Northeast India is one of the country’s most unexplored gems. It is abundant in natural beauty and provides ample opportunities for all kinds of activities from rejuvenating to adventurous. Guwahati in Assam is the gateway to northeast India. Once you have explored popular places to visit in Guwahati like the Kamakhya temple and the Brahmaputra riverside, you are free to move along and explore the rest of Assam and Meghalaya which have a delightful surprise for you at every nook and corner. Be it the stunning wildlife in this region or the picturesque mountain views, you will feel blessed to be away from the hustle bustle of your city as you explore these amazing weekend getaways from Guwahati one after another. You will find a wide range of options when it comes to short trips from Guwahati. From tea plantations to river islands, Guwahati has something for all kinds of travellers. So here are some amazing weekend getaways from Guwahati that you must visit on your short vacations.
Pobitora wildlife sanctuary
One of the lesser known wildlife sanctuaries in India, Pobitora is special for its population of the great Indian one-horned rhinoceros. It is located conveniently close to Guwahati and is worth a visit for anyone who is interested in nature and wildlife. Not only is it a calm and serene getaway, it also provides a sneak peek into the wildlife in this part of the country. It is also quite inexpensive and makes for an excellent short weekend trip. So if you are looking for a relaxing weekend getaway in the midst of nature, Pobitora is one of your best bets.
Distance from Guwahati: 50 km (approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes)
Best time to go: The best time to visit Pobitora wildlife sanctuary is from November to March. The weather is pleasant at this time and lacks of rains ensures that he park is open for tourists.
Where to stay: There are several options for accommodation inside the wildlife sanctuary compound. You can find budget stays like dormitories beginning at Rs 600 a night as well as mid-range options with rooms starting at Rs 4000 a night. Zizina Otis Resort (+91 98540 20651) and Prashanti Guest House (+91-9854092192) are good busget options with rooms starting at Rs 1400 per night. Prashanti also has a dormitory with beds rented at Rs 600 per night.
Sightseeing: Pobitora wildlife sanctuary is known for the great Indian one-horned rhinoceros. So, the best thing to do here, apart from relaxing in the beautiful periphery of the sanctuary, is to take the 1-hour safari. You can take an elephant safari which begins early in the morning at 6.30 or you can opt for the jeep safari which goes on between 6.30 am to 12.00 pm and 1 pm to 3.30 pm. The safari costs Rs 500 per head.
Tips to keep in mind: The elephant safari happens only once a day at 6.30 in the morning. So if you are interested, make sure you reach the main gate by 6.15 am.
Kaziranga National Park
Arguably India’s best wildlife sanctuary, Kaziranga National Park is an absolutely must-visit for anyone who travels to the northeast. If it’s good enough for Prince William and Kate Middleton, it must be good enough for you, right? Kaziranga is popular for having the largest population of the great Indian one-horned rhinoceros. It is home to two-thirds of the world’s one- horned rhinos and as of the latest census, the rhino count here is 2401. It also has the largest density of tigers in India as it has one tiger per every 5 sq. Km. With 118 tigers, spotting the magnificent wild beast is a great possibility here. . Kaziranga also has the largest population of Asiatic water buffalo (1666) so be sure to run into some of these animals during your safari. Even the drive to Kaziranga national park is so picturesque and spectacular that your trip feels totally worth it even before you take the safari.
Distance from Guwahati: 194 km (approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes)
Best time to go: Kaziranga National Park remains closed for visitors from mid-April to mid-October due to heavy rains in this region during the monsoons. So, the best time to visit Kaziranga National Park is during the winter months of November to February.
Where to stay: There are several accommodation options on the main road just outside the entry gate of Kaziranga national park. Agoratoli Eco Tourism Resort (097060 10838), Kaziranga Resort (+91-94351 52968) or Aranya Tourist Lodge (03776-262-429) are good options for a comfortable, inexpensive stay.
Sightseeing: The best thing to do at Kaziranga is to take the wildlife safari and witness the cute one-horned rhinoceroses in their natural habitat. You also have a great chance of spotting tigers, buffalos, wild elephants and the eastern swamp deer. The safari timings are 6.30 am to 10 am and 1 pm to 3 pm.
Tips to keep in mind: Hiking is prohibited in the park in order to avoid potential human-animal conflicts. So respect the rules of the forest and also make sure you do not litter in this region.
Majuli is the largest river island in the world and is located on the river Brahmaputra in Assam. It is one of the most beautiful yet unexplored places in the country. This is what makes it special for anyone looking for a short vacation in the middle of nature without any crowd or city hustle bustle. It is a great place to just sit back and relax looking at the wonderful scenery around you. It is also known as the cultural capital of Assamese civilization since the 16th century. Festivals like Raas Purnima and the Majuli festival are celebrated with great zest here and offer an amazing peek into the culture of this region.
Distance from Guwahati: 348 km (approximately 7 hours and 30 minutes)
Best time to go: Majuli can be visited all year round. It does get flooded during the rains but ironically, it makes it easier to travel around in boats. The best time to visit Majuli is from November to February when the weather is extremely pleasant.
Where to stay: Majuli has abundant accommodation options including hotels, lodges and guesthouses. Rooms start as low as Rs 150 per person. You can try La Maison de Anand (+91-99571-86356) or Prashanti Eco-tourism Resort (094357-34138) for a comfortable, inexpensive stay at Majuli.
Sightseeing: Most attractions in Majuli are known for their religious significance. The prominent holy places of Majuli are Dakhinpat Satra, Garmur and Auniati satra, Kamalabari satra and they are all worth a visit. They often host folk singing and dance performances which are a great experience. Tengapania located on the banks of the river Brahmaputra is another popular picnic spot of this region.
Tips to keep in mind: Over the years due to heavy rains in the region, the island of Majuli is getting inundated in certain areas causing erosion and reducing land mass as the Brahmaputra goes into a spate. It is feared that at this rate, Majuli could cease to exist in the next few decades. So, visit it while you still can.
And then there is Shillong, the capital city of Meghalaya and one of the most vibrant and popular getaways from Guwahati! Shillong has a great mix of natural beauty and cultural events. It is surrounded by beautiful lakes, mesmerizing mountains and breathtaking waterfalls. From the food to the music, Shillong is the cultural hub of Meghalaya. The famous Khasi cuisine which involves boiling or roasting rather than frying in oil and limited use of spices (including salt) is quite popular all across India. Locals are friendly and the pubs serve some excellent beverages and meals. Add to this the pleasant weather and the scenic splendour of the place and what you have is one of the best holiday spots of the country.
Distance from Guwahati: 99 km (2 hours 40 minutes)
Best time to go: Shillong is best visited in the winter months of November to February. While monsoon in northeast India can also be a good experience as the waterfalls are in all their glory, travelling for sight-seeing becomes a problem so it is best to avoid this area during the rains.
Where to stay: Shillong has several options for accommodations like resorts, luxury hotels, guesthouses, and homestays where you can enjoy a comfortable stay. Some options worth trying are Lakkhotaa Lodge (0364-259-0523, 259-0524), Royal Heritage – Tripura Castle (+ 91-364-250-1111/250-1149), and Hotel Pinewood: (0364) 222-3116, 222-3146. More options here.
Sightseeing: Shillong is full of wonderful tourist attractions worth visiting. The Shillong peak gives you a spectacular view of the entire city. Ward’s lake and the golf course are fantastic picnic spots. The Elephant falls are worth checking out.
Tips to keep in mind: Police Bazaar in Shillong has an excellent variety of stalls offering lip-smacking street food. Totally worth a try! Do try the momos here as they will be unlike the ones you eat anywhere else. Swish Cafe located near Beat House on Laitumkhrah Main Road serves amazing pork ribs and chicken roast and is thronged by locals. Cafe Shillong, one of the most famous cafes in Shillong, serves delicious khao-suey and Shillong special noodles.
Known as one of the wettest places on earth, Cherrapunji is a stunning getaway from Guwahati and should be on every nature lover’s list. Cherrapunji is located in the middle of the East Khasi hills just 50 km southwest of Shillong. The route from Guwahati to Cherrapunji via Shillong is extremely picturesque and takes you through winding roads with several twists and turns. At every turn, a beautiful landscape awaits you. Cherrapunji is known mostly for its mesmerizing waterfalls which are surreal. A couple of days in Cherrapunji (also called Sohra) away from the fast paced city life can be the best weekend break you can ask for. You can just sit back and relax at a resort or indulge in activities like sight-seeing, river canyoning from Nongthymmai to Mynteng steel rope bridge, rock climbing or camping.
Distance from Guwahati: 148 km (approximately 4 hours)
Best time to go: Cherrapunji can be visited all year round. If you visit it during the monsoon season (June to September), you can witness the gushing waterfalls in all their glory. However, if you want to be able to move around and explore the region, winter months of November to February would be a better time. Cherrapunji receives rainfall throughout the year so no matter when you visit it, you are bound to catch some rain.
Where to stay: Rooms start at Rs. 1800 a day. Some of the best options include Coniferous hotel (03637 235537), Cherrapunji Holiday Resort (03637 244218, 244219) and By the way hostel is an ideal hostel for backpackers with beds available at Rs 250 per night.
Sightseeing: Cherrapunji has a good bunch of tourist attractions worth visiting. The Nohkalikai falls is one of the most scenic waterfall in the region and has a gruesome story behind it. The Seven Sister Falls are extremely beautiful and often feature on Cherrapunji postcards. The Mawsmai caves are a big hit with archaeology lovers. The Sa-i-mika park is a good picnic spot. One of the most popular activities to indulge in while in Cherrapunji is the trek to the double-decker living root bridges. Located just a few kilometres away from Cherrapunji in Nongriat, the living root bridges are marvellous to say the least. A result of the smart bio-engineering practised by the locals of the region, the living root bridges are totally worth the tiring trek that requires you to climb up and down around 3000 stairs across two hills.
Tips to keep in mind: Do try the pork rice in this region as it is one of the specialties of Khasi cuisine. Also, if you enjoy motorbiking, then the Guwahati-Shillong-Cherrapunji route is one of the finest routes in the country you can ride on.
Nameri national park
Another hidden gem in the northeast, Nameri national park is an absolute must-visit for wildlife lovers. Located at the foothills of the eastern Himalayas around 35 km from Tezpur, Nameri National Park is spread across 200 sq. Km. Nameri is mostly famous as it is the last home to the White-winged wood duck. With just about 150 odd pairs remaining, the species is highly endangered. A huge population of the winged wood ducks thrives in the Nameri national park making it an extremely valuable national park in India. The national park also has a good population of elephants, wild boars, bisons, capped langurs, giant squirrels, leopards, black bears, and sloth bears. The Golden Masheer fish which is known as the ‘Tiger of the Himalayan Rivers’ is famous in this area. If you are interested in photography, then Nameri national park is the best weekend getaway from Guwahati for you as it is home to birds such as hornbills, wood ducks and plovers, bee eaters and babblers giving you ample opportunities for great clicks. There are also around 600 species of flora in the Nameri National Park making Nameri a great place for nature lovers.
Distance from Guwahati: 224 km (approximately 4 hours and 25 minutes)
Best time to go: The best time to visit Nameri national park is from November to March. This is when the weather is pleasant and it is easy to spot animals and birds. Nameri is best avoided during the rains.
Where to stay: There are several accommodation options in Nameri National Park. If you are looking at a luxuruirious stay, then you should consider Wild Masheer located at Addabarie tea estate in Balipara. It has heritage bungalows located right amidst lush greenery. Your best budget accommodation options are Nameri Eco camp (03714 292 644) and Jia Bhorelli wild resort (+91 03715 247109) with rooms starting around Rs 1500 per night.
Sightseeing: Best thing to do at Nameri national park is bird watching. With so many species of birds and animals, the safari is one of the best experiences for visitors. You can also go river rafting in the 13 km stretch on river Jia Bhoreli. The rafting route takes around three hours and it is best to combine it with a picnic on the banks of the river. You can go trekking with an armed forest guard to spot the wild but it is advised to stick to the safari for this. Angling has been a favourite activity in this region as there are several spots in Nameri perfect for this kind of fishing. The Bura-Chapori wildlife sanctuary is just 10 km away from Nameri is also worth visiting. The Agnigarh fort located 40 km away is also a good picnic spot.
Tips to keep in mind: If you are interested in angling in Nameri, be advised that it requires special permits in advance and is often suspended. There are some parts of Nameri National park where visitors are allowed to swim but unless you have taken prior permission, do not indulge into such risks.
Made extremely popular by the sobriquet “cleanest village in Asia”, Mawlynnong is a beautiful little village in the interiors of Meghalaya overlooking the plains of Bangladesh. Mawlynnong was given the title of Asia’s cleanest village in 2003 by Discover India magazine and it has held on to the title ever since. Thanks to the title, people started visiting this village which is quite a drive from other popular places like Shillong and Cherrapunji. What started with a few visitors every year has grown into a huge flood of tourists. Today, Mawlynnong has become one of the must-visit destinations in Meghalaya. From backpackers to couples and foreign tourists to Indian families, everyone visits Mawlynnong. The village has a strict cleaning regime wherein every morning, everyone from kids to elders start cleaning the frontyards of their respective houses and even the main square. Every house is dotted with green plants and trees and there are conical bins at every nook and corner. This is not because of the cleanest village tag. It all started more than a century ago when the an outbreak of cholera led to a dire need to keep the village clean so that it doesn’t spread. Since then, the message of cleanliness spread by Christian missionaries has stayed with the residents of the village and passed on to future generations. This and more can be learned thorugh conversations with the friendly locals of Mawlynnong.
Distance from Guwahati: 172 km (approximately 4 hours and 40 minutes)
Best time to go: Best time to visit Mawlynnong is during the winter monehts of November to February. This is when the weather is pleasant and you can enjoy clear views of Bangladesh from the various viewing points in the village.
Where to stay: Mawlynnong has several homestays which offer comfortable rooms at affordable prices. Consider Ila Jong Guest House (+91-96150-43027) or Ha La Rympei (+91-96158-23660) which have rooms starting at around Rs 2500. You may also be able to look for something cheaper if you negotiate.
Sightseeing: Mawlynnong is a beautiful village where you can spend a day or two just walking around and absorbing the culture of this place. You can climb up to the tree house and catch a glimpse of Bangladesh too. The best activity here is to check out the single-decker living-root bridge in the nearby Rewai village. The living root bridge is just a 15-minute from the village entrance. Just around 30 km from Mawlynnong is the beautiful Dawki which is popular for the crystal clear green waters of the Umngot river. A 20-minute boat ride in this river costs around Rs 200 but is totally worth it!
Tips to keep in mind: Do not litter here, that should be obvious. The locals are sweet but traditional so respect their sensibilities by dressing appropriately. Not many people in and around Mawlynnong speak Hindi so speaking in English is the way forward.
Mawsynram receives 11,872 mm of rainfall annually making it the wettest place. It beats Cherrpunji (11,777) by a small margin. Due to the intense rains in Mawsynram, the villagers use thick grass to sound-proof their huts from the deafening sound of rain. The ‘Maw’ in Mawsynram means ‘stone’ in the Khasi language. It refers to certain megaliths found in the Khasi Hills. The village is most famous for the gigantic formation of a stalagmite, which resembles the shape of a ‘shiv linga’. Mawsynram is located at an altitude of 1400 m and is surrounded by picturesque lush green lands and mesmerizing waterfalls. The driving terrain from Shillong to Mawsynram can be quite challenging and it is advisable to only use SUVs or four-wheelers.
Distance from Guwahati: 172 km (approximately 4 hours and 40 minutes)
Best time to go: Mawsynram received the heaviest rainfall in the world and has a prolonged monsoon on account of the moisture that gathers over the Bay of Bengal causing precipitation over Mawsynram. The months of May to July are the wettest. The best time to visit Mawsynram is November to February, which are winter months when the weather is suitable for relaxing and sight-seeing too.
Where to stay: Staying at Mawsynram is not advisable although you will find some homestays if you wish to spend the night. It is better to stay at Cherrapunji which is just 15 km away from Mawsynram. You can stay at one of the options mentioned above and take a day trip to Mawsynram.
Sightseeing: Mawsynram is a small village with no crowds of tourists so you can just visit the village and walk around to enjoy the local rural life.The daily life here can be quite intriguing. You learn interesting facts like that the labour-intensive process of weaving a knup which takes hours to finish keeps the village women occupied throughout the monsoon. Jingkieng deingjris, which are living bridges made from roots of rubber trees, take decades to form and are used by locals to cross turbulent streams. Popular activities like angling and the centuries-old tradition of ‘siat khnam’ which means shoot arrow, an archery-led gambling event where each contestant throws arrows like javelins at bamboo targets keep people happy and active.
Tips to keep in mind: If you wish to visit Mawsynram without getting drenched in the rains, the best months are September to November. This is when the rainfall is the least here.
Hajo is a popular pilgrimage center which is located very close to Guwahati. It holds great significance for Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists. Hajo is home to shrines dedicated to Durga, Shiva, Vishnu, Buddha and major Muslim saints making it an important pilgrimage center for followers of all these religions. Hajo is also a great window to Assamese culture. Various varities of rice like cheera, muri, akhoi, and pithguri are prepared in this area. A visit to Hajo is perfect for those with a religious and cultural bent.
Distance from Guwahati: 36 km (approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes)
Best time to go: The best time to visit Hajo is during the monsoon. June to September is when the weather is extremely pleasant here. Summers get too harsh and during winters, the temperature drops to 7 degree C.
Where to stay: Since Hajo is so close to Guwahati, it is a much better option to stay in Guwahati rather than look for accommodation in Hajo. Guwahati has plenty of budget as well as mid-range options for a comfortable stay.
Sightseeing: Hajo’s most popular tourist attraction isHayagriva Madhava Mandir. There is a giant ancient turtle in this temple which is famous with visitors. It is believed by some Buddhists that this temple, located on the Monikut hill, is where Buddha achieved nirvana. Gautama Buddha’s relics are said to be preserved in this temple. The Pao Mecca mosque built by Muslim saint Pir Giasuddin Aulia is another famous place to visit in Hajo. There is a Ganesha temple in Hajo which was constructed in 1744 AD. Other temples worth visiting include the Kedareswara Temple, a Shiva temple, has an inscription on the temple indicating that it goes back to the Rajeswar Singha period.
Tips to keep in mind: Some of the temples in Hajo are located on hillocks and reaching them involves some climbing. Make sure you are fit and wear comfortable footwear.
Nagaland’s capital city of Kohima is one of the most appealing places to visit in the whole of northeast India. While it is not really at a short driving distance from Guwahati, it can be covered on a long weekend. It is ideal for those who want to take a laid back vacation away from the busy pace of urban life. Kohima is inhabited by 16 principal tribes that form the Naga tribes. It is known as much for its spectacular beauty as it is for its unique culture and traditions.
Distance from Guwahati: 356 km (approximately 7 hours and 30 minutes)
Best time to go: Kohima is an all-year destination but the best time to visit Kohima is from November to March.
Where to stay: There are not many options for accommodation in Kohima. It is a place mostly for backpackers and budget travellers so there are several budget hotels giving out rooms at Rs 500 to 700 per night.
Sightseeing: The Kohima Village,which is locally called the Barra Basti, showcases the intriguing Naga way of life. The traditional Naga art and buffalo horns at the entrance gate itself is typical to all Naga villages. Another interesting place to visit is the Kohima Museum where you can see some of the rarest artifacts belonging to different tribes of Nagaland. Various colorful traditional dresses and clan motifs are also displayed in the museum. You can also visit the Catholic Cathedral located on Aradura Hill which is renowned as one of the largest cathedrals in northeast India. The Japfu peak and Kohima zoo are other tourist attractions not to be missed. The beautiful Dzukou valley is just 25 km from Kohima and worth a visit. Ruzaphema and Naga Bazaar are great options for shopping
Tips to keep in mind: The Hornbill festival near Kohima that takes places in November/December is worth attending so if you can plan a visit around it, you will have an experience of a lifetime.