Is it safe to walk on the hanging bridges in northeast India?

8 Compelling Reasons to Visit North East India

Abhijeet Deshpande, author of Backpacking North East India: A Curious Journey, shares some ideas about places to see and things to do that make up for compelling reasons to visit North East India – sooner than later.

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Sometimes, the challenge of sorting through gems and picking up a select few can make those left behind, exclusive. It is particularly true of Northeast India and it is what makes the region evermore mysterious. The possibility of discovery accompanies every visitor’s footsteps, and follows every story from the region. Go on, see for yourself!

For those who do not know, Northeast India comprises of eight states – Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, and Tripura. The Himalayas and its waters define the region’s terrain, climate, rich biodiversity, and the peculiar indigenous lifestyles her people follow. That NE India is bound by Bhutan, Nepal, and Tibet to the north, Bangladesh to the south and west, and Myanmar to the east hints at the eclectic mix of cultural, ethnic, and linguistic diversity. This is where elements of Asia come together to do what they do best – cast a spell.

Reasons to visit Northeast India – let’s break it down!

01. Wildlife

With over fifteen national parks, including Loktak – the world’s only floating national park, and even more wildlife sanctuaries, North East India is home to a variety of fauna – be it birds, reptiles, or mammals. Ready for a safari? Your prize could be mightier than you think!

The Siberian Amur Falcon, on its way to southern Africa, makes a pit stop in Wokha, Nagaland. Besides, kingfishers, hornbills, and storks are at home here. The Sangai deer (also known as the dancing deer) and other antelopes, water buffaloes, elephants, the endangered red panda, Bengal tiger, gibbons, golden langur, and many more mammal species can be spotted in North East India.

02. Nature and landscape

With a substantial percentage of its area under forest cover, North East India may easily be referred to as lungs of the east. From the snow-capped, third-highest mountain in the world, to highlands, to plateaus and plains, to mighty rivers, waterfalls, and lakes, to the world’s largest inhabited river-island, North East India packs all this and more in a relatively small area.

Gurudongmar Travel Guide

If you ever get tired of all that, the lush green rice paddies or perhaps a cup of classic tea might keep you in for longer! Norttheast’s stunning landscapes would likely make you breathe in mindfulness.

03. History

Visit Moirang (Manipur) to witness the ground where Indian National Army, led by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, defeated the British and formed the first provisional government of independent India. Or, go to Agartala, to see the Ujjayanta Palace, a museum now, to experience the erstwhile royalty of Tripura.

Learn about the legends of the region. Did you know that the Mughals suffered utter humiliation in northeast India? When you cross the Siliguri corridor, you are knocking at the gates of erstwhile Ahom territory. At nearly 600 years, it was one of India’s longest reigning kingdoms. Lachit Borphakun, its famous commander, had delivered a demoralizing defeat to a more powerful Mughal army in the battle of Saraighat. The Brahmaputra river hosts a tall statue of this braveheart and his soldiers. There’s more history to Northeast India than meets the eye.

Imphal Travel Guide

04. Relics

Do you like visiting archeological sites and relics or an era gone by? You are spoilt for choices in Northeast India. How about the 14th century Malinithan Temple in Arunachal Pradesh? Or how about a garden of monoliths that once served as a marketplace? This lesser-known but nonetheless significant site is located in Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya. These are not the only northeastern states to look for relics.

Legend has it that ten million Gods and Goddesses once assembled in Tripura. In the Indian counting system, ten million is one crore or a koti in Bengali. After a fallout, Shiva, one of Hinduism’s Trinity of Gods, had cursed them, casting them into stone. Some believe that the relics of Unakoti (one less than a koti) in Kailashahar refers to this mythological event. Elsewhere in the state, artists fleeing persecution in Bangladesh stopped by Gomati river and left a legacy of mysterious rock carvings at Chhabimura.

05. Places of worship

Every state of North East India offers sites for the devoted. Listen to the pealing of church bells in the states of Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland, observe yourself in the silence of monasteries in the mountains of Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim, or learn about the indigenous beliefs of various communities.

Sikkim Travel Guide

Did you know that divine feminine power, Shakti, is revered in North East India? Visit the famous Ambubachi festival during the monsoons and experience one of the grandest celebrations on earth for a beloved goddess. Or just witness the vibrancy in the temples of Assam, Manipur and Tripura. In a country of seekers, you do not have to go too far to visit a place of worship.

06. Festivals

Tourism festivals offer a window to the communities and are ideal events to learn about their lifestyles. What do you expect when drums, chorus singers, and artists gather? North East India knows how to celebrate. It seems as if breaking the monotony of everyday routine is itself a routine here.

Ziro Music Festival

Besides, there are state-specific local and religious festivals. Some of the best performers and talented artists showcase the culture, culinary delicacies, and crafts. These northeast Indian festivals are incredibly popular and continue to attract increasingly higher visitors every year. You’ve been warned. Plan to book your travel tickets and hotel rooms well in advance!

Maidens’ Festival of Meghalaya

07. Culture

The cultural landscape of the region emanates from its various communities, their respective practices and their respective heritages. Though we bracket the region as one geographic entity, these are eight highly diverse states unified only by their ability to nurture vibrancy and, quite literally, the art of building bridges!

Bamboo Skywalk of Meghalaya

From the languages and dialects her people speak, to the culinary delicacies they offer, to their traditional dressing styles, to the handicrafts they make, or to how they farm their fields – North East India is likely to offer a novel experience, be it a first time visitor or regular. Just avoid these mistakes when visiting the region.

Ukhrul Travel Guide

08. Food and drinks

If you think food in North East India is all about noodles, soup and dumplings, think again. For everyday meals there’s rice, curries, daal, eggs, and smoked meats. The region offers one of the widest spice-spectrum and the variety of delicacies is likely to amaze you. From the chilli-laced eromba chutney in Manipur to the near absence of spices in Mizoram’s Zo Bai, you taste buds are in for a roller coaster ride.

While at it, try the local brews too. Be it the millet-based Tongba in Sikkim or the rice aphung in Arunachal Pradesh, homebrews are an intangible heritage of the region.

Think Northeast India

Need more reasons to visit North East India? Pick up a copy of Backpacking North East India: A Curious Journey. It covers over two dozen places and attempts to answer the question – what is it like to travel in the region? Give it a read and make your own choices. Buy now!

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Have you been to or live in North East India? If yes, what stood for you? Share it with us and stand to win a free paperback! Click to Learn More.

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62 thoughts on “8 Compelling Reasons to Visit North East India”

  1. I simply love to find out about new unexpected places to add onto my travel bucket list! North-east India? Never thought about it but hey, why not?! 🙂

  2. North East India feels like a really mystical place to me. I studied Indian dance forms when I was at University and loved the different modes of story telling and costumes that this region boasts! Plus, it’s been a dream of mine to go to Nagaland and see the villages there. I don’t know that I will ever make it, but maybe one day. What type of budget do you need to be there?

    1. Thank you for stopping by 🙂 Wow! You learnt Indian dance forms. That’s amazing! On a tightly managed budget, you could spend 15 dollars a day and more depending on your travel and stay options in the region!

    1. Hi Alan. Thank you for stopping by! Red Panda is rare and in India, its endemic to NE India.

  3. Lizziesrestlessfeet

    Wow, NE India looks amazing! I had no idea it had so much different wildlife – red pandas are my favourite! I’ve always wanted to go to India, but didn’t really know much about the different areas – you’ve definitely convinced me to check the North East out though!

  4. Bangali Backpackers

    Thanks, Navita! We have just been to Assam and Meghalaya and boy, have they amazed us! We’d love to road-trip through the NE. It is such a paradise for those seeking solitude.

    1. Thank you for sharing your experiences in Assam and Meghalaya. Road trip sounds like a good idea.

    1. Hi Amy! Thank you for stopping by! North East India is mesmerising. And a paradise for travellers! The eight states has so much to offer that exploration becomes life everyday!

  5. Amazing blog.. full of creativity, your blog inspired me alot to write more .. well done keep it up
    All the best for future

  6. I’ve been to Kerela and loved it, but the north looks mind blowing. Your photos and describing it sold it for me. I will return one day and visit it for sure!

  7. Really interesting post – I have visited India a couple of times, and on both occasions did not get to the North East… next time I am definitely going to visit this part of India. I loved your photo of the Tea plantation too, beautiful

  8. Ivan at mindthetravel.com

    Thank you for putting together this post! It looks like NE India is filled with history and mysticism! Are there white rhinos in the picture? Did you actually see them?

    1. Hi Ivan! You find Indian rhinoceros also referred to as the greater one-horned rhinoceros/ great Indian rhinoceros here. These are native to the Indian subcontinent. You can see them in NE India.

  9. I had no idea there was so much nature you could see in this part of the world! Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

  10. I have never considered north east India as a place to visit but would love to see a rhino and travelling to the not so popular destinations is such an important part of our travels. Thanks for sharing this post, I think my India bucket list just grew again.

  11. There’re definitely a number of reasons to visit North East India. Your post really helps clarify them out. I would love to learn more about Indian culture and the nature there.

  12. I still have never been to India but everybody I know who has loved it! I really have to it looks like such a wonderful and beautiful place!

  13. Love the disclaimer 😉 “does not endorse or accept the boundaries shown, names, or designations used by Google”.
    Have not been to India and can not go any time soon, but I will keep it in mind.

  14. Wow, the pictures here are so captivating – I really didn’t know much of anything about this region of India before. It sounds incredible, especially for wildlife spotting

  15. globetrottingmalteser

    Love the structure of this post. So clean and simple yet very informative and exciting! Can’t wait to go to India… am saving this page for future reference 😉

  16. pinkcaddytraveloguegmailcom

    North East India sounds like such a diverse place! So many different cultures and foods and landscapes. I’ve never heard of that floating national park, that sounds fascinating!

    1. Thank you for stopping by. You spelt it right about the diversity. Appreciate your insights.

  17. I have been planning to visit North East but guess after reading this blog I need to put it on top f my list now :
    )

  18. Abhishek Srivastava

    It help the world to know more about the great cultural heritage of north India…Really appreciable job….

  19. Sigrid Says Blog

    You are doing a good job at promoting North East India. Makes me want to go there, too. How about security? Like if I have two young kids? Is it that easy to go around?

    1. Thank you for your kind words. NE India has been declared safe for travel. We met people who were travelling with kids and moved around pretty much every where.

  20. I am in love with North East India. I would like to add another reason. It is the safest for solo travelers. And everyone is so outwardly helpful. Just love the nature there and people as well.

  21. Wow! India never fails to amaze me. I’ve met people from North East India and they told me how great the place is. I’ve only been to Delhi, so I’ve always wanted to visit this part of India. Thanks for sharing all these compelling reasons!

  22. Thanks for trying to convince us to visit North East India with its beautiful landscape and culture. What do yo think about the safety, facilities and transportation for people getting there?

    1. We are happy you would like to explore. Northeast India has been declared safe for travel. As for getting to the region, most of the major cities have airports and good train connectivity. There are many stay options to choose from as well.

  23. This was such an interesting read for me, as I’ve yet travelled to India, let alone north-east India. The wildlife, temples and landscape look incredible, and so diverse too. I hope to visit one day.

  24. There are many parts of India I am yet to travel to, but you’ve painted such a vivid picture of Northern India I think I need to fast track the area up my list. I love finding places with an interesting cultural aspect and good food. Plus the wildlife is an added bonus as well.

  25. NE India is so full of things I love: history, culture, food! I had no idea there was any connection between the Mughals and the NE, let alone they had suffered a humiliating defeat there. And those festivals are definitely appealing. My bucket list has grown longer this very minute.

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