Fantastic Experiences in North East India
The NorthEast is a treasure trove of myriad experiences. Your days here could be an ode to slowing down, can involve plenty of time in the outdoors, in the company of fantastic blooms and beasts. Alternatively, it can be about cooking, living in a homestay in a mountain town, soaking in the sights of a mighty lake and many other such contrasting things. We will not give out spoilers just yet, as we curate a list of our top experiences in the North East. Here we cover North Bengal, Sikkim, Assam, Meghalaya and West Arunachal.
Tea Gardens of North Bengal: North Bengal is home to over 450 tea gardens. Yes, you heard that number right! Most of them are in the Dooars which are the Himalayan foothills. Most of them are close to larger cities such as Siliguri Darjeeling, Kurseong. These tea gardens play great hosts. You can either choose to stay on the plantation bungalows which range from luxurious to cosy or just visit the plantations for a guided tour which takes you around the factory. You get to see up close how the tea is plucked , sifted, cured, the packaging.
Safari at the Kaziranga National Park: The wake-up call will be at 4 am for the morning safari. But being in the Kaziranga National Park with the first rays of the sun, mists hanging low, the creaking of a sudden branch, the experience will me the hours well worth it. Hang out with Rhinos, Barasingha, Gaur, Sambha and the forest ranger who helps you spot birds. A stopover in the heart of the forest for a picnic breakfast and a return to the rooms by 930 am will leave you with ample time to get on with your day.
Monasteries of West Arunachal: When in Tawang, no matter where you are, you will always see the Tawang monastery looming over the town. The mountains hang in the horizon and you have the gold and red hues of the monastery perched there, which fits like a crown. You can drive up or hike up and once in the monastery the many corridors, rooms, prayer halls and viewing points will take up quite a part of your day to fully explore. If you reach early you can sit in the periphery of the prayer hall and immerse yourself in the prayer ceremony. It was a deeply meditative experience for us, during our time there.
Adventures: Safaris in National Parks, kayaking in border towns, ziplining, Limestone caving with a guide, a hike to the Living root bridges, road trips to Bumla Pass at 4600m above sea level. There is so much to do every day, you can take your pick
Cleanest Village of Asia: Mawlynnong once won the title and has held on to it ever since. A couple of hours from Shillong and Cherrapunji, this small hamlet off the main road will greet you with brooms made of leaves hung out to dry. The village is small, quaint, picturesque and, yes, clean. Most of the houses are made of bamboo and thatch and the village has a watchtower too, from where you can spot Bangladesh territory. A little walk further will take you to a root bridge which is easy to walk to and can be visited by everyone.
Mountain Town experience: Take your pick: Shillong-Gangtok-Darjeeling-Pelling-Kurseong-Siliguri-Kalimpong. Each town has its distinctive flavour, they all promise great climate, beautiful vistas, cost cafes and a range of boutique stays in different budgets to stay in. Each of them offers something unique and will add a lot of culture to your trip plan. A local guide will help you around.
Double root bridge, Nongriat, Meghalaya: This one is not for the faint-hearted. An 8 km hike downhill from Cherrapunji and then a climb uphill. But the journey is through root bridges, canyons, smaller villages, pools of crystal clear water and at the end you get to catch your breath at the wonder of the Double Root bridge. Some of the bridges are believed to be hundreds of years old, although no one knows their exact age. On average, a root bridge takes 15 years to be strong enough to take an adult’s weight.
Majuli Island, Assam: It is not easy to keep the title of the largest river island in the world. Majuli wears the badge with earnestness and quiet pride, like an Assamese beauty adorning her Mekhala. Majuli is known for its vibrant culture, its exclusive flora and fauna and spellbinding landscape, and those who trail the Brahmaputra must fit in a couple of days in the least in this otherworldly floating paradise. A victim of Brahmaputra’s many course changes, the island is being slowly eroded. It is already said to be half of its original size.
Dooars, West Bengal: The floodplains of Ganga at the foothill of the Himalayas is home to “Dooars” which means door in Bengali. It is a rich alluvial plain crisscrossed with rivers of Teesta, Raidak, Torsha. It is home to dense forests, lush tea gardens, vast plains, national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and is the gateway to many towns in NorthBengal, and Sikkim, Bhutan.
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