This region, which lies in the eastern Himalayas, has an abundance of beautiful nature, animal life, flora and fauna, and colourful people.

North-Eastern India is popularly known as “seven sisters and one brother”. The region consists of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim.

The endless variety here due to geographic location, topography, the varied flora, fauna and birdlife, the people’s history and the varied ethnic communities and their rich cultural heritage of old traditions and lifestyles, and the festivals and handicrafts, make this a perfect holiday away from the hordes of people and straight into the brim of nature. To discover the north-eastern states is a challenge – but a romantic adventure in the best traditions of travel and exploration. For accommodation there are many hotels to choose from in the large cities, and you will in most places also find overnight accommodation in the forests.

Arunachal Pradesh

Arunachal Pradesh, the “land of the rising sun” or the “land of the red dawn” as it is often called, offers visitors an incredible, varied landscape. Here you will find everything from tropical lowland to ice cold, tall mountain areas. This variation is also evident in the flora and fauna. This is a true paradise for hikers. The state is home to more than 26 tribes, and each have their own language or at least their own dialect and own cultural traditions. The Monpa tribe, for example, which lives around the Tawang Monastery, embraced Buddhism when the great guru Padmasambhava came here in the 8th century A.D. All the tribes have developed incredibly rich handicraft traditions, most notably weaving, which contributes to the local economy.

Main Cities

ITANAGAR

The land of the morning lit mountains. Itanagar, Arunachal’s capital, is also its largest city. The Jawaharlal Nehru Museum has archaeological findings from Ita Fort, which gives you an insight into Arunachal’s tribe culture. Opening times: Tues-Sun, 10 am-5pm. Itanagar is home to a small Buddhist temple, and its lit yellow roof is visible from far away. In Polo Park in nearby Naharlungna, visitors can discover some botanical wonders. Just 6 km away lies the picturesque Lake Ganga.

TEZPUR

Tezpur is the gateway to the Arunachal Mountains, and the city lies on the banks of Brahmaputra and has good links to the airport in Guwahati. Bhalukpong (58 km north-east of Tezpur), which lies spread along the slopes that divide Assam and Arunchal Pradesh, is renowned for its hot springs, orchid centre and the Nyethidow Festival in March. Tipi is famous for its orchidarium (7500 local variants of orchid).

BOMDILA

The district headquarters in western Kameng, Bomdila (2530 metres above sea level), is a delightful place to stop among apple trees, lush forests and hiking paths in which it seems that time has stood still.

TAWANG

Tawang (180 km west of Bomdila) lies 3000 metres above sea level and is separated from the rest of Arunachal Pradesh by a mountain range. Tawang is accessible by car with a dramatic drive through enchanting alpine landscape. The winding road to Tawang passes through the dragon gates at an incredible height, by the large Sella Pass (4170 m). There is a strong Tibetan presence in Tawang. The large Tawang Monastery with its dramatic background is striking.

ASSAM

Assam means “undulating land” in the Ahom language. This is the second largest state in the north-east. The mighty river Brahmaputra dominates this landscape and its inhabitants.

The river plains in the Assam Valley (100 km at its widest) have an abundance of natural wealth. The state is the largest producer of timber and tea in the country, and has the oldest oil refinery in India. Its rich biological diversity includes a number of rare and endangered creatures like the Indian rhino, the golden langur, the Ganges dolphin and the tree leopard. With five national parks, two of them characterized as places of world heritage by UNESCO, and 20 nature reserves, Assam is a blessed land for wild animal enthusiasts.

Main Cities

GUWAHATI

“The Light in the East” is the capital and gate to Assam and to the entire north-eastern region. This is the home of many temples which are dated to the times of Vedic and Puranic. The Kamakhya Temple dominates life in Guwahati, as much as the mighty Brahmaputra River. The temple is situated on the Neelachal Hill. The reigning deity here is the Goddess Parvati. Streams of worshippers gather in the temple under Ambubachi Puja. The river cruise on the might Brahmaputra is a perfect way to enjoy a relaxing cruise to almost all the largest sights and attractions that can be reached from the river. The state museum offers visitors a rich collection of ethnological exhibitions.

THE KAZIRANGA NATIONAL PARK (A World Heritage Site appointed by UNESCO):

The oldest park in Assam, Kaziranga, is very close to Tezpur and 217 km from Gawahati and 96 km from Jorhat. The park is situated on the southern banks of the Brahmaputra River, and is world famous for its Indian rhinos, of which there are many here. Covering 430 square km, the park is a beautiful mosaic of dense rain forest with wild elephants, swine deer and barasingas.

THE MANAS NATIONAL PARK:

is a Project Tiger reserve and a World Heritage Site (UNESCO) situated 176 km north-west of Guwahati. Other animals which live in the dense jungle here are the Indian rhino, hispidhars gaurs, pygmy pigs and rare golden langurs. This is a paradise for bird watchers as the park has a large variety of bird life. Manas also offers excellent opportunities for pole fishing.

THE NAMERI NATIONAL PARK:

is ideal for a pole fishing holiday. Nameri is also home to the tree leopard, tiger, Indian bison and hooded langur, in addition to other wild animals.

THE ORANG NATIONAL PARK:

150 km from Guwahati, is home to the Indian rhino.

Manipur

Graceful contours.

The former principality of Manipur is a jewel of a land with an abundance of untouched beauty and old traditions. Manipur’s inspiration stems from the wonderful balance of flora and fauna that exists in this area. Almost 70% of the land area is covered in forest. Manipur is home to at least 29 tribes.

IMPHAL:

Manipur’s capital Imphal has harmonised itself perfectly into its beautiful natural surroundings. Imphal’s historic vaishnavite centre, the Shri Govindaje Temple, lies close to the royal palace. On each side of the reigning divinity are the temples for Krishna, Balaram and Jagannath.

IMPHAL’S SURROUNDINGS:

Manipur has at least 500 different variants of orchids. Central Khonghampat Orchidarium, just 7 km from Imphal, offers visitors an excellent opportunity to see at least 110 variants that are exhibited there.

THE LOKTAK LAKE AND SENDRA ISLAND:

The biggest tourist attraction is the Loktak Lake. One of the most enchanting and largest fresh water lakes in the north-east is Manipur’s Loktak, just 45 km from Imphal. On the south side of the island is the world’s only floating national park, the Kebei Lamjao National Park, which is the unique habitat of the rare sangai and the “dancing deer”.

Meghalaya

Many nuances of nature

Meghalaya’s natural beauty is well suited for longer vacations, and the mountain station Shillong continues to be a favourite. There are 300 variants of orchids in the state, which is also rich in animal life. Meghalaya has two national parks which are home to some rare species of flora and fauna. The soft hilltops in Meghalaya are mixed with rich meadows and pine forests.

SHILLONG:

is the capital of Meghalaya. Day long picnics between the hazy blue hills with pine trees and orchids, trickling creeks and roaring waterfalls: for the British in this garrison city, this was home. The scenic hills in Khasi reminded them of the Scottish highlands – perfect for summer holidays away from the dust and heat in India’s plains. Relaxing days can be spent by the tranquil Ward Lake and the landscape garden Lady Hydari Park, which also contains a mini-zoo. The Lewduh Market, the largest in the north-east, is an incredible place to sample local flavours. The Shillong Peak (1965m), approximately 10 km from the city, offers an incredible view to the city which is spread along the beautiful hilltops. The Sohpetbneng Peak, 20 km away, is also a great place to see some spectacular views. Among the popular waterfalls close to the city are the Spread Eagle Falls (6 km) and Sweet Falls (8 km) in Happy Valley. Here are also the Bishop Falls, Beadon falls and Elephant Falls (12 km), that you can explore if you have time. Today Shillong’s popular 18 hole golf course, often called the Gleneagles of the East, holds its annual tournament in October, when the hilltops in the Khasi Hills are at their most beautiful. The city is full of old churches where the Cathedral Church of Mary Help of Christians is most famous for its painted glass windows and high ceiling. Directly across from the state central library is the Church of All Saints.

Shillong regularly arranges pop and rock concerts which are popular with the local youth. The Butterfly Museum is worth a visit as it has an excellent collection of these winged beauties, many of which are threatened with extinction.

THE CAVES IN MEGHALAYA:

For those who like to explore caves, Meghalaya is the right place, as there are around 780 caves in the state, and many of them have not been mapped or explored. Of those which have been explored, five are among the longest on the Indian subcontinent. The important caves include:

Close to Cherrapunjee:

Krem Mawmluh, Krem Phylutt, Soh Shympi, Krem (Eastern Khasi Hills) Dam.

Jaintia Hills: Krem Kotsati, Krem Umshangtat, Krem Lashing, Krem Sweep.

Southern Garo Hills: Siju-Dobakkol, Dobbakol Chibe Nala, Telengkol-Balwakol, Bok Bak Dobakkol.

For more information about special cave package trips, please contact Meghalaya Tourism or the Meghalaya Adventures Association.

Mizoram - The songbird in the north-east

Mizoram is situated in the southernmost outpost of north-eastern India, in the land of the Blue Mountains. Evergreen rows of Mizoram hills with flowering exotic flora and dense bamboo forests rise sharply from the plains of Assam in a north to south direction. Highest among the many peaks is Phawngpui, The Blue Mountain.

Mizoram is a kaleidoscopic treasure chest for the choosy traveler, with its broad choice of festivals and dances, handicrafts, flora and fauna, magnificent natural beauty and tempered climate. The people here are friendly and hospitable. English is one of the most broadly used languages. The happy enthusiasm and the sociable mood of the locals have been responsible for creating some of the most popular tourist attractions in this beautiful state.

AIZWAL and excursions to the surrounding area:

The capital Aizwal is within reach from Silchar, which has flight connections to Kolkata. Silchar is also the closest railway. Aizwal is connected via road to Guwahati, Imphal, Kohima, Shillong and Agartala. The crayfish’s turning circuit passes through Aizwal. (What? Might they mean the star sign/constellation “Cancer”? – Britt). In the north lay the hills tops of Durtlang, where there is an interesting zoo. Explore the museum, which has an interesting collection of clothes costumes, artifacts and historic relics that are an important window to the Mizo culture. Buy traditional handicrafts and woven textiles, like Puan with its intricate weave, in many colours at the Bara Bazar, which is the main market. They also have a large variety of baskets and products made from bamboo.

Nagaland - Vibrant traditions

Spread across an area of 16 527 km2, most of its inhabitants live in the countryside. The capital Kohima, Dimapur and Mokokchung are the most important cities. Although they were traditionally animists, almost 98% of the population was converted to Christianity under the influence of British missionaries.

KOHIMA:

Kohima is the state capital, and lies at an altitude of 1495m. This is a beautiful city which is delightfully untouched, tranquil and full of history. The World War 2 memorial, which names the brave Nagas who died, is the biggest attraction. The state museum shows via the use of dioramas some of the most fascinating aspects of Nagan tribal life in all its varieties and rich traditions. The picturesque Kohima War Cemetery, a symbolic memorial which commemorates the memory of officers and men who lost their lives (regardless of race, nationality or religion) during the Second World War, is a place one must visit.

Kohima Village, called Barra Basti (large village)

is the place where Kohima began, according to Naga legend. It is said to be the second largest village in Asia, and it has one of the prettiest ceremonial gates, which is common in all Naga villages.

Khonoma Village

The picturesque village of Khonoma (20 km ) offers a beautiful view to Nagaland’s natural beauty and ecological diversity. On the way you must look for memorials which have been erected in order to celebrate “earning festivals”, as well as the intricate system of bamboo pipes which transport water over long distances. The unique variation of soil and the elevation of the fields above sea level have resulted in around 20 varieties of rice being grown here.

Sikkim - Heaven on Earth

This land of intense natural beauty, enveloped in a mystical aura, is full of legends and history. The blend of high mountain tops, holy lakes, old monasteries, orchid nurseries, helicopter rides and magnificent hiking paths makes Sikkim a multi-dimensional destination.

Gangtok (1572m) is the capital of the eastern district, the seat of the local authorities and the main centre for trade activities. It strategic location, a strong Buddhist presence and several cultural offers provide a tempting insight into this stimulating land. Situated just a short distance form Gangtok is the old Rumtek Monastery. The city is a practical starting point for excursions to the areas around the mystical lakes Tsomgo Lake and Nathu La. Flowery meadows and hot springs, incredible views and tribal cultures lure travelers to the northern district – perfect for cultural trips and visits to tribal villages.

The magnificent surroundings in the eastern district is the land of adventure sports. Here one can raft down the rivers Teesta and Rangit, and go for hikes through rhododendron forests in the mountain areas. The misty, fairytale-like village of Pelling, the big tourist attraction, has incredible views to Mt. Kangchendzonga. I nice time to be here is during the Buddha Purnima in May, to enjoy the famous festivities Saga Dawa. Holy munks who walk in colourful processions carry the holy book of Buddha’s teachings from the Tsuklakhang Monastery in the palace to different places in the city.



The Namgyal Institute for Tibetology - the world famous centre for Buddhist philosophy and religion - houses the world’s largest collection of old Tibetan books and manuscripts on science, medicine, astrology and so on. The institute attracts Buddhist scholars form all around the world.

DZONGRI:

This is the home of the red panda, black khaleej pheasant, and yellowthroated woodpecker. The fascinating mountain paths that lead up to Dzongri are a joy to walk. In the hiking season the slopes are awash with colours from a large variety of rhododendron. Located at 3962m the place offers a fascinating view of the Kangchendzonga. Just above lies Pandim Peak (6890m) covered in a thick layer of snow. About 7 km from Dzongri is the Kangchendzonga basecamp, established by Darjeeling’s Himalayan Mountain Climbing Institute.

Tripura - Cultural synthesis

The beauty of the former princedom Tripura shimmers with the splendor of its natural location and its glittering cultural heritage. For the visitor, Tipura (a relatively unknown holiday destination in the north-east) is full of surprises. Its multicultural ethnic diversity, its old temples, its large areas of natural beauty and its rich hand weaving traditions are tempting enough to attract the choosier traveler.

Agartala is the district capital of Tripura, and is situated between two large areas of tranquil beauty, which makes it the ideal base to explore the old palaces, temples, lakes and nature reserves in this former principality. Visit Ujjayanta Palace which was built by the Maharaja Radha Kishore Manikya Bahadur in 1901. Maharaja Kalyan Manikya began the excavation of the lake Kamalasagar, 27 km from Agartala. A popular Kali temple from the 16th century lies on the shore of the lake.

Sipahijala Nature Reserve:

The large colony of resident birds and migratory birds makes the Sipahijala Nature Reserve a lively attraction for bird watchers. The reserves lies 30 km from Agartala, and covers an area of 18,53 km2.

Trishna Nature Reserve:

The bison and large flocks of resident- and migratory birds are the biggest attractions in this reserve, which lies around 100 km from Agartala. It is also home to the hoolock gibbon, golden langur and hooded luelangur

The recommended time to visit the Northeast is from November to April, although mountain areas can be extremely cold by December. It rains heavily from May to September.

How would you like to travel? AIR

To Itanagar

The nearest airport is Tezpur in Assam, 216 km from Naharlagun and 226 km from Itanagar, Naharlagun is also connected by helicopter service from Mohanbari (Dibrugarh) and Guwahati in Assam

RAIL

The nearest railway station is at Harmoti in Assam, 33 km from Itanagar

ROAD

Itanagar is connected by a network of roads with all important cities and towns in the neighbouring states and major cities in the country.

For further information on travelling to Arunachal Pradesh or on the state, please visit:

www.arunachaltourism.com

Please click on the following links to access the respective state government websites

Arunachal Pradesh

Assam

Manipur

Meghalaya

Mizoram

Nagaland

Sikkim

Tripura