India October/November 2013
This trip had been planned very early on in the year. Part of it was to cover NE India after an ill-fated trip a couple of years previous resulted in us not getting to the far reaches of Dibrugarh, Ledo & Dangari; the resulting plan had me covering vast distances and crossing the following states in the process:
Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Assam, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh & Delhi
Unfortunately no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t make my dates fit with those of others who’d be setting off on October 20th and doing much of the same! In the end I had to bite the bullet and book the trip on my own; my first ever solo trip abroad, anywhere in the world, let alone India. I’d put so much effort and planning into it that I wasn’t just prepared to hack it to bits and do only half of it so that was that; my very first solo trip was planned and what an excellent one it turned out to be……….
British Airways (direct) – £688.95
BA199 2145 Heathrow – Mumbai
BA142 0340 Delhi – Heathrow
Internal Flight with Spicejet – RS 2867.50 (approx £30.18)
SG233 1040 Varanasi – Delhi Domestic Terminal (1D)
Itarsi – Hotel Shri Nivas (RS1399 for 11 hours, RS1799 for 23 hours) newly built in June 2013, clean, modern rooms with free WiFi, flat screen TV, AC, fan & hot water. Excellent food, despite the menu only being in Hindi.
Nagpur – Hotel Rajhans (RS700 for non-AC, RS900 for AC) is a short rickshaw ride from Nagpur station and has its own website. The rooms aren’t the best and all three I looked at had cockroaches running around. The rooms have AC, fan & TV. Hot water is provided by bucket with a 30 minute waiting time. There is no restaurant but room service is available and the food was good; about the only thing that was good about the place really.
Nagpur – Hotel Siddhartha Inn (RS2100 for executive deluxe room with AC and booked through booking.com) is a short rickshaw ride from Nagpur station. The room was clean and spacious with AC, fan, flat screen TV and hot water in the mornings. The restaurant was closed for Diwali but room service was available and there is an extensive menu. The food was excellent and breakfast is complimentary; included in the room rate. Free pick-up and drop-off is available if arranged 2 hours prior to collection.
Hyderabad – Hotel Harsha (RS1600 for AC room, booked via their website) is basically at the bottom of the 200m station approach, left for 50m and over the road on the right. Rooms are clean and spacious with AC, fan, TV and hot water in the mornings. The hotel offers laundry service and WiFi, the latter being RS550 for 24 hours. The staff were very helpful and attentive and the food in the hotel’s veg restaurant was excellent. Buffet breakfast is included in the room rate as is a morning paper; Hindu Times.
Cooch Behar – Hotel Royal Palace (RS950 for a deluxe AC room) 2km from Old Cooch Behar station or approx 6km from New Cooch Behar station; RS20 in a cycle rickshaw from the former and RS150 in a taxi from the latter. The choice of room type is extensive; ranging from RS650 to RS3000. My room had AC, fan, flat screen TV and round the clock hot water. The hotel has a restaurant but I didn’t use it; only for a pack-up breakfast the following morning as it opens at 0700 and I departed before it had. Service was good and the staff very honest; having returned RS50 to me after they’d overcharged me.
Guwahati – Praashanti Tourist Lodge (RS680 for non-AC or RS840 for AC) is approx 200m away from the main entrance to the station; straight down the main road on the right hand side. While a little rough around the edges the hotel staff are very friendly and the hotel’s restaurant serves good food. The rooms have fan and/or AC, TV and constant hot water from a geyser.
Tinsukia – Hotel Centre Point Towers (RS1350 for a non-AC, non-refurbished room) a short 5 minute walk from Tinsukia Jct (Old Tinsukia) and is accessed through a shopping precinct. The room was very spacious; and actually a twin room. While a bit rough round the edges it more than sufficed. There was a TV and fan but no AC and hot water is only available in the mornings after 0530; bucket hot water is available on request. The hotel restaurant is clean, but for the odd ant crawling around the table, and served up some good grub.
Haflong – Hotel Elite (RS1100 for any room whether single or twin occupancy) is a 15 minute auto-rickshaw ride from Lower Haflong station; and is a solid uphill slog, twisting and turning as the road ascends. The hotel looks new-ish and the rooms are clean, even if the bathrooms aren’t looked after as well. There were large ants crawling about the room but that problem was soon rectified; as was the single large cockroach problem! The room had AC (not needed in the evenings), fan and TV. The bathroom had hot water at any time, from a water heater. WiFi is available but the signal strength in some rooms is not good and I needed to go to reception to keep a constant connection. There is no restaurant at the hotel but the Aahar Restaurant just up the road serves excellent food; mainly of Chinese origin.
Samastipur – Hotel Aryan (RS600 for a Non-AC room) is an 8 minute walk from the station and a few minutes less in a cycle rickshaw. The room was clean; with TV and bathroom which had both a western & Indian style toilet. Unfortunately the hotel didn’t have a restaurant and also didn’t do hot water; not even by the bucket!
Indrail Pass 30 Days – £172
Booked in the UK through SD Enterprises Limited
The far North East
Haflong & the Barak Valley
Day 1 – morning view over the Barak Valley
Day 1 – return trip from Lower Haflong to Mailongdisa; out by passenger train, return by goods train
Day 2 – morning view over the Barak Valley
Day 2 – Lower Haflong to Jatinga; tavelling in the guard’s van at the rear of a goods train
Day 2 – Jatinga to Harangajao; travelling by the passenger train of the day
Day 2 – Harangajao to Jatinga; travelling on the side of a loco on a goods train
During the long journey back west; in the Guwahati area