Call of the road – Exploring NH-37

It is true what they say about it being more about the journey than the destination. One understands this most when driving down NH-37, discovering the enjoyment of off-roading. Within 50 kms from Guwahati, you come upon the crown in Khetri’s jewel—NEDFi’s R&D centre. Tucked away within a curtain of plants and trees, it is a veritable Pandora’s box of innovation and craft, where you simply sit back awhile to watch artisans turn pani meteka (water hyacinth)—considered an aquatic menace—into superlative bags, baskets, lampshades, slippers, yoga mats and, believe it or not, even sofa sets (!). Or walk around the centre’s herbal garden, admiring a treasure trove of more than 100 medicinal and aromatic plants. From Sweet Broom Weed, which an accompanying board says is beneficial for fever, cough and toothache, to Black Musali for urinary diseases and Star Goosebery, a multivitamin, the garden is a catchment of knowledge and well worth a visit.

Moving on from Khetri, up country from Guwahati, just a few detours throw up charming village markets and quaint villages where life is so singularly unique that you will never want your journey to end. The weekly markets along NH 37 fills up one’s collection of travel images—from vegetable to clothes and what not. Starting early from Guwahati, your first stop within 70 kms could be the Sonapur or Dimoria or Sitajokhola weekly markets. If you travelling on a Sunday, it will be the Beltola and Basishtha weekly markets in Guwahati; on a Tuesday, it will be Tetelia, on Wednesdays Topatoli, on Fridays Khetri. The vibe of these markets and their environs are amazing—the region home to some of the country’s most unique tribal communities like the Karbi, Bodo, Tiwa, and more. In Behtola, Dhupguri, Bharakuchi, Nibira, Charikuria etc. villages nearby, you will experience the ‘how’ of organic farming and hand weaving. Travel under the guidance of local tour operators and you will not miss out on the finer experiences. Journey happily!

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