You may think of the Northeast as one large emerald – lush, glittering and green. However, peer closer and you’ll notice this gem has many facets – 8 to be precise. This glorious octet of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim come together to make the northeast region of India. Here, you’ll see some of the eco-friendliest travel locations, taste the unique flavours of bamboo and soybean twisting their way through the dishes, visit the lush Kaziranga National Park and sink into the spiritual energy of the most serene Buddhist monasteries.
Each state has its own charm, culture and traditions. You’re in for a surprise no matter where you visit. So, today, we’re going to lay these choices in front of you and then let you decide which state you’d like to sample. All we ask is that you surrender to the magic of Northeast Tourism and start planning your holiday here.
Cuddled in the embrace of Bhutan, Tibet, Myanmar and India, Arunachal Pradesh is one of India’s best kept secrets. Experiencing Arunachal Pradesh is unique. For instance, Namdapha National Park will allow you to see the fire-drenched, silky fur of the shy Red Panda. Or, you can watch the giant flying squirrel soar at the Dibang Wildlife Sanctuary. Explore the tribal culture that springs from the Apatanis people in Talley valley. Feel the beat and rhythm throb through the quiet air of this state during the Ziro Music Festival. Let the wind that skates off the frozen Sela lake play with your hair. Visit the largest monastery – Tawang – in India. Leap into the froth of Kameng River when you go river rafting. This state is a gift – unwrap it.
Want to experience traveller’s paradise? Well, book your tickets to Assam. This state is generous, in all its goodness. Looking for rare species of wildlife? Assam has 18 wildlife sanctuaries for you to explore and discover. (Especially the rare one-horned rhino at Kaziranga National Park). Looking for a decent cup of tea? Well, there are acres and acres of lush tea estates that can lend a hand. Looking for unique cultural experiences? The festival of Bihu, folk dancing, local sports like tang-goote, kabbadi and bullfights, the food, the traditions and so much more will keep you spellbound. Hoping to indulge in some water sports? You have the massive Brahmaputra river at your disposal. Generosity is baked into the soil, here.
If you waved a magic wand and wished for the perfect place, Manipur would be the result of that wish. This is a state, blessed with nature’s bounty. Spend a day wending your way around the lush woodlands at Senapati. Explore the pottery and handicrafts in the artistic village of Andro. Visit the famous Polo Ground, Palace of Kangle and the Manipur State Museum in Imphal. Start the day with a trek and end it with delicious tea at Ukhrul. All bird lovers must also make it a point to visit Tamenglong, where rare birds hide amidst the natural symphony of waterfalls, bubbling rivers and the flutter of leaves in the forest. Enjoy Manipuri festivities at Kakching – especially during the Haraoba Festival which is full of dances, theme park rides, garden parties and festive markets. You’ll always want more of Manipur.
Where do the clouds go? To this beautiful state that bears their name and their beauty and their bounty. This green and grey paradise is home to beautiful Limestone caves in the Garo, Khasi and Jaintia Hills (these are some of the deepest caves in the country). Above the ground, adventure awaits. Trek, rock climb, camp across Meghalaya’s natural landscapes. At Umiam Lake, go water skiing, kayak or even sail serenely on a yacht. Explore the twisted, gnarly beauty of the thick root bridges at Nohwet. Take a peek into the wilder side of Meghalaya by visiting the Nokrek National Park or the Siju Bird Sanctuary. You may even discover seashell fossils at Balpakram National Park. Explore Shillong – the Scotland of the East – with its beautiful mix of stylish modernity, quaint charm and stunning natural beauty. Meghalaya isn’t cloud no. nine – it’s much, much better.
Breathe in, breathe out – can you feel that beautiful air caress your lungs and brush against your skin? If you can’t, then you need to visit Mizoram now. All that pure air blesses a land that is already rich with thick bamboo groves, lush forests, deep caves, glass-like lakes, trickling waterfalls and enchanting vineyards. Visit Phawngpui hills – also known as the ‘abode of the gods’ – with its rich spread of orchids, fragrant herbs and stunning views. Explore the Mizoram legends of love when you visit monuments like the Phulpui Grave of the Memorial of Chhingpui. See the mist drift away from the ribbon like Vantawang Falls. Listen to Nature and nothing else, when you visit the serene Palak Lake. Pick up the pace by mountain biking in Hmuifang Hill. Witness the beautiful dances of Cheraw, Chheihlam, Sarlamkai and more at the Chapchar Kut Spring Festival. This state is irresistible – you have been warned!
If god were given a canvas, he’d paint Nagaland in all its beauty. This scenic hill station is often referred to as the Switzerland of the East. Hills and mountains roll back, displaying their smooth green shimmer. Music, folk dance and cuisine combine to form the beautiful chaos known as the Hornbill Festival. Mist and nature combine to create a spectacular trek up Japfu Peak. History and solemnity lie heavy at the War Cemetery. Culture and charm take many forms at the Kohima Museum. Tigers, Langurs, Hornbills, Monitor Lizards, Pythons and Sloth Bears slip in and out of the trees at Intaki Wildlife Sanctuary. Art and craft jumble and tumble together at the famous Naga Bazaar in Kohima. Don’t just look at this painting – step into it and experience the artistic wonder of Nagaland.
The mountains stretch to the sky, connecting heaven and earth in Sikkim. Stand back in awe of the mighty Kanchenjunga – the third highest mountain in the world. Meditate in the solemn, worshipful wonder that is Rumtek Monastery. Let your gaze drift over the wealth of fauna and flora. Let the flavours of soft momos, silky thukpa and ripply wontons burst in your mouth. Sweep your eyes over the pristine streets of this unbelievably clean state. Find all the colours of the rainbow (and more) in the 600 different species of orchids, 150 types of gladioli, 46 varieties of rhododendrons, as well as roses, cacti, ferns, herbs and everything the mind can dream of. See the world and its wonder reflected in the mirror stillness of Gurudongmar and Chhangu lakes. It’s simple, you see – Sikkim is spectacular.
There’s a little something for everyone at Tripura. Historical sights? Check. Elegant temples? Check. Wildlife reserves? Check. Arts, craft and culture? Check, check, check. Sink into this magical state. You’ll love experiences like the majestic palaces like Neer Mahal and Ujjayanta Palace, with their British and Roman architectural influences. To soothe that spiritual soul, visit the Tripura Sundari Temple, the Kamalasagar Temple and the Buddhist Monasteries. Trace the intricate carvings of Shiva cut into the Unakoti hills. Discover the wildlife that hides deep in the Gumti Wildlife Sanctuary, Sepahijala Wildlife Sanctuary and Rowa Wildlife Sanctuary. Stroll around the peaceful tea gardens of Tripura. Whatever you need, Tripura checks the box!
Perched at the edge of India, the Northeast region shares international borders with many countries. 5182 kilometres of this border are split between Tibet, China, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan. The Siliguri corridor in West Bengal connects this region to East India.
The weather in the Northeast doesn’t discriminate. This is an all year-round paradise to visit. However, the monsoons do make the green glow a little harder and the weeks that make November and December to offer spectacular views of the land. Do note that monsoon seasons might invite some landslides, so, be careful when you are booking your tickets.
By Air: Kolkata connects to Manipur, Assam, Nagaland and Tripura directly. If you’re travelling from any other state, you may need to take a connecting flight. The Silchar Airport, Dibrugarh Airport and Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport in Guwahati are the most connected airports in the region.
By Rail: All of the major cities in India have trains that head to the Northeast. The Rajdhani express, North East express and Brahmaputra Mail roll and rattle their way from Delhi to the Northeast. The Sairaghat Express will carry you from Kolkata to the northeast. Mizoram unfortunately does not have direct rail access. Both Sikkim and Mizoram are accessible through nearby stations.
By Road: Its best to catch a bus to the Northeast states. National Highways like 31, 37, 38 and 40 connect Assam to the rest of the country. You’ll find plenty of buses to ply to Sikkim from Siliguri. Although a road trip will be beautiful, if you are preparing to reach some of the more inaccessible regions in this area prepare for a bumpy ride. Bear in mind that the altitudes can make this ride uncomfortable for those who suffer from motion sickness or vertigo. There is also the threat of landslides during monsoon season.
The Northeastern states that we know today were established during the British Raj in the 19th and 20th centuries. Many in the region converted to Christianity under the influence of British missionaries. When India gained her independence from the British, the Northeast consisted largely of Assam and the princely states of Tripura and Manipur. Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram were carved out of the larger state of Assam subsequently. In 1972, Manipur and Tripura attained full statehood. In 2002, Sikkim joined her sisters as the eighth and final state of the Northeast.
Need to see more of this spectacular region? Well, we’ve got the right holiday packages for you. Book your northeast adventure with Thomas Cook and prepare to indulge in this beautiful slice of India.
Assamese, Meiteilon, Khasi, Mizo, English, Nepali, Bengali, Hindi
Cost & Money: There are all kinds of accommodations available in Northeast India. Ranging from comfortable homestays that cost around INR 1500-2500 per night to luxury hotels that charge you approximately INR 4000-15000 per night, northeast India has got it all! It all depends on the level of luxury you choose to stay here. However, taking into consideration the comfortable stays, it will cost you around INR 70,000-80,000 for a good trip over the place, including flight tickets, meals, stay, site seeing, etc. It would be beneficial to go on group trips, because the cost of traveling will be split among the people, making it a more optimized trip.
The ATMs will not be located abundantly in the high lying areas, and hence it is advisable to carry cash with you. However, within the favorite cities like Guwahati and Shillong, ATMs are readily available in all popular tourist destinations. Swiping your credit cards will not be possible at most of the place, but you can save them to use in the luxurious hotels and restaurants. With the increase in demand for Northeast tourism, the government is making constant efforts to make this place much better regarding access and availability.
Thomas Cook brings people closer. This was proved when our office’s team of freshers went on a corporate team. The intention being to let everyone know each other better was understood by Thomas Cook and they arranged for various activities at different places. Travelling with Thomas Cook is the best experience one can ask for.
On our visit to Sikkim, Thomas Cook’s team upgraded our hotel and provided us a honeymoon package stay at Gangtok. It was a nice gesture which made our trip even more memorable. Since it was a honeymoon trip, we didn’t want to go on much sightseeing. Keeping this in mind, they arranged hotels with rooms that offered gorgeous views of the hills and clouds floating over them.
My wife wanted to visit Darjeeling and Sikkim for our honeymoon trip. The majestic Himalayas and the fresh air was what we needed to know each other better. Thomas Cook offered an extensive itinerary that included Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Gangtok and Pelling. The team organized rafting in Teesta River and Paragliding at Ranka. It was a fun and enthralling experience.