Winter is coming (and not just in Game of Thrones)! We are slowly inching towards that time of the year when vacation planning is at its peak. Those with larger purses are already looking westwards while the budget-friendly-vacation-loving aam aadmi will once again discover his mojo in the snow-capped sceneries of the lower Himalayas. For a change, imagine being given a complete package, the likes of which even a European sojourn can’t promise, right here in India, at a cost which might cover 2 trips to the northern hills. Have I lost it? No, I haven’t. Am I being dreamy? Well, why wouldn’t I! For ‘Dreamy ’is what the North eastern corner of our country is. A region basking in abundance of pristine serenity, so full of wonder and frisson that the Discovery Channel can make a 365 episode documentary on it and still come back with season 2 the next year! The North East has something for every kind of traveller. Oh before that, the world is divided into 5 kinds of travellers (says who? Says me.) and this part of the world is tailor-made for each of those kinds. How? Who are these kinds? To un-mystify this mystery, make yourself a cup of tea and read on..
The Daredevil Tourist
Adventure Tourism in India is still in an infantine stage, to be frank. But for those who love to have a racy pulse rate, North east India is the place to be. Arunachal Pradesh is the hot-spot for one the most popular adventure sports- River Rafting. The Siang river, a tributary of the mighty Brahmaputra is a goldmine for white water rafting lovers. The presence of grade 3 and 4 rapids in the river make for a riveting experience for those who have the appetite and the heart for such risky yet awe-inspiring manoeuvers. If you are already thinking on ‘WOW!’ lines, take a trip down the Subansiri, the largest tributary of the Brahmaputra. Touted as one the most difficult rivers for rafting in India, the river takes you through some picturesque locations as it passes through lush forests among others. Combine that with grade 4 rapids and you have an experience to give you the chills. Apart from rafting, the North east is a happy hunting ground for trekkers. The Sandafku peak and the Goecha La pass in Sikkim are some of the best places to trek on in the country. Not only do they take you through some really tough terrains but the sights that befall on completion of the journey are sights to cherish for life. For the more easy going adventurers, there’s always the famous Yak safari to fall back on in Sikkim. And if you’re there, don’t forget to try the Yak cheese (definitely not yuck!).
The Jungle Book fan
Wildlife enthusiasts form a major bulk of tourists in any region boasting riches in the sector. Assam in North east India is blessed on that front. The Kaziranga National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site, is home to the one-horned rhinoceros along with a large population of elephants, deers and migratory birds. Animal safaris at Kaziranga are something every wildlife lover has on his bucketlist. Another wildlife destination in Assam is the Manas National Park, also a UNESCO heritage site and a Tiger reserve. Other exotic animals such as the Golden Langur and the Pygmy Hog too mark their presence here. Add to that the only floating National Park in the world in Manipur and you know we are talking serious wildlife tourism here. In other words, experience Kipling’s book virtually unfold before your own eyes here. No guarantees on spotting Mowgli though!
Related: Must visit National Parks of Assam
The selfie addict
We, the people (of today) hardly let go of a photo op opportunity and for the tourist whose tourism centres around lots and lots of photographs, incredible North east presents the perfect destinations to fill up the GBs of your data card. Whether it be the Seven Sisters and the Elephant falls of Meghalaya or the Shilloi lake in Nagaland, the cleanest village in Asia- Mawlynnong and the wettest place in the world- Mawsynram or the tallest waterfall in India in Cherrapunji ( all in Meghalaya), the palaces of Tripura or the monasteries of Arunachal and Sikkim, the snow covered Sela pass in Arunachal Pradesh and the Nathu La pass in Sikkim or the tea gardens of Assam, the sights are images to behold. All you need are a couple of power banks and half a dozen data cards.
Related: Enthralling Waterfalls in Meghalaya
The History TV follower
Historical value adds massive weightage to a destination and attracts visitors with an eye for it. The North east is rich in such monumental history. The Rang-Ghar in Sivasagar (Assam) is a two storied building formerly used as a sports pavilion by the Ahom kings and nobles. The Talatal Ghar, also in Sivasagar is a classic example of Ahom architecture. It was a palace with secret tunnels and three floors below ground level used as secret exit passages in times of war. Tripura, on the other hand plays hosts to one of the only two water palaces in India-the Neermahal, built by King Bir Bikram Kishore and located in the centre of Rudrasagar lake. Also in Tripura is the Ujjayanta Palace, dating back to the 19th century and built by King Radha Kishore. The grandeur of these palaces literally turn back time and lets you know that grand palaces aren’t restricted to the ‘land of the sands’ alone.
The Holy Traveller
When the ‘guy’ up above has blessed our part of the world with such generosity, its only fair that we thank him back in our prayers and as far as pilgrimage goes, the north east has some of the most visited religious sites in India. Take for example the Kamakhya temple in Guwahati, one of the oldest of the 51 Shakti Pithas. The Ambubachi Mela, an annual event at Kamakhya is visited upon by thousands from across the globe. The Basistha Ashram , also in Guwahati (Assam) is another holy attraction the city boasts of. The Tawang Monastery in Arunachal Pradesh is one of the largest Buddhist monasteries in the world. Located at an altitude of about 10,000 feet, the monastery built in the 17th century is a popular tourist destination.
This was what can be best described as a sneak-peak to the wonders the North east has to offer. Those who have had the privilege of experiencing it first-hand will vouch for it. For those who haven’t , chalk up your plans and come and see for yourself the vibrancy the North east is so proud about. As a famous celebrity talks about a certain western state of our country in the commercial, let me try and fill those Big (B) shoes and call out, ‘ Kuch din to guzaariye North-east mein..’