North East India is probably the most unexplored part of our nation butone of the most scenic, friendly and progressive regions. It has been ignored by the holidaymakers for a long time due to negative representation by the media over Naxalite movements. The good news is that over the last few years, north east India tours have become increasingly popular as more and more holidaymakers are beginning to realize that a north east India trip offers some of the best experiences of our country. Tucked away in the northeastern corner of India, the north east comprises of 8 states out of which 7 states are popularly known as the seven sisters which include Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura. All of these states offer unique cultures, traditions, food, music and a completely different way of life compared to the rest of India. If you ever plan a north east India tour, you must include some if not all of these states as part of your plan.
Even though some travel agencies offer north east tour packages, but it’s best to do your research before you choose a north east tour package holiday. To begin a north east trip, you can take a flight to Guwahati, the biggest city of Assam and make it your base for covering most parts on your north east India tour. To see most of north east India, you will need atleast a month but its best to first decide what exactly you want to do from a range of options available at hand. After doing a north east trip on several occasions, we have compiled a list of the best places to visit in this region which will give you a good flavour of this part of India. A classic north east India tour must include visits to a tea estate, cruise on the Brahmaputra river, a safari in the Kaziranga National Park, day tour in a tribal area of Nagaland, the experience of the living root bridges in Meghalaya and a drive on the high mountain passes of Arunachal Pradesh. Of course, the list can go on and on but these places will atleast make you appreciate what you have been missing all along. The best time to go on a north east India tour is from October to March when the climate is cool and the wet season is over. However, before going to the mountains of Arunachal Pradesh, do check the climatic condition to ensure that the roads are not closed due to snowfall which is common at this time of the year.
Fly to Guwahati
Start your north east trip by landing in Guwahati, considered the gateway and the largest city of north east India. Spend a few days getting used to all things Assamese and explore the top sites in Guwahati including the famous Kamakhya Temple featuring shrines of Lord Shiva and Vishnu. There are a lot more important temples in Guwahati including the Umananda Temple, Navagraha Temple and Basistha Temple. The second-largest tea producing region in the world after China, Guwahati is also one of the busiest tea trading cities in the world. Before you embark on your north east tour any further, make sure to take a cruise on the Brahmaputra river in Guhawati.
Guwahati – Mawlynnong – Cherrapunjee
After exploring Guwahati, start your north east road trip by driving towards Meghalaya and visit the Mawylnnong village often referred to as “God’s own garden”. The village became famous after being rated as Asia’s cleanest village in 2003 and the cleanest village of India in 2005. Your first day on the road on this north east trip will leave you spellbound at the sight of this picturesque village where every villager has made a collective effort as part of the community to keep their village clean. Spend a few hours walking around the village and talking to some of the proud locals about the initiatives taken by them to earn the reputation of the cleanest village before continuing towards Cherrapunjee.
Still feeling amazed by the beauty and cleanliness in Mawlynnong, continue driving towards Cherrapunjee through the narrow roads of Meghalaya where we will have a lot of greenery all around you for company. You will notice that there is hardly any patch on the road that is not green and rightly so, because Cherrapunjee has held the record for the most rainfall in a calendar month and year in the world for the longest time. Cherrapunjee, the capital of Meghalaya, is surrounded by beautiful scenery in all directions and within 30 minutes you can explore multiple waterfalls, lakes, tea gardens and pristine valleys. But in addition to being famous as the wettest place on earth, Cherrapunjee is also popular for its’ living root bridges made with rubber trees. Meghalaya’s most famous living root bridge known as the ‘double-decker’ bridge can be found in Cherranpunjee which was built by the Khasi tribe decades ago. There are atleast 11 functional living root bridges in this area which provide a stable alternative to wooden bridges which decay and get destroyed during the lengthy monsoon seasons.
Cherrapunjee – Kaziranga National Park
If you are amazed already, then you are in for many more surprises as you continue your north east India tour on the way to Kaziranga National Park. The route to Kaziranga will have you cruising on the iconic Asian Highway I (AH I), which is the longest route of the Asian Highway Network, running 20,557 kmfrom Tokyo, Japan via Korea, China, Southeast Asia, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran to the border between Turkey and Bulgaria. Once you reach Kaziranga, retire for the night because you have to wake up early the next morning for the much-awaited safari experience.
The north east road trip has brought you to one of the most distinguished wildlife-viewing destinations in India, Kaziranga National Park which lures nature lovers with 430 sq. km of marshlands and forests. Home to 2/3rd of the world’s entire population of the native one-horned rhinoceros, Kaziranga was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in the year 1985. It is also home to elephants, buffalos, deer, tigers and rare migratory birds and you will get an opportunity to spot all the wonderful wildlife as you go on a safari on the back of an elephant and later by a jeep through the core areas of this unique national park.
Kaziranga National Park – Tawang
After a day spent in the wilderness of Kaziranga National Park, continue your north east tour by driving towards Arunachal Pradesh, the 3rd state on this north east India tour. Leave early and drive towards Dirang, a scenic hill station located on the banks of Kameng River. This idyllic hill station is home to the Mahayana Monpa Tribe and offers sweepingly beautiful valley views all around along with a glimpse into the unique traditions and cultural heritage of its tribal inhabitants. If time and weather permits, before you reach Dirang, make a short stop at Bomdila to visit some of the Buddhist monasteries and apple orchids.
Continue the north east India tour towards Tawang after crossing the Sela Pass located at an altitude of 13,700 feet. Take a stroll at the nearby Sela Lake which is also referred to as Paradise Lake for its charismatic beauty. Once you reach Tawang, rest in your cosy hotel after a long day’s drive. Start the following morning with a visit to the 400-year-old and the world’s second-largest monastery complex where the 6th Dalai Lama was born. Also, pay homage at the War Memorial dedicated to the martyrs of the 1962 Indo China war. Spend the rest of the day exploring the picturesque town of Tawang which offers breathtaking views of snow-capped mountains all around. It is one of those places that can only be visited if you are on a north east road trip and only a rare group of travellers ever get a chance to visit Tawang even on a north east India tour. Spend a few days in this laid back Buddhist town before you start driving back towards Dirang.
Tawang – Dirang
Start your return journey on this north east tour and once again head back towards Dirang but en route, make sure you stop at the Jang waterfall also known as the Nuranang waterfall. This cascading waterfall stands approximately 100 m high and the sound of the water gushing down from the top of the bottom to the river below is a sight to behold. After spending some time appreciating this marvel of nature, continue towards Dirang and spend the rest of the day taking an easy stroll around this idyllic town.
Dirang to Guwahati
The north east tour is about to conclude as you start driving back towards Guwahati from where your north east road trip began. Soak in the beauty of north east India as you inch closer and closer to Guwahati. You have experienced a part of India that continues to remain unexplored by most tourists and travellers. Feel proud of yourself for having completed this north east tour that was full of experiences, different terrains and unique cultures. Arrive in Guwahati by evening and if you still have more time at hand, you can extend your stay by taking a flight to Kohima in Nagaland and exploring this tribal state or save Nagaland, Tripura, Mizoram and Manipur for your next north east tour. Spend a few days relaxing in Guwahati before taking a flight back home with everlasting memories of the amazing north east road trip.