40 Lesser known places in Northeast India that are a must visit this summer
Northeast India is an entirely different world that is made of the rugged landscapes not trodden by many, mountains that rise majestically from impossibly dense forests, and ancient tribes that are distant from all the modern ways. There are many travellers who seek comfort away from chaos in the virgin woods here. But, you will still find some lesser-known places in Northeast India that have miraculously escaped the touristy hustle and bustle.
Here is the list of 40 such sites that are hidden away in the unexplored lands and far away corners. Keep in mind that with thundering rains in the monsoon and biting cold in the winter, the best time to visit Northeast India is summer. Read on to know the right way of exploring Northeast India and see what each of the 8 states has to offer to curious wanderers.
Unknown places in Arunachal Pradesh
We all know about the captivating beauty of Roing and monasteries of Tawang. The world heritage site of Ziro Valley is also popular amongst seasoned travellers. But, here is are the 5 best sites in Arunachal Pradesh that no one told you about -
1. Explore orchid farms in Bomdila
Surrounded by the Eastern Himalayas and dotted with monasteries and orchid farms, Bomdila is a small town that has a lot to offer. You can go to the Bomdila pass to catch the spectacular vistas of the Gorichen and Kangto peaks. Visit the Bomdila Monastery which is also known as the GRL Monastery as you will definitely feel peaceful at the large prayer hall here. There are a few craft stores around the town that sell local handicrafts. Bomdila sightseeing includes visiting orchid farms and apple orchards that adorn the rolling landscapes around. Do not miss a chance to soak in this natural beauty while exploring the town.
2. Stay in the town of Bhalukpong
The town of Bhalukpong is tucked away in the foothills of the Himalayas on the border of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. It is so tiny that you can easily cover the entire town on foot. As it lies on the banks of Kameng River, you will get to enjoy recreational activities like river rafting and fish angling. One of the best Bhalukpong tourist places is Tipi Orchid Research Center. When you come here in summer, you will find 80 different species of orchids in full bloom. Go hiking around and satiate your hunger with Assamese style food afterward.
3. Be humble at Kalachakra Gompa
The ancient monastery of Kalachakra Gompa is Kalachakra Village near Dirang is a place that is away from all the touristy crowd. A winding road that takes you to Kalachakra Gompa is lined with small traditional houses. When you come here during the months of summer, you will find lush green hills surrounding the structure and cool summer breeze soothing the visitors. With a fascinating history of more than 500 years, this monastery welcomes those who follow Buddhism and those who are curious about it with open arms.
4. Enjoy a drive to the Tenga Valley
The town of Tenga Valley holds a significant importance as it is also a military base. You will come across small streams and waterfalls on your way to Tenga. You will be greeted by kiwi and apple orchards along with rose and orchid gardens that surround this town. As it is located along the River Tenga, it is blessed with the soothing sound of flowing water in the summer. If you are wondering how to reach Tenga Valley, Arunachal Pradesh, then you can take a bus or cab. The nearest town is Tezpur where you will easily find these transportation options.
5. Dambuk - The land of oranges
Scarcely populated area of Dambuk in Lower Dibang Valley is not yet explored by many travellers. But, it is known for producing some of the best quality oranges in India. Completely cut off from rest of the world in monsoon and enveloped with a biting cold in winter, it opens its gates to tourists in summer. This is a perfect offbeat destination in Northeast India. The Dambuk Orange Festival of Adventure & Music is loved by locals and is yet to gain the popularity it deserves. Visit Dambuk, the village that hardly has mobile connectivity, and escape from all the maddening chaos.
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Unexplored paradise in Assam
Next time you plan a visit to Assam, visit the places that are unexplored. While others are busy going to the Kaziranga National Park and the disappearing island of Majuli, you can experience the combination of natural beauty, religious devotions, and laid-back vibes at these less popular sites in Assam -
6. Haflong - The only hill station in Assam
Haflong, the only hill station in Assam, is a little slice of paradise. From the eco-tourism village of Samparidisa to Fiangpui Garden, you will find plenty of places to explore here. The best time to visit Haflong is from October to April if you want to experience its beauty to the fullest. It is one of the best unknown places in Northeast India that will take you to the heart of nature. Haflong Lake that is located in the center of the town is a sight to behold. Stay at one of the lakeside resorts to soak in the local flavour.
7. Experience religious blend at Hajo
Hajo preserves the amalgamation of three different religions from hundreds of years. That makes it an ancient pilgrimage site with places of worship that attracts Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhists. Hajo tourism is based on the places of worship that are scattered around here. You can visit the stunning hilltop Hayagriva Madhava Temple and you can offer your prayers at Hajo Powa Mecca. Hindu temples carry fine stone carvings whereas the mosque has a history dating back to the 12th century. Some Buddhists also believe that Madhava Temple is the site where Buddha attained Nirvana. All the more reasons to explore this unexplored place in Assam, right?
8. Walk in tea gardens in Barak Valley
The sprawling Barak Valley in Assam covers three districts and has Barail Wildlife Sanctuary along with Katakhal reserve forest. The rolling hills in the valley are draped with extensive tea estates that are the identity of Assam. List of tea gardens in Barak Valley includes some places that date back to a couple of centuries. It has several must-visit sites hidden away amidst all the greenery that has escaped the clutches of tourism. Go trekking, bird-watching, and pamper your taste buds with Assamese cuisine served at the small stalls in Hailakandi district.
9. Visit the Sonai Rupai Wildlife Sanctuary
Sonai Rupai Wildlife Sanctuary in Sonitpur District can be easily reached from major towns like Tezpur. One of the lesser-known forests in Assam, this sanctuary has maintained its serenity. The best time to visit Sonai Rupai is from November to April. This is when you will get to see herds of deer grazing around or a mighty tiger sleeping in the shade. A pack of elephants crossing the woods is also not a rare sight here. Make sure you have a local guard with you while entering as this virgin forest is not easy to explore on your own.
10. Romancing with the past at Madan Kamdev ruins
Visit the temple of Madan Kamdev and you will wonder how this archeological site is still not known to many. It combines history with religion and erotica with devotion. The ruins of several temples dating back to the 9th and 10th century make it one of the top places to visit in Northeast India. But, as it is nestled on the banks of Madankuri River and on top of forested Diwangri Hill, it is not toured by many tourists. This site shrouded with a rich Hindu mythology may have more ruins that are waiting to be found. The present condition of Madan Kamdev is visitor-friendly that earlier and will take you back in time.
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Hidden gems in Manipur
The state of Manipur has a lot to offer to its visitors. From the bustling cities like Imphal to the sleepy villages around Loktak Lake, you will get to explore many places around here. Refer to these best Manipuri sites that are not always toured by people while planning your next trip.
11. Moreh - a little slice of Myanmar
With the official opening of the Indo-Myanmar Friendship Bridge, Moreh has become a town the connects India to Myanmar. It is already a popular area as it shares the border with the Burmese Tamu city. But, it is still one of the offbeat places to visit in Northeast India owing to its hard-to-reach geographical status. When you are in the town, you must buy souvenirs at Moreh International Market. This bustling Moreh bazaar has everything from fresh local produce to knick-knacks. So, plan your next trip to this Manipuri town to see how it carries the charming influence of Burmese culture.
12. See the unique ecosystem at Loktak Lake
Loktak Lake is hardly 50 kilometers from Imphal and is the only floating national park in the world. Numerous circular phumdis that form the delicate ecosystem mark the lake. These floating islets on the glassy water support rich biodiversity. Loktak is used for drinking water supply as well as fishing and is a source of income for locals. It is also a natural habitat for Manipur’s state animal - sangai dancing deer, whose hooves are adapted to walk on the phumdis. Hop on the boat and find a way through Loktak Lake phumdis to make the most of your time!
13. The world's only all-women run market - Ima Market
Ima Market has thrived over the last 500 years and has transformed into a place that supports thousands of vendors. Known as Ima Keithel in the local language, it translates to ‘Mother’s Market’. One walk through the stalls and you will realize how true its name is. It is considered to be the only women-run market around the globe. When the world was busy talking about equality, Manipur was busy implementing it in real life. One of the lesser-known tourist destinations in North India, visit Ima Market to get a glimpse of the local lifestyle.
14. Ukhrul - Home to endangered Shirui Lily flowers.
Visiting Ukhrul in summer is a great idea for those who want to understand its culture and traditions. From celebrating the Shirui lily Festival to enjoying the traditional dance performances, you will have plenty of opportunities to be a part of the local canvas. Endangered flowers of Shirui Lily start blooming in the hills of Ukhrul just when the summer is about to end. The festival that creates awareness about these flowers is full of folksongs and cultural shows. If you are visiting here before the festival, make sure you attend the dance performances by Tangkhuls that depicts different situations.
15. Caving in Manipur
There are a couple of natural caves in Manipur that are not developed as a tourist attraction. The Tharon caves that are located in Tamenglong district can be explored without the help of any guide. Artifacts discovered during the excavation here have linked the cave to North Vietnamese culture. Khangkhui Cave near Ukhrul is another of the secret attractions in Northeast India. This limestone cave system looks surreal in the scarce sunlight that enters through the cracks. It is a prehistoric cave that has found a place in different folklore. Caving here is an adrenaline-rushing experience for adventure-seekers.
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Offbeat places in Meghalaya
Cascading waterfalls and living root bridges define Meghalaya. But, if you decide to go deeper into the state, you will realize that there are many treasures that are guided by the locals. Its sacred forests and mighty rivers are must-visit places in Northeast India.
16. Garo Hills - The biodiversity hotspot
Garo Hills, one of the wettest places in the world, is a paradise for butterflies. It is reported that more than 300 species of these vibrant, delicate-winged insects rule the hills. The number may exceed above 600 as more and more surveys are being done. Some of the rare and endangered species are protected here as it is one of the hidden gems in Northeast India. Visiting this area pre-monsoon when the summer is about to close its doors will place you in the heart of nature that is not trodden by many.
17. Be in the mystical forest in Mawphlang
Only 25 kilometers from Shillong and yet clouded in mystery, the sacred forest of Mawphlang is a gem waiting to be found. It is tucked away in East Khasi Hills and has remarkable groves that are considered holy by local tribes. It is one of the remote places to visit in Northeast India that will take you to the pristine world never experienced before. From rare medicinal plants to beautiful orchid flowers, everything can be found here. A small stone temple inside the forest has witnessed many animal sacrifices made by Khasi tribe. This tribe also believes that nothing can be taken from the forest as it may anger the deity that protects them.
18. Hot springs of Jakrem for a refreshing dip
There are very few places in India that have hot springs and Jakrem is one of them. It has a sulfur water with medicinal properties. You can take a rejuvenating dip in the natural pool. The separate bathing space is also built here in order to attract more tourists. The stream that flows through the rocky terrain is mostly unheard of. So, when you come to this hidden wonder in Northeast India, you may get the whole place to yourself.
19. Take in the beauty of Umngot River
Umngot River in Dawki is so exquisite that not visiting it should be a sin. Its crystal clear water surrounded by imposing hills and trees looks postcard-perfect. When these landscapes cast a reflection in the water, it wears a magical greenish-blue glow. Taking a boat ride on this emerald stream is a mesmerizing experience. Umngot River, which is also known as Dawki River, is yet to be discovered by herds of tourists. So, this one of the unexplored places in Northeast India is a must-visit.
20. Understand the past at Monoliths in Nartiang
Nartiang village in West Jaintia Hills district is a combination of history and religion. It is the tiny village that is marked by the presence of striking monoliths. This cluster of standing stones is considered to be one of the tallest in the world and has a history dating back to 5-6 centuries. The stones that have witnessed the glorious bygone days have many tales to tell. Take a tour of these lesser-known attractions in Northeast India and be amazed at the grandeur it represents. Do not forget to stop by the 500-year-old Durga Temple nearby as it is a major place of worship around.
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Hidden attractions of Mizoram
Ruled by different ethnic groups and tribes, Mizoram has a capacity to introduce you to a culture that is entirely different than yours. All you have to do is go to the sites that are yet to be discovered by tourists!
21. Hike to the cave of Chawngchilhi Puk
The cave of Chawngchilhi Puk near Thenzawl town may not a sprawling one, but it is undoubtedly one of the mysterious places of Northeast India. According to the legend, this cave had played a major role in the love that blossomed between a serpent and a girl named Chawngchilhi. The snake born out of this affair took a shelter in this cave and stayed for many years to come. As bizarre as it sounds, the cave is named after that girl today. A small hike or a bumpy car ride will take you to Chawngchilhi Puk.
22. Conquer the Phawngpui Mountain
Phawngpui, the highest peak in Lushai Hills, is also known as the Blue Mountain. The peak that is believed to be the home of local deities holds a significant place in the folk stories. The constant cover of clouds around the peak cast a bluish shadow and has helped in gaining the name Blue Mountain. The Phawngpui Blue Mountain National Park covers this entire area and is open during winter and summer only. So, when you visit this place in summer, you can trek to the top and explore the park.
23. Kawtchhuah Ropui – The key to the puzzling past
It is still unclear how the Mizo community came to live on the lands it has today. But, the Menhirs that have stood tall in Vangchhia from the prehistoric times may hold a key to this puzzle. Today, there are more than 150 stones around the village and many have been lost or broken over the centuries. These rocks have been engraved with human figures and some kind of script making it the protected archaeological site. As it came into light recently, it is still one of the secret destinations in Northeast India. Wander through these rock canvas and let them take you back in time.
24. Meet the world’s largest family at Baktawng Village
Ziona Chana, the leader of the family of 190+, stays in the village of Baktawng. Meeting this head of the largest family in the world is one of the coolest things to do in Northeast India. When you go to his four-storied mansion, you will understand how this family functions. With 39 wives, 94 children, and more than 30 grandkids, the mansion is always bustling with energy. Ziona, the proud head of Chanas’, is 73-years-old today and is hoping to get married again. He has got guts now, doesn’t he?
25. Chawngtlai - Unfolding the history
The small village of Chawngtlai is home to several historical sites. From the cannibal cave of Hringei puk to the cave of forest fairies Lasi rorelna puk, you will find some interesting sites here. You can visit Sai Bualpui Dil, a bathing pond of elephants and you can also go to the monument of Hranglung. But, keep in mind that as this is one of the remote sites to visit in Northeast India, you may find it hard to explore this area. This Mizo historical village is a great place for history buffs.
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Secret destinations in Nagaland
With the turbulent history and ancient heritage, Nagaland is the state that has something for every type of traveller. From the silent ruins to lively festivals, check what you can see while exploring Nagaland away from all the crowd.
26. Ruins of the Dimasa Kachari Kingdom
The Kachari Kingdom, which belonged to the group of Dimasa people, has a history that takes it back to the 13th century. These remains of the era gone by are a combination of dome-shaped pillars and ruins of a palace. Carvings on the pillars are saved from the ravages of time and still can be seen clearly after hundreds of years. Though the site is not well-preserved and ruins are not developed as a tourist destination, you can go through this area at your own pace. Take a chance to experience the ancient grandeur that is hidden away in the ruins!
27. Go traditional at Touphema Village
If you are interested in getting an insight into the tribal culture of Nagaland, head off to Touphema Village that is located a couple of hours from Kohima. This tourist village has been developed the way Nagas have been living from the centuries. Staying in the traditional huts to learn the way of their living is one of the best things to do in Northeast India. A small museum in the village has different artifacts that represent the local culture and heritage. Visit Touphema before it gets famous but make sure that you are following all the rules while staying here.
28. Witness the celebration of Aoling Festival
Attending the Aoling Festival that is celebrated by Konyak Naga Tribe is a visual treat. Held every year in the 1st week of April, this festival prays for a good harvest. Over a week-long festivities, traditional tribal clothes are worn, the animals are hunted down for sacrificing, and rice beer is gulped down. Konyak tribe from the villages across Mon district participate in this festival with much zeal. You can be a part of this merrymaking by visiting major villages in Mon. But, as there is no defined schedule for this, confirm the dates before planning a visit.
29. Longwa village - Ruled by the king with 60 wives
Nagaland is the land of bizarre. It is one of the only lesser-known places in Northeast India where you can cross the Myanmar border without a visa, meet the king who has 60 wives, and breath in the air that is high on opium. Yes, the Longwa village, located on the India-Myanmar border, has it all and more! The house of the King Angh is divided by the border and he rules the Konyak Tribe that is scattered all over Nagaland. As Konyaks are known for headhunting, some people still wear brass skull necklace and some houses are decorated with the skulls, horns, and elephant tusks. But, do not worry, all these are from decades ago. Today, you can stay in Longwa and explore both countries at the same time.
30. Dzükou Valley - Heaven on Earth
Dzükou Valley has the quintessential landscapes of Nagaland. The valley which has not been touched by modern civilization is one of the best examples of offbeat treks in Northeast India. Dense forest and high hills are beautified by thousands of colorful flowers that bloom throughout the year. The rare Dzukou lilies also call it a home. This enchanting valley casts a spell so magical that you will leave a piece of your heart in the woods. You will also come across many small and large natural caves while trekking. Camp in the valley, wake up to a misty morning, and spend a day under a clear summer sky!
Best kept secrets of Sikkim
The combination of Buddhist sites in Gangtok and rice beer in villages is experienced by many. Now is the time to go beyond that and see the unique Sikkim. Refer to this list of offbeat places in Sikkim to make the most of your time.
31. Tashiding - Hilltop village with a monastery
With Buddhism seeped into the veins of Northeast India, there are numerous monasteries around. But, the village of Tashiding with its hilltop monastery grabs the spotlight. Originally established in the 17th century, it has become one of the holiest places in Sikkim. If you are to believe locals, a visit to this place will cleanse your soul. The Bhumchu festival that celebrates the importance of water takes place here every year. As the hill is nestled between the Rangit River and Rathong River, the whole area basks in the natural beauty.
32. Varsey Rhododendron Sanctuary
When it comes to exploring Northeast India, you must visit its less popular sanctuaries and what can be the better place than Varsey Rhododendron Sanctuary to start with? With colourful rhododendrons and small Buddhists shrines dotting the path, a simple trek from Hilley will take you to unexplored corners. The best time to visit Varsey Rhododendron Sanctuary is from March to May. Make sure that you have at least a couple of days to spend here to have a wholesome experience. The Sikkim government also offers forest barracks on top of the hill for the convenience of tourists.
33. Yuksom - The village known for eco-tourism
Thousands of people visit Northeast India every year. But, there are little to no efforts to save the natural beauty that defines this region. It is not the case when you visit Yuksom town in West Sikkim. It is the village that is considered to be a model for eco-tourism. There are several historical monuments and picturesque Buddhist monasteries around here that attract travellers. As it was the first capital of Sikkim, it carries the blend of culture and history. The surroundings also offer some of the best treks that are ideal for adventure tourism in Northeast India.
34. Yumesamdong – Go near the India-China border
Located close to the India-China border, Yumesamdong is the place that is not visited by many. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains throughout the year, winding roads and lack of oxygen are the main reasons behind its less-explored status. It is also known as the Zero Point and the best time to visit it is from April to May. It can be an epic Northeast India road trip. Make sure that you are travelling in a vehicle that has a permit from Sikkim tourism and you also have a permit to visit the Zero Point. As there is no accommodation here, you will have to book a stay in Lachung village.
35. Dzuluk - The best road trip in Northeast India
Dzuluk, a small hamlet in the lower Himalayas, combines rugged lands and winding roads. When these serpentine roads find their way through vast hills and mountains, it makes for a sight to behold. Also known as Zuluk, it was once known as the transit point to the historic Silk Route. Today, it is among the secret places in Northeast India that are slowly gaining the popularity. If you visit Zuluk in April, you will be greeted by snow-clad peaks and blooming rhododendron that turns the hills into vibrant color palettes. Make sure you have a special permit that is needed to visit this area.
Treasures of Tripura
One of the smallest states in India has some of the best-kept secrets in Northeast India. You will see the unique blend of culture, history, and nature here that is hard to find anywhere else. Here are the gems that can be found in Tripura only if you look hard enough.
36. Neermahal - The only floating palace in North India
Neermahal, which translates to water palace, is a place of royal beauty. Nestled in the middle of Rudrasagar Lake, this can be one of the most beautiful places in Northeast India. It was built in the 1930s and combines Hindu and Muslim architectural styles beautifully. Standing amidst the well-manicured gardens, the palace looks picture-perfect in the day. If you visit Neermahal at night, the sight of palace lights reflecting in the water look dazzling. Do not miss a chance to visit this only floating palace in North India.
37. The ancient rock carvings of Chabimura
Chabimura in Gomati District of Tripura is amongst the lesser-known adventure spots in Northeast India. Imposing rock carvings of Hindu deities are tucked away in the dense forest. Hiking through the woods can only take you to these huge rocks that are said to be carved during the 15th and 16th century. The 20-feet high rock carving of Maa Durga is one of the largest in India. Not all the carvings have weathered the ravages of time and only some carry its original grandeur. It is the emblem of history and religion that marks Chobimura significant.
38. Take a walk at Baramura Eco Park
Baramura Eco Park is a family-friendly destination that is not often visited by travellers. You can take a leisurely walk along the stream that flows through the park. There is a small coffee shop as well as a gift shop on the premises along with picnic pavilions. There are lovely wooden bridges where you can click photos. It is one of the places that will let you enjoy natural beauty without hiking the hills. So, come here with your kids or visit it with your loved one to spend some quality time.
39. The archaeological marvel of Pilak
Pilak is an archaeological site that represents the amalgamation of Hinduism and Buddhism. Different small stupas, sculptures, and rock carvings reflect the heritage from the 8th century to the 12th century. Some of these ruins carry the influence of Burmese art as well. The site was discovered as recently as 1927. Though it is a historically important place, it is not established as a tourist attraction yet. So, history lovers will get a chance to walk around and take their own time to soak in the past.
40. Attend the Ashokastami Mela at Unakoti
The hill of Unakoti is a famous tourist site in Tripura, but not many know about the Ashokastami Festival that is organized here every year. Celebrated mostly in April, devotees come to take a dip in the ashtami kund as they believe that God blesses those who bathe here. The actual site is dominated by huge rock reliefs of God Shiva that are from the 7th century. When you attend the festival, you can also visit these ruins to understand the local culture a little more deeply.
Now you do not have to worry about finding your way through the crowded sites! All you have to do is explore the serene forests, walk along the ancient ruins, meet interesting tribes, and explore the unexplored in Northeast India.
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*Some images are for representational purpose only