This 14-day introduction to the scenic and less-visited northeast will give you a totally different perspective of India. Start in historic Kolkata, one of India's most exciting mega-cities. Fly north to Nagaland, where you can spend time at the annual Hornbill Festival (held in early December), a spectacular display of Naga tribal culture. Continue to the Kaziranga National Park in Assam to spot animals on safari, ending in the small state of Meghalaya.

Highlights

  • Get a taste of Naga culture at the Hornbill Festival
  • See the incredible living root bridges of Mawlynnong
  • Go on wildlife-spotting safaris in the Kaziranga National Park
  • Visit the clay idol-making Kumartully colony in Kolkata

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Kolkata Kolkata
Day 2 Sightseeing in Kolkata Kolkata
Day 3 Fly Kolkata to Dimapur and Drive to Kohima Kohima
Day 4 Hornbill Festival Opening Ceremony in Kohima Kohima
Day 5 Hornbill Festival Kohima
Day 6 Kohima Sightseeing Kohima
Day 7 Drive to Jorhat Jorhat
Day 8 Ferry to Majuli Majuli
Day 9 Ferry from Majuli Island - Drive to Kaziranga Kaziranga
Day 10 Safaris in Kaziranga National Park Kaziranga
Day 11 Kaziranga to Shillong Shillong
Day 12 Visit Mawlynnong Village Shillong
Day 13 Sightseeing in Shillong Shillong
Day 14 Shillong to Guwahati and Flight to Kolkata  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Kolkata

Kolkata taxi
Kolkata taxi

Arrive in Kolkata, India’s second-largest city, which encapsulates modern India: hectic, vibrant, and teeming with life. Be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel.

Day 2: Sightseeing in Kolkata

Old and new meet in Kolkata

Today you'll explore this fascinating city with a tour of some of its major sights. Visit St. John's Church and the many historic buildings around Dalhousie Square, the Jain temples, Mother Theresa's home, and the magnificent marble dome of the Victoria Memorial. (Note that the Victoria Memorial is closed on Mondays).

Also visit the clay modellers' village of Kumartuli, where potters spend all year creating images and idols for annual festivals. As festival-time approaches, the models are prepared for the upcoming rituals and the streets are filled with brightly colored and richly attired idols. Later, take a walk in the Kalighat area. It's one of the oldest parts of the city and densely populated, with an interesting temple dedicated to the goddess Kali.

Day 3: Fly Kolkata to Dimapur and Drive to Kohima

Kohima
Kohima

Transfer to the airport for your flight to Dimapur, and then continue by car to Kohima

Visit the local market, where you can experience local life and see an array of interesting insects and food products used by the Naga people.

Day 4: Hornbill Festival Opening Ceremony in Kohima

Hornbill Festival, Kohima
Hornbill Festival, Kohima

The incredible Hornbill Festival is held in Kohima every year from 1-10th December. Today you'll spend the whole day at the opening ceremony of the festival, which is held at Kisama Heritage Village, and join in the opening ceremony.

The festival is attended by all of Nagaland’s major tribes, and features traditional arts, dances, folk songs, and games. It all takes place amid immaculate replicas of tribal huts, complete with wood carvings and hollow log drums, which are beaten in haunting symphony at the end of the day. The opening speeches begin at 2pm and are followed by the performances. There are many handicraft and food stalls as well as heady rice beer to sample.

In the evening, the main attraction is the Hornbill National Rock Concert, where bands from all over the country come to compete. After the sun goes down it can get very cold, so bring warm outdoor clothes with you. 

Day 5: Hornbill Festival

Hornbill Festival, Kohima
Hornbill Festival, Kohima

Spend a second day soaking up the atmosphere at the festival. As well as the traditional dances, there's the chance to admire traditional artwork and sculpture and pick up a few souvenirs at stalls selling handicrafts. Food is also a big part of the culture, and there are stalls selling tempting treats throughout the day. Look out for dishes containing the spicy Naga chili.

Day 6: Kohima Sightseeing

Kohima town
Kohima town

Spend today exploring other attractions of Kohima, including the Kohima World War 2 Cemetery, a tribute to the soldiers who lost their lives during the Japanese invasion. In the afternoon, visit picturesque Khonoma Village, just outside Kohima and home to the Angami tribe.

Day 7: Drive to Jorhat

A dancer performs in Jorhat
A dancer performs in Jorhat

Travel to Jorhat today, a major tea centre that's conveniently located for visiting nearby Majuli Island. It's about a seven-hour drive from Kohima.

Day 8: Ferry to Majuli

Brahmaputra River, Assam
Brahmaputra River, Assam

Take the local ferry on the mighty Brahmaputra River to Majuli Island, noted for its beautiful rural setting and the traditional Assamese architecture. It is also famous for its monastic retreats, where Lord Vishnu is worshiped through dance, music and poetry.

Day 9: Ferry from Majuli Island - Drive to Kaziranga

Kaziranga National Park
Kaziranga National Park

Take the ferry back across to the mainland and then drive to the Kaziranga National Park, about six hours away.

Day 10: Safaris in Kaziranga National Park

Rhino in Kaziranga National Park
Rhino in Kaziranga National Park

Go on an early morning safari to visit the central range of the park for about a couple of hours, before returning to your hotel for breakfast. After the breakfast, there is free time to relax until lunch, and then in the afternoon you'll take another safari trip into the park. Animals that live in the park that you might see include one-horned rhinoceros, Royal Bengal Tigers, Asian elephants, water buffaloes, and swamp deer.

Day 11: Kaziranga to Shillong

Shillong
Shillong

Drive from Kaziranga to Shillong, the capital of the state of Meghalaya. The journey takes about five to six hours. This evening you can stroll around the busy Police Bazaar, with its stalls and restaurants.

Day 12: Visit Mawlynnong Village

Mawlynnong Village
Mawlynnong Village

Take an excursion to the attractive village of Mawlynnong, known as the cleanest village in Asia. It's also famous for its incredible living root bridge, formed from the roots of rubber trees, which is a traditional way of constructing bridges in Meghalaya.

Day 13: Sightseeing in Shillong

Elephant Waterfall, Shillong
Elephant Waterfall, Shillong

Today, take a city tour of Shillong. The best way to enjoy its sights is on foot. The attractions here lie in the scenic beauty, parks, waterfalls and panoramic views. Places worth visiting include the Don Bosco Museum, decorative Ward Lake in the heart of Shillong, and the Bara Bazaar, where you can see local and hill people (mostly women) trading their wares, including jewelry and handicrafts.

Day 14: Shillong to Guwahati and Flight to Kolkata

Kolkata Airport
Kolkata Airport

After checking out of your hotel, you will be transferred to the airport in Guwahati for a short flight to Kolkata, where you can connect with your onward flight.