Trekking across India’s Paradise Unexplored…..
The seven sister states are the contiguous states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura in the north eastern part of India. The location of the region is strategically important as it has international borders with Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Myanmar and Tibet. The area is endowed with forest wealth and is ideally suited to produce a whole range of plantation crops, spices, fruits and vegetables and flowers and herbs. The rich natural beauty, serenity and exotic flora and fauna of the area are invaluable resources for the development of eco-tourism. Total area of the region is about 2,55,168 Sq. Km. The Seven states comprise about 7 percent of India’s total land mass, whereas its share in the total population of India in mere 3.7 percent.
The region has a high concentration of tribal population. The states of Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland are mostly inhabited by a number of native tribes. Each tribe has its own distinct tradition of art, culture, dance, music and life styles. The numerous fairs and festivals celebrated by these communities and their friendly nature are irresistible attractions for the visitors. Although there is great ethnicity and religious diversity within the region of the seven states, there is lot of similarity in socio-political and economic spheres.
Assam occupies the lush lowlands of the Brahmaputra Valley and is the most densely populated. Arunachal Pradesh occupies the densely forested and sparsely populated foothills of the Himalayas, and is one of the major tourist attractions because of its Buddhist influence. Meghalaya, with its pine clad hills and lakes, is famous as the wettest region of the world. Nagaland has a rich war history that attracts tourists. The other three states -Manipur, known as the ‘land of jewels’, Mizoram and Tripura make up a fascinating area consisting of green valleys, lush hills with variety of flora and fauna. According to the 1971 census there are about 220 languages spoken in these states, belonging mainly to three language families, namely Indo Aryan, Sino-Tibetan and Austric. The Indo-Aryan represented mainly by Asamiya and Bangla, Austro-Asiatic represented mainly by Khasi and the Sino-Tibetan family of languages is represented by the Tibeto-Burman and the Siamese-Chinese sub families also there are languages of the Tea-Tribes. However the majority of languages spoken here belong to the former and the latter is represented by a few Thai languages like Khamyang, Khamti, Aiton, Phakyal and Turung. It is worthwhile to mention here that Ahom a language belonging to this Thai group has over the years merged with Asamiya.
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 166 separate tribes speaking a wide range of languages. Some groups have migrated over the centuries from places as far as South East Asia; they retain their cultural traditions and values but are beginning to adapt to contemporary lifestyles. Its jungles are dense, its rivers powerful and 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 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 region has borders with Myanmar Bhutan and Bangladesh.
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 on their modes of living and livelihood.
Each state is a traveler’s paradise, with picturesque hills and green meadows which shelters thousands 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.
Let’s see some of the states at a glance ~
The State of Awesome ASSAM ~ the ‘Gateway to North East India’ ~
Assam is the gateway to the north-east, a state known for its breath taking scenic beauty, rarest flora and fauna, lofty green hills, vast rolling plain, mighty waterways and a land of fairs and festivals. Known in the ancient lore as the kingdom of Pragjyotisha and Kamrupa, the capital having been Pragjyotishpura situated in or near Guwahati. It originally included in addition to modern Assam, parts of modern Bengal and modern Bangladesh. The name Assam is of recent origin. It came into use after the conquest of Assam by the Ahoms. It is also known that “Assam” is derived from the word “Asama” meaning uneven. Assam is almost separated from central India by Bangladesh. Nagaland, Manipur and Myanmar bound it in the east, west by West Bengal, north by Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh and south by Meghalaya, Bangladesh, Tripura and Mizoram.
Its geography is dominated by the mighty Brahmaputra, one of the great rivers of the world (length: 2900 kms), which not only has a fertile alluvial plain for growing rice, but also is famous for tea, the only male river in India. Straddling either banks of the Brahmaputra, Guwahati-said to be the legendary Pragjyotishpura or City of Eastern Light was said to have been founded by King Narakasur, who is mentioned in the Puranas and Epics. is a bustling, busy and crowded city. It is the commercial capital of the North-East. Guwahati are actually two words: Guwa meaning areca nut and Hat meaning market or market for areca nuts.
Flora & Fauna ~
Nature has ungrudgingly blessed Assam with an abundance of scenic grandeur, a wealth of rare and near-extinct wildlife. The flora consists of tropical rainforests, deciduous forests, riverine grasslands, bamboo orchards and numerous wetland ecosystems; many are now protected as national parks and reserved forests. It forms part of a global bio-diversity “hotspot”, out of 41 listed endangered species a considerable list of species are found in Assam, these includes Golden Langur, One-Horned Indian Rhino, Hoolock Gibbon, Pygmy Hog, Hispid Hare, White-Winged Wood Duck, Tiger, Clouded Leopard, Swamp Deer, Gangetic Dolphins, etc. Moreover, during season, flock of resident and migratory birds make Assam their natural habitat. Rainfall, one of the highest in the world (between 178 and 305 cms), is concentrated in 4 months, June to September.
Festivals & Fairs ~
Assam is a land of fairs and festivals. Most of the festivals celebrated in Assam have their roots in the diverse faith and belief of her inhabitants. They reflect the true spirit, tradition and life style of the people of Assam. The culture of Assam is a rich tapestry woven with multicolour yarns of distinct heritage of all the races that inhabit there. The harvest festivals and fairs like Magh or Bhugali Bihu(January Mid), the Brahmaputra Beach festival, the Jonbeel Mela Festival (January Mid), the Rongali Bihu (April Mid), the Raas Leela Festival, the Dol Utsav (April), Kongali or Kati Bihu (May) celebrated by people irrespective of caste, creed and religion throughout Assam. Other festivals are- Baishagu (celebrated by Bodo Kacharis during mid-April), Ali-Ai-Ligang (festival of the Mishing tribe, February-March), Baikho (Rabha tribe, spring season), Rongker (important festival of the Karbis, April), Rajini Gabra and Harni Gabra (Dimasa tribe), Bohaggiyo Bishu (spring festival of the Deoris), Ambubachi Mela (most important festival of the Kamakhya Temple is celebrated during mid-June every year. It is a ritual of austerities celebrated with “tantric” rites).
The most unique of the fairs is the Jonbeel Mela (Fair) which is following the customary barter system till date, being inaugurated by the Tiwa (Tribal) King in Assam’s Morigaon district. ‘Jonbeel Mela’ is a three-day community fair held the weekend of ‘Magh Bihu’ at a historic place known as ‘Dayang Belguri’ at ‘Jonbeel’. It is 5 km from Jagiroad in Morigaon district of Assam and 32 km from Guwahati. The ‘Jonbeel’ (Jon and Beel are Assamese terms for the Moon and a wetland respectively) is so called because a large natural water body is shaped like a crescent moon. Moreover, the people of Assam also celebrate Janmastmi (August), Durga Puja (October), Diwali, EID, Muharram, Me-Dam-Me-Phi, the birth and death anniversaries of the Vaishnavite saints Shrimanta Sankardeva and Shri Madhabdeva.
Places of Interest ~
Wildlife Sanctuaries & National Parks:
- Kaziranga National Park: Kaziranga, the world-renowned park lies in Golaghat and Nagaon district. It covers an area of 430 sq. kms. It is the home of the great Indian one- horned rhino, breeding place of pelican.
- Manas National Park: The only Tiger Reserve of Assam. Manas is one of the most magnificent National Parks of India. It is also a world heritage site.
- Nameri National Park (on the border of Arunachal and Assam).
- Dibru-Saikhowa National Park.
- Orang (Rajiv Gandhi) National Park.
- Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary
Guwahati the gateway to Assam and N.E. region & principal city of Assam hosts Kamakhya & Bhubhaneshwari temples; Basistha Ashram; Navagraha Temple; Assam State Zoo & Botanical Garden; Assam State Museum; Regional Science Centre; Planetarium; Purvottar Balaji Mandir; Srimanta Sankardev Kalakshetra; Umananda Temple; Shree Shyam Mandir, Gandhi Mandap, Iskon Temple, Dr. Bhupen Hazarika Samadhi Kshetra etc. Dispur is the capital of Assam
Diphu (centre of Karbi art and culture)
Sivasagar (seat of Ahom rule in Assam- Shivdol, Vishnudol, Devidol, Rang Ghar, Talatol Ghar, Joysagar, Ahom Museum, Gargaon, Kareng Ghar, Charaideo, etc.)
Suwalkuchi (famous for Assamese silk – Muga & Pat)
Chandubi Lake (a natural lagoon and picnic spot)
Barpeta (Vaishnava Monastery, Shrine of Shri Madhabdev)
Hajo (where three religions meet – Hinduism, Buddhism & Poa-Mecca, a mosque for Islam)
Jorhat and Dibrugarh (major tea producing areas)
Tezpur (temples, ancient ruins and monuments-Da Parbatia, Agnigarh, Bamuni Hills, Bhairavi and Mahabhairava temples and the twin tanks of Bar Pukhuri and Padum Pukhuri and Cole Park)
Digboi (one of the world’s oldest Oil refinery)
Margherita (the Oldest operational Coal mines of India, the Land of the Historic Stilwell Road of the fame of World War II, India’s only Coal Museum, a Prime business area of the British Regime and a place of the highest concentration of the Legendary Tribes of Assam)
Majuli (largest river island of the world, center of Vaishnava culture. There are many Satras, which are regarded as the main centers for Assamese art, music, dance, drama, etc.)
Jatinga (famous for the bird suicide phenomenon near Haflong)
Haflong (only hill station in Assam)
Bhalukpong (famous for scenic beauty, picnic and angling spot)
Bordowa (birth place of Shri Srimanta Sankardeva, famous Vaishnavite reformer of Assam)
Meghalaya, the ‘Abode of clouds’ has never failed to thrill its visitors. From the Majestic landscapes, the pleasant weather, the Music, the Landmark Monuments, Cherrapunji – ‘the wettest place on Earth’, Mawlynnlong – ‘Asia’s cleanest village’ to the Living Root Bridges are a part of this Paradise and one is surely going to mark his visit to Meghalaya in his memory book forever! The city of Shillong in Meghalaya is home to many churches and India’s only glass mosque. Other places of tourist interest in Shillong are Umiam Lake, Elephant Falls, Shillong Peak, Butterfly Museum, Air Force Museum, Golf Course, Don Bosco Museum, Ward’s lake and many more.
Just about 90 kms from Shillong city is Cherrapunji – ‘the Rainiest Place on Planet Earth’ where the clouds cease to clear the sky and drops of rains continue to fall on your windshield in the majestic three (3) hour drive from Shillong to Cherrapunji. The picturesque landscape on your way will surely make you fall in love with this drive across the misty hills and you will surely make your mind to visit Cherrapunji again!
Cherrapunji is located in the East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya and is home to five of the most famous waterfalls of the State that has now turned into favorite tourist destinations. One noteworthy among these list of five is the Nohkalikai Falls, which is also India’s tallest plunge Waterfall standing tall at a height of 1115 feet (340 meters). As per the Khasi folklore an interesting story exists behind this waterfall’s name. The Nongriat Village at Cherrapunji is renowned across the World for the famous Umshiang Double Decker Living Root Bridge. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Double Decker Living Root Bridge is a unique sight to behold and aptly referred to as by the locals as the Eight Wonder of the Modern World! Our Double Decker Living Root Bridge Trail Trek takes you on an adventurous journey across the flight of 3500 stairs to reach the Umshiang Double Decker Living Root Bridge at Nongriat Village. Coupled along with a night halt at the Nongriat Village, you get to experience ecotourism at its best by sharing a day in the life of the Khasi locals of Meghalaya at Nongriat. The Double Decker Living Root Bridge Trail Trek also allows you to sight the Single Decker Living Root Bridges at Tyrna Village, the Longest Living Root Bridge at Pynursla and the Single Decker Living Root Bridge at the Cleanest Village of Asia i.e. Mawlynnong Village.
Mawphlang the site of one of the Khasi Hills sacred groves.In this tour, you will also experience a tour of Shillong and visit the places of tourist interest of the likes of churches, mosque, museums, falls and golf clubs. Visit Cherrapunji – the Wettest place on planet Earth and visit the living root bridges and see India’s tallest plunge waterfall ‘the Nohkalikai Falls’. Visit Mawlynnong – Asia’s cleanest Village and witness Ecotourism at Mawlynnong and witness Khasi Culture at Mawphlang –
The destinations covered are:
Shillong (the Scotland of the East)
Cherrapunjee (the Rainiest Place on planet Earth and home to Double Decker Living Root Bridge)
Pynursla (Longest Living Root Bridge)
Mawlynnong (Asia’s Cleanest Village)
Mawphlang (Khasi Hills Sacred Groves)
Dawki (the Border of India and Bangladesh)
Jungleideas welcomes you to the State of Meghalaya ~ ‘the Abode of Clouds’ to experience Exotic trekking tours, the Ones mentioned below: