10 Places to Visit in North East India on Long Weekend of February 2017
Well! Arguably, North East is the most scenically blessed part of India. With its rustic beauty, friendly people and impeccable charm, its a perfect choice when it comes to planning for a laid back holiday trip, an adventurous vacation, a wildlife spree or a religious outing. If you agree with us and are too, on a look out for some beautiful weekend vacation spots in the land of seven sisters, the upcoming weekend, here, we bring you top 10 getaways in North East India where we are sure, you will have the best ever time of your lives.
Kaziranga National Park, Assam
One of the most popular and prestigious wildlife getaways not only in North East India but in entire nation, Kaziranga National Park truly makes one of the best places to visit during the upcoming weekend. The UNESCO designated world heritage site spreads over a rambling area of 378 square kilometres and dots through it, vast expanses of tall elephant grasses, dense tropical moist forests and riverine wetlands, which absolutely provide for a natural home to an array of wild species including innumerable birds, reptiles and mammals. The most celebrated resident of this park is undoubtedly, the Asiatic one-horned rhino and you would be amazed to know that from their total population across the world, around two-third of them live in Kaziranga alone. Besides! Kaziranga is also a protected reserve for the royal Bengal tigers and hides in its pristine jungle environs, their highest ever density found over the Indian subcontinent.
So, during your visit here, do expect to get some rare glimpses of these majestic predators roaming about freely in the wild. Needless to say, if you are up for a thrilling adventure amidst deep exquisiteness of Kaziranga, a jeep safari excursion would be your best bet here and would surely leave you flabbergasted with some amazing sights of its wild inhabitants having a leisure time amidst the thick forested trails; apart from rhinos and tigers, do watch out for the Asiatic Elephants who often roam here as part of big herds and mesmerize the visitors with their elegant charm. And in case, you happen to pass by the lake area, keep an eye for otters and Swamp Deer who are frequently seen refreshing in the cool waters, playing, swimming and splashing around.
Not to exclusively mention, Kaziranga is a birder’s paradise too; more than 450 species of feathered beauties reside in this sprawling reserve and provide for an entrancing spectacle to all the ardent bird lovers; just tilt your heads little upward in the sky and you would be treated with beautiful sights of a variety of jungle birds including teals, pintails, starlings, bulbuls, hornbills and woodpeckers, perched over tree tops or peeping out from amidst the thick bushes.
If the coming long weekend, you are planning for a pilgrimage cum historical trip somewhere in North East, Goalpara in Assam is the perfect choice. A sleepy little town tucked around 130 km. west of Guwahati, is one of the most significant religious destinations in the state and provides for a splendid time to temple hoppers, history buffs and archaeologists alike. ‘Sri Surya Pahar’, a sacred hill showcasing cultural remains of three major religions of India – Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism, is the prime attraction of the town and houses on it, several ancient rock-cut Shivalingas, sacred stupas, ruins of Hindu temples and stone-carved sculptures of Hindu, Jain and Buddhist pantheons; no wonder! It is one of the most sacred places in Assam and lures countless pilgrims and devotees from all the three religions in equal numbers.
Close to Goalpura, lies another popular religious site for Hindus, the sacred ‘Joybhum Kamakhya Temple’. Nestled on the shores of Brahmaputra River, the temple is one of the 51 Shaktipeethas and is visited by countless locals and tourists alike (if you cannot make to the holy ‘Kamakhya Temple’ of Guwahati, a visit to this temple would earn you the same rewards). In case you are a Shiva devotee, you just cannot miss paying your homage in ‘Nandeshwar Devalaya’ when in Goalpura; the 10th century old temple sits atop the sacred Nadeshwar Hill’ and blesses every devotee with much needed peace and solitude. Needless to say, the pilgrimage tour in this holy city remains incomplete if you haven’t taken a trip to ‘Pir Majhar’; a sacred site enshrining the tomb of great Pir, Hazrat Sayed Abul Kasem Kharasani, it is visited by both Muslims and Hindus alike showcasing the communal integrity between followers of two different faiths. Offering a holy ‘Chadar’ here is considered auspicious and is believed to bring success and happiness in the life of the offeror.
Blessed with enchanting scenic beauty of pristine waterfalls, serene lakes and lush green hills, Shillong, the beautiful capital of North Eastern state of Meghalaya, is truly an idyllic holiday retreat for those who intend to simply relax and unwind amidst unspoilt and rustic ambience of nature. When here, spend an unforgettable day hiking to the majestic ‘Shillong Peak’, revelling in captivating splendour of the ever-tranquil ‘Wards Lake’, camping & picnicking around the gorgeous ‘Umiam Lake’ or simply soaking in soothing aura of the ‘Lady Hydari Park’ where numerous vibrant birds and butterflies always play around filling your hearts with joy and ecstasy. If some fun and adventure is on your minds during your holidays in Shillong, do try your hands at some beguiling waterfall rappelling and rock climbing extravaganza at the majestic ‘Elephant Falls’ and you would surely be left in great awe of not only the entire adrenaline-pumping experience but also of the bewitching scenery that abounds the region. Not to forget! If trekking is something which puts you ON, Shillong hides in its store, a number of enticing trekking trails that leave even the highly seasoned trekking buffs with an experience of their lifetime; the ever-enchanting ‘David Scott’s’ trail is one of the finest around the state and winds its way through low granite and sandstone cliffs amidst the green undulating hills, blessing you with an unprecedented hypnotic charm of nature’s awesome creativity.
Needless to say, while scenic beauty of Shillong is its primary draw, for those who love some cultural exploration, the tiny little hill resort leaves no stones unturned to leave them too with an incredible experience; be it a sneak-peek into age-old traditions of the world famous Eri silk weaving at ‘Umden Village’ or a delectable local food fare at Asia’s cleanest ‘Mawlynnong Village’, you are sure to get back home with some beautiful memories of Shillong to cherish forever.
Anjaw, Arunachal Pradesh
A little offbeat town located amidst stupendous natural scenery of lush pine forests, enchanting rivulets, scenic waterfalls and gurgling streams, Anjaw is yet another alluring place that makes for one of the best holiday destinations in North East India catering to requirements of every kind of traveller. Whether you are looking for a tranquil retreat away from the hubbubs of cities, an enthralling adventure vacation, a memorable sight-seeing trip or a holiday soaked in historical & cultural exploration, Anjaw will never leave you disappointed.
Start your itinerary in this enchanting little hill town by taking a trip to beautiful ‘Hawaii’. Perched 1296 metres over the confluence of the gorgeous Dalai and Lohit Rivers, the place is an epitome of surreal natural beauty flanked by striking orchards of pineapples, oranges and kiwi. Spend some time here basking in the awe-inspiring panoramas of nature and taking in the soul-soothing breeze which obviously has a nip in it during months of December-January-February. For a more rustic experience, plan a visit to the historical town of ‘Kibithoo’ where numerous waterfalls and small rivulets lend it a picturesque charm; enjoy a day picnic here or embark on some beautiful treks amidst serene wilderness of mountains and you would surely be left tasting the nature in its unpretentious form. For those who are early risers, an early morning excursion to the serene village of ‘Dong’ would definitely be the most exotic experience they will ever have in Anjaw; the little village is known for its magical sunrise and truly offers a hypnotic sight to behold. Not to forget! An enthralling walk up to this serene hamlet from a hanging bridge over the Lohit River would be another interesting activity that would add to some wonderful memories of your trip here.
Yet another must-visit site in Anjaw, is definitely the ever-scenic village of ‘Tezu’. Steeped in fabled aura of the legends from holy epic Mahabharata, needless to say, a trip to this cultural hamlet would be an eye opener for all the religious hearted and will surely leave them with some great mythological insights. What more? The place is a perfect getaway for adventure freaks too; River Tezu flowing with its strong rapids, provides for a splendid experience to passionate river rafters and in case you are into trekking and hiking, the captivating trails around the region would undoubtedly, be a delight to explore.
Until past couple of years, fondly famous as the wettest place in the world (recently lost this title to a small village of Mawsynram, again located in Meghalaya), Cherrapunjee today, is known for many enticing things but more so, for its living root bridges. A feat of human genius, these bridges are not constructed but are actually grown from thick roots of the rubber trees and needless to say, their rustic charm and unique architectural techniques have made them a great draw calling innumerable adventure seekers and trekking enthusiasts from distant corners of the world. If you too are a passionate adventure buff and love going off the beaten track, these nature’s wonders would surely make for a great attraction for you too to see and admire, the upcoming long weekend. Be it the bucolic beauty of the ‘Single Decker Living Root Bridge’ perched a few metres above the serene rivulet sitting amidst quiet and surreal settings of the lush forests or the magnificent charisma of the world famous ‘Double Decker Root Bridge’ mesmerizing every visitor with its ethereal natural charm of inter-tangled roots, you would simply fall in love with these natural marvels the moment you set your eyes on them; do go for a walk over these splendid wonders or spend a day camping in their vicinities and rest assured, you will just want to be here till eternity.
In case, you are still left with some more quest for thrill and adventure during your vacations in Cherrapunjee, embark on an exciting expedition to the stunning ‘Mawsmai Caves’ that lie just 6 km. off the main city centre. Fully lit from inside and providing some spell-binding spectacles of excellent stalactite and stalagmite formations accumulated over millions of years, a trip to these caves would indeed be an experience to etch in your memories forever.
Jampui Hills, Tripura
For those looking for a romantic getaway this weekend, the gorgeous Jampui Hills located around 200 km. from Agartala would leave them with the best ever experience. Snow-covered hills, pure mountain air, invigorating weather and rich scenic splendour, lends this quaint little hill town the perfect ambience where couples and newly-weds can enjoy some intimate time together, away from chaos of the urban life. When here, nothing will fill your hearts with more joy and ecstasy than a romantic stroll with your partner, walking hand in hand along the tree shaded trails and amidst the beautiful orange orchards that abound the region. A soft music of singing birds and enticing panoramas of the beautiful sun fading away behind the hills, is sure to add a magical charm to your most quixotic experience in Jampui.
In case, you are a couple who is a bit adventurous at heart and loves adding that extra zing to your romantic holidays, indulging in something more interesting than the usual clichéd activities, then a trek here, under the shadow of sundry hills, virgin forests and tiny village huts would be an experience to cherish forever. And when you are up for a trekking spree in Jampui Hills, you ‘HAVE’ to take a hike to the watchtower at the nearby village of Betlingchip where you would be treated with most breath-taking vistas of the hill ranges of Tripura and Mizoram, the splendid the Kanchanpur – Dasda valleys and Chittagong Hill Tracts.
Needless to say, a paradise for love birds, a holiday in Jampui Hills will fill your lives with much needed love, affection and warmth for each other.
One of the much less travelled getaways in North East India, Kohima makes for a perfect place if you are looking for some offbeat holiday ideas for your long weekend trip where you can not only soak in the beauty of the place and visit its sight-seeing attractions but, also where you get an opportunity to scout through its intriguing history and get to know of its vibrant culture.
Start your conventional tour in this beautiful city by first stopping over at the ‘Kohima War Memorial’; resting ground for more than 1000 soldiers who laid down their lives defending India from the Japanese during World War II, a visit here will definitely leave you with some goosebumps, simply imagining how these brave-hearts would have sacrificed everything in honour of their nation. If you are a cultural freak, you would definitely love taking a small trip to ‘Kohima Village’, also called as the ‘Barra Basti’; with houses decorated with animal skulls and buffalo horns on their facades, a walk here will definitely leave you with a good sneak peek into intriguing Naga way of life. The ‘Kohima State Museum’ lies just close by the village and makes for another interesting site to visit if you easily get fascinated by state-of-the-art handicrafts, ancestral weaponry and tribal jewellery. And when we are talking about cultural exploration of the town, we just cannot miss its vibrant ‘Insect Market’ that is dotted with stalls selling anything and everything right from chicken, beef and pork to region’s exotic delicacies comprising of snails, silkworms, woodworms, dried frogs, spiders and honeycombs. Standing true to the philosophy of everything that can walk, crawl of fly can be eaten, this market will definitely leave even greatest of the epicureans in awe of the bizarre food culture of the state.
While there are innumerable tourist attractions in Kohima that will keep you busy, its real charm lies in the gorgeous ‘Dzukou Valley’ which definitely warrants a visit when you are here. Nestled at an altitude of 2438 metres above sea level, the valley is also known as ‘Valley of Flowers of the North East’ and allures every visitor with its unmatched scenic charm of flower-strewn meadows, lush green forests and placid rivulets. Undoubtedly, one of the best kept secrets of North East India, the place is not only a nature lover’s delight but an adventure junkie’s dream too; the ‘Japfu Peak’ is the glittering gem of the valley and calls for countless trekkers to embark on a fascinating journey that traverses them through tall rhododendron shaded trails lost in sweet murmurs of the rare Blythe’s Tragopan Pheasants and enticing vistas of snow-capped Himalayan summits.
Located in South of Sikkim, Ravangla is yet another of the beautiful vacation destinations in North East India that sits in the foothills of the mighty Himalayas and provides for the much needed rejuvenating break from the shackles of city life. Whether you want to indulge in a relaxing laid-back holiday or looking forward to an enthralling vacation full of fun and excitement, Ravangla will give you all! Spend here a day visiting its enchanting ‘Bonn’ and ‘Ralang Monasteries’ and you will surely feel blessed amidst the spiritual and divine aura of these sacred sites. For a more surreal spiritual experience, head to the famous pilgrim destination of Ravangla, the enticing ‘Buddha Park’ where 130 ft. tall statue of Shakyamuni Buddha blesses every distressed soul with an eternal well-being. And Well! if rejuvenation is your prime motto during your holidays in Ravangla, you just cannot miss taking a trip to the beautiful ‘Ralong Hot Water Springs’, located just a few kilometres off the main town. The charisma of healing properties of these natural thermal springs bring in a lot of tourists and needless to say, they truly leave from here refreshed and invigorated.
If some cultural exploration is on your minds during your trip to this scenic town, a short excursion to ‘Kewzing Village’ would be a great idea; blessed with nature’s bounty of lush tea and cardamom plantations that are often filled with musical tweets of the singing birds, you can easily go around this little hamlet, chit-chat with the ever smiling Bhutia people and get to know of their age-old cultures, customs and traditions.
Ravangla is a town which no doubt, raises the adventurous instincts of every traveller. So, if you are also bitten by this so called adventure bug in this gorgeous hill town of Sikkim, embark on an exciting journey exploring the hidden trails of the ‘Maenam Hills’. Flanked by thick forests and trees of oaks, chestnuts and rhododendrons, these hills are a treasure trove of rustic scenic beauty and provide for a delightful time to every adventure lover. Needless to say, the forests around the hills are natural habitats for red pandas, Himalayan black bears and several species of deer; so, during your excursion here, just be alert and cautious and you would get back home with some wonderful memories.
Located at a distance of 115 km. from Sikkim’s capital Gangtok, the tiny hamlet of Pelling bestowed with picturesque settings nestled under the shadow of the soaring peak of Mt. Kanchenjunga, absolutely makes for one the best destinations if you are looking for a family trip in North East India. The ‘Pemayangtse Monastery’ is the town’s major attraction and provides with some bewitching views of the beautiful Rangit River that flows amidst serene valleys which are further flanked by majestic Himalayan peaks lending it a postcard-perfect scenery. If you are up for some religious exploration when in Pelling, the ever-enchanting ‘Khecheopalri Lake’ would make for a great place to visit. Held in high regard by the Sikkimese Buddhists, the holy lake will instantly make you fall in love with its splendid natural scenery, immersed in deep serenity and tranquillity; offer you obeisance when at this beautiful lake and if time permits, do take a trip to the ‘Khechepalri Gompa’ and a holy cave that sits just nearby.
For those who love some dose of history, Pelling has a few interesting sites in its store which absolutely provide for a great time to such history buffs. The ‘Rabadantse Ruins’ is one of them and takes you back in times when this royal city was devastated by the Nepalese invaders. Sitting amidst thick forests and offering spectacular views of the Kanchenjunga range, this is a great place for photography freaks too who would surely love feasting their camera lenses with awesome visual treats.
Needless to say, with lush jungle and mountain terrains around, Pelling makes for a great destination for wildlife and adventure enthusiasts too. ‘Dentam Valley’ located just 20 km. off the hill town, is a treasure trove of enticing trekking trails that not only provide for an amazing time to trekkers but, also avid bird watchers who are often greeted here with some amazing sights of rare Himalayan birds.
Ziro Valley, Arunachal Pradesh
Tucked away in the forbidding hill-scape of Arunachal Pradesh, Ziro Valley find its name amongst the only few celebrated postcard perfect valleys of India. It’s serene natural charm peppered with sprawling paddy fields encircled by tall pines & bamboos, quaint villages dotted with rustic wooden houses, and rolling green hills covered under thick layers of vibrant flora, truly provide for the much needed ambience to calm your minds and rejuvenate your souls. While there are numerous interesting attractions and things to do in Ziro, if you are a wildlife enthusiast, you would surely love visiting the ‘Talley Wildlife Sanctuary’ which is home to the endangered clouded leopards; playing hide and seek amidst soaring bamboos and beautiful silver fir trees, needless to say, these elusive creatures would provide you a thrilling time spotting them. For those who get intrigued with the idea of trekking, must pull up their socks and get ready for some hiking fun at ‘Midey’; cuddled amidst dense bamboo grooves and thick forests of blue pines, the place is an epitome of scenic beauty and not only leaves trekkers with an experience of their lifetime but, also woos nature lovers and photographers who specially travel here to soak their souls in the place’s ethereal natural panoramas. Yet another famous attraction of Ziro Valley which definitely warrants a visit is its 5000 years old ‘Meghna Cave Temple’; located amidst dense forest cover and steeped in immense tranquillity, it’s a great place for all the religious hearted, nature lovers and undoubtedly, the ones who are in search of some solitude away from maddening roars of the cities.
One thing which makes Ziro unique amongst all hill destinations in North East India, is its ever-friendly people, majority of which belong to the Apatani tribe, one of the oldest tribes of Arunachal Pradesh and which is recognized world-wide for its tribal women wearing massive nose rings and adorning huge facial tattoos that start right from their foreheads and end at their chins. Needless to say, if you are into anthropology, you would have a great time interacting with these tribes and getting to know of their unique lifestyles and cultures. And more so, when you are travelling here, you would be treated with the lifetime opportunity to be part of their Murung Rituals, which are much known for their ecstatic music produced by the special bamboo mouth pieces played by the shamans.
Well! The list of weekend holiday destinations in North East India are endless; the above 10 are the best among them and specially scouted keeping in mind, holiday ideas for the long weekends. In case, you feel some destination is missing and which ought to be included in this list, please do let us know by commenting in the section below.
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