North East Destination Guide

The Northeast region of India, known as the “Seven Sisters,” is a mysterious and less-explored part of the country. It's tucked between Bhutan and Bangladesh and was cut off from the rest of India for a while. Places like Arunachal Pradesh, close to Chinese-occupied Tibet, and other states like Nagaland, Manipur, and Mizoram, which share borders with Myanmar, have faced many fights among different groups because of their diverse cultures. Some places, like Arunachal Pradesh, need special permission to visit, while others, like parts of Nagaland and Manipur, are open but can be unsafe sometimes.

But despite these difficulties, this area has amazing natural beauty. It has some of the heaviest rainfall in the world and lots of different plants and animals—about half of all the kinds found in India!

At first, this area only had two states, but later, it split into seven states, and then Sikkim joined, making it eight. Assam, found in the flat area near the Brahmaputra River, is like the door to this region. It has old and important temples in its main city, Guwahati, and a famous place called Kaziranga National Park where you can see special one-horned rhinos.

The other six states have their own special landscapes, weather, and cultures. Meghalaya, for example, has beautiful lakes and some of the rainiest places on earth. Its main city, Shillong, still has a bit of the old colonial feel. Arunachal Pradesh is very remote and has lots of different kinds of people living there. It has a monastery called Tawang near Bhutan and a big wild place called Namdapha National Park in the northeast.

Nagaland has lots of tall mountains and fourteen different groups of people living there. Mizoram is mostly Christian and has one of the best rates of reading and writing in India. Manipur has a lot of problems inside, with different groups fighting, so it's not very safe to explore off the main paths. Tripura used to have a lot of trouble too, but things are calmer now. They are planning to build more things, but it's still a good idea to be careful in some places there.

The people in Manipur have a lot in common with their neighbors in Burma (now called Myanmar), and Tripura has more of a Bengali feel in the west and lots of hill tribes in the east.

Best Places to Visit in Northeast India

Kaziranga National Park, Assam:

Go on a morning jeep safari deep into the jungle at dawn in search of the rare one-horned rhino. If luck favors you, you might spot wild elephants or even tigers.

Living Root Bridges, Meghalaya:

In India's wettest state, witness magnificent natural bridges made from intertwined roots of rubber trees. Some of these bridges have stood for centuries across waterways.

Tawang Monastery, Arunachal Pradesh:

This is the largest Buddhist monastery in India, holding onto ancient traditions from a remote corner once part of Tibet. Nearby, find a serene chapel honoring the sixth Dalai Lama.

Namdapha National Park, Arunachal Pradesh:

A beautiful wildlife park on the Burma border, offering diverse habitats from steamy foothills to snowy peaks. It's home to various wildlife species, including the Hoolock gibbon and elusive big cats.

Hornbill Festival, Nagaland:

A must-see event that gathers all Naga tribes adorned in their cultural finery. Enjoy music, dance, and martial art displays showcasing the vibrant culture of the Northeast.

Dzu?kou Valley, Nagaland:

Trek to a remote plateau with rolling green hills covered in blossoming flowers during the wet season.

Best Time to Visit Northeast India

The ideal time to visit is between November and April when the weather is favorable. However, high-altitude areas like Arunachal, Meghalaya, and Nagaland can get extremely cold by December. Monsoon from May to September brings heavy rains, especially in Meghalaya, adding its own charm to travel. Accommodation rates in major cities remain stable, but off-season discounts are available in places like Kaziranga, Manas, and remote areas of Arunachal, Nagaland, and Assam.

Northeast India is a haven for adventure enthusiasts, attracting nature lovers from across the globe due to its stunning scenery and pleasant climate throughout the year.

The region enjoys pleasant weather in winter, but the monsoon and summer seasons are also delightful. Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Tripura can be visited during these times. Summers in Meghalaya range from 15°C to 25°C, while winters see temperatures between 0°C and 16°C. Fog often blankets the hills during winter.

Mizoram, intersected by the Tropic of Cancer, boasts cool summers and mild winters. Heavy rainfall occurs from May to September, with winter temperatures averaging 11°-21°C and summer temperatures ranging from 20°-29°C.

Manipur experiences a sub-tropical monsoon climate. Summers range between 25°C and 32°C, followed by a mild and pleasant winter from December to February. Monsoon prevails from May to September.

Assam is best visited from late September to May when autumn sets in, offering misty landscapes. November to February is particularly pleasant with warm, sunny days and cool nights, with temperatures ranging from 5°C to 18°C. However, Assam should be avoided during the monsoon (June to September) due to heavy downpours causing river flooding.

Festivals in Northeast India

Religious festivals
  • Yaoshang (March): Manipur’s version of Holi is celebrated with the thabal chongba folk dance.
  • Aoling Monyu (April): Konyak festival in the Mon region of Nagaland marking the arrival of spring.
  • Bihu (mid-April): The major festival of Assam, celebrated with singing, dancing and feasts in the villages, to mark the New Year and the onset of spring.
  • Chapchar Kut (March): In spring before the new sowing season begins, this is the biggest harvest festival in Mizoram.
  • Moatsu (May): Celebrated by the Ao tribe in Nagaland after the sowing season.
  • Dree (July): The Apatanis of Ziro in Arunachal observe this agrarian festival in which animal sacrifices are common.
  • Nongkrem (first week Nov): In Meghalaya, the Khasi tribe give thanks for the harvest over five days. Young men and women in traditional attire and heavy ornaments perform songs and dances at Smit, near Shillong.
  • Torgya (Nov/Dec/Jan) and Losar (Tibetan New Year; Feb): Arunachal Pradesh festival of the Monpa people in Bomdila and Tawang, with colourful chaam (masked monastic dances) and religious ceremonies.

Music and cultural festivals

  • Ziro Festival of Music (Sept): Four-day Central Arunachal outdoor music festival with apong (rice beer) and indie music, camping under the stars in the Ziro Valley.
  • NH7 Weekender (Oct): This popular multiday urban music festival held its first Shillong edition in 2015 and is now slated to be an annual feature. Indian indie and global artists spanning genres of rock, funk, electro and more perform on various stages.
  • Hornbill Festival (first week Dec): Held annually in Nagaland at the Naga Heritage Village in Kisama, this is among the Northeast’s largest occasion, showcasing the dance, music, food, games and intriguing culture of different local tribes.

Food and drink of Northeast India

Meat-based dishes, smoked, dried and pungent flavours, a liberal use of chilli and the distinct lack of typical Indian masala defines cuisine in the Northeast. The food is mostly mild, owing to the lack of spices that grow in the region, aside from some local herbs. Rice is a staple and the Tibetan momos and thukpa are ubiquitous. For drinks, salty yak-butter tea and local brews (known by various names including raksi, chang and apong) made of millet, maize or rice are recommended to keep off the chill.
In Assam, try the xaag (leaf vegetables), fish tenga (a souring agent), pitika (a pungent vegetable mash) and khorika (meat on a skewer). Meghalaya tends to go heavy on the pork, with dishes such as doh neiiong (pork with black sesame seeds) and the staple jadoh (rice cooked in meat stock with pork). Meghalayan cooking also features liberal use of seasonal mustard leaves and mushrooms. At local markets in Arunachal you will find strings of churpi (fermented rock-hard yak’s cheese), lai patta (mustard spinach) and dried river fish. Churpa, popular in Arunachal kitchens, is a pungent cheese stew with meat and vegetables. Naga cuisine consists of smoked, dried meats, bamboo shoot, anishi (dry yam leaves) and akhuni (fermented soybean); wild herbs are used as flavouring agents. The star, of course, is the bhut jolokia or the king chilli, among the hottest in the world. Thalis are common in Manipur, with side dishes such as singju (raw papaya and chickpea salad) and iromba (fish and veg chutney) accompanying rice and fish or meat curries.
Mizo cuisine is bland, consisting of forest vegetables and smoked meats; bai (vegetable stew with dry soybean) is a staple.
Fish is abundant in Tripura, and berma, a pungent fermented fish paste, is used as flavoring.

Access, Permits, and Tour Operators

The Indian Government is actively promoting tourism in the region, making regulations more relaxed. However, it's crucial to check the latest information with Indian authorities before travel. Arunachal Pradesh requires foreign visitors to obtain Restricted or Protected Area Permits, but other states have varying entry regulations.


Arunachal Pradesh mandates Restricted or Protected Area Permits for foreign visitors.
Mizoram and Manipur require registration upon arrival at the border.
Indian nationals need Inner Line Permits for Nagaland if traveling beyond Dimapur, and for Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh. Permits are issued on arrival for those flying into Mizoram.
Inner Line Permits for Arunachal can be obtained online.
Make copies of passports and permits while traveling in the region.
To acquire Inner Line Permits, Indian citizens need two passport photographs and can apply to representatives of the concerned state governments, which generally take a day to process and can be extended up to six months in the state capital. Passes remain valid for the allocated period, allowing multiple entries and exits from a state.

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