“All the states of the North East region are blessed with natural scenic beauty, distinct historical cultural and ethnic heritage. All this offers tremendous scope for tourism in the region. There is also a great scope for mountaineering, trekking and adventure tourism in the region. If developed and promoted well, this can emerge as the biggest employer in the region. It can also add to the growth and income of the region.” - Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi while addressing the 65th Plenary of the NEC on 27.05.2016
Tourist Attractions & Circuits In North East India
The eight states of North East India are blessed with scenic natural beauty, salubrious weather, rich biodiversity, rare wild life, historical sites, distinct cultural and ethnic heritage and warm and welcoming people. The region offers unforgettable visits for tourists interested in wild life, religious, cultural and ethnic tourism, river cruises, golf and a host of others. There is also great scope for mountaineering, trekking and adventure tourism in the region.
Northeast of India is home to many wildlife sanctuaries like Kaziranga National Park famous for the one horned rhinoceros, Manas National Park, Nameri, Orang, Dibru Saikhowa in Assam, Namdhapha in Arunachal Pradesh, Balpakram in Meghalaya, Keibul Namjao in Manipur, Intanki in Nagaland, Khangchendzonga in Sikkim. The mighty Brahmaputra flows through the length of Assam where tourists can enjoy memorable river cruises and the flowing rivers of Arunachal Pradesh which feed the Brahmaputra offering incredible white water rafting experiences.
Some of the state-wise must visit places and circuits are provided below:
Arunachal Pradesh(Must Visit Places)
- Tawang– Tawang situated at an elevation of 3048 mt. in northwestern part of Arunachal Pradesh, it is home to the Tawang Monastery which is the second largest and oldest in Asia. The monastery is three stories high and is enclosed by a 282 mt. long compound wall. There are many other places of interest like Sela Pass, Jang Waterfalls, PTSO Lake etc.
- Ziro– A picturesque town in Lower Subansiri district, it is home to the Apatani tribe. Famous for gentle pine clad hills and rice fields it also hosts the popular Ziro Music Festival in September every year. Ziro is also included as in India's Tentative List for UNESCO's World Heritage Site.
- Mechuka– also known as Menchukha, is a small picturesque town nestled at 1829 mt. in West Siang District. Menchukha is situated in a forested valley, surrounded by pine trees and thornbushes with the river Yargyapchu flowing through the valley.
- Pasighat– Is the oldest town of Arunachal Pradesh founded in 1911 A.D. by the British. The Brahmaputra emerges from the foothills of Pasighat under the name of Dihang or Siang.
Arunachal Pradesh Tourism has identified 12 tourist circuits which are distinctive in character with different ethnic culture, topography and vegetation.
The tourist circuits are:
- Tezpur – Bhalukpong – Bomdila - Tawang
- Itanagar – Ziro – Daporijo – Aalo – Pasighat
- Pasighat – Jengging – Yingkiong – Tuting
- Tinsukia – Tezu – Hayuliang
- Margherita – Miao – Namdhapha – Vijoynagar
- Roing – Mayudia – Anini
- Tezpur – Seijosa – Bhalukpong
- Ziro – Palin – Nyapin – Sangram – Koloriang
- Doimukh – Sagalee – Pake Kessang – Seppa
- Aalo – Mechuka
- Daporijo – Taliha – Siyum – Nacho
- Jairampur - Manmao- Nampong – Pangsau Pass
Assam (Must Visit Places)
- Kaziranga National Park– A World Heritage Site, the park hosts two-thirds of the world’s Great One-horned rhinoceros and also boasts of the highest density of tigers among the protected areas in the world and was declared a Tiger Reserve in 2706.
The park is home to large breeding populations of elephants, wild water buffalo and swamp deer.
- Kamakhya Temple – A famous Hindu temple dedicated to the mother goddess Kamakhya. It is one of the oldest of the 51 Shakti Pithas. Situated on the Nilachal Hill in western part of Guwahati,
it is the main temple in a complex of individual temples dedicated to the ten Mahavidyas. It is an important pilgrimage destination for Hindus.
- Brahmaputra River– Is one of the major rivers of Asia and is a trans-boundary river flowing through China, India and Bangladesh.
About 2900 kms long, it flows for about 916 kms in India. It is an important river for irrigation and transportation and offers excellent river cruises.
- Sivasagar – Was the capital of the Ahom Kingdom and is well known for its Shiva Temple, Ahom palaces and monuments, tea gardens and oil industry.
Assam Tourism has identified six circuits based on different themes:
- Guwahati – Kaziranga – Nameri – Dirang – Tawang – Bomdial – Texpur – Guwahati (8 nights/9 days);
- Guwahati – Cherrapunji – Shillong – Mawlynnong – Guwahati (5 nights/6 days);
- Jorhat – Kaziranga National Park – Majuli – Sivasagar – Jorhat (4 nights/5 days);
- Dibru-Saikhowa National Park – Dehing Patkai – Dibrugarh (4 nights/5 days);
- Guwahati – Hajo – Sualkuchi – Borduwa – Sivasagar – Majuli – Jorhat (5 nights/6 days);
- Guwahati – Hajo – Sualkuchi – Manas – Dhubri – Guwahati (6 nights/7 days).
Manipur(Must Visit Places)
- Loktak Lake – 48 Kms. from Imphal, it is the largest fresh water lake in the North East Region. Small islands that are actually floating weeds on which the Lake-dwellers
live in the backdrop of the shimmering blue water of the Lake, labyrinthine boat routes and colourful water plants.
- Moirang - Situated near the Loktak Lake, this town is one of the main centres of early Meitei folk culture and has a special place in the history of the Indian Freedom struggle as it was at Moirang that the flag of the Indian National Army was first unfurled on April 14, 1944 and has an INA Museum containing letters, photographs, badges of ranks and other memorabilia of the sacrifices made by the INA under the leadership of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
- Khwairamband Bazar/ Ima Market- A unique all women's market, having 3,000 or more "Imas" or mothers who run the stalls. It is split into two sections on either side of a road. Vegetables, fruits, fishes and household groceries are sold on one side and exquisite handlooms and household tools on the other.
The tourist circuits being promted:
- Guwahati – Kaziranga – Kohima – Imphal – Moreh - Guwahati
- Kolkata – Imphal – Moreh – Kolkata
Meghalaya(Must Visit Places)
- Shillong – The State Capital of Meghalaya is also known as the “Scotland of the East” because of the rolling hills around the town. Shillong has steadily grown in size since it was made the civil station of the Khasi and Jaintia Hills in 1864 by the British. Shillong remained the capital of undivided Assam until the creation of the new state of Meghalaya on 21 January 1972. In 2016 it was voted "India's Favourite Hill Station" by HolidayIQ.com.
- Cherrapunji - The historic name Sohra is now more commonly used. It is credited as being the wettest place on Earth, but nearby Mawsynram currently holds that record.
Cherrapunji still holds the all-time record for the most rainfall in a calendar month and in a year.
- Mawlynnong - Is a village in the East Khasi Hills district about 90 kms from Shillong and is famous for its cleanliness and natural attraction. Mawlynnong was awarded the prestigious tag of 'Cleanest Village in Asia' in 2703 by Discover India Magazine.
- Dawki – A border town with Bangladesh, it has the beautiful Umngot River as a major tourist attraction.
- Mawphlang Sacred Grove – One of the most famous sacred forests preserved by traditional religious sanction about 25 kilometres from Shillong . The sacred grove has an amazing life form of plants, flowering trees, orchids and butterflies. An ideal destination for nature lovers.
The tourist circuits based on different themes:
- Guwahati – Kaziranga – Shillong – Cherrapunji
- Guwahati – Tura – Balpakram – Manas – Guwahati
Mizoram(Must Visit Places)
- Aizawl – The state capital, is situated at about 1132 mts. above sea level and is a bustling city set on ridges of steep hills. It is air linked by daily flights from Kolkata and Guwahati. It is also connected to Imphal by air and is accessible from Shillong, Guwahati and Silchar by road.
- Thenzawl- A village located at a distance of 43 kms from Aizawl. The Tropic of Cancer runs through this picturesque village. It is an important centre of traditional Mizo handloom industry and produce rich and colorful varieties of handlooms.
- Hmuifang - With an elevation of 1619 metres, is covered with virgin forests reserved since the days of the Mizo chiefs..
- Vantawng Falls - located at a distance of about 137 kms from Aizawl, it is the highest and most spectacular of all the waterfalls in Mizoram.
The tourist circuits based on different themes:
- Kolkata – Aizawl – Thenzawl – Reiek
- Kolkata – Aizawl – Champhai/Zokhawthar – Rih Dil
Nagaland(Must Visit Places)
- Khonoma – A historic village located about 20 km from the state capital Kohima it is recordede to have resisted British rule in the region from 1830s to 1880 and etched its name into the history of Indian resistance to the colonial invasion.
- Wokha – Home of the Lotha tribes is a land of beautiful mountain ranges and rivers and is known for its vibrant dances and folk songs. Wokha literally means Census in Lotha. It was a place where Lothas counted heads before spreading out into the villages during their waves of migration.
- Pfutsero – A picturesque town in Phek district is the highest altitude town and the coldest inhabited place in Nagaland with temperatures dropping to below zero in winters. The Baptist Theological College in Pfutsero is one of the oldest in Nagaland. The best time to visit is from mid-October (harvesting time) to April. One can also take a day trip to Khezhakeno Village, a very important village in the context of the Naga history. It is said that the first Nagas stayed at this village before moving on to other parts of Nagaland.
- Mokokchung – Home of the Ao tribe and is the culturally nerve centre of the Ao people. Tourist attractions in Mokokchung, which are great places to visit, are Longkhum, Mopungchuket, and Ungma.
The tourist circuits being promoted:
- Dimapur – Kohima – Wokha – Zunheboto – Mokukchung
- Dimapur – Kohima – Khonoma - Pfutsero
Sikkim(Must Visit Places)
- Gangtok- The capital city of Sikkim is located on a ridge at a height of 5500 feet. With a spectacular view of the Khangchendzonga, the town provides the perfect base for travel through the state. Gangtok is a cosmopolitan town which offers the tourists all possible amenities.
- Changu Lake - 38 km from Gangtok and at an altitude of 12,400 ft, the ethereally beautiful Tsomgo (Changu) lake is a must on every visitors itinerary. A winding road through rugged mountain terrain and sharp cliffs takes you to Tsomgo, which means source of the water in Bhutia language. The lake derives its water from the melting snows of the mountains surrounding the lake. Of legendary beauty, the lake looks different at different seasons. In winter the placid lake remains frozen with the area around it covered in snow while in late spring the profusion of flowers in bloom adds a riot of colours around the lake.
- Rumtek- Situated around 23 kms from Gangtok, it is a quiet getaway and home to the Rumtek Monastery which is the largest monastery in Sikkim and demonstrates the best of Tibetan architecture.
- Aritar - located in east Sikkim, Aritar is steeped in history and natural beauty. A breathtaking view of Khangchendzonga only adds to the many natural riches that Aritar is blessed with lush green forests, sweeping hills of paddy fields and placid lakes hidden inside deep forests makes it a perfect destination for those in search of nature trails and a serene holiday. The Aritar Gumpa is one of the oldest monasteries in Sikkim belonging to the Karma Kagyu lineage order of Tibetan Buddhism.
The tourist circuits based on different themes:
Sikkim Tourism offers various circuits based on interests like Pilgrimage Tourism, Heritage Tourism, Culture, Village Tourism, Buddhist Circuits, Trekking etc.
Tripura(Must Visit Places)
- Ujjayanta Palace – The former royal palace of Tripura (princely state) situated in Agartala, the state capital of Tripura. The palace was constructed between 1899 and 1901 by the Tripura king, Maharaja Radha Kishore Manikya, and stands on the banks of a small lake surrounded by Mughal gardens.
It was the home of the ruling Manikya dynasty until the Tripura`s accession to India in October 1949. Ujjayanta Palace is now a state museum and it showcases the lifestyle, arts, culture, tradition and utility crafts of communities residing in N. The name 'Ujjayanta Palace' was given by Rabindranath Tagore, the first Asian Nobel Prize winner.
- Tripura Sundari Temple – According to mythology, Lord Vishnu had cut off the body of Mata Sati into 51 pieces with his ‘Sudarshana Chakra’ and all these pieces fell at different places throughout the country and these places are known as ‘Shaktipeeths’.
It is said that 'right foot' of Mata Sati fell at Matabari on the southwestern outskirts of Udaipur town in South Tripura district. This temple is one of the 51 holiest ‘Shaktipeeths’ (Shrine of the goddess of power ) in India as per Hindu mythology.
- Rudrasagar Lake - About 55 km away from Agartala near Melaghar it is a 5.3 sq. km. water area. In the centre of the lake is the famous lake palace "Neermahal". The lake witnesses a large number of migratory birds every winter.
- Unakoti – About 178 km from Agartala, it dates back to 7th – 9th centuries if not earlier. The marvellous rock carvings, murals with their primitive beauty and waterfalls are great attractions. Unakoti means one less than a crore and t is said that these many rock cut carvings are available here. As per Hindu mythology, when Lord Shiva was going to Kashi along with one crore gods and goddesses he made a night halt at this location. He asked all the gods and goddesses to wake up before sun rise and proceed for Kashi. It is said that in the morning, except Shiva himself, no one else could get up so Lord Shiva set out for Kashi himself cursing the others to become stone images. As a result we have one less than a crore stone images and carvings at Unakoti. These carvings are located at a beautifully landscaped forest area with green vegetation all around which add to the beauty of the carvings. The images found at Unakoti are of two types, namely rock-carved figures and stone images.
The tourist circuits being promoted by Tripura Tourism are Religious Tourism, Ecotourism, Archaeological Tourism and Water Tourism.
To supplement the States in promotion of tourism in NER, the North Eastern Council, Ministry of DoNER had engaged Tata Consultancy Services to prepare and Integrated Tourism Master Plan for NER which had among others recommended a strategy for tourist circuit development and a total of 33 regional and international tourist circuits were identified to be developed in phases.
In the first phase a total of 9 regional circuits are being developed:
|Arunachal Pradesh||Guwahati – Bomdila – Tawang – Tezpur – Guwahati|
|Assam||Dibrugarh – Sibsagar – Jorhat – Majuli – Kaziranga – Guwahati|
|Manipur||Dimapur – Kohima – Mao Gate – Imphal – Loktak – Imphal – Moreh – Imphal – Dimapur|
|Meghalaya||Guwahati – Tura – Balpakram – Manas – Guwahati|
|Mizoram||Silchar – Aizawl & surroundings (including Reiek) – Champhai – Zokhawthar – Aizawl, Hmuifang, Thenzawl|
|Nagaland||Dimapur – Kohima – Wokha – Zunheboto – Mokukchung|
|Sikkim||Gangtok (Buddhist Cultural Interpretation Centre)|
|Tripura||1)Agartala – Udaipur – Pilak (heritage sites) & Udaipur – Melagarh (Neermahal) – Boxanagar (Buddhist sites) – Agartala
2)Agartala – Dhalai – Unokuti – Pecharthal – Kanchanpur – Jampui Hills – Aizawl
Moreover, the North Eastern Council had recently participated in the World Travel Market (WTM) London 2016 held during November 7 – 9, 2016. A total of 10 circuits were developed and marketed in the WTM:
|Monastic Tour with Heritage Touch||6 nights/7 days||Guwahati – Wild Mahseer – Tawang – Bomdila – Guwahati|
|Tribal Tour||6 nights/7 days||Guwahati – Wild Mahseer – Ziro – North Lakhimpur – Majuli – Kaziranga National Park – Guwahati|
|Heritage of Assam by River||8 nights/9 days||Guwahati – Kaziranga National Park – AD3 Cruise|
|Weekend Tour of Imphal||2 nights/3 days||Delhi – Imphal. Visit to Indian National Army (INA) Museum, Japanese War Memorial, Loktak Lake, Kangla Fort, World War II Cemetrry.|
|Wildlife Tour of Assam||8 nights/9 days||Guwahati – Manas National Park – Guwahati – Nameri National Park – Kaziranga National Park – Dibrugarh|
|Golf Itinerary||2 nights/3 days||Jorhat – Kaziranga Golf Resort – an 18 holes golf course.|
|Golf Itinerary||3 nights/4 days||Guwahati – Shillong – Cherrapunjee – Guwahati. 18 hole Shillong Golf Course.|
|Temple Tour of Assam||4 nights/5 days||Guwahati – Kaziranga National Park – Sivasagar – Jorhat – Guwahati. Visit Kamakhya Temple, Umananda Temple, Shiva Dol, Joydol.|
|A visit to the Battlefields of Imphal & Kohima||4 nights/5 days||Imphal – Kohima – Dimapur|
|Tribal Tour with Rhino Park||6 nights/7 days||Dibrugarh – Mon – Sibsagar – Jorhat – Majuli – Kaziranga National Park - Guwahati|