Traveling to Assam has become a lot easier in the recent years. You can either fly into Guwahati or Dibrugarh and use those cities as your base to explore Assam and Meghalaya.
We used Dibrugarh as our base (thanks to family who were staying there at that time :)) Here was our plan when we explored Guwahati, Shillong and Cherapunjee. We traveled at the end of April.
Day 0: Took the night train from Tinsukia to Guwahati.
Day 1: Reached Guwahati in the morning and headed to our hotel for a quick shower and breakfast. After breakfast, we headed to the Kamakhya temple. If there are too many people waiting in line and you can afford to, purchase the fast track ticket and complete your visit within a reasonable time.
We then headed to the river bank to catch a boat to explore the Umananda temple. Timing is important since the temple closes for a couple of hours in the middle of the day.
After visiting the temple and taking the boat ride back, we had lunch and headed towards Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary. There we took a jeep ride inside the sanctuary and were able to spot many animals including the rhino. Afterward, we headed back to Guwahati in the evening and chilled.
Day 2: The next morning, after a healthy breakfast, we drove towards Shillong. Depending on road conditions (traffic, construction, etc), it might be late afternoon by the time you reach Shillong. We briefly stopped over at Umiam Lake on our way to Shillong…. It was a break which was well worth it!
In the evening we decided to check out the famous Police Bazaar and the rest of the city (there is a nice lake and garden).
Day 3: After an early morning visit to the Botanical Garden, we decided to check out Shillong view point and head towards Cherapunjee. There are many view points along the way to stop and just take in the mountains and the amazing views.
We reached Cherapunjee late in the afternoon. After checking into the hotel, we headed out to enjoy the views of spectacular mountains, waterfalls, villages in the valley and of course views of the plains of Bangladesh. There are also caves to explore if you are in the mood.
Day 4: We walked around Cherapunjee early in the morning… viewing waterfalls in the morning has its own magic. Later in the morning we headed back towards Guwahati. Plan to spend the night in Guwahati just in case as we did.
Day 5: In the morning explored Guwahati a little more and caught the late afternoon train back to Dibrugarh!
Second Leg for us but you can visit Kaziranga from Guwahati
Dibrugarh – Jorhat – Kaziranga – Dibrugarh
We decided to split our trip into two parts because we had an opportunity to stay in Dibrugarh for a few days (our overall trip to the area was for 15 days). You can however plan to visit to Kaziranga when you visit Guwahati.
Day 1: In the second leg of the journey, we drove from Dibrugarh to Jorhat and stopped at Siva sagar for a short stop over. Because we were driving, we packed our lunch so we would not spend too much time looking for a place to eat. Spent the night in Jorhat.
Day 2: The next morning, around 3am, we woke up and headed to Kaziranga to see the Rhinos (it is an UNESCO World Heritage site :)). Once our safari ended, we headed to a nearby hotel for breakfast and some shopping. We then headed back to Dibrugarh and reached late in the evening.
Assam is a very beautiful state by itself. You have many opportunities to enjoy the mighty Brahmaputra. It also has a rich history with many interesting places to visit. Our travel group included kids (two 4 year olds) to grandparents who were close to seventy. Meeting everyone’s needs can be a challenge but what we realised at the end was that during this trip, everybody had an amazing time. What worked for us was short spurts of activity with lots of access to open areas. Yes, we did stop a lot during the road trips but those stops gave us an opportunity to enjoy the villages and towns that make up this region.
We visited in April when it is Baishagu time in Assam. As we passed by villages, we saw beautiful tents set up where people were celebrating the festival as a community.
Meghalaya – There are no words to describe the beauty of this state. The hills, valleys, beautiful lakes will leave you speechless. Clouds literally determine whether or not you get to enjoy a view… and completely do justice to its name.
If you have an opportunity, do plan to explore more of Meghalaya. I read somewhere that it has some of the most amazing caves in the world. The one we explored near Cherrapunji was pretty cool. Now that the kids are older, I think I would love to go back and explore more of this beautiful state.
Important note: These areas are generally underserved, esp. Cherrapunji and surrounding areas. Finding fruits, milk and curd can be an issue, so plan accordingly and pack tetra packs and enough snacks as you travel through the region. IF you are vegetarian, this will impact you more.