12 days Small Group Tours 30th Nov - 11th Dec 2017Register for 2018 via our enquiry form Tailor make this journey and make it yours

Price

Twin share $5177AUD

Single supplement $1780AUD

Inclusions

  • Return airport transfers including meet and greet
  • 11 nights accommodation
  • All meals (B,L,D) daily
  • Domestic flights Kolkata – Guwahati & Dimapur
  • Transport In North East region :
  • Transportation using an air conditioned vehicle
  • Sightseeing as per itinerary
  • English speaking local guides
  • Entrances fees to sites mentioned in itinerary
  • One elephant ride in Kaziranga
  • Four jeep safaris in Kaziranga
  • Vehicle hire charges in Majuli
  • River crossing charges for local ferry
  • Scrubba Wash Bag

Exclusions

  • International flights
  • Visas
  • Travel and medical insurance
  • All services, meals other than those indicated above
  • Any changes to the proposed and confirmed program.
  • All items of a personal nature e.g. drinks, laundry, telephone calls, tips etc

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Hornbill Festival

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The earthy colours, a treasure trove of history and culture bring together the Hornbill Festival that evokes the diversity of customs in warrior tribes of Nagaland. These tribes traditionally organised and fought each other but came together during World War II to fight against the invading Japanese army. The week long annual fest is named after the colourful bird, Hornbill, which is widely respected and depicted in Naga folklore. Elaborate red head-gear, an exquisite warrior ornament fashioned out of feathers of this bird and multi-coloured beads can be seen during the festivities.

With the longing to revive, protect and promote the rich Naga heritage, all tribes dress in their traditional battle-gear and bring alive the age-old traditions. The festive frenzy takes place at the heritage village called Kisama which is decorated in delicately carved hutments displaying the remarkable cultural dances, indigenous sports, paintings and sculptures expressing headhunting, decoration of morungs or unmarried men’s communal houses amongst other interesting things. One can hear the melody of the log drums, sometimes as a soulful war cry which was once used to announce the approach and retreat of an enemy. During the lunar and solar eclipse, the drum is still beaten to mourn for the sun to rise again.

The serenity of the Naga landscape becomes one big carnival of activities during these ten days. Take a break with this traditional memorabilia and go for an adventure car rally, world war peace rally, flower shows and fashion shows and interesting contests of eating king chilli and pork fat. When the natural beauty of the landscape brings out your whimsical side, immerse further into the rich Naga culture with the story tellers at the Hornbill Literature Festival here. Singing and dancing is a way of life for Nagas. As the sun goes down each day, tap your feet and let your body sway to the biggest music fiesta of the country and listen to some eminent as well as budding rock bands from India.

Crooked Compass will take you through a diversity of climates, cultures and landscapes. Find your way through the busy streets of Kolkata from where arose a socio-political fervour in the form of a modern educated class of poets, Nobel laureates, authors, social reformers, artists and filmmakers. Sail through the thriving cultural practices in the blues and greens of a river island.

Tread through the mountainous terrains of lush greens, eco-friendly villages to the call of the wild and see what nature beholds us. Let us tantalise all your senses: see the age-old traditions being celebrated anew; smell the freshness of nature in forest ranges; taste the local cuisine from sweet, mild to spicy; hear all kinds of sounds from the chatter in overpopulated lanes, jingling of temple bells to the symphony of chirping birds; and touch the past engraved in monuments and buildings to witness how history and culture unfolded here, from the city of Kolkata to the island of Majuli, in the Kaziranga National Park at Guwahati to the land of singing and dancing in Nagaland.

Day 1 - Arrival at Kolkata

Crooked Compass welcomes you to the busy city of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta). You will be assisted at the airport and transferred to your hotel before venturing on the beautiful voyage that awaits you. (D)

2 nights at The Astor or similar

Day 2 - Kolkata

The chaotic city of Kolkata was the centre for commercial, educational and cultural activities of the East India Company. This intermingling of British and Indian culture resulted in a Bengali babu class comprising of urbane Indians who crowded corners for freestyle intellectual exchange popularly known as addas. The city is a rich domain of such cultural and political history dotted with architecture from the colonial era.

In the early morning, stroll through the 125 year old Flower Market scattered with thousands of yellow and orange marigold garlands used in decorating gods and welcoming guests who are also deemed to be gods in the Indian culture. This fragrant market is surrounded by shacks of sellers with a backdrop of a beautiful sunset view of people taking a dip at the Mullik Ghat.

The flower market spreads across the famous Howrah Bridge. This legendary Bridge was once the only pathway to cross the Hooghly River (the other name for River Ganga) and you will see that it still remains the busiest one in the world with pedestrians, bullock carts, loaded push carts, bicycles and many automobiles.

You will then visit the Victoria Memorial, a manifestation of the colonial style building commemorating Queen Victoria. This vast white marble structure is a vision with its towering central chamber and an exhibition tracing the city’s colonial lifestyle at the Calcutta Gallery here. Founded in 1814, by the Asiatic Society of Bengal, the Indian Museum is the oldest and the largest with as many as thirty five galleries in India. Prepare yourself to get lost in the rare collections from antiques, fossils and skeletons of prehistoric animals, to Buddha’s ashes, the Ashoka pillar, an Egyptian mummy as well as a collection of meteorites and beautiful Mughal paintings.

You will then go to the Kalighat Temple, deemed as the holiest place by Bengali Hindus. Have glimpses of the Victorian era as you enter this old temple which was rebuilt in 1809 patterned with floral and peacock tiles. Famous for its street foods, enjoy a mouth-watering lunch at a local restaurant to taste the authentic flavours of the Bengali cuisine and later head back to unwind at your hotel. (B,L,D)

Day 3 - Fly from Kolkata to Guwahati, Drive from Guwahati to Kaziranga

You will set out on the busy roads of Kolkata early this morning. Before you take the skies for Guwahati, enjoy a scrumptious breakfast and the early morning skies of Kolkata, on your way to the airport. You arrive at Guwahati, the upcoming city in Assam to discover this land which is a traveller’s paradise. Enjoy the breathtakingly picturesque road trip with tea plantations, orchids and a variety of plant species, lush hills and valleys as you head to the serenity and wilderness of Kaziranga National Park.

Located in the floodplains on both side of the majestic Brahmaputra River, Kaziranga National Park includes vast stretches of savannah grasslands, wetlands and chars of river islands formed by the shifting course of the river. It is home to the world’s largest population of one-horned rhinoceroses, wild buffaloes, the golden langur, the Bengal tiger, the hoolock gibbon as well as many species of other wildlife, including tigers, elephants, panthers, sloth bears and variety of birds. Originally established as a reserve forest in 1908, it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985.

After a long day’s journey, relax and enjoy a hearty dinner amid the blessed land of Kaziranga National Park before setting out the next day. (B,L,D)

3 nights at Jupuri Ghar or similar

Day 4 - Kaziranga National Park

Wake up in the early hours to the chirping of birds and freshness of greens, and explore the five ranges of the park. You will set out on elephants and jeeps to spot the rare and endangered species. Begin from the Central range, Kohoro, where the elephant ride will make you feel one with nature and the surrounding wildlife. After an exciting escapade through tall grass and decadent forest lands return afresh to the lodge for breakfast before you once again drive to Kohora for a laid back jeep safari.

Later in the afternoon, head out to explore the rhinos and water buffaloes in the Western Range, Baguri, as you sit back through another enthralling Jeep safari. Relax and enjoy the evening amid the wildlife and mother nature. (B,L,D)

Day 5 - Kaziranga National Park

Your jeep safari today will take you through the Eastern Range, Agaratuli. This part of the park is a paradise for bird lovers as it nests the globally threatened Pallas’s Fish Eagle and also includes a colony of Spot-billed Pelicans. You can quietly listen to the gentle flapping wings of the waterfowl at SoholaBeel and see the various woodland birds fluttering through the brilliant greens of Dillenia Swamp Forest. You may also spot herds of elephants walking by, buffaloes taking a dip and swamp deer prancing around. Following lunch you will go for another jeep safari and once again experience the wilderness of Kohora. (B,L,D)

Day 6 - Ferry to Majuli Island, drive to Nimatighat (Jorhat)

Today, explore the island of Majuli before heading to Jorhat. If imagining people in canoes sailing under the sun through the electric blue waters with patches of green here and there seem like a perfect dream, then we will make this dream come true, at Majuli.

Majuli is India’s largest river island and a treasure of scenic beauty and cultural heritage. Cruise around the comforting island paradise of glistening rice fields, meadows of colourful flowers and gaze at the rare birds like Adjutant Stork, Pelican and Siberian Crane that nest on this island. Since centuries various tribes have inhabited this island whose cultural practices and dance forms still remain untouched by the excesses of modernism, like pottery is made in the same mode as carried out by people of ancient Harappan civilization as well as traditional handloom work and mask craft amongst other things.

It is said that social reformer, Srimanta Sankardeva was a pioneer of neo-Vaishnavite movement here who preached a monotheist form of Hinduism and established monasteries and hermitages known as satras. The movement was later continued by his other disciples including Padma Ata, also known as Badala Ata. He established a Satra in an orange garden which came to be known as Kamala Bari, kamala meaning orange and bari meaning garden in Assamese. Over the years it has served as a centre for art, cultural, literature and classical studies and is home to many legendary musicians. You can see fascinating sculptures of mythological characters, beautifully crafted boats and other royal artefacts dating back to the 600 year old Ahom dynasty of Assam.

Auniati Satra is the biggest Satra established in 1653 by an Ahom King convert, Jayadhaja Singh. We will walk through the spell binding AuniPaan or the betel creeper plant which covers this vast land where the devotees come every day to worship the idol of Lord Krishna. You can hear the jingling of bells at the temple and see houses of devotees who sing, dance and pray there dotting its periphery. The monks are eager to flaunt the 17th century scriptures, jewellery, utensils and other handicrafts preserved at the Satra.

Enjoy the devotional Satriya dance form in the afternoon sun which originally was performed in monasteries by male monks only, to tell mythological stories as part of their daily rituals. Today, the classical form has been revived and is performed on stage by men and women alike. After a scintillating island experience we will head back to our heritage tea bungalow in Jorhat. (B,L,D)

Overnight stay at The Manor Boutique Hotel or similar

Day 7 - Drive from Jorhat to Kohima

Have a hearty breakfast and a refreshing morning cup of tea in the sprawling green tea plantation land before we drive through Dimapur, once the capital of Dimasa Kachari rulers and presently the commercial hub of Nagaland. Chronicled as the ‘Brick City’ by European travellers this old relic boasts about its prosperous past which was surrounded by high brick walls along the river Dhansari, heavy doors hinged in solid stone blocks and ornamental windows with stone pillars. Unlike other kingdoms which are embellished in images of gods and goddesses, it is curiously carved with flowers, animals and birds, suggesting the probability of it being free of Hindu influence at the time.

Continue your drive to Kohima through the green and earthen hues with patches of villages along the Dhansari River. In the hills of Nagaland, sits this capital city. In the mountains where the flower of Kewhi blossoms, Kohima was originally inhabited by Angami tribes, which was conquered by the British Empire in 1840s, eventually leading to the first seat of modern administration in Nagaland. Have a quiet stay at the hotel amidst the lofty Himalayan mountain ranges before venturing into this unexplored territory. (B,L,D)

4 nights at the Orchard or similar

Day 8 - Exploring Kohima

In the idyllic backdrop of hilly greens, explore the 700 years old Khonoma village which is surrounded with paddy fields and terrace rice fields and coloured by wild flowers. Explore the first green village of India with mandatory rules for every household to have dustbins and a sanitation drive being carried out every month. The community’s garbage is burnt and its ashes and other residue are then used as manure for cultivation. Hunting is a way of life for Naga people but if this beautiful landscape is to survive, logging and hunting must be banned here.

From this land of sustainable green pasture, take a historical turn and visit the Second World War Cemetery and the famous tennis court where the Japanese invasion was halted. The Japanese advance into India was halted in Kohima in 1944 and the fiercest fighting took place in the Deputy Commissioners bungalow, around the tennis court. While the bungalow was destroyed in the battle, the tennis court is preserved for its historical importance. Overlooking Kohima’s scenic beauty is this cemetery with its glorious stone steps that bare their blood stains and commemorate 1420 Allied soldiers who lost their life in the battle of Kohima.

You will also visit the State Museum in Kohima which tells the story of Nagaland through tribal artefacts, jewellery, tableaux with mannequins-in-action and a grotesque yet interesting display of ‘hunted’ human skulls. You can always take back the memorabilia of Nagaland from the Handicrafts Emporium here and the rather colourful local market in Kohima. (B,L,D)

Day 9 - The Hornbill Festival

Today you will join in the celebrations at Kisama village to be a part of the traditions and cultural fest of Naga people at the Hornbill Festival. The different tribal groups will come together and perform their ethnic dances, sing traditional Naga songs and other unique practices. Here you can feast on some mouth-watering delicacies full of authentic flavours of Nagaland. Later, move to a camp and dwell further into the Naga folklore and narratives from a native before heading back for your night’s siesta at the hotel. (B,L,D)

Day 10 - Continuing celebrations at the Hornbill Festival

Today, once again join in the celebrations at the Hornbill festival. Throughout the day you will experience the colourful performances and local ceremonies, appreciate and buy some traditional handicrafts, enjoy different sports, binge on food fairs and play games. (B,L,D)

Day 11 - Drive Kohima to Dimapur and board flight to Kolkata

Today you will drive from Kohima to Dimapur in time for your flight to Kolkata for a night’s rest after a scintillating journey from wilderness to cultural extravaganza. (B,L,D)

Overnight at The Astor or similar

Day 12 - Departure from Kolkata

We bid you farewell and assist you to the airport for a safe flight to your onward destination. (B)