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General Area: South India
State: Tamil Nadu & Kerala
Season: Oct to March
Duration: 12 Nights / 13 Days
Temperature: Min 18ºC To 20ºC & Max 25ºC To 30ºC
The Indian South is a land of myths, mysteries and magnificent structures. It is a colourful delight of soft sensual pleasures, from the temples of Tamil Nadu to the beaches and steamy backwaters of the Kerala coast. The itinerary encompasses cultural sightseeing, temples, forts, and palaces spanning more than 2000 years of Indian history. Connect with local people along the way in rural villages of Tamil Nadu. Explore bazaars, spiritual centers, tea and spice plantations of the Western Ghats. Kick back in a private houseboat in the Keralan backwaters where you can enjoy some of the most sumptuous selections of coastal cuisine in the world. But most of all it, with its exquisite hotels and its delicious cuisine, it is a perfect place for a truly relaxing on a beautiful beach overlooking the Arabian Sea.
The climate in southern India in January is warm and pleasant, with day temperatures ranging between 25-35 degrees, and minimum temperatures of 18-20 degrees.
You will be met upon arrival and transferred to the Hotel.
In the afternoon you will be taken on a half day sightseeing trip of Kolkata, founded in 1690 by the remarkable English merchant trader – Job Charnock.
In the 17th century there was a group of three villages along the river, Hugli Kalikata, Govindapur and Sutanuti, where communities of weavers lived. The site was particularly holy to Hindus. According to one myth, King Daksa was enraged when his daughter, Kali, married Siva. He organised a Yajna (grand sacrifice) to which he invited everyone in the kingdom – except his son-in-law. Kali was distraught to hear that her husband had been so insulted by her father and threw herself on the sacrificial flames. Siva, in turn, arrived on the scene to find his wife’s body already burnt. Tearing it from the flames, he started his dance of cosmic destruction. All the other gods, witnessing the devastation that Siva was causing in his anguish, pleaded with Vishnu to step in and end the chaos. Vishnu intercepted him with his flailing Chakra (a discus-like weapon) and, in order to dislodge Kali’s body from Siva’s shoulder, chopped it into fifty one pieces, which were flung far. The place where each one fell became a place of pilgrimage. The toe of Kali’s right foot fell at Kali Ghat. Thus, Kalikshetra or Kalikata gave the city its name. In 1772 it became the capital of British administration in India with Warren Hastings as the first Governor of Bengal. Some of modern Calcutta’s most impressive colonial buildings date from the years that followed.
Overnight at the Hotel Kolkata
After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport to board your flight to Dimapur.
Arrive in Dimapur and drive 4 hours to Kohima, the capital of Nagaland and home to the Angkami tribe. Here we check into Nagaland with the Restricted Area Permit (RAP) which takes one hour to process. En route to Kohima, stop at Dimapur to visit the medieval Kachari kingdom.
Nagaland has always been closed to foreigners, except to a few missionaries and British political officers who first ventured into the fringes of Nagaland from 1874 onwards. Other than the period of the Japanese invasion of India, no foreign visitors have, until recently, been allowed to enter Nagaland. The Japanese invaded from their bases in occupied Burma during the famous “Battles of Kohima and Imphal” (1944) during which the British forces stood their ground. It was during this particular time that the Nagas showed their loyalty and support to the British troops, ably assisting them in forcing the Japanese to retreat.
Nagaland is bound by Assam in the West, Myanmar in the East, Arunachal Pradesh and part of Assam to the North and Manipur in the South. The state is inhabited by 16 major tribes, along with several sub-tribes. Each tribe is distinct in character in terms of customs, language and dress.
Music is an integral part of life; folk songs eulogizing ancestors, the brave deeds of warriors and traditional heroes, and poetic love
songs immortalizing ancient tragic love stories. Each tribe is easily distinguished by its colourful and intricately designed costumes, jewellery and beads. The traditional ceremonial attire is awe inspiring – colourful spears and daos decorated with dyed goat’s hair; headgear made of finely woven bamboo interlaced with orchid stems, and adorned with boar’s teeth and hornbill’s feathers; and elephant tusk armlets. In days of yore, every warrior had to earn each of these items, through acts of valour, to wear them.
Dimapur: From Dimapur airport we pass through the plains town of Dimapur en route to Kohima and visit the ruins of the medieval Kachari kingdom, one of the important sites of megalithic culture. Most of the ruins appear to be contemporaries of the Kachari civilization, established before the Ahom invasion in the 13th century AD. There is evidence of a touch of Hindu influence on most of them, though they are predominately non-Aryan, with elaborate rituals and the cult of fertility. Besides the Monolith, the ancient Kachari capital, Dimapur, contains other ruins of temples, embankments and tanks. The entrance gateway has been beautifully executed and is well preserved. megalithic culture of Dimapur
Overnight at Hotel in Kohima
After breakfast, a walking tour of Kohima includes a visit to the famous and impeccably kept British War Cemetery for the supreme sacrifices made by the officers and men who fought and died at the Battle of Kohima in 1944. The cemetery is beautifully and meticulously maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The heart moving epitaphs, engraved on bronze plaques by their loved ones reads:
“When you go home, tell them of us and say for your tomorrow we gave our today”.
Also visit one of the largest and most populous villages in Asia – Bara Basti – which translates to “twelve villages”. Bara Basti is on the eastern ridge, overlooking Kohima, and was the vantage stronghold of the Japanese forces during World War II. As you enter the village, a large traditional wooden gate, with the scimitar of horns of buffalo head pointing towards the bravery and valor of the Angkami tribe, greets you. Naga stones erected here and there in front of the houses are memorial symbols of the grand feasts arranged by their great ancestors.
“When you go home, tell them of us and say for your tomorrow we gave our today”. British War Graves – Kohima.
The State Museum is another visiting must. The historical artifacts, the log drums, the tolls and implementation of the ancestral weaponry, the Naga currencies of old, the attire of warriors, the dresses of women, the hearth of a Naga Kitchen – in short, the entire Naga traditional lifestyle at all, has been depicted in dioramas. This is a bird’s eye view of the fifteen colourful tribes at close quarters.
During the walks today we can stop at a local Naga side restaurant and taste the local Naga curries which are a wide variety of meats and local fish cooked in bamboo juice and local herbs.
Overnight at Hotel in Kohima
After breakfast, proceed to Khonoma, home of the Angkami tribe, famous for their traditions of valour and courage. You will drive for about two thirds of the distance (around 2 hours) and then walk the rest of the way.
History reveals that Khonoma provided protection to several villages in ancient times. The terraced fields, which produce 20 types of paddy at different elevations, present a beautiful view. The Khonoma gate tells the story of the British infiltration into the Naga Hills in the 1870s.
During the next couple of days you will base yourselves out of a local home to walk and explore the villages and enjoy invigorating walks through the surrounding reserved forest.
Overnight at Naga Model Village complete with local cuisine and Naga traditional curry and a bamboo mug of rice wine.
Overnight in Khonoma Village
Spend the day walking and exploring the village and surrounding area, giving you a perfect opportunity to appreciate the beautiful Naga Hills and people. The region is very scenic, with villages set among cultivated fields and scattered throughout the valley. The people still practice the slash and burn form of farming.
The villagers are very friendly and may well invite you to see their houses, and offer you their local drink “moodu”… a type of rice beer. A local Naga picnic in the forest to south of Khonoma village is a must cooked over an open fire.
Overnight in Khonoma Village
After breakfast, drive through the central Naga Hills to the remote village of Touphema, via Kohima.
For a third of the distance you will walk through (secondary growth) forest. Each of the northern Angkami tribes has its own distinct style of living and although, from a distance, this is not easily distinguishable, you will get an insight into their lives as you interact with them.
Overnight in Touphema
Touphema village, home of the northern Angkami tribe, situated deep in the central Naga Hills approximately 40 km from Kohima, is the first village to build a model village overlooking the Naga Hills to the far east towards Myanmar. Established in 1431, it was originally called Hutuophema after the Erithrina tree, in the belief that the village will triumph over the enemies of war.
Today you may walk around both the old and the new village, and hike up through the hill forest reserve, with a picnic lunch, and then return to Touphema, to witness a northern Naga war dance in the evening.
Overnight in Touphema
Drive through the Naga Hills and down to the plains of Assam to the ancient township of Sibsagar.
Sibsagar was the capital of the mighty Ahoms, who ruled Assam for more than six hundred years before the advent of the British. The town, which literally means ‘the ocean of Lord Shiva’, is strewn with the tell-tale ruins of a powerful empire. The most remarkable landmark of the town is the 200 year old Sibsagar tank. On its banks are three significant temples – Shivadol, Vishnudol and Devidol. Modern Sibsagar is a fast developing urban settlement. It is the headquarters of the district Sibsagar, a leading tea producing center.
Overnight at the East End Hotel situated in the heart of the bustling trading bazaar of Dibrughar.
Drive via Dibrughar and Tinsukhia. Continue along the north bank of the Noa Dehing River and through thick tropical jungle to our ultimate destination – the village of Deban, Arunachal Pradesh.
Arunachal Pradesh once known as the “Hidden Land” is the only State in India which has been completely closed to all outsiders since the beginning of time. Since 1993, a limited number of travellers are being permitted to visit this beautiful state for the first time.
A sentinel of the country in the north east, this ancient land finds mention in early Indian literature such as the Kalika Purana, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. It was here that Parasuram is said to have washed away his sins, Vyasa meditated, Bhismaka founded is kingdom, Lord Krishna married his consort Rukmini and King Balinarayana drew men for his armies from among the hardy people of Arunachal Pradesh. The 6th Dalai Lama was born on the soil of Arunachal Pradesh and the present 13th Dalai Lama found refuge and safety here. Although some 25 tribal groups constitute the total population, the density of the population is only 8 per sq. km. All the individual tribes have a rich and well-preserved cultural heritage. During the 200 years of British rule in India, the British Government closed the borders to its own kind in 1873. Arunachal Pradesh is one of the few states in British India which Christian missionaries were not allowed to enter, unlike the neighbouring states of Nagaland and Mizoram.
The society of Arunachal is patriarchal and primogeniture and the fundamental laws of inheritance, with variations, are not uncommon. They follow endogamy and strictly observe clan exogamy. Polygamy was socially sanctioned and practiced by most of them. The people are highly democratic and each tribe has its own organized institutions that maintain law and order, decide disputes and take up all activities concerning the welfare of the village.
Head-hunting has long since ceased in the State and the Arunachalis are generally known to be a peace-loving people. However, one famous tribe in particular – the Wanchos of the south eastern Tirap district of Arunachal Pradesh, who saw action against the British in the mid-19th century – used to infiltrate and attack the ferocious Konyak tribes of north-eastern Nagaland.
Overnight at Camp Namdapha, situated on the banks of the Dihang River and bordering Namdapha National Park.
Namdapha National Park, in the South Western part of Arunachal Pradesh, has the widest diversity of habitats of any of South Asia’s protected areas. This is the only area with three major predators – the tiger, leopard and clouded leopard, with the snow leopard being a possible fourth.
The sprawling park, with an area of 698 sq. miles (1,807 sq. km) is drained by three major river systems which run into the Noa-Dehing River and then the Brahmaputra. The wide variety of altitudinal changes from 650 feet (200 m) to 14,800 feet (4,500 m) and the varying climatic conditions have given rise to different forest types, ranging from wet evergreen forest at lower levels through mixed deciduous forest to temperate alpine forest at the upper reaches.
The park provides natural shelter and food to a vast variety of wildlife. Besides the aforementioned cat species, seven species of primates – Hoolock, Gibbon, Slow Loris, Assamese Macaque, Rhesus Macaque, Pigtailed Macaque, Stump tailed Macaque and Capped Langur – have been reported from Arunachal Pradesh.
All the three goat antelopes occurring in India – Sorew, Ghoral and Takin – occur here. Arunachal Pradesh is the only place in India where Takin is found.
Highly endangered species like the Hispid Hare have been reported in the low latitudinal grassy areas of Arunachal Pradesh.
Among the large mammals found in the plains and adjoining hills are the Mithun, (a cross between a wild gaur and domestic cattle), buffalo and elephant.
The other high-altitude animals include Musk Deer, Bharal, Himalayan Black Bear and Red Panda.
More than 500 bird species have been recorded in Arunachal Pradesh, many of which are highly endangered and restricted to the state, such as White-winged Duck, Sclater Monal, Temmerick’s Trogopan, and Bengal Florican. This is the richest state in pheasants where 10 species occupying different levels from plains to the snow-clad mountains are also found. .
Enjoy nature walks through the National Park and surrounding reserve forest as well as to nearby villages each morning and afternoon or a full day with picnic lunches..
Overnight at Camp Namdapha.
Drive across the Assamese plains to Dibrughar.
Upon arrival proceed to the Tea Planter’s Bungalow – or Hotel East End or similar for overnight stay
In the morning you will be transferred to the airport to board your midday flight to Kolkata.
Upon arrival in Kolkata, you will be transferred to the Lytton hotel for overnight stay.
Our representative will report at the hotel lobby according to the International flight schedule and transfer you to the Kolkata international airport to board your homeward flight with sweet memories.
What to bring for the trek
Good Warm internal clothing (woolen and fleece, thermals), water proof and wind proof clothing, Comfortable hiking boots with good resistance against the snow and water with a good grip, haversack, sandals, walking sticks, gaiters, woolen/tennis socks (quite a few pairs) and stocking, gloves, cap, sunglasses (very important), Sunscreen lotion, day sack, camera and binocular (OPTIONAL), water bottle, torch and batteries, though the water is very clean and pure and we do provide boiled water once you are in trek still in order to be extra careful you can get few chlorine pills as mountain water is supposed to be hard.
What we provide during the trek
Accommodation in two men tent (high altitude alpine tents of good quality), heavy foam pad mattresses, sleeping bags, Breakfast/tea, all meals (good quality food), services of experienced guide, cook, all the camping equipment, utensils and crockery, kitchen cum dining tent, toilet tent, oxygen cylinder and adequate medical kit.
Day temperature in the sun is pleasant but windy but nights are cold. The temp at night and in rain and snow (especially in Sep and Oct) can really go down; sometimes below zero so you have to be well prepared.
That has to be done individually itself.
It is also possible that a route change may become necessary due to weather, inaccessibility through the mountain passes due to heavy snow, condition of the trail and physical fitness of the clients.