Best Experiences in North East India: Our Top Ten Picks
India is a culturally and geographically diverse country with traditions, language and food changing every few kilometres. But Northeast India is one part of the country that is vastly different from mainland India. Northeast India includes seven “sister states” that are separated from the rest of a country through a bottleneck section. These states include Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Mizoram, Nagaland, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. Sikkim is also an integral part of this region and is oftentimes referred to as the only “brother state”.
The Northeast is frequented by a lot fewer tourists, as compared to the rest of India. While states like Meghalaya and Nagaland are slowly gaining popularity, there is still so much in this region that is unexplored and absolutely virgin. Whether it is jumping into waterfalls, hiking through dense forests, going on wildlife watching trails or learning about new cultures, Northeast sure has it all. Here is a list of the best experiences in North East India that one can have while traversing through this mesmerising region!
Hike the Dzukou Valley in Nagaland
Dzukou Valley is known for its rolling meadows and unique flora and fauna that is barely found elsewhere. Dzukou Valley comes within the borders of both Meghalaya and Nagaland and within Nagaland, there are several routes that one can try depending on their fitness level and the time they have on their hands. The Dzukou Lily – a flower that is only found in the Dzukou Valley – blooms here in the monsoon seasons and is one of the best travel experiences in North East India (barring the monsoon leeches, of course!) Once in the valley, there is a rest house with basic amenities which visitors can avail of, or set up camps virtually anywhere in the valley.
Go on a Jungle Safari in Assam
Assam is home to a wide range of flora and fauna which is protected by Kaziranga National Park, the oldest and one of the many nature reserves in the state. It lies partly in Nagaon and partly in the Golaghat district of Assam. Situated by the south bank of the Brahmaputra River, Kaziranga is also a World UNESCO Heritage Site. Some of the prime attractions of this national park include the Great Indian One-Horned Rhinoceros, Royal Bengal Tigers, Indian Elephants and Indian Leopards. The Park is also home to many birds such as Blyth’s Kingfisher, Baer’s pochard duck, Pallas’s Fish Eagle, Asian Openbill Stork amongst many others. There are four entry gates to the park and tourists can choose from jeep or elephant safaris.
Admire the Root Bridges of Meghalaya
One can commonly spot root bridges throughout major parts of the Shillong Plateau. These bridges are painstakingly made by hand by the Jaintia and Khisa people from the aerial roots of the rubber fig tree. There are innumerable root bridges in Meghalaya and are known to have a lifespan of over 150 years. Once matured, these bridges can take the weight of as many as 50 people at a time! Of these, the Double Decker Root Bridge of Nongriat village is one of the most popular, and also the oldest known root bridge in Meghalaya. Trekking up to this unique architectural masterpiece is definitely one of the best travel experiences in North East India.
Visit the Floating Lake of Manipur
The Loktak Lake of Manipur – or the “Floating Lake” as it is popularly called – is the largest freshwater lake in India. The lake is best known for its phumdis – or masses of vegetation and soil – floating over the lake. The biggest of these phumdis is also home to the Keibul Lamjao National Park, the only floating national park in the world! This national park is known to be the shelter of the endangered Manipur brow-antlered deer. Sandra and Phubala are the most frequently visited phumdis by tourists since they have facilities for overnight stays and meals. Spending some time in this one-of-a-kind lake and getting to know its people and their culture is truly one of the best experiences in North East India one can have!
Experience the Hornbill Festival in Nagaland
Nagaland is home to 17 different tribes and each tribe has its distinct culture, traditions and food. But all these 17 tribes come together once a year during the Hornbill Festival near the capital city of Kohima. This 10-day long festival showcases different aspects of the Naga tribal life including their folk dances, traditional foods, clothing, jewellery and more. Throughout the 10 days, several events are organized all across the state and performances take place in the village of Kigwema near Kohima. This festival is a great excuse to get tipsy on rice beer, shop for traditional Naga souvenirs and learn about the state’s different cultures.
Witness the High Altitude Glacial Lake of Sikkim
While Sikkim is mostly known for its hilly town of Gangtok and the Nathu La mountain pass, it is much more beyond that. And one of the best experiences in North East India one can have is a visit to Gurudongmar Lake, one of the highest lakes in the world located at an altitude of 5,430 m (17,800 ft). Because of the lake’s dizzying altitude, special permits need to be obtained before visiting. The lake is sacred to Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs and is just breathtaking beyond words!
Try Spelunking in Meghalaya
For the uninitiated, spelunking, or caving, is the sport of exploring caves. Since most of the East Khasi Hills of Meghalaya is dotted with limestone caves, trying out spelunking while here can be one of the best experiences in North East India. There are several caves that can be explored throughout the hills, with various grades. The most popular of these are Krem Tynghen, Krem Umthloo, Krem Chympe and Krem Sim Thabbalong. Several adventure sports agencies across the state organize caving tours with all safety measures in place, for visitors to have one of the best experiences in North East India!
Hike the Blue Mountain of Mizoram
Phawngpui, also known as the Blue Mountain, is the highest peak in the state of Mizoram. This peak overlooks the mesmerising Chhimtuipui River and the rolling hills of Myanmar. Phawngpui is located at a height of 2,157 meters above sea level and the trek to the summit of the Blue Mountain begins from the villages of Sangau and Vonbuk. This region is also protected under the Phawngpui National Park and is home to a wide variety of rhododendron and orchids, as well as species such as the elusive Blythe’s tragopan, Hume’s pheasant, stump-tailed macaque and slow loris.
Visit the Bermuda Triangle of India in Arunachal Pradesh
The Lake of No Return, otherwise known as the Bermuda Triangle of India, is a lek situated at the border of Changlang District in Arunachal Pradesh and Myanmar. This lake can be viewed from the Pangsau Pass near the town of Nampong in Arunachal Pradesh. This mountain pass in the Patkai Range and the Lake of No Return have a lot of legends from the time of World War II. Several Allied aircrafts are reported to have crashed and disappeared into the lake, giving the lake its ominous name. Taking the historic Ledo Road to the treacherous mountain pass of Pangsau and soaking in the views of India’s Bermuda Triangle is no less than the best experience in North East India one can ever have!
Marvel at the Bas-Relief Structures in Tripura
The small town of Unakoti, located in the thick jungles of Jampui Hills, is known to be a revered Shaivite site. The name Unakoti literally means “one less than a crore” and is best known for its massive bas-relief structures cut across the rock in the forest. These structures are believed to be dating back between the 7th and 13th centuries. These rock-cut sculptures have several myths and legends associated with them and a walk amidst this UNESCO World Heritage Site is sure to be one of the best experiences in North East India!
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