North-East India Small Group Tour | Small Group Tours India
This North-East India Explorer tour is a magnificent journey through the landscape and culture of a remarkable region. We will explore Darjeeling and its surrounds, the most iconic town in West Bengal set amongst the foothills of the Himalayas. Surrounded by lush green tea plantations, this region is as rich in history as it is in beauty. Be prepared to see the changing colours of the sunrise over the Himalayan Range at Tiger Hill, the gorgeous Toy Train snaking through the mountain peaks with spectacular views and glimpses of snow-capped mountains over tea gardens. We also travel to Guwahati, which was the capital of the Hindu kingdom of Kamarupa many years ago, and Shillong, a hill station in Meghalaya. This is a cultural tour like no other with the chance to see heritage sites and natural wonders like you've never seen before.
The North-East India Explorer tour includes a number of spectacular highlights.
Tiger Hill and Ghoom Monastery
We have an early rise in order to watch the sun rise over some of the most magnificent peaks in the Himalayas, including Mount Everest and Khangchendzonga. Tiger Hill is one of the highest mountains in the Drass-Kargil area of Jammu & Kashmir, India and the experience of watching the colours of the early morning light dance between the majestic mountain ranges is a truly magical one. Nearby is the beautiful Old Ghoom Monastery, built in 1875.
Puttabong Tea Estate
No visit to Darjeeling would be complete without a visit to a tea plantation. Darjeeling is renowned worldwide for its tea, often called the 'Champagne of Tea' and the Puttabong Tea Estate prides itself on being the first tea plantation in the region, planted in 1852.
Pemayangste Monastery is one of the oldest Buddhist monasteries in Sikkim. Over 300 years old, the monastery has extraordinary architecture and houses ancient manuscripts and scriptures from the time it was built. It is a chance to take in the local culture while learning about the religious history of the region.
Cherrapunjee, or Sohra, is a high-altitude town in the state of Meghalaya, sometimes called the wettest place on earth. Set against a breathtaking jungle landscape, the town is known for its living root bridges, made from rubber trees. Here we will take in the spectacularly colourful scenery and explore Mawsmai Falls, Seven Sisters Falls, and Nohkalikai Falls.
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- Travel in Darjeeling will be via non-a/c jeeps due to local conditions. Similarly transportation in Assam & Meghalaya is by Toyota Innova.
Overview: We meet at Kolkata Airport and transfer to our hotel.
Accommodation: 1 night at Hindustan International.
Overview: After breakfast at our hotel we transfer to Kolkata Airport to board our flight for Bagdogra. We meet on arrival at Bagdogra Airport and transfer to Darjeeling by coach.
On arrival in Darjeeling we check-in at our hotel and spend the evening at leisure.
Accommodation: 3 nights at New Elgin Darjeeling.
Overview: We have an early start this morning; well worth it to experience a beautiful sunrise at Tiger Hill. Tiger Hill is approximately 13 kilometres from Darjeeling, providing a view of beautiful sunrises and the Himalayan Range, including Kanchandzonga and Mount Everest. The horizon changes colours just before sunrise and the entire Himalayan range turns golden – it is truly majestic. Afterwards we visit the Ghoom Monastery, the oldest monastery in the area, built in 1875. On our return to our hotel we see the image of the Mythey Buddha standing majestically at 15 feet in height and enjoy breakfast.
Later we tour the town, including a visit to the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, and the Snow Leopard Breeding Centre. The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute was started in Darjeeling when Tenzing Norgay climbed Mount Everest. The institute was started to give mountaineering training and to teach other adventure sports related to mountaineering. We will visit the Everest Museum and Himalayan Zoological Park, where one can see Himalayan animals like the Snow Leopard, Tibetan Wolf, Tibetan Yak, Himalayan Black Bear, and several varieties of birds.
Our next stop is at the Tibetan Self-Help Centre/Refugee Centre. This institute is run by Tibetan refugees to preserve their handicrafts and one can see the making of Tibetan carpets, leather work, paintings, and woodwork.
Accommodation: New Elgin Darjeeling.
Overview: After breakfast we take a ride on a World Heritage Train. The spectacular landscape unfolds as the 2-foot gauge Darjeeling Himalayan Railway labours at about 10 miles per hour crisscrossing the road. It has tiny 4-wheel locomotives (some over 100 years old) akin to living legends – one can experience the sound, smell, and romance of a bygone era. Built in 1881, it has social and cultural importance and has outstanding universal appeal. Based on its unique features, it is considered to be of lasting significance to mankind.
Later in the afternoon we visit Puttabong Tea Estate. Teas grown on the misty heights of Darjeeling are popularly known as the “Champagne of Tea” and are famous the world over for their exquisite taste. The premium Darjeeling teas are mild in character and have distinctive natural fruity flavors. The different steps in tea manufacture can be seen in the factory of the Tea Estate.
Accommodation: New Elgin Darjeeling.
Overview: After breakfast we board our coach for our journey to Pemayangtse. On arrival we check-in at our hotel.
This afternoon we take a city tour of Pemayangtse. Standing at a height of 2,805 metres and enclosed on 2 sides by snow-capped mountains, Pemayangtse is one of Sikkim’s oldest and most important monasteries. Founded in 1705, it belongs to the Tantric Nyingmapa sect, which was established in the 8th century. The monastery is a 3-story structure filled with wall paintings and sculpture, and includes a magnificent 7-tiered, painted wooden model of paradise and hell, complete with rainbows, angels, and the whole panoply of Buddha’s and bodhisattvas. The model was built by the late Dungzin Rinpoche over a period of 5 years.
Accommodation: 1 night at Mount Pandim.
Overview: After breakfast at our hotel we depart for Gangtok. Upon arrival in Gangtok, we check-in at our hotel and spend the evening at leisure.
Accommodation: 2 nights at Norkhill Gantok.
Overview: We start the day with a sightseeing tour of Gangtok, visiting the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology and the Chorten (memorial for the dead). We also visit the Enchey Monastery, believed to be 200 years old, and drive past the Tashiling (the Secretariat) before visiting the Palden Tondup- Cottage Industries Institute.
Later we visit the Rumtek Monastery.
Accommodation: Norkhill Gantok.
Overview: We board our coach this morning bound for Kalimpong. On arrival we check-in at our hotel. This afternoon we tour Kalimpong, which includes visits to Zang Dog Palri, Fo-Brang Monastery, and Thongsa Gompa. Also we stop at nurseries, the local market, and the Tibetan colony.
Accommodation: 1 night at Silver Oaks Kalimpong.
Overview: After breakfast we transfer to the Bagdogra Airport to board our flight to Guwahati. We board our coach for our drive to Shillong, approximately a 4-hour drive.
We check-in at our hotel and after refreshment if time permits we visit the Cathedral of Marry and take an evening stroll to Shillong’s famous Police Bazaar.
Accommodation: 3 nights at Polo Towers Shillong.
Overview: We board our coach this morning for our full-day tour. Cherrapunjee is considered the wettest place on the earth, so expect rain!
En route we visit the famous Elephant Falls and Shillong Peak to enjoy a bird’s eye view of the city. At Cherrapunjee we visit the Mawsmai Cave, see Mawsmai Falls, Seven Sisters Falls, and Nohkalikai Falls. After lunch at Cherrapunjee we visit Thankarang Park, Koh Ramhah, and Khrem Falls. We return to Shillong late afternoon. This evening we visit Ward’s Lake and the Don Bosco Church.
Accommodation: Polo Towers Shillong.
Overview: After breakfast we enjoy a full-day tour to Mwallynong.
Mwallynnong Village is situated 90 kilometres from Shillong on the Shillong-Dawki Road. It is a village of 75 households with a population of 400 situated in an idyllic location. This village epitomizes a standard which other villages aspire to, dubbed the “cleanest village in India” by Discover India Magazine. The primary village school boasts a zero dropout record and 90% literacy rate. Paved walkways, beautiful flowerbeds, waterfalls, hilly rivulets, an acacia plantation, and an excellent view of the faraway plains of Bangladesh all contribute to the ambience of this village. Farming betel nut and leaves, broomsticks, and pepper, along with bee rearing, are the primary economic activities of this village. With the village headman himself taking the responsibility of making visitors comfortable, a day in this village gives an insight into the life of the Khasis, the influence of the church, and its metamorphosis.
Accommodation: Polo Towers Shillong.
Overview: After breakfast we check out of our hotel and return to Guwahati for our overnight stay. On arrival in Guwahati we check-in at our hotel. Later today we visit Kamakhya Temple, situated at the top of the Nilachal Hill at about 800 feet above the sea level. The entire temple complex not only comprises of many other temples but also a whole set of people connected with them. Apart from the main Devi Temple, it comprises of other major temples of Devi Kali, Tara, Bagala, Chinnamasta, Bhuvanesvari, Bhairavi, and Dhumavati.
We also visit Sankardev Kalakhetra. Located in a beautifully landscaped setting and inaugurated in 1998, Sankardev Kalahetra is a multi-arts complex showcasing the rich culture of the state. Named after the most honoured Vaishnava Saint and the greatest integrator of Assamese society Srimanta Sankardeva, the Kalakshetra houses a central museum where objects and day-to-day articles used by different ethnic groups are exhibited. It preserves the cultural identity of various communities and tribes of Assam by promoting dance, drama, music, and art. There is also an Artists’ Village that creates the atmosphere of a typical Assamese community, the Lalit-Kala Bhavan art gallery where exhibitions, art, and sculpture workshops are also held, a Heritage Park, an open-air theatre with the capacity to hold 2,000 people, a traditional Vaishnavite temple, and the Sahitya Bhavan library of rare books and manuscripts.
Accommodation: 2 nights at Kiranshree portico / Dynasty Guwahati.
Overview: After breakfast we board our coach for our full-day trip to Kukurmara to visit the Kamakhya Temple and later drive to Chaygaon.
We arrive at the Kulsi River, which is the southern tributary of the Brahmaputra River, to board our boat and cruise the river to see the Gangatic Dolphins. The river passes mainly through the Chaygaon area of the Kamrup District and country boats with no motor are used for sightseeing.
The river dolphin’s scientific name is Platanista gangetica, but they are commonly known as “Susu” in Ganges and “Hihu” in Brahmaputra. They are aquatic mammals. The dolphins are in their natural habitat and a sighting cannot be guaranteed. The boat ride is subject to river conditions.
Accommodation: Kiranshree portico / Dynasty Guwahati.
Overview: After breakfast we transfer to Guwahati Airport to board our flight to Kolkata. We are met on arrival and transferred to our hotel.
This afternoon we proceed with a half-day city tour of Kolkata. Kolkata is a city of glaring contrasts: a curious blend of the old and the new, partly feudal, partly born out of growing urbanization, partly undefinable. It is a medley of the East and the West, a graft of a European city imposed on the Asian scape that gives Kolkata its bewildering charm, confusion, and excitement. Being just about 300 years old, Kolkata hardly has many great historical monuments. Perhaps the oldest remembered is the site where the Kalighat Temple now stands. It is a city that shocks on first impression but eventually the visitor falls in love with it. The sightseeing of the city includes a visit to the Victoria Memorial, Kolkata’s most imposing and monumental dream in marble opened by the Prince of Wales in 1921 and often called the “Taj” of the British Raj. We will see St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Indian Museum which is the largest in India and has one of the best collections of Indian art.
Accommodation: 1 night at Hindustan International.
Overview: We transfer to the International Airport to board our onward flights.
What’s included in our Tour
- All travel is in modern, air-conditioned coaches if not listed otherwise.
- 14 nights of accommodation on twin occupancy bed and breakfast basis.
- All meals at restaurants/hotel buffet.
- Accompanied local English speaking guide (Different guides in Kolkata, Darjeeling to Kalimpong & Shillong till Guwahati).
- Assistance at airports and railway stations by our company representatives.
- Monument entrance fees as per itinerary (1 visit per monument).
- Toy Train tickets.
- Special Assamese lunch at Kukurmara.
- Boat cruise to view the Gangatic Dolphin in Kukurmara (Country boats).
- 1 Elephant ride and 1 round jeep safari including all park entry fees.
- All presently applicable governments taxes.
What’s not included in our Tour
- Items of a personal nature such as table drinks, laundry, telephone calls, and medical expenses.
- Camera fees (still/video) at any monuments.
- Tipping or porterage anywhere.
- Domestic airfare.
- Expenses incurred due to mishap, landslide, strike, political unrest etc. In such case extra will be changed as per actuals.
- International flights and departure tax.