You are on page 1of 12



An International ‘think-tank’ welfare organization of and for the people of North East India
Our Motto: Inspiration, Motivation, Encouragement, Enlightenment and Empowerment of North East India

Vol ume 2 TOURISM IN NE INDIA June, 2011

Promoting tourism in North East India without borders.




West Bengal


When the British took pride
in India as the Jewel in the Crown,
North East India was considered to
hold the hidden secrets, the gems North East India comprises of the eight states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Nagaland,
of that jewel. Besides the rich Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Tripura and Sikkim, and is collectively known as „Assam and
human resource with colorful ethnic Seven Sisters‟,(‘sat BnE Asm’ in Assamese), a term coined by FASS. Area-wise, the region
cultures and abundant natural
is only 8% of India‘s total area and population wise, the region has only 4% of India‘s total
resources, a large number of these
population. This, however, makes about 40 million people, more than the population of many
hidden gems is in the form of
independent countries. For geographical reasons also, the region need to be governed as a
exquisite scenic spots of North
whole entity in many respects such as tourism, education, healthcare and others.
East India. Let us try to rediscover
Recognizing this, the Govt of India created a separate ministry called the DoNER
those hidden gems and connect
(Development of North East Region). However, the NE public yet doesn‘t have a civic
these to the world tourists for a
society in response representing the whole region.

 Foreword – Madan Bezbaruah  The Picturesque Barak Valley
 Editorial – Ajanta Barua  Rediscovering Manipur to the World Tourist
 Koya Kujia Festival – Luit Holidays  Manipur and Polo-Tourism
 A Tour of the Vaishnavite Xotros in Assam  A Trip to Arunachal
 The Majuli Island for UN Heritage List  Mawlynnong-A Shangrila in Hiding
 The River Dolphins (Xihu) in the Brahmaputra.  Gypsyfeet-Get Going with the Gypsies
 Nameri‘s Memory – Assam‘s Secret Hide Out  Be a Cultural Tourist Guide to your own community
 What the International Tourist prefers  The North East and the Second World War.
 Bed, Breakfast and Rural Tourism  Tea & Golf Tourism in the NE.
 Alohi Ghor - The Idea of a Rural Tourist Guest House  Join the FASS Movement
 Dipor Bil – Guwahati‘s Backdoor Bird Sanctuary  Some Important Travel Contacts in NE.
 Tour the Buddhist Shrines in Northeast  Post Word
MITRO A Special issue on tourism in Northeast India Vol.2 June, 2011
Tourism in NE India North East India Tourism without Borders
The official documents of the Ministry of Tourism of In order to effectively promote tourism in North East India, we need to
Government of India often describe the NE as the look at the region beyond the states without any borders. This newsletter
―Paradise Unexplored‖. That expression just about sums up is a humble attempt in this direction. Here, we have tried to give a
the present status of tourism in the NE - a region shrouded glimpse of the rich flavor of the various tourism potentials of the region
in mystery with immense tourism potential not yet fully by highlighting some selected lesser known tourist spots of the region.
utilized, its diversity, uniqueness and richness in tourism We also have included some personal experiences from the tourists who
resources as yet unexplored. Globally the growth of tourism visited the region. At the same time, we have tried to connect all the
has been phenomenal; its contribution to income and interested parties- the International tourists, the travel agents, the local
employment generation has been widely recognized. entrepreneurs, the community and the government agencies, all together
Tourism is a multi-dimensional activity and it is difficult to towards the development of the common theme of promoting tourism in
fully illustrate its true socio-economic impact. But two North East India.
characteristics of modern tourism stand out. First, the Many a time, the general public holds the notion that tourism is
profile of the modern tourist has changed. For him travel is something which the government alone needs to promote without
not just a journey - it is an experience. He looks for unique realizing how the community will be benefited. Proper development of
experiences off the beaten track. Second it is no longer tourism industry entails development of adequate infrastructure of roads
seen as an end in itself. All over the world tourism is being and bridges along with wayside public facilities by the government which
used more and more as a tool for poverty alleviation - a role is definitely lacking in the North East. However, there are a lot that the
recognized by the UN Millennium Development Goals. local community can do to develop and highlight tourist spots in a
These developments are relevant to the promotion of profitable manner. The North East does not need five-star hotels
tourism in the NE. NE offers possibilities of unique and because the tourists that are attracted to the region are of different types
unparalleled experiences that few other regions can boast than those who visit popular tourist spots like the Taj Mahal and others.
of. And tourism provides a comparative advantage to the The new international tourists are looking for unique experiences in rural,
NE region which can be exploited for economic cultural, eco and ethnic tourism. Given the opportunity, they are
development. interested to experience the folk culture and life styles of different minor
But there is a big gap between what could be and what ethnic groups. With 200 odd ethnic communities, the North East has
is. Every state of the region has a tourism Master Plan but great potential for developing rural and cultural tourism. These can be
in most cases the plan is awaiting to be implemented. Lot of combined with eco tourism which has abundant potential in the region.
work has to be done. Governments have to give focused Buddhism and Assam Vaishnavism are two areas which are unique of
attention to tourism development. Facilities and incentives the region and which can be big attractions to the interested tourists. Tea
have to be provided for private sector in tourism to grow and Golf tourism, Polo tourism in Manipur etc. are other areas that can
and develop the much needed infrastructure. Good be developed in a profitable manner. Besides these, there are other
infrastructure of roads and decent accommodation has to themes and ideas that need to be developed.
be created. Wayside facilities have to be put in place for To promote these, the cooperation of all the interested parties are
travelers. The tourism destinations have to be developed required. The local governments need to provide the required infra
and managed professionally so that the tourists can have structure. The local entrepreneurs can provide ‗bed and breakfast‘ type
good experiences. And above all, the beauty of the service to the new international tourists. The Travel Agents are the vital
destinations has to be made known to the outside world. ambassadors who can play a responsible role in connecting the tourists
Governments often take up marketing campaigns to with the communities by projecting the correct image.
attract tourists. But such campaigns tend to suffer from Needless to say that it is just a beginning and we have a long way to
many weaknesses. The campaigns are generally ad hoc go. We hope to continue our efforts with more inputs from all the parties.
and are not sustained. Often they have many loose ends, Ajanta Barua, Houston, Texas
leaving the prospective tourist confused and disappointed.
If the campaign arouses curiosity about the region, as it KOYA KUJIA FESTIVAL IN ABHOYAPURI
should, the tourist would like to know more and quickly - FASS collaboration with Luit Holidays
where to go, how to go, whom to contact, how to book
accommodation, what should be the itinerary, can someone
manage the program, how to make the payments and so
on. Disjointed campaigns can do more harm than good. In
the last analysis, the best marketing is a satisfied customer.
I believe that the civil society and the tourism industry can
play a very constructive role to bridge this information gap.
FASS need to be complimented for this timely and
thoughtful initiative. The newsletter also tries to capture
some experiences of the visitors. It should also serve as a
tool to put pressure on all the service providers - the
government, the private sector, and the local people - to
ensure that the basic requirements of Tourism in NE live up
to the marketing promises.

- Mr. Madan Bezbaruah

Ex Secretary of Tourism, GOI
Ex Chairman of PATA
Hon Permanent Rep, UNWTO

MITRO A Special issue on tourism in Northeast India Vol.2 June, 2011
FASS welcomes Luit Holidays in hosting the two days
Koya Kujia Festival in Abhayapuri ethnic tourist festival at the Koya Kujia eco park at
Abhayapuri on the 5th and 6th March 2011. This was a
humble effort not only to promote local tourism but at the
same time, to preserve valuable local culture and heritage
of the region. Koya Kujia is a newly developed eco park
near Abhayapuri where tourists are starting to trickle in.
Nearby, there is a big lake which is known as Tam Ronga
Bil (Copper-Red Lake).Various local myths are associated
with it. There are two famous Vaishnavite Xotros on its
bank, the Bishnupur Xotro and the Gorexia Xotro. The
region also holds Raghunath temple where a unique
Rama 'murti' was discovered. Jogi Ghopa, (the caves of
the Yogis), the famous ancient Buddhist caves are
nearby. The region also holds the historical relics
of Rajbari, the ancient royal estate. Ecologically, the
region is famous for abundance of precious
Devadaru trees, the golden monkey and varieties of
Traditional boat race held in Tamronga Bil plants and animals. The region is also famous for annual
migratory birds.
What Luit Holidays is trying to do in Abhayapuri is
something that money cannot buy. They are trying to
show that tourism needs to be developed not by policies
dictated from above, but by policies initiated by local
people who are and should be the main stake holders for
tourism and culture. They are trying to show that tourism
must not be developed at the expense of the vital ecology
and local culture. They are trying to show how the local
community must be involved in development of tourism.
Speaking on the festival, the Chief Guest, Sri Homen
Borgohain echoed the sentiments when he said, “Tourism
should not be developed at the destruction of our own
culture that we are trying to show. But that is what we are
doing in Assam. I welcome and support the effort of Luit
Holidays whole heartedly ”. The Koya Kujia festival itself
is a joint ethnic event of the various local cultures such as
Bodo, Rava, and others.
The region holds not only a huge potential for the global
tourism but also it holds our vital heritage and colorful
ethnic cultures. On the south side of river Brahmaputra is
A scene of the crowd at the Koya-Kujia festival the famous Suryapahar which was an ancient Buddhist
(Hinayana) shrine in 2nd century B.C. Later, various
others religions took shelters there including
Vaishnavism, Saivism and Jainism. In 9th century, the
Mahayana Buddhist flourished here again. There are so
much religious relics that archeologists like to compare
Suryapahar with the famous Elora temple. With such rich
historical and cultural heritage, this site can be a main
tourist attraction. The government should urgently take
initiative to improve the condition of the roads and bridges
which are in deplorable condition right now.
It is hoped that the Koya Kujia festival will contribute
significantly to the cultural and economic development
and wealth of the area. The aim is also to bring an
awareness of the government to develop the much
needed infrastructure in the region. FASS fully supports
the efforts of Luit Holidays that is trying to show the right
way of promoting tourism, and encourage and inspire the
interested parties to do the needful. Let us all make
Abhayapuri not only as a tourist spot but also as a
pilgrimage spot for the community.

A scene from the classic Boro dance ‗Bagurumba‟ performed by local For more details, please visit
villagers at the Koya Kujia festival. The house at the background is a
typical Boro house built for the purpose by Luit Holidays. Tel: 9706010838 (Bhaskar Barua)

MITRO A Special issue on tourism in Northeast India Vol.2 June, 2011
By Mofid Rahman, Guwahati, Assam
The great Vaishnavite saint and reformer Sri Xongkordeb (Sans:Sankardeva) - (1449-
1569 AD) is rightly considered the father of the Assamese culture. He, with the help of
his ardent disciple Sri Madhobdeb, was successful in establishing a new religion in
Assam and Kochbehar in the 16th century that was based on 'bhokti' or love and
humanity which was not only the essence of Hindu monotheism but was in essence a
reformed Hinduism. The impact of his movement was however not limited to religion
only but was far reaching in starting a cultural renaissance and in uniting the entire
region with a common cultural milieu. It will be difficult to find a great cultural leader of
his stature in the world who was at once a scholar, a poet, a singer, a dramatist, a
painter, a sculptor, a social reformer and all. Bhwrtal Nrityo at Koya Kujia Festival
The institutions of Xotro (Sanskrit-Satra) and Namghor (village prayer cum meeting
hall) developed by him, exercise tremendous influence on the cultural lives of the
people of Assam on ethics, democracy and socio-cultural ideals besides education. At
one time, there were about 500 Xotros in Assam. At present, there are about 65 active
Xotros which are not only the seats of religion, learning and education, but the very
centre of traditional cultural activities like dance, drama, music and religious recitals.
Most of these Xotros are situated in Majuli and near Barpeta. To know more about
these Xotros, one may visit the following sites. ;

Komolabari Xotro in Majuli

Located in the middle of the river Brahmaputra, Majuli is the second largest river
island in the world. Moreover, Majuli is at the heart of the Assamese neo-Vaisnavite
culture. There are more than 20 neo-Vaishnavite Xotros located in Majuli which
include the following primaries: Dokhinpat, Goromur, Auniati, Komolabari and
Recently, the Government of India has proposed to nominate the name of Majuli for
inclusion in the ‗cultural landscape' category of the United Nations Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) World Heritage list.
However, we need to save the island from erosion by the river Brahmaputra. During
the last couple of decades, more than 50% of its landmass has been lost due to heavy
erosion which is still continuing. FASS is engaged to bring awareness to the problem
An aerial view of Majuli, in the middle of the
and to do something about it. The CPG-Brahmaputra group is working on some
river Brahmaputra in Assam
specific proposal for a solution in this regard. (Photo by Ritu Raj Konwar)
To know more about Majuli, visit the following:


While in Assam, please don‘t miss to see the River Dolphins (Platanista Gangetica) in
the Brahmaputra. They are called Xihu in local Assamese. Till couple of decades ago,
river dolphin in the Brahmaputra was a common feature. Today it is classified as an
endangered species. Currently the dolphin population in the Brahmaputra is estimated
to be about 300 and active efforts being taken to protect and increase the river dolphin
population. Assam State Govt recently declared the Xihu, the State Aquatic animal. For A ferry crossing to Majuli
more information, please visit:;


A documentary titled 'Children of the river - the Xihus of Assam',
directed by Sanjay Hazarika was released recently.

A River Dolphin (Xihu) in the Brahmaputra

The presence of dolphin in a river system signals a healthy ecosystem. Since the river dolphin is at the apex of the aquatic food chain,
its presence in adequate numbers symbolizes greater biodiversity in the river system and helps keep the ecosystem in balance.

MITRO A Special issue on tourism in Northeast India Vol.2 June, 2011
Nameri’s Memory – Assam’s Secret Hideout
By: Rabin Mahanta, Sugar Land, Texas, USA
The tremendous tourist potential of Assam is not known to the world and for that matter
to the native population of the state. We have a long way to go but we are glad to see that the
beginning has been made. We had a good fortune to visit and spend time at a remote Tourist
Lodge at a place called Nameri near Bhalukpung in Sonitpur District of Assam bordering
Arunachal Pradesh on the bank of mighty Jia Bhoroli River. Nameri is located about 120
kilometers from Guwahati by road, and the road condition from Guwahati to Nameri is
reasonable in that part of the world.
We got an early start from Guwahati on a cold crispy December morning and it took us
rest of the day to travel along the numerous small and not so small towns dotting via North
Bank of Assam on a scenic and memorable drive. Places like Sipajhar, Dhekiajuli, Balipara,
Chariduar were no longer just names for us but real places with lot of Assamese cultures. Along
the way, there are Restaurants, Tea Shops, Fruit Stalls, and Vegetable Markets - uniquely
Assamese style entrepreneurs. The final stretch of the road to Nameri is not developed and is
bumpy. Probably, it has been deliberately kept that way to maintain touch with nature. Finally,
almost at dusk we arrived at the main gate of Nameri Guest Lodge. We were told the last
Accommodation at Bhalukpung, elephant herd just passed by the lodge five minutes earlier. This is an elephant country and
(Top) at Nameri (Bottom) with couple of encounters with a few herds is inevitable. In fact, we were told there was a big fight
beautiful mustard field in front between two tuskers recently which stopped all vehicular traffic for couple of hours until a victor
emerged. There are about eight separate lodges with the most modern amenities one can
expect at such a remote location. We were treated to a sumptuous dinner with fish, chicken and
Bhalukpong is situated in Kameng
fresh vegetables.
district very close to the Assam We were told to wake up at dawn if we would like to watch the famous breathtaking ruby
border near Nameri. The beautiful red sun being the first sunrise in India. So after a good night‘s sleep, we had a hearty breakfast
place mesmerizes wildlife lovers, followed by a walk through the ever beautiful mustard fields on way to the banks of the mighty
adventure enthusiasts and nature Jia Bhoroli River led by a young Assamese guide – son of a nearby farmer. We found out
lovers. The high waterfalls, natural Assamese farmers live around the area on government land and cultivate all kinds of
vegetables. The entire place is dotted with the tree houses (watch tower) used by farmers to
beauty and the dense forest cover
guard their crops in the night and to scare away elephant herds. The morning glimpse of
contribute to make Bhalukpong a winter‘s dry yet beautiful Jia Bhoroli was a memorable sight. We strolled amongst the mustard
photographer's delight. The water of fields and were back at the camp for our return journey to Guwahati via the famous Kalia
River Kameng offers excellent Bhomora Bridge. One stop need mention - Tezpur University in Tezpur. It‘s a well kept secret
opportunities for rafting. The best with an exquisitely built modern university which has attracted brilliant scholars including
time to travel to this place is from graduate students. The main entrance is a work of art.
. . . What a trip, what an experience – a perfect hide out for everyone, whether you are from
October to May. The Nyethidow
abroad or a local!
festival celebrated during the month
of March makes Bhalukpong worth
a visit. The far famed Tipi Orchid
Bed, Breakfast and Rural Tourism
Centre lies near Bhalukpong. Rajen Barua, Houston, Texas
The profile of the new international tourist is changing; the new tourist is looking for tourism
WHAT THE INTERNATIONAL as a way of experiencing new ethnic cultures by travelling to rural areas and living with the
TOURIST PREFERS: people. The new tourist is also interested in visiting less known hidden rural areas to enjoy
nature. Tracking, rafting are other areas of his interest. It can also be a variant of eco-tourism.
The International Tourist in NE would North East India has great potential for such Rural, Cultural and Eco tourism. From the
not mind living in a cottage. However, remote past, the North East had been the home of all the major races of the world that
there are certain essential things emigrated here. Today, there are about 200 different ethnic groups living in the region which
which he/she would like to have. provide opportunities for great cultural tourism. Moreover, the North East falls in the prime
(In order of preference).
rainforest zone of the world and holds the key to some of the great scenic sites of the world. All
1) Full size bed with clean linen. these make the North East a region of great potential for tourist attraction. Rural tourism
2) Running water in bathroom and focuses on participating in a rural lifestyle. Any village can be a tourist attraction, and villagers
kitchen. in the region can play an active role as hosts and guides.
3) European style toilet (a must). To promote rural tourism, we do not need big luxury hotels. The tourist to the NE is happy to
4) Electricity with outlets and ceiling live in cottages provided it is clean and has some basic amenities, (shown on the side). The
fans in each room. local entrepreneur can build simple guest houses to provide basic „Bed and Breakfast‘ type of
5) Clean Dry bathroom with provision service to the new tourists. At the same time, local communities can act as guide to their own
for shower bath. cultures. Travel Agents need to connect these with the international tourists.
6) Non smoking, mosquito proof Development of such rural and cultural tourism allows the creation of an alternative source
of income to the villagers. The added income from rural tourism can contribute to the revival of
6) Running Hot Water (if available).
7) Internet (if available)
lost folk culture besides folk art and handicrafts. It is an ideal and natural method of rural and
8) Air Conditioner (if available) urban economic exchange. This may also prevent the migration of the rural youth to the cities
looking for illusive better prospects of life. This also may help in diffusing the insurgency
While compromises are possible, the problem of the region. Needless to say that there is a lot that needs to be done. However,
worth of a facility will depend on once we start thinking in this line, progress can be made and a revolution is possible to start in
various amenities available. rural tourism in the North East. Let us hope that such a revolution is not in distant future.

MITRO A Special issue on tourism in Northeast India Vol.2 June, 2011
With the basic idea of promoting Rural Tourism, FASS has designed a
simple compact cottage, named „Alohi Ghor‟ which is now under
construction at the Parijat Academy, a school near Guwahati for the
under privileged students. Initially, the school was started by Uttam
Teron, a local youth, in his own house. The Alohi Ghor in the school is
primarily meant to accommodate the incoming volunteers. However, the
same can also be used as a tourist lodge for local rural and eco tourism.
The surrounding area of Parijat Academy contains several Kirby villages
with their unique ethnic cultures of folk art and craft including weaving,
rice cultivation, rice husking and many others. Moreover, the famous
Dipor Bil is located on its very backdoor.
Dipor Bil is a freshwater lake Bird Sanctuary and is
strategically located at the back door of the bustling city
of Guwahati. The lake is a natural habitat for more than
200 species of birds that includes more than 70 Above, design and floor plan of the Cottage “Alohi Ghor‟
migratory species. There is a large congregation of under construction at Parijat Academy by FASS. The
residential water birds seen in the lake with a reported The famous cottage is suitable to adopt as a Tourist Guest House in any
Siberian crane community for Rural Tourism. FASS would provide
maximum number of 19,000 registered in one day.
Considering the richness of the bird varieties, the
construction details and budget information to any interested
Birdlife International has declared the Dipor Bil as an To Dipor Bil parties in NE for construction of the same for development
Important Bird Area (IBA) with high priority for every year. of rural tourism.


North East India is one of the last strong holds of both Hinayana and Mahayana Buddhism in India.
There are many Buddhist monasteries and centers in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Tripura
and other parts. Many visitors visit these places which are also ideal places for trekking and hiking.
There are many Buddhist tours available. We would like to promote the concept of local Buddhist
host families offering that may be called „Bed, Breakfast and Buddhism‟ where a tourist may stay with
the family to explore. This will also promote rural tourism without destroying the ecology of these
places. In Tripura, most of the Buddhists live in villages often exclusively made up of Chakma or Mog
tribals. Most of these villages have a resident monk. Ask your travel agents for more information.

in Sikkim

Tawang Monastery, Arunachal Pradesh, the largest Phodang Monastery

Buddhist monastery in Asia Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim

The Namphake village in Nahorkotiya, Assam is home to a

small population of the Tai Phakes Buddhist community. Tai
Phake is the branch of the great Tai race that entered Assam in
the latter half of the 18th century. The word Phake has been
derived from the Tai words ‗Pha‘ meaning wall and ‗Ke‘ meaning
ancient or old. (Seen in the pictures on the side are their welcome
dance and a group of Tai-Phake ladies in their traditional dress.
For Buddhist shrines in Tripura, please visit

MITRO A Special issue on tourism in Northeast India Vol.2 June, 2011

The Picturesque Barak Valley

When we speak of Assam, people generally think of the Brahmaputra valley. However, Assam
has another valley, the Barak valley, named after the Barak River. If we say that the outsiders know
very little about Assam because of a stone walling affect of Bengal, we may also say that people
know very little of this hidden Barak valley because of a stone walling affect of the Brahmaputra
valley. We want to bring this hidden valley into the tourist spots for the world because in natural
beauty, it is more scenic as all three sides of the valley is surrounded by hills.
The Barak valley mainly consists of three districts namely Cachar, Karimganj, and Hailakandi.
Majority of the people speak the Sylheti language which is supposedly a dialect of the Bengali
language. However, there are many features which indicate that it has less similarity with Bengali
than with Assamese. Besides Sylheti, Dimacha and Manipuri are two major languages of the valley.
The Barak valley is also home to Kacharis, Hmar, Nagas, Manipuris and many other ethnic groups.
Whether one is a lover of language, culture or natural beauty, a visit to the valley is a must in NE.
Like many parts of Assam, Barak valley is economically under developed. More infrastructures
are urgently needed. The valley is ideal for development of rural, cultural and eco tourism.

A Brief Note for the Tourists in the Barak Valley.

By Sushanta Kar, Tinsukia, Assam
The Barak valley may be said to be a mini replica of the The major tourist attractions in and around Silchar are
Brahmaputra Valley but it is more picturesque because of its hilly Maniharan Tunnel at Bhuban Hill, Narsing Akhra, Mokasah Mukam,
countries. The valley is surrounded by Manipur on the east, Bakharsah Mukam, Khaspur-the last Dimacha capital, Sri Kancha
Bangladesh on the west, Mizoram on the south and the Barail hills Kanti Devi, the Milroy Sanctuary etc. The Bhuban hills also contain
and Meghalaya hills on the north. Where ever one stands, one will one of the biggest caves in whole of Assam, It is believed that in
have a view of hill ranges in different shapes and colors depending ancient times a trade route from Bengal to Myanmar passed through
on seasons. There are lots of smaller mountain ranges in the Bhuban Hill and this cave was used by the traders as a resting
valley such as the Bhuban Hill, Chatachura, Pratapgarh and place. Other places like Dargakona, where Assam University is
others. situated, and Jirighat at the Manipur border are also important tourist
There is an airport near Silchar which itself is a beautiful spots.
tourist spot at the foot hills of the Barail Hills. Thus one can fly Karimganj is the second largest town of the valley. Flanked on
directly to the valley. But if you want to enjoy the scenery, it is two sides by the rivers Kushiyara and Longai, Karimganj town is
better you travel by bus or by rail. That would be a more thrilling located just on the Bangladesh border. The district was part of Sylhet
experience for the first visitors. The rail route passes through the district before partition, and like the Punjabs, was divided into two
picture perfect Barail Hills and Jatinga Valley of North Cachar Hills parts after partition. So, the Indian Sylhetis all over the globe become
District of Assam and the roadways passes through the pine forest a little nostalgic when they visit Karimganj and stands on the bank of
of Meghalaya and exotic Luva river valley at the Meghalaya- Kushiyara. The old Sylhet had a glorious past. During the Sepoy
Bangladesh Border. One can make a stop journey at two most Mutiny, in November 1857, three companies of the 34th Native
beautiful hill stations of the region such as Halflong and Shillong. Infantry stationed at Chittagong mutinied and they subsequently
Experiencing sunrise from the Halflong government guest house is emerged in the south-east of the Sylhet District. At Latu village of
comparable to none at the state of Assam. present Karimganj district, these rebel soldiers encountered a
Silchar is the second largest city of the state and head contingent of the Sylhet Light Infantry under the command of Major
quarter of present Cachar district and is the biggest hotspot of the Byng. The sepoys were defeated, but Major Byng was killed. At
region. It is also a major gateway to the neighboring areas of Malegar hillock of Latu village, the graves of the fallen rebels are still
Manipur, Tripura and Mizoram. The city is situated at the Bank of adored by the local people.
river Barak and surrounded by a series of small hill ranges. There Badarpur Town is located at the eastern border of Karimganj.
are also some ‗haors‘ (Assamese ‗xagor‘, meaning Sanskrit Famous center named Sha Adam Khaki Mukam is situated here.
‗Sagar‘, the ocean.) like Chatla Haors, Baula Haor. During the Also, there is a Mughal fort of Dimacha era as well as the
1850s, the second ever polo club in the world was established in Siddheswar Shiva Mandir. It is also believed that the eastern most
Silchar, the first polo club being established in Imphal in Manipur. Ashram of Rishi Kapil, the preacher of Shankya philosophy, was
In fact, the first ever competitive form of modern polo was played situated here at Shidheswar Siva Mandir. Every year at the month of
in Silchar only. Chaitra the Baruni Mela takes place here for fifteen days.

MITRO A Special issue on tourism in Northeast India Vol.2 June, 2011
There is also a Rajar Tilla, a historical hillock named after the last
Dimacha King, Gobinda Chandra. All these make Badarpur an
important tourist spot of the valley. Shanbeel, one of the largest
‗haor‘ (Assamese Xagor) is located at the southern part of
Karimganj. This is famous for its grassland and migratory birds at the
winter season.
Hailakandi is famous for the places like Panchpir Dargah, Sri
Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib and the Panchgram Paper mill. Sepoys
those flew from Latu of Karimganj District in 1857 also had to fight a
battle at Mohanpur of Hailakandi district. The location is still known
as ‗Ron Tila‘ to the local people. The best time to visit is all the
seasons except the summer rainy season. There are good hotel
accommodations in all the main cities.

For more information on Barak valley one may refer the following


Mohen Naorem, Imphal, Manipur
Nestling deep within the lush green corner of North East India is the little paradise called Manipur –
the jeweled land where Mother Nature has been extra generous in her bounty. Lord Irwin called it ‗the
Switzerland of the East‘. History of Manipur goes back to the epic days. Yet, untouched and
undiscovered, Manipur promises to be the great tourist discovery of the 21 century for the world
traveler. Its rich culture excels in every aspect as in sports, martial arts, dance, theater, sculpture and
all. The charm of the place is the greenery with the moderate climate making it a tourists' heaven.
Manipur is a perfect a hot spot for tourist in that the tourist can enjoy a perfect season at any time of the
year. This also makes Manipur a land of year round festivals. Culturally, it is a mini Asia – a perfect
blend of different Asian cultures. There are many tourist attractions of which the following are some
which are not to be missed.
Khwairamband Keithel (or Ima Keithel)- world‘s oldest women market managed entirely by women;
Khonghampat Orchid Farm; Red hill; Loktak lake; Khongjom; Andro; Moirang; Langthabal Hill; Moreh;
British War cemetery; Loukoipat; Sekta Archeological Living Museum; Thangjing Hill; Koubru Hills;
Nongmaijing Hill; Tengnoupal; Siroy Lily in Ukhrul; Churachandpur; Keibul Lamjao National Park (the
floating park) and the Dzuko valley in Mao.
One can fly to Imphal or one can go by road from Guwahati. For more information visit (


If Scotland can take pride as the country of birth of the modern game of Golf (a 15 century discovery), then Manipur can take
legitimate pride as the land of birth of the modern game of Polo in the 19 century. Although there is record of Polo being played in
ancient Persia, the origin of the game of Polo in Manipur is traced to early precursors of Sagol Kangjei or Pulu that was played in
Manipur since ancient times as one of the three types of Manipuri hockey. Local rituals such as those connected to the Marjing, the
Winged-Pony God of Polo and others indicate an origin of the game to 1st Century A.D. or before. In Manipur, Polo was not merely a
"rich man‟s game" but was played by anyone who owned a pony. The king of Manipur had a royal polo ground within the ramparts of his
Kangla Fort. In Manipur, the game is played with seven players on each side. The players are mounted on the indigenous Manipuri
pony. There are no goal posts and a player scores simply by hitting the ball out of either end of the field. Players were also permitted to
carry the ball, though that allowed opponents to physically tackle players when they do so. The sticks were made of cane and the balls
were made from the roots of bamboo. Colorful cloth pom-poms dangle at sensitive and vulnerable spots around the anatomy of the
ponies in order to protect them. Players protected their legs by attaching leather shields to their saddles and girths.
The British formalized and popularized the game as soon as they discovered the game in Manipur in the early 19 century. The first
polo club in the world was established in the town of Silchar in Assam, India. (Please note that at that time Manipur was not a British
colony but an independent country).
Let us hope that the game of Polo will be popularized in the country of its birth and a day will come soon when Polo-Tourism in
Manipur will capture the world polo lovers.

MITRO A Special issue on tourism in Northeast India Vol.2 June, 2011

A Trip to Arunachal Pradesh

Chondon K. Mohonto, St. Louis, USA
Last November (2010) I, with my family and in-laws had the pleasure of visiting
the Namdapha Camp in the Lohit District of Arunachal Pradesh. Namdapha Camp is
a semi primitive campsite with comfortable cabins with running water and sanitary
toilets, but no electricity and no phone connections, landline or mobile. It is located
right across the Noa Dihing River from the Namdapha Wildlife Sanctuary Visitors‘
Camp and is a private facility. The surroundings are spectacular. In mid November,
the days were sunny and even warm, but it cooled down at night to heavy-blanket
temperatures after a couple of hours of blustery winds caused by microclimatic
conditions right after sun-down.
The road to Namdapha camp from Rupai Siding was extremely scenic. The first
part, to the Arunachal border checkpoint of Dirok Gate, was the best roadway I have
seen in the region, built with modern equipment, winding its way through a
quintessentially rural Assamese landscape of sleepy villages, bustling little towns, rice
paddies, betel-nut, bamboo and of course tea plantations.
Once we entered Arunachal, the terrain, in Khamti populated areas, was just like
in Assam, low lying, flood-plains studded with rice paddies and traditional ‗sang-ghor‘
( houses on stilts), roofed with palm fronds, mixed with typical tin-roofed ones of the
A view of Noa Dehing
plains. Then it began to ascend, but only mildly. This part of Arunachal is not as
rugged and lofty like it is on the road to Tawang on the north. The road was narrow
and at parts is heavily overgrown on the sides with dense forests of wild-banana,
bamboo and other shrubs and tall grasses. At places, the paved road surface barely
eight feet wide, was the only clearance, tunnel-like, with no shoulder at all. This is
elephant country. We drove through high, Mishimi country with their traditional
longhouses, again built on stilts , on to Namdapha, through fairly high mountains and
ravines interspersed with crystal clear streams, wide swaths of river-washed boulder
fields of dry creeks and flash-flood beds, surrounded by lush green forests
embellished by spikes of year-old bamboo, as far as the eye could see, blending into
the blue-mists of the horizon fast descending with the sun. Poroxuram Kundo
We descended towards the camp along the north flowing branch of the tributary that
meets up with the Noa Dihing at Nam-Dapha (meaning ‗Where the waters part‘) while That this ―temple‖ was out of sight, sparing the
here still was daylight. The glimpses thru the bamboo clumps and trees were exciting: environment‘s sanctity.
a thin line of blue waters winding on flanked by stretches of boulder fields. By the time We retraced our path from here. But I was
we unloaded our SUV and checked into the cabins it was dark. Antina and her crew told that if we crossed the long concrete bridge
served us campfire cooked chicken, in local bamboo cylinders seasoned with Khamti over the Lohit here and climbed north, we would
spice, an herb that is gathered from the forest. There was delicious soup made from have been treated to one of the most
shoots of giant cane ( not the standard, bitter variety), again collected from the forest. spectacular series of views of the Lohit river
There was fresh, river caught ‗xilghoria‘ fish fry and other goodies. It was feast, unlike valley. I believe that, because I saw it on Google
anything we ever ate. Earth. Unfortunately we did not have time to
At dawn, it was a spectacular setting at the foot of a steeply rising hill, covered take that road, and return along a road which,
with dense vegetation, gibbons howling in the distance, flocks of migratory birds flying apparently was breached at several places by
low overhead and butterflies and moths of unparalleled colors and designs all around torrential mountain streams. We arrived at
us at water‘s edge. The area here is populated mostly by Chakmas, who were Rupai Junction just before sun-down on our way
immigrated to this area from Bangladesh in the 1970‘s. After a hearty breakfast of to another lovely night at our friends‘ house at
fresh squeezed orange juice harvested from the camp orchard and other local the Holong Habi tea-plantation.
goodies, including Khamti style ‗ghila-pitha‘ (large diameter, spiced with their It was a memorable trip. I am not done with it
ingredients and deep fried in mustard oil, produced locally), we went out for a hike yet. Can‘t wait to return to spend more time
along the gravel/boulder fields of the two tributaries that meet at the site. Our guide, photographing the butterflies, the moths, the
Dihingiya, a veteran of the area and full of local lore, led us along the most giant spiders and visiting ―sorai-pung‖ on
extravagant of butterfly and moth displays along the way. I was hooked. It was a elephant-back ( too strenuous on foot) and last
strenuous hike. But it was worth every minute. We returned to camp to rest before but not the least, to catch a giant ‗mahseer‘.
dinner around the bonfire that they build on the long-house on stilts that serves as the One can see the Namdapha confluence in
picnic/dining hall. This night‘s dinner consisted of a freshly caught ―boga-pithiya‖, Google Earth, at the following: co-ordinates:
white mahseer and a large ‗xilghoriya‘ that they marinated overnight with their local 27^29‟45.49” N and 96^22‟54.51” E.
spices and cooked in bamboo cylinders, along with vegetable medley cooked in ‗koa-
pat‖ ( Koa leaves, that grow in the forest like giant turmeric), Khamti rice, camp grown
‗mati-mahor dail‖ and ―xil-kwmwra‖ soup. Needless to repeat, it was out-of-this world.
We retired early and sleep came fast.
Next day, we were on our way back via ‗Poroxuram-Kundo‟ on the Lohit River,
one of the three main rivers that meet to form the Brahmaputra as it enters Assam. It
was a lovely drive thru mountains and valleys, Mishimi villages and many orange
orchards. The road was fairly decent. Here the spectacular, crystal clear torrent of the
Lohit bends at a granite cliff, creating a number of pool like formations, one of which,
marked by a number of rock outcrops, is called the ―poroxuram-kundo”. This is what
thousands of pilgrims descend to, to take a dip at Magh Bihu, after they offer their
prayers at a temple high above, hidden behind the dense forest. I was relieved to find
Forrest Guest House at Deban
MITRO A Special issue on tourism in Northeast India Vol.2 June, 2011

Mawlynnong in Meghalaya : A Shangrila in Hiding!

Mawlynnong: Serendipity is the word
Patricia M. Mukhim, Shillong
Mawlynnong, a village in East Khasi Hills District of Meghalaya, in North
East India is the much talked about tourist destination. Nestled cozily
between the plains of Bangladesh and the foothills of the War region,
Mawlynnong which is a good three hours drive from Shillong is a cute,
colorful little village renowned for its cleanliness. Autumn is the right season
to visit this tiny slice of paradise on terra firma. The village is a picture
perfect painting with a splash of colors. Vibrant red, yellow and green Coleus
and Japonica grow profusely by the roadside giving the whole village the
scenario of a piece of Eden. Those who find this place find serendipity!
An unmistakable aroma of bay leaves invades your senses as you get
closer to Mawlynnong. Bay leaves grow profusely in this hamlet. The
pleasant climate is just right for some of the most exotic flora and fauna.
Interestingly the first tourists to have visited Mawlynnong are overseas But this may not last for too long. Tourism has its flip
from across the oceans. Several international visitors have come and gone side. Tourists often carry their own dominant cultures with
leaving their imprints behind in a little journal. Every tourist narrates his/her them. They have expectations and might even like to
unique experiences. A ninety-eight year old lady from Israel came to determine their own comfort levels which the villagers
Mawlynnong to soak in its serenity. She even asked the local tourist guides may not be able to provide. It is here that Mawlynnong
to take her down to river Thyllong, a pristine piece of water body, perhaps needs to assert its niche attraction. The idea is for
one of the few left in our state. The matriarch wanted to see for herself the tourists to live as close to nature as possible without
living root bridge that spans the banks of this river, not unlike the one you looking for 5-star comfort. Hopefully, Mawlynnong will
see in Laitkynsew village, albeit not so challenging and not a double decker, preserve its simple lifestyle and not get carried away by
so it is easier to negotiate. the onrush of tourist expectations.
Mawlynnong‘s fame is now drawing an endless stream of guests ranging
from bus-loads of school kids to curious visitors from across the country.
Although residential facilities are still scarce and are in the process of being
developed, the existing one constructed from bamboo and thatch and
extending into a little machang (a sort of verandah) where tourists can
simply relax and watch the river flow beneath them while enjoying the cool
zephyr – a rather rare commodity these days - is pretty restful. Mawlynnong
is an artist‘s delight and the sort of getaway that would titillate creative
writers and poets, no less than it would attract serious researchers wanting
to find out how tourism has caught on in this remote destination.
Young men from this village have taken to being tourist guides, learning
their trades on the job and perfecting it through trial and error. But they are
eager to receive tips from experienced tourists. These hardworking lads
would benefit greatly from a crash course on tourism and its various
ramifications. Mawlynnong has a range of sights and sounds, all natural.
Nothing is contrived. There are waterfalls, treks and picnic spots. As
mentioned earlier the streams and rivulets in this village are sparklingly
clean. They are reminiscent of the good old days when all the rivers in this
hill state were crystal clear and you could drink the water without fear of it
being polluted.
Mawlynnong is not just a tourist destination. People pursue their
traditional livelihoods growing betel nut, betel leaf and a host of spices.
Oranges, grapefruit, lemon and a range of vegetables also grow profusely.
Tourists find these quite worthwhile to take home since the village has yet to
develop its own souvenirs. But that may not be for long. Bamboo crafts
specific to the place are gradually coming up.
Broomstick farming is a common occupation. This grass is easily
cultivable and does not require the kind of care nor manure that other crops
do. In January every year which is the time when the harvested broomstick
is sufficiently dried and ready for sale the ‗mahajons‘ or traders from Shillong
come to pick them up in bulk. Farmers earn roughly Rs 400 per quintal of
Mawlynnong is still largely forested with stretches cleared for plantation
crops. People are enterprising and find something to grow all the year round.
What makes village tourism interesting is because it provides an interesting
array of information how people subsist and survive away from the rough
and tumble of city life and not affected by its consumerist cult.

MITRO A Special issue on tourism in Northeast India Vol.2 June, 2011
Mawlynnong : This Village is a must visit
By Mamata Talukdar, Bangalore
When I took off from Guwahati I was rather excited to get to the village which was
declared, by the Discovery Channel, as the cleanest village in Asia, Mawlynnong. The awe
inspiring scenery that surrounded the crisply paved winding roads leading to this village did
tell me that I could expect natural beauty in its bounty. And yes I was expecting a clean
village with minimum litter and great sanitation, but was completely bowled over by what
awaited me in one of the remotest corners of the North East India.
The village is no doubt sparkling clean, but what struck me most was how pretty it is. It
was all decked up with orchids and plants and flowers and pretty little homes with white lace
curtains on the windows, manicured and pedicured roads and small gallies around the
village. As I stood at the main square surrounded by the village, I noticed that the only
voices I heard were of children – very happy cheerful children. This village houses some of
the happiest children in the world and most elegant adults, who speak almost in whispers.
The voices of the adults were heard loud and clear at dusk though, when I heard melodious
choirs coming out of the quaint little village church.
Some handy information about visiting Mawlynnong. You can get there from Guwahati
by road, via Shillong. 3 hours to Shillong and 2 hours from there to Mawlynnong. For
accommodation there is a Small Tree House at very reasonable rate which we liked. The
guest rooms of course were very clean with crisp fresh linen and towels and comfortable
sturdy beds. This village is a gem in the Northeast!!!


My beautiful Homeland
Adorned with rivers and mountains,
Your magnificence surpasses human descriptions.
I recall the harvest time with raptures,
When the moon and stars with rare brilliance shine,
Brightening our way as we carry the crops home,

We all have a little bit of the Gypsy in us, we all like to pick up our bundles and travel to
new places every once in a while. Kanchuki Sarma, a pass out from the Indian School of
Business and a former Microsoft employee started this unique travel venture ―Gypsyfeet‖, a few
years back. Kanchuki is ably supported by her sister Kongkona, photographer Kausiki and
researcher Mirza Rahman.
Behind the idea: ―We grew up in Guwahati. While studying first in Delhi and then in
America‘s Pacific North West area, I did a lot of trekking,‖ Kanchuki recalls. ―But both of us hadn‘t
seen our own backyard. Then, we went on this long trip to Arunachal and discovered a new
dimension to travel. I think I understood more about the life of a tribe in our two night stay at their
home than I would have if we‘d spent a month in a hotel,‖ Kongkona adds. Soon, they thought of
promoting the stunning locales of the northeast, though in a more ‗let‘s get our friends here‘ way.
―More trips — to Meghalaya, Sikkim, Bhutan — introduced us to many guesthouses and the
unique local ways. We had to show off our region!‖
Gypsyfeet has attracted diverse travelers across India, mostly through word-of-mouth and
Facebook. ―There are many curious adventurers who want to come,‖ Kanchuki adds, ―Our trips
are all about wildlife (in Kaziranga), tea tours (upper Assam) and lots of local flavor (such as
staying in a bamboo hut in Mawlynnong, Meghalaya). And many others‖ For more details,
please contact the Gypsyfeet at The Gypsies , ; Tel: 91 9177660028 Promoting Tourism in NE.


The North East India may rightly be called a compact mini India. Culturally, the region has been influenced by the Indian as well
as the Chinese culture; and in a wider sense, we may say that culturally North East India is the meeting ground of the East and the
West. Anthropologically, the North East region is still a virgin field for researchers. Today there are about 200 different ethnic groups
and sub groups in the region which is about one third of India‟s total 600; there are total of about 140 different languages and dialects
which is again about one third of India‟s total of about 415 languages. Compare that with the fact that the region has only 4% of India‟s
total population. This explains the great ethnic stress of the people of the North East. This however opens up great opportunity for
promoting cultural tourism.
While promoting Tourism in North East India, we must keep in mind this special characteristic of the region. These 200 ethnic
groups have 200 of their own history and culture to tell. We encourage you to be a Cultural Tourist Guide to your own community.
Study and know about the history and culture of your own community well and take pride in it so that you may explain it to others. The
modern adventurous tourist is looking for experiencing cultural tourism. You may be also in a position to accommodate a tourist in your
own house if you can provide a separate room with the required amenities. If so, let the Travel Agents know. Write to us so that we
may guide and promote you and connect you with the Travel Agents.

MITRO A Special issue on tourism in Northeast India Vol.2 June, 2011
THE NORTHEAST AND THE SECOND WORLD WAR The WWII came to the NE in 1944 in cold blood when
the Japanese army advanced through Manipur and came up
to Kohima where the final encounter took place. Kohima is
The famous epitaph in the often called the „Stalingrad of the East‟. It took the allied army
many months and many lives to thwart the Japanese back
War Memorial in Kohima
and reclaim Kohima and Manipur.
Shown here is the famous Cemetery and the War
Memorial erected in Kohima to commemorate the men of the
'When You Go Home, British army who fell in the Battle of Kohima. The epitaph,
Tell Them Of Us And Say, now-a-days seen in many places, was composed especially
For Their Tomorrow, for Kohima inspired by an epitaph written during the First
We gave Our Today' World War by John Maxwell Edmonds.
The Cemetery and War Memorial in


It was in Assam where the local tea plant (Camellia Assamica ) was discovered and developed by the British in the early 19 century
which eventually gave birth and growth of the modern tea industry. Today, the NE is a major producer of tea in the world and has about
850 Tea Estates & 25000 small tea gardens. They offer exciting opportunities for the tourists not only to visit the picturesque tea estates
but also to see, feel and smell tea and learn about the process of tea manufacturing. In between these tea estates, there are also many
old airports, now mostly abandoned, and as many as 20 active golf courses that attract many golfers. Ask your travel agent how you can
make an adventurous journey and stay in one of the old Tea Estate Bungalows and schedule a good game of golf.

Luit Holidays : Flamingo Travels & Adventures (A) Pvt. Ltd.
Bastab Tour & Travels :
Brahmaputra Cruise Pvt. Limited : Grand Eastern Holidays
Brahmaputra River Cruises : Koyeli Tours & Travels
Jungle Travels India : Landmark Tours & Travels
Kay Kay Voyages: Network Travels
North East India Tours and Travel : Sarothi Tourism
Seven Sisters Holidays : Travel Smart
Brahmaputra Jungle Resort


We had been discussing the idea of publishing a comprehensive
‗Friends of Assam and Seven Sisters‘ (FASS), is a global non-
Tourist Guide Book for the North East India for some time. We thank
profit, non-political NGO, a public platform of and for the people of
Ankur Bora for initiating the idea of publishing this special MITRO
North East India. The idea is to go beyond just a general welfare newsletter on Tourism in NE. We must thank the editor for compiling
organization but also to act as a „think-tank‟ unit to inspire all of us to a compact newsletter with lot of information and ideas. We thank Mr.
realize that something more than material investment is needed for Madan Bezbaruah for writing a fitting foreword for the issue. His
the overall development of the region and at the same time to words of wisdom will go a long way in our effort to promote tourism in
realize that the region has everything that it needs. In realty, the the North East. We also thank all the contributors for sharing their
region had been the unrecognized victim of India‘s independence. experience. Thanks to Buljit Buragohain for his help.
Basically what may be needed in the North East for all of us is a In spite of our sincere efforts, the first issue might have its
change of pace, change in our thinking, to think out of the box so to obvious lapses and omissions. We would like to receive your
say. We need a fresh dialogue amongst ourselves, with our friends, constructive criticisms for future improvements. If you are a tourist
with all the stakeholders as well as with the outside world. and have visited some unique places in the NE and would like to
Against the background of political and economical chaos, FASS share your experience, please write to us with photos. If you are a
offers a common platform for the people and all friends and well- community member and want to promote a specific tourist spot,
wishers to respond and contribute for the common good of the please write to us with ideas. If you are a travel agent and want to let
region and make the North East shine in its own glory which is its the prospective tourists know about you, please write to us. We
due. The overseas NEIs (North East Indians) can provide creative propose to distribute this newsletter to as many people possible. We
also encourage you to distribute the newsletter freely to your friends
ideas and the confidence to move these ideas which is what the
and colleagues using it as a tool to let them know about North East
region badly needs.
India. Please also write to us with new ideas for promotion of tourism
Join us with your creative ideas and volunteering your time to in NE. Please write to us at
move these ideas to reality. If you are inspired with these words and Rajen Barua
want to help, please write to us at FASS International, Katy (Houston), TX, USA

Friends of Assam and Seven Sisters (F.A.S.S.)

FASS sat BnE Asm emø mÌ; email:
Intl HQ: 925 S. Mason Rd #929, Katy, Texas 77450, USA. Phone 713-677-9162; Fax: 832-201-0719
India HQ: 24, A. K. Azad Road, Rehabari, Guwahati – 781 008, Assam, India, Ph: 9435146880