Ecotourism is a conscious and responsible travel to natural areas in order to enjoy and appreciate nature that promotes conservation, has a low visitor impact and provides for a beneficially active social-economic involvement of local people. Ecotourism involves travelling to relatively undisturbed natural areas with the specific object of studying admiring and enjoying the scenery and its wild plants and animals, as well as enjoying the exciting cultural aspects (both of the past and present) found in the areas of ecotourism. The concept of ecotourism is booming up as the fastest growing sector in international tourism. 

Ecotourism works as a change agent. Such tourism is likely to have the greatest socio-cultural impact on small, isolated communities which may themselves be one of the tourist attractions (Pearce, 1994). The potential benefit of such tourism not only improves the socio economic status but also gives a sense of pride to the inhabitants of the area under operation. Well planned and managed ecotourism can serve as an ecologically, economically and culturally viable alternative to the utilization of natural resources by non-sustainable, consumptive methods (Whelan, T. 1991).

Since time immemorial the North Eastern Region of India is inhabited by both tribal and non-tribal community living harmoniously with their unique cultural and traditional values. The warm hospitality of the people and their mouth-watering ethnic delicacies always offer a warm welcome to any outsider. The awesome landscape of this area painted with the lush green tea gardens along the road, the hillocks, the bountiful flora and fauna, the dark green forest, the streams, enchanting blue hills, flowing rivers, the mysterious clouds that bring rain to the valley, the rich bouquet of art and cultures of the different community etc. will never fail to beckon tourists to this beautiful area throughout the year. This valley has resources immersed in it that can enthral an eco tourist. It’s a futile attempt to narrate the beauty of the North East India in a short paragraph because this region is a nature’s paradise and one can certainly cherish the beauty of God’s creation in this heavenly abode.

1| The Singpho Eco Lodge and Faneng Village, Margherita, the State of Assam, India

Assam Eco tourism homestay and Cottages, Ecotourism in North East India, Tour of Tribes in North East India, Tribes and Festivals of Assam
The Beautiful Singpho Eco Lodge at Margherita

The Singphos are an important tribe inhabiting the North East residing in the Tinsukia district of Assam and Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh. The Singphos are divided into four major groups namely Numhpuk Hkawng, Diyun Hkawng, Tieng Hkawng and Turung Hkawng. ‘Hkawng’ means an area and each of these groups is named after a local river. The word ‘Singpho’ literally means ‘man’ and is derived from the Tibetian term ‘sin-po’ which means man of shrewed.

The Singpho’s are mostly an agrarian community and their economy is focussed on cultivation of Paddy, tea and kitchen gardens. They are a culturally rich community with ‘Shapawng Yawng Manau Poi’ being the major festival celebrated by the Singphos. During this festival the Singpho youths in their traditional wardrobe display colourful dances and the community displays a wide variety of traditional cuisines and liqour. 

With eagerness of spreading knowledge of their culture around the world a group of Singho youths formed the Singpho Community based Ecotourism socitey (SCES) in 2006. With an aim to showcase the culture of their community while preserving it too they built the Singpho Ecolodge at Inthong village 7 kilometers from Margherita under Dehing Patkai belt of Tinsukia district in Assam. A long driveway through tea bushes lead to the thatched building built along the lines of a traditional Singpho house on the slits. This lodge has eleven spacious double bedrooms, one seperate kitchen, on large dining hall which follows a low seating pattern where guests are served an elaborate, yet organic and eco-friendly Singpho dinner that consists of delicacies such as rice steamed in bamboo sticks, spicy tomato chutney, fresh eggplant, greens and potato preparations and yam soup.

Very close to this place is the Buddhist monastery in the village established in the year 1891. This place of worship has retained its rustic touch. Any visitor to this spot will instantly feel the solace that is so typical of the village. A walk along the village road that will unfold the way of living of the Singpho community is enough to lift the depressed soul.

For your visit to the Singpho Eco Lodge tell us: Jungleideas

2| The Tai Phake Ecotourism Camp, Naharkatia, the State of Assam, India

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Eco Cottages at the Tai Phake Ecotourism Camp

India North East has a vast Tourism potential and this can be seen once you travel across the remote places of the region. One perfect example of this is the Tai Phake Ecotourism Camp at Tipam near Dibrugarh, Assam. The state of Assam is the pride of the North East. A land of majestic landscapes and warm hearted people the beauty of this state can be quoted from the words of Swami Vivekananda “next only to Kashmir, Assam is the most beautiful place in India.”

It’s good to know that locals have realized the tourism potential of the state and are now initiating the up-liftment of eco-tourism sector in the state. The Tai-Phake community of Tipam Village without any form of help from the government has transformed the remote and jungle village into a spot of attraction for home and foreign tourists. Tipam, one of the seven Tai-Phake villages in Dibrugarh district situated Naharkatia has a large Buddha temple, Trekking, Fishing and River Boating facilities. Stay for tourists is arranged at the traditional Bamboo Cottages at the village which the villagers have constructed. There are provisions to accommodate a total of sixteen guests at the village. During their stay tourists are offered traditional cuisine that is served by the women folk of the village.

To reach the village you need to cross the dense forests of the Dehing Patai Wildlife Sanctuary. If you are lucky you can spot majestic deer species on your way. At the Tai Phake Eco Camp modern amenities are hard to find which is covered up by the love of the village folks. There are no security problems for the tourists as the villager’s themselves provide security to them. It would be worth mentioning that without visiting the village it cannot be imagined what is being done by these poor and remote villagers for the upliftment of ecotourism in the state.

For your visit to the Tai Phake Ecotourism Camp tell us: Jungleideas

3| Bedazzled Bird watching at Chandubi Eco Camp and the Saraighat Homestay, Guwahati, the State of Assam, India

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Experience Bedazzled Bird Watching at Chandubi Lake

The State of Assam is the central state in the North-East Region of India and serves as the gateway to North East India and is a jewel in the crown of the Seven Sister States. The land of red river, blue hills & lush green tea gardens, Assam comprises of three main geographical areas: the Brahmaputra Valley, the Barak Valley and the intervening Karbi Plateau and North Cachar Hills. Dispur is the capital of Assam and the largest city of the state is Guwahati, which is also one of the fastest growing cities of the world. Famous for its freshening world class tea, the Muga (Golden) and Eri (Ahimsa) silk, Natural resources like Coal, Petroleum products and minerals, Assam can truly be described as a state bestowed with breath-taking natural beauty, vast reserves of natural resources and a rich bio diversity. Assam is also home to the endangered one horned rhino species and Kaziranga National Park is home to two-third of this species in the world. The river Brahmaputra (the only male river in India) flow across the heart of the state and is a lifeline to the people of Assam just as Nile is to Egypt. The Brahmaputra River in Assam is also host to the World’s largest inhabited river island ‘Majuli’ and the World’s smallest inhabited river island ‘Umananda’. The second hottest pepper in the world, the ‘Bhut Jolokia’ is also native to Assam and is grown extensively by the village folks across the State.

In addition to the various tourist spots and places of historical and cultural interest, the state of Assam is a perfect destination for bird watching. During the winters migratory birds from across the planet come to the serene water bodies across the National Parks and Lakes of Assam. National Parks like Manas and Nameri are excellent spots for bird watching where ornithologists flock in many to study the species of birds. The state is also home to the famous ‘Jatinga Valley’ in Haflong where every year during the month of October birds come and commit what people call as mass suicide.

When in Guwahati, the perfect location to enjoy bird watching is the Chandubi Lake. A lake that is crystal clear at certain places and covered in other places with thick growth of the ‘arali’ grass that keeps changing its location is all set to change a nondescript area inhabited by Rabha community. Not too far from the bustling capital city of Guwahati, this place is trying its best to emerge as one of the hottest eco-tourism spots in the entire Northeast while providing the city dwellers with a rejuvenating retreat. This lake was created by the devastating earthquake of 1897. It is around 65 Km from Guwahati city. The lake is at the base of Garo hills bordering Assam and Meghalaya. The place is surrounded by deep forests, tea gardens and small and discrete villages and is an ideal place for a day out and picnic. Efforts have been put by the local people at Chandubi towards the development of eco-tourism near the lake.

For your visit to the Chandubi Eco Camp tell us: Jungleideas

4| Wildlife Wilderness at Manas National Park, Manas-Maozigendri Ecotourism Society, the State of Assam, India

Manas Ecocamp
Homestay Cottages at the National Park of Manas

The State of Assam is home to five (5) of the National Parks of India. These national parks are home to the famous and endangered one horned rhinoceros of Assam, the big four cat species, a variety of primates, herds of elephants, deers, various species of birds, etc. The National Park of Manas in Assam is famous for its population of tigers, rhinos, hillock gibbons, langurs, etc. The National Park is situated at a distance of 176 kms from Guwahati – the commercial capital of Assam.

To protect the rich diversity of Manas, the area has been declared a Wildlife Sanctuary and a National Park, it is both a Project Tiger, Elephant and Rhino Reserve, and since 1985 it is inscribed in the List of the World Heritage. The Protected Area supports 22 scheduled species, and, according to World Conservation Monitoring Center, it is the richest in species of all Indian wildlife areas.

The Manas Maozigendri Jungle camp is a small setup with four cottages and a dining cum commons area in ethnic style architecture. In the near-by village two guesthouses can accommodate 20 guests and for those who prefer immediate insight into a Bodo household homestay facilities are available.

The project currently engages a pool of 31 local people as staff (service, housekeeping, gardening, and maintenance) and guides. Whenever tourists visit, the members of this staff pool independently manage their schedule according to their vacancy. This extended staff pool is an excellent model to guarantee best service quality to the customers’ 24/7.The local cuisine uses rice and fresh vegetables. Pork, chicken and fish are common, as the Bodos traditionally are non-vegetarians. The favourite drink of the Bodo’s is a rice-wine named ‘Zu Mai’.

The Bodo culture is a rich blend of colours, sounds and dances. The growing of silkworms is common and from young age on girls are educated in the weaving of the colourful cloths that later become ‘dokhonas’ and shawls, the traditional customer. Almost every household owns a loom and handing over a shawl or a ‘dokhona’ to a visitor is an honour. Moreover, the Bodo are expert craftsmen in Bamboo.

The conservation volunteers of the Manas-Maozigendri Ecotourism Society (MMES) daily go out for patrolling in the National Park and since poaching activities and the extraction of timber have decreased significantly. The entry points to the National Park are permanently guarded, and park management activities like controlled burning of grassland habitats are carried out.

For your visit to the Manas Maozingenri Eco Camp tell us: Jungleideas

5| Eco Stay at the World’s Largest Inhabited River Island, Majuli, the State of Assam, India

Le Maision Majuli
The Le Maison De Ananda at Majuli. Source: natgeotraveller.in

The State of Assam, in addition to being bestowed with wonders of Nature is also rich in culture and heritage. From being the home to the fierce ‘Ahom Dynasty of Kings’ who were the only ones to beat the Mughals at the fierce ‘Battle of Saraighat’, it is also the land of the famous ‘Muga’ (Golden) and the ‘Eri’ (Ahimsa) silk. These silk are indigenous to Assam and the originals cannot be found anywhere in the world as the silk wormed survive only in the conditions of Assam. In addition, the world’s largest inhabited river island ‘Majuli’ and the world smallest inhabited river island ‘Umananda’ have made Assam their home.

The island of Majuli, has a very rich heritage and has been the abode of Assamese Vaishnavite culture with tremendous option for spiritual and eco-tourism. This island has been the cultural capital and cradle of Assamese civilization for the past five hundred years. The ‘Satras’ of Majuli preserve antiques like weapons, utensils, jewellery and other items of cultural significance. The handloom work of the tribal people of Majuli mostly the Mishings are renowned internationally. Although handloom is a major occupation of the people of Majuli it is mostly a non-commercial occupation. Weaving is exquisite and intricate with the use of a variety of colours and textures of cotton and silk, especially the Muga Silk. Fishing, dairying, pottery, boat making and mask making are the other important economic activities of this island.

At Majuli, although there are many options of stay with the locals one noteworthy accommodation is that of La Maison de Ananda. Located in the by-lane of a small village in India’s largest river island, Majuli, staying in the eco-friendly property of La Maison de Ananda is definitely the best way to experience local culture and hospitality. Constructed by a French couple, Jim Chauvin and Maka Korbaa in 2005, it is now looked after by the head caretaker Monjit Risong, who lives next door with his family, and a small, affable staff. The other half of the eco-friendly property across the lane, built a few years later and renovated last year, is the contribution of an Englishman, Ian McCarthy. The cottages and rooms (except for one concrete cottage) have all been built of bamboo and stand on stilts, replicating the traditional houses of the local Mishing community. The in-house restaurant serves some delicious Assamese and Mishing cuisine and even a glass of the local rice brew, apong, on request. While here, visit the Neo-Vaishnavite monasteries to learn about Assamese culture, opt for birdwatching or a boat ride in Luit Ghat or rent a cycle to make your way towards small streams that lie across paddy fields and make for perfect sunset spots. Monjit gladly guides guests to local festivals and around Mishing villages on request, showing you sides of the island that not many travellers have seen.

For your visit to the Le Maison de Ananda tell us: Jungleideas

6| Homestay at Khasi Hills Sacred Groves, Mawphlang, the State of Meghalaya, India

Mawphlang Homestay
The Maple Pine Farm Homestay. Source: natgeotraveller.in

The State of Meghalaya (meaning abode of the clouds) has never failed to thrill its visitor’s. From pleasant weather, beautiful landscapes, majestic waterfalls and breath-taking scenery, a visit to Meghalaya will surely fill your heart with solace. Shillong aka ‘the Scotland of the East’ and ‘India’s Rock Capital’ is the capital of state of Meghalaya where you see a blend of the cultural past and modern civilization. Shillong is also the District Headquarters of East Khasi Hills District and is situated at an altitude of 1,496 metres above sea level.

Meghalaya’s main ethnic communities, each having its own distinctive customs and cultural traditions are the Khasis (of Mon-Khmer ancestry), the Garos (of Tibeto-Burman origin) and the Jaintias said to be from South East Asia. The common trait binding all three communities is its matrilineal system in which the family linage is taken from the mother’s side. The people of Meghalaya are known to be hospitable, cheerful and friendly.

The State of Meghalaya is also home to the ‘Wettest place on Planet Earth – Cherrapunjee’. Cherrapunjee records the maximum rainfall anywhere in the world. The Majestic ‘Nohkalikai’ waterfall at Cherrapunji is the tallest plunge waterfall in India. The living root bridges at Cherrapunjee is also unique to the place that thrills most visitors visiting the place.

Mawphlang is a village in the East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya state in north-eastern India, 25 kilometers from Shillong. The word ‘maw’ means ‘stone’, ‘maw phlang’ means ‘grassy stone’, and is one of many settlements in the Khasi hills named after monoliths. Mawphlang is the site of one of the Khasi Hills sacred groves. Khasi heritage village- located in the Mawphlang district is considered to be the hub of Khasi culture.

Maple Pine Farm is a beautiful self-sustained farmhouse in Mawphlang, a village that lies a half-hour drive away from Shillong. The family of James Perry, a Canadian who’s spent most of his life in Northeast India, lives in the same property and there are log cabins, which he’s built with his own hands, available for guests. The property is completely off-grid, with electricity harnessed through solar panels and windmills, and with limited or no phone and internet connectivity at most times. It lies encircled by a stream and you can sit outside for hours watching the grazing horses, fluttering butterflies and the locals go about their daily lives. If you enjoy walking, you’re in for a treat as the Sacred Grove, one of the most beautiful forests, lies a short hike away.

For your visit to the Maple Pine Farm Homestay tell us: Jungleideas

7| Homestay at Asia’s cleanest Village, Mawlynnong, the State of Meghalaya, India

mawlynlong

The State of Meghalaya (meaning abode of the clouds) has never failed to thrill its visitor’s. From pleasant weather, beautiful landscapes, majestic waterfalls and breath-taking scenery, a visit to Meghalaya will surely fill your heart with solace. Shillong aka ‘the Scotland of the East’ and ‘India’s Rock Capital’ is the capital of state of Meghalaya where you see a blend of the cultural past and modern civilization. Shillong is also the District Headquarters of East Khasi Hills District and is situated at an altitude of 1,496 metres above sea level. The capital city has a bracing climate throughout the year. This city has been the seat of Government since the consolidation of the British administration in this part of India more than a century ago.

Meghalaya’s main ethnic communities, each having its own distinctive customs and cultural traditions are the Khasis (of Mon-Khmer ancestry), the Garos (of Tibeto-Burman origin) and the Jaintias said to be from South East Asia. The common trait binding all three communities is its matrilineal system in which the family linage is taken from the mother’s side. The people of Meghalaya are known to be hospitable, cheerful and friendly.

The State of Meghalaya is also home to the ‘Wettest place on Planet Earth – Cherrapunjee’. Cherrapunjee records the maximum rainfall anywhere in the world. The Majestic ‘Nohkalikai’ waterfall at Cherrapunji is the tallest plunge waterfall in India. The living root bridges at Cherrapunjee is also unique to the place that thrills most visitors visiting the place.

Mawlynnong (located 90 km from Shillong, along the India-Bangladesh border) is a village in the East Khasi Hills district of the Meghalaya state, India. Mawlynnong is famous for its matrilineal society as well as having been dubbed Asia’s cleanest village. At Mawlynnong there are about 95 households. A striking feature of this small village is that the literacy rate is 100%. Agriculture is the chief occupation of the local population, with betel nut being the main crop. The people residing in the community are mostly Khasi people.

Mawlynnong is known for its cleanliness. The waste is collected in the dustbins made of bamboo, directed to a pit and then used as manure. The travel magazine Discover India declared the village as the cleanest in Asia in 2003, and the cleanest in India in 2005. The phrase has since caught on. Moasunep Kichu’s documentary on the village, for instance, is called Asia’s Cleanest Village. (Wikipedia, 2015)

For your visit to the Asia’s Cleanest Village at Mawlynnong tell us: Jungleideas

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