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North-East India


North-Eastern India is the land of Blue Mountains, Green Valleys and Red River. Nestled in the Eastern Himalayas this region is abundant in natural Beauty, Wild life, Flora & Fauna and its colourful peoples. A blend of which makes it the most beautiful Eco-Tourism destination in South Asia.

The land of majestic mountains, crowned with peaks of sapphire blue -the North-East happens to be the region where the sun rises first in the entire country. The first rays of the sun in every fresh morning in India incidentally fall on Dong, a pristine small village in the easternmost corner of the North-East. And we were heading towards the Sun Rise country.

The North-East is a heaven for tourist, beckoning one who needs to relax and unwind. For those who yearn for adventure and excitement, there are mystique and romance in exploring wild life in its true forms and natural habitat, experiencing gushing streams and waterfalls picturesque mountain ranges- all fostered by mother nature. It was the perfect Holiday one could expect away from the crowd straight into the lap of Nature.



 

Assam

We landed in Guwahati, the majestic gateway city to the North-East and capital of the state of Assam. The magic land Assam is a verdant land of the eternal blue hills, a treasure of flora and fauna, a mystic land of tea, the home of one horned rhino "uni-corn", together with a numbers of fairs and festivals.

The word Assam is derived from the Sanskrit word "Asom" meaning 'peerless'. The ancient history refers to Assam as Pragjyotishpur, until in 1228, the Ahoms from North Thailand invaded this land and established a kingdom, which came to be known as Assam. So here I was glad to know about the Thai connection with Irene smiling.

The irresistible tourist attraction of Assam lies in her immense green stillness, the lush green forest, and the bewildering variety of wildlife.

              
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Meghalaya

Meghalaya is literally the 'Abode of the Clouds'. The name describes the climatic phenomenon that brings torrents of rain to this region. Meghalaya is a region of great scenic beauty; a panorama of lush, undulating hills, fertile valleys, 250 species of orchids, meandering rivers, waterfalls, sparkling mountain streams and lakes. It was declared the 21st State of India on 21 January 1972. It united the areas of the Khasi, Jaintia and Garo Hills. The state approximately 22,429 square kms in area lies between the latitudes 25.10-26.50 N and the longitudes of 85.49 0 - 92.52 E. It is bounded by Assam in the north and the east and the plains of Bangladesh in the south and west. The State is divided into three hilly regions - the Garo Hills (Western Meghalaya), the Khasi Hills (Central Meghalaya) and the Jaintia Hills (Eastern Meghalaya).

Flora & Fauna
In Khasi Hills, there are more than 2,000 flowering plants in a radius of ten miles from Cherrapunjee. There are 150 species of ferns and a profusion of mosses, fungi and lichens. More than 250 species of orchids , 25 species of balsams, 20 species of palms, wild species of apples and rhlateau and 150 species of grass are available. In the upper hill regions from 1500 metres and above, in the central plateau of Khasi Hills, coniferous vegetations like pines, oaks and ferns are found. This makes a distinct and interesting natural vegetation belt. The dense jungles in Meghalaya provide a natural habitat for various wildlife - mammals, reptiles, birds and insects. Balpakram, in the East Garo Hills is the centre of wild elephants population. The other wild animals found here include: tigers, bisons, hoolock gibbons, boars, barking deer, sambars, leopards, apes and monkeys. Among reptiles, many kinds of snakes, poisonous and non-poisonous lizards are found here. There are also a wide variety of birds found in the higher altitudes. A special mention of the approximately 500 species of butterflies found in Meghalaya needs to be made, with some of them being very rare.

              
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Bhutan

Bhutan, is located at the eastern end of the Himalayas and bordered to the south, east and west of India. Bhutan's landscape ranges from subtropical plains in the south to the Sub-alpine Himalayan heights in the north, with some peaks exceeding 7,000 metres (23,000 ft). The state religion is Vajrayana Buddhism, and the population of 691,141 is predominantly Buddhist, with Hinduism the second-largest religion.

The climate in Bhutan varies with altitude, from subtropical in the south to temperate in the highlands and polar-type climate, with year-round snow, in the north. Bhutan experiences five distinct seasons: summer, monsoon, autumn, winter and spring. Western Bhutan has the heavier monsoon rains; southern Bhutan has hot humid summers and cool winters; central and eastern Bhutan is temperate and drier than the west with warm summers and cool winters.

More than 770 species of bird and 5,400 species of plants are known to occur throughout the Bhutan.

              
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Sikkim

Sikkim means Goodly Region, is a landlocked Indian state nestled in the Himalayas. This thumb-shaped state borders Nepal in the west, the Tibet Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China to the north and the east and Bhutan in the southeast. The Indian state of West Bengal borders Sikkim to its south.

With just slightly over 500,000 permanent residents, Sikkim is the least populous state in India and the second-smallest state after Goa. Despite its small area, Sikkim is geographically diverse due to its location in the Himalayas. The climate ranges from subtropical to high alpine. Kanch-Endzonga, the world's third-highest peak, is located on the border of Sikkim with Nepal. Sikkim is a popular tourist destination owing to its culture, scenic beauty and biodiversity.

Legend has it that the Buddhist saint Guru Rinpoche visited Sikkim in the 9th century, introduced Buddhism and foretold the era of the monarchy. Indeed, the Namgyal dynasty was established in 1642.

Sikkim has 11 official languages: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Limbu, Newari, Rai, Gurung, Mangar, Sherpa, Tamang and Sunwar. English is taught at schools and used in government documents. The predominant religions are Hinduism and Vajrayana Buddhism. Gangtok is the capital and the largest town. Sikkim has a booming economy dependent on agriculture and tourism, and has the only open border between India and China.

Wildlife in Sikkim:

Sikkim's local name 'Denzong', which means the 'Valley of Rice' is apt, since rice is the main crop here. The jungles abound in plantains, bamboo tree ferns, walnut, oak, pine and silver fir. Sikkims Orchids are known the world over and number more than 450 species. The state flower is the Nobile Orchid. Also, there are around 36 species of Rhododendrons found at heights of 10000 ft.

Since the area of Sikkim ranges from the tropical to the Alpine, the flora and fauna is unique. There are more than 500 species of avifauna, ranging from the majestic Bearded Vulture to the few inches long Olive Ground Warbler. Other species include the Emerald Dave, Woodpeckers, Cuckoos and Kingfishers. The forests are the habitat of the Barking Deer, Red Panda, Leopard Cats and Flying Squirrels, among other animals.

Alpine Adventure:

The mountains of Sikkim offer great experience to all trekkers, mountaineers and seekers of adventure. All one needs is to be reasonably fit and in good shape. The unrivalled high altitude Alpine treks of Dzongri at 128000 ft and Goechala at 18000 ft, are both breathtaking and awe-inspiring. Also, if one is inclined for some white water action, the rivers Tista and Rangeet beckon. Sikkim Tourism organises river rafting packages through recognized tour operators. Besides these, facilities are also available for mountain biking and rock climbing, with instructors from the Sonam Gyatso Mountaineering Institute in Gangtok.

                       
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Darjiling

Darjeeling is a Himalayan town in the Indian state of West Bengal. It is internationally renowned as a tourist destination, along with for its tea industry and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the headquarters of Darjeeling district. The town is located in the Mahabharat Range or Lesser Himalaya at an average elevation of 6,710 ft.

The development of the town dates back to the mid-19th century, when the British set up a sanatorium and a military depot. Subsequently, extensive tea plantation was done in the region, and tea growers developed distinctive hybrids of black tea and created new fermenting techniques. The resultant distinctive Darjeeling tea is internationally recognised and ranks among the most popular of the black teas. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway connects the town with the plains and has one of the few steam locomotives still in service in India. Darjeeling also has several British-style public schools, which attract students from throughout India and neighbouring countries. In recent years, the town's fragile ecology has been threatened by a rising demand for environmental resources, stemming from growing tourist traffic and poorly planned urbanisation.

    
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Kolkata

Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta, is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal. Kolkata is the commercial capital of Eastern India, located on the east bank of the Hooghly River. The Kolkata metropolitan area, including suburbs, has a population exceeding 15 million, making it the third most populous metropolitan area in India and the 13th most populous urban area in the world. The city is also classified as the eighth largest urban agglomeration in the world.

Kolkata served as the capital of India during the British Empire, until 1901. It is said that the Britishers could not cope up with the long lasting monsoons in Eastern India and fled to northern India, and marked New Delhi as the new National Capital. The city is noted for its revolutionary history, ranging from the Indian struggle for independence to the leftist and trade union movements. Once the centre of modern education, science, culture and politics in India, Kolkata witnessed economic stagnation in the years following India's independence in 1947. However, since the year 2000, an economic rejuvenation has led to an acceleration in the city's growth. Like other metropolitan cities of India, Kolkata continues to struggle with urbanisation problems like poverty, pollution and traffic congestion.

              
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