much drapery, they wear a girdle of canework painted red which hangs behind in long bushy tail.” Just as the tail is the distinctive part of the male dress, so is the nose plug peculiar to the Apatani women. It is the ambition of each woman to wear the largest possible nose plugs, which are made of wood. Both sexes extensively tattoo their faces. Each sect has distinctive features. Their hats, clothes, ornaments, language and even physical features are totally different. Evening witness the cultural dance performance
Ziro - Majuli (By surface approx. 220 Kms/07 Hrs + Ferry crossings)
After breakfast drive to Majuli Island, En route cross the local tributaries of Brahmaputra River by local made ferry. On arrival in Majuli, check in to the lodge for overnight stay.
Full day is to explore the Majuli Island. The world’s largest River Island is famous for its twenty-two 15th Century "satras". These are Hindu Vaishnev (followers of Lord Vishnu) monasteries functioning as centers of Assamese arts. The worship of Lord Vishnu is through dance, music and poetry. The satras take in young boys and groom them. The daily routine includes working in the fields, tending cattle, prayer, discussion and study. The satras have also nurtured certain art and craft traditions, which can now be found only here. In Natun Samugri satra for instance, one can still find the craft of mask-making; Kamlabari satra still makes the finest boats. Day to explore the Majuli Island and its various satras. We will also explore the villages of Miri tribes who live on this island as well as see a Mostic and Mask Dance
Majuli-Kaziranga (02 Hrs Ferry ride + by surface approx. 120 Kms/03 Hrs)
Morning we will take a ferry to Neematighat and drive on to Kaziranga National Park. On arrival, check in to the lodge. This national park, sprawling over 430 square kilometers in the eastern state of Assam, is one of the last bastions of the endangered great Indian one-horned rhinoceros, whose population was believed to have dropped to just 12 in the 1950s but has since increased to around 1500. Kaziranga’s stunningly beautiful landscape comprises savannah grassland, the green and fertile plains of the Brahmaputra River, as well as evergreen, moist deciduous and swamp forests, and is also a haven for over 300 species of birds, as well as wild elephants, Asiatic wild buffalos, tigers, leopards, sloth bears and many deer species. Afternoon enjoy the Jeep safari in to the National Park for wildlife viewing.
Early morning enjoy the Elephant safari into the Kaziranga National Park. Later also enjoy the morning and afternoon Jeep safari in to the National Park for wildlife viewing.
Kaziranga-Sibsagar (By surface approx. 170 Kms/04 Hrs)
After early breakfast drive to Sibsagar. On arrival, check in to the hotel. Afternoon proceed for the sightseeing of Sibsagar. The Tai-speaking Ahoms came to the area from Yunnan, China, in the 13th century AD. Sibsagar was the capital of the Ahom kingdom in the 18th century, when it was called Rangpur; several temples remain from that period. The town is now a tea-processing town. The most remarkable landscape of the town is the 200 year old Sibsagar tank. On its banks are three temples-- the Shivadol, the Vishnudol and the Devidol-- all three built by Queen Madambika, wife of Siva Singha, in the year 1734. The Shivadol is believed to be the highest Siva Temple in India, having a height of 104 feet and the perimeter 195 feet. Also visit some more of the Ahom kingdom monuments like Rang Ghar and KarengGhar.
02 Sibsagar-Mon (By surface approx. 160 Kms/06 Hrs)
Early morning start your drive to Mon for 06 hours. After going through checking formalities at the border of Nagaland, we enter the state. If time permits Visit first village at Phuktong village. It has two great Morungs (men’s dormitories). Also visit Angh’s (chief’s) residence.