India Travel

An Overview of the States That Make up North-East India

North-East India is a gem that remains hidden because all the focus on Indian travel is given to North and South India. But that does not make North-East any lesser a part of this country. In fact, when thinking about the diversity of India, these states play a significant role. Their culture and traditions are strikingly different than the ones throughout the rest of India.

North-East India comprises of seven states: Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura, Nagaland and Assam. You will see more natural beauty in these states than anywhere else in the country. Read on to learn more about the seven sisters.

1. Arunachal Pradesh

Dibang Valley
Dibang Valley. Photo by goldentakin

Visiting Arunachal Pradesh is like visiting a land of lush greenery. That is what you see everywhere, and it’s nothing less than intoxicating. This state is so beautiful that anyone who has gone there sings the praises of it. The name Arunachal Pradesh literally translates to “dawn-lit mountains”.

Ironically, it is also the least explored state of the country. Because of this, much of the indigenous culture and traditions are preserved here. The state rises as a forested and mountainous bliss from the populated Assam plains and eventually ends in snow-capped peaks of domineering mountain ranges.

There have been ongoing controversies about a particular part of this state because China claims a part of Arunachal Pradesh under a treaty, but India is not ready to give in to that. One of the Tibetan borders is also very close to this state. But it is relatively calm without many political conflicts.

This magical abode supposedly finds mention in many of the Puranas (sacred Hindu texts) and even in the Mahabharata. According to one story, a famous Brahmin warrior Parshuram (who is the first of his kind because Brahmins are vowed to non-violence) got rid of his sins by bathing in the pure waters of Arunachal Pradesh. He is believed to be the strongest man to be born ever, and he was also one of the avatars (reincarnations) of Lord Vishnu. In Hinduism, he is also one among the Chiranjivis (immortals) who are believed to make an appearance at the end of this Yug or age. Therefore, Arunachal Pradesh has a religious significance too.

The highest diversity of mammals is also found here along with a rich diversity of birds. Points of interest in Arunachal Pradesh include the various wildlife sanctuaries, The Golden Pagoda monastery, Parshuram Kund (where Parshuram got rid of his sins), the Buddhist town Tawang and many limestone caves. Finally, the Dibang Valley is definitely a place to attain Nirvana.

2. Assam

Kamakhya Temple
Kamakhya Temple. Photo by deeporaj

One of the most populous and vibrant states of the North-East. Assam covers a large area and is full of historical and natural richness.

There is a lot to see in this state, and that’s why it should be your prime choice for a good and lively vacation. Assamese people are known to be very loving and amiable. Their hospitality is famed. Besides that, Assam also possesses a strategic location as it shares a national border with West Bengal and an international border with Bangladesh.

Assam has the largest species diversity in birds with Arunachal Pradesh holding the second position. Therefore, it’s a haven for bird watchers and animal lovers. Besides, the cultural festivals of the state are something not to be missed. Thousands of hectares of land are dedicated to tea cultivation. The famous Brahmaputra river is also present in this state that floods the valleys to ensure a plentiful harvest and evergreen forests. There are about 3500 wetlands in Assam along with many beautiful valleys.

Points of interest include the tea plantations, Kamakhya Temple, Kaziranga National Park, Agnigarh (House of Fire). You can read all about them in the Best Places To Visit in North-East India. Brahmaputra river and Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary are also worth a visit.

3. Sikkim

Yumthang Valley in Sikkim
Yumthang Valley in Sikkim. Photo by Shayon Ghosh

Sikkim is a predominantly hilly state with many valleys and lakes. It’s very politically significant as well because it is bordered by the China, Bhutan and Nepal.

Some of the oldest Buddhist monasteries can be found in this state along with a vibrant indigenous culture. Check out these must-visit places in Sikkim.

4. Meghalaya

Living root bridges in Meghalaya
Living root bridges in Meghalaya. Photo by Ashwin Kumar

Famed for its cleanliness, dense forest cover and living root bridges, Meghalaya is the abode of clouds.

It is the wettest region in India and Cherrapunji, the wettest place on earth, is also in Meghalaya. Its serene atmosphere and untouched, pristine forests are a treat to the senses. There are lots of trekking opportunities in the state as there are plenty of hills. Also, Meghalaya consists of more than 1000 caves. Some of the longest caves in the world are also found here, but only some of them are open for exploration. Here is a list of the Most Visited Caves in Meghalaya.

Also, don’t miss these highlights of unexplored Meghalaya.

5. Nagaland

Terrace cultivation
Terrace cultivation. Photo by Tewu

Nagaland is pure beauty. It is a lovely state and home to sixteen indigenous tribes so far. It is truly a wonder to watch how the various communities have preserved their traditions and culture which is displayed in everything from their cuisines to their clothes.

It is one of the smallest states in the country. During World War II, Nagaland suffered a lot, and thus, a war memorial can still be found in their capital city of Kohima. The economic development and tourism of  Nagaland have not boomed because of the frequent unrest in here due to inter-ethnic conflicts among its communities. Agriculture is the primary source of income in the state.

In recent years, the conflicts have been mostly subdued, and tourism is flourishing. Nagaland is known as the land of festivals, and it’s honestly something to behold. Each tribal community has their own unique festival, and it’s exciting to witness the celebration. Besides, Nagaland also celebrates all the Christian festivals.

To attract more tourists, Nagaland celebrates the annual Hornbill festival. Its untapped wildlife resource is perhaps its largest treasure. Ethnicity, no matter how much trouble it creates, remains the strongest factor of the state. The extent to which the communities have gone to preserve their ancient lifestyle is praise-worthy. It’s an impressive state indeed.

Major points of interest include Nagaland State Museum, Kohima War Cemetery, Nagaland Zoological Park and Heritage Village. Besides this, there are various trekking opportunities as the state is predominantly hilly.

6. Manipur

Mist covering Dzukou valley
Mist covering Dzukou Valley. Photo by Akhyay

Manipur is known as the “jewel of India”. This state is so beautiful and breathtaking that it has been compared to Switzerland also.

Set amidst a lovely valley surrounded by lush green hills, lakes and forests, Manipur is truly blessed by Mother Nature herself. It is the ideal getaway for anyone looking for a relatively peaceful location for their vacation. It is also the perfect place for detoxification of your mind and senses. The mesmerising Dzukou Valley is also here.

Besides being naturally blessed, Manipur also boasts of a rich cultural tradition comprising of folklore, myths and the extremely popular Manipur dance form. The state is also rich in biodiversity of plants and animals just like the other North-Eastern states mentioned above. Manipur is especially famous for its varieties of exotic flowers.

To boost tourism, Manipur has also invested in their local handicrafts so you can easily buy a small souvenir from this heavenly abode. This is one state you can’t miss.

7. Tripura

Ujjayanta Palace
Ujjayanta Palace. Photo by

Tripura has some qualities of all the North-Eastern states, but regarding natural beauty, Tripura may not fare as well even though it has a lot of forest cover.

The species diversity of mammals and plants are evident in this state also. The only thing that makes Tripura stand out from the other states is the fact that it has many royal palaces. Unlike most North-Eastern states where you’ll usually find Buddhist and Tibetan monasteries, here you will mostly find palaces of the royal family that ruled the state for an extended period of time, even during the British rule.

Points of interest include Ujjayanta Palace, Neer Mahal, Tripura Wildlife Sanctuary and Tripura Museum. Unakoti, a worshipping place for Lord Shiv is also frequently visited by pilgrims and tourists alike.

8. Mizoram

Mizoram traditional tribal dress. Photo by Ezralalsim10.
Mizoram traditional tribal dress. Photo by Ezralalsim10.

Mizoram was a part of Assam until 1972 when it became a union territory. It has the highest concentration of tribal people of any state in India at 95%. Mizoram compared to the rest of India is quite different. Shops open early and close by 6 pm, Sunday everything is closed, and there’s no caste system.

Visit Mizoram for its lush beauty and slow relaxed vibe. Champhai is considered the most beautiful part of Mizoram. There you’ll find the Murlen National Park where you’ll be able to see Hoolock Gibbons.

Things to do include climbing the Blue Mountain to Mizoram’s highest peak and don’t miss Ujjayanta Palace, Vantawang Falls, and Caving in Khuangchera Puk. But the best thing to do in Mizoram is to attend the Chapchar Kut Spring Festival where you can see the locals wearing their colourful outfits and doing their traditional dance.

By Merlin Chacko

Currently studying English Literature at Delhi University. Obsessed with Harry Potter and NOT Shakespeare. I believe that nothing nourishes the soul like books and travelling. Constantly amazed by the Indian culture and its history. Personally feel that the old forts and ruined palaces in India are almost magical.

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