Northeastern India covers the easternmost of the foothills of the Himalayas. It borders Bhutan, Nepal, China, Burma and Bangladesh. This is a world of tribal societies, forested hills, dense jungles and spectacular beauty. Below is a list of three ideas you could put to use the next time you feel like walking and exploring.
Shillong is a hill station and was once the capital of Assam. Today, it is the capital of Meghalaya, one of India’s smallest state. A visit to this region will allow you to see the stunning scenery of green-clad mountains, lakes, waterfalls, valleys and pine forests. The region is known as the ‘Scotland of the East’ because of its bracing climate and it is an excellent destination for family adventure holidays abroad.
Remember to bring an umbrella or waterproof clothing. Cherrapunjee, just 56 kilometres from Shillong, is probably the wettest place on the planet. Enjoy exploring the limestone caves around the town and tasting the delicious orange honey. You can make plenty of friends on guided walking holidays but if you prefer solitude, head for Sohpetbneng Peak. The view from the 1343-metre hill is breath-taking. This place is known as the ‘Navel of Heaven’ in the Khasi culture of the Hynniewtrep people and is a place of pilgrimage. They have a fascinating believe that there was a golden ladder from Earth to Heaven on this spot.
Soothe your soul in Sikkim, a Himalayan Shangri-La that borders Nepal, China and Bhutan. It is famous for its Buddhist monasteries and there are over 200 of them spread over the hilltops. Rumtek monastery, which overlooks Gangtok, is one of the most visited. Sanga-Choeling is only accessible by foot. There are frequent festivals at the monasteries in December, January, February, March and July.
This region is home to rhododendrons and swift-flowing rivers through the Kanchenjunga National Park. If you are looking for excitement, you can go river rafting on the Teesta and Rangeet rivers as they rush through gorges.
Those with a taste for ancient history can visit a part of the old Silk Route close to the Chinese border. This trading route connected Lhasa in Tibet with India via the Jelep La pass. Families will need to hire a jeep to negotiate the steep roads.
In West Bengal, Darjeeling is home to some of the best tea in the world and many Victorian relics from the British Raj. Darjeeling itself is only a small town but the region around it is vast. Just 11 kilometres away from the town is Tiger Hill, the area’s highest point. The sunrise viewed from this hill is beautiful. On a clear day, you can see Mount Everest, as well as Kanchenjunga, the Himalayas’ third highest mountain.
The name Darjeeling derives from the Tibetan word for a thunderbolt that is believed locally to have struck the location of today’s Observatory Hill. A Buddhist monastery once stood on this hill. Now the Hindu Mahakal temple stands there but it remains popular with both Buddhist and Hindu visitors.
No visit to Darjeeling is complete without a taste of the local tea. Buy a cup of tea at any of the tea shacks along the hilly roadsides and take in the scenery. The Happy Valley Tea Estate claims to use strictly traditional methods of gathering, drying and preparing the tea leaves.
North-east India offers exhilarating holidays for those who love trekking or river rafting. Those in search of a more placid holiday can enjoy the enthralling scenery of the Himalayan foothills while visiting the local monasteries and festivals.
Adriana Frederick writes regularly on travel in India for a range of websites and blogs. She specialises in guided walking holidaysand family adventure holidays abroad
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