It wouldn’t be wrong to call the North East region of India, a hidden paradise! With spectacular natural wonders and several remote yet scenic landscapes, North East India is waiting to be explored by not just the world but by its own fellow Indians. Think about it! How many us readily think of the North East when we think of planning a holiday within India? How many of us say, ‘C’mon let’s go to Nagaland or Manipur for the summer vacation?’ Hardly a few of us, right? Well, its time to change this equation because North East just like the rest of India is here to offer its unbelievable natural bounty and bevvy of unique experiences to any traveller who comes looking for a unique and wholesome holiday. All you have to do is ask and the North East along with its seven sisters is waiting to serenade your senses and show off a world of new experiences and natural treasures to the traveller in you!
The Seven Sisters of North East India comprise of 7 states – Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura. Each of these beautiful states is home to amazing natural beauty and astounding scenic wonders that leave every traveller enchanted and enthralled. Separated from the rest of the country by dense forests and a unique never-before-seen culture, the ‘Land of the Seven Sisters’ stands out and invites every adventurer to set foot in this serene land to have the most memorable time of their life.
Each state is a travellers’ paradise with picturesque hills and green meadows that shelter thousands of species of flora and fauna. Besides these, there are a number of wildlife sanctuaries and national parks where rare animals, birds and indigenous plants provide fascinating insights and experiences to travellers. The entire region of North East invites you to explore this mystical land and discover beauty such as you may have never seen before! To unravel the mysteries of this hidden paradise, here are 13 reasons why you should definitely plan that much-awaited trip to North-East India:
1.) Hornbill Festival, Nagaland
Aptly known as ‘Festival of Festivals’, the Hornbill Festival is a unique celebration of the rich heritage and tribal culture of Nagaland. It is held every year from 1st December to 10th December in the Naga heritage village of Kisama. Almost all the tribes and locals take part in the vibrant festivities that aim to highlight, revive and protect the culture and traditions of this state. Kisama is host to a weeklong medley of cultural performances, indigenous games, craft bazaar, music events, fashion, cycling, motor sporting, events, kid’s carnival, floral galleria, food courts, film festival and a series of competitions in various activities. The festival showcases a collection of ethnic displays, all under one roof, providing the perfect opportunity for travellers to get a deep insight into the culture of Nagaland. The Hornbill Festival is the perfect celebration of Nagaland that you can experience as part of your Kohima tour packages.
2.) Living Root Bridges, Meghalaya
North-East India is filled with abundant natural beauty and stunning phenomena that have the ability to amaze and fascinate you! One such man-made wonder lies in the depths of the rainforest at Cherrapunjee, Meghalaya. These are ‘Living Root Bridges’ that are formed by the aerial roots of Rubber Fig trees when they are moulded and guided by human hands to form a crossing bridge across a water body. These roots are then allowed to grow and strengthen over time, making the bridge accessible and usable by humans. The Khasi tribe is attributed with creating the first root bridges in the dense forests of Meghalaya which were later developed and adopted as a brilliant way of getting around. Truly, the living root bridges are a wonderful combination of man and nature that works together to creates something beautiful and awe-inspiring! It wouldn’t be wrong to call the Living Root Bridges, a phenomenon of nature made possible by man. Now that you know how amazing these phenomena are, don’t you think the Living Root Bridges of Cherrapunjee and Mawlynnong are some of the best places to visit in Shillong! Make your Shillong travel plan right away and include the living root bridges for a surreal and fantasy-like experience…
3.) Kaziranga National Park, Assam
Say hello to the one-horned rhinoceros at Kaziranga! The Kaziranga National Park in Assam is home to the largest population of the endangered one-horned rhinoceros species in the world. The Kaziranga wildlife comprises almost 2/3rd of the world’s one-horned rhino population. This UNESCO world heritage site is abundant with dense tropical forests, tall grass meadows, swampy marshlands and an evergreen landscape that is complemented beautifully by the Brahmaputra River. The Kaziranga national park also hosts a variety of wildlife such as elephants, wild water buffaloes, tigers and swamp deer. Kaziranga tour packages are an amazing treat for the traveller since the national park is also a haven for several migratory bird species from Central Asia. Due to the remarkable conservation efforts of the national park, Kaziranga wildlife has seen a remarkable increase in the population of tigers too! Go for a Kaziranga national park tour during the period of November to April to truly experience the rich flora and fauna of Assam.
4.) Ujjayanta Palace, Tripura
The Ujjayanta Palace is a stunning milky-white royal structure located in the capital city of Agartala in Tripura. Once the home of Tripura’s royal Manikya dynasty, the palace today has been converted into a state museum that portrays the lifestyle, arts, crafts and culture of Northeast India. The architecture of the palace is a mix of Mughal, Roman and British styles with neatly manicured Mughal gardens laid out in the front courtyard and adorned with several artificial ponds, pools and water fountains. Did you know? The name ‘Ujjayanta Palace’ was given by the profound Bengali poet, author, philosopher and Nobel Laureate, Rabindranath Tagore who was a regular visitor of the Manikya royal family.
Another beautiful structure worth mentioning is the Neer Mahal (Water Palace) located in the middle of Lake Rudrasagar near Agartala. Built during the Manikya reign as their summer residence, this palace is the largest of its kind and the only water palace located in Eastern India. Combine these two beauties as part of your North East India tour packages and have a historically unique experience in North-East!
5.) Loktak Lake, Manipur
North-East is abounding with one phenomena after another! The Loktak Lake in Manipur is the largest freshwater lake of Northeast India and is extremely popular for the natural phenomenon of ‘Phumdis’ floating on the surface of the water. These are circular floating swamps of vegetation, soil and organic matter that resemble miniature islands on the surface of the lake. The largest of these phumdis is home to the Keibul Lamjao National Park, the only floating national park in the whole world. This park is the last remaining natural habitat of the endangered Sangai deer (state animal of Manipur) besides being home to a large variety of endemic flora and fauna. A popular tourist destination for anyone visiting Manipur, the Loktak Lake can be best enjoyed by a boat ride in one of the colourful tourist boats shaped in the form of little houses. To witness this stunning lake phenomenon, choose the best time to visit Imphal which can ideally be throughout the year barring the rainy season of June to September.
6.) Tawang Monastery, Arunachal Pradesh
Nestled amongst magnificent Himalayan ranges and situated at an elevation of 10,000 feet is the largest monastery in India, the Tawang Galdan Namgye Lhatse, more popularly known as the Tawang Monastery! This monastery was founded by Merek Lama Lodre Gyamtso in 1680-81 as per the wishes of the 5th Dalai Lama. The monastery is three-storied and consists of a big assembly hall, a centre of Buddhist studies and a school. The monastery also has a printing press for printing religious books using a locally made paper. Did you know? The Tawang Monastery in Arunachal Pradesh is the largest monastery in India and second largest in the world, after the Potala Palace Monastery in Tibet. Located in the town of Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, Tawang monastery is a treat to the senses with scenic views and a pleasant climate! Make sure to include this stunning piece of architecture in your Tawang tour package…
7.) Sangai Festival, Manipur
‘Time Waits When Manipur Celebrates’! With this amazing tagline at the forefront, the state of Manipur celebrates the ‘Manipur Sangai Festival’ from 21st November to 30th November every year. Named after the state animal, Sangai (brow-antlered deer found only in Manipur), this festival showcases the rich tradition and culture of the Manipuri folk and tribes. The festival performs the two-fold task of highlighting the Manipuri culture as well as promoting the state as a prime tourist destination of North East India. It brings to light an array of Manipur’s best indigenous handlooms, handicrafts, arts & culture, folk dance, cuisine, music and adventure sports. The Sangai festival presents a wonderful opportunity of interacting with a variety of Manipuri tribes and provides an insight into the daily lifestyle of the Manipuri folk that is exhibited from their themed huts and indigenous products showcased at the Heritage Park. The Sangai Festival along with the Hornbill Festival is the best way to explore the culture and natural beauty of North East. Make these two amazing festivals an integral part of your Kohima tour packages and get exploring right away!
8.) Nohkalikai Waterfall, Meghalaya
What an awe-inspiring force of nature – The Nohkalikai Falls! The famous waterfalls located near Cherrapunjee, Meghalaya are India’s tallest plunge waterfalls cascading down from a height of about 1100 feet. The falls look even more spectacular during the monsoons when frothing, gushing streams of water cascade down the face of the mountain, elevating the scenic beauty of the waterfalls manifold. According to legends, the waterfall is named after a young woman, Ka Likai who ran off the edge of the plateau and plunged to her death, just like the waterfall that plunges from the high plateau to the ground below. Hence the name, Noh Ka Likai which means ‘the leap of Likai’. Located just 5 km away from the wettest place on Earth, Cherrapunjee, the Nohkalikai Falls are a must-visit as part of your Cherrapunjee tour packages.
North-East is home to yet another spectacular waterfall that is located in the state of Arunachal Pradesh. Nuranang Waterfall, also known as Jang Waterfall or Bong Bong Waterfall is a mammoth piece of beauty cascading down from a height of about 100 metres. The Nuranang River originates from the Sela Pass and forms the Nuranang Falls before meeting the Tawang River eventually. A must-visit when you plan your Tawang tour package!
9.) Mawsmai Caves, Meghalaya
These surreal limestone caves are one of the most popular tourist attractions in Cherrapunjee, Meghalaya! The Mawsmai Caves are a network of fascinating underground caves that are well-lit from the inside to enable tourists to view the stunning limestone geological formations. The caves are full of stalactites, stalagmites and numerous pillars that connect the roof of the caves to the bottom. Often giving off an eerie vibe to anyone who explores these caves, Mawsmai is a wonderful treat for nature lovers, thrill seekers, history buffs and adventure enthusiasts. The limestone formations that have been created over years of natural wear-n-tear and rock abrasions have given rise to various shapes and sizes leaving anyone to guess the forms as per their imagination. You can also find pre-historic fossils preserved in the limestone walls, marking the cave as an ancient yet valuable piece of nature and evolution. One of the best Shillong tourist places that can form an interesting and intriguing part of your Shillong tour package!
10.) Majuli River Island, Assam
About 400 km east of Guwahati lies the river island of Majuli or Majoli on the Brahmaputra River! This UNESCO recognized world heritage site is the only one of its kind and the largest freshwater island in India. Accessible only by boats, this idyllic island is popular for its eco-friendly environment and lush-green landscapes that attract tourists from all over the world to catch a glimpse of this remote and peaceful island. The island is home to a majority of tribes and is a thriving playground for the rich heritage of the Assamese Neo-Vaishnavite culture. Agriculture along with handloom is the major occupation of the people in this region. The island is a tiny dot in the geographical map of Assam but the cultural and traditional importance of the river island is extremely profound and highlighted through many activities and festivals. So much so that, Majuli Island is known as the cultural capital of Assam. The total area of Majuli Island is said to be around 1250 sq. km. however major landmass is being eroded from the island due to climate changes. It is believed that in a period of about 15-20 years, the Majuli Island may cease to exist as we know it! Before we lose this precious piece of history and heritage to global warming, pack your bags and head to Majuli Island. Combine this exquisite island with Kaziranga tour packages for an exclusive experience of Assam and North East…
11.) Solomon’s Temple, Mizoram
A magnificent structure in white demands your attention and captivates your senses at the Aizawl city in Mizoram! The Solomon’s Temple is the largest church in the state and has become an iconic landmark attracting tourists from all over the world. This Christian Church has been built by the non-denominational church group, ‘Kohhran Thianghlim’ (The Holy Church) as a symbol of their love towards Jesus Christ. The church has been purely made of imported white marble, making it the first and only place of worship in Mizoram to be made using marble. The foundation of the church was laid in 1996 and although it took about 2 decades for the construction to be complete, the end result has everybody gazing at the finished masterpiece in awe! The seating capacity of the church is 3000 people and the majestic courtyard dubbed as the ‘Porch of Solomon’s Temple’ is large enough to accommodate 10,000 people, at a time. So, next time you plan Aizawl tour packages you know which place to include as must-visit in your itinerary!
12.) Umngot River, Meghalaya
A sea-green jewel situated amidst the Jaintia hills of Dawki, Meghalaya! The Umngot River is a hidden paradise of beauty with its rippling cold waters, surrounding lush greenery and a beautiful suspension bridge that runs across the river offering splendid views to onlookers. The waters of the Umngot River are so serene and clear that boats appear to float on the surface of the water. Rocky pebbles and underwater marine life are clearly visible beneath the surface. Dawki is a small town placed strategically between India and Bangladesh that acts a trade town between the two countries. Besides its trade scene, Dawki is also famous for tourism, all thanks to the splendid Umngot River, its spectacular scenery and the boating opportunities it offers on its crystal clear surface. Clearly one of the best places to visit in Shillong, Umngot River is a must-do when you plan a Shillong tour package!
13.) Madhuri Lake, Tawang
In the Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh, nestled between rugged mountains, almost hidden from plain sight yet inviting with its sheer beauty, lies a lake in quite content – the breath-taking Sangestar Tso Lake. Located at an altitude of approx. 12,000 feet above sea level, the Sangestar Lake or Madhuri Lake lies on the way to Bum La Pass near the Indo China Border. The lake is famously known as ‘Madhuri Lake’ after a Bollywood song from the Madhuri Dixit starrer movie, ‘Koyla’ was picturised at this beautiful location. The lake was formed due to flash floods caused by an earthquake in the year 1950. Ever since then, the lake has been a prominent feature of this region, maintaining its pristine pure quality and often being referred to as the most scenic lake of Arunachal Pradesh. The best time to visit Madhuri Lake is from April to October since it remains frozen during the rest of the year.
If these reasons weren’t enough, how about we give you a brief glimpse into the societal values of North East! Did You Know? Almost the entire region of North-East India is dowry-free! In fact, it is the women who are showered with gifts (by the groom’s family) during a typical wedding ceremony in the North East.
Dowry has never been a part of any culture across the seven states of the North East. This could be attributed to a matriarchal family system (a social system where a woman is the head and yields primary control in a household) that is followed by many tribes in the North East. Women are treated with the utmost respect and given equal status to that of men in the society. Quite opposite and in fact, a welcoming prospect as against the prevailing dowry system in many Indian cultures, right? North-East India, with its progressive approach towards a cohesive society and equal opportunities for both, women and men, proves that there is much more than what meets the eye in this unexplored and unbiased region.
We hope you are convinced enough to pack your bags and make this beautiful North East part of India, a part of your travel plans too! Embrace the North East and let it show you that these often neglected seven states are as much as a part of your country as you and your home…
*Feature Image Courtesy – manipurtourism.gov.in