‘Paradise Unexplored’ is how India describes its eastern most region, the North East India. And very true to this description, North East India is a land of breathtaking landscapes unadulterated by the rapid globalization of the world economy. The region comprises of seven Indian states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Agartala also known as the ‘Seven Sister States’.
With each of these states having more than 60% of their area under forest cover North East India comprises of a wide variety of Flora, Fauna and Avifauna. The region is the second largest hotspot (Indo-Burma) in the world having 8,000 of the total 15,000 species of flowering plants in India. There are 850 species of birds in the region – the like of white-winged wood duck, Great Indian Hornbill, Jungle-fowl, Pheasant, Siberian Crane, Indian Gray Hornbill, etc. The diversities of the animal kingdom includes the like of the famous One Horned Rhinoceros, clouded Leopards, Elephants, the Royal Bengal Tiger, Asian Black Bear, Indian Bison, Swamp Deer, Barking Deer, Capped Langur, Pygmy Hog, Pig tailed Macaque, Hollock Gibbon, etc.
North East India is home to over 200 tribes. Each tribal community have their own distinct culture and traditions. They speak different languages, have different religious practices, wear clothes with distinct patterns and also have different ways of celebrating. These celebrations form a part of their festivals where these communities performs colorful dances, showcase their traditional cuisines and source of livelihood like their agrarian practices and their handlooms and handicrafts.
The North East of India is a true frontier region. Described as India’s Paradise Unexplored ~ North East India has over 2000 km of border with Bhutan, China, Myanmar and Bangladesh and is connected to the rest of India by a narrow 20 km wide corridor of land. India’s North East is one of the most ethically and linguistically diverse regions in Asia with each state having its own distinct cultures and traditions.
Nestled in the Eastern Himalayas, North East India is a region abundant in natural beauty. Wildlife, Flora and Fauna and its colorful people make North East India one of the must visit places in India. North East India is popularly known as “Seven sisters and one brother” comprising of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura with the brother State of Sikkim. For those who yearn for adventure and excitement there are mystique and romance in exploring wildlife in its true forms in their natural habitat, experiencing gushing streams and waterfalls, picturesque mountain ranges – all fostered by Mother Nature. North East India is a perfect holiday one could expect away from the crowd straight into the lap of nature.
North East India is ethnically distinct from the rest of India. In fact, within the region itself, there is ethnic as well as religious diversity with a great deal of interdependence among each other. The rugged landscapes, impenetrable forests and diverse culture of North East India lure both eco tourists and the adventurous. The State of Assam is famous for its vast tea gardens. Assam is also the largest grower of tea in the World and its known for its unique Assam tea. Assam is also heavily forested and has abundant rainfall during the monsoons. It is home to the famous Kaziranga National Park and the mighty River Brahmaputra. The one horned Rhinoceros is the native of the region and also has varied fauna species of the likes of tigers, elephants and Asiatic wild water buffaloes to name a few.
Geography of North East India
North East India is landlocked and shares a long stretch of its boundary with neighboring countries of Nepal, China, Bhutan, Burma and Bangladesh. The Eastern Himalayan region forms the northern part and plains of Brahmaputra form a central part of this region. Assam runs along both sides of the river Brahmaputra all the way up to extreme north east. It connects with India through a narrow passage known as Siliguri Corridor in West Bengal and thus is the mainland to other sister states of North East India. Sikkim is sandwiched between Nepal and Bhutan and is connected to other states through West Bengal.
Climate of North East India
North East India has a predominantly humid subtropical climate with humid summers, heavy monsoons and mild winters. Mawsynram in Meghalaya is credited as the wettest place on planet Earth. This region including and further down south western coast of India has some of the last remaining rain forests in this subcontinent. The States of Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim have cold, snowy winters and mild summers.
History of North East India
At the time of India’s independence in 1947, the complete region was only three States of Assam, Manipur and Tripura. Various independence movements led to formation of other States later on. In 1963, Nagaland was formed as a separate state and Meghalaya was formed in 1972 and was later declared as a state in 1987. The same year Arunachal Pradesh was formed. Shillong was the capital of Assam and after the formation of Meghalaya, Shillong assumed the status of Meghalaya’s capital and Dispur (Guwahati) became the capital of Assam.
From times immemorial, India’s North East has been the meeting point of many communities, faiths and cultures. A place renowned for its magical beauty and bewildering diversity, North East India is the home for more than 200 separate tribes speaking a wide range of dialects. Some groups have migrated over the centuries from places as far as Southeast Asia; they retain their cultural traditions and values but are beginning to adapt to contemporary lifestyles. The jungles and forests of North East are dense, its rivers powerful, rain and thunderstorms sweep across the hills, valleys and plains during the annual monsoons.
The lushness of its landscape, the range of communities and geographical and ecological diversity makes the North East India quite different from other parts of the subcontinent. In winters, mist carpets the valleys but swirls around the traveler in hills during summer rains, thus creating an enchanting and romantic atmosphere.
The festivals and celebrations in the North-Eastern States of India are a colorful reflection of the people and their lives. Throughout the year, different people celebrate festivals with lot of fanfare in different ways, most of them centering around their modes of living and livelihood mostly related to their agrarian practices.
Each state is a traveler’s paradise, with picturesque hills and green meadows which shelters thousand of species of flora and fauna. In addition, the states provide scope for angling, boating, rafting, trekking and hiking. Besides, there are a number of wild life sanctuaries and national parks where rare animals, birds and plants which will surely provide fascinating insight to the visitors.
Some facts about the States of North East India ~
Arunachal Pradesh: Receives the first sunlight in India, hence called the ‘Land of Rising Sun’. Just like sunset in Kanyakumari, sunrise in Arunachal is wonderful. It shares international borders with China, Bhutan & Myanmar. The Tawang Monestary is the Second Largest Monastery in the World and the Largest in India.
Assam: It has the largest river island in the world ‘Majuli’. It is home to the largest density of endangered One horned Rhinoceros population in the world. Assam is also the birthplace of Indian oil industry in Digboi and provides largest Tea production in the world. Assam is also home to India’s only Coal Museum. The State hosts the only market where Barter Trade (sale in exchange of goods) is practiced at the Jonbeel Mela. Mayong is the Magic capital of India and also home to the longest stone inscription in Asia that measures 3.95 metres. The Umananda island is the smallest inhabited river island in the world.
Nagaland: Apart from its diverese culture and the famous ‘Horn Bill Festival’, Nagaland has contributed largely to the defence sector of our Nation. And not to forget, the legendary footballer Dr. Talimeran Ao hails from Nagaland.
Meghalaya: Has world’s highest rainfall in Cherrapunji and Mawsynram, its beauty is called Scotland of the East. Shillong golf link is the 2nd largest natural golf course in Asia. Shillong is also the rock capital of India. Mawlynnong was awarded the cleanest village in Asia. The Nohkalikai Falls at Cherrapunji is the tallest plunge waterfall in India and Shillong has India’s only Glass mosque the Madina Masjid.
Tripura: Most literate state in India beating Kerala
Mizoram: Third most literate state in India after Kerala. The only place in India, where the tradition of ‘Nghah lou dawr’ meaning “Shops without attendants” are common along the highways that sell vegetables and fruits.
Manipur: Its has a huge contribution to the nation in the field of Sports. Likes of boxing world champion M C Mary Kom and many national level players in different sports. Kebul Lamjao National Park is the only floating park in the World.
Sikkim: It is blessed with natural beauty all year around with snow peaked mountains and lush green mountain cover. Also, it hosts the world’s highest altitude ATM
Statutory Requirements for travel to North East India ~
Due to their strategic geographical locations, the States of Manipur, Nagaland, Sikkim, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh require specific travel permits. These are classified as restricted zone. The restriction to travel is not applicable to the States of Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura.
Foreign Tourists ~
All foreign tourists intending to visit above stated restricted states (except Nagaland) need to acquire Restricted Area Permit/Protected Area Permit (PAP) which comes at a price. For Nagaland foreign tourists need to report the nearest Police Station within 24 hours of arrival at the State. A minimum of two or more people can travel together to these States. These permits can be arranged from various offices i.e. Indian Missions abroad, Foreign Regional Registration Offices (FRRO) at New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata, Chief Immigration Officer, Ministry of Home Affairs Government of India, New Delhi and Home Commissioner, Government of various States. We at Jungleideas can assist to arrange for your PAP for your visit to these States.
Domestic Tourists ~
Indian residents who wish to visit these restricted States need to acquire an Inner Line Permit (ILP). Inner Line Permit can be obtained from the Secretary (Political) or from the Deputy Commissioners of various districts as well as from some selected officers of the government in some cities and towns. ILP for Arunachal Pradesh can be obtained online at arunachalilp.com.
Some Interesting & Unique facts about three (3) of the States of North East India are:
1| the State of Arunachal Pradesh, Incredible India:
- Receives the first sunlight in India, hence called the ‘Land of Rising Sun’. Just like sunset in Kanyakumari, sunrise in Arunachal is wonderful view to witness.
- It shares international borders with China, Bhutan & Myanmar.
- The Tawang Monestary at Tawang in Arunachal is the Second Largest Buddhist Monastery in the World and the Largest in India.
- It has the maximum number of regional languages in India
- The Pangsau Pass is located at the Indo Burma Border near Arunachal Pradesh and is also known as the ‘Hell’s Pass’. The Historic Stilwell Road runs through the Pangsau Pass.
- The Namdapha National Park is the third largest National Park in India and is home to the big four cat species – Snow leopards, Clouded leopards, Common leopards and Tigers. The Majestic Hornbill Species is also sure to be spotted here.
2| the State of Assam, Incredible India:
- It has the largest inhabited river island in the world ‘Majuli’ on the mighty Brahmaputra River.
- It is home to the largest density of endangered one horned Rhinoceros population in the world at the ‘National Park of Kaziranga’.
- Assam is also the birthplace of Indian Oil industry in Digboi and the Oldest operational Oil Well in the World.
- Assam provides the largest tea production in the world.
- Assam is also home to India’s only Coal Museum and one of the oldest coal mines in India.
- Assam was a prime spot for the Allies in crushing the Japanese forces during World War II and the Historic Stilwell Road originates at Ledo in Assam.
- The three famous Silks of the World ‘Muga’ (Golden), the ‘Pat’ (White) and the Warm ‘Eri’ is indigenous to Assam.
- The ‘Kamakhya’ Temple is a revered ‘Shakti Peetha’ and is a famous Tourist attraction in the State.
- The ‘Rang Ghar’ at Sivasagar is the first Amphitheater of Asia.
- The State hosts the only market where Barter Trade (sale in exchange of goods) is practiced at the ‘Jonbeel Mela’ Festival.
- ‘Mayong’ is the Magic capital of India and also home to the longest stone inscription in Asia that measures 3.95 meters.
- The ‘Umananda’ island is the Smallest inhabited river island in the world on the mighty Brahmaputra.
3| the State of Meghalaya, Incredible India!
- Meghalaya has the World’s highest rainfall at Cherrapunji and Masynram.
- ‘Meghalaya’ means ‘Abode of the Clouds’ and the Capital City of Shillong is called the ‘Scotland of the East’.
- Shillong Golf link is the 2nd largest natural golf course in Asia. Shillong is also the Rock capital of India.
- The Village of Mawlynnong was awarded the cleanest village in Asia.
- The Living Root Bridges of Cherrapunji are a well known tourist attraction of the State.
- The ‘Nohkalikai’ Falls at Cherrapunji is the tallest plunge waterfall in India.
- The city of Shillong has India’s only Glass mosque the ‘Madina Masjid’.
- The State of Meghalaya is the only State in India where the custom of Matrilineal society is practiced.
- The ‘Bara Bazaar’ is one of the oldest and the largest marketplaces in North East India where most of the Shopkeepers and Traders are women.
- Bamboo is found in abundance in Meghalaya and the extrinsic bamboo crafts of Meghalaya are renowned around the World.
- Mawphlang is a famous site of the Khasi Hills Sacred Groves and is the hub of Khasi Culture in Meghalaya
Jungleideas welcomes you to India’s North East to witness the Grandeur of the States of Arunachal, Assam and Meghalaya, Incredible India!