The land of charismatic beauty, of ruddy mountains and beguiling picturesque charm, of glistening streams and pristine valleys, of the dense green forests and revelling bounteous nature, North- East teeters on the farthest brink of the country. This magical land comprises of Arunachal Pradesh and the seven sister states of Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura. Tucked away amidst mighty hills and opaque woods, North-Eastern India not only shares its borders with international entities of Bhutan, Myanmar, Tibet, and Bangladesh but also takes pride in being a potpourri of mixed cultures, traditions, customs and ethnic bonds, all of which are both domestic and foreign blend. The region flaunts its unexploited and untravelled terrains; the vast stretches of land forms, forests, waterfalls and water bodies, which look like a slice of heaven tucked in the corner of the world. It also lets you experience some of the best sunrise and sunset moments of your life from the many beautiful vantage points that it calls its own.
Boasting of twee tinsel towns, the tibetan culture, Buddhist monasteries and enchanting wildlife (sanctuaries), the region has a delectable cuisine too. Assam is the most developed, commercialised and accessible state in the region with umpteen tea estates, meadows and waterfalls proliferating through it. Guwahati is considered the best place to start your journey to heaven. Further you can move to the less travelled and embark on the more unexplored arenas. The idyllic beauty of this region, its association with the foreign tribes like the Lepchas, Bhutias etc. and its feisty ataraxy draws tourists from far and wide to discover the hidden terrain of North - East. Among the several other distinct facets of the area, the most distinct one is its wondrous diversity; it has 220+ languages spoken in the area alone. In short, North- Eastern India is a melange of cultures, a mishmash of tribes and traditions, an assortment of cuisines and a sublime flamboyant corner on the canvas of Incredible India.
North- East India- The Diverse Geography
North- Eastern India can be loosely classified into the Eastern Himalayas, their north- eastern hills border with Myanmar called the Patkai, and the Brahmaputra and the Barak Valley plains. Most area is covered in rainforest, has an abundance of wildlife, flora and fauna, and reserves of minerals. Two- thirds of the entire area is hilly terrain covered in cascading waterfalls and picturesque valleys. With a diverse wildlife, North-East owns six of the nine important vegetation types in India. It harbours 8000 of the total 15000 flowering plants in the country and is home to 51 forest types. To top these facts, 60% of most of these states are covered in dense woods and vegetation.
The region also has a rich avifauna capacity and is home to several endangered and critically endangered bird species. For the same reason, the area has been declared an Endemic Bird Area (EBA) by the International Council for Bird Preservation. Most of these areas have also been converted into National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries to help conserve the wildlife and protect them from predators and eventual extinction. This also explains the countless national parks and sanctuaries in the area.
North- East India- Nature and Wildlife
All the 8 states of North East have been declared a priority Global 200 Ecoregion by WWF owing to its diverse wildlife and ecosystem. The region is also a centre of rice germplasm identified by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research. Further, it is has been acknowledged by the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR), India, for its varied variety in crop plants. Besides, it is rich in harvesting medicinal plants, higher plants, vertebrates etc., for which it has been classified as a biodiversity hotspot. There are 51 forest types found in the region with a diversification into tropical moist deciduous forests, tropical semi evergreen forests, tropical wet evergreen forests, subtropical forests, temperate forests and alpine forests. Out of the 1500 endangered flowering plant species in India, 800 are found in the North-East.
Boasting of numerous species of fauna and a whopping number of avifauna types. The receding Himalayan terrain, the area gets a distinct climate with warmer mean temperatures, fewer days with frost, and much higher rainfall. This in turn, has led to a rich assemblage of restricted-range bird species. It is home to 11 of the 22 restricted range species found in India. With a plethora of national parks, sanctuaries and other wildlife conservation zones, the region calls out to the environmentalists, natural lovers and wanderers.
North- East India- The Varied Culture
With an array of tribes and communities to flaunt, the region of North- East is culturally very rich and is known for its distinct and traditional lifestyle. Every tribal group boasts of an individual culture in terms of art, music, folk-dances, handicrafts, food and fabric cultivation. The vibrant and vivacious culture of the area is visible in the traditional attires, the delicious cuisines and indigenous crafts. Two of the dance forms from Assam and Manipur called Sattriya and Manipuri dance respectively have been declared as the classical dance forms of the country. Besides, each community has its separate folk-dance resulting in a long list of individualistic dance styles and forms. Its proximity and strong ethnic and cultural bonds with the neighbouring countries reflect in the Indo-Burmese, Indo-Myanmar and the Buddhist culture prevalent in the region.
All of these several tribes celebrate a lot of fairs and festivals dressed in ethnic traditional costumes. Major festivals include Bihu, Ningol Chakouba Festival Manipur, Brahmaputra Festival of Assam, Shillong Autumn Festival, Torgya Monastery Festival Arunachal Pradesh, Hornbill and Sekrenyi festival of Nagaland, Chapchar Kut from Manipur and Kharchi Puja from Tripura. Besides, North-Eastern people lead a simplistic lifestyle; agriculture, cultivation and tea farming being their prime occupation. People also indulge in traditional handicrafts making and fish breeding. Staple food of the area include dry rice with fish, meat and green vegetables. Other important food items are duck, chicken, pigeon, mutton, bamboo shoots etc. All of this is served with their traditional rice beer.
North- East India- Nature at its best
It is needless to mention that the seven sister states of North-East along with Arunachal Pradesh is an unexplored slice of paradise on Earth. The misty mountains, pristine lakes, verdant greenery, snow-capped peaks, enchanting waterfalls, meandering streams, dainty winding roads and the ever-so-pleasant environment makes North- East one of the most beautiful and charming eco-tourism destinations not only in India but all across the world. Arunachal Pradesh is home to the largest Buddhist monastery in India. Very close to it is the Sela Pass located at an elevation of 4170 metres above the sea level. If the destination is not enchanting enough, Sela Lake makes up for it. It is the most beautiful frozen lake of Himalayas, also known as Paradise Lake situated near the Sela Pass.
Besides, it is home to seven museums, temples and monasteries. Assam has plentiful tea gardens with acres of green velvety land to explore. Majuli River Island is another highlight of the region formed by the Brahmaputra river. You can indulge in nature photography or witness some of the exotic animal species inhabiting the place. Walk through the winding cloudy roads of Meghalaya and explore some of the famous national parks situated in the region. The land also houses several archaeological ruins, ancient caves and heritage sites. You can also visit some of the traditional tribal villages and indulge in their local cuisines and culture. All in all, the region has something for everyone. You can soak in the green vibe of the hills or be a part of their world-class festivals and fairs. Or better still, take a back seat and just bathe in a leisure trip away from the pell mell of the city life amidst plantiful nature and ataraxy.