The north-eastern part of India, basically, comprising of the seven sisters (Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh) and one brother (Sikkim) is considered to be one of the most beautiful regions of the world – Rich biodiversity, rich culture, rich scenic beauty and rich people too. No, we don’t reside in slums and eat dogs when we’re hungry. Generalization is a trait that runs in the Indians’ blood. The seven sisters have never caught a traveller’s fancy and many of them are not even aware of the number of places this particular area consists of. People belonging to the metropolitan cities hardly know the names of the seven states and its capitals. I don’t blame the geography teachers.
We all have different perceptions about the north-eastern India which never fails to make me laugh. Some think that we reside amidst tea gardens and that’s supposed to be our identity. We’re much more than a bunch of tea producers. There have been many debates and protests over calling the tribal people of NE as “Chinky”. In fact, if you’re caught calling a north-eastern chinky, you may be jailed for 5 years. Wikipedia defines chink as a person of Chinese ethnicity. The people from North and South India call their fellow countrymen from North East chinky because they look like Chinese more than they look like North/South Indians. Extending the same logic, Northeast Indians should call northerners as Paki’s (because they resemble Pakistanis more than them) and Tamilians/Keralites Sri Lankans. I don’t understand WHO gets the right to decide how an “Indian” looks like. Is there a facial feature the government has decided upon which would be the national facial structure of the country?
This region has more than 165 tribes, 220 ethnic groups and around 220 languages are spoken by the entire region.
Here are top 10 things to do in the seven sisters of India which stands humbly yet proudly to be called as the most beautiful and serene region of India –
- FILL YOURSELF WITH SPIRITUALITY AND WORSHIP – Arunachal Pradesh is known as the “Land of Rising Sun”, since it is in the easternmost position of India. Apart from watching the beautiful sunrise, you can visit The Tawang Monastery, also known as “Galden Namgyal Lhatse” which is a famous Buddhist monastery. The Tawang Monastery stands on the start of a hill, about 10,000 ft above sea level and has ravines in the south and west, narrow ridge on the north and a gradual slope on the east. This monastery is the source of spiritual life of people and has around 700 monks. The monastery looks impeccably beautiful and provides a visual treat to the traveller’s and the camera’s eye. It is the largest of its kind in the country and 2nd largest in Asia. Kamakhya Temple, a Hindu temple of Goddess Shakti is in Guwahati, Assam. Being one of the oldest of the 51 Shakti Piths, it is very famous for the festivals celebrated here like Ambubachi Mela, Manasha Puja and Durga Puja.
- RELISH NATURE’S BEAUTY – Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya is known as the “Scotland of the East”. It is known for its breathtaking and salubrious weather. Umiam lake, in this gorgeous city, has various adventure sports like kayaking, water cycling, scooting and boating. Shillong Peak and Elephanta falls are famous tourist spots which compels you to wear hooded jackets and breathe in the fresh air. Get yourself clicked in their traditional khasi wear and experience the incredible scenic beauty. The western world often looks down upon Indians for not being too concerned about cleanliness but Mawlynnlong is the cleanest village of Asia, a part of Meghalaya, has a ban on plastic. A tour around the village will definitely make you introspect upon the dirt that we’ve established in the other parts of India. Majuli Island, in Assam, is one of the largest inhabited river islands, hub of Vaishnavite Satras initiated by Assamese saint Srimanta Sankardeva and his disciple Madhavdev.
- SHOP TILL YOU DROP – North-eastern people are one of the most fashionable and trendy ones in India. Cities like Dimapur, Shillong, Dibrugarh are famous for their “bhutia markets”. You will find amazing quality clothes, shoes and accessories in these places in reasonable prices. But if you bargain a lot, you might irritate the tribals. Buy that super cute beanie you’ve always wanted for winters and denim hot pants for summers. If you are a lover of foreign brands, then head towards G.S. Road in Guwahati. It is full of malls, stores and branded showrooms. Name the brand and you will find it in this gateway of NE. You can shop for excellent handloom products in Khwairamband Bazar, located close to the city centre of Imphal.
- TREAT YOURSELF – Get ready to eat and burp and repeat. Non-vegetarians will have a great time munching authentic fish in Assam and Tripura. Meghalayan cuisine is in favour of meat, particulary pork. Jadoh is a spicy dish of rice and pork which is almost eaten at any time! Different types of momos are loved by the residents and eaten quite often. If you wish to experience street food, head towards Fancy Bazar in Guwahati. You will find proper unhygienic street food like puchkas, bhel puri and varieties of chats. For the ones with sweet tooth, you’ve got many options of desserts in the city itself.
- EXPLORE THE WILD SIDE –I am talking about Kaziranga wildlife sanctuary, Nokrek national park, Nameri National Park and Manas national park. Kaziranga has 66% of the total rhino population on the earth. A UNESCO world heritage site, it is famous for one horned rhinocerous. It also has many tigers, elephants, swamp deer and birdlife. Nameri has pygmy hog, leopards, wild boar, sloth bear, Himalayan black bear and so on. Nokrek National Park has extremely rare species of wildlife. This bioreserve has an endangered species – red panda.
- GO TREKKING – If you want to add some adventure to your trip, go and explore the numerous hills. Jaintia hills, located in the state of Meghalaya is a sight to see and has little known caves to dwell. Kyllang Rock, is a red granite structure which has a height of more than 5000 feet above sea level. You can climb the rock and take risks climbing the southern sides of it too, which even the avid climbers won’t risk! Arunachal Pradesh is also home to beautiful mountain peaks. Gorichen peak is one of them which will require a lot of patience to reach the summit.
- BE A PART OF THE FESTIVITIES – The festival of Assam, Bihu, is known for its rich dance and grandeur. Although it is a set of three festivals spread around the year. Rongali Bihu is one of them which takes place in April and marks the beginning of a new year. Being a part of the rich culture and revelry can be super fun! Agriculture being the basic means of livelihood in Arunachal, the festivals like Choekhor Harvest festival are a way to thank God for good harvest. Jhum cultivation practiced by Mizo people gives one a taste of the colourful customs and lively traditions.
- SING AND DANCE – Almost every state has its own classical and folk dance form. Tripuris have various dance forms like Bizu, Garia, Basanta Raas which has different connotations. The hill and valley people of Manipuris are fond of their traditional dance form known as raas leela based and inspired on the theme of lord Krishna and Radha’s love story. Apart from the traditional songs, Shillong is identified for its rich metal and rock music. Youngsters are fond of the western music and many artists are invited for concerts too. NH7 Weekender at shillong is an event to enjoy. If you want to experience the nightlife of NE, then wear your dancing shoes and visit famous pubs like Terra Mayya, Silver Streak, XS in Guwahati and Cloud 9 and Dejavu in Shillong.
- THE FAMOUS TEA GARDENS – The tea gardens in upper assam are so useful and popular that it is the only region which makes India the 2nd largest tea producer in the world. Verdant surroundings offer a tranquil escape from rushed holidays. Forests have been cleared to give way for some breathtaking tea gardens to come up. There are more than 850 tea estates and more than 2500 tea gardens in Assam that cover thousands of acres of land. For their scenic beauty, calm and peaceful environment, tea gardens have become a great tourist attraction in Assam. While exploring Assam, you will cross though tea gardens sprawling for miles on both sides of the road. You will see workers watering the plants and picking tea leaves from them. Workers picking leaves, have a huge basket on their back, in which they put all the leaves collected. The polite assamese people will greet you and treat you with delicious tea to get rid of that sickness during the trip.
- LEARN ABOUT THE HISTORY – Till 1963, the NE consisted of Assam and the princely states of Manipur and Tripura. Nagaland was carved out of Assam in 1963, Meghalaya in 1972, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram in 1987. The north-east was the only part of India which the Mughals could not occupy during their reign. Only the British were able to integrate it in their empire. The Ahom Dynasty was the longest unbroken dynasty in India’s history. It ruled much of north-east from 1228 – 1826 CE (for around 600 years). Ujjayanta Palace in Agartala is known for its grandeur and luxury. Neer Mahal, located in Rudrasagar lake in Tripura takes inspiration from different elements of hindu and muslim architecture. Charaideo, located about 30 km from Sibsagar, close to the hills of Nagaland, is a significant town which was once the capital of the ahom kingdom. Secluded today, you will find many ruins, relics and tombs of ahom kings and queens to explore.