When you think of offbeat locations in India, you cannot ignore the eight sisters, yes you read it right. Sikkim is added to North East. It is becoming the hottest destination for offbeat travellers. When I travelled there for the first time, I landed in Guwathi airport, which pretty much looked like any other busy city of India, but as soon as I started travelling to the depths of North East it was unbelievable. You can never imagine the place can be so pristine and stunningly beautiful. Each region is unique in itself and that’s what makes it more intriguing. To make life slightly simpler while travelling there I have put together some tips that you should remember before planning your holiday to North East
Do your homework
What I mean is understand the geography of the states. People tell me that they want to travel to Manipur, Nagaland and Sikkim in 7 days. Now theoretically it is possible provided you just have to go set your foot in each state and get back without experiencing anything. Manipur and Nagaland are neighbouring states, whereas Sikkim nowhere near them. If you are an average traveller a minimum of 7 days is required just for Manipur to do justice to your travel. Northeast has a diverse culture, tribe, festivals, so before venturing out, it is always good to know at least the basics of the state. The charming thing about the region is that the culture, language, food and lifestyle changes with every region. Doing your homework will help you enrich your experience.
Inner Line Permit (ILP)
Many Indians frown at the fact that they need to take ILP to enter Arunachal Pradesh. As per the government, it is for your safety, in case you get lost, it will be easier to track you. I wonder why only Arunachal Pradesh, anyways rules are rules so as a traveller let’s just agree to follow the rule of the land. In Sikkim, only foreigners have to take. By the way, foreigners no longer require ILP for states like Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya, and Manipur. In addition, neither foreigners nor Indians require ILP for Assam or Tripura. However, every foreigner is required to register with the Foreign Registration Office (District Superintendent of Police) within 24 hours of entry to each state.
The process of obtaining the ILP is very simple, now we can get it online and even at the check-post. Please remember Saturdays and Sundays you can get the ILP at Kimin and not at Itanagar. If you are travelling by train and going to Naharlugan station then you can get it. I suggest you apply online well in advance to avoid last minute panic to enter Arunachal Pradesh.
Plan your trip in advance
Since North East is getting popular more people have started travelling to those states, Guwathi is the busiest airport in that sector and due to the shortage of flights the ticket prices tend to get high if you wait to book last minute. Also at times getting decent hotels can be a challenge due to the scarcity of hotels, but you can opt for homestays, which gives you a more authentic experience. Planning your trip well in advance has its merit you can coincide it with some interesting festivals happening in that region. In North East weather changes frequently, it is advisable to carry a thin jacket even if it is summer.
People are nice
When you interact with the people for the first time you might feel they are very reluctant and nervous but don’t be fooled by that. They are loving people and at the same time if you do anything wrong then you need to be slightly careful. Generally, be nice to all the people you meet, don’t have any ego, even the normal tribal person walking on the road can be dangerous if you show attitude, and the same person will carry you on his head if you are nice to him. I have not seen more simple and uncomplicated people. I once randomly asked one tribal person if I could know more about their culture, he was so generous that he took me to his place, introduced me to his family, explained me their culture, gave me food and rice beer. It was one of the most humbling experiences.
Hotels & Stay
Most of the states are not well developed for tourism like the other states of India, they still face basic facility issues like electricity, mobile network, internet, good roads, etc., but that’s what makes it interesting for a tourist who wants to see the untouched part of India. The hotels and service levels are not up to the mark, i.e. if we compare to the good hotels in metros. Most of the places it is owner driven hotel, where the owner has converted his house into a hotel. Most of the time last minute order for lunch and dinner are not entertained, if you want to have lunch or dinner hotel needs to be informed well in advance because they get fresh ingredients from the market depending upon your order. During the afternoon most of them like to take rest, so either you are out exploring the region or resting, do not bother them with your problems during that time. You can expect cleanliness and good food, which wants a traveller wants at the end of the day.
There are local vehicles that run in the mountain terrain but are very few and normally cramped. If you are not the adventurous type and need comfortable travel I suggest you book your private vehicle well in advance. If you are there and get stranded it is difficult to get transportation.
These are a few pointers that you should keep in mind and you will have a wonderful experience in North East.