A cultural tour of the Northeast is a fascinating journey into a land that is as ancient as it is diverse. An amalgamation of its varied people and ethnicities, festivals, architecture, music, food and art, form the cultural tapestry of the region. Interestingly, despite such diverse histories and traditions co-existing here, there is an overarching cultural identity that binds the region in a cohesive bond and gives it a unique character. It’s a certain je ne ce quoi that sets it apart from the rest of India. Here, nature plays a pivotal role in the daily life of people. From its rolling tea plantations with ancient bungalows reminiscent of their colonial past, to the mighty Himalayas looming as an omnipresent benefactor over the region, to the exotic wildlife that thrives in virgin forests- the landscape forms an intrinsic part of the northeast identity. Northeast cultural tours are a celebration of this distinctive identity and a quest to discover the rich ethnic legacy of the land.
Royal Agartala trip Agartala is the second largest city in the northeast after Guwahati, and the capital of Tripura. The city is home to some of the best known tourist spots in the state including the royal palace of Ujjayanta and Neer Mahal, a small distance away. This tour lets you explore Agartala and its environs, covering the major points of interest including the Sepahijala Bird Sanctuary and Chaturdasha Temple among others. The tour is a relaxed one where you can take your time learning about the fascinating histories of the places that you visit. The former royals and their legacy are a popular refrain in much of Tripura’s architecture, history and culture and you get to see snippets of this heritage on our tour of Agartala. Best time to visit: October to February
Mizoram is a land of cascading waterfalls and verdant valleys, and home to remote communities of indigenous tribes. One of the least explored states in the Northeast, Mizoram remains a treasure trove of hidden gems. Our tour of Aizawl takes you on a trip to some of the best known attractions in and around the city. From Mizoram’s highest waterfalls at Thenzawl to the traditional villages of Mizo tribes, to the bustling border town of Champai, this tour offers a compact experience of Mizo life. Discover tribal art, taste local cuisine and enjoy the blissful solitude of a land tucked away in the eastern fringes of India, nestled amid the generous bounty of Nature. Best time to visit: October to April
Nagaland is one of Northeast India’s most beautiful destinations, brimming with culture. Various tribes have claimed this part of the land as their home. Your tour will include visits to places like Dimapur, Kohima, Mokokchung, Tuensang and Mon. Witnessing the tribes’ lifestyles up close, steeped in their own unique traditions, will be of particular interest. This is an experience like no other with an introduction to Nagaland’s history and an intriguing study in anthropology. Best time to visit: Around the year Please note: The following itinerary is only suggestive, indicating one of several possibilities. We cater to your needs when arranging holidays. If you would like to modify or tailor a particular tour, just contact us. We are here to make your India tour among the very best.
Hornbill Festival is the biggest and most widely celebrated festival in Nagaland. Witness the festivities up, close and personal as ethnic Naga people come together to celebrate their cultural legacy through traditional music, dance, clothes and food. Our tour takes you to the heart of the festival and gives you an intimate insight into the lives of the tribal people. Visit the first Green Village in India, spend a night in tents at a local village and get a true feel of the Nagaland countryside. Trip dates: December
Manipur’s capital city of Imphal is located at a convenient distance from many of the state’s tourist attractions. Our comprehensive tour of Imphal takes you around the city and its environs with day trips to nearby hill towns and villages and includes visits to all the major points of interest like the Keibul Lamjao National Park and Loktak Lake. Best time to visit: All year round
Kaziranga National Park is a UNESCO conferred World Heritage Site with the world’s highest population density of tigers and home to the endangered one-horned rhinoceros. Experience the thrill of spending a night inside the park surrounded by the nocturnal cries of wild animals. Visit the neighbouring tea estate of Addabarie with the echoes of colonialism still ringing in the ancient British bungalows. Kaziranga National Park also has the largest orchid garden in India with several hundred varieties of rare and exquisite orchids. Make a trip to Majuli island to visit some of the ancient satras (neo- Vaishnavite monasteries) and discover the traditional art of mask making practised by the Mishing tribe. Stop at the town of Jorhat for a visit to the oldest burning oil lamp in the world and discover relics of the ancient Ahom dynasty in Sivasagar. Best time to visit: November to April Please Note: Any changes to safari timings or park closures are at the sole discretion of the Forest Department. Ahom is not responsible for the cancellation of any safaris made by the park authorities and will be unable to provide any compensation for the same.
Nagaland is one of Northeast India’s most beautiful destinations, brimming with culture. Various tribes have claimed this part of the land as their home. Your tour will include visits to incredibly beautiful places as Dimapur, Kohima, Mokokchung, Tuensang, and Mon. Witnessing the tribes’ lifestyles up close, steeped in their own unique traditions, will be of particular interest. You will likely never forget the experience of interacting with the various tribes of Nagaland. Please note: The following itinerary is only our suggestion, indicating one of several possibilities. We cater to your needs when arranging holidays. If you would like to modify or tailor a particular tour, just contact us; we are here to make your Northeast India tour among the very best.
Tripura is a picturesque hill state in northeast India bordered by Bangladesh in the north, south and west and Mizoram in the east. This erstwhile princely state echoes its monarchal past in the imposing palaces and lakes dotted across the land. Our green and cultural tour of Tripura takes you on a visit to some of these magnificent structures that tell intriguing tales of the land’s religious and social history. Tripura is a land steeped in legend. It’s where the Lord Shiva turned his entourage of Gods and Goddesses to stone, in a fit of rage. The deities stand frozen for eternity in the rock carvings at Unakoti. Tripura is also home to a rich selection of rare flora and fauna and our tour includes a double treat for ornithologists with visits to the Sepahijala Wildlife Sanctuary and Dumboor Lake, both noted places for wildlife and bird watching. Best time to visit: October to February
Arunachal Pradesh is steeped in spirituality and ancient history. Being the birthplace of the sixth Dalai Lama, Arunachal is a sacred place for Buddhist devotees who come on pilgrimage to the many monasteries across the state. Each of these has a fascinating history. Our Tawang tour takes you to some of the most famous monasteries in the region. The tour includes a visit to some of the other attractions like the famous orchid garden in Dirang and a trip to a tribal Monpa village. Best time to visit: Around the year
The northeast is home to approximately 220 different ethnic groups, with as many languages. Every tribe celebrates its cultural legacy through dance, music and traditional costumes during the myriad fairs and festivals that are celebrated around the year. The Konyak tribe are an ancient community of head hunters who live in the hinterlands of Nagaland. Their distinctive facial tattoos are earned for acts of valour and until recently, grizzly human heads adorned the front walls of Konyak homes as testaments to their bravado. The Mishing community is another well known tribe based predominantly in Assam. For several generations the tribe has been engaged in weaving, mask making and boat making in Majuli Island. A tribal village tour takes you into the heart of these ethnic settlements and gives you a fascinating insight into the lives of these people and is an interesting study into their rituals and social history. Tribal festivals are primarily agrarian in nature. Hornbill Festival in Nagaland, Khubakisei Festival in Manipur and Bihu Festival in Assam are among the best known festivals in the Northeast.
The music of the Northeast echoes ancient Chinese influences and its descending scale makes it distinct from other genres of Indian music. With so many fairs and festivals filling up the cultural calendar of the eight states, it’s no wonder that music is a major part of celebrations and life in the region. The Ziro Festival in Arunachal Pradesh is in fact the biggest outdoor music festival in India. Located in the remote but picturesque Ziro Valley, the festival is a Mecca for music lovers celebrating several genres of music from folk to western rock. There are several unusual and interesting musical instruments that come from the northeast and are widely used for traditional dances. Besides common ones like the mridanga, the patent accompanying rhythm for classical Manipuri dance, rare instruments include the Split Concussion tubes. This is a percussion instrument commonly used by the Bodo tribes. For those interested in music, a tribal village tour is a great way to discover old and obscure melodies and rare instruments.
Different religious groups have at different times in history joined the social and cultural mosaic of the Northeast region. This has led to a plethora of interesting temples and monasteries across the eight states. The Tawang Monastery in Arunachal Pradesh is one of the most popular destinations on a northeast cultural tour. This 17th century monastery, hailed as the second largest in the world is a holy site for Tibetan Buddhists as the birthplace of the sixth Dalai Lama. A spectacular prayer room inside the monastery has an eight- metre tall statue of Buddha, while a central courtyard holds annual festivals like Losar and Torgya. The Kamakhya Temple in Guwahati, Assam is a famous shrine for Hindu devotees and has a fascinating history about its origin. According to legend, the Lord Shiva distraught at his wife Sati’s death carried her corpse around the world, lamenting and doing his dance of fury when Sati’s vulva fell to the ground and gave rise to the Kamakhya Temple. The unique combination of these ancient structures with the corresponding legends leads to a fascinating discovery of the region’s socio-religious history.
For most urban settlements, Nature remains a distant presence. Mountains, streams, forest, wild animals all remain outside the parameters of city life. In the Northeast however, Nature is all pervading. While the Himalayas provide a magnificent backdrop, clear streams, rolling tea plantations, and wild flowers take up front and centre. A conversation on northeast cultural tours is incomplete without a mention of its landscape. Nature comes up as a recurring refrain in the literature, music and art of the Northeast. Dong Village in the Anjaw district of Arunachal Pradesh receives the second ray of sunlight after Japan. This explains why days start early in much of the northeast and evenings are short. The general pace of things starts slowing down from the afternoon and the day draws to a close at sunset. The northeast is also home to 550 species of rare and exotic orchids while 70 percent of the land is hilly terrain.
A northeast cultural tour is incomplete without a visit to one of the many sprawling tea estates in the region. The northeast accounts for an astounding 70 percent of the total tea production in India. These plantations with their ancient colonial bungalows stand as relics of a bygone era. Stay at a heritage bungalow, try your hand at tea picking and experience the life of the British planter as it was at the turn of the last century.
The northeast beckons with the promise of a deeply fulfilling journey of self discovery. Through visits to its vibrant fairs and festivals, the fascinating tribal arts and crafts tours, imposing architecture, and the diverse ethnic population who live here, the Northeast offers a cultural immersion like no other. It’s unique and with a palpable joie de vivre that you can sense every time you visit.