Flowers at Market, Calcutta, India

Kolkata and Eastern India

Explore thriving tea estates, explore the Ganges and discover the colonial past and the vibrant present of majestic Kolkata.

Kolkata is a firm favourite of the Steppes’ India team. Renowned for being home to great thinkers, polymaths, artists and revolutionaries, Kolkata has an irrepressible spirit. Home to the East India Company in the early 18th century it went onto become the launch pad for the complete colonisation of India under the British Raj while also gaining a reputation for insurrection.

Today, it is considered a bit of an outlier with India’s powerbase further west in Delhi, and as such it has a defiant character distinct from India’s other mega cities. It is a city that pulses with an energy that rarely abates, epitomised by the city’s famous flower market. Read our blog on Kolkata, to get a feel for what a guided city tour has to offer.


It’s all here. Things to see and do, places to explore and moments to discover.

Ibis Birds, India

Odisha Mangrove Cruise

Explore Bhitarkanika National Park in Odisha, home to the second largest mangrove ecosystem in India. Board a two-suite catamaran and discover secluded channels, beaches and mangrove forests while spotting some of the prolific birdlife and a large population of saltwater crocodiles.

Lounge, M V Rudra Singh, Bramaputra, Assam, India

Private Houseboat in Assam

Experience rural Assam on board a private houseboat, fully crewed including a chef and host. Choose your route from a single day to three nights on the MV Rudra Singh.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Narrow guage railway, Shimla, Himalayas, India

Iconic Indian Railway Journeys

Ride the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. Experience the foothills by Indian rail.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Howrah Bridge, Kolkata, India


Visit this thriving city and learn about its colonial past.

Bhutia Busty Gompa, Darjeeling, India


Visit the historical hill station of Darjeeling and learn of our colonial past.

Sunset over mountains India

Sunrise over Khangchenzonga

Watch sunrise over the third highest mountain in the world, Khangchenzonga.

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, Darjeeling, India

Darjeeling Toy Train

From Darjeeling to Ghoom Monastery, ride the classic, toy train.

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Where to Stay

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Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, Darjeeling, India
Darjeeling, India
Bhutia Busty Gompa, Darjeeling, India
Darjeeling, India


Visitors tend to retreat from Kolkata and the steamy plains to enjoy the cooler climes of these beautiful regions. Reaching Darjeeling in West Bengal and beyond into Sikkim is achieved by either an overnight train from Kolkata or a short flight to Bagdogra followed by a three-hour drive.

The old colonial summer retreat of Darjeeling is a hugely popular destination, surrounded by spectacular views, lush tea estates and thickly covered forests. Darjeeling itself is now rather crowded, dirty and noisy however one can stay just outside in some glorious little home-stays such as Glenburn Tea Estate and make day trips into the town. The idyllic setting and stunning views of the Kangchendzonga range are well worth the visit.

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Sunrise at Mount Kanchenjunga, Sikkim, India
Sikkim, India
Yuksom Nature Trail, Kanchenjunga National Park, Sikkim, India
Sikkim, India
Terraced Fields, Sikkim, India
Sikkim, India
Yak, Tsomgo Lake, Gangtok, Sikkim, India
Gangtok, India


Continuing across the border from West Bengal you enter Sikkim. This state is renowned for its rich variety of plants and flowers as well as its ethnically diverse population. Sikkim is an orchid lover’s paradise while the monasteries of Rumtek and Pemayangtse are just two among a wealth of fascinating centres of Buddhism in the state. Organic farming and ecotourism have really taken off here and serious trekkers are exploring the less developed routes on offer.

Glimpse of the Golden hour in Koliabhomora Ghat, Brahmaputra River, Tezpur, Assam, India
Tezpur, India
The Rajmahal, Assam Bengal Navigation, India
ABN Rajmahal, Farakka, India
MV Rudra Singha, Brahmaputra, Assam, India
Rhino in kaziranga national park
One horned rhino in national park, India


Head east from Kolkata by plane and fly to Guwahati or Dibrugarh, the eastern state of Assam to spend time cruising on the mighty Brahmaputra River. There are some excellent boat options on which you can spend four, seven or 10 nights onboard exploring this far-flung part of India. For wildlife enthusiasts, stay at Diphlu River Lodge and visit the excellent Kaziranga National Park, home to the endangered one-horned rhino. Assam is renowned for tea production. Every year in December the tea planters come together and celebrate with a Tea Festival.

Naga Boy, Nagaland, India
Mon, India

Nagaland, Meghalaya and Arunchal Pradesh

Better known for the Hornbill Festival every December, Nagaland is also rich in history.  The Hornbill Festival celebrates the rich culture of Nagaland. This annual melange of cultural displays from all 16 tribes of Nagaland, known as the last head-hunters, includes colourful pageants showcasing the cultural treasures of the Land of the Nagas.

You can reach Nagaland from Assam if you wish to combine the land of tea with tribes. We are fond of Phejin Konyak who is a fascinating lady, owner of the Konyak Tea Retreat and great-granddaughter of the infamous tattooed head hunters of the Konyak Nagas.

Kohima, the state capital, is home to one of the most important battles of World War II. It is home to the WWII cemetery and museum. Walk Kohima Ridge, the site of one of the bloodiest of all battles fought between the British and Japanese.

Neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh was called the North-East Frontier Agency by the British, it was effectively a no-go zone. Today you can reach Debang valley from Assam. The Reh festival is celebrated every February by the local Mishmi tribal villages. Wakro is home to the Mishmis,  a Mongoloid tribe with Tibetan-Burmese origin. The abundance of natural beauty, colourful and charming tribes and ancient archaeological sites make the place a perfect destination for nature lovers, adventurous tourists, archaeologists, and anthropologists.

Meghalaya, known as the Scotland of the East, has breathtaking scenery. The Living Root Bridges are the most extraordinary pieces of art and engineering by the Khasi’s. The David Scott Trail is a beautiful one day trek covering 17 kilometres through spectacular scenery. Named after the British administrator during the British Raj his operations lasted 29 years in the Khasi Hills.

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Meet our experts

A passion for travel runs right through every one of our experts - meaning they're always ready with first-hand insight about their specialist countries.

Kate Hitchen

My travels were first inspired by my love of the UK, which I take as much pleasure in exploring as countries far and wide. For me, travel is all about the adventure, the people I meet and the food I sample along the way.

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