Five handpicked holiday ideas for North East India
The North East of India has a lot to offer to the discerning traveller from breathtaking landscapes to colourful cultures and varied flora and fauna. Travellers could explore the region for a lifetime and still only scrape the surface of the regions unique offerings. Below are five holiday ideas to lesser known destinations in northeast.
This article was published in TTJ - the Travel Trade Journal in its April, 2021 issue.
1. Manas National Park, Assam
Manas National Park in Assam is a UNESCO Natural World Heritage site. This beautiful national park located in the Assam Bhutan border is divided in 2 countries India & Bhutan and is contiguous with the Royal Manas National Park of Bhutan. It is a project tiger reserve, elephant reserve and a biosphere reserve.
Manas is only 3 hrs drive from Guwahati, the major city and point of embarkation in Northeast India for most travelers. The drive itself quite picturesque going though small towns, neat villages, paddy fields, tea gardens, roadside weekly markets etc. On reaching Manas, apart from the lush greenery one is also greeted by the many peacocks that live here. For accommodation there are some resorts and camps on the periphery of the park. Manas remains open for visitors from November to April and partially open in October and May. Three main activities can be done in Manas – Elephant Safari, Jeep Safari and Rafting on the Manas river. The Elephant Safari takes place early in the morning and Jeep Safari a bit later in the morning. Manas is mostly dense forests with very tall trees and some grasslands. Manas is famous for its unique scenic beauty and to quote the UNESCO World Heritage Tag declaration – Manas contains superlative natural phenomena/ areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance. The Big Five animals of Manas are - One horned Rhino, Swamp Deer, Wild Buffalo, Tiger and Elephant apart from many other animals including 22 endangered species and about 500 species of Birds.
Apart from the animals and the forest, the beauty of the turquoise blue waters of the Manas river against the backdrop of the Bhutan hills looks like straight out of a fairy tale. This park has undergone tremendous transformation in the recent years from the verge of destruction due to insurgency. There was mass deforestation and many animals died few decades back. When peace returned to the area, the forest also started healing and soon regained its beauty and magnificence.
For travel enquiries to Manas National Park visit https://www.kazirangatours.com/
2. Khonoma village, Nagaland
Khonoma village claims to be the first Green village in India. Situated about 20 kms from Kohima the capital of the state of Nagaland, Khonoma is an Angami Naga tribal village. There are 16 major tribes in Nagaland, Angami being one of them. The Angamis were fierce warriors and were at the forefront among the tribes that offered stiff resistance against British colonial intrusion into their territories and Khonoma was their vanguard village.
A picturesque village on top of a hill, Khonoma has about 500 households. There is a methodical neatness about the layout of the village and fields. Beautiful terraced rice fields in the valley below surrounded by hills is a sight to behold. Khonoma has adopted many green practices like banning cutting of trees for commercial purposes, reforestation, sustainable agricultural practices etc. to maintain the greenery and natural ecosystem of the surrounding areas. Khonoma houses nature’s pristine beauty in the form of its alder trees, terraces carved out of its hilly slopes and the Khonoma Nature Conservation Tragopan Sanctuary (KNCTS). KNCTS conserves a large and rare variety of plants and animals within its 25 sq km area.
People can hike around the village in the many paved walkways dotted with pretty flowers and exotic orchids enjoying the panoramic views all around. Smaller roads takes one inside the village where one can see and learn about the Angami tribal lifestyle. Morungs are common houses where the male youth of the village get together, stay and learn about social conduct, traditions, hunting etc. from the elders of the village. There are some circular platforms where the elders of the village sit occasionally to discuss about important issues.
Khonoma also has its share of history in it's epic resistances against the British colonial forces resulting in a peace treaty after decades of fighting. The Khonoma Fort is a silent reminder of the brave Angami warriors who stood against the Colonial forces. The main festival of the Angami Nagas is Sekrenyi Festival celebrated in the last week of February. It is a purification festival where villagers perform rituals to purify the bodies and souls of the villagers and the entire community to safeguard from evil spirits. It also marks initiation of young people to adulthood and is considered an "identity marker of the Angami".
For travel enquiries to Nagaland visit https://www.kazirangatours.com/
3. Namsai - Parshuram Kund - Roing - Mayodia circuit, Arunachal Pradesh
Eastern Arunachal Pradesh is truly a paradise unexplored. This part had remained comparatively untouched due to limited connectivity. However, in the last couple of years connectivity improved drastically after two of India’s longest bridges came into existence over the river Brahmaputra connecting Eastern Arunachal to Assam. This part makes a great holiday destination round the year. One can arrive in Dibrugarh airport in Upper Assam, spend a night or two here exploring the Tea Gardens or directly proceed to Namsai in Arunachal Pradesh. The main attraction here is the Golden Pagoda of Namsai. The Pagoda is perched beautifully on top of a hill on the banks of a river overlooking the Eastern Himalayan mountains. The temple has a beautiful jade Buddha. A tourist complex near the pagoda has decent accommodation of individual cottages.
From here one can drive to Parshuram kund. Parshuram kund located in the scenic Dibang valley is a natural water body fed by the Lohit river. It is an important place as per Hindu mythology with beliefs that one can wash away their sins by bathing in this Kund. Thousands of pilgrims visit this place every year. From Parshuram kund the next destination is Roing. Roing has some decent accommodation aligning with ecotourism. From Roing day excursion can be done to Mayodia pass at the Indo China border. Enjoy the panoramic views of the eastern Himalayas snowclad peaks.
Mayodia receives ample snowfall starting from the month of November till February/March. From Roing visitors can come back to Dibrugarh crossing India’s longest bridge the Bhupen Hazarika setu commonly known as Dhola Sadiya bridge which is 9 kms long. The view from the bridge is a sight to behold with the mighty Brahmaputra flowing majestically and the mountains of Eastern Himalayas in the horizon. Dibrugarh airport is well connected to all major airports in India.
For travel enquiries to Eastern Arunachal visit https://www.kazirangatours.com/
4. Jowai in Meghalaya
When talking about Meghalaya the destinations that get mentioned first are Shillong and Cherrapunjee. However, there is another interesting destination in Meghalaya called Jowai, headquarter of the West Jaintia Hills district. Apart from natural beauty and amazing waterfalls Jowai also has a historical aspect. One can arrive in Guwahati airport and drive to Jowai which is about 160 kms from Guwahati. The main attractions here and nearby are Tyrshi falls, Krang Shuri falls, Thadlaskein Lake, Nartiang monoliths and Durga Temple.
The Tyrshi falls comes down in steps thundering down to the Pynthor (paddy-fields) below. A trek through a winding footpath offering a breathtaking and panoramic view of the valley and paddy fields takes one to this falls. The Krang Shuri falls is one of the most beautiful falls in Meghalaya. It also offers activities like hiking, boating, swimming and playing in the crystal clear blue waters. The Nartiang Monoliths is the biggest collection of monoliths or Megalithic stones. Monoliths are upright structures carved from one single stone. The tallest Monolith about 8 meters high probably the tallest in the world was erected by a trusted lieutenant of the Jaintia King to commemorate his victory in battle.
The Nartiang Durga temple is one of the 51 Shakti Peethas and it is believed that Sati’s left thigh had fallen here. The Goddess here is revered as Jainteshwari. The temple is perched atop a hill and the present structure is 600 years old. Durga puja is celebrated here annually.
For travel enquiries to Eastern Arunachal visit https://www.kazirangatours.com/
5. Tea Garden stays in Assam
The tea industry of India started with a few tea gardens in Upper Assam. Spending a few days in a tea bungalow in Assam in the midst of greenery and serenity enjoying your favourite cup of tea away from the hustle and bustle is an extremely relaxing and delightful experience. Many of these bungalows are quite old built during the colonial times and can be called as heritage bungalows. Some of these houses known as ‘Chang Bungalows'’ were built on stilts taking inspiration from houses of local tribes built on raised platforms. Most of the Tea Bungalows come with fire places, old wooden furniture like four poster beds and other colonial era charms.
With the onset of monsoons, the tea gardens come alive with fresh new leaves and tea factories buzzing with action and filled with aroma. The guests can try their hands at plucking tea leaves and see how tea is manufactured in the tea factory. A session of tea tasting is a great way to learn about the different varieties and grades of tea. Guests can also indulge in local Assamese cuisine and try their hands in a cooking class. Cultural programmes like Bihu and Jhumur dances are organized on request. Other activities that can be availed are cycling around the garden, bird watching, picnic inside the garden, horse riding, visiting nearby villages and weaving centres etc.
For travel enquiries to Tea Garden in Assam visit https://www.kazirangatours.com/
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