Take The Northeast India Trip In 2018: Here's Everything You Need To Know About The Seven Sisters

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Photo of Take The Northeast India Trip In 2018: Here's Everything You Need To Know About The Seven Sisters 1/1 by Prateek Dham
Credits: Santanu Sen

Here at Tripoto, we take pride in introducing the most beautiful nooks and corners of the world to avid travellers, so they may explore them firsthand. And today I want to reintroduce to you the fascinating 7 sisters of India. Still majorly unexplored, visiting the seven sister states of the north east India provides a very different experience than one usually gets while traversing the Indian mainland.

Which are these seven states? Why are they called seven sisters of India?

A famous Tripura journalist, Jyoti Prasad Saikia, had coined the term '7 sisters of India' during the course of a radio talk show in January 1972. It coincided with the inauguration of these seven contiguous states: Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura. Saikia also wrote a book called 'The Land of Seven Sisters' later, and that's how the nickname caught on originally.

Although the seven sister states collectively only comprise about 7% of India's total land area, but the great ethnic and religious diversity makes them a must-visit at least once in a lifetime. Although there is political, social and economic resemblance amongst the states, but geographically each is gorgeous in its own way. And hence, what follows is fundamental information on each of the 7 sisters of India, so they may be visited separately or collectively, depending on the longevity of your plan.

Credits: Michael Foley

Photo of Assam, India by Prateek Dham

If travelling from mainland India, one cannot enter the 7 Sisters of India without crossing the state of Assam, at least aerially. Also known as Ahom, the state boasts of a hospitable culture and rich heritage. The place is naturally gifted because of its proximity to the majestic Brahmaputra also gifting it a fantastical geography, replete with carefully maintained tea estates and rice fields.

Famous for: Tea and silk.

Places to Visit: Guwahati (Kamakhya Temple), Kaziranga National Park (for the endangered one-horned rhinoceros), Majuli (the largest river-island in Asia).

Things to Do: Attend Bihu, a festival that is celebrated to mark the change of season. Attend Ambubachi Mela in June, dedicated to Goddess Kamakhya.

Food: Have a piping hot cup of authentic Assamese Tea in a tea estate. Try the subliminally flavoured fish tenga, an aquatic dish prepared in sour curry. Try bhoot jolokhia, one of the hottest chillies in the world – at your own risk of course!

Climate: 8-20 degrees Celsius in winters. 35-38 degrees Celsius in summers.

Best Time to Visit: All year round.

Average Expenditure Per Head (excluding flights): Rs. 11,000 for 5 days.

How to reach: The main airport is Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport in Guwahati. It is accessible from all the major cities in the country.

For an extended itinerary on Assam, refer to this trip.

Credits: Ashwin Kumar

Photo of Meghalaya, India by Prateek Dham

Literally meaning the 'abode of clouds', Meghalaya is a tiny state blessed with plenty of rain all year long. This obviously means a lot of greenery and ample water bodies all across. Since the major chunk of the rain falls between June and September, it's best to admire the dramatic cliffs, lofty waterfalls and the endless caves of the place during the rest of the year. A trip to the 7 sisters of India is indeed incomplete without the immersive experience that Meghalaya bestows upon every traveller.

Famous for: Rainfall and a large variety of orchids.

Places to Visit: Cherrapunjee and Mawsynram (wettest place on earth), Shillong (Elephant Falls, Mawjymbuin Cave), Williamnagar (for birdwatching).

Things to Do: Attend the Wangala Drum Festival in autumn (the date for 2016 was Nov 11). Walk across the natural root bridges in Cherrapunjee.

Food: Since Meghalaya is home to the Mongoloid tribes as well, the cuisine is a bit different from the rest of the Seven Sisters with emphasis on spicy meat and fish curries.

Climate: 8-15 degrees Celsius in winters. 20-33 degrees Celsius in summers.

Best Time to Visit: April to June.

Average Expenditure Per Head (excluding flights): Rs. 10,500 for 5 days.

How to reach: The main airport is Umroi Airport, located 30km away from Shillong. It is accessible from all the major cities in the country via either Kolkata or Guwahati.

For an extended itinerary on Meghalaya, refer to this trip.

Credits: OP John

Photo of Arunachal Pradesh, India by Prateek Dham

Possibly the least explored amongst the seven sisters of India, Arunachal Pradesh literally translates to the "land of dawn-lit mountains". The virginal quality of the state enables 26 indigenous tribes to live and prosper peacefully amidst the sprawling greens. With hills that are impossible to climb and forests so dense that sunlight is a luxury, Arunachal has continued to fascinate tourists and travellers alike.

Famous for: Buddhist monasteries and the Ziro Festival.

Places to Visit: Ziro Valley (the most secluded music festival in India), Tawang Monastery (a beautiful Buddhist monastery located 10,000 feet above sea level), Sela Pass (for frozen lakes and unexplored trails).

Things to Do: Indulge in white water rafting on the Kameng River. Enjoy birdwatching in Sangti Valley.

Food: Like the other seven sisters of India, rice is the staple diet here as well. Take ample sips of apong, a beer made of rice, to wash down you meal. Also try pika pila, a local pickle made from bamboo shoots.

Climate: 15-20 degrees Celsius in winters. 32-40 degrees Celsius in summers.

Best Time to Visit: October to March.

Average Expenditure Per Head (excluding flights): Rs. 12,000 for 5 days.

How to reach: The state doesn't have a major airport yet, but it's still well connected via flights. Lilabari (in Assam) is the nearest airport, 57km from Naharlagun and 67km from the capital, Itanagar. There are direct flights to Tezpur in Assam (216km from Itanagar) from Kolkata, and from Delhi to Guwahati in Assam.

For an extended itinerary on Arunachal Pradesh, refer to this trip.

Credits: Nick Irvine

Photo of Manipur, India by Prateek Dham

You know that a particular place is special if its name literally translates to the "jewelled land". From professional sports to lip-smacking cuisine, from arts and culture to rich cultural heritage, Manipur lives up to its name with unprecedented elan. The state is so densely covered with forests that it's a breeding ground for the rarest of flora and fauna, as well as guerrilla armies. While visiting Manipur, it's recommended that you have a local for company at all times.

Famous for: Classical dances and exquisite handicrafts.

Places to Visit: Imphal (Kangla Fort for its historical and cultural importance), Moirang (for Keibul Lamjao, the only floating water national park in the world), Andro (the ancient Manipuri village with its own pottery and doll exhibitions).

Things to Do: Spot the endangered Sangai in Keibul Lamjao National Park. Shop at the famous Ima Keithel Women's Market, one of the largest all-women's market in the world.

Food: Unlike most of India, the cuisine in Manipur is super healthy, since the prime ingredients are chilly and pepper with little oil. Try ngri, the much-loved fermented fish.

Climate: 0-12 degrees Celsius in winters. 35-40 degrees Celsius in summers.

Best Time to Visit: October to March.

Average Expenditure Per Head (excluding flights): Rs. 9,500 for 5 days.

How to reach: The main airport of the state is Imphal Airport, where direct flights from Aizawl, Bangalore, Delhi, Kolkata and Silchar land.

For an extended itinerary on Manipur, refer to this trip.

Credits: Dheeraj Dwivedi

Photo of Mizoram, India by Prateek Dham

As soon as one enters Mizoram, one is bound to experience a strong sense of liberation in the air. There are minimal caste or gender barriers, and women can be seen walking around with confidence, alluding to the theory that there is no holding back in the state. With great music and beautiful mountains, Mizoram probably shares more with Myanmar than with India.

Famous for: Christianity and literacy.

Places to Visit: Phawngpui Hills (dubbed as the "hill of gods", this is Mizoram's highest mountain peak), Aizawl (memorial of Chhingpui, Phulpui Grave), Vantawang Falls.

Things to Do: Go mountain biking on Hmuifang Hill. Trek in the virgin forests of Lengteng and Mawmrang. Attend the Chapchur Kut Festival, marking the preparation of Jhum cultivation.

Food: The roadside eateries are outstanding throughout Mizoram, and the best part is that the food is always hygienic and non-spicy thanks to the cuisine. Try bai, a preparation of steaming vegetables, pork and bamboo.

Climate: 7-22 degrees Celsius in winters. 24-30 degrees Celsius in summers.

Best Time to Visit: All throughout the year.

Average Expenditure Per Head (excluding flights): Rs. 9,000 for 5 days.

How to reach: The main domestic airport is in Aizawl and sees regular daily flights from Guwahati, Imphal and Kolkata.

For an extended itinerary on Mizoram, refer to this trip.

Credits: Sandro Lacarbona

Photo of Tripura, India by Prateek Dham

If you haven't been to Tripura yet, you may not get a better chance since its sublime royal palaces and temples will surely garner the world's attention soon. The state sees little tourism for now, even though there are no permit hassles. But this adds to its charm; it's largely unexplored even in this internet age. Agartala is the place you need to start at to access all the touristy destinations within a couple of days.

Famous for: Pineapples.

Places to Visit: Agartala (for architectural marvels such as Ujjayanta Palace, Neermahal, Kunjaben Palace), Unakoti (for rock-cut sculptures), Kumarghat (pineapple cultivation and Kamala Sagar lake).

Things to Do: Ride a boat around Neermahal, a royal palace built in the middle of a lake. Trek with the tribals in Jampui Hills. Attend the Kharchi Puja Festival in July.

Food: Although Tripura's cuisine boasts of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options, but the dry-fish chutney is a must try here.

Climate: 5-15 degrees Celsius in winters. 32-38 degrees Celsius in summers.

Best Time to Visit: All throughout the year.

Average Expenditure Per Head (excluding flights): Rs. 8,000 for 5 days.

How to reach: The main domestic airport is in Aizawl and has regular daily flights from Guwahati, Imphal and Kolkata.

For an extended itinerary on Tripura, refer to this trip.

Credits: Sandro Lacarbona

Photo of Nagaland, India by Prateek Dham

The land of Naga - the great snake, Nagaland's beauty is visible in the most mundane things. The houses are made of wood and decorated with ornaments and the villages are situated bang in the middle of beautiful valleys surrounded by majestic hills promising natural bounty. The state's location on the border of the country means that political disturbances are expected, so it's better to be aware of the current situation before visiting the state.

Famous for: The Naga Tribes and the Hornbill Festival.

Places to Visit: Kisama (to witness the Hornbill Festival in December), Dzoukou Valley (for mesmerising views from 2,500m above sea-level), Dimapur (for the historical ruins of Kachari).

Things to Do: Hike all the way up to Japfu Peak, the highest point in Nagaland. Stay like the Naga tribals in Tuphema Village. Spot a tiger at Intanki Wildlife Sanctuary.

Food: The denizens have been hunters in the past and hence their cuisine is dominated by meat and fish delicacies. Go for a traditional Naga Thali, complete with rice, fermented meat and the local chutney called tathu.

Climate: It's a wet state with average rainfall up to 2,500 mm per year. But when it's not raining, the climate is pleasant and humid.

Best Time to Visit: October to May.

Average Expenditure Per Head (excluding flights): Rs. 8,700 for 5 days.

How to reach: The closest airport to Nagaland is situated 75 kms away at Dimapur, which is directly connected to Guwahati and Kolkata.

For an extended itinerary on Tripura, refer to this trip.

Well, now that you have a basic idea of all the sisters, will you finally take the plunge and give them the love they deserve? Or if you have already visited one of the states, share your experience with our travel community.

4 Comment(s)
Sort by:
I wanna do this trip..heard so much about north east
Sun 04 15 18, 09:33 · Reply · Report
Good
Sun 04 23 17, 22:31 · Reply · Report
We don't celebrate any bihu festival in December.... Please correct that.
Mon 03 06 17, 13:55 · Reply · Report
Nature's gift to the lands....thats North east India
Thu 02 02 17, 23:36 · Reply · Report
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