THE NORTH-EAST INDIA

Shrouded by mighty Himalayan hills, the entire North-East region – comprising the seven sisters (Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura) and Sikkim – is believed to be one of the most beautiful regions in South East Asia. The stunning and beautiful dense forests, lying in the foothills of Himalayan ranges are a natural home to a variety of wildlife. Besides, numerous lovely waterfalls, caves, fresh water lakes on the mountain top, seemingly endless winding roads on the mountains of the whispering winds, beautiful lush green hills partially covered by clouds throughout the year are other attractions of the wonderful North-East India. Here you will find World Heritage Sites like Manas National Park and Kaziranga National Park.

This beautiful land is home to diversified tribal groups – over 300 different tribes!, with each having their own distinct culture, languages, interesting dance forms and festivals, giving them a unique cultural identity. Brilliantly attired in their traditional, colourful dresses, they are an anthropologist’s dream. Known for their democratic and egalitarian values, they stand apart from the divisiveness of creed and caste that often marks mainstream Indian society.

This isolated and mysterious land of natural abundance is still very much unexplored even today by the outside world, hence, this alluring land of North East India is one of the most treasured eco-friendly sites in India. Moreover, North East has its own charm that will sweep you off your feet. This is where you will find us; this is where we are!

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The North East india


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The North East india

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Popular Tourist Destination to Visit in North East india

Arunachal Pradesh

Voted as the 4th best destination in the world to travel by Lonely Planet in 2012, tucked away in the north eastern tip of India, Arunachal Pradesh is home to quaint mountains, uncharted passes, calm lakes and famous monasteries. Encompassing extensive geographical diversity with a variety of rare wildlife, flora and fauna, Arunachal Pradesh is now gaining acclaim worldwide as one of the richest biodiversity and heritage spots. It is the only Indian state that can claim to have four major varieties of the big cats in its jungles- tiger, leopard, clouded leopard and snow leopard.

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This mystical land of bliss has many wonders and attractions for travellers. The wavering rivers, the snow clad mountains, the stubborn plains, exclusive flora and fauna, legendary cultural heritage trailing since ancient times, the habitat of wild savages, the thick woodlands, the historical heritages, the tribal terrains. Among the thousands of species of orchids as many as 600 species of orchids are found here.

Arunachal Pradesh finds mention in the literature such as the KalikaPuran and in the epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana. It is believed that sage Vyasa meditated here and also that the remains of the brick structure scattered around two villages in the hills north of Roing was the palace of Rukmini, the consort of Lord Krishna. The sixth Dalai Lama was also born on the soil of Arunachal Pradesh.

The Land:

Arunachal Pradesh the 24th state of the Indian Union, is bounded by Bhutan to the west; Myanmar to the east; China to the north and north-east and the plains of Assam to the south, and is the 24th state of the Indian Union. In this incredibly beautiful state, more than 500 species of birds have been recorded, many of which are highly endangered and restricted to this state. One of Asia’s largest Orchidarium is in Arunachal Pradesh and almost every district of Arunachal Pradesh has its own exclusive and rare variety of orchids.

The People:

Like other parts of Northeast India, a majority of the people native to the state are of Tibeto-Burman origin. There are 26 tribes and 110 sub tribes living in the state. Most of these communities are ethically similar having derived from an original common ancestors but their geographical isolation from each other has brought amongst them certain distinctive characteristics in language, dress and customs. The first group of people are the Monpas and the Sherdukpens of Tawang and West Kameng district. They follow the Lamaistic traditions of Mahayana Buddhism. Culturally similar to them are Membas and Khambas who live in the high mountains along the northern borders; Khamptis and Singphos inhabiting the eastern part of the state are Buddhists of Hinayana Buddhism. The second group of people Adis, Akas, Apatanis, Bangnis, Nishings, Mishmis, Mijis, Tangsas, etc., who worship the sun and the moon namely Donyi Polo and Abotani, believed to be the original ancestor for most of these tribes. The third group comprises of Noctes and Wanchos, adjoining Nagaland in the Tirap district. They are hardworking people known for their structured village society in which the hereditary village chief still plays a vital role. The Noctes also practice elementary form of Vaishnavism.

The Culture:

The culture of Arunachal Pradesh is truly varied in the sense that the state has 26 major tribes including sub-tribes. Every tribe has their own unique set of traditions and customs. The major tribes of Arunachal are: Adi, Galo, Aka, Apatani, Nyishi, Tagins, Bori, and Bokar etc.

The sun and the moon are the presiding deities of the major tribes who follow the Donyi-Polo religion (the name stands for sun and moon). The West Kameng and Tawang district are mainly inhabited by the Tibetan influenced Monpa and Sherdukpen tribe. In Lohit district it is the Khampti and the Singpho tribe. All these four major tribes are followers of two different sects of Buddhism (Mahayana Hinayana). The other tribes are basically followers of ancient beliefs with animal worship being quite prominent amongst them.

Arunachal’s cultural lifestyle is dominated by colourful festivals. Since agriculture is the mainstay here so people generally celebrate festivals as a mark of thanksgiving to the Almighty for giving them a good harvest. These festivals also showcase the

artistic skills of the various tribes. To experience the cultural festivals of the state, one should visit Ziro district which is very popular for festivities.

In terms of linguistic diversity, the state has a unique position in Asia. Here people speak over 50 dialects and most of these come under the Tibeto-Burman language structure.

Aasam

A treasure trove of natural beauty and diverse history, Assam is one of the least explored regions in the country, lending it an immaculate, untouched aura that can allure. A land of wild forests, mighty rivers, and acres and acres of tea plantations define Assam. It is also known as ‘The Land of the Blue Hills’. Apart from its scenic beauty, Assam has the single largest tea producing area in the world, constituting around one-seventh of the global tea production. It is lying on either side of the Brahmaputra River and shares a border with Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and very close to China.

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The state is located in North East India and has a breath-taking landscape. The capital of the state is Dispur. It is known to be one of the top biodiversity hotspots in the entire world. Assam is the gateway to the enchanting and unexploited north-eastern part of the country. With the majestic Brahmaputra River, magnificent hills, its rich flora and fauna, the state is every tourist’s paradise. It is spread over an area of 78,438 square km (30,285 sq mi). Also, it is home to the one-horned Indian rhinoceros, wild water buffalo and various species of Asiatic birds. Assam is one of the richest biodiversity zones in the world and consists of tropical rain forests, deciduous forests, riverine grasslands, bamboo orchards, and numerous wetland ecosystems. The Kaziranga National Orchid and Biodiversity Park boasts more than 500 of the estimated 1,314 orchid species found in India.

The Land:

Assam is almost separated from central India by Bangladesh. It is bounded by Nagaland, Manipur and Myanmar to the east, by West Bengal to the west, by Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh to the north and to the south by Meghalaya, Bangladesh, Tripura and Mizoram. These states are connected to the rest of India via a narrow strip in West Bengal called the Siliguri Corridor or ‘Chicken’s Neck’. Brahmaputra, one of the greatest rivers of the world (length: 2900 kms) flows through Assam valley, making it fertile for growing rice and the renowned Assam Tea.

Assam is one of the richest biodiversity zones in the world and consists of tropical rainforests, deciduous forests, riverine grasslands, bamboo orchards and numerous wetland ecosystems. Many are now protected as national parks and reserved forests. The Kaziranga, home of the rare Indian Rhinoceros, and Manas are two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Assam.

The People:

The ethnic origin of the Assamese varies from Mongoloid tribes to those of directly Indian stock. The earliest inhabitants of Assam were probably of Austric stock. They are termed as ‘proto- austroloid’, because they are said to have migrated from the Australian and some other islands of the Pacific Ocean to the Asiatic mainland. The Khasis and Jaintias appear to be descendents of the proto-Austroloids of ancient Assam. After the Austrics, the Mongoloids had entered into Assam. Among the Mongoloids, the Bodo tribe appeared and established over the valley of Brahmaputra early. The Kacharis also known as the Bodos were once very powerful people. At a time, they are known to have ruled over the whole of Assam.

The Culture:

The culture of Assam is a rich tapestry woven with multicolour yarns of distinct heritage of all the races that inhabit this land. Often known as a land of fairs and festivals, most of the festivals celebrated in Assam have their roots in the diverse faith and belief of its inhabitants. They reflect the true spirit, tradition and life style of the people of Assam.The predominant language is Assamese.

The major festivals celebrated in Assam are Bihu-Bhogali or Magh Bihu (January), Rongali or Bohag Bihu (April), and Kongali or Kati Bihu (May) celebrated by people irrespective of caste, creed and religion throughout Assam. Other festivals are- Baishagu (celebrated by Bodo Kacharis during mid April), Ali-Ai-Ligang (festival of the Mishing tribe, February-March), Baikho (Rabha tribe, spring season), Rongker (important festival of the Karbis, April), Rajini Gabra and Harni Gabra (Dimasa tribe), Bohaggiyo Bishu (spring festival of the Deoris), Ambubashi Mela (most important festival of the Kamakhya Temple is celebrated during mid-June every year. It is a ritual of austerities celebrated with “tantric” rites) and Jonbill Mela (spectacular fair held every year during winter at Jonbeel of Jagiroad, near Guwahati) and so on.

Some of the famous dances of Assam are Bihu Dance (the most popular dance performed by young boys and girls characterized by brisk stepping, flinging and flipping of hands), Satriya Nritya, a beautiful classic dance of Assam, Bhor Tal Nritya , an extension of Sankari culture, Chah Baganar Jumur Nach (Jumur dance of tea garden), Bagurumba dance of Bodos, Mishing’s Ali Ai Ligang. There are many other folk dance forms in Assam like Husari and Bihunas, Dhuliya and Bhawariya, Deodhani, Zikirs, Mohauhau or Mahkheda and Apsara-Sabah.

Manipur

Located in the northeast part of India, Manipur charms you with its simplicity and serenity. It is the land of rich valleys surrounded by beautiful hills and lakes, a land of gentle people full of laughter and joy. Many legends tell us the origin of Manipur. One of the legends is that Krishna requested Shiva to keep a watch while he danced the Ras with Radha and Gopis. Parvati on seeing Shiva protecting a particular spot was curious to see what Shiva was protecting. On her insistence, Shiva permitted her to see the Ras. She was so charmed by Krishna’s dance that she decided to perform the Ras with Shiva. Shiva searched for a place high and low for a beautiful and a secluded place for dancing the Ras with Parvati. He saw Manipur surrounded by

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mountains, its beautiful valleys covered by a sheet of water. With his trident, he struck the mountain ranges making a path for the water to flow out. The valley of Manipur emerged and Shiva and Parvati danced on it.

The Land:

Manipur is bound by Nagaland in the north, Mizoram in the south, Assam in the west, and by the borders of Myanmar in the east as well as in the south. The state capital of Manipur is Imphal. The total area covered by the state is 22,347 km². The capital lies in an oval-shaped valley of approximately 700 square miles surrounded by blue mountains and is at the elevation of 790 metres above the sea level. The slope of the valley is from north to south. The mountain ranges prevent the cold winds from the north from reaching the valley and bar cyclonic storms originating from the Bay of Bengal.

The People:

Manipur is a place where different waves of races and culture met through the ages, which ultimately mingled together. The territory is divided into two distinct zones- the valley and the surrounding hill areas. The main population of the people is of Manipuries known as Meities. They claim their descent from Parkhangba who ruled Manipur and had the power of changing his shape into a serpent with a straight tail. The 29 tribes inhabiting Manipur hills may broadly be divided into Nagas and Kuki. It is not possible to make a clear –cut classification of the Naga group from the Kukis- the important Naga groups are Tangkhul, Kubuis and Mao. The Zemeis, the Liangmei, the Maram, the Thangal, the Maring, the Anal, the Moyon are also included under the Naga group.

The Meities popularly known as Manipuris are a separate group having their own identity. The name Meitei has been derived from the word ‘me’-man and ‘thei’-separate. The history of the Meitei society, their customs, traditions, religious beliefs, art, culture and rich literature are laid down in their old manuscripts like ‘Leithak Leikharol’. The Meitei speak Manipuri language, which is in Kuki chin group. They are divided into seven endogamous groups locally known as ‘Salai’.

The Culture:

Manipur is a land of festivities, merriments and mirth all the year round. A year in Manipur presents a cycle of festivals. Hardly a month passes without a festival or two. To the Manipuris, festivals are the symbols of their cultural, social and religious aspirations which, besides removing the monotony of life by providing physical diversions, mental recreation and emotional outlet help them lead a better and fuller life.

Walled on all sides by ranges of hills with poor infrastructures for development so far as overall development is concerned, this little part of the globe-Manipur has been identifying itself to the people living in India as well as abroad through its rich arts and culture. Love of art and beauty is inherent in the people and it is difficult to find a Manipuri girl who cannot sing or dance. Much has been written on the Manipuri dance, on its lyrical beauty and rhythm.

Manipur presents a mosaic of traditions and cultural patterns. Particularly, it is world famous for the Manipuri style of classical dance, which is quite distinct from other Indian dance forms. The Manipuri school of dancing, whether folk, classical or modern, is devotional in nature.

The dances of the tribal people have high artistic and aesthetic value. The folk dances of tribal people captivate the beholders with their exotic costumes and simple but graceful rhythm. Their folklore is quite rich in quality. The dances of the tribal people are ritualistic and recreational, religious and temporal. The ritual dances are performed at a particular rite or ceremony or sacrifice and these dances naturally have a spiritual and religious basis. The dances of the tribal people have a high artistic and aesthetic value.

The rich culture and tradition of the Manipuris are also depicted in their handloom clothes and handicrafts. The Manipuri handloom and handicraft are world famous for its craftsmanship as well as ingenuity, colourfulness and usefulness.

Meghalaya

Meghalaya is an embodiment of eternal bliss and tranquillity wrapped in absolute beauty. The ‘Abode of Clouds’ acquires its charm from the picturesque locales, bountiful nature, fresh and sedating surroundings and yes the adventure sports

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The exposition of exuberant emerald hills and glens often bathing in frequent drizzles will resuscitate one’s spirit. Trip to Meghalaya promises a rendezvous with the exclusive flora and fauna, the amicable tribal folks and their cultural heritage.

The Land:

Meghalaya covers an area of approximately 300 kilometres in length and about 100 kilometres in breadth. This state is bounded to the north by Assam and by Bangladesh to the south. The capital city Shillong, known as the ‘Scotland of the East’, has a population of 143,007. There are several falls in and around Shillong, making it one of the most favourite hill station.Shillong Peak, also known as the ‘abode of the gods’ is the highest in the state.

Meghalaya has a forest cover of 9,496 km2, which is 42.34% of the total geographical area of the state. The Meghalayan subtropical forests are considered to be among the richest botanical habitats of Asia. These forests receive abundant rainfall and support a vast variety of floral and faunal biodiversity.

Meghalaya was previously part of Assam, but on 21 January 1972, the districts of Khasi, Garo and Jaintia hills became the new state of Meghalaya.

The People:

Meghalaya occupies a total area of 22,429 sqkms with a total population of 2,964,007 persons according to the 2011 census report. Three dominant tribes, Khasis, Garos and Jaintias inhabit Meghalaya with each tribe contrastingly distinct

from the other yet a harmonious milieu. The Garos inhabit the western area, the central area by the Khasis and the eastern area by the Jaintias.

The Khasis: ‘Hynniewtrep’ as they call themselves signifies ‘the seven huts’ constitutes about 50 percent population of the state. Khasis are followers of different religious practices. Presbyterian, Anglican, Roman Catholic are also found significantly in Meghalaya. Khasi tribes who adapted to the indigenous practices of the Khasi religion are also in a large number. The Khasi tribe follow the culture, rituals and norms of matrilineal community. However, the father of the house plays a significant role in a Khasi family.

The Garos: The zesty and zippy Garos are habitants of Garo Hills and call themselves Achik-mande. In the Garo language ‘achik’ means ‘hills’ and ‘mande’ means ‘man’. Hence, Achik-mande means the hill-people. A childbirth in Garos is not only celebrated by family but by the whole clan. The Garos are also one of the few tribes in the world who follow matrilineal societal system.

The Jaintias: This tribe is also called Pnar or Synteng. They belong to Hynniewtrep sect of the Austric race whose kingdom was the oldest and most widely spread around Jaintia Hills. Like the other two, this tribe also is matrilineal where the youngest daughter of the family inherits the family property. The girl child of the family is adored and mollycoddled, in terms of education, health and liberty, by every member of the family. Jaintias have expertise in artistic weaving, wood-carving, cane and bamboo work. Also, they are interested in carpet weaving, sericulture and making musical instruments, jewellery and pineapple fibre articles.

The sex-ratio in Meghalaya was 974 females per 1000 males; as against 923 females for the country as a whole. The fairly high sex ratio in Meghalaya may be attributed to the existing tradition of matrilineal society.

Meghalaya is mainly a Christianity dominated state. Before the arrival of Christian missionaries in the late 19th century and later, most natives followed tribal religions.

The Culture:

Meghalaya’s main ethnic communities, each having its own distinctive customs and cultural traditions are the Khasis (of Mon-Khmer ancestry), the Garos (of Tibeto-Burman origin) and the Jaintias said to be from South East Asia. The common trait binding all three communities is its matrilineal system in which the family linage is taken from the mother’s side. The people of Meghalaya are known to be hospitable, cheerful and friendly.

Traditionally, the Khasis believe that their religion is God given and is based on the belief of one supreme God, the creator ‘U BleiNongthaw’ A Khasi is a deeply religious person, who has an intense love of life. He believes that life is God’s greatest gift and he has to account for it again in the hereafter.

The Jaintias and Khasis have the same religion, although the Jaintias are more influenced by Hinduism. They have a superstition that the Jam, like the KhasiThlen,

is an evil spirit bringing riches to its owner and disease or death to its enemies or victims.

The Garos believe in one supreme Creator, Rabuga, who is the sustainer and commander of the world. The other spirits are the representatives of the supreme Creator. The spirits connected to the Garo’s agricultural life, are appeased by sacrifices but never worshipped. The headman is an integral part of the village and acts as religious head.

However, many members of the Khasi, Jaintia and Garo communities have converted to Christianity and one can see a number of churches as well as temples, mosques, gurudwaras and monasteries in Meghalaya.

A five day long religious festival of the Khasis, KaPemblangNongrem dance, popularly known as Nongrem dance is held annually at village calledSmit,11km from Shillong. Shad Sukmysieum, another festival of the Khasis is held at Shillong during the second week of April. Behdiengkhlam, the most important and colourful festival of the Jaintias is celebrated annually at Jowai in Jaintia hills in July.Wangla festival is observed for a week to honour Saljong(Sun-god) of theGaros during October-November. Christmas is celebrated by the large Christian population of the state.

Mizoram

Lying in the southernmost outpost of North Eastern India, Mizoram is often called as the land of the whispering winds. It has a mild climate, comfortable in summer 20 to 29 °C and never freezing during winter, with temperatures from 7 to 21 °C.Mizoram is the land of the Mizos or the Highlanders who belong to the Mongoloid race.

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Evergreen ranges of Mizoram hills with blooms of exotic flora and thick bamboo jungles rise sharply from the plains of Assam in a north south direction. These hills and plunging gorges are crisscrossed by gushing rivers and sparkling waterfalls. The cities of Mizoram are cocooned by the mighty mystic mountains and rare flora and fauna. On the contrary of these woods are the precipitous hills with lavish green fields. The meandering river with a graceful gait and shimmering waterfalls make up the exorbitant atmosphere of the state.

The Land:

Mizoram is a land of rolling hills, valleys, rivers and lakes. As many as 21 major hill ranges or peaks of different heights run through the length and breadth of the state, with small plains scattered here and there. The average height of the hills to the west of the state is about 1,000 metres. These gradually rise up to 1,300 metres to the east. Some areas, however, have higher ranges which go up to a height of over 2,000 metres. Phawngpui Tlang also known as the Blue Mountain, situated in the south-eastern part of the state, is the highest peak in Mizoram at 2,210 metres.

The People:

Three words: Social, Amicable and Affectionate explain in short who the Mizos are.Mizos are a close-knit society with no class distinction.They are a perfect host, very friendly and cordial who know no discrimination on the basis of gender. The Mizo code of ethics focused on “Tlawmngaihna”, an untranslatable term meaning that it is the obligation to all members of the society to be hospitable, kind, unselfish, and helpful to others. Tlawmngaihna to a Mizo stands for that compelling moral force which finds expression in self-sacrifice for the service of others.

According to 2011 census report, there are 1,091,014 people living in Mizoram. The state has literacy rate of 91.58%, second only to Kerala. It scores approximately 93.4% in sanitation. Mizoram also has the 2nd highest urbanization rate in India with 22 towns included.

The Culture:

Endowed with a rich and colourful culture, the Mizos are passionately drawn to dance and songs. They have a rich repertoire of community dances and songs reflecting their mirthful nature which has been handed down for generations. In fact, the Mizos are a singing community and still prolific with new songs and Christian hymns to this day. Festivals, weddings, death of a person and calamity are occasions involving the whole village community.

Though mostly Christians and greatly influenced by the Western lifestyle, the Mizos cling to their rich cultural heritage, colourful customs and lively traditions. The festivals and dances of the Mizos have a unique tribal flavour. Other than Christmas and New Year’s Day which are the most popular festivals, Chapchar Kut, a festival marking the end of the laborious clearing of jungles for the year’s cultivation during the first week of March, is another occasion celebrated with much gusto. The most popular dances of Mizoram are Cheraw, Khual Lam and Chheih Lam.

Mizos are adept artisans and their weaving is simply superb. The motifs, the patterns, the designs, the colors, the styles all are precisely traditional in nature. The Mizo women weave peculiar and traditional patterns on their looms. The designs they weave on shawls and ‘Mizo Puan’ (worn by women), for instance, is typical to the state handed down from one generation to the other.

Nagaland

The undulating state of Nagaland India is extremely charming and beautiful. A home to as many as sixteen tribes, the state has much to explore. The virgin terrains of the state are breathtakingly enchanting. Nagaland, the land of the hospitable and warm Nagas, lies in the corner of India’s North-East-bordering Myanmar. Historically, the Nagas have always been brave warriors. They consider the safety and security of their guests as an honour and prestige and will never allow any harm to be done to any of their guests/visitors.

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Nagas are by race of the Mongoloid stock and speak Tibeto-Burman group of languages. Although most of the Nagas have now become Christians, they still preserve the remnants of their early animist culture and ancient traditions. Topographically, Nagaland is mostly a hilly region with a pleasant and salubrious climate throughout the year

The Land:

The state of Nagaland has an area of 16,579 km2 with a population of 1,980,602 as per the 2011 census making it one of the smallest states in India. The state is mostly mountainous except those areas bordering Assam valley. Mount Saramati is the highest peak in Nagaland with a height of 3,840 metres and its range forms a natural barrier between Nagaland and Burma. The Naga Hills rise from the Brahmaputra Valley in Assam to about 2,000 feet and rise further to the southeast, as high as 6,000 feet.

Rivers such as the Doyang and Diphu to the north, the Barak river in the southwest and the Chindwin river of Burma in the southeast, dissect the entire state. 20 per cent of the total land area of the state is covered with wooded forest, rich in flora and fauna. The evergreen tropical and the sub-tropical forests are found in strategic pockets in the state.

About one-sixth of Nagaland is under the cover of tropical and sub-tropical evergreen forests—including palms, bamboo, and rattan as well as timber and mahogany forests. While some forest areas have been cleared for jhum cultivation, many scrub forests, high grass, reeds; secondary dogs, pangolins, porcupines, elephants, leopards, bears, many species of monkeys, sambar, harts, oxen, and buffaloes thrive across the state’s forests. The Great Indian Hornbill is one of the most famous birds found in the state.

The People:

The Nagas are not composite people. They speak many languages. They differ widely in dress and other cultural traits, as well as in physical features. They belong to Mongoloid stock but yet there are great differences in the details between one tribe and other, as well as between different people of the same tribe. Some are tall, some are short. Some are yellow in complexion and some are even brown. There is no caste system among the Nagas, but each of the Naga tribe is divided into several or as many as twenty clans. Clans are mainly based on forefathers or such other things by which one group of people is differentiated from others. The bigger the tribe, the more is the number of the clan.

The Culture:

Colourful life and culture are an integral part of the 16 officially recognized Naga tribes of Nagaland. These 16 tribes are different and unique in their customs and traditions. These customs and traditions are further translated into festivals which revolve around their agricultural cycle. Songs and dances form the soul of these festivals through which their oral history has been passed down the generations.

Folk songs and dances are essential ingredients of the traditional Naga culture. The oral tradition is kept alive through folk tales and songs. Naga folk songs are both romantic and historical, with songs narrating entire stories of famous ancestors and episodes. There are also seasonal songs which describe various activities done in a particular agricultural season. Tribal dances of the Nagas give an insight into the

inborn Naga reticence of the people. War dances and other dances belonging to distinctive Naga tribes are a major art form in Nagaland.

Hornbill Festival was launched by the Government of Nagaland in December 2000 to encourage inter-tribal interaction and to promote cultural heritage of the state. Organized by the State Tourism and Art & Culture Departments, Hornbill Festival showcases a mélange of cultural displays under one roof. This festival takes place between 1 and 7 December every year.

Sikkim

One of the most enchanting states in India; the traveller’s much-loved destination, this incredibly beautiful state has been given many names to its inhabitants for all the right reasons. The Lepchas, the original inhabitants called it Nye-mae-el or ‘paradise’. The Limbus named it Su Khyim or ‘new palace’ while to the Bhutias it was Beymul Demazong ‘the hidden valley of rice’. Alsoin Hindu religious texts, Sikkim is known as Indrakil, the garden of the god of war, Indra.

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Sikkim isa wonderland in the bosom of Eastern Himalayas with its avant-garde surroundings and spectacular tableau of The Shangrila and Mt. Kanchenjunga, making it a charming land representing a concoction of Buddhism and Tibetology. Everywhere you look, you’ll find Buddhist monasteries and ruby clad monks, whose smiles awaken the love for peace in your heart. For nature lovers, the state has eminent orchid sanctuary where over 500 indigenous species of orchids are found. Sikkim is also a popularbase for mountaineering expeditions and, a perfect place for trekking to see many quaint dales and mountain lakes.

The Land:

Nestling as it does in the Himalayan mountains, the state of Sikkim is characterised by mountainous terrain. Almost the entire state is hilly, with an elevation ranging from 280 metres to 8,586 metres. The summit of Kangchenjunga – the world’s third-highest peak – is the state’s highest point, situated on the border between Sikkim and Nepal. Numerous snow-fed streams have carved out river valleys in the west and south of the state. These streams combine into the major Teesta River and its tributary, the Rangeet, which flow through the state from north to south. About a third of the state is heavily covered by forest.

The Himalayan mountain ranges surround the northern, eastern and western borders of Sikkim. The state has 28 mountain peaks, more than 80 glaciers, 227 high-altitude lakes (including the Tsongmo, Gurudongmar and Khecheopalri Lakes), five major hot springs, and more than 100 rivers and streams. Eight mountain passes connect the state to Tibet, Bhutan and Nepal.

Sikkim’s hot springs are renowned for their medicinal and therapeutic values. Among the state’s most notable hot springs are those at Phurchachu, Yumthang, Borang, Ralang, Taram-chu and Yumey Samdong. The springs, which have a high sulphur

content, are located near river banks; some are known to emit hydrogen. The average temperature of the water in these hot springs is 50 °C

The People:

Sikkim is India’s least populous state, with 607,688 inhabitants according to the 2011 census. Sikkim is also one of the least densely populated Indian states, with only 86 persons per square kilometre.There are three ethnic groups in Sikkim- Lepchas, Bhutias and Nepalese. The three ethnic groups of people represent a synthesis of three diverse cultures, traditions and religions in Sikkim.Due to a century-long population influx from Nepal, the majority of Sikkim’s residents are of Nepali ethnic origin. These communities of Lepchas, Bhutias and Nepalese are an analogous interfusion with their distinct identity. If there is a temple, there is also a mosque, if there is a monastery there is also a church.

Lepchas are deemed as the primitive inhabitants of Sikkim much before the settlement of Bhutias and Nepalese. The earlier Lepchas believed in bone faith or mune faith based on good and bad spirits of mountains, rivers and forests but later adopted Buddhism and Christianity.

Bhutias are the people originally from Kham area in the Eastern Tibet who follow Lamanism and their lingua franca is Sikkimese language, a dialect of the Tibetan Language. They are called Lachenpas and Lachungpas in the North Sikkim.

Nepalese are the main residents of the state who migrated after Lepchas and Bhutias. The terrace farming style of cultivation and production of cardamom was introduced by these people. Except Sherpas and Tamangs who are Buddhists, other people are basically Hindu.

The Culture:

The three ethnic groups of people represent a synthesis of three diverse cultures, traditions, religions in Sikkim. These communities of Lepchas, Bhutias and Nepalese are an analogous interfusion with their distinct identity. If there is a temple, there is also a mosque, if there is a monastery there is also a church. The communities have their own traditional folk dance forms. The Nepalese, the Lepchas and the Sikkimese have unique folk dances, each different and each amusingly groovy.

Sikkim’s Nepalese majority celebrate all major Hindu festivals, including Diwali and Dussera. Traditional local festivals, such as Maghe Sankranti and Bhimsen Puja, are also popular. Losar, Loosong, Saga Dawa, Lhabab Duechen, Drupka Teshi and Bhumchu are among the Buddhist festivals celebrated in Sikkim. During the Losar (Tibetan New Year), most offices and educational institutions are closed for a week. Sikkimese Muslims celebrate Eid ul-Fitr and Muharram.

Western rock music and Indian pop have gained a wide following in Sikkim. Indigenous Nepali rock and Lepcha music are also popular. Sikkim’s most popular sports are football and cricket, although hang gliding and river rafting have also grown popular as part of the tourism industry.

Sikkim has a rich cultural dance forms that include the folk dances of Lepcha like Zo-Mal-Lok, Chu Faat,Kar Gnok Lok, Dharma Jo and Mon Dryak Loks; the folk dances of Bhutia like Talachi, Lu Khangthamo, Gha To Kito, Be Yu Mista, Chi Rimu, Rechungma, Gnungmala Gnunghey, Tashi Zaldha and the folk dances of Nepali like Maruni, Tamang Selo, Dhaan Naach, Dau Ra JaneZo-Mal-Lok, Sebru Naach and many more.

Sikkim is also known for its festivals like Flower Festival, Gangtok Food and Culture Festival, Hee Bermiock Heritage & Tourism Festival, Khangchendzonga Tourist festival, Lampokhari Tourism Festival, Mangan Music Festival, Namchi Mahotsav, Ravangla Festival.

Nepali is the lingua franca of Sikkim, while Sikkimese and Lepcha are spoken in certain areas. English and Hindi are also spoken and understood in most of Sikki

Tripura

Nestled in the quiet lush greenery of hills, verdant valleys and transparent waterscape, Tripura is a land of plentiful myths and legends. This state, home to nineteen indigenous tribal groups, Bengali speaking non-tribals and a diversity of culture, resembles a tiny dot on the peninsular India’s map dangling between North-East India and Bangladesh. The rich traditional art, culture, history and archaeology, flora and fauna, biodiversity and flushing meadows always cast a magnetic spell on visitors. The state’s rich handicrafts, traditional music, diversity of cultural streams and faiths, co-existing down the annals of history in pristine peace constitute its irresistible charm.

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Tripura has a glorious history that can be traced in its archaeological remains, cultural heritage, exquisite sculpture and architecture spread across its landscape.

The Land:

It is the third-smallest among the 28 states in the country, behind Goa and Sikkim and it spreads over 10,491.69 km2. It extends from 22°56’N to 24°32’N, and 91°09’E to 92°20’E. Its maximum extent measures about 184 km from north to south, and 113 km east to west. Tripura is bordered by the country of Bangladesh to the west, north and south; and the Indian states of Assam to the north east; and Mizoram to the east.

The People:

Indigenous communities form about 30 per cent of Tripura’s population. The Kokborok-speaking Tripuri people are the major group among 19 tribes and many sub-tribes; Bengali people form the ethno-linguistic majority. According to the provisional census of 2011, the total human population of the state of Tripura is 3,671,032. The highlands are areas of sparse population and the lowlands are densely populated. In Tripura, there are not only people hailing from different regions but also people constituting different ethnic groups. Each ethnic tribe has its own

language and distinctive forms of cultural expressions, such as music, dance and festivals.

The major tribes residing here are:Tripuri, Reang, Chakma, Halam, Garo, Lusei, Darlong

The Culture:

The undulating hill-scape of the state’s sixty per cent covered with lush greenery of forest which resonates with the traditional tribal music and dances on ceremonial occasions.Bengali people represent the largest non-tribal community of the state. Bengali culture, as a result, is the main non-tribal culture in the state. Indeed many tribal families, especially those who are from the elite class and reside in urban centres, have embraced Bengali culture more than their tribal cultural roots.

However, Bengali culture coexists with tribal traditional practices, notably the Tripuri culture. One of the most remarkable and interesting facts about Tripuri Culture is that they have 9 different kinds of marriages viz. NokkaisaKaimung (Marriage by exchange), KharlaiKaijakmani (Marriage by elopement), PhuisaiTubuma (Marriage by purchase), KoklamKwrwiKaimung (Marriage by capture), HamjaklaiKaijakmani (Marriage by love), Siklasogyakaimani (Child marriage), Chamariomor (Marriage by service), Chamariompa, Sundulphulmani (Widow remarriage).

Bengali is the most spoken language, due to the predominance of Bengali people in the state. Kokborok is a prominent language among the tribes. Several other languages belonging to Indo-European and Sino-Tibetan families are spoken by the different tribes.

Tripura is noted for bamboo and cane handicrafts. Bamboo played important part in the jhum cultivation (shifting cultivation) of the tribes. It was used to make watch stations on stilts, and was devised to carry food and water. Besides these usages, bamboo, wood and cane were used to create an array of furniture, utensils, hand-held fans, replicas, mats, baskets, idols and interior decoration materials.

Music and dances are integral part of the Tripuri tribal communities. Songs are sung during religious occasions, weddings, and other festivals. Each tribal community has their own repertoire of songs and dances. The Tripuri and Jamatia tribe perform Goria dance during the Goria Puja;Jhum Dance (also called Tangbiti Dance)is performed in the harvest season, Lebang Dance, Mamita Dance, and MosakSulmani Dance are other spectacularTripuri dances. Reang community, the second largest tribe of the state, are noted for their hojagiri dance performed by young girls balancing on earthen pitchers. The Bizhu dance is performed by the Chakmas during the Bizhu festival (the last day of the month of Chaitra). Other tribal dances are Wangala dance of the Garo people, Hai-hak dance of the Halam branch of Kuki people, Sangrai dance and Owa dance of the Mog tribe, and others.

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