For the past few decades, India’s North-eastern states were mostly off-limits to foreign travellers due to remnants of British-era laws. Now, the Northeast India permits will no longer be needed.
The system of permits (the Inner Line Permit) for foreign travellers was introduced by the British. During colonial times, they wished to safeguard their commercial interests in these areas. They were centres for the production of tea, oil, and ivory.
The Indian government continued the use of the bureaucratically convoluted Northeast India permits to ‘protect tribal cultures’. It admitted visitors only if they were part of an organised group tour, or if they visited as a married couple. Not only did it restrict who could visit, it also could take weeks to get the document.
Northeast India permits soon to be a thing of the past
Now, visitors no longer need to the permit to visit the “Seven Sisters”. The government announced that three of the last permit states, Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur, are now open to all visitors who want to visit the tribal heartland of Northeast India.
The densely forested hills are populated by dozens of tribal communities, each with a unique culture and traditions. However, the region has a long history of being politically volatile. Many insurgent groups continue to fight for numerous separatist causes. This means that many areas of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur are still more or less off-limits.
There are also anxieties about conflicting Chinese claims in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim, meaning that visitors still require the Inner Line Permit to visit these regions. Areas that border Pakistan in states like Rajasthan, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand also require that visitors get the permit.
So, to prepare for your next visit, you can read all about the Northeastern States of India.