If you are looking to fly to one of the states in the North-East, then you will be pleased to learn that four of the states – Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura and Assam – all have direct flights from various cities such as Kolkata and Delhi. Guwahati in Assam is considered to be the gateway to the North-East states and once you reach there, you can fly to some of the other places such as Silchar, Dimapur, Imphal, Aizawl, Agartala, Jorhat and Dibrugarh.
For some of the other states, you will still need to take connecting flights but most of the airports in these states have decent connections to other cities in India. Some of the airports are in very remote locations and have been closed too. For instance, Arunachal Pradesh’s airports have been shut down and if you want to travel there, you will have to take a flight to Lilabari Tezpur Airport in Assam and then drive down from there. However, recently Pasighat has started services but they are limited at the moment.
The airlines that fly to North-East regularly are Indian Airlines, IndiGo, Spicejet and Vistara. Here are some of the airports that you can fly to reach North-East India.
There are also helicopter services to Aizwal and Naharlagun.
One of the most common ways to reach North-East India is by road. All urban areas are connected by roads and there are buses from West Bengal too. Road trips are popular, so many people opt to hire cars with drivers, so they can enjoy the lush landscapes. However, due to security reasons, it’s not advisable to opt for self-drive in the North-East states. While most of the highways in places like Assam are smooth, the ride can get quite bumpy in hilly and remote areas, so brace yourself, especially as the slopes tend to be steep and narrow.
A typical road trip from Delhi could be around 48 hours long. National Highways 31, 37, 38 or 40 are the typical routes that can be taken to reach the North-East states. As there are always chances of landslides, travelling by road is not a preferred way to travel for most people.
Several Indian cities are connected to states in the North-East such as Arunachal Pradesh and Assam by train. The important railway station between Guwahati and New Delhi is Naharlagun. There are also stations at Guwahati, Lumding, Bongaigaon, Dibrugarh as well as Tinsukia. From Delhi, trains such as Rajdhani Express, North-EastExpress and Brahmaputra Rail travel to North-East India regularly.
Trains are inevitably a slower way of reaching North-East as the train tracks are not electrified. Delays are to be expected as a result. Mizoram is not connected by train while Mizoram and Tripura can be accessed by travelling to the closest railway stations at New Jalpaiguri and Kumarghat respectively.
The Rajdhani Express takes around 28 hours to reach the North-East, making it the fastest railway option. Meanwhile, North-East Express takes 32 hours while Brahmaputra Mail takes the longest, 42 hours.
Assam has State-run buses that connect to the other states in North-East India easily enough. Places like Guwahati, Tezpur, Kaziranga National Park can be reached by the Assam State Corporation buses. Guwahati’s Paltan Bazaar is the main bus stand. Other options to travel locally include Sumo, shared taxis which leave once they are filled up with enough passengers. These don’t have a schedule and will depart only when all seats have been filled, so expect delays in reaching your destination. In Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland where these Sumos run every hour, it’s a better idea to buy tickets from the counter beforehand as these tickets run out very fast.
An important thing to remember is that if you’re travelling in North-East India during winter which is the peak season, it gets dark by 3.45 pm and it’s best if you’re not travelling around at this time as the roads can be quite dangerous, so make an early start. The roads are not just bumpy, they curve around hills and have potholes and can be quite a challenge.
There are tourist taxi services available in North-East states which make it convenient to travel around the different states. There are different ranges of cabs based on budget and requirement and you can choose what works best for you. Since this is a hilly region with lots of rainfall, it’s best to travel with experienced drivers who know how to navigate these areas. This is the most convenient and flexible way to travel around in North-East states as you can be in control.
Ferry services are being planned in North-East India by the government to make travelling around easier for locals and tourists. The waterways projects that are being planned will definitely add to the convenience factor while planning holidays in the North-East.
Important to know:
Do remember that to visit Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland, Mizoram and some areas of Sikkim, Indians need to have an Inner Line Permit. The permit is not required to visit Assam, Tripura and Meghalaya.