The states of Northeast India offer an incredibly diverse mix of natural and cultural wonder. Varied climates and landscapes are found throughout its reaches, which spread along the borders of Bhutan, Tibet, Myanmar, and Bangladesh.
The region comprises the easternmost frontiers of India, consisting of adjoining Sister States of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Sikkim, Tripura, Manipur, and Nagaland. Some 220 different ethnic groups and as many different dialects exist in this region, and the varying forms of art, dance, religion, and historic architecture unfold in an intriguing tapestry to reflect the diverse population. This land of heritage and ancient cities is very different from the rest of India, and visitors will experience local authenticity.
I hereby present few suggestive routes, and a comprehensive list of choicest accommodation in seven sister states of North-East India, something which offers luxury comforts, combined with authenticity, and a mix of off-beat, off-the-grid, remote, exclusive, bucket list stay options. Scroll down and start planning, as this is the best time to explore your own backyard, while the international travel and border restrictions still prevail.
Suggestive Routes and Itineraries for the North-East India:
Route 1: Cherrapunjee, Shillong, Kaziranga, Pakke, Ziro, Daporijo, Along, Dibrugarh, Majuli Island, Kohima, Khonoma, Dimapur
India’s North East is an ethnically and culturally diverse region that sees very few tourists beyond Assam. This itinerary takes you into the heart of the region.
Travel in the North East takes effort, with mountainous terrain and numerous rivers to be crossed. However, the rewards for the curious and hardy traveller are many. With a backdrop of raw natural beauty, this itinerary takes you to the outer-reaches of the region where several different indigenous tribes continue to live a traditional lifestyle.
Basic accommodation in the midst of these communities gives you an opportunity to understand their traditional practices (hunting, farming, gathering, etc) and the way they have adjusted to the influence of the outside world in order to continue with a traditional lifestyle.
The trip winds down with a tea garden stay and visits to several important historical sites relating to World War II.
Route 2: Shillong, Kaziranga, Nameri National Park, Dirang, Tawang, Bomdila, Tezpur, Guwahati
Ethnically and linguistically diverse, with a rich and distinct culture, this is one of India’s least explored destinations.
This itinerary offers an adventurous exploration of an untouched corner of India – a region of magnificent natural beauty – and home to a large number of tribal groups, each with their own distinct culture. It includes visits to temples, tea gardens, monasteries, and World Heritage listed national parks containing hundreds of species of flora and fauna.
Route 3: Kolkata, Sunderbans, New Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling, Gangtok, Kalimpong, Kaziranga, Dibrugarh
This itinerary is an ideal introduction to West Bengal, Sikkim and Assam, offering spectacular Himalayan views, a taste of the rich Bengali culture and a tea plantation stay.
This itinerary’s mix of lively cities, historic hill stations and scenic beauty make it ideal for first time visitors who want to cover the region’s highlights, or as a general introduction to India with a difference. The culture of Kolkata, the stunning Himalayan range and the aesthetic appeal of Assam tea plantations are some of the most rewarding sights and experiences that India has to offer.
With a wide range of accommodation to choose from – from homestays to grand heritage hotels and colonial-era tea planters’ bungalows – you can customise the itinerary to suit your interests.
Route 4: Kolkata – (Bagdogra) Gangtok – Darjelling – (Bagdogra) Kolkata
This scenic holiday idea in the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas has been created for those with an interest in the history of the British Indian Empire, the colonial outpost of Darjeeling and the neighbouring region of Sikkim.
Route 5: Guwahati – Tezpur – Ziro – Majuli Island – Pasighat – Damro – Roing – Dibru Saikhowa National Park – Mon – Dibrugarh
This tour offers privileged visits to local tribes who can often trace their indigenous history to faraway places in Mongolia and Southeast Asia. Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland are India’s last frontiers and are home to a way of life that is fast disappearing.
Route 6: Kolkata – (Dimapur) Kohima – Mokukchang – Mon – Jorhat – Kaziranga National Park – Jorhat
This fascinating journey combines a visit to India’s north-eastern states of Nagaland and Assam. Perfect for those keen to tread a path less travelled and eager to reach India’s final frontier.
Route 7: Kolkata – Kalimpong – Pelling – Gangtok – Darjeeling – Kolkata
East India is an incredible place: from the spellbinding contrasts of Kolkata to the Buddhist culture of Sikkim and the mighty Himalayas.
This journey will enable you to explore Kolkata in-depth, before heading deep in the Himalayas. This is an incredible region: the heart of Buddhist culture in India, a land of monasteries, sleepy hill towns, welcoming friendly people and breathtaking views.
Route 8: Kolkata – Darjeeling – Pelling (Sikkim)
This itinerary begins in Calcutta, where you’ll enjoy exclusive access to several key sites, such as Tollygunge Club and the Calcutta Polo Club. You’ll spend a few nights in the charming hill town of Darjeeling, hopping aboard the remarkable UNESCO-listed Toy Train and wandering the legendary tea fields. You’ll also spend time in the remote state of Sikkim, where you’ll have the chance to dine with royalty. You’ll also experience an unforgettable private helicopter tour of the world’s third-highest peak.
Route 9: Kolkata – Kaziranga National Park – Jorhat – Mon – Kohima – Dibrugarh
This is a captivating discovery tour through Northeast India. From the busy streets of Calcutta to the remote Nagaland province and the diverse Kaziranga National Park, you will experience life far removed from western modernity. Encounter spectacular landscapes, tribal villages, Naga warriors, Ang chiefs, colorful art, relics and markets, and the rich biodiversity of a World Heritage National Park.
Route 10: Kolkata, Guwahati, Shillong (day trip Cherrapunjee), Balipara (day trip Nameri), Kaziranga, Kolkata (via Jorhat)
Enter this fascinating frontier land, part of the Seven Sister States located at the far north eastern reaches of India. Assam is arguably one of the most remote and picturesque states in India. Low lying verdant valleys give way to the mighty Brahmaputra river below, and the misty blue mountains above. Famed for its tea towns, wild grass jungles, temples, and the lesser known old colonial settlements Assam is well worth the effort.
The capital Guwahati on the banks of the Brahmaputra, sits at the foot of the Shillong plateau, here you will find a few of India’s most important temples. On to Shillong, the pretty little Raj hill station with its manicured gardens and colonial heritage, before visiting Cherrapunjee where you will find the unique natural root bridges, that cover the area along with dramatic mountain vistas along the way. The tour ends with visits to the birders paradise of Nameri National Park and the world famous Kaziranga National Park with its native one-horned rhinos.
Route 11: Kolkata, Tezpur, Bomdila, Tawang, Dirang, Nameri, Guwahati
Arunachal is, literally, the land of the rising sun, where dawn first greets the easternmost state of India. Tribal groups of Burmese and Tibetan descent, proud of their unique identities, live harmoniously in timeless settlements between the mighty Brahmaputra and the Eastern Himalaya.
Tawang is one of the most important Buddhist centres in the world; the monastery, half a millennium old, pulsing with spiritual life, holds a significant collection of scriptures, images and thankas.
Above route takes you from tropical forests through tribal towns into the mountain roads and over the amazing Sela Pass at 14,000 feet above sea level. You will also visit tribal villages and stay in Nameri National Park, home to rhino, tiger and numerous bird species.
Signature Hotel Collection:
Darjeeling, derived from ‘Dorji Ling’ or the God of Thunder, is fondly known as the “Queen of Hills”.
Glenburn Tea Estate, Darjeeling:
This heavenly little plantation retreat lies above the banks of the River Rungeet, deep in the foothills of the Himalaya and is overlooked by the mighty Mount Kanchenjunga. Just an hour 15 mins from Darjeeling and across the river from Sikkim, it has the most idyllic location in the heart of a thriving tea estate.
Guests are accommodated in one of our two bungalows (Burra and Water Lily), each comprising four suites and common areas, gardens, verandahs and terraces accessible to all our guests.
The 4 bedrooms in the Burra bungalow, offer a leafy verandah, snug sitting room and stylish dining room, have been charmingly decorated with different themes. They are spacious, time-honored, warm and cosy with a sitting room or ante-room.
The 4 bedrooms in the Water Lily Bungalow, offer terraces, an elegant sitting room and a massage room, have views from heaven and are stunning – fresh, light, large and beautifully furnished with local floral themes. They are traditional yet have contemporary twists and are deliciously comfortable and private.
Various terraces and gorgeous gardens provide lovely spaces for dining al fresco, chatting around a camp fire and relaxing in a glorious mountain environment.
Unique Experience: Spend a night down at The Glenburn Lodge (their Campsite), with its two comfortable bedrooms. Here in the heart of the forest, on the banks of the River Rungeet you can camp out, walk across the river to Sikkim, play a game of croquet or beach cricket, have a refreshing dip in the river, fish for some local trout, river raft or simply sit and rest in the sunshine.
You fly by air to Bagdogra (closest airport) followed by a 3-4 hours drive to Glenburn Estate.
Taj Chia Kutir Resort & Spa, Darjeeling (opening December 2020)
The Taj Chia Kutir Resort and Spa is as exotic as it sounds. Luxury at its barefoot best. Set in the middle of the famous Makaibari tea estate that dates back to 1859, 1hr 30mins from Darjeeling.
The 72 rooms and plantation suites ooze space. They are kitted with creature comforts, discerning wooden interiors, telescopic views and in most cases balconies that bring in the vibes of a hill station estate. Ideal for open air enthusiasts to sip tea and laze. The four poster beds and snug duvets nudge you to sleep in for a moment more.
When you do decide to step out, there’s plenty of adventure, forest treks and tea trails. And the misty magic and mystique of Makaibari.
It is located 1hr 30mins from Bagdogra Airport.
Cochrane Place is a lovingly restored old colonial home that offers spectacular views of Mt Kanchenjunga and is set on the outskirts of the small Himalayan town of Kurseong.
From the wood-panelled lobby with its antique gramophone, a mahogany piano and period-style furniture to the beautiful objet d’art that adorn the walls, this hotel is rich in character and has retained its old-world charm and heritage.
The 31 individually designed rooms and suites are simply furnished yet tastefully decorated and are set overlooking the surrounding tea gardens or the distant snow-capped mountains. In order to preserve the character of this 19th century home, the owners have only made essential adaptations and this means you will have to rely on portable electric fan heaters during the winter months and gas-fired geysers for running hot-water.
The Dining Room at Cochrane Place serves classic Anglo-Indian dishes like the Mulligatawny soup as well as traditional Indian cuisine, but it is the ‘tea bar’ that is hugely popular and where you have a choice of 100 different tea blends to choose from including hot and cold mocktail teas, seasonal fruit as well as flower blends and some unique unheard of blends such as betel leaf tea!
Other facilities include an indoor games room, a well-stocked library and a Spa. Leisure activities on offer at the Cochrane Place include guided walks through tea estates nearby, soft treks through the surrounding forested hills.
Cochrane Place also serves as the ideal jumping off point for those who would like to embark on a scenic ride to Darjeeling aboard the UNESCO World Heritage steam locomotive operated by Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.
1 hour 30 minutes drive from Bagdogra Airport.
1 hour 30 minutes drive to Darjeeling and 2 hours 30 minutes drive to Gangtok, Sikkim
Kalimpong is a subdivision of Darjeeling district and under West Bengal state. Kalimpong town itself is small, located about 2.5 hours drive from both Darjeeling and Siliguri. But the town and its surrounding areas offer immense opportunities for tourism.
The Elgin Silver Oaks, Kalimpong:
The Silver Oaks was built in 1930 and once belonged to the prominent architect Frederick Desraj who built the old Teesta Bridge. It is now a luxury boutique hotel and provides the best luxury and comfort by integrating modern amenities tastefully with its heritage décor.
Lounging in its landscaped gardens, one is treated to breath-taking views of the imposing Kanchenjunga which can be seen on a clear day.
The Hotel interiors are decorated with lithographs of old masters, period furniture, bookshelves with handpicked publications and a bar to ease the spirits and help relax. The soft tunes of the piano and the aroma of the food stir up a languor that is perfectly acquainted with a sedentary holiday mood.
All rooms at The Elgin Silver Oaks have views across the valley and the Himalayas.
The Bagdogra Airport is approximately 2 hrs and 30 minutes away.
Glenburn Penthouse, Kolkata:
The Glenburn Penthouse in the center of Calcutta is ideal for those who want to be in the heart of the city, yet prefer a smaller, boutique hotel. With only nine rooms, it is clear to see the attention to detail that has gone into creating a homely yet luxurious feel.
Developed by the same owners at the enchanting Glenburn Tea Estate in Darljeeling, The Glenburn Penthouse is a mix of old and new. Each room has a colonial theme; the large four poster beds and other antique furnishings blending in with the bold fabrics and sleek and modern finish. The marble bathrooms in particular are elegant and have both large rainforest showers and bathtubs to enjoy an evening soak.
Guests can choose a room with a balcony, or for those wanting a little more space, there are two rooftop rooms which have their own gardens complete with jacuzzi.
The main highlight of the hotel has to be the rooftop which boasts a pool and the perfect spot to enjoy some Bengali cuisine. Overlooking the Victoria Memorial, it offers a romantic setting after a day of sightseeing.
Rajbari Bawali, Kolkata:
Located about an hour and 30 minutes from Kolkata, The Rajbari Bawali is a 300-year-old boutique heritage property that has been elegantly turned into the best luxury heritage resort near Kolkata.
The vintage postcard exhibiting opulence, style, and grace of the Zamindars of Bengal will come to life for you the moment you step in. Lee off by strolling around the 4 acres of royalty that has a different treasure for each guest.
As you make your way into the luxurious rooms of Rajbari Bawali, the signature royal features and supreme comforts will leave you mesmerised. The tantalizing food and beverages at our Piano room will be a treat for your tastebuds.
There are just 30 rooms and suites at The Rajbari Bawali. Each features a regal four-poster bed and elegant furnishings teamed with modern day conveniences and other luxuries. The Dak Bungalow is perfect for families with its two bedrooms, whilst the Chhoto Bari has four rooms in a separate building overlooking the pool.
Wild Masheer, Balipara (Tezpur):
Experience life as a tea planter in Tezpur at this Heritage Bungalow at Wild Mahseer. Surrounded by tea gardens, this elegant Victorian period estate, instils a rich colonial history of British Assam tea through elegant architecture and colonial style. With a sunny disposition and historical background, Wild Mahseer has attracted visitors from across the world for what can be described as a totally unique experience.
The rooms are individually decorated with personally chosen paintings and ornaments. Home-grown fruit and vegetables make up the wonderfully thought out menus which have been developed over the years by the tea planting community.
It has 14 rooms in five bungalows. The plushest is the Heritage Bungalow, formerly used to house the Visiting Agent from Britain, and now the preferred cottage of celebrity guests.
Wild Mahseer is located in Balipara, on the outskirts of Tezpur in Assam. The nearest major airport and railhead are at Guwahati (220 km/5 hrs drive), Tezpur which is 20 Kms also has a small airport.
Diphlu River Lodge, Kaziranga National Park
This wonderfully homely lodge is fantastically located on the banks of the River Diphlu and adjacent to the Kazingara National Park. Being this close of the vicinity of the park do not be surprised if you get a number of uninvited guests at mealtimes whilst dining under the beautiful sky.
Diphlu River Lodge offers accommodation for 24 guests at a time, ensuring an exclusive and serene experience. There are 8 individual cottages and 4 semi-detached cottages.
The raised cottages are made of natural materials like bamboo and wood, topped with thatched roofs to blend in with the forest surroundings. Each of the cottages is air conditioned and has their own en-suite with a fitted wardrobe.
Thengal Manor, Jorhat:
Thengal Manor is a majestic mansion in Jorhat, built in 1929. It offers you the unique pleasure of gracious living in the lap of nature. There are 4 double Deluxe Rooms and 1 single Superior Room, all with attached dressing room and baths. It offers fireplaces in all the bedrooms, drawing room and the dining room.
You feel the ambience of colonial days as you relax in the period furniture and décor. A sense of déja vu pervades when you realize that this was from the lifestyle of pioneering Indian businessmen.
The grounds harbour a recently built pool, and there’s an airy front porch where you can lounge on leather armchairs watching exotic birds flash through the foliage.
Guwahati – Jorhat is 6 Hrs. (314 Kms.)
Jorhat – Kaziranga is 2 Hrs. (96 Kms.)
MV Rudra Singha:
Embark on a unique journey through Assam on MV Rudra Singha, your own private houseboat (for 2 persons or a family of 2 adults and 2 small kids). Onboard you will have your own crew of four, including a captain, sailor, chef, and a guide, who are dedicated to creating a lasting and uniquely personalised experience.
There are also two bicycles on board for guests to use on shore whenever they fancy a ride.
The MV Rudra Singha is built of local wood and is decorated with hand sewn wall hangings and other decorative items. The single guest cabin has two twin beds and a simple but charming wooden interior. The separate lounge can be converted into an additional bedroom if you wish.
There are a number of different itineraries and routes that can be explored along the Brahmaputra and you can select what suits you best. Each itinerary ranges from 2 – 7 nights and if you so wish or are short on time you can simply take a day trip onboard Rudra Singha.
Some interesting suggestions are to include a safari in Kaziranga National Park to start the trip off before boarding the Rudra Singha which will carry you upstream giving the chance for an insight into riverside life and the exploration of local Mishing villages. Alternatively, take the route that will allow you to float from one temple to the next exploring the fascinating and rich history of the region whilst also being able to visit the beautiful Wildlife Sanctuary at Pobitora.
We feel that this is an exceptional experience for guests that want to get off the beaten path and that have a real sense of adventure.
Unique Experience: What makes it even better is the experience of sleeping under the stars onboard the deck of the houseboat.
Closest airport and city for embarkation: Guwahati
The Nor-Khill, Gangtok:
The Nor-Khill Gangtok is now a luxury Elgin heritage hotel. The hotel is situated in the heart of Gangtok town, 5000 feet up in the Himalayas. A celebration of the elegance and grace of the Kings era in Sikkim.
The Elgin Nor-Khill has been restored to its original grandeur, snug and cozy in an interior decked with etchings of G.Douglas, lithographs of Daniell, period Burma teak furniture, oak floor boards and panelling, crackling fireplaces, candle-lit tables and strains of music from the grand piano, you realize the meaning of palpable ‘old world charm.
The 25 deluxe rooms and suites offer splendid views of the mountains and valleys. The Elgin Nor-Khill in Gangtok is a perfect base to explore the spectacular mountain scenery, pine forests and ancient monasteries.
The Hotel is within walking distance of the famous M.G road (High street), cafes, restaurants and bars. A well-stocked library, games room and many opportunities for nature walks, make this luxury heritage hotel and hill resort an all-season destination.
It is located 125 Kms, 4 hrs drive from Bagdogra airport.
Pelling is today emerging as the second biggest tourist destination in the state after Gangtok. Although in itself it is little more than a strip of road lined with hotels, its main USP is the breathtaking view it offers of the Khangchendzonga and surrounding ranges, as well as the easy access it provides to tourist spots in the area.
Pemayangste monastery is less than a kilometre from Pelling, while a 40 minute walk on the hill opposite the monastery takes you to Sanga Choling monastery built in 1697, one of the first in the state. Pelling’s serene environment and picturesque setting is perfect for nice nature walks and small treks.
The Elgin Mount Pandim, Pelling:
Surrounded by acres of virgin pine forest and facing the majestic snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas. The Elgin Mount Pandim was built by the King of Sikkim and served as a Royal retreat for the Royal family of Sikkim offering one of most fantastic locations in the region of Sikkim.
The Elgin Mount Pandim is set in eight acres of virgin forest and landscaped gardens, with a glorious view of the Singalila range.
The 300 years old Pemayangtse monastery, is right next to the resort on a verdant hill top covered by moist temperate Oak forests.
Each of the 30 rooms overlook the Singalila range with a magnificent view from the windows. Each room is different with subtle tasteful colours to showcase the design elements that surrounded royalty of yore. The rooms are quiet, elegant and expansive with an air of serenity about them, which reflects a typical Sikkimese ambiance.
It is located 140 Kms (5 hrs drive) from Bagdogra airport.
The Chumbi Mountain Retreat, Pelling:
Nestled in the Sikkim Himalayas, facing the breathtaking Mt. Khanchendzonga range, The Chumbi Mountain Retreat is located in Naku-Chumgbung, a little village below Pelling in West Sikkim.
The resort is set up in a natural environment that offers a peacefully luxurious stay. Blending contemporary convenience with the essence of Sikkimese tradition, it represents the quintessential opulence of Sikkimese hospitality.
It is built in four distinct realms, inspired by Sikkimese monastery layout. The main block stands as the “Gompa” or the central monastery building. The courtyard or “Thangsa” is based on the main courtyard where mask dances and ceremonial activities are performed. The “Yabring” is the gallery which overlooks the courtyard and the fourth segment is are the Hermitage Blocks known as “Drashags”.
The 50 rooms at property are attached with balconies overlooking the mountains, they are equipped with a seating area, desk, fire place and flat-screen cable TV. They offer ensuite bathrooms with a bathtub and shower.
It is located 160 kms from the Bagdogra airport.
Norbu Ghang Resort and Retreat, Pelling:
Norbu Ghang as a Hotel brand has two Properties in Pelling, West Sikkim. You can choose between Norbu Ghang Resort OR Norbu Ghang Retreat & Spa.
The Norbu Ghang Resort is located on a delightful hillock offering a breathtaking view of Mt. Khangchendzonga, it sprawls over an abundant private space offering visitors plenty of room to relax in quiet solitude.
The resort has 37 en suite bedrooms including eleven aesthetically designed cottages. All rooms have views of the mountains of their own private verandah where you can stretch out in comfort. Traditional ethnic Sikkimese themes grace the interiors of each room and include all amenities for comfort and convenience.
The next door Norbu Ghang Retreat & Spa is the newest addition and it offers luxurious accommodation and the best of views. It has 25 deluxe rooms and 1 suite.
A well-manicured garden overlooking the scenic grandeur of the mountains greets you as you enter into the Retreat. The view encompasses their adjoining extended property of Norbu Ghang Resort amidst a bouquet of garden and greenery – truly a welcoming sight on your arrival.
Norbu Ghang Retreat & Spa is modern in style but nevertheless has incorporated elements of traditional Sikkimese architecture allowing visitors the ambiance of Sikkimese culture within the surrounding. It’s delightful setting and luxurious furnishings offers exceptional comfort and an aura of bliss for the discerning traveller in quest of the very best.
It is located 140 kms from Bagdogra airport.
Shakti Sikkim Village Walk, Sikkim:
Shakti Sikkim Village Walk isn’t a hotel, it’s a trio of rural houses with host families, set in different parts of scenic Sikkim. Wake up beside mountains, meadows and cardamom fields at these three remote village dwellings, which share their setting with snow leopards, black bears, red pandas, blue sheep, musk deer and more.
You’ll spend your days discovering this incredible region on lofty walks with Shakti’s expert guides and porters, enjoying picnic lunches by glaciers and alpine forests, visiting local schools and monasteries and spotting wolves and other wildlife. Come nightfall, you’ll be grateful for the hot showers, private chef and big beds that await you, back at boutique basecamp.
The walking is vigorous but beautiful, and exciting. Here one may step out of the modern world for 3 – 6 days, walking from village to village, joining ceremonies in village temples and partaking in traditional Sikkimese life that would otherwise be impossible. This walk allows you glimpses of a lifestyle and the warm hospitality of the Sikkimese that others rarely get to see.
You stay in village houses, which have been brilliantly spruced up to provide proper comfort without compromising their authenticity. Some have balconies with views over fields and valleys, whilst others are deep in the forest, but all are perfectly hosted and catered with a roving chef who will introduce you to the delicious intricacies of Sikkimese cuisine.
Seeing and listening to young Buddhist monks chanting away in a monastery, as it slowly emerges from the early morning mist is an extraordinary humbling experience.
It is 125 kms, 5 hrs drive from Bagdogra Airport.
Niraamaya Retreats Aradura, Kohima
Overlooking the verdant pine forests, Niraamaya Retreats Aradura offers a countryside escape amidst some of the most beautiful scenery in the region.
The charming accommodations (12 rooms) and spectacular vistas make your stay truly rewarding. During your stay indulge in mouth-watering regional specialties and global cuisines. The retreat, complemented with a relaxing atmosphere is a perfect venue to host conferences and off-sites for corporate groups.
Dimapur Airport is located at a distance of 70 Kms from Hotel.
Konyak Tea Retreat, Mon District:
The retreat is located in the middle of Sayeang Tea Estate, Shiyong village, Mon District, Nagaland, India. It is a stone walled farmhouse with an open kitchen living dining space with 2 bedrooms(a double and a twin bedded rooms) and 2 bathrooms. With its own flowers and vegetables garden overlooking a picturesque valley below with clouds rolling by and spectacular sunsets surrounded by tea gardens.
Run by Phejin Konyak, granddaughter of a Konyak headhunter; she is a writer, and researcher who works strenuously to document and preserve for future generations, the culture of her ancestors. The retreat is located on a private tea farm and guarantees absolute privacy for the guests.
The guests can learn to pluck fresh tea leaves; they can participate in the on goings of the organic vegetable garden, and relish sweet oranges from trees in season, visit the villages of the Konyaks and interact with the wise elders. Phejin is an excellent host and goes out of her way to make her guests feel at home and has many a stories to tell about their culture and ways of the ancients.
Shiyong is 32km from the nearest town Mon, a 90-min drive away. The nearest airport is at Dibrugarh (132km).
Niathu Resort, Dimapur
Niathu Resort is a cozy hotel on the banks of the Chathe River, just 30 minutes from Dimapur airport.
Designed in the traditional Naga style of architecture with sloping roofs, this charming resort features the use of natural materials such as bamboo and stone.
They offer airy and spacious ensuite rooms and suites featuring wood furniture and wood beams. But I suggest stay at their 4-Bedroom Presidential Villa for ultimate in comfort and luxury.
They also offer an outdoor swimming pool overlooking the river or soak in the sun on the palm fringed deck.
Kohima Camp, Nagaland: (Seasonal, operates only during 10-day Hornbill Festival end of November. Next opening 2021).
This is India’s most exclusive Mobile Luxury Camp.
Kohima Camp, Nagaland is located in a region in Nagaland that is predominantly occupied by the Angami tribe, one of the major tribes of the 16.
The Hornbill Festival is a magical experience spanning a celebratory bridge that links the past and with the present. It is a cultural extravaganza celebrating the tribal way of life with a bid to sustain and strengthen their rich legacy.
Their Nagaland experience also gives you a chance to join the 16 Naga tribes, some of them previous headhunters, in showcasing their culture and heritage.
To get a chance to experience esoteric foods and rice beer, buy handmade shawls and participate vicariously in the fiery king chilly eating competition and compete in clambering up poles smeared in oil.
Their luxury tents offer you a glamping experience like never before. Each Tent has a private sit-out that overlooks scenic mountain vistas. The tents come with a plush four poster bed, and tastefully curated signature camp furniture inspired by safari canvas luxury interspersed with colonial charms.
The venue of the Hornbill Festival is a few minutes’ drive from our camp location.
You can stay from 2-4 nights or more, and in addition to seeing the festival you can explore this relatively untouched corner of India where few tourists ever visit.
Closest airport is Dimapur approximately 3 hours and 20 minutes drive time ( 85 kms) on road journey which ascends to the cool and hilly terrains leading you to our camp location.
Once the capital of the Raj-era Assam Province, Shillong today is the state capital of the beautiful North-East Indian state of Meghalaya. This region, literally called ‘The Abode of the Clouds’ has an abundance of geological curiosities that attract a stream of visitors from around the world; Shillong with its many natural and man-made attractions, is the veritable jewel in this crown of hills.
The Heritage Club, Tripura Castle, Shillong:
Tripura Castle was built in the early 1920’s by the then Maharaja of Tripura who came to Shillong and fell in love with the place. It became the summer retreat for the Royal Family of the Manikya dynasty.
Today the main palace is the home to the current head of the Manikya dynasty, Maharaja Pradyot Bikram Kishore Debbarma, who also oversees the hotel.
On the castle grounds is The Heritage Club – Tripura Castle, a hotel nestled atop a hill and spread over 9 acres of green, barely 5 minutes from the city yet secluded and serene.
A horse-shoe shaped gate, a symbol of good-luck and a royal tradition welcomes you to the reception. With 38 rooms, each elegantly refurbished, 4 restaurants – bars each serving a variety of cuisine and drinks and club carts to take you from one wing to the other, The Heritage Club – Tripura Castle offers you an ambience that no other in Shillong does.
The Heritage Wing has 10 rooms, and is an extension of the Royal Residence. It reflects the ambience of a Heritage Home with warm wood interiors, brass fireplaces and art deco furniture. The Forest Wing has 6 room and 3 independent cottages and the Valley Wing has 19 rooms.
The Valley View Wing has 15 rooms and is built where once the rose gardens and royal stables were. The rooms have balconies that overlook a valley dotted with colourful rooftops and church steeples.
The Forest View Wing has 6 rooms and 3 single-room independent wood cottages. Overlooking a pine forest, it is built where the Maharaja’s printing press and armoury once were.
The Heritage Club – Tripura Castle is the only heritage hotel in the region and takes immense pride in its Maharaja Suites, each offering ornate mahogany beds used by India’s first the Nobel Laureate, Rabindranath Tagore during his long and close association with four generations of the Royal family. In fact Tagore’s works “Rajarshi” and “Mukut” are based on the Manikya dynasty.
It is located 130 Kms from Guwahati Airport, 4 hrs drive.
RI KYNJAI – SERENITY BY THE LAKE, Shillong
It is the perfect getaway from the urban hubbub. Nature lovers can choose to luxuriate in perfectly appointed cottages, undergo traditional Khasi spa treatments and dine on local delicacies.
The more adventurous may prefer the beautiful hill treks, boat rides and island picnics, and of course, a day at the Shillong Golf Course, dating back to 1889, and still referred to as the ‘Gleneagles of the East’.
This boutique resort is as perfect for families seeking the ultimate all-round getaway. Lovers of authentic experiences will be particularly pleased with the architecture – inspired by the building ‘language’ of traditional Khasi cottages while incorporating the best of modern practices.
The Shillong Umroi Airport is only 35 kms, but I recommend you fly to Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport at Guwahati (due to better flight connectivity) which is 128 kms from Hotel.
Cherrapunjee Holiday Resort:
Cherrapunjee Holiday Resort is a family run Nature Resort, promoted as a Family Holiday Destination.
The focus is on the abundant scenic beauty all around the Resort, the benevolence of the Asian Summer Monsoon on Cherrapunjee, the enchanting and challenging Nature Treks in this amazing terrain, the Living Root Bridges including the unique Double Decker Root Bridge, which are exclusive to Meghalaya in the whole world.
Other attractions and experiences are baths in waterfalls, mountain streams and cool springs during the rainy season, swimming in the natural swimming pools that are rock pools in the river bed down in the valley, campfires, adventure caving, river canyoning and camping out in winters.
They offer 12 well-furnished rooms with vitrified tile flooring, with attached toilets, and 24 hours running hot and cold water.
Unique to Meghalaya: The Living Root Bridges are grown from the species of Indian Rubber tree, ‘Ficus Elastica’. Whats special about this tree is that it sends out secondary roots over and above the trunk, which have the capacity to seek out and somehow reach into the soil below even if it happens to be seated on a huge rock or boulder.
Cherrapunjee’s humid climatic conditions and the abundance of water received during most of the year, made it a perfect habitat for the tree to thrive. Bridges grown from this tree are said to have a lifespan of at least 500 years!
Discover these bridges on a nature trek during your stay.
Dirang Boutique Cottages:
Dirang Boutique Cottages is a brand new homestay/farmstay located in the picturesque village of Dirang Dzong. Tucked away in the mountains and sitting by the beautiful river of Dirang Chu.
They offer 4 traditional style cottages with 8 rooms.
It is located very close to many picturesque and touristy destinations such as Sangti Valley, 9th century Dirang Dzong, Bomdilla, Eagle’s nest wildlife sanctuary, Mandala Top and many monasteries.
Tezpur Airport is 185 kms, 5hrs 30mins drive.
Hotel YangZom, Tawang:
The Yangzom Hotel is located in the surroundings of Urgelling village, which is the birthplace of H.H. The 6th Dalai Lama. It is only 6-minute drive from Tawang town.
The rooms are spacious, elegant and contemporary in design with spectacular views of tranquil nearby hamlets and far-off mountain ranges. All rooms are equipped with LED TV with satellite TV programmes, private bathrooms/showers with 24 hours hot and cold running water. The Guest House has a multi-purpose banquet-cum-conference hall and a large parking area.
Abor Country Club, Pasighat & Yamne Eco Lodge, Damro:
Abor Country River Camp has 6 tents, 3 heritage rooms, and 3 river-view rooms.
The Abor Country River Camp is an eco-lodge passionately put together by Abor Country Travels and Expeditions.
Located on the banks of the might Siang, the Abor river camp is a perfect retreat away from the urban chaos. Here you wake up to the birds chirping and can spend the entire day listening to the roaring river sounds of the might Siang river gushing right below.
Set amidst dense tropical greenery with a view of the Siang flowing behind, Abor country river camp is a beautiful eco lodge built passionately with sustainability at its core. While water supply is from a natural fresh water spring, electricity is from solar power and all rooms have been built with materials that are eco friendly. The use of non sustainable materials and resources is curtailed to a minimum.
While here, you can indulge in a host of varied activities like bird watching, trekking and of course river rafting which is an exhilarating experience quite like none other. With their vast expertise, the team also curates special experiences based on your interest.
Facilities onsite include: Swimming pool, Badminton Court, Restaurant, Lounge Bar, Conference room, WiFi – charges apply, Laundry, Barbeques and Camp kitchen.
Fly to Dibrugarh Airport and drive 158kms/3.5hrs to Pasighat. From Pasighat, Abor Country River Camp is 6kms beyond town after Ranaghat bridge on the Yinkiong Road.
Yamne Abor Eco Lodge includes 3 rustic thatched huts with ethnic décor facing the valley.
The Yamne Abor Eco Lodge is a quaint place that beckons you when you are around the Yamne River in Damro. Known for its peace and tranquility, the lodge, also an enterprise of Abor Country Travels & Expeditions, houses 3 pretty cottages is surrounded by a lovely forest. Each cottage offers a grand view of the valley and opens up to a large ground big enough for more tents.
The eco lodge is a 40 minute hike from the longest hanging bridge in Arunachal Pradesh. Built from traditional cane and bamboo, the bridge hangs across the Yamne River. Ideal for people who want to get away from it all and surrender to total tranquility.
Once you are stationed here, get deep into the village life. You could also take a trek down the Pasighat and Yingkiong route and arrive at the village inhabited by the Adi Padam tribe and learn about their unique Donyi-Polo culture.
It’s a 78km (four-hour) drive north of Pasighat.
How to book:
You can book any of above listed hotels, resorts, cruise, home-stays and bungalows using services of a boutique travel design company, based out of New Delhi, who enjoy long established connections and are experts in destination North East India at Experiential Travel Journeys Pvt. Ltd.