India’s North East is opening up to host an increasing number of travelers. The Dialogue Diaries™, an interview platform by Backpacking Series, is delighted to feature early explorers who have ventured inside the region. In this interaction, Devesh Joshi from FootLoose Dev shares his experiences and the essential North East India travel tips and hacks for anyone to follow.
What stands out for you about North East India?
I’ve been to Meghalaya, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Assam. It’s the hospitality and the uniqueness of the region that struck my eyes and inspires me from visiting it again and again. It’s amazing to see how various states are different from one another.
And then, the unbounded beauty of Northeast India: If you think you’ve seen the rainforests of Western Ghats, you need to visit the rainforest of Meghalaya. The beauty is unparalleled.
To name a few places: visit Eastern Khasi Hills in Meghalaya, Majuli Island in Assam, Ziro Valley in Arunachal Pradesh, and Pfutsero and Mon region in Nagaland.
What’s your favorite destination in North East India?
Though there are a few places I’d love to revisit in Northeast India, given they’re all very unique and different from each other, if I were to name just one place, it would be Majuli Island in Assam. I’ve been to Majuli Island a few times and it doesn’t fail to behold me every time.
I remember back in the summer of 2015, I fell in love with the Majuli — about 350 sq km of an untouched land that appears to have been forgotten by today’s new-age influence and of any technology. People pedaled to work, hand-maneuvered boats were preferred over the motored ones. What is often termed as India’s largest river island, Majuli, at least to me, revealed itself as a no-man’s-land where simmering mat of yellow rice fields and water meadows bursting with hyacinth blossoms outnumbered everything else.
How to get to Majuli Island, your favorite destination?
It’s easier to get there (than you think). If you are coming in a train, the nearest train station is Mariani Junction, from where you can get an auto rikshaw to Jorhat. If coming in a bus, you can find direct buses from Guwahati to Jorhat. From Jorhat, there’s just one way to get to the island – a public ferry, costing no more than 20 Rupees for a 1 hour ride.
The ferry drops you inside the Majuli Island. The island is quite big, so find a shared taxi at the harbour to get to your hotel in the island.
What are some culinary suggestions from North East India?
It’s easy to find vegetarian options. However, if you’re a meat lover as many people in Northeast India are, you must try different delicacies of fish in Assam, meat momos when visiting Arunachal Pradesh, or when in Meghalaya, don’t forget to try the traditional dish of Jadoh – pig’s brain/intestine served with rice cooked in pig’s blood!
What’s the culture and lifestyle of North East India like?
Northeast culture isn’t only different from the culture in other parts of India, but it’s diverse within the region of northeast too and this is because of a strong influence of regional tribes in the area. For example, there are over 16 tribes in Nagaland itself – each one significantly different from the other. So classifying the culture of Northeast India under one umbrella is not possible.
Backpacking Series – Here’s something more to read about dos and donts in North East India.
What are your recommended travel planning hacks for North East India?
There are a lot of homestays in northeast India: particularly in Arunachal, Meghalaya and Nagaland. Try homestays to not only save on money but also to get closer to the families there, and thus, to the culture.
Also, note that many places in northeast do not have a bus service, so try to find shared taxis. Transportation is quite lacking in the region, so be prepared to have a hard time backpacking inside the region: unless you’re ready to pay for private taxis (which can be quite expensive).
What are your North East India Travel Tips for Visitors?
Don’t be afraid of visiting Northeast India. One thing, I repeatedly tell people in other parts of India, is that people in Northeast are very friendly. And one should not feel scared of traveling to this beautiful part of India. Try to speak to locals, smile and you will be taken aback with the kind of hospitality this region has to offer.
Secondly, it’s best to avoid visiting most parts in the northeast India during monsoon as regular landslides, and heavy rainfall can make things challenging.
Notes by Backpacking Series:
- For more on the topic of safety, click to read North East India is Safer than You think
- Monsoon is preferred by some to witness the majestic waterfalls of the region, especially Meghalaya. Besides, you might want to consider adventure activities such as The Bamboo Trail in the wet season.
What’s your new bucket list for North East India?
I would like to explore more of Meghalaya. Two places in Meghalaya I’d want to visit are (1) Dawki – for its crystal clear water and (2) Mawlynnong – the town that has edged out Cherrapunji as the world’s wettest place. Oh and, (3) I’d like to spend a night in Sela Pass – one of the coldest places in Northeast India on the way to Tawang Monastry in Arunchal Pradesh!
Think North East India
For those who do not know, North East India comprises of eight states – Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, and Tripura. The Himalayas and its waters define the region’s terrain, climate, rich biodiversity, and the peculiar indigenous lifestyles her people follow.
That North East India is bound by Bhutan, Nepal, and Tibet to the north, Bangladesh to the south and west, and Myanmar to the east hints at the eclectic mix of cultural, ethnic, and linguistic diversity. This is where elements of Asia come together to do what they do best – cast a spell.
The region’s innate charms have remained under-explored. Travelers, who figure out how to backpack in North East India, find gems such as Dzükou Valley all to themselves. Importantly, the hospitable people of the region make sure that visitors take back the choicest of memories.
Meanwhile, pick up a copy of Backpacking North East India: A Curious Journey. It covers over two dozen places and attempts to answer the question – what is it like to travel in the region? Give it a read and make your own choices.
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Have you been to or live in India’s North East? Come, let’s talk about your experiences and help someone follow your footsteps! Click The Dialogue Diaries™ for details and to get started.
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