North East India in your mind?
The very name North East India gives a different perception to the minds of the mainland people. It is viewed as a detached land, full of insurgency issues, with no developmental activities and no adequate facilities. This mindset has played a major role which has been one of the main reasons for less inflow of tourists to this region. In this article I will take you through a rough guide to North East India.
For many, North East is somewhere at the remotest corner of the world which is yet to see the light of the day. Many think that people live here amidst jungles, eat dogs and snakes and live in Nepal. Yes for some of you it might be ridiculous when I say so but it is a fact that many people outside this region are very much ignorant of this part of the country. Let alone the uneducated lot but many among the educated ones are fairly oblivious of the true nature of North East. Even now, when I tell them that I hail from Assam, with a muddled expression they again ask me “oh Nepal?” With that interrogation, I indulge myself in explaining them about the basic geography of our country and Nepal of course..
A change in the scenario is inevitable towards the region with the emergence of new informative technology such as social media. A lot has been written and talked about it lately which has drawn little attention towards it. Though the region stands still neglected from the mainstream media, but it has lately caught eyeballs to a measurable extent in terms of a potential destination. Besides domestic tourist, foreign tourist inflow into Northeastern States has increased by 27.9% in 2013 as against a nominal rise in 2011 and 2012.
Slowly people are getting attracted towards the region as one of the best places to spend a holiday. Even some of the Bollywood films have been shot in this region and this has been a focal consideration for people to opt for it as a holiday destination. And I am sure of the fact that those who have visited this place, would not say no to a second visit. I say this from my own experience as many of my clients from Mumbai had taken up packages for North East and till date not a single grumble has come to me. Of course there are many restrictions and constraints as far as accommodation and food is concern in certain places, but the overall experiences are taken care of so precisely and hassle free that those things become negligible.
Why North East India?
Well, I see a long list why North East is regarded as one of the eye catchers for a potential destination. This is not only because of the natural abundance of this place which is thought to be the driving force but also because this region offers a wide range of resources to deal with.
The eight states that the North East is comprised of is a hub of extremely endowed areas that echo its richness and diversity in a single platter. Here is the ultimate guide to North East India.
The cultural hub
Many indigenous tribes live in harmony here in the North Eastern states under one roof that speak of unity in diversity in its true sense. Each state comprises of a number of tribes that have different languages, different cultures, different rituals and different dress codes. Each tribe is distinct from the other and stands out in its originality. For instance, Nagaland is inhabited by 16 tribes and all are distinct from one another. Though they share the same state their languages are so different that they use a common language (Nagamese) to converse among themselves.
Similarly, all other states are bestowed with the diversity of its people which definitely makes this region as one of the culturally rich regions in the country and also in the world. The world famous HORNBILL FESTIVAL is one of its kind which attracts a lot number of travellers around the globe. This festival is a cultural amalgamation of all the tribes of Nagaland that has been able to hold an important position in the world list.
Some of the famous tribes from the region are the Khasi, the Garo, the Jayantia from the state of Meghalaya; the Mishing, the karbi, The Dimasa, the Boro, the Ahom, the Tiwa, the kachari etc from Assam; the Apatani, the Khamti, the Monpa, the Mishi from Arunachal Pradesh; the Maitei, the Bishnupriya from Manipur; the Ao, the Angami, the Chang, the Konyak, the Kuki, the Lotha, the Phom etc from Nagaland; to name only a few.
Imagine these many people from different cultures and lineage living under one roof and sharing a rich cultural bond. Nothing can be as exciting as to know and learn about so many cultures living together. Such is the diversity that has recently attracted tourists from across India and outside to the Northeast.
The Religious hub
The Northeastern states provide ample opportunities for a pilgrim to explore the religious milieu of the region. People here belong to all the religious groups such as Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Buddhist and others. When I talk of Buddhism, the states like Gangtok and Arunachal Pradesh offer some of the beautiful and world famous monasteries such as the Rumtek Monastry and the Tawang Monastry (the largest monastery in India and second largest in World).
For the Hindus, there is the famous Kamakhya Dhaam located in the Nilachal hills in the heart of Guwahati city. The Ambubachi Mela which is one of the sacred festivals held in the premise of the Kamakhya temple every year, attracts tourists around the world. Lakhs of devotees throng the temple which accelerates the tourist statistics of the state. It is a ritual for every tourist to visit this temple as it has been able to maintain its position as one of the important attraction. Besides, there are other very famous temples such as Tripura Sundari temple in the state of Agartala, Shri Govindaji Temple of Manipur etc.
Northeast has the largest concentration of Christian population in the whole country. Largely, the tribal population of Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland are almost entirely Christians. The region has some beautiful and age old Churches that are architectural marvels which attracts a large number of tourists such as the Cathedral of Mary Help of Chritians, Shillong; Mary Help of Christians Cathedral, Kohima; All Saint’s Church, Shillong; St. Joseph Cathedral, Imphal etc.
Muslims are a minority in this region. Howsoever, all the communities live cordially here without any religious intolerance. The Islam as a religion is believed to have entered this region during the Mughals when they attacked the Ahoms, the then ruler of bigger Assam. Since then the original muslims have been living here adopting the culture and languages as their own. One of the famous Muslim pilgrim sites is the Pua Mecca of Hajo in Assam.
The Bio-diversity hub
A British biologist while visiting the north East India once stated that in every step of this land one is sure to find plants of immense medicinal values. Yes, it is undoubtedly a fulfilling hub of a number of bio diverse plants and herbs. This region is also famous for the variety of orchids grown here. Northeast is home to some 856 number of orchids out of some 1331 types of orchids found in India.
The Scenic hub
The scenic beauty of the North East India is unmatched and unexplored. The beautiful landscapes, the magnificent hills and the plain valleys all put together team up to be one of the scenic regions not only in India but in the world. Not a surprise why Shillong (Meghalaya) was called as the Scotland of the east by the Britishers. The land of the rising sun, Arunachal Pradesh is endowed with such heavenly elegance that it has recently caught world’s attention to a great extent. World’s wettest place (Mawsynrum)is again very much located in this region. The Dzoku valley in Nagaland is a true example of opulence of beauty and grace. The rays of the Himalaya are carried by the grandeur of Gangtok. The snowy peaks and hills attract many travellers every year.
The Adventure hub
North East India is viewed as one of the sought after adventure destinations of the country. The topography of the region is such that it provides a great scope for adventure sports and allied activities. From trekking to mountain climbing to river sports, the Northeast is a plethora of possibilities for adventure. The rivers like Brahmaputra, Jia Bhoroli, Kameng etc provide excellent opportunities for river related sports, while the hills of Karbi Anglong, Haflong, Ziro, Bhalukpong in Arunachal, Laitlum Canyon in Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland are renowned for mountain trekking and hiking. The wild life sanctuaries of this region are great for wildlife safari and animal watching. Gangtok and Arunachal Pradesh offer snow climbing and trekking during winter.
The Heritage hub
The main heritage sites of the North East India are found in Sibsagar in Assam where the magnificent Ahom kingdom is reflected through some of its beautiful sites like the Sivdol, Joydol, Joysagar lake, Rang Ghar, Talatal Ghar, Charaideo Maidam; the unexplored Kangla Fort in Imphal; the Ujjayanta Palace, Neermahal in Agartala; the Monsatries of Arunachal Pradesh and Gangtok; the war cemetery in Nagaland etc.
To sum up I can say that you will never ever regret if you plan your next trip to the wonderful North East India.