Sustainable Northeast India
- Meet Heroes of the Global Conservation Movement
- Jungle walk, cycle and public boat when possible
- Zero waste consumption
- Highlight of local cuisine
Tucked away between Bhutan, Tibet, Myanmar and Bangladesh lies one of Asia’s last great natural and anthropological sanctuaries dotted with sacred forests, rugged mountains and beautiful lakes. Proclaimed as a major biodiversity hotspot, Northeast India comprising of seven states (Assam, Arunachal, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura) is arguably one of the most beautiful and fascinating regions of India, yet it remains the least explored. It is home to unique tribes that still worship nature and appease the gods for the welfare of the cosmos. Their way of life and community celebrations with song, dance and folklore bears testimony to their rich ancient heritage that they still uphold to this day.
Arts and craft in the Northeast are not only practiced as a skill or for commercial value but are one of the main threads woven into the tribal fibre itself. In your journeys to these faraway lands you will witness handmade crafts and magic weaves that have stories of the makers imbued in them. These sustainable crafts reflect a way of life that is conscious of the land and its resources.
The culinary culture of the seven states of Northeast India are a true display of the traditions and agricultural biodiversity of these regions. They have a wide assortment of culinary styles influenced greatly by topography, climate, geographic location, and neighbouring regions. While much of the world has woken not so long ago to the wonders of slow cooking, herbs, fresh produce and no-oil, no-sugar diet, in the Northeast that flavour is a time tested one. Their forest greens will make you dispel all myths that surround the Northeast cuisine as your senses get taken away by the therapeutic aromas of food that is so simple and steeped with earthy goodness.
Our responsibility towards the tribal communities and their natural habitat form the ethical root of all our activities.
Travelling with us is choosing a special way of travel, caring for the environment and promoting interaction with the locals. We design tours that allow you to meet people, listen and discover the inhabitants of the land, contemplate a place, find an unusual spot and expect the unexpected.
Green Travel Promise :
– Less distance. More experience
– Promote local homestays
– Jungle walk, cycle and public boat when possible
– Highlight of local cuisine
– Promote Handicrafts
– Use services of local expert/guides/naturalists
– Meet Heroes of the Global Conservation Movement
– Zero waste consumption
– Responsible waste disposal
– Say No To Single Use Plastic
– Respect local traditions/customs/laws
– No disruption to local life
– Say No to Human Safari
– Say No to animal Safari
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Arrival in GuwahatiWelcome at the airport and transfer to Dadara for about 45 minutes. Welcome with the traditional scarf (gamcha) embroidered with the Greater Adjutant Stork. Local lunch followed by an interaction with the Hargila Army, sighting of the birds and their nests and a cultural program organized by the women of the village.
Dadara is a village located on the Northern banks of the mighty Brahmaputra. The village hosts several tall trees allowing the Greater Adjutant Stork to nest. In Assam, the scavenger is called the ‘hargila’, meaning ‘bone swallower’ which is why their protectors are called the “Hargila Army”.
Dr Purnima Devi Barman dedicated her life to the preservation of the bird and succeeded to enrol hundreds of women villagers in her Hargila Army. The army focuses on preserving the big trees from being cut as the Greater Adjutant needs big trees to nest. As part of the conservation programme these women are also employed on the loom, depicting the endangered birds as motifs on scarves and saris they weave. They also protect the nests, tie nets under nesting trees to save the young ones from falling. Visiting Dadara is an excellent way to encourage the efforts of the villagers and to champion such conservation acts of the locals.
Guwahati – Umden – Umsaw Nongkharai (3 hrs - 95 Km)You leave Assam to enter Meghalaya, land of the Khasis and its matrilineal society. Reach the quaint little village of Umden. Get a glimpse into the life of the Eri silk weavers who keep their silk worms at home and protect and feed them like an invaluable pet. Watch them work the loom and their traditional organic dyeing techniques. The women also host a lunch and a cultural programme for their visitors.
Sericulture and Eri Silk weaving is rooted in the life and culture of the women of Umden. Eri Silk is particularly fascinating, as it is processed without killing the silkworm. Commonly silk cocoons are boiled with the worm inside to maintain one continuous filament, which results in a smooth and shiny fabric. Interestingly the eri silkworm spins short segments of a filament and creates a cocoon that is open at one end which enables the moth to emerge. This is why it is called the peace which makes it a very popular fibre among vegans and Buddhists.
The humid climate of Northeast India is very favorable for the eri culture. The women of Umden traditionally carry out the processing, spinning and weaving as part of their daily life. They gladly introduce you to all the steps in the Eri Silk production chain- starting from rearing of silk worms to spinning and reeling of silk to yarn production and dying and finally to weaving. They also conduct weaving classes for those who want to try a hand on the loom.
Umsaw NongkharaiIn the morning, headd to the local market and pick up few organic vegetables to prepare lunch with your homestay host who will also be your local cuisine guide as she shares her kitchen and traditional recipes in a cooking session with you.
Rosie takes pride in her traditional cuisine and her improvisation on it as she adapts to the palate of the guests she hosts in her homestay. You will find her subtly using spices and introducing you to local greens in the scrumptious dishes she cooks with you.
Spend your afternoon to meet Kriya (Rosie’s daughter), a bamboo designer who passionately designs organic and sustainable home accents with bamboo.
Enjoy a visit of an organic bamboo workshop that adopts a “Material Driven Design” methodology. Witness fresh bamboo ware crafted in front of you and interact with the designer and her artisans to know more their craft and the organic processes behind it.
Umsaw Nongkharai – Kaziranga NP (5 hrs – 240 Km)After breakfast, leave for Kaziranga National Park. Lunch on arrival and afternoon at leisure to enjoy the beautiful lodge and its surrounding.
Kaziranga National ParkIn the morning, indulge yourself with a bicycle ride along Kaziranga National Park through countryside roads. Surrender to the fresh scent of the tea garden and the sensorial delights of nature as you pass through the beautiful roads meandering through dazzling tea estates.
Acquaint yourselves with the indigenous natives comprising of Karbi, Mishing, Dum and Adivasi tribes living in the Park infringed areas. Soak in the beauty of their land and their way of life that is dependent and in unison with their natural habitat.
In the afternoon, you will embark on a thrilling jeep safari to explore Kaziranga National Park, a world heritage site, home to nearly two-thirds of the world’s Great One-horned Rhinoceros.
The park has the highest density of tigers among the protected areas in the world and was declared a Tiger Reserve in 2006. You may also see large breeding populations of elephants, wild water buffalo, swamp deer and numerous migratory birds.
Kaziranga NP – Jorhat (3 hrs – 90 Km)After breakfast, drive to Jorhat to visit the Tocklai Tea Research Institute, where research on all aspects of tea cultivation and processing is carried out. We then head to Puroni Bheti, a heritage bungalow to unwind and experience tea tasting in a lush tea garden estate. This is also our heritage home for the night.
The Tocklai Tea Research Institute is the oldest and the largest research station of its kind in the world. Research on tissue culture of modern tea and its medicinal benefits are also being carried out here
Jorhat – Majuli Island (1 hrs - 15 Km)At dawn, head to the Hoolongapar Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary with a packed breakfast. Here walk through the forest in the company of a local forest guard in search of Hoolock Gibbons, India’s only species of ape, as well as a wealth of birdlife.
The sanctuary is the home to seven types of apes – Western hoolock gibbon, Bengal slow loris, Stump-tailed macaque, Northern pig-tailed macaque, Eastern Assamese macaque, Rhesus macaque, and Capped langur.
Drive to Nimati Ghat (to board a Ferry for Majuli Island) Later, drive to Neematighat and take a boat cruise to Majuli (1 or 2hrs upstream boat cruise - the time depends upon the water level of the river) - one of the largest inhabited river island in the world and famous for the Vaishnavite Satras or monasteries and its culture. Enroute there is a possibility of sighting flocks of migratory water birds and the Gangetic River Dolphin. Night in on a floating heritage houseboat.
Majuli IslandFull day visit of Majuli. In the morning, explore the satras, its dancing monks and Mishing villages. This day will also acquaint you with Majuli's textile heritage as you visit small weaving villages along the Brahmaputra river that are entirely sustained by this cottage industry. After interacting with the weavers, it will soon become evident that the sociocultural life of these communities are significantly expressed in their textiles and patterns.
In the afternoon, visit of Samaguri Satra a mask painters’ workshop. The Goswami family has practised the tradition of mask-making since the mid-17th century. They make headgear for the raas leela festival and for bhaona, a style of vibrant street theatre from Assam. Watch bamboo and clay turn into fierce mythological characters. Continue to Salmora, a potters’ village. Pottery is made by hand from beaten clay (not on potters’ wheels) and burnt in driftwood-fired kilns; this is said to be the same method used by the people of the ancient Harrappan Civilisation.
In addition, if you are interested, Majuli Island is a bird watchers’ paradise; it is home to nearly one hundred species of birds, including many rare and endangered species, such as the greater adjutant stork, pelican and the whistling teal.
Night on a floating heritage houseboat.
Optional activities: - Rental of cycle/scooter/motorcycle - Initiation to Hinduism by a Neo-Vishnoite monk - Dance performance by the monks of Uttar Kamalabari monastery - Ramayana theatre play by the villagers - Morning/Evening Yoga session - Volunteer at the Hummingbird School - Plant trees with Jadav Payeng, The Forest Man of India
Majuli IslandWhat a better way to offset your travel carbon footprint than planting trees with Forest man of India. We arrange for a meeting with Jadav Payeng for you to contribute sapling and plant a few with him in his forest.
To get to the Molai forest, we do a short trek along the riverbanks followed by a boat ride across another stream. We cross a small village taking in the sights of rural life before we arrive at the forest to meet with Jadav Molai.
Jadav "Molai" Payeng is an environmental activist and forestry worker belonging to the Mishing tribe of Majuli Island. He is hailed as the Forest Man of India. Over the course of several decades, he has planted and tended trees on the sandbanks of the river Brahmaputra turning it into a forest reserve. The forest, called Molai forest after him encompasses an area of about 1,360 acres / 550 hectares. In 2015, he was honoured with Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in India.
The forest, which came to be known as Molai forest, now houses Bengal tigers, Indian rhinoceros, and over 100 deer and rabbits. It is also home to monkeys and several avian species. The forest has a rich biodiversity and several species of trees and plants that support its eco-system.