India’s cultural diversity is one of its finest qualities. While everyone is quick to celebrate the uniqueness of different parts of India, the north-east is often overlooked. There’s not enough written about the ‘Seven Sisters’ of India that make up the north-eastern region of the country. The ‘Seven Sisters’ of India which include Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Tripura are home to breathtaking terrains, exotic flora and fauna, and rich cultural heritage. These ‘Seven Sister’ states are connected to mainland India through the Siliguri Corridor.
People from the north-east often feel excluded in their own country because of years of marginalisation. Perhaps delving a little deeper into understanding these ‘Seven Sisters’ of India will help the rest of the country be more receptive to individuals from the north-east. We’ve gathered some interesting facts about these seven states that will give you a glimpse of all they have to offer.
Here Are Some Surprising Facts About The ‘Seven Sisters’ Of India
1. Arunachal Pradesh—The State Of The Rising Sun
Arunachal Pradesh is the largest state in northeast India and home to 26 major tribes and 100 sub-tribes. The state is covered by nearly 61 per cent forest, which adds to its natural beauty. Tawang, a town in Arunachal Pradesh is the birthplace of the sixth Dalai Lama, Tsangyang Gyatso. Gyatso was extremely unconventional and was known for his love of wine and poetry. A lot of his poetry is still widely read among Tibetans even today. A little away from Tawang is Bum La Pass which is where the current Dalai Lama, 14th in succession, entered India when escaping from Tibet.
How To Reach:
You can access Tezpur airport or Lilabari airport in Assam which are 2-3 hours away by bus or a taxi from Arunachal’s capital Itanagar. You can catch flights to Kolkata, Guwahati, Delhi, Mumbai and Pune from the airport. There is easy availability of taxis and bus services going towards the state. Some tourists also pick Nahariagun airport, which is 67 km far from the city. You can even consider a helicopter ride. Many Pawan Hans Helicopter operates from Guwahati, and run within Arunachal Pradesh.
Earlier, Harmuti train station in Assam (around 43 km away – an hour’s drive from Itanagar) used to be the nearest train station connecting Arunachal Pradesh to other major cities of India. Today, there are two trains that run on the network – Naharlagun-Guwahati Intercity Express on a daily basis and the other one is 22411/Naharlagun – New Delhi AC SF Express.
The state is easily reachable by road from all prime cities and nearby states. There is a sufficient number of inter bus services available from all major towns of Arunachal Pradesh to Meghalaya (around 790 km), Assam (560 km) and Nagaland (456 km).
Best Places To Visit In Arunachal Pradesh:
- Madhuri Lake: One of the remotest lakes of the country.
- Nuranang Falls: One of the most pristine waterfalls of the country.
- Pakhui Wildlife Sanctuary: Royal Sanctuary that is home to the royal Bengal tiger and many more varieties of flora and fauna.
- Tawang: Known for important and beautiful monasteries
- Anjaw: A small offbeat town amidst enormous greenery
2. Assam—Home To The Largest River Island
Assam is home to Majuli, the largest river island in the world. Located on the Brahmaputra river near Jorhat, Majuli has stunning views all around and is pollution-free. The Kaziranga National Park in Assam is a World Heritage Site and home to two-thirds of the world’s great one-horned rhinoceroses. Digboi, the world’s oldest operating oil refinery is also located in Assam. It has been in operation since 1901. If the legend is to be believed, the British first noticed the oil on the feet of elephants returning from the forest after hauling logs in Assam. While the labourers dug for oil, the Britishers were known to chant ‘Dig Boy, Dig,’ and that’s how the name Digboi stuck.
How To Reach:
Guwahati’s International Airport, Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport is the nearest airport which is only 25 km away from the city. It’s a major airport for all of Northeast India and is well connected with all major Indian cities such as Delhi, Bangalore, and Mumbai.
You can travel to Assam with ease as there are direct train services from major cities all around the country such as Kolkata, New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Cochin and Trivandrum. The main railway station of Guwahati is Guwahati junction or you can try Kamakhya Junction which is the second-largest station of the city.
You can easily reach Assam via road. There are direct bus services from the adjoining cities and states. You can also self-drive from the states of Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal through National Highway 31.
Best Places To Visit In Assam:
- Kaziranga National Park: Home to world’s largest population of Indian one-horned rhinoceroses.
- Kamkhaya Temple: One of the oldest of the 51 Shakti Pithas.
- Jorhat: Last capital of the Ahom Kingdom.
- Majuli: India’s largest riverine island.
3. Meghalaya—Where Asia’s Cleanest Village Is Located
Meghalaya is most famous for its living root bridges. Rubber trees have strong, flexible roots that are guided across rivers and streams with bamboo, leading to the construction of these bridges. The Khasi and Jaintia people hand-make the living root bridges from the aerial roots of the rubber fig tree. The state is also famous for being home to Asia’s cleanest village. Mawlynnong, also known as ‘God’s Own Garden’ is a small village in Meghalaya that is exceptionally well-maintained and clean. The residents don’t just keep their houses spick and span, but also manage to sweep the roads, and plant as many trees as they can.
How To Reach:
The nearest railway station from Meghalaya is located in Guwahati which lies 180 km away and is connected to New Delhi, Amritsar, Jammu and Kashmir and Bangalore. To reach Meghalaya from Guwahati you can opt for buses or can hire a cab.
Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, in Guwahati is located at a distance of 120 km from Meghalaya’s capital Shillong. The airport is well-connected to international cities of Tura and Bangkok along with major Indian cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata. There is no direct bus connection from Guwahati Airport to Meghalaya, but you can hire a cab to reach your destination.
The state is well-connected to major India cities through roads. However, it will be ideal if you could take precautions while driving in heavy monsoon season. Some of the roads get slowed down due to heavy rain.
Best Places To Visit In Meghalaya:
- Shillong: The capital of Meghalaya
- Cherrapunji: Known for itsrich flora and natural attractions.
- Mawsynram: Wettest place on the earth.
- Nohkalikai falls: Fourth highest waterfalls in the world.
- Dawki: A border town in the Jaintia Hills.
4. Manipur—Where You’ll Find The Only Floating Park In The World
Manipur has the only floating park in the world. The Keibul Lamjao National Park is only 48km from Imphal, the capital of Manipur. This floating park is a swamp. It constitutes biomass vegetation called phumdis, floating on the surface of Loktak Lake. It is incidentally the only home to the near-extinct brow-antlered deer. Its ecosystem comprises nearly 17 rare species of mammals. The origin of the sport polo is supposed to be in Manipur. When Manipur was under British rule in the eighteenth century as a princely state, the British observed local people playing a version of polo here. They adopted its rule and formally called it polo.
How To Reach:
The nearest railway station from Imphal is Dimapur Railway Station in Nagaland, which is located at a distance of 201 km. It is connected to the major cities of Nagaland and linked with cities such as Mariani, Guwahati, Kolkata and Kamakhya.
Manipur is well connected with the rest of the seven sisters of India via road. There are many state-run buses from Nagaland and Manipur Bus Corporation-run from the neighbouring towns of Aizwal, Dimapur, Itanagar, Kohima, Shillong and Agartala.
Best Places To Visit In Manipur:
- Loktak Lake: Largest freshwater lake in the country.
- Keibul Lamjao National Par: Home of“Sangai”, the dancing deer of Manipur.
- Kangla Fort: 16th-century palace & archaeological site.
- Khongjom War Memorial: Hosting the world’s tallest sword statue.
- Chandel: Gateway to Myanmar
5. Mizoram—The Leading Producer Of Bamboo In India
Mizoram is the second most literate state in the country after Kerala, and is a spot of geographical significance. Aizawl in Mizoram is the geographical area through which the Tropic of Cancer crosses India. Mizoram is also home to the Pukzing cave which is rumoured to have been carved with a hairpin by a man called Mualzavata.
The state is the leading producer of bamboo in India, which is also the cause for a unique problem in the state called ‘Mautam’. Mautam is the Mizo word for ‘Bamboo Death.’ The synchronous flowering of bamboo sees an abundant supply of seeds which leads to a massive increase in rodent and insect population. The pests attack the crops and have been known to cause famines. The first famine was recorded in 1739 and the last one was between 2006-2007.
How To Reach:
Aizawl has a domestic airport – Lengpui Airport which is well-connected to many cities like Guwahati, Imphal and Kolkata through regular daily flights. Flights to Dimapur and Agartala also operate from Aizawl.
There are no regular trains to Aizawl from other major cities of the country. The nearest Railway station is at Agartala which is located at a distance of 145 kms.
Mizoram is connected through National Highway 54 from Silchar, Assam. Mizoram State Transport buses offer regular services from Aizawl to Guwahati, Silchar and Shillong.
Best Places To Visit In Mizoram
- Aizawl: Largest City of Mizoram.
- Serchhip: Home to state’s highest rainfall.
- Lunglei: An unspoilt expanse of lush greenery.
- Tamdil Lake: The largestlake in the state of Mizoram
- Phawngpui National Park: A gorgeous conservatory forest in Mizoram.
6. Nagaland—Where English Is The Official Language
Nagaland and Manipur are the only two states in India where World War II was actually fought. The British National Army Museum selected the Battle of Imphal and Kohima to be ‘Britain’s Greatest Battle’ in 2013. The state is also the first and only state in India that has registered a population decline of 0.47 percent between 2001 and 2011. English is the official language of Nagaland and 90 per cent of the population is Christian. The Hornbill festival is an extremely popular festival celebrated in the state that is a tribute to its diverse culture, heritage, and traditions. It was started by the state government in 2001.
How To Reach:
Dimapur Airport is the only airport in Nagaland with regular Air India Regional, IndiGo, and Air India flights operating from Dibrugarh, Delhi, and Kolkata. From Guwahati and Kolkata, one can easily get overnight buses to reach Nagaland.
Nagaland has a good network of National and State highways that connects all its cities to all the major hubs of India. The best way to travel to Nagaland by road is to take an overnight bus from Guwahati, easily available from the railway station, airport, or ISBT.
Dimapur railway station on the Lumding-Dibrugarh section in the only railway station in Nagaland, approachable only via Assam. To reach Assam, trains are available from anywhere in India.
Best Places To Visit In Nagaland:
- Kohima: The hilly capital of Nagaland.
- Dimapur: Known to be the largest and fastest-growing city of Nagaland.
- Touphema Village: Visit the traditional Naga village cuts.
- Wokha: Homeland to Lotha tribe.
- Mon: Among the most mystic places in Nagaland.
Tripura is connected to the rest of India by only one major highway, NH44. The state is most famous for its ruling Manika dynasty which had an unbroken chain of 184 kings before independence. 91 per cent of the land under cultivation in Tripura produces rice. The state is home to a 500-year-old temple, the Tripura Sundari temple, among many other ancient structures. It has a huge wildlife sanctuary, the Sepahijala Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttar Charilam, famous for its spectacled monkey. The sanctuary covers an area of 18.63 sq km.
How To Reach:
The Agartala airport is a major airport here and is connected to Kolkata and Guwahati by direct flights.
The nearest railway station, Kumarghat is 140 kms away from Tripura and is connected to the railheads of Kolkata, Delhi, Indore, Chennai and Bangalore.
Agartala is well- connected to its neighbouring sister states and there are state and private buses to ply a decent service to the visitors.
Best Places To Visit In Tripura:
- Neer Mahal: Former summer resort for King Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya.
- Sepahijala Wildlife Sanctuary: Biodiversity heaven of Tripura.
- Tripura Sundari Temple: Among the most famous temples of Tripura.
- Ujjayanta Palace: Former palace of the Kingdom of Tripura.
- Jampui Hills:The verdant and mist-laden hills of north Tripura.
Also Read: 5 Places You Must See In Tripura
India’s North-Eastern States Are Waiting To Be Explored
The ‘Seven Sisters’ of India have much to offer to a traveller. It’s time we recognise the wonders of northeast India and set out to explore it. Its rich cultural heritage and wondrous architectural marvels are sure to leave any traveller spellbound. As you explore these states, you must be mindful of its cultural diversity and respect the traditions and customs that you may encounter. The seven sister states have an abundance of flora and fauna and ample forest cover which must be preserved.
The names of the seven sisters are Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Tripura.
Sikkim is not a part of seven sisters of India because it doesn’t connect with the seven sisters. It is separated by the sisters by a chicken neck corridor or Siliguri corridor.
The Northeastern States are often known as the Seven Sister states because they are interdependent on one another.
Each of these sister states has their own capital. However, Guwahati in Assam acts as a gateway to these states as it is the most well-connected with other cities and regions in India. Dispur is the capital of Assam.