A 15 day itinerary starting from Kolkata while traveling to world heritage sites in Maharashtra
I was going to try out something else for this 15 day trip where it was necessary to chalk out a plan and cover 5 UNESCO World heritage Sites. Going to Delhi and finding out a couple of them is the easy way out. I live in Kolkata and travel a lot. I also have a fascination to make an itinerary before I set out. Hence, this challenge became a good blank canvas to make a basic plan about my next adventure.
Route: Kolkata-Kaziranga NP-Manas WildLife Sanctuary-Darjeeling Hill Station-Bodh gaya-Sunderbans-Kolkata
Day 1: Travel to Guwahati
It is easy to reach Guwahati by flight or by train from Kolkata. Distance between Kolkata and Guwahati is 523.96 km.
By train it takes around less than a day from the Howrah train station near the city of Kolkata. The Average is around 19 hours. The price for a train ticket in average is around Rs. 1000 for AC-2 tier.
By flight it takes an evening from the Netaji Subhas chadra Bose Airport. The price for one person in average for a flight ticket is around Rs. 5000.
Day 2: Kaziranga National Park
From Guwahati: Then, it’s a six hour drive from Guwahati and two hour drive from Jorhat, in private taxi or public bus. From Guwahati, expect to pay around 300 rupees by public transport and 2,500 rupees by private transport. Some hotels will provide pick up services. The nearest railway stations are at Jakhalabandha, one hour away (trains run there from Guwahati, take the Guwahati-Silghat Town Passenger/55607), and Furkating (trains from Delhi and Kolkata). Buses stop at the park entrance on the way from Guwahati, Tezpur and Upper Assam.
Places to Stay: IORA – The Retreat, Diphlu River Lodge, Wild Grass Lodge
Tips: Kazaringa is open daily from November 1 to April 30 every year. According to locals, the best time to visit is during late February and March, when the December and January peak season rush is over.
Things to do: One hour elephant safaris are offered between 5.30 a.m. and 7.30 a.m. Elephant safaris are also possible in the afternoon, from 3 p.m. until 4 p.m. The park is open for jeep safaris from 7.30 a.m until 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. until 4.30 p.m.
Amount Spent: The entrance fee is 50 rupees for Indians and 250 rupees for foreigners + the elephant rides cost 100/- each. + 2721/- for a double bed room at IORA- the Retreat.
Day 3 and day 4: Coming back to Guwahati + Manas Wildlife Sanctuary
Returning back to Guwahati takes six hours and from there people generally get too tired to go out that day only. The next day after a one night stay in the city is usually desired method. Manas National Park is a one-day destination. Tourists visiting the sanctuary generally prefer to stay at Guwahati. However, there are a few budget accommodation options in the sanctuary. The government-run inspection bungalow offers scenic views of the forest. Mid-range accommodation is provided by Manas Jungle Camp which is located on the eastern part of the sanctuary. There are a few cottages as well that provide accommodation facilities. Few private lodges are located just outside the park.
The park got its name from the Manas River which flows through the western part of the park. Spread over an area of 950 sq km, Manas National Park forms the core area of Chirang Ripu Elephant Reserve. The reserve covers an area of over 2600 sq km and stretches upto Bhutan.
Places to Stay: In Guwahati – Brahmaputra Jungle Resort, Hotel Brahamputra Ashok
In Manas : Bansbari Lodge, Mathanguri Forest Lodge
Tips: The charge for the camera and other gadgets are extra and separate than the entry fee. Park remains open from 5:30 am to 6:30 pm.
Things to do: Enjoying the wildlife is the most valid reason for coming here. Manas is famous for being the home to tigers, rhinoceros and elephant population. The national park is also home to red panda, golden langur and other 90 stunning species of fauna that include 55 varieties of mammals. Manas National Park is the second biggest tiger reserve in the country. So, through the various transportations available like cars and jeeps, look around.
Amount Spent: 1750/- for a night stay at Brahmaputra Jungle Resort at Guwahati + 1500/- for transportation to and from from Manas + 20/- for enry fee + 200 Miscellaneous.
Day 5 and Day 6: Returning to Guwahati and leaving for the Darjeeling Hill Station
The distance between the two places are 492 kms by road and 355 kms by air.
These places in the North-east are quite hectic and hence require a little rest in between. Hence, the next place for this planned visit is an old colonial hill-station where the old colonial lords went to relax. It is called Darjeeling. The convenient way to reach from Guwahati to Darjeeling is to take Indica from Guwahati to Darjeeling.The fastest way to reach Darjeeling from Guwahati is to take Go Air from Guwahati to Bagdogra then take a taxi from Bagdogra to Darjeeling.The cheapest way to reach Darjeeling from Guwahati is to take Kamrup Express from Guwahati to Jalpaiguri then take a taxi from Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling.
Amount Spent for Transport( excluding the price for a niht stay at a hotel in Guwahati)
: By train – 215/- by Kamrup Express from Guwahati to Jalpaiguri and then Taxi from Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling: 1,260/-
By flight– 2032/- by Go Air from Borjhar Airport to Bagdogra Airport and then taxi to Darjeeling for 630/-
Day 7, 8 and 9: Enjoy Darjeeling
We can plan a short trip of two to three days in Darjeeling, spending time scuttling between tea gardens, enjoying a one hour joy ride in the famed Darjeeling Himalayan Railway and taking those leisurely walks around the Mall. Within three days we can also visit the various places of tourist interest and spend time picking up local artifacts from the numerous curio shops dotting this hill resort.
Places to Stay: Windamere Hotel, Shangri-la Regency
Things to do : Day 1 – Mirik, Pashupati Nagar(Nepal Border & back).
Day 2- Tiger Hill, Batasia Loop and Yiga-Cholang Buddhist Monastery by jeep only as well the moast famous attraction of riding the Toy Train around the mountains.
Day 3- Enjoy the small town, have cookies and cakes at Glenarys and buy artifacts from the Mall and finally watch the sun set on the mountains.
Amount Spent: Approximately around 5000/- all inclusive for one person for a three day trip.
Day 10 and 11: Shift to Bihar/Bodh Gaya
The distance is 578km.
The next leg of this east India expedition takes us to Bodh Gaya, one of the most spiritual places in the world. It lies 13 km south of Gaya, beside the river Phalgu. It was Bodhgaya where Lord Buddha sat under a peepal (Ficus religiosa) tree and attained nirvana or enlightenment. The descendant of that original tree still flourishes there today. Time by road is 8 hrs, 50 mins. And that is almost the most preferred route. However, the Train No. 2506, North East Express departs Patna daily at 22:20 and gets to New Jalpaiguri at 09:15. Darjeeling has no train station per se, and you have to travel preferably by car or jeep to the nearest city, Siliguri where an airport and train stations (New Jalpaiguri and Siliguri) can be found. It takes 2 hours to reach Bodh Gaya from Patna by Car.
Transport : By airplane Patna is the nearest airport. However, the train route is more available and frequently used. The North East Express is a daily train connecting Gaya, the nearest train station to New Jalpaiguri. Kamakkha Gaya Weekly Express is also available only on Mondays.
Places to Stay : At Patna, Niranjana Hotel, Buddha Inn.
At Bodh Gaya, Hotel Lumbini International, Hotel Tathagat International.
Amount Spent: 480/- for train ride to Patna + 2000/- for Night stay in Hotel (Patna)/2000/- for Night stay at Bodh Gaya + 1000/- for car fare from Patna to Bodh Gaya.
Day 12 : See Bodh Gaya
The Buddha attained enlightenment at the age of 29 in the town of Bodhgaya in India. After settling under a tree, the Buddha made the resolve not to move until he had achieved enlightenment. After three days and nights of profound meditation this goal was realised. The bodhi tree under which the Buddha sat has been destroyed both intentionally and naturally many times since this time of enlightenment. It has continued to re sprout and is visible today.
Tips: The main attractions, The Mahabodhi Temple and Sujata Temple marks Bodhgaya. The origins of the Temple are unclear. Some claim the Temple could have been built as early as the third century by Ashoka, others claim the Temple was built between the fifth and seventh centuries. A thriving Monastic Order continues in the area today, with three monasteries catering for locals and foreigners alike.
Amount Spent: The Mahabodhi Temple complex is open from 5 a.m. until 9 p.m. There’s no entry fee. Hence all the cost would be miscellaneous except for the cameras which is for 20/-.
Day 13 and 14: Sundarbans National Park
The distance between Patna to Sunderbans national Park is 680km. From Kolkata , it is 102 kms.
Return back to Patna and venture on the last destination for this trip, the feisty Sundarbans. This is where the world famous Royal Bengal Tigers live. I did not include this in the beginning since too much forest safari can be repetitive. However, this small trip at the end makes a good ending to a great trip. Returning to Kolkata and visiting Sunderbans takes two days in total.
Patna to Sundarbans National Park Taxi fare starts from Rs 17290/-.However, if the pockets seem empty, there are other ways. Direct Flights leave from Patna to Kolkata which cost around 4000/-. This is the preferred route. Millions of trains connect Patna to Kolkata and if you reach the station at any time of the day you are bound to catch one.
Sundarban National Park has a number of entry points. Irrespective of any point from where you want to vienter the Sundarbans national Park, you have to reach the entry point from Kolkata by road.The entry points are:
The easiest way to reach Sundarbans is the Canning route. Buses are also available from Kolkata(K C Das at Esplanade, Sealdah Bus stand or Science City) to get to Sonakhali or till Malancha from where you get another bus to Sonakhali.
You can end up seeing the Tiger if you are lucky. But seeing Crocodiles are quite common.
Places to Stay : Sunder Chital Tourist Lodge, Sundarbans Jungle Camp, Houseboat in Sundarban, M.B India Beacons
Amount Spent: Rs 3390/- for flight from Patna to Kolkata + 1000/- by Car from Kolkata to Canning+ Rs 4,420/- for a night stay at a house boat.
Day 15: Returning to Kolkata
Get up in the morning and romanticize about the trip. Have some breakfast and the slowly get up and find a way back to your daily life, which seems to be the hardest thing to do. The distance covered is 102 km and the price for a cab or private car varies. However it will be between 100/- to 1600/-.
In the end the millions of pictures(possibly0 and even more memories will remain in your mind.