The beautiful north-eastern states of India are known for their rich history, cultural and endowed with natural beauty. The pleasant weather and cold winters make them the most sought-after destinations in India.
Their hilly and mountainous terrains, the numerous ethnic groups, their traditional instruments and their colourful festivals make northeast a tourist hotspot. Here are five ways in which you can explore the region and learn about the places, culture and communities.
In the hills of Meghalaya, music plays a keen note for anyone willing to listen. The debut of 'NH7 Weekender Shillong' and the Bollywood film Rock On 2 brought much of this to the limelight, exposing the state's interest in a wide variety of music --- rock, punk, metal, funk and jazz to name a few.
For fans of metal music, there are bands like 'Prisoners of Chaos' and 'Nemesis', whereas bands like 'Skylevel' play instrumental math rock. In a flawless mix of skill and technology, the music here is experimental, political and most importantly, fun. The younger generations are quick to pick up these skills, reviving the state's history with music and hosting several music festivals with international line-ups.
Apart from private concerts and the NH7 Weekender, the Shillong Autumn Festival is also widely popular.
Atop grand mountains of Mizoram immersed perpetually in a sober sky, the sprinkle of wild orchids brings pops of vibrancy. In varying shades of pink, purple, red and orange, these flowers bring together a postcard-like scenery on the trails of the mountains.
Trek up to Phawngpui or Hmuifang to capture their beauty yourself. In fact, the perpetual blue hue on Phawngpui with a contrast of the vivid orchids makes for an enviable snapshot. Unfortunately, because of their rare nature and striking appearance, orchid thefts are quite common. Please do not pick any flower. We guarantee they look more beautiful alive. We suggest you prolong the visit staying in overnight camps.
Sikkim is a haven for those who wish a front-row view of exotic biodiversity. The state's varied altitudinal zones provide for astonishingly contrasting climates and you can drive from tropical weather to perennial snow within a measly hour.
This makes Sikkim the ideal habitat for a magnanimous palette of 550 species of avifauna. Fetch a ride to Pemayangtse monastery or trek up to Dzongri and sight some of these peculiar birds, including the maroon-backed accentor, red-faced liocichla, blood pheasant and Himalayan monal.
Bamboo, leather, wood or horn --- the many textures of Tripura's native instruments have birthed a unique soundscape for this hilly state. Try your hand at samui, an eight-holed flute carved according to the grasping style of its players, or the unusual combination of bamboo clappers in the lebang-lebangti.
And not to forget the dangdoo, an Indian cousin of the Jewish mouth harp. The wind-cum-percussion instrument is a recognisable marker of Tripuri ingenuity. Players pluck the wire held between the idiophone's tong-like arms to make music, with controlled breathing that colours plunk and pitch. Those with a touch of arthritis may want to leave out the kham. This double-membraned instrument hangs from your neck, is tied to the waist, and is played on the ground.
With 80 per cent of the state covered in foliage, Arunachal Pradesh is ranked second when it comes to "area under forest cover". The Namdapha and Dirang are its most beautiful forests. With an area of 1,985 sq km, Namdapha National Park is the largest protected area in India.
Nestled in the Dapha Bum range of the Mishmi Hills and the Patkai range, the park is home to 425 species of avifaunas, clouded leopards, tigers and red pandas. There have been rare sightings of snow leopards too. At 1,497 metres above sea level, Dirang is between Bomdila and Tawang. Due to its lower elevation, the valley enjoys a pleasant weather and breathtaking views of the snow-capped mountains. A bath in the hot spring waterfalls is a must, no matter when you visit.