Saturday, May 1, 2010

Our Visit To Nameri - Prashaanti Tourist Lodge

The best time to go visiting any city is when one of their main festivals is on. I know, I know - air tickets will be more expensive, hotels costlier, more crowds jostling around but the city feels nice. There is an under-current of excitement as well as a festive mood in the air. People are out shopping, visiting relatives, dining and everyone seems to be enjoying the moment. Such was the case when my wife and I went to Guwahati for Bihu. Luckily, the weather was in favour too as it would rain briefly at night and that made the whole place cooler (way better than Delhi at least). It also made our drive to Nameri very pleasant as the countryside had enough greenery to please the eye. Having three women in the backseat giving helpful tips does need some distraction :)

The reason we chose Nameri as our holiday spot was the fact that our uncle Joy Mama had set up a resort under the Assam Tourism Directorate called Prashaanti Tourist Lodge. So off we went - my in-laws, wife, sis-in-law and I. Nameri is about 200 kms from Guwahati, towards Tezpur from where it is a further 40 kms. We went over the Saraighat bridge and took the NH 52 via the towns of Baihata Chariali, Mangaldai, Rowta and Orang. The roads till Rowta were pretty fine. After that, there are a whole slew of bridges which act as speed breakers as they start and end with a bump with lots of potholes in between. Apparently, the town of Orang is famous for its rasagollas but the shop we stopped at did not look hygienic and hence I avoided trying the delicacy. Before the town of Tezpur, we took a left and also better directions than I can give here as there are many twists and turns and lots of small towns through which the road lies. Once the turn-off is taken towards Tezpur, the road becomes quite narrow and there is construction work going on but it is still motorable.

Luckily for us, Joy Mama had also left from Guwahati the same morning and caught up with us. We were following him when he suddenly took a mud road into the bushes. Ah, it felt like we were almost there. Big trees on either side, clean air and blue mountains in the distance - I couldn't wait to get out and stretch my legs after the 5 plus hour journey. We had to drive in second gear as the road was muddy with rains and there were a quite a few pot-holes with water (it is be advisable to avoid smaller cars in the rainy season). We crossed the famous Nameri Eco Camp and reached the resort which we later learnt was just behind Eco Camp.

The resort is about 2 acres big. Right in the centre is the lobby cum dining room. It is a big thatched structure, open on all four sides. At the back is the kitchen and around are the six cottages separated by patches of lawn. On the outer periphery, Joy Mama has been doing some gardening and has successfully managed to grow different varieties of chillies, pumpkin, papaya, tomatoes and the likes. The rooms are clean and comfortable, with attached bathrooms. They are two bed affairs with the option of providing a third bed. The whole place is very quite and the view is quite nice, surrounded by greenery. The mountains of Arunachal Padesh are visible in a 180o arc, which my father-in-law and I kept looking at while lounging in the armchairs.

Now, Joy Mama is a fantastic cook and of course, we got special attention. We had some excellent dal, rice, fish fry and cabbage subzi for lunch and then retired for some rest. In the evening, we were having tea when we got a pleasant surprise that the local villagers were visiting the resorts and would be dancing the traditional Bihu dance. We laid out chairs near the front lawn in anticipation and sure enough, they landed up. There were about twenty of them in all, with youngsters around 10 years old going upto 25 years. They came in singing, accompanied by drums and cymbals. The girls were quite graceful and the guys were very enthusiastic. What I liked most about the whole show was that they never asked for money and when we insisted, they had a small ceremony where we had to place the money in a plate covered by a gamusa (ceremonial towel), lay the plate on the ground in front of them and kneel down. They sang out a blessing and only then accepted the money. Once they left, we sat around talking while Joy Mama was busy in the kitchen preparing our special request of smoked pork and chicken curry.

Before going to sleep, Joy Mama told us that the sunrise was quite spectacular as the whole place lights up but that meant meant getting up per 6.00 am. Whoa, I was on a holiday, how can one get up so early ;-) Anyway, we still got up at around 6.15. By then, the whole room was filled with sunlight. After a cup of tea, we went for a 1.5 km walk to see a tributary of the Bramhaputra. It was a pretty spot where the banks were filled with rounded pebbles and the water was cool to touch. Definitely not majestic (thanks to summer) but the current was fast flowing and seemed a bit risky to swim in. In any case, I did not carry a pair of shorts and cursed myself for the lack of fore-sight. We then headed and breakfasted on puris, aloo subzi, chilli subzi and omelette's. After a brief rest, we checked out and came back to Guwahati via the same route. On the way, we stopped at Hotel Shyamlee in Mangaldai for lunch. It was clean and the a/c was working. We had a nice veg thali with chicken curry and fish tenga.

As usual, the holiday seemed quite short and we wished we could have spent some more time there. Ideal for a long weekend or a stay of 4-5 days, this is the place to go to if you want to combine sight-seeing the North-East with good food and lounging around. Some of the things to do here would be
- Make this a base camp and then go on to visit nearby places like Bhalukpong, Bomdila, Dirrang, Chela Pass, Tawang etc.
- River rafting, jungle trekking, bird watching is also possible.
- - For the ladies, shopping is an option where you get to purchase mekkala chaddhar, shawls, blankets made by the viilagers.
- Nameri National Park is close by and could be a day trip.

Joy Mama can be contacted on / 9613853943

Here is the photo link of a few pictures of the place. Happy holidaying!!

No comments: