Jo takes us to the hidden paradise of Northern India, to 9 locations far from the typical tourist trail for some of the best places to visit in India.
Filled to the brim with vast natural resources, a distinct culture with a traditional lifestyle, combined with unmatched beauty, this largely unexplored piece of paradise known as Northeast India, beckons visitors to its humble doorstep. Unlike the rest of the country, the seven sister states of the region (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, and Tripura), have until today, remained untarnished and unexploited from the rampaging demands of the rising population.
Blessed with all the requisite infrastructure for a perfect holiday, this area surprisingly did not appear on the vacation radar of most Indians and even foreign visitors until recently. With such mouth-watering destinations as Tawang, Kaziranga, Sella Pass, and Majuli Village to choose from, Northeast India can now proudly stake its claim as the leading offbeat destination in India.
With the mighty Brahmaputra River flowing through the heart of this region, it is no wonder Northeast India is lush green and teems with exotic flora and fauna. The past stereotypes of rural backwardness have been replaced with visions of unparalleled charm and pristine beauty. Some of the best undiscovered places to visit in Northeast India are detailed below.
1. Majuli Island (Assam)
Located on the Brahmaputra River, Majuli enjoys the reputation of being the largest river island in the world. The beautiful scenery and the adjoining bird sanctuary makes this place a dream for visitors seeking a mix of nature and Assamese culture.
2. Kaziranga (Assam)
Kaziranga National Park is a UNESCO-listed reserve containing an unparalleled amount of wildlife including tigers, elephants and bears. The park has the largest population of the highly endangered Indian rhino and Barasingha deer.
3. Dawki (Meghalaya)
Meghalaya has always been known for its perfect climate and its capital city, Shillong. Most visitors are even well aware of the two wettest places on earth, namely Cherrapunji and Mawsynram which are also well-visited parts of this state. However, the real hidden gem is the town of Dawki, in the Jaintia Hills, adjoining the Bangladesh border. The approach to this stunning place is complete with gorges and ravines with the proximity of the rivers Dawki and Umngot lending their own charm.
4. Ziro Hills (Arunachal Pradesh)
Home to the only endemic Apatani tribe of Arunachal Pradesh, Ziro Hills, also known as the Apatani Plateau, is the most scenic hill station of Northeast India. The presence of pine trees and the nearby Taley Wildlife Sanctuary makes it worth a visit to this UNESCO World Heritage site.
5. Mokokchung (Nagaland)
A town steeped in age-old customs and Naga culture, Mokokchung is home to the Ao Naga tribe. The area is famous for the Mongzu Ki Caves and the Ungma Village, home to the Ao people. The Longritzu Lenden River Valley is another scenic place to be visited.
6. Moirang (Manipur)
Home to the large freshwater lake, Lohtak, this district town of Manipur is well worth a visit for many reasons. Moirang has the temple of the ancient Hindu god Lord Thangjing and the Keibul Lamjao National Park, the world’s only floating national park and home to the brow-antlered deer. Incidentally, this park is the last known refuge for this highly endangered animal.
7. Unakoti Hills(Tripura)
The leading tourist attraction of Tripura, Unakoti Hills is an archaeological wonder, well known for the rock carved images of the various Gods and Goddesses like Lord Ganesh, Shiva, Nandi Bull and others. This place is also the venue of the annual Ashokastami Festival, attended by thousands of devotees from all over the country.
8. Nongriat (Meghalaya)
At times Mother Nature decides to take the time to create a truly magical place. This secure and hidden gem of Meghalaya will capture your imagination with unparalleled natural beauty. There is, however, a small catch – the approach. The entire trail leading into Nongriat involves a 3.5 km trek with varying degrees of difficulty. You need to be reasonably fit to undertake this awesome journey, but you will pass through some of the best natural beauty you have the privileged to witness.
The steep winding staircase, in places, is hardly the width of your foot to squeeze through. Then come the three bamboo and iron bridges to confront you. With water gushing underneath and the bridge swaying constantly, you have to be no less than a trapeze artist to cross them. One can buy the purest honey, once in Nongriat as the forest all around is entirely organic.
9. Mawphlang (Meghalaya)
The sacred forest of Mawphlang is located in the East Khasi Hills region of Meghalaya, around 25km from Shillong. These forests have been carefully preserved and protected over centuries and house some of the most amazing plants, orchids, and butterflies found nowhere else. The forest is surrounded by verdant grasslands, giving the entire region a striking contrast with the dense vegetation.
If you love nature and all that goes with it, visiting Northeast India should be high on your bucket list. Taking a vacation to lesser-known places is not only affordable but will bring a lot of surprises as well. After all, if Columbus had decided to stay in one place we might not have discovered most of the world as yet.