Places to visit in North-East India -The Seven Sisters, Paradise Unexplored, The Land of enchantment, the Land of the Golden Silk, The Land of the Rising Sun, the names are endless. But you are already aware of what I am going to say here. Yes, the mesmerizing North-East India.


NORTH-EAST INDIA REAL FACTS

Before I start on the symphony that this place is, let me get a few facts checked out for you. The North-East Region comprises of 7 states – Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Tripura. The topography majorly comprises of hilly regions. Some of the places are inaccessible due to nature and in some cases due to perplexing politics.

ADVICE ON MULTILANGUAGE

Try not keeping track of the languages they speak or the nitty gritty of the tribe as it can be outright baffling. If you wish to be on a voyage through impossible roads, “this is the place for you my friend.” 

There is a reason why these states are regarded as the 7 sisters, but that is a read for another time. I will keep the history, geography, economics, and politics aside because I am sure that’s not what you are here for. What you are here for is because the North-east is your next backpacking destination, next cruise on your motorcycle or a car, a group vacation, family vacation, thrill-seeking and you get the gist.

I have lived a better part of my life here and spent my time seeing and living the breathtaking beauty that north-east has to offer. Today, I take you on a journey to the Paradise Unexplored.

So, how do you gain access to North-East India? You do it via the Chicken’s Neck. That’s the other name of the Siliguri Corridor. Weird name right? 

NARROW ROAD TO NORTH-EAST INDIA

Wait till you read through the lot of it. But, essentially, the Siliguri Corridor is the only and very narrow passage of land that connects India to its North East region. The journey through this passage via either roadways or railways will treat you to never before seen scenic beauty.

Trains passing through passages shrouded by trees on both ends, the curves, and hairpins of this road is an experience that you should never miss. Well, there are flights to over 10 airports in North-East, the largest being in Guwahati, but where is the fun in that?

Let’s explore these prominent tourist places in North-East India which I have crafted with utmost care and experience.

Assam

Welcome to Assam. Although born here, I honestly have no Idea how the name Assam came to be. But the closest I can get is that the name was derived from the longest & unbroken dynasty that ruled over these lands for close to 600 years, the Ahoms. Every time I read about that history, it just feels amazing. 

The second largest state in the North-East Region has its border with all the other 6 states has is home to some of the amazing traditions, cultures, festivals, tribes, practices, and food. Assam is a land of many firsts.

We have our own state anthem. The golden silk or Muga silk is a type of silk found only in these lands. We have the oldest oil well in Asia dug in 1889 and we are the largest producer of tea in India. 

Places to be in Assam

The most sought after place in Assam which you should go without another thought is the Kaziranga National Park. Why? Because they have the one-horned rhino! Ah!

Well, Kaziranga along with Manas National Park, Nameri and Dibru Saikhowa National Park is a host to a wide variety of animals and birds such as the wild water buffalo, the red panda, the golden langur, tigers, the Indian elephant and a large species of birds. 

The Majestic One Horned Rhino

Kaziranga National Park

A one-horned Rhino with its baby. Pic Credit : Deepanshu Bora

But all of them aside, standing barely a few hundred meters away from the majestic one-horned rhino is an experience that you won’t be able to let go. Rhinos are naturally loners until it’s their time to mate and are also very aggressive about their territory. A full grown male reaches up to 12 feet with a horn that is close to 2 feet tall.

Call me blessed to have seen one when I was 11 and it is a memory still fresh. The slow walk from a mud pool, the frequent twitching of their ears, an unflinching stare had me absolutely speechless.

The 600-year-old tradition – Jonbeel Mela

Once you are out of the safari outfit, head to the Jonbeel Mela. A 3-day community festival held in the Morigaon district. What is so unique about this festival is that it brings the barter trade practice to life.

Barter trade is a practice where goods are exchanged for goods without any involvement of money. This was a trading system a few centuries ago and to be among these traders watching them trade their agro goods or native and indigenous products is a sight to see.

The Largest & Smallest Together

 

Smallest River Island in the world. Image Credit: Daily News 360

Another feat that Assam achieves geographically is to have the world’s largest as well as the smallest river island. Majuli and Umananda are the world’s largest & smallest river island respectively.

Attend the Ali Aye festival which is held in February, watch a calm & soothing winter sunset and bird watching are things that you can do to connect with nature and also the tradition of Assam. 

Umananda, on the contrary, boasts of rock-cut figures of Lord Surya, Ganesh & Shiva that is to be appreciated for the beauty & skills of the craftsmanship of Assamese people who showed their allegiance towards spiritual energy.

The sound of temple bells and flowing water alongside uplifts the mood of devotees and tourists alike. Umananda is located at the center of Brahmaputra and is regarded as one of the best tourist places in Assam. 

Tea Time!

Assam Tea

If you say Assam, I say tea. They are synonymous. Plantations first started during the British era but now Assam is the largest producer of tea in India. The best part is friendly staff who are elated in sharing the history & the legacy of the tea industry.

If you are a tea lover and your day begins with having a cup of the same, make sure that you visit the Tocklai Tea Research Center located in Jorhat.

Not Just Fish, Its Dried Fish

Time for some food. Among the many ethnic dishes that Assam has to serve, the one that stands out is Dry fish. A few kilometers off Guwahati, you reach a place called Jagiroad, Asia’s largest dry fish market.

It operates 3 days a week, sadly I can’t recall which ones but from here, dry fish is exported to quite a few neighboring countries. The roadside dhabas and restaurants offer a multitude of dry fish dishes and I tell you, don’t miss it for the world. PS – The scent of dry fish might be hard to bear.

The 3 Exclusive Silks

Assam silk

Credits: Verve Magazine

The Eri Silk, White Pat Silk, and Golden Muga Silk, you won’t find them anywhere in the world but in Assam. Head to Sualkuchi, the land of weavers and you can have a glimpse of how meticulously these silks are treated & the crafts involved in making a fine garment out of them.

The reason these silks are so unique is that they are manufactured using a certain breed of worms which can survive only in the climate that Assam has to offer.

They are used to make the traditional dresses of Assam along with being exported worldwide. If you are into souvenirs, then you should definitely get one. The price can be very steep though.

Jatinga – A Mind-Boggling Phenomenon

The mysterious Jatinga valley

Located in the North Cachar Hills and covered by dense flora, Jatinga is a place that you must visit for one reason only and preferably with an umbrella.

Jatinga experiences the most bizarre of phenomenons where every winter thousands of birds commit suicide. This has been going on for over 100 years and no one knows why. I haven’t been here but I intend to do so very soon.

The Land of the Dark Arts

Mayong – The land of black magic

No, we don’t have a dark lord here terrorizing the non-magic folks. That would be crazy. It’s a place called Mayong located in the Morigaon district and the locals are famous for practicing witchcraft and black magic.

At this age and time, this does sound crazy but I can tell you this, when you come to Assam, here the time is parallelly different. Black Magic is used to cure health ailments, personal problems and even to find lost or stolen things.

The Mighty Brahmaputra

 

If you observe, then the names of all the rivers in India have a feminine touch, Ganga, Yamuna Kaveri, etc. The only male river in India is the Brahmaputra.

There are quite a few folklore and ancient tales behind the name and origins of this river and they all are equally intriguing. The Brahmaputra originates in Tibet and flows through Arunachal Pradesh and Assam in India and joins the Ganga in Bangladesh to finally merge at the Bay of Bengal.

Be it at the banks or on the many bridges that pass through this river, if you ever get a chance to just stare at the river, do not miss it.

The wild flow of water, that rushing sound and sheer vastness will make you awestruck. My father once took me to the banks of Brahmaputra in Guwahati and that too at the peak of monsoon and the only word I could utter was ‘endless’. You will tend to find uncanny tranquility by being around it.

Kamakhya Temple

A place of worship and great reverence, Kamakhya Temple located in Guwahati and unlike majority Indian mindset that treats menstruation as a taboo, this temple worships this natural process and a women’s’ power to give birth. Devoted to Goddess Shakti or Sati, the wife of Shiva, This temple is one of the locations where her remains were scattered after her death.

An interesting fact about Kamakhya which also means ‘the bleeding goddess’ is that during the month of June, the part of Brahmaputra turns red which symbolizes that the goddess is menstruating.

The entire complex of Kamakhya temple houses many small temples dedicated to other goddesses and hosts many pujas and celebrations around the year. Though I am not overly religious, but then there is something about this place that I can’t fathom.

I have been here a number of times and in many stages of my life and this place has always calmed me, gave me clarity and firm guidance on a path which I should walk. Do visit this place to get a closer look at the intricate threads of Hinduism and connect to spiritual energy so unique and powerful that it can be your north star.

The land of No Helmets

I am assuming that you are like, What!? Is that a title this place has? Yes, that is indeed a title we have. Well not the entirety of Assam, but in Kokrajhar, wearing helmets is banned and you will be fined if you wear one.

This rule was implemented in 2011 and I for sure have not experienced it, and considering that my most journeys are on a saddle with a backpack, I would not want to go in a place that bans me from ensuring my safety.

Well, it’s not permanent, it’s a precaution to curb crimes in public places. The locals are urging the authorities to remove this ban. I support the locals and I surely am not a fan of that title.

We Make Our Drinks, Literally

You should try the traditional dishes of Assam and a wide variety of meat and greens that have no secret ingredients but only traditional and age-old recipes. And if you are not overfed out of sheer hospitality then don’t forget the home-brewed rice beer. There are basically two types of rice beer – Apong & Xaj.

Apong is brewed by the ‘Missing Community’ of Assam and Adi Tribe of Arunachal Pradesh. Xaj is a drink of the Ahoms and I must say that the taste of Xaj is something I truly cherish. If you land up in Assam and after long days of travel, you need to relax, try the food and drink to set yourself right into the mood.

Bihu

Assam Bihu Festival

Assam Bihu Festival

Last but not the least by a longshot, if you wish to visit Assam, make your plans around the Bihu festivities. Oh, and we celebrate Bihu 3 times a year. Magh Bihu In January, Rongali Bihu in April (is the Assamese New Year) and Kati Bihu in October.

These are non-religious but community festivals. Since the festivals revolve around a good harvest, new year/spring festival and time that symbolizes short supplies where prayers are offered for a successful harvest, the 3 Bihus are observed in 3 unique ways.

Magh Bihu is all about food, so treat yourself to authentic homemade delicacies such as pitha, handoh, laru, etc. Rongali Bihu is the onset of spring and the Assamese New Year which is celebrated with new clothes and blessings from the elders and Kati Bihu is observed with intriguing activities such as buffalo fighting, cockfighting, nightingale fighting. If these did not surprise you then how about this, we perform egg fighting too.

Come to amazing Assam to fill yourself with everything awesome.

Arunachal Pradesh

arunachal-pradesh

The biggest of all the 7 states, Arunachal Pradesh was given the state in 1987. Being very thinly populated, Arunachal Pradesh on normal days is very quiet and most of the times rainy. 

Itanagar, the capital of Arunachal is a typical town with few people, cluster of markets, educational and professional institutions and a large chunk of the district was inaccessible hills and residential areas. The roads here are a plethora of hairpins and endless stretch of bumps. I hope the latter has changed. 

If you intend to come to visit the 7 sisters, going to some of the states might be slightly difficult due to the areas being international borders and alas, politics and that stuff. Arunachal Pradesh is one such state.

If you are in Indian visiting AP, then you need to obtain an ILP (Inner Line Permit) and if you are coming from overseas, then you have to obtain a PAP(Protected Area Permit). Getting your hands on ILP is pretty easy and can be done online as well. PAP, on the other hand, is a topic I have no idea about but, Google does.

Now that the permit is secured, let’s roll.

Color Me Green

Arunachal Pradesh

A place with more than 82% green cover is I guess hard to find in the world. Thankfully, your search ends at Arunachal Pradesh. Yes, that is the amount of green cover this state has.

Trust me when I say this, take a trek or drive atop a hill(if possible) and then stand at the edge and just take a look around, the smell of earth, dew, plants, flowers, that’s an aroma no concrete jungle can provide. Watch your step there. I suggest you move a few steps back. 

Arunachal Pradesh is the most appropriate place to connect with nature. The first, time you experience it, I bet it will be an enriching experience. That is the place where nature helped me connect with myself.

Spiritual Connection

Arunachal Ziro Festival

To awaken your spiritual self or just to be one with the serenity of a spiritual abode, head off to Bomdila & Tawang. Since Bomdila comes before Tawang, tourists have always displayed the tenacity to skip and move off to Tawang. But you should not do that.

In Bomdila, you can experience the unforgettable friendliness and hospitality of the locals. Visit the local markets and the Bomdila monastery and if it’s your lucky day, you might just find a fortune teller.

Enter Tawang and you will be greeted by serenity again. If all the hustle and bustle of the city life has stressed you out, then make the travel plans and arrive at Tawang to get de-stressed. Tawang has the largest monastery that is close to 4 centuries old and is also the spiritual and cultural destination for monks who practice Buddhism.

The drive up to Tawang and the monastery is another experience that you should miss out. There are not many places which can give you the adrenaline rush and inner calm at the same time. I know it sounds crazy but one visit to Tawang and you will know what I am talking about.

Less is More

Unlike other major states of India, Arunachal Pradesh despite being larger in size is the most thinly populated state of India. Stats say that there are 13-17 people per sq.km. 

But right here, where the population is so scant you will find you 26 major tribes and over a hundred more sub-tribes. They have their unique language, cultural beliefs, traditions, cuisines, etc. and spending time among these is when you will be gifted with the true meaning of life, love, roots, and values.

I used to speak the Nishi language as a kid. But, it’s been years since I left thus lacking in some of the skills but on the memories.

‘2 States’ Connected

The Bhupen Hazarika Setu also known as the Dhola-Sadiya Bridge is the first bridge that has been built to seamlessly connect Arunachal Pradesh with Assam and the rest of India. As of now, it is the longest bridge in India and the only one in India that connects 2 states.

The inauguration of the bridge in 2017 was a grand ceremony with the leading politicos of the nation present. This  Bridge holds substantial value as it cuts time for traders who earlier had to be on the move for close to 6 hours and also defense movements for India to secure its international borders.

A walk on the bridge is not something that I can recommend because it is over 9 km or close to 6 miles long, but, you can surely get an amazing view of the river Luit(which means river of blood) from atop the bridge.

The sky is for Birds Only

If you thought of going to Arunachal Pradesh on a flight take a quick tour and head back, let me hold you right there. You can go to Arunachal Pradesh, but not by a plane.

I mean the state does not have an airport and hence no daily flights, or weekly, or monthly. They did have a chopper service from Guwahati when I was a kid, though I am not sure if they are operational.

Ah, don’t worry, they’re quite a few buses that ply between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Major departure places would be Guwahati. Dibrugarh, Tezpur, and Tinsukia in Assam. The tickets are very reasonable and the last I heard, was that the roads have improved massively.

Blooming Paradise

Love all the green cover that Arunachal Pradesh has to offer? Let me tell you this, it is a paradise for Botanists. The state is home to 500 known species of orchids alone and I have no idea how many more species are hidden, waiting to be discovered.

A Place in the Wild, for the Wild

Arunachal Pradesh is also home to the 4 big cats of India, the tiger, leopard, clouded leopard, and the snow leopard.

I have not seen the latter 2 but, I have read that snow leopards are difficult to see due to their elusive nature which makes me more inclined to have a closer look at them. You can catch a glimpse of these amazing creatures at Namdapha National Park

Tap to the Beats

North-East has always shown an eccentric affinity for music both at international, domestic and regional levels. The amount of musical creativity that’s hidden here, if exposed can make the 7 sisters unstoppable at the global stage.

Be it the folk culture or inspiration from international sources, the music scene in Arunachal Pradesh is very vibrant and I being a musician and a music lover won’t miss it at any cost.

I have known some amazing people with unmatched skills and eloquent talent and penchant for music when I was in school and being from that background, I am surely aware what we have to offer to the world.

Clean Your Soul

Arunachal Pradesh also has a very crucial religious importance. Parshuram Kund located at the borders of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh is a pilgrimage that is of immense religious value. Pilgrims throng to this place especially during the occasion of Makar Sankranti.

The Lohit river on whose banks the temple is located considered to be holy and people go their to wash off their sins. If you are not in for the religious tour, you can surely take a trip to Parshuram Kund for all the scenic beauty that this place has to offer.

Manipur

Did you know that this is the state in India where the international sport Polo was invented and was spread to the Western World by the British during the Colonial Rule?

Manipur is the 3rd state among the 7 sisters. Comparatively smaller than Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, Manipur does possess a lot of cultural history. The local tribes and residents have given several names but ‘Kangleipak’ and ‘Meeteileipak’ are the most common.

Told you the names are gonna get weirder. The state prides in being the first and unique for a lot of reasons which make it all the more enticing to travel through these lands

Did you start packing your bags? Hold on, you need a permit to enter the state of Manipur. It’s the ILP for Indian citizens whilst international travelers, it’s a free land for you to roam and experience. Now let’s check out what Manipur has to offer.

The War between East & West

Manipur was also a battleground between the Brits and the Japs during World War II. There are a lot of memorials and historical monuments that help tourists to familiarize with the history and locals to be proud of their struggles and contributions.

One of the greatest leaders of India’s freedom struggle, Subhas Chandra Bose first hoisted the flag of Indian National Army which started a rebellion and war against the Brits rule over India in Moirang Manipur. There stands a museum dedicated to the journey and achievements of the INA during World War II.

The Floating Wildlife Habitat

Keibul National Park in an integral part of the Loktak Lake Ecosystem boasts to be the one and only floating national park in the world. Yes, you heard it right, it floats. It is home to the brow-antlered deer or locally known as Sangai, an endangered species and also the state animal of Manipur.

So don’t be alarmed if you see signages with the word Sangai almost everywhere there. The deer, the lake, the amazing scenic beauty that is created without any human intervention is a sight that you must see.

The Mothers’ Market

For starters, it is better known as Ima Keithal. Why is it different? Because it is the only market in the world that has a 100% female workforce. Yup, guys in this place are only customers.

The history & origins of Ima Keithal dates back to the British Era and certain practices imposed by the Englishmen which led to this way of life for the Manipur ladies.

You can find western wear, metal wares, traditional crafts and looms, handicrafts, fresh vegetables and fruits and a host of other items which are unique to this land all sold by women and they are allowed only if they are married.

There is a history to this place. Ima Keithal is synonymous with the Nupi Lan movement which was an all-women effort to ward of the Englishmen who tried to impose high taxes and take away goods for the British Soldiers.

When you spend some time there walking down the alley and the complex, you will understand when I say that it is not just another market where you buy stuff.

It is a way of life for the Manipuri women who unlike the rest of India, has always been at the forefront of trade & commerce and sociopolitical issues of Manipur. Ima Keithal is not just a market, it is the true illustration of women empowerment.

Unabandoned

Manipur experienced human population long before civilization was a known concept. Yes, the state holds evidence of habitation since as early as 30,000 BC. Umm, I don’t how many years ago that was in the past.

There are 4 caves known as the Khangkhui Caves which shows evidence of habitation since the Stone Age. I can barely take a guess how many years ago was the Stone Age.

But I can understand that human population has always found it hard to create distance between themselves and Manipur – The Land of Jewels.

Yu of Meitei

Meitei is a tribe which constitutes the major population of Manipur and Yu is their traditional drink. Made by fermenting rice and then adding flavors and herbs to it, Yu is a drink, trying which should be in your bucket list. Oh and yes, you can’t enjoy your regular scotch, whiskey and beer and Manipur because it is a dry state, in other words, alcohol is banned.

The Land of the Tallest Grass

Bamboo is the tallest grass in the world. Manipur is home to 126 different species of bamboo. Well, bamboo plantations might not be on your travel itinerary but if you are a foodie, then you should know about Bamboos.

Not like a Ph.D. or something, just some basic facts because a lot of Manipuri cuisines use Bamboo while cooking as well as serving.

I don’t know anything about bamboos but, I have tried almost all the dishes that Manipur has offered me and I have savored all of them as if it is my last day on earth.

The food always looks healthy does not use too much of spices like a lot of other Indian cuisines. So if you are in Manipur, activate your taste buds because what you will experience here, cannot be found anywhere else.

Mizoram

Mizoram literally translates to “Land of the Hill People”. Incorporated in British India 1895, Mizoram has grown exponentially with the times. The land boasts the highest literacy rate after Kerala.

The major population of Mizoram is migrants who have entered the state many centuries ago and with time they have developed their unique blend of culture and art and these traditions are beautifully complemented by traditional dances such as Cheraw, Chai, Khuallam and Chheihlam.

Phawngpui Hills

In the Chhimtuipui District near Myanmar border, Phawngpui Hills stands as the highest mountain peak in Mizoram. Phawngpui Hills is also claimed to be among the best places to visit in Mizoram.

This picturesque hill station is donned with vibrant species of orchids, fragrant herbs, exotic fauna, and colorful rhododendron.

The splendid views of the exuberant green hillocks spread across the region of Phawngpui and the bamboo groves enriched surroundings are the reason why Phawngpui Hills is regarded as the ‘house of Gods’ and must be witnessed during your trip to Mizoram.

Vantawang Falls

A vibrant waterfall in Serchhip district of Mizoram, Vantawang Falls is approximately 137km from Aizawl and attracts travelers from around the world for its panoramic surroundings. Vantawang Falls is claimed to be the highest waterfalls in Mizoram.

The fall is located in Vanva River near Thenzawl and is surrounded by thick green forests on a rocky terrain. Afternoons are the best time to be near the waterfalls and if you are active in social media, then I guarantee you that you are going to get some amazing pictures for your Facebook and Instagram accounts.

I was there a few years back, found a place where I could sit and just stare at that waterfall. Believe me, I could not let go of the sound of rushing water for days.

Thrill Seeking Getaways

Bored with the concrete jungle with limited possibilities? Ready to do something crazy and exhilarating? Eager to hop onto the path less traveled?

Quench your thirst for a thrill at Mizoram. There are many things which you can do to get that adrenaline pumping. Head to Khuangchera Puk, located in Ailawang, 30 km from Aizawl(capital of Mizoram). At 167 meters of length, this cave is claimed to be the longest in Mizoram.

Buts stats aside, this cave boasts of some peculiar acoustics, eerie darkness and some amazing stalagmite formations that have to potential to give you the jumps. Mizoram also offers amazing options for all the trekkers with the treks of Champhai district topping the list. Then you have the Phawngpui Hills, the Blue Mountain National Park, Lengteng and Mawmrang trails. 

Tired already? C’mon I have a bike and the Hmuifang Hill in store for you. Trail Baktawng, Trail Sialsuk, Trail Lungleng are the most significant. Is this the first time you, a bike and trails are in one place?

Relax, for amateur bike riders the hilltop of Chawilung, Hmuifang, Sumsuih and Thiak village are the best option.

Spooky Tales

Mizoram is home to places whose tales can send a chill down your spine. Milu Puk is among the many places which are a host to some mysterious findings and equally inexplicable tales.

Milu Puk is a cave that was discovered pretty recently and this cave was the abode to heaps of human skeleton. How they got there or how old they are? Not much is known about that, but you are more than welcome to come and find the answers.

Passage for the Dead

Welcome to Rih-Dil Lake, by far the most beautiful and also the most important place for the Mizo culture and beliefs. The first thing that you will notice about Rih-Dil is that has the shape of a heart (you can see it from the nearby hills, the flat lakebed won’t be of much help).

Technically the lake is in Myanmar and not in Mizoram, so you are actually traveling outside India to experience a fundamental cultural core of the Mizo people.

According to popular and traditional Mizo beliefs, the lake is the gateway for the spirits of the dead to pass into the afterlife.

No, don’t be alarmed, you won’t be experiencing anything spooky here. On the contrary, the surroundings of the lake is extremely clean and so is the lake water. You can see fishermen boats, kids jumping for a swim(something you can also try) and sometimes an odd bunch of people sitting under a tree whilst enjoying a drink and a few laughs.

There are restaurants and temples close to the lake but nothing is constructed near the lake as it is believed that building something would bring bad luck.

The stories and beliefs around Rih-Dil are many and each of them is equally thrilling but all of them signifying the values of love, bonds, sacrifice, penance, and salvation. 

Nagaland

Nagaland

The resident of Nagaland is not called Nagas. This state boasts of 17 recognized tribes each with their own set of languages, cultural and traditional practices and their unique festivals.

Nagaland also shows a high rate of literacy with Christianity being profound here, you won’t have any trouble communicating with the locals. So let’s go to Nagaland see what it has to offer.

Oh! Hey! You need an ILP to enter this state. The only place in Nagaland that is exempted from the requirement of ILP is Dimapur.

Hornbill Festival

Hornbill Festival

Every indigenous tribe of Nagaland has their individual festivals, which is a vibrant and enthralling display of traditional dance and practices and the tribal way of life.

With so many festivals taking place, the state government inaugurated the Hornbill festival close to 2 decades ago.

Hornbill Festival brings all the tribes together in grandiose participation & celebration of everything these tribes and Nagaland stands for. The festival is usually conducted in the 10 days of December and if you are traveling to North-East, ensure that you do not miss the opulent gathering of tribes and magnificence of traditional celebration.

One Head of a Trophy

This was a practice that was stopped barely a century ago. The warring tribes would take the head of the defeated rival and put it on display as a symbol of victory and bravery. The head-hunter tribe can be distinguished by their facial tattoos and outlandish headgear made of bamboo and boar teeth.

They have kept some of their traditional aspects intact except for the beheading and now maintain peace and tranquility with other tribes on the land. 

Kisama

Just about 10kms from Kohima, you will come across the heritage village called Kisama. The village is meticulously designed to show and protect the rich history and traditional values of the Naga tribes.

You can go there and connect with the history of Nagaland and all the individual tribes and be fascinated by the way they have evolved and adapted to the world and advancing times.

The Naga Shawl

The shawls weaved by the tribe women of Nagaland are not just a fashion statement. Each shawl design is unique to the tribe and also represents a hierarchical structure and tribe.

The designs and patterns are very unique and vibrant and can be found in the handicraft stores. You can have one as a souvenir and grace it with the same respect as shown by the Naga tribes.

The Hottest Chilli

This is one thing that you will find in abundance in Nagaland and do not be surprised if you see people growing the ‘bhut jolokia’ in their front or backyards. Bhut in native term means ghost and Jolokia stands of chilly or pepper.

It won’t give you the spooks, but what it will give you is an insane burning sensation on your tongue, throat and in worse cases even the ears. Your eyes will turn red and start watering and no amount of water can pacify that. I can tell you this from an unforgettable personal experience.

So if you are up for the challenge, go ahead and take a good bite, if not, then try the smallest possible bite of the chilly is enough to show you the stars in broad daylight.

Another thing you should know about the bhut jolokia is that it holds the Guinness Book of World Records to be the world’s hottest chilly. Go on, give it a bite. All the best.

Longwa Village

Every village will have something absolutely unique that will make you spellbound. Longwa village does not really have any such unique thing. What is unique about the village is its location. Longwa Village lies on the international boundary line of India and Myanmar. Yup, right on the spot.

This is further complemented by the fact that the village chief’s house is located half in India and the other half in Myanmar. I am just wondering, how would it feel if your living room and kitchen are in 2 different countries. I will keep in mind to ask him the next time I visit him.

Natural Borders

Mount Saramati is the highest peak in Nagaland and it also operates s as a natural barrier Nagaland and Burma aka Myanmar. The peak is 3840 meters above sea level and hikes atop the mountain is something you can indulge yourself with.

The expense to reach this place is very nominal and view of the Nagaland towns and villages and the Myanmar side of things is absolutely awe-inspiring.

Tripura

Tripura state primarily constitutes of Bengali Population and boasts of great rulers and an amazing history. There is only one road to Tripura and that is known as the NH 44.

Tripura was divided into the Tiperra district and Tiperra hill during the British Raj(that’s what they do). Despite being the third smallest state of India, Tripura has the highest literacy rate at 95%.

Unakoti

Unakoti boasts of rock carvings of various Hindu deities which date back to the 9th century. The sight of huge Shiva faces, various forms of Ganesha or Ganpati and other accompanying Gods, Goddesses set against the lush green background with trickling rivulets is certainly worth the effort that you have to make to get there.

There is also a 30 feet high carving of Kal Bhairav erstwhile known as Shiva.

Neer Mahal

Regarded as the Palace on the Vanishing lake, Neer Mahal was the summer palace of the Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Debbarma Manikya. My uncle took me once to Neer Mahal.

That was probably 18 years ago. The vastness of the palace which seems to be floating on water is an unforgettable sight. But what you cannot scratch out of your memory is the view of this palace at night.

With the lights on and at its full glory, the palace shines like a star on planet earth. The lake does its part to compliment the palace by reflecting the palace and that is when you can truly see why it is called the floating palace.

Matabari

Matabari also is known as the Tripura Sundari Temple is one of the 51 Shaktipeeth temples of India. The basic backstory of this temple is pretty similar to the Kamakhya Temple of Assam.

The temple is close to 5 centuries old and welcomes a vast number of devotees around the year.

Ujjayanta

The Ujjayanta Palace that you see now is not the original one. Well, it’s not a fake one either. The first palace was built in the year 1862 and it was located outside Agartala. But then disaster struck in June 1897 when a massive earthquake jolted the North-East and turned the palace into just piles of rocks.

It was rebuilt in the year 1899 and this time, in the heart of Agartala City at a whopping cost of 1 million at that time. The palace stands between 2 ponds and the grandeur of its architecture is striking to the eyes.

The palace compound also houses the Tripura State Museum, which boasts of a collection that are centuries old and displays the artifacts and relics which played a pivotal role in the lives of North-East Indians.

If you are around Ujjayanta, you will also see quite a few temples. The most prominent among them are the Jagannath Mandir, Umanneshwar Mandir, and the Sri Lakshmi Narayan Mandir.

Sepahijala Wildlife Sanctuary

Tripura as a state has made notable efforts in the conservation of the state’s flora & fauna. Sepahijala Wildlife Sanctuary stands as testimony to the efforts of the State Government and the locals. The Sanctuary is home to the clouded leopards, rhesus macaque, pig-tailed macaque, capped langur, and the spectacled langur. 

Reports also say that the crab-eating mongoose has been resuscitated after close to 9 decades. There is a bungalow within the sanctuary that facilitates accommodation and you can have a night adventure out there and get your adrenaline pumping.

Pilak

Pilak is a site in the Santirbazar sub-division of South Tripura district of the Indian state of Tripura with immense archeological value. Many structures, belonging to Buddhist & Hindu sects, have been unearthed here since 1927. The antiquities found here are dated to 8th to 12th centuries.

Chambimura

Chabimura is widely known for its panels of rock carvings on the steep mountain wall in and around the banks of Gomati river. There are gigantic images of Shiva, Vishnu, Kartika, Mahisasurmardini Durga, and other Gods and goddesses. You can understand the perseverance that is involved when you see that the steep rocky faces and greenery around it.

The only way to reach here is through a trek amidst dark forests and the road leading to the river bank is a feast for the eye and for all the nature lovers out there.

Another thing Chabimura is reputed for is the Devi Chakrakma. A majestic idol of Devi Chakrakma is carved over 20 feet high and can be seen if one proceeds more to the left side of the river.

Meghalaya

Meghalaya

Meghalaya was a recognized autonomous state in 1972 and takes pride in possessing quite a handsome number of achievements. 

Mawlynnong is the cleanest village in India. The only state in India where the lineage and inheritance of a person are traced through women. Nature has achieved the marvel of creating a bridge purely out of tree roots and without any human intervention. An absolute natural beauty.

Do remember to carry your umbrella or rainwear if you are heading to Mawsynram. This is the village that records the highest rainfall in the world. If you wander into the sacred groves or forest, please do not take anything, I repeat anything from the forest as the locals believe that such an act will bring bad luck to Meghalaya.

The Nohkalikai Falls is the highest plunge waterfall in India located at the height of 1115 feet. The state is being known for the number of caves that are emerging and as of today, Meghalaya has registered 1248 caves. For the wildlife lover, get your chance to see the mutant frog.

Well, I am just kidding. But yes there is a tiny species of frog almost the size of a human thumb. This species is endemic to Shillong but the most interesting thing is that this species has an ‘x’ mark on its back and was discovered on Christmas of 1970. Is that what the weapon-x program is all about?

Also in the land where cricket is worshipped, Meghalaya houses an insect with the most peculiar behavior. This buggy remains underground and comes only one in 4 years and that too a month before the FIFA World Cup. How about I ask which team the bug is supporting next year?

To know more amazing things about Meghalaya, click on this link and be mesmerized.

Sikkim

Sikkim Gangtok Landscape

Sikkim was its own country until 1975 post which it became a part of India. The 7 states above are known as the 7 sisters of India and but being at the front is often regarded as the 8 brothers.

In the last 44 years of being a part of India Sikkim is earned many feats and takes pride in some of the amazing things that the locals practice and believe.

First of the list is the amazing fact and achievement, Sikkim is the first and only organic state of India. Since the major population of Sikkim originally comes from Nepal, Tibet, and Bhutan, the locals here speak 11 different languages and all of them are official. Plastic and styrofoam products and open defecation are banned in this state.

Yeah, you can’t carry your regular Bisleri or Pepsi and neither poop in the open. Sikkim is home to the red pandas and you should definitely meet these amazing creatures.

It probably has the only temple in the world that is dedicated to a human being. Dedicated to Major Harbhajan Singh of the Indian Army who died on duty and his spirit is believed to be still patrolling the Indian Borders. Rare chances that you might see him but I am sure such a pure spirit won’t be a bad omen.

Lachen Sikkim

Lachen Sikkim

Khangchendzonga National Park is India’s first mixed world heritage site as declared by UNESCO. This place is home to 18 glaciers, lakes, mountain peaks, and waterfalls along with 18 sub-forest types, 128 species of mammals and 300 species of birds. Looking at the numbers I am sure this is a paradise for wildlife lovers of the world.

You can also drop by and explore Darjeeling – once a summer resort for the British elite.

Curtain Call

I know I have delivered a lot of reading material but, what I really want to do is play my part in convincing you to pack your bags, book your tickets and get away from the jungles of cement, polluted air, weird tasting waters and everything else that has formed a routine in your life.

If you ever hummed ‘I want to break free’ by The Queen, then north-east India is the destination where you can truly break free and go back with enough memories and experiences to last a lifetime.

So start packing. Don’t forget the ILPs and the PAPs.