An undisturbed paradise on earth with a long stretch of forests, lakes, natural beauty, flora and fauna, the north-eastern part of India is a truly blessed region of the country. This region has great scope for trekking, mountaineering and adventure tourism. North East India comprises of eight states namely Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Sikkim, Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Manipur and Tripura. Each state has its own charm, traditions and culture. 70% of this region comprises of rolling hills. This region also has a rich tribal heritage. We have put together a list of the top five offbeat places that you must visit if you plan a tour of north-east India. These places are not on the main tourist map but offer a unique experience to the discerning traveler.
1. Tawang Monastery
Located in Tawang city, this monastery is the largest in India and second largest in the world. In Tibetan language, Tawang Monastery is known as Galden Namgey Lhatse, which translates to “celestial paradise on a clear night”. Tawang Monastery is almost 400 years old and has gained significance for being the birthplace of the sixth Dalai Lama. It has an impressive three stories high library which houses all the holy scriptures. You may also visit the museum which has the finest collection of Tibetan Buddhist idols and scriptures.
The walls of the monastery also have a profusion of thangkas (Tibetan Buddhist paintings on cotton/silk applique) of Buddhist deities and saints. The most striking feature of the monastery is the 24-ft statue of Lord Buddha. Torgya is an annual festival held in Tawang monastery during the months of December and January. If you visit the monastery during this festival then you will get a chance to witness sacred dance performances by monks in bright robes and masks at the monastery’s courtyard.
2. Ziro Valley
A World Heritage site, the Ziro Valley in Arunachal Pradesh is a picturesque paradise. Filled with lush green paddy fields, green forests, rivulets and elevated patches, Ziro Valley is located 1500 meters above sea level. Ziro is home to Apa Tani tribe and is an old quaint town of Arunachal Pradesh. The tribe of Ziro is known for its colourful and vibrant clothes, Ziro is also famous for bamboo items like Apatani handlooms, bamboo baskets, and locally made handicraft items. See the pine and the bamboo groves in the valley which is a popular tourist attraction.
You can trek to the Kile Pakho where you will witness spectacular views of the contrasting landscapes. Also visit the Meghna Cave temple and see the detailed carvings of Sanskrit scriptures with magnificent and great architecture of the temple. The best thing of this splendid place is that you can plan a visit anytime during the year as Ziro experiences pleasant weather throughout the year.
Considered as one of the ancient cities in India, Imphal is the capital of Manipur state. Imphal is home to several rivers like Sekmai, Iril, Thoubal, and Khuga the beauty of which is a treat for all travellers. Imphal is situated 786 meter above sea level and is blessed with scenic landscape and greenery. Kangla fort of Imphal holds a historical as well as archaeological significance making it a must visit in the city.
Witness the glorious past and rich history of the state at Manipur State Museum. See the ancient artifacts, sculptures, paintings of eminent artists belonging to various eras. The spectacular Shree Govindajee Temple is the largest Vaishnav temple in Imphal and it lures a lot of Hindu devotees. You may plan an excursion visit to Andro which is a charming town famous for its pottery. You will get a chance to encounter with the cultural heritage of Imphal at Andro.
Beautifully nestled amidst the lush and fertile sub-tropical climate, Nagaland is one of the most loved hill states in India. On your visit to Nagaland, you will experience that Nagaland is not just about scenic beauty but also about history and culture. Famous for its untouched beauty, Kohima is the capital of the state and is situated at 1500 meters above sea level. Kohima is ideal for trekking, camping, adventure tourism and hiking.
The Kohima Museum portrays the traditions and culture of the many tribes of the state. Visit Shilloi Lake- A beautiful foot shaped lake in the heart of the Patkai range of Nagaland. You may enjoy bird watching at the lake as large number of migratory birds migrate to the lake. If you wish to experience the local festival of the state then you may plan to travel in the month of December and visit the Naga Heritage Village that opens up for the Hornbill festival.
The world’s largest fresh water island, Majuli is a pristine and pollution-free freshwater island. Located on the river Brahmaputra in Assam, it is the biggest river island in the world. It is home to many migratory birds making it a paradise for the bird watchers. The best time to visit is during the Bihu festival. Majuli being a river island, the only way to reach is by ferries across the river Brahmaputra.
The ferry ride is for approx. 30 minutes and the last ferry leave at 04:00 PM to Majuli. You will see unique beautiful traditional village houses that are built using bamboo, dried leaves, and grass. Majuli is the center of neo-Vaishavinism movement in Assam, so there are lot of Satras or Monasteries on the island. Visit the Samaguri satra which is famous for mask making. Enjoy early morning bicycle ride and relax in the serene atmosphere of Majuli. Also visit the Auniati Satra and see the Museum located inside which houses wide collection of traditional Assamese utensils, jewellery and handicrafts.
Jay Kajaria is Founder of Bespoke India Holidays. Bespoke India Holidays is an award-winning company that specialises in creating luxury trips to India and the subcontinent.