Naga girl Temsutula Imsong has been praised by Varanasi for clean ghats

Temsutula Imsong moved to Varanasi & with a group of friends completely changed the look of several ghats along the Ganga. Imsong, who is from Nagaland, worked for days with her colleagues from NGO 'Sakaar' to manually clean the ghats that were full of garbage and excreta.

One of the objectives of Sakaar is to ensure all-round development of rural areas. Keeping this target in mind and affected by the filth she witnessed in Varanasi, Imsong decided to clean up the ghats.

The responsibility of the ghats has now shifted to the Municipal Corporation, but the efforts that Imsong and her team put in in these three years are not lost on the locals. Prime Minister Modi met Imsong twice when she began the cleaning and has applauded her work at Varanasi.

Gunjan, whose boat is anchored near the ghat, says, “We have never seen the ghats this clean. People would not even walk by earlier, let alone sit there. Now it is so clean that people come and sit around…”

Temsutula has now shifted her stream of work, and conducts workshops with students from class 6 to 12 in two schools, teaching them about waste generation and recycling. She is also working on enlisting families who compost at home and within a year itself, she aims at engaging 2,000 homes.

#HumanStories #OKNorthEast #StoriesFromNorthEastIndia #NorthEastIndia

Photo courtesy: Google (BW Businessworld,, LiveMint)

Photo courtesy: Google (BW Businessworld,, LiveMint)

Photo courtesy: Google (BW Businessworld,, LiveMint)

Musicians from North-East India join hands to revive long lost traditional music through ChaiTunes Project

ChaiTunes Music Project
It all started when Assamese musician and producer Jim Ankan Deka met Carnatic classical vocalist Suchethan Rangaswamy in Bangalore sometime in 2008. They started a band called Veenar which released couple of fusion songs with videos where they played all the instruments and sang live. With the similar thought, after seven years, Jim with his team started ChaiTunes Project in Bangalore.

The ChaiTunes music project began in 2015 with a collaborative enterprise called 'Xaare Aasu' led by Jim in Bangalore, and has so far expanded into Calcutta, Guwahati, Pune and Shillong. The music project is funded and powered by Bangalore based music organisation Eastern Fare Foundation and Bangalore based media house Music Malt.

Featuring Queen Hazarika, 'Xaare Aasu' was composed by Jim Ankan Deka and written by Assamese author duo, Prof. Bhabananda Deka and Nalini Prava Deka. Next came 'Aakaxok Subo Khojo' in 2015 written by Rajdweep and featuring Antara Nandy, who was just 15 yr old then. Both the songs were recorded and shot in Bangalore. In 2016 Jim, with help from Debjani Hazarika (Jenie), an animation artist and Tarunabh Dutta, a well known director from Assam, shot another video 'Anuron' with Rupam Bhuyan and Queen Hazarika for the ChaiTunes Project. Although the songs were not entirely shot live, but the videos managed to create a buzz and garner audience from all corners of the world.

Very recently Assamese singer and composer Rupam Bhuyan joined hands with the present ChaiTunes team in Guwahati and released the first unplugged and live music video 'Anuron - live and unplugged' shot and recorded at Eastern Fare Studios in Guwahati. It is a remake of previously released Assamese song of the same name. The song features Rupam in vocals, Jim and Gaurav Choudhury in guitars, Prabal Gogoi in Cajon, Jenie in percussion and back vocals and Blues harmonica player Veda V Sarma.

After a successful beginning, ChaiTunes is now all geared up to collaborate with stellar artists like Mayukh Hazarika, Tarali Sarma, Antara Nandy, Ankur Deka, Hridoy Goswami (Spreading Roots), Rittique Phukan (Voodoo Child), Suchethan Rangaswamy and many more, to create more natural, unplugged and live music videos. ChaiTunes also plans to give a platform to the unknown yet talented folk artists through it's various folk-fusion projects. The whole idea of the project is to go to the villages and interior places where the actual talents are hidden, compose a song collaborating artists of different genres, shoot a video live and unplugged and release it for the audience worldwide.

When the new generation has almost forgotten the age old traditional music, ChaiTunes Projects seek to build tangible bridges between folk, rock, pop, jazz or blues musicians by finding points of common interest and experience in music. It is a long-term collaborative program in partnership between the artists of different genres as well as musicians' communities.

"ChaiTunes Projects celebrate the accomplishments of every artist and the positive impact of music in people's lives. The music and the videos will be done in highly disciplined, professional settings. It is like going back to the basics. What our previous generation musicians did - singing and playing all the instruments together, live, in unison. You make one mistake and you have to start all over again. It's going to be a fun project aiming to brew a fine blend of music," says Jim.

ChaiTunes Project will be very soon releasing its second live and unplugged song 'Niyoror Xur' featuring Mayukh Hazarika, son of legendary singer Jayanta Hazarika. The song is filmed at Eastern Fare Studios in Guwahati video edited by Guwahati based company Purple Trope. The other upcoming music projects will also feature artists from different countries collaborating with folk and new generation musicians from India.

ChaiTunes Project is supported by OK! North East, Jenie's Mascara, OK ListenPerspective360Degree, Everything Outdoor, MadMax and By The Way.

Here are the 10 female bands from the North-east of India you would not want to miss | #OKMusic

— compiled by Debjani Hazarika
North-east part of India has always been known for its nature, beauty and music. In the last decade, the region has seen tremendous growth in the indie music scene. While most of the festivals and events are dominated by male bands, females of the region aren't waiting for a better time. Although female music groups are not new among northeasterners, the region has seen rapid growth of all female bands who are well equipped to play from folk to jazz, rock 'n' roll to metal. Below are ten such female bands who have been defying the stereotypical thought process and building faith in women empowerment with their music and team spirit.

1. Tetseo Sisters (Nagaland)

Tetseo Sisters from Nagaland
The Tetseo Sisters are the true cultural ambassadors of the North East performing the traditional folk music of Nagaland vocally as a band in many popular live shows across the country and abroad. The amazing four sisters known by the names, Mercy, Alune, Kuvelu and Azi have spent their young lives promoting the nearly forgotten music of the Chakhesang tribe that they have inherited. They have been featured in numerous cultural events and are regulars at Music Festivals around the country including Hornbill Music Festival, Storm Festival, North East Festival, Kalakshetra Foundation, Cultures of Peace series, Folk Nations and more recently at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo 2014. The dialect in which they sing is known as the Chokriand the regional song that they sing is known as ‘Li’, from the traditional songbook better known as ‘Li Kukre Kutiko’ in which there are approx of 223 songs enlisted in it. Their pure dedication towards their work has helped them to add a lot of awards in their kitty. Traditional folk instruments like tati (an one-stringed instrument) and heka libuh (horn of mithun) are played along the songs to maintain the essence of the folk music.

2. Afflatus (Meghalaya)

Afflatus from Meghalaya
Affalatus, the four young ladies band, began their blues influenced rock act in 2004. Affalatus are made up of experienced musicians in their own right with Mercy, Karen, Sharon and Grace. There is an enigmatic spirit within their rock and reggae mix music that’s highlighted by a more than strange female bravado. According to the band members, their journey was “inspirational” that never lost sight of the one thread, one passion, one love that binds them together; the love of creating music. Afflatus is said to be the emergence of a truly international sound, having the record label with India. Although the band is influenced simply by life itself, but the band can't deny the fact that they are also influenced by the sounds of the Beatles, RHCP, Flux Pavillion and Bruno Mars. Their debut performance as Afflatus in 2004 won them an award and that too at the national level. Since then, Afflatus, have come a long way with a debut album in the making, numerous high profile concerts under their belt and the emergence of a truly international sound.

3. The Vinyl Records (Arunachal Pradesh)

The Vinyl Records (Arunachal Pradesh) | photo: Facebook
Formed in February 2010, The Vinyl Records is a four piece All-girl Rock band. Considered as one of the most happening bands in the Indian rock music circuit, the band got featured on MTV F1 Rocks 2011, and since then they have regularly appeared in many countless top journals including Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire and Tehelka. They have performed in well known festivals and events like the Ziro Festival of Music, Puma Loves Vinyl, The LOUDEST Gig in Delhi, etc. The band members are Banu Jini, Minam Tekseng, Mithy Tatak and Cheyyrian Bark.

4. Apples (Mizoram)

Apples (Mizoram)
Apples is a three piece Rock 'N' Roll all girl band from Aizawl. The three girls began their music journey in october, 2007. The Apples is fronted by Zodingliani with her retro rock style and smirking off high energy guitar wizardy. The band includes of Jojo(Vocalist), ZoZoi(Drummer), Afaki (Bassist) and DingDingi(Guitarist). They have also covered the Mizo version of the 50’s hit “Stupid Cupid” which helped them increase their popularity and fan base. The band's main principle is to produce commercial and semi-commercial music taste of their community.

5. Minute of Decay (Manipur)

Minutes of Decay (Manipur)
They are sisters and then they became band members when they chose to start a revolution called 'Minute of Decay', also known as MoD. The sisters Worshon, Singchon and Thotyaphy Muivah from Manipur, formed the New Delhi based group in the late October 2011. The band mainly plays classic rock punctuated by a stylized pinch of contemporary vocals and alternative riffs – an obsession with sweet medleys.

Minute of Decay's preparatory is laced with a fine example of foresight and discipline from their parents. Their own love affair with music, they ensured, would survive into the next generation through their children, even if it means an all-girls situation.

6. The Chosen (Mizoram)

The Chosen (Mizoram)
A bunch of six talented girls from Aizawl got together by their same love for music in 2009. The band had risen up to the Mizo music scene with their first single “Broken Wings”, later followed by “Kan fak a che (We praise you)”. The lead vocalist Fiona Lalmalsawmi Pachuau won Special Award at MoonLight Awards 2011. The girls mainly sing in their native dialect – Mizo.

Essentially a Pop, Pop-rock, Indie band, the band, started jamming out in the first half of 2009 and got together as a Gospel band (All-Girl band) by the end of that year. The band comprises of members Moitei (Vocals), Fiona (Vocals), Seni (Guitars), Xoey (Bass), Malsomi (keyboards), Afeli (Drums) and Parema (songwriter/manager). They are the first all girl Gospel band from the state of Mizoram. Now ain't that something?!

7. Genesis of Pink (Sikkim)

Genesis of Pink (Sikkim)
Formed in April 2013, Genesis of Pink is a Gangtok based four member punk-rock band comprises of Mahima Apchunna Rai (Vocalist/Rhythm Guitarist), Dechen Gyurmi Zangmu (Lead Guitarist), Annies Pamo Lucksom (Bassist) and Shrishti Rai (Keyboardist).

The band released two music videos “Who are you” and “Ka Bata” in 2016. Their songs are often based on society and individuals and they also do not stray away from writing songs on delicate issues such as rape and violence and spread it through the universal language of music.

8. Blue Corn (Mizoram)

Blue Corn (Mizoram)
Blue Corn is a pop trio and one of the most popular girl groups of Mizoram. The group consists of Felicia Singson, Kim Kimi and Tlingi. In 2006, they released their music video “Lung Lawm A kim” from their debut album – Lunglawn Akim. The album enjoyed a lime-light success in Mizoram, Manipur and other parts of Northeast states. They popularity hits not only in Mizoram but neighbouring states of Manipur and Nagaland as well.

9. Hurricane Girls (Assam)

Hurricane Girls (Assam)
In 2011, Assam’s first all-girl band was formed in a small village of Nahira, about 30 km off Guwahati. The lead vocalist, composer and director Mamani Kalita along with her drummer friend Arju Begum took the initiative. Apart from headlining various festivals in their home state, this fusion-folk rock band has played an array of gigs hitting Kolkata, Mumbai, New Delhi and Ahmedabad.

The band’s musical journey began in 2011 performing at a cultural function organised by a coaching institute at Rabindra Bhawan in Guwahati. The band uses some traditional Assamese musical instruments like dhol, nagara, dotara with keyboard, guitar, drums and modern percussion instruments to create a musical illusion. Band members as on 2016 - Mamani, Mumpy, Maina kaberi, Jenny, Luku and Pragya

10. Vivance - Naga Girls (Nagaland)

Vivance - Naga Girls (Nagaland)
This four piece pop band from Dimapur is an offspring of collective efforts punched by Mhonyamo Kikon and Meyi to introduce a catchy flavor of girl power into the Nagaland music scene. 'Vivance' consists of Livika Swu (Vocals), Nukshinaro Imchen (Guitars), Vekutalu Swuro (Piano) and Onen (bass guitar).

Formed on November 25, 2013, the band’s style of playing is considered to have a blend of pop rock, and Indie, so they call themselves an experimental Pop/Indie rock band, the joy and to uplift and empower women in the state. In 2014, the band has released their Debut EP Dream Out Loud. Although the band is still quite young, their foot-tapping music has helped them gather quite the fanbase.

Edited by - Jim Ankan Deka

OK! North East Cottage in Amingaon - a private place to party in Guwahati

OK! North East Cottage has lot of space for a birthday or private party for up to 10 guests. The area is peaceful and next to the highway.

Amingaon area of Guwahati is known for its scenic beauty and the OK! North East Cottage which is very close to the airport oozes character and charm. With 360˚ mountain view, the cottage is one of the best cheap holiday rentals manages by OK! North East in Guwahati, Assam. The area provides wonderful breezes all through the house on a hot day.

The Space

Just about 18 kms from the Guwahati Airport, the cottage with a bedroom with AC, a living room, kitchen, bathroom and lot of open space with mind blowing 360° view of the mountains. It is situated at a serene place in Amingaon and 7 kms distance from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati.

With complimentary breakfast, the cottage is available for groups looking to party or a peaceful night. A caretaker is present 24 hrs in the cottage for all kinds of help.

The place is strictly for partying only. Single Couple is not allowed to spend the night at the property.

It is opened for the first time to tourists and guests. There might be few glitches here and there (for which we have kept the price low). We want every guest to feel at home and talk to us regarding any problem s/he faces. We will try our best to make your stay comfortable.

The house is done in wooden decor and temperature is generally low inside the house than outside due to the smart structure. The surrounding area is green and peaceful. The place is great for partying and fun.

A security guard cum caretaker is present 24 hrs at the premises. Theere is secured car parking facility in the campus.

Sleeping Arrangement

The bedroom has a king size bed and the living room has a sofa cum bed. Easily 4 people can be accommodated in the cottage. We can provide extra mattresses if there are more than 4 people.

Guest access

Guests will have access to all the areas inside the campus and the house.

Kitchen has only plates, bowls, glasses and cutlery at present. There will be cooking utensils in the future.

Guests will have access to WiFi for free.


Entire Cottage for max 6 people - Rs 4,350
Entire Cottage for max 10 people - Rs 5,550


Book the cottage for Rs 4350 at Airbnb using your Credit Card -

Please call (+91) 75780 13817 or (+91) 99865 73253 if you wish to directly book with us.

House Rules

Check in time is 12AM - 10PM
Check out by 11AM
Self check-in with doorman.
Guests can always interact with the owners and other members of the guest house. And take help regarding exploring the North East India and other information. Please keep the place clean.

The OK! North East Cottage in Amingaon, Guwahati

The OK! North East Cottage in Amingaon, Guwahati

The OK! North East Cottage in Amingaon, Guwahati

The OK! North East Cottage in Amingaon, Guwahati

The OK! North East Cottage in Amingaon, Guwahati

The OK! North East Cottage in Amingaon, Guwahati

The OK! North East Cottage in Amingaon, Guwahati

The OK! North East Cottage in Amingaon, Guwahati

OK! North East Riverview Homestay in Guwahati - rooms for partying and relaxing


OK! North East Riverview Homestay is next to the Brahmaputra river and about 1.5 kms from the railway station. With complimentary breakfast and air conditioning, the homestay offers peace & tranquility at all times.

The guesthouse is close to the main centres of Guwahati, restaurants and public transport. You’ll love the place because of the ambiance, the outdoors space, the neighborhood, the light & accessibility. The place is good for couples, solo adventurers, business travelers & families.

The space

The house has 3 bedrooms with attached bathrooms, AC and and wall mounted TV, 2 living rooms with TV, 1 kitchen, 1 dining area and 3 balconies.

Guests can either book 1 room for upto 4 people or the entire apartment. Upto 9 people can stay comfortably in the apartment.

It is situated in the most prime, quiet and safest location in Guwahati. With the full view of the Brahmaputra river, waking up in the house will be an unforgettable experience.

Guest access

Guests will have access to kitchen, living rooms and balconies.

Interaction with guests

Guests can always interact with the hosts or take help from the caretaker who is available for 24 hrs.


Small Room with AC and attached bathroom: Rs 900 (for 2 people with complimentary breakfast)
Budget Room with AC, attached bathroom and balcony: Rs 1000 (for 2 people with complimentary breakfast)
Executive Room with AC, attached bathroom and balcony: Rs 1250 (for 2 people with complimentary breakfast)
Extra person after 2 in each room: Rs 600 (with complimentary breakfast)

Entire house: Rs 3500 (for 6 people with complimentary breakfast)


Book the entire house for Rs 3500 at Airbnb using your Credit Card -
Book the Budget Room for Rs 950 at Airbnb using your Credit Card -
Book the Executive Room for Rs 1250 at Airbnb using your Credit Card -

Please call (+91) 75780 13817 or (+91) 99865 73253 if you wish to directly book with us.

House Rules

Not suitable for pets
Check in time is 11AM - 10PM
Check out by 11AM
Guests will be provided with complimentary breakfast. Guests have to cook the breakfast themselves. A guest can also book the entire apartment with prior notice. Lunch and dinner are provided at the guesthouse for extra cost, although guests can bring their food from outside and utilise the fridge, electric heater and other amenities of the kitchen.

- A quiet place, please maintain peace
- Breakfast is complimentary. But guests have to prepare themselves.
- Drinking allowed, but moderately.
- Trash and napkins should be thrown in the dustbins only. Please don't litter.

The neighborhood

OK! North East’s home is located in Guwahati, Assam, India.
Brahmaputra river and the river park is right next to the building.
Kamakhya Temple is 9 kms from the Homestay.
Dighali Pukhuri, one of the biggest lakes in Guwahati is around 1 km from the property.
Gandhi Mandap is in the top of the Pub Sarania hill and just 5 kms away from the guest house. One will get a bird's eye view of Guwahati from the hilltop.
Assam State Zoo is less than 5 kms from the guest house. Kamakhya Temple is about 12 kms away.
Taxi (Uber, Ola etc), bus and autos are easily accessible from the guest house. Bus stand is 0.5 kms away.
Cotton College and other nearby institutions and colleges are within 2 km radius.
There are many restaurants nearby and one can taste the vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian dishes. Pork momos are most popular.
The guest house is in a slow, quiet and residential neighborhood. Please maintain peace at all times.

Living Room at OK! North East Riverview Homestay
Dining Area at OK! North East Riverview Homestay
Living Room at OK! North East Riverview Homestay
Living Room at OK! North East Riverview Homestay
Budget AC room at OK! North East Riverview Homestay
Budget AC room at OK! North East Riverview Homestay
Executive Room at OK! North East Riverview Homestay
Executive Room at OK! North East Riverview Homestay
Kitchen at OK! North East Riverview Homestay
Bathroom at OK! North East Riverview Homestay

Na La Ri Resort near Shillong - a sustainable jungle retreat for exercise and relaxation

In a region globally recognised as an ecological hotspot, everything about the Na La Ri Resort is eco-sensitive.

Na La Ri Resort in Sumer, Meghalaya near Shillong is now ready to welcome the nature-loving guests from all across globe. About 80 kms from Guwahati and 30 kms from Shillong, the resort has cottages, tents, dormitories, party hall, open & closed restaurants, fish ponds and different activities. The resort is placed at a quiet and serene destination at a village called Lawbyrwa in Sumer which is about 6 kms from the Guwahati-Shillong Highway before reaching Umiam Lake.

The space

The place is quiet and green. With birds chirping, trees placed in 5 acres of land, fish pond, boating, and taking a dip in the swimming pool (pool will be ready by October, 2017), the resort is one of the few destinations mainly created for nature lovers.

The cottages are made in bamboo and wood decor. With all the amenities like TV, Western bathroom, room service, waking up at Na La Ri Resort will be an experience you'll cherish forever.

There are small cottages for upto 4 people and bigger cottages for upto 6 people.

People will also have an option to stay in tents.


Nature Walks/Treks
Bird watching
River Angling
Picnics along the river side/Jungles
Children's Playpen
Barbecue and Bonfire

Guest access

All the spaces in an around the resort including the ponds, boats, pool, hills, jungle and roads.

Interaction with guests

A manager is always present in the resort.

Other things to note

This resort is in a village and life is slow down here. You might not find something easily here. But we will do our best to accommodate every request placed by you.

Regular Size Cottage

Accommodates: 4
Bathrooms: 1 (Private bathroom)
Bedrooms: 1
Beds: 1
Check In: Anytime after 12PM (noon)
Room type: Private room

Sleeping Arrangements

Small Cottage - 1 double bed
Large cottage - 1 double bed
Tents - Mattresses

Extra person - Single mattress

What to See and Do

Besides local bird watching trails, responsible fishing and a mountain tour on foot or cycles, the Umiam Lake, the Shillong Airport, the Shillong Peak, the Elephant Falls are close at hand.

You must also acknowledge

Pet(s) live on property
Some spaces are shared - Restaurants, toilets of camp sites, ponds, swimming pool, outdoor sitting areas etc.
Amenity limitations - You might sometimes find difficulty with network. This is a laid back kind of place. Room service might take little longer depending on the number of guests staying at the property.


Small cottage for 2 (upto 4 people) - Rs 2200
Large cottage for 2 (upto 6 people) - Rs 3000

Extra person after 2 guests - Rs 450

Tents - Rs 600 per person

Please call 75780 13817 or 99865 73253 for details.

You can also book Na La Ri Resort at Airbnb.


Na La Ri Resorts
Lawbyrwa, Sumer,
Meghalaya - 793104

Na La Ri Resort in Sumer (near Shillong)

Na La Ri Resort in Sumer (near Shillong)

Na La Ri Resort in Sumer (near Shillong)

Na La Ri Resort in Sumer (near Shillong)

Na La Ri Resort in Sumer (near Shillong)

Na La Ri Resort in Sumer (near Shillong)

Na La Ri Resort in Sumer (near Shillong)

The Na La Ri Resort is maintained by OK! North East.

Explore Bhutan - 6 days 7 nights | an initiative of The Himalayan Gypsy

TAKE A TRIP TO BHUTAN! 6 days 7 nights! From Guwahati! BOOK NOW!!
COST per person - Rs 22,000 (Travel, stay, food; all inclusive)

1st trip with 14 people - Oct 7 - 13, 2017

2nd trip with 14 people - Oct 27 - Nov 2, 2017

Contact: Jenie (91 863888 7005) | Karishma (91 99546 75158) | Jim (91 75780 13817)
Organised by The Himalayan Gypsy | Powered by OK North East


Brief Itinerary:
Day 1: Arrival at Phuentsholing from Guwahati – Transfer to Thimphu - 170kms, 5 hrs drive
Day 2: Thimphu sightseeing
Day 3: Thimphu – Transfer to Punakha - 70kms, 2.5 hrs drive
Day 4: Punakha – Day excursion to Phobjikha - 90kms, 3 hrs drive one way
Day 5: Punakha – Paro - 130kms, 4 hrs drive
Day 6: Paro sightseeing – Transfer to Phuentsholing - 165kms, 5 hrs drive
Day 7: Depart
Drukair take off from Paro International Airport


Day 1: Phuentsholing – Thimphu

You’ll have to visit the Immigration office to process your permits, which may take anywhere from 1hour to a few hours depending on the number of people applying for permits on the same day.

After the permits, drive to Thimphu. Depending on the weather conditions the 1st quarter of the drive may be through heavy fog. There are a few check points along the way where you’ll have to register your permits and driving license. The road is wide and smooth and scenic as you climb up switchback roads meandering along the mountain slopes.

Once in Thimphu, check-in at your hotel and rest. You can take a walk around town later in the evening.

Overnight at a hotel in Thimphu

Day 2: Thimphu sightseeing

Post breakfast visit the following

Jungshi Handmade Paper Factory: This is a private factory and they manufacture a special watermark paper as well as products such as lampshades, envelopes and other objects made of traditional Bhutanese paper. They make great gifts to take home with you and are genuinely unique. Bhutan protects its environment through long-term sustainability, and they follow it because they do not destroy the plant when they extract the raw material required. Paper products are manufactured from "daphne papyracea".

Folk Heritage Museum: The folk heritage museum was open to the general public in 2001 upon completion. It treasures troves of culture and rich Bhutanese heritage provide rich insights into the Bhutanese ethos. The folk heritage museum is housed in a replica traditional Bhutanese house learn first-hand about Bhutan’s rich cultural traditionsand the Bhutanese way of life. The tour of this almost living museum will also give you a glimpse onto how many rural folk of the country live today following the ancient Bhutanese ways.

Memorial Chorten: Referred to as the Memorial Chorten, its actual name is Gongzo Chorten or Gyaldren Chorten The Chorten (stupa) is a chief landmark in the Capital city and is also one of the most sacred place of worship for the locals. The idea of the chorten was conceptualised by the 3rd King, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck to ward off negative energies. After His Majesty’s demise, the chorten was built in his memory by the 4th King and the then Queen Mother in 1972.

Kuensel phodrang The Kuensel Phodrang or the Buddha point is the world’s largest sitting Buddha statue, the statue is 167 feet high. The statue is situated on top of a hill overlooking the city of Timphu, it can be accessed by road and is about 15 minutes away from the city’s center. The word Kuensel means everything is clear and from this place you will sure enjoy a great view of the Thimphu Valley on both sides.

Changangkha Lhakhang: It is a 12th century temple sitting on top of a hill overlooking Thimphu valley with the main statue of Chenrizig (The Buddha of Compassion). This temple is often mistaken for a dzong by visitors because it looks like one, and apart from the temple it also houses a monastic school. Most of the couples go to this temple soon after birth to get blessings for their child.

Motithang Takin preserve: The Motithang Takin Preserve also known as the Thimphu Zoo by many is a small natural preserve for the Takin Bhutan’s national animal. It was originally a mini zoo, but it was converted in a preserve later on as the Takin. The preserve is a forested preserve that mimics the Takin’s natural habitat, in addition to the Takin there are a few musk deer and barking deer that live inside the preserve.

Tashichho Dzong: The Tashichho Dzong is a Buddhist monastery cum fortress at the northern edge of Thimpu the capital city of Bhutan. It was erected in 1641 and was subsequently rebuilt by King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in the 1960s. The Dzong has been seat of the Royal government since 1952 and presently houses the Throne room and the Kings secretariat. The Tashichho dzong is also home to several ministries of the Bhutanese government, and the Central Monk Body which is the apex organization of the country's main spiritual order. The monument welcomes visitors during the Thimphu Tsechu festival which is held in autumn each year.

Overnight at a hotel in Thimphu.

Day 3: Thimphu – Punakha

Post breakfast, visit the Immigration office to extend your permits to go to Punakha and beyond.

After that, drive toward Punakha, stop at Dochula Pass (3,100 m), where on a sunny day, you can get stunning views of the Himalayan ranges. The Dochu La Pass is probably the best known mountain pass in Bhutan. Located at an altitude of 3150 meter above sea level, the Dochu La Pass is about 30 kilometer away from the capital city Thimphu and the road to Punakha. On a clear day the pass offers visitors a spectacular view of the majestic eastern Himalayan Ranges.

Another striking feature at the pass are the 108 Druk Wangyal Khangzang Chortens, that were built for the well-being of all sentiment beings on earth. The 108 Chorten were built as a tribute to the Kings of Bhutan for their selfless service and leadership they offer to the people of Bhutan.

Continue drive towards Punakha and stop at Lobesa village and have lunch before going for a short hike to Chimi Lhakhang (Temple of Fertility), it is dedicated to Lam Drukpa Kuenley (Divine Mad Man) and is the place from where Phalluses originated as the symbol of fertility and protection and can be seen everywhere in Bhutan, on house walls and roofs and altars. Childless couples usually go to this temple to get blessings so that they conceive and are blessed with a child.
(NOTE: The temple and has some sexual depictions. You may want to reconsider visiting this place if you are not comfortable)

Then drive to Punakha Dzong: Pungtang Dechen Phortang Dzong is located at the confluence of the Mo Chhu and the Po Chhu River, combine to form the Puna Tsang Chu which in turn is a tributary of the mighty Brahmaputra River. It is the second largest and the second oldest Dzong in Bhutan. The Dzong has also served as the capital Bhutan till 1955 before the capital was moved to Thimphu. The Dzong is still the winter residence of the Je Khenpo (chief abbot) and the central monastic body and plays host to the annual Punakha Tshechu Festival which is very popular with the locals and tourists alike.

Overnight at a hotel in Punakha.

Day 4: Punakha – Phobjikha valley excursion

Post breakfast drive to Phobjikha, the valley of the Black Necked Cranes. This is believed to be a glacial valley and is the winter nesting grounds for the endangered Black Necked Cranes, they start arriving by October end and leave for the Tibetan plateau by February. Visit the beautiful 17th Century Gangtey Monastery, it is the largest privately funded Nyingma Monastery in the country and was recently renovated in 2007, some surrounding beautification works are still being done. Then go for the Nature Trail hike that takes you around the valley from where you can get spectacular views of the valley below. Your car will pick you up down in the valley. You can have lunch in one of the hotels before driving back to Punakha
(NOTE: Road between Punakha and Phobjikha is under renovation process and rough drive is to be expected)

OR you can sightsee in Punakha and visit the following if you don’t like driving

KHAMSUM YUELLEY NAMGYAL CHORTEN: Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Chorten, a temple that stands majestically on a strategic ridge above Punakha valley. The temple was built by the Queen Mothers to ward off negative energies, promote peace, stability and harmony in a changing world after it was prophesied in the scriptures by Thragthung Dudjom Lingpa.. It is said all its unique architectural designs have been drawn from the scriptures. The hike takes about 45 minutes one way through relatively easy path through paddy fields and thin pine forest. Once at the top, you can enter the stupa and climb all the way to the top for a breath taking view of the valley below.

Yebisa Farmhouse stay/ visit: Go to the village of Yebisa below Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten and visit one of the oldest houses there. It is a traditional 3 storied building made of rammed mud and timber dating back to the mid 19th century and used to belong to the local leader of that area. The great grandchildren of the man now reside there and use the house pretty much like it was used by their ancestors, keeping their cattle in the ground floor, granary in the middle floor, residence in the 3rd floor and the space between the room and the ceiling is used for drying.
Their way of life is still of farming and you can experience it the Bhutanese way by spending one night there if you’re interested and maybe try working in the fields or with the animals. You can stay in their altar room (as it is traditionally used as a guest room too) but will have to go outside for bathroom just like olden times except that nowadays it’s a proper toilet.

Sangchen Dorji Lhuendrup Nunnery: Perched on a ridge amid pine trees and overlooking valleys of Punakha and Wangdue Phodrang is the magnificent stupa like temple built by the 5th King’s Maternal Grandfather to encourage females to pursue Buddhist studies. The temple houses a 14 foot main bronze statue of Avalokiteshvara. Other statues include those of Guru Padmasambhava, Gautama Buddha, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, Tshela Namsum, the 21 Taras and Tshepamey (Buddha of Longevity). The Avalokiteshvara statue, one of the biggest in the country, is the handiwork of entirely local Bhutanese artisans. The temple complex also houses a permanent higher learning and meditation center for nuns, where, apart from religious trainings, also provides life skills trainings such as tailoring, embroidery, statue sculpting and thanks (scroll) painting.

Overnight at a hotel in Punakha.

Day 5: Punakha – Paro

After breakfast, trace the road back up to Dochula and then to Thimphu where you can have lunch.

Post lunch drive to Paro, on the way visit Tamchog Lhakhang: Tachog lhakhang is temple that is dedicated to the 13th century saint Thangthong Gyalpo, the iron bridge builder. This temple is located across the river about 15kms from the Paro towards Thimphu. In order to get to the temple one must cross an iron chain bridge, one of the few remaining of the many that Thangthong Gyalpo built. Crossing this very old bridge with its swaying and undulating movements can be quite an experience.

Overnight at a hotel in Paro.

Day 6: Paro, Tiger’s Nest hike

Have early breakfast and drive up to the base of Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest). The most famous and sacred site among all the places in Bhutan. Guru Padmasambhava is said to have come riding on a flying tigress to this place and meditated in a cave for 3 months, it wasn’t until Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal came to this place and meditated that it gained the popularity that it has now. The present structure is said to be built in the 15th century but was destroyed by fire in 1998 and has been restored.

The walk is about 2 hours till the top through wide pathways which was built during the restoration works. One hour into the climb there is a tea point from where you get a very good view of the monastery, they also serve lunch here. From there it’s about another 45 minutes climb to the 2nd view point and the highest point in the hike.

OPTION: If you don’t want to climb up to Tiger’s Nest

Drugyal Dzong Ruins: Literally means 'Bhutan's victory fortress', it was built to in 1654 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate the victory over the Tibetan invaders and it would also control and guard the trade between Bhutan and Tibet as it stood right on the trade trail. It stands atop a small hill with a commanding view of the valley up and below and on a clear one can get to see the beautiful Mount Jomolhari from here. It caught fire in 1951 and has been in ruins since, some renovation works have been carried out but has not been able to go full swing. Although in ruins, the dzong is still beautiful to look at and one can just walk about inside the ruins trying to imagine how things were before.

Kyichu Lhakhang: Considered the oldest temple along with Jampa and Kenchosum Lhakhang in Bumthang, it dates back to the 7th century when a Tibetan King ordered 108 temples to be built in a single night to subdue a huge ogress. It was later renovated in the mid 19th century and in the late 1960's by the Grand Queen Mother. It is also considered by many to be one of the holiest places in the country. Inside the compound is an orange tree which always has oranges no matter what the season.

Dumtse Lhakhang: It is a private temple built by Lam Chazampa (Thangthong Gyalpo) in the 13-14 century. This is a special temple with 3 floors representing Hell, Earth and Heaven. All the paintings and artifacts in the temples are as old as the temple itself. The pillars inside were installed by the different villages in Paro valley, almost in a competition like way, even today the names villages are engraved in the pillars. Though the temple is situated very close to town, the lighting is powered by Solar power but is not lit very much as the owners fear the lights will fade the colors in the paintings, so it is essential to take a torch.

Paro Rinpung Dzong: Means ‘fortress of a heap of jewels’. It was built in the mid 17th century to protect and to gain control over the region, many invasions were averted from this dzong. It now serves as seat of the Paro district administration and residence for the monastic school. Rinpung dzong like all other dzongs in Bhutan is adorned with wall murals that symbolize the lives of the Bodhisattvas and other prominent saints, drawings from Buddhist parables within which the country’s culture and traditional life is intricately represented and holy symbols that signify their own individual religious meanings.

National Museum: It houses an array of antiquities such as ancient thangka (exquisite scroll painting), mural paintings and other forms of art done by great personalities of those days, original textiles of the kingdom which represent the culture that still flourishes, weapons & armour used back in the day, household objects typical to the Bhutanese people’s way of life back then and even now, and other natural and historical artefacts.

Drive towards Phuentsholing in the afternoon.
Overnight at a hotel in Phuentsholing.

Day 7: Depart

Contact for more info: Jenie (91 863888 7005) | Karishma (91 99546 75158) | Jim (91 75780 13817)

Watch: Why toilet paper isn't our only option? For travellers who are planning to visit North East India | #OKTravel

Many countries including India don't use toilet paper on a regular basis. You might find toilet paper in most of the star category hotels, but water is something people love to use instead of toilet paper mostly. If you are planning to visit North-east of India, you have 2 options - either carry a good amount of toilet paper rolls or find out a better way to wipe off your butt.

Toilet paper doesn't actually clean anything. So, people here use water instead, to clean themselves up with the help of bidets, sprayers, washlets or tabos (traditional hygiene tool). They, then, air dry or pat down with a towel. Why? If you have poop on your arm, you would not just want to wipe it off. It just makes more sense to clean it with water, don't you think?

Using water can also be healthier. Toilet paper contains formaldehyde and bleach, which can irritate skin. People who use bidets or other form of cleaning butts have fewer urinary tract infections.

Going paperless is also great for the environment. Every year 15 million (15,000,000) trees are cut down just to wipe the butts. And it takes 37 gallons (140 litres) of water to make just one roll of toilet paper.

There's no reason not to try other ways than toilet paper to wipe your butt. Keep that butt clean!