Top Things to do in North East India
Tucked away in the pristine mountain and rolling valleys of Himalayas, North East India is the least explored, mystical and one of the most beautiful places India. This part of the country is home to the famous ‘Seven Sisters’ Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura.
Connected to rest of India via a narrow stretch of land, this remote yet arrestingly beautiful mountainous landscape and Buddhist monasteries is fast catching up the imagination of Indian as well as foreign visitors.
Culturally and geographically, North East India is distinct from the rest of the country and the same is evident in the lifestyle of the country.
The warmth of the blue mountains, breathtaking greenery, dense forests, wildlife treasure troves, living culture and alluring handicrafts will leave you with unforgettable memories.
Here is the list of some not-to-be-missed things to do in North East India for amazing travel experience
Kaziranga National Park, Assam
With home to over 2/3rd of the world’s total population of the endangered Great Single Horned Rhinoceros, Kaziranga National Park in Assam rates as one of the top places to visit in North East India.
Also inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this national park in India is home to over 35 species of major mammals that include Royal Bengal Tigers, wild elephants, sambar, leopard, water buffalo and gaur.
Over 250 species of avifauna has also been recorded in this wildlife game reserve that include black necked crane, Pallas’s fish eagle, Bengal Florican and Great pied Hornbill.
One of the major allure of wildlife safari in Kaziranga National Park is the elephant safaris that are available in the park. 1 hour elephant safari in the evening and 2 hours elephant rides in the morning session are available at the 4 ranges costing INR 325 for Indians and INR 1025 for foreigners.
[Read more about Elephant Safaris in Kaziranga National Park]
Majuli is one of the largest river islands located in Brahmaputra River in Assam. Once the island spread across a total of 1,250 square kilometers but the erosion over time has resulted in significant loss with only 421 sqaure kilometer of Island area left in 2001. Striking natural beauty and cultural celebrations at Majuli gives visitors a glimpse into the rich culture and art forms of Assam.
Tea Tourism, Assam
With access to some of the finest tea plantations, unspoiled mountain peaks and verdant surroundings offering tranquil escape from the rushed holidays in other parts that characterize tourism in India, tea tours in Assam are best to acquaint yourself with the lifestyle and culture of this North Eastern state. Red More
Tawang Monastery- An Ethereal Experience
Asia’s second largest and India’s largest monastery, Tawang Monastery is rightly situated atop of a hill and is a major landmark that draws tourists to these far-off places in Arunachal Pradesh. One of the top places to visit and see in North East India, Tawang Monastery also happens to be the second largest Buddhist Gompa in the world.
The Gompa is perched at an altitude of 3300 meters. The mountains like most other that featured in Tawang just a little loosened and barren. It is a huge monastery which houses a museum, institutions, living quarters, libraries and a big monastery. Some highlights of Tawang Monastery:
- Giant Prayer Wheel outside the Tawang Gompa
- Spacious compound at the Tawang Gompa
- Library Building at Tawang Gompa
- Monk Quarters inside the Tawang Gompa
- Centre of Buddhist Cultural Studies at Tawang Gompa
- A Stylish Incense holder inside the Tawang Gompa Museum
The monastery has the capacity to accommodate 700 monks and is home to 450 lamas. The monastery also houses a 3 storied library, which is home to a 400 year old Kangyur Scriptures and other expensive books and manuscripts.
Talks are on with the central government to provide Tawang Monastery the status of UNESCO World Heritage Site. Without a shadow of doubt a trip to Tawang Monastery is one of the top things to do in North East India. The best time to visit Tawang is from February till June and from September till December.
[ Plan your holiday in with these Tawang Tour Packages ]
Sela Lake and Pass, Arunachal Pradesh
One of the top things to do when you are visiting Arunachal Pradesh is to visit the Sela Pass and nearby high altitude Sela Lake. While the lake remains frozen for most parts of the winter, the landscape near this ancient trade route is varies from magical to mystical.
Shungatser Lake, Arunachal Pradesh
Rechristened Madhuri Lake after the shooting of a dance sequence featuring Shahrukh Khan and Madhuri Dixit for Bollywood super hit movie Kyola, this emerald lake is located at an altitude of 14,500 feet some 42 kilometers away from Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh. The lake formation was result of an earth quake in Eastern Himalayas. Earlier, this land used to be the grassland and forest with grazing pastures. Much to the annoyance of the locals, notorious tour guides sold it to the tourists as Madhuri Lake.
Rumtek Monastery, Sikkim
One of the spectacular and most visited Buddhist monasteries in Sikkim, Rumtek located 24 kilometers from Gangtok on a steep ridge requires a 2 hour ride and a 15 minute steep walk to reach. Although established in 1960s, this grand old Buddhist monastery traces back its lineage to 9th century in Tibet.
Ravangla & Namchi, Sikkim
Small tourist towns situated in south Sikkim these two verdant paradises should ideally be visited in tandem. Lush landscape, view of the snowcapped Himalayan peaks and swathes of orchards & rhododendron forest turns these 2 sleepy little towns magical with the arrival of summer making April till May the ideal time to visit. With riot of colors and natural landscape, these 2 destinations in Sikkim are fast catching up as one of the top places to go for honeymoon in India. Easy hiking trails also make it ideal destinations for family trek in India. The rhododendron trek from April till May are especially popular
Trip to Nathu La Pass
Nathu La Pass is located an altitude of 14,200 feet, 52 kilometers from Gangtok on the Indo-China border. It was the route of the legendary Silk Route, trade route from Tibet to India. The trip to Nathu la Pass is a must do when in North East India. Make the exhilarating voyage, through mist covered zigzag roads, picturesque scenery and roaring waterfalls. Visitors are required to get a permit in Gangtok.
Gurudongmar Lake, Sikkim
Considered one of the highest fresh water lakes on earth, Gurudongmar Lake at 17, 100 feet is located close to Tibetan border in North Sikkim. One of the top places to visit in North East India, this beautiful lake remains milky in appearance throughout the year and holds great religious significance for Buddhists and Hindus.
According to local folklore, since the lake remained frozen throughout the year local were unable to use its water for drinking purposes.
As per the story once when Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rinpoche, was returning from Tibet, locals approached him with their problem. The guru obliged and touched a portion of the lake which to these day remains unfrozen even during peak winter months.
There is a temple of Padmasambhava beside the lake and devotee tourists as well as army men offer prayer at the temple. For international tourists, the tour is limited to Chopta Valley a few kilometers before the lake. Read More
Cable Car ride in Gangtok
Cable car ride in Gangtok is one of the cherished memories of your visit to North East India. The cable car ride starts from Deorali Bazar near Institute of Tibetology to Tashiling next to the Secretariat. Enjoy views of Mt Kanchenjunga and the town of Gangtok. It is an unforgettable experience.
Teesta River Rafting, Sikkim
One of the most adventurous experiences of traveling in Sikkim is going for white water rafting in the turbulent rapids in Teesta River. Rapids ranging from Grade 2 to Grade 4 along with some awe inspiring stretch of hills & gorges and plenty of white sandy beaches for camping in night makes Makha-Sirwani-Bardang-Rongpo route the most popular one for rafting in Sikkim. Read More
Nohkalikai Falls, Meghalaya
The tallest plunge waterfalls in India at the height of 335 meters, Nohkalikai Falls in Sikkim is one of the most spectacular places to visit in North East India and one of top attractions in Sikkim. Surrounded by dense greet forest and cliffs, Nohkalikai Falls is located close to Cherrapunji, one of the wettest places on the planet. Located nearby are several other popular waterfalls of Sikkim which should be on the mind of any visitors to this area.
Goecha La Trek
The Goechala trek in Sikkim offers one of the most romantic trails in Himalayas. The trek passes through Rhododenderon forests, the massive Dzongri and Thansing meadows, the cerulean Samiti Lake, under the on the horizon presence of Kanchenjunga and Pandim. The icy trail to Goechala trail is a must-do when exploring the North East Himalayas.
Mawsmai Caves, Meghalaya
One of the most accessible caves system located in the Jaintia Hills is the Mawsmai Cave It is a well lit cave popular among tourist as you could explore this one without opting for service of a guide. Located just 6 kilometers away from Cherrapunji town; Mawsmai cave is a 150 meter long natural limestone cave formation very popular with Indian tourists.
Living Root Bridges, Meghalaya
The most amazing fact about the living root bridges in one of the world’s wettest places is that they are not built but grown. The living root bridges near Cherrapunji in Meghalaya are major tourist attraction in North East India. The strongest of the living root bridges are grown over centuries of years.
These double decker or single decker root bridges are grown in Khasi Hills and Jaintia from the species of India rubber trees. Some of these bridges extend over 100 feet long and take over 15 years to become functional. As more years pass, the bridges only grow stronger and sturdier and could support even 50 people at a time. Read More
Phawngpui Peak, Mizoram
Phawngpui or the Blue Mountain is a National Park and highest mountain peak in Mizoram. This extremely revered mountain peak abuzz with several legends and folklores. As per the most popular folklore, a deity of ghost named Sangau had a son who gets married to the daughter of another deity of Cherian. During the exchange of wedding gifts the bride side gifted a pair of Hollock Gibbons to the groom side and received a sigle pine tree in return.
The base of the Phawngpui which serves as the entrance still bears the name Farpak meaning single pine. As per the legend, whereas the pine multiplied which is evident even today sadly the gibbons didn’t breed. One of the cliff top called Thlazuang Khàm, is said to be the abode of ancient spirits and believed to be haunted.
Yak ride in North East is a must do activity. Riding a yak tests your endurance levels. The gentle beasts’ travels in tough terrain exposed and even where there are no roads. Get a yak ride and a picture with the creature as a wonderful memory of North East India. The best time to try out Yak safaris is from March to May and again from September to December. Read More
Baba Harbhajan Singh Memorial Temple
Baba Harbhajan Singh Temple is a memorial dedicated to the martyred soldier, Harbhajan Singh. Located en-route to Nathula pass, the temple is settled at an altitude of 13,123 ft. According to stories, the soldier served the nation in his life and continues to so after his life. Get blessing of the deity as he lends protection to all those who visit.
Unakoti Hills, Tripura
A shivaite pilgrimage site dating back to 7th century, Unakoti Hills consists of numerous rock carvings, murals and natural beauty. Literally meaning one less that a crore (1 less than 10 million), the Unakoti Hills are believed to contain as many rock carvings. A visit to Unakoti Hill should also feature detours to nearby waterfalls for a complete holiday experience.
Buddha Park, Ravangla
The Buddha Park of Ravangla also named Tathagata Tsal is one of the major attractions of the ‘Himalayan Buddhist Circuit’. It is one of the must-visit places in North East. The 130-foot high statue of the Buddha marks the event of the 2550th conception commemoration of Gautama Buddha. The site is blessed with picturesque view of the mountains, museum, and meditation center.
Rimbi waterfalls is one of North East India’s lesser-known attractions but certainly no less amazing. Rimbi River, the source of the falls is famous for recreational activities like fishing. The scenic spot is one where you can enjoy a picnic with family or spend time reveling in the bliss of nature. It is a short way from Pelling.
Neer Mahal, Tripura
The Lake Palace of Tripura, Neer Mahal (the water palace) is the former residence of the royal family of Tripura. The palace is built in the center of the Rudra Sagar Lake with architecture featuring Hindu and Islamic elements. Largest of its kind in India, the palace features 24 rooms along with an open air theater.
Dzukou Valley, Nagaland
Sprinkled with diverse species of flowers and shrubs that include various rhododendron species as well, Dzukou Valley in Nagaland is one of the most unspoiled and breathtaking places in North East India. It is also one of the top places for rhododendron treks with easy to moderate climb.
The second highest peak located in Nagaland, Japfu’s claim to fame is the world’s tallest rhododendron tree in its beautiful ranges. The best time to visit Japfu peak, locally known as Valley of Flower, is from April till May when the entire range dons mesmerizing hue as the rhododendron forest and orchard bloom during this time.
Darjeeling Toy Train Ride: A famous Bollywood Film locale
Not really North East but as close as it gets to the lifestyle and cultural similarities, Darjeeling is popularly used as gateway to North East India and is often features in North East India tour packages.
Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, which is a thin gauge course connecting Darjeeling and Siliguri, popularly referred to as the “Toy Train” transports passengers to the rolling hills and lush green tea plantations of Darjeeling from the lower reaches of Eastern Himalayas. Although this blog post is mainly dedicated towards the seven sisters of North-East India, Darjeeling is also a part of the North-Eastern region of India.
The railway was completed in the year 1881. The Darjeeling Toy Train is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Batasia Loop is one of the most scenic places, between Ghum and Darjeeling, offers a panoramic view of the surrounding areas.
The train also passes over 5 major and nearly 500 minor bridges. The train passes through the local markets and the towns. People and children watch the train passing by, leaving behind all their daily chores. Buddhist monks too take delight in watching the train passing by.
[Plan your Holiday in with these Darjeeling Tour Packages]
Lady Hydari Park- Hotspot for Family Picnic, Shillong, Meghalaya
One of the most important places to visit in Shillong, Lady Hydari Park is designed in the style of a Japanese garden. The landscape is dotted with small ponds, willow trees and rhododendron plants whose leaves almost touch the ground level.
The park is also the only place with a mini zoo. It is run and managed by the Forest Department. The dry skin of python is clipped to the wall. Close to this park are the Crinoline Falls and Crinoline Swimming Pool, a swimming pool known by the same name.
The mini zoo in Shillong keeps bird species and animals such as the Himalayan Black Bear, Jackal, kite, hornbill, mynah and porcupine Leopard. It is the best children themed park in Shillong and aims to highlight the rich bio-diversity of Shillong.
Here you will get to see stuffed leopard, skulls of elephants and pictures of rare animals found in the state.
Kanchendzonga National Park
The Kanchendzonga National Park is an UNESCO World Heritage Site settled in North Eastern Himalayas. The unique diversity of plains, ancient forests, valleys, lakes, glaciers, snow-capped mountains, including the world’s third highest peak, Mount Kanchendzonga. 50 species of wildlife, 550 species of avians and adventures add to the thrill of exploring the natural sanctuary. Visiting the national park should definitely be on your list of things to do in North East India.
Ward’s Lake, Shillong Meghalaya
One of the most popular attractions in Shillong, Ward’s Lake is an artificial lake set amidst lush green gardens, in the middle of the scenic hill station ‘Shillong’. This horse shoe shaped lake is often visited by both locals as well as tourists.
It is called Ward’s Lake, in the memory of Sir William Ward, then Chief Commissioner of Assam who caused its construction. This construction was carried out by Colonel Hopkins during 1894.
There is a popular tale behind the construction of this artificial lake- ‘A Khasi prisoner, bored with the prison routine requested the warden for some creative release by allowing him to do some construction over Ward’s Lake.
Today, you can find a marvelous site of the Ward’s Lake as the locals preferably call it. This 100 year old picturesque Lake underneath the Raj Bhawan is located at the heart of the city. Boating facilities and a bird sanctuary is also present here.
Eco Park, Meghalaya
Planned and executed by the government of Meghalaya in Cherrapunji, Eco Park is famous for its several native orchards. It is perched atop of a plateau and offers stunning views of the Sylhet Plains in Bangladesh.
It allows tourists to treat their eyes with the views of “Green Canyons” of Sohra as well as the cascades located around it. Besides, there is a watercourse inside the park and one has to pass through a bridge to reach the periphery of the canyon. The breathtaking views from the edge will sweep you off your feet.
On the other side of the Eco Park, there is a view point to observe the Bangladesh plains. The Eco Park features multiple assortments of orchids and brought straightaway from the Shillong Agri-Horticultural Society. Adding to this, tourists can enjoy breathtaking views of Sylhet Plains in Bangladesh.
[Plan your trip to Northeast India with 7 tastefully crafted Meghalaya tour packages]
Thalon Cave, Manipur
One of the major historic sites in Manipur, Thalon Cave is situated at a height of 900 meters above sea level and is around 80 kilometers from Imphal. Revealed in the year 1946 by Budhachandra, the Maharaja of Manipur, the cave might scare you with its darkness but still it’s quite interesting.
Thalon Cave forms a part of Manipur tourism festival and its expeditions held here for 3 weeks in which participant from around the world partake. It is one of the major historic sites in Manipur and provides the first solid evidence of the 2000 year old Hoabinhian Culture in India.
These caves are situated at a distance of 80 kilometer from Imphal and can be easily reached via trekking from Thalon Village. It takes around 1 hour trekking from Thalon village to the cave from 4 to 5 kilometers.
Loktak Lake, Manipur
Definitely one of the things to do in North East India, Loktak Lake is a beautiful freshwater lake in Manipur located near Moirang.
It is also touted as the largest freshwater lake in North East India. Characterized by the floating vegetation known as ‘Phumdi’, it is said to be only ‘Floating Lake’ in the world.
It not only adds to the breathtaking natural beauty of the state but also plays a vital role in the economy of the state. There are several ‘Phumdi’, which comprises of assorted mass of soil, vegetation and organic matters at various stages of breakdown.
There are several ‘Phumdis’ spread across the entire stretch of the Lake and provides it an amazing perspective. Besides the freshwater, the Loktak Lake is known for its tasty fish. Dried Fish is one of the most favorite food items in Manipur. Tourists can buy this fish from the nearby Moirang Market.
Sangai Festival- Relish Some Local Culture
Manipur Sangai Festival is a 10 day long festival that is annually organized by the Manipur Tourism Department, Government of Manipur. These festivals were successful and well-received by the tourists, who had come to see the festivals.
This annual festival is organized every year from November 21 to November 30. It is usually designed to portray the exclusivity of the Sangai Deer, which is the state animal of Manipur.
This festival aims at promoting Manipur as a world class tourist destination. During the festival, you will get to see each and every color of Manipur’s handicrafts, handlooms, indigenous sports, eco & adventure sports, music, cuisines, fine arts and art & culture.
The highlights of the festival involve the performances by cultural troupes from Myanmar, the largest exhibition of handlooms, handicrafts and indigenous cuisines & sports.
The state is best known for its classical dance, ancient traditions and rich cultural patterns. The well-known Raas Dance depicts the dance of Lord Krishna with Gopies of Vrindavan and expresses their longing for union with lord.
The best time to visit Northeast India to attend this festival is May.
Mawlynnong Village in Meghalaya
Mawlynnong village in Meghalaya nestled in Khasi hills is named the “Cleanest Village in Asia”. The village is truly an outstanding example of community-based eco-tourism. Visit to enjoy the clean village surroundings. The village locals have constructed a remarkable sky-view bamboo platform atop the highest tree in the forest, nearly 80 feet up. Enjoy the bird’s eye view of surroundings.
Gorichen Peak is the highest in Arunachal Pradesh. At the height of 22500 feet it poses a challenge to trekkers. The beautiful Gorichen Peak offers magnificent views of North East Himalayas. Mt Gorichen is the 3rd highest peak in North East with the exception of Sikkim Himalayas. A trek to the peak is an extraordinary feat.
Yumthang Valley is a beauty situated in north Sikkim. Snuggled an elevation of 3,500 metres above sea-level, it is extremely picturesque, with green slopes, yaks grazing, and a river flowing through the valley. Yumthang is often called Valley of Flowers, as it is blessed with over 24 species of Rhododendrons. In spring and during monsoon, the Himalayan flowers bloom in multitude shades and color the valley in all spectrums of the rainbow. Do not miss to revel in the serene bliss.
Khecheopalri Lake in Sikkim is a picturesque sight. Said to have been blessed by Guru Padmasambhava, the Khecheopalri Lake is an important stop on the Buddhist circuit in Sikkim. The lake water is so clear that not even a leaf can be seen floating on the surface, as they are picked off by birds. An important religious fair is held every March/April on the lake shores.
Spot a tiger at Manas National Park
The Manas Wildlife Sanctuary is titled as a World Heritage Site. Sited at the base of foot hills of the Bhutan-Himalayas in the state of Assam, Manas is blessed with unique biodiversity. It is one of the first reserves under Project tiger in 1973. Manas is very rich in the population of Royal Bengal Tigers. Presently the population of Tigers are counted up to 60. This national park offers a huge chance of tiger sighting. Do go for safari.
Bihu is a popular folk dance of Assam. The Bihu dance is an integral part of the harvest festival of Bihu. Young men and girls perform the dance together to the complement of drums and pipes. The dances are performed in circles or parallel rows. Watch the lively performance or participate in the dance. You will love the music, steps and the experience.
Nameri National Park
Nameri National Park in Assam is set at the foothills of Eastern Himalayas along the banks of a tributary of River Brahmaputra. The national park is a Tiger Reserve, a home to the numerous majestic Big Cats and around 300 species of birds. The lush environs are ideal for wildlife adventure. Plan a visit when exploring the North East.
Hornbill Festival is a yearly celebration held in North East India. Held at Kisama Heritage Village in Nagaland, the tribal festival is thrilling. The indigenous tribes of North East India and the 16 tribes of Nagaland come together to present a memorable exhibition. Experience a variety of cultures, food, songs, dances and customs of tribal population. Read More
Kisama Heritage Village, Nagaland
Kisama heritage village is built as an effort of Nagaland government to revive and conserve the erstwhile tribal culture of the Naga people. Imitating the traditional Naga villages and tribal livelihoods and values, the village is opened to the public for the first week in December, during the time of the Hornbill festival. Experience Nagaland’s tribal history, lifestyle, homes, cuisines and traditions here.
Ziro music festival
Ziro festival is said to be one of the greatest outdoor music festivals in India. Held each year in Arunachal Pradesh’s picturesque Ziro Valley. There are numerous activities for interested festival-goer to explore. Spend time with the locals and learn about the native Apatani culture. It is a draw for visitors. Stay in tented accommodation and enjoy melodious music. Read More
Paragliding in Sikkim
Paragliding in Sikkim is becoming an increasingly popular adventure sport. Enjoy views of the magnificent Himalayan range in its snow covered glory from the sky as you fly like a bird. Tandem flights are offered here which means an experienced and certified pilot will accompany you. Short haul flights for 15-20 minutes and long haul flights maximum for an hour are available. Read More
The Mount Kanchenjunga (8534 m) is the third highest peak in the world and highest peak in India. The Kanchenjunga trek big-time adventure luring mountain lovers from all over the world. Trekking to Kanchenjunga is quite different from the other treks in the Indian Himalayan belt. The best time for this trek are mid-March to early-May and October to mid-November.
Kamakhya Temple in Assam is popularly known is one of the 51 Shakti Peeths in India. According to legend Sati’s yoni (reproductive organ) fell here after her self-immolation. There is no idol here but a structure shaped as yoni moistened by a natural spring. Visit the temple for spiritual bliss, it is extraordinary. It is an important pilgrimage for Hindus.
Ujjayanta Palace, is an erstwhile royal palace situated in Agartala, the capital of the Indian state of Tripura. A must-visit tourist attraction of North East, tours are conducted by the Tripura Tourism Department. Built by Maharaja Radhakishore Manikya in 1901, the name Ujjayanta Palace was given by Rabindranath Tagore. Explore the Neo-classical architecture, collection of memorabilia of the royal era.
One of the mightiest peaks in the world, Kangchenjunga dominates the North Eastern Himalayas. The third-highest mountain in the world, at an elevation of 8,586 metres is one of the glories of the North East. Kangchenjunga translated means “The Five Treasures of Snows”, as it contains five peaks, four of them over 8,450 metres. The mountain is home to adventure, incredible glaciers, lakes, unique flora and fauna.
Repertoire of Folk Dances- Groove to the Folk Tunes
The repertoire of Manipuri Dances can be broadly categorized into 3 to 4 categories. Manipuri is a classical dance form in the northeastern part in India. It is deliberate and stylized with great attention paid to details. The repertoire also absorbs some ritual dances such as The Lai Haroba and the Khamba Thoibi.
The historical and mythical theme used in these ritual dances makes them classical. These dance forms also utilizes an element of Abhinaya besides Pure Nritya. The kohl dance performed by men is believed to be the greatest achievement. It can be performed either by a single person or about a hundred men. The sound range produced through the pung is awesome.
The most cooperative aspect of Manipuri culture is that it has retained the ancient ritual based dances & folk dances along with the later developed classical Manipuri dance style.
Among the classical categories, ‘Raas Leela’ composed by mainly eminent Manipuri Gurus and Bengali Poets. It is the epitome of dedication, artistic genius and brilliance of the Manipuri’s. Here are some popular Manipuri Dance forms such as Raas Leela, Gustha Leela, Khamba Thoibi, Pala Kirtana and Khamba Thoibi.
Last updated on 09-Dec-2014 by Nikhil Chandra