Monsoon is upon us and most travel lovers have already planned their itineraries for the season.
One important inclusion in all travel plans in this season is the hills and what more offbeat and ideal amongst the hills are the states of north east India!
The north east Indian states have something for everyone. You could be an adventure junkie, a photographer, a nature lover, a music lover – name it, and there is something for you in the north east.
With monsoon being the season, doesn’t matter what you favour, nature in its full glory is definitely not something you’d want to miss deliberately.
With the onset of monsoon, the natural landscape can be seen in full glory. North east India is less densely populated in comparison to most of the rest of India. It’s beautiful!
Every track here is offbeat and there are destinations we wouldn’t know randomly, without some research.
In this post, we bring to you eight such reasons which will definitely tempt you to plan a vacation in north-east India immediately.
1. Laitlum Canyon in Shillong
Meghalaya’s natural wonder, Laitlum Canyon in Shillong is not explored by many and is at its crowning glory in monsoon. Right at the top of Khasi Hills, the view from here is spectacular.
One needs to witness it to know exactly how beautiful, because no picture, however enchanting, can do justice to the actual sight. It is said that the view from here will remind one of the Scottish Islands.
An open amphitheatre and a trekker’s paradise, here you will be literally on the lap of clouds. Take a ride on the ropeway and get a bird’s eye view of the meadows and everything around.
If you are up for some crazy climbing, take the steps up the slope to a tiny hamlet called Rasong which has only about 300 people living there. Be prepared though, you’ll have some 3000 steps to climb! The village is at such a terrain that it is one of the very few places in the world where goods are transported to through the pulley system.
Laitlum Canyons is an hour’s drive from Shillong.
Being an offbeat location, you won’t find many tourists around or restrooms. There are no eateries either except little boys with their mothers selling tea and boiled eggs. Keep stock of packaged food with you, but remember, do not leave any litter behind.
No need to worry about the stay at Laitlum Canyon, there are plenty of hotels operating all round the year. The thing is, reserve your hotel before.
2. Umiam Lake, Nongpoh
If Shillong is a part of your itinerary, you must to take a detour of 15 kms to its north, to Umaim Lake at Nongpoh. Covering an area of 221 kms, this largest man-made lake is a source of fish and water to the locals.
There is a legend surrounding the lake about two sisters who wanted to alight from heaven, such is the beauty of this part of the country. However, one got lost and the other travelled to Meghalaya, looking for her sister. By then the other sister’s tears wouldn’t stop and that is how the lake was formed.
Umiam Lake is surrounded by forests which bloom to their best in monsoon and everywhere you look, is a sight to behold. Imagine staying at a houseboat surrounded by the lake and forests? You can, at Lumpongdeng Island! What better way to enjoy rains, than sitting in a houseboat, listening to the soft sound of rain?
And when it stops raining, the sky will clear and this is when you need to keep a watch for a view of the sunset. You don’t need to be told that the view is spectacular and breathtaking.
3. Sacred Forest, Mawphlang
On the East Khasi Hill, with fields all around it, is the Sacred Forest near Mawphlang village. While this isn’t the only sacred forest in the area, this definitely is the most famous. Legend has it that a deity, Labasa, lives in the forest.
Labasa is believed to protect the forest by taking the form of a leopard or a tiger. The deity is worshiped and animals are sacrificed to keep him happy and ward away illnesses.
Though just 25 kms away from Shillong, it takes an hour to reach Mawphlang because of the terrain. There is a minimal fee for entering the forest and you can visit it between 9 am and 4:30 pm. The forest has many medicinal plants and a range of flora for you to see. During the monsoon, the forest comes alive.
The trees get new life and animals venture out. This forest is famous for its biodiversity and you’ll spot a wide variety of mushrooms, orchids and carnivorous insect eating plants.
Tura is a small town in the hills of Meghalaya famous for its for flora and fauna. A little more than 300 kms from Shillong, you can reach here via shuttle helicopter service or by bus. If your itinerary includes visit to Siju cave, Nokrek or Balpakram, you’ll be passing through Tura anyway.
From Tura peak, which is about 870m above sea level, you can see the town of Tura. Legend has it that the peak is actually a pious guard of the town and keeps it safe. With waterfalls, bird sanctuary, and national parks around it, a visit to Tura is a must during monsoon to experience flora and fauna at their aesthetic best.
5. Jampui Hill
About 200 kms from Agartala and the only hill station in Tripura, Jampui Hill is your ideal getaway destination during monsoon.
Amenities are basic as can be expected in such far flung places but what you will definitely get is to live amidst clean, green and picturesque locales.
When the sky is clear, you will get to see the most spectacular sunrises and sunsets. Take a trip to an enchanting forest and relive those numerous stories you might have read as a child!
6. Dzouku Valley, Nagaland
As we’ve discussed, north east India in the monsoon means just one thing – acres and acres of lush greenery filled with different species of flora and fauna.
Dzouku valley in Nagaland is at 2438m above sea level and is an ideal place to go on treks. There are natural caves and rock overhanging you can go to during monsoons, however you must ensure it is not raining then.
To reach this place, you need to travel to Kohima which is considered the base of Dzukou valley. For a few distance you need to take transport option (Tax or private cab). Then the actual trek to Dzukou valley starts.
There is a basecamp at a village called Viswema from where you can go on treks.
Hidden between the East Khasi hills, Cherrapunji is world renowned for the amount of rainfall it gets. So while going during peak monsoon is not the wisest of ideas, a visit before monsoon property sets in, in July, could get charming results.
The forests here are dense and the vegetation unlike any other place you might have seen elsewhere. Apart from dense forests, the place is surrounded by hills and there are many mighty waterfalls which will take your breathe away.
Cherrapunji, being known as the wettest place on earth, if you by any chance visiting this place during monsoon, have extra pair of clothes which can dry faster.
We complain so much about pollution in the cities, but do we know that Asia’s cleanest village is in India? Now since we are suggesting this place as a tourist destination, we’d like to request that if you do visit, please leave the village just how it was when you arrived. CLEAN.
Mawlynnong was awarded the title of the cleanest village in 2003 and it also has 100% literacy. The women here too are extremely empowered. Inhabited by the Khasi tribe, kids here get the mother’s family name wealth too belongs to the woman, which then gets passed down to the daughters.
If you are visiting Mawlynnong, don’t miss Sky View. From here you can actually see India and Bangladesh from the height of 85 ft! The cuisine here is delicious and everything, as you can guess, is prepared from local produce.
There are cosy home-stays and Mawlynnong can be reached via road from the nearest railway station and airport. While you can visit all year round, monsoon is the best time to visit Mawlynnong as nature is in its full glory when it rains.
Remember to be responsible tourists since most of our oft-visited spots are suffering from severe land pollution problem. Leave a destination as it was when you’d arrived!
You can always find a website which provides you the list of places to visit in Shillong or near by to Shillong (North East India). But, look at the above listed places in a map and plan your itinerary accordingly. And also few options to travel to Shillong at cheaper price.
How to Travel or Reach Shillong:
You can take Air India flight towards Shillong (SHL) airport from New Delhi which would cost you around Rs.6000 to Rs.8000/-.
However, if you want to travel cheaper, can always look upon the Indian Railways (Not degrading it).
There are around 5 trains running daily from New Delhi (NDLS) to Kamakhya – (KYQ), Shillong and the price of Sleeper class (SL) is around Rs.700-800/- & 3A would cost around Rs.2000/-.
And if you’re from South India, there is train running from Secunderabad to Kamakhya on alternate days.
However, you need to book prior to get confirmed seats. From Kamakhya you can take a private cabs to Shillong which should cost not more than Rs.1000 for a sedan car.
Each place mentioned above are MUST visit places in North East India, i.e., Shillong & Meghalaya. The below map outlays the list of places and the total distance.
Hope you have amazing tour to North East India. And any must places are missed in the list, please let us know in comments, will update post.