I recently returned from a fun-filled trip to Meghalaya, where I also spent a day and a half in Guwhati. The northeast region of India is quite different from the India you see on other parts of the Indian map. And I am saying that on a positive note.
My trip to Meghalaya is undoubtedly one of the most precious travel memories I have had so far. I never expected that such beauty exists in that region. And the best part is that northeast India is still well away from being a beaten tourist track. So, it is worth exploring it before it gets bombarded with travelers.
The region is a dream, not just because there are fewer honking horns than in the rest of India. The relaxed pace of life is attractive to even swift travelers.
If you enjoy staying off the beaten track and swinging in the lap of nature or want to explore a part of India you have not seen before, below are 10 reasons to inspire you to plan a trip to northeast India.
1. Experience a unique region
In a true sense, northeast India is unique, unlike the rest of India. Even though the region is less traveled by tourists, it has a charm of its own. In many cities/villages in the northeast, outsiders are not permitted to buy land, which has resulted in preserving the local heritage and values. Away from the hustle and bustle of other touristy parts of India, the northeast offers rich wildlife, stunning scenery, and an expanse of aromatic tea fields.
2. Home to the only male river in India
The Brahmaputra is named after the Son of Lord Brahma and is regarded as the only male river in India, while all the other major rivers carry female names.
The best way to explore Assam in northeast India is by taking a leisurely cruise on the mighty river that winds through Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Burma. The Brahmaputra is home to a variety of wildlife and gives you a view of village life along the way, along with the surrounding ancient monuments, temples (Umananda Temple on Peacock Island), farmland, and lush tea plantations.
Another way to enjoy basking in the breathtaking views of the Brahmaputra river is to go for the ropeway ride. The Assam Government inaugurated the ropeway in 2020. The 20 minutes roundtrip in the cable car is a surreal experience. Moreover, it is far cheaper than going on a cruise.
3. Visit one of the most powerful Shakti Peethas in India - one of the reasons to visit northeast India for Hindus
I first heard of the Kamakhya Temple while planning my first trip to North-East India. Kamakhya Temple is one of the oldest 51 Shakti Peethas in India. According to the Kalika Purana, this was where Goddess Sati's yoni (vagina) fell when Shiva danced with the corpse of Sati. So, the temple doesn't worship the idol of Goddess Kamakhya, but a vagina. The temple is also famous for granting the boon of fertility.
4. Witness the beauty of the cleanest village in Asia - one of the important reasons to visit northeast India
I came to know about Mawlynnong, popularly known as the cleanest village in Asia, only during my trip to Meghalaya. After reaching Mawlynnong, I realized that the village is not only litter-free but, every house there has such beautiful landscaping that would instantly catch your attention. The villagers are friendly and easy-going. The village is quite progressive and has a 100% literacy rate.
5. Get dumbstruck at the nature marvel - one of the top reasons to visit northeast India
The living root bridges, which are several in Meghalaya, are worth seeing with your own eyes. The credit for this faithful collaboration with mother nature goes to Khasis, the native tribe of Meghalaya. The popular ones are the Jingmaham living root bridge in Mawlynnong and the double-decker living root bridge in Cherrapunji.
The Khasis used the clasping quality of the Ficus Elastica tree (a species of the Indian rubber tree), and channeled them through hollow trunks of betel trees that directed the growth of the roots towards the river bank on the other side. Once the roots grew and reached the other side, they were infused into the soil and allowed to penetrate its depths, making it stronger. The roots were then cobbled with stones converting them into beautiful pathways.
These paths i.e. the root bridge strengthened over some time and became operational within 10-15 years. Unlike the concrete stuff, these bridges grow stronger with time.
6. Experience Time Travel
As you arrive at places that are near the India-Bangladesh border, do not get surprised if your smartphone starts showing a time that does not match the time on your wristwatch. Although it is hardly a 30 minutes time difference (Bangladesh is 30 minutes ahead of India), the experience of living in another country's timezone while living in your own country is surreal.
7. Admire the tallest plunge waterfall in India
Nohkalikai Falls is the tallest plunge waterfall in India. A plunge waterfall drops vertically without touching the underlying cliff face. Its height is 340 meters. Insane, right? Imagine how other-worldly it must have been to watch it in person.
8. Festivals and culture
Most festivals in northeast India are related to agriculture, Buddhism, or the new year. For example, Losar is a festival in Arunachal Pradesh that signifies the Tibetan New Year. Ambubachi Mela is another festival held in Guwahati and is considered one of the most famous festivals in Northeast India. It gets celebrated during June in the Kamakhya Temple.
9. A paradise for food lovers
If you are a food lover and like to try out authentic local cuisine while traveling, you will love northeast cuisines, especially if you are a non-vegetarian. The region offers you a range of unique spices.
10. See what unspoiled nature looks like
Yes, such a thing exists in India, which can be hard to imagine, given the state of many sights and natural areas in the rest of the country.
That's not to say the region is spotlessly clean. There are many people who use nature as a trash bin. However, there are a number of places where you can roam without tripping over bottles and cans.
Here, I end my list of reasons to travel to northeast India. I am assuming you have already started to plan your itinerary by now. Northeast India is a mystical place with extraordinary beauty.