A breezy, sunny day, the sounds of a distant waterfall, easy-going locals opening up their teashops at noon – Northeast India is a quiet revolution of peacefulness midst the utter chaos of the world. Quite underrated, the Northeast is unchartered territory to most people.
However, the Seven Sisters have a treasure-chest of profound lessons, cultural insight and historical stories to offer. The Northeast has a large population of indigenous communities that are the true pièce de résistance of the place.
If you are looking for a cultural experience packed with heartwarming interactions and an adventure to enlighten your life, a journey through the tribal culture of the Northeast is exactly what you need.
In the state of Manipur, Imphal is a great start to your cultural journey. There is the Ima Keithel market here that is run entirely by women, which makes for the perfect first impression for travellers looking to explore the city.
In the foothills of the Nongmaiching range, visit the quaint Andro village. Known for its unusual style of pottery and indigenous brews, Andro is majorly home to the Lois community. Have yourself a cup of the local drink Sekmai and get to know the people here.
Make a visit to the Mutua museum that displays a variety of distinguished tribal dolls, local handicrafts and paintings. The Sangai Festival is a 10-day affair held mid-November to celebrate the cultural heritage of Manipur.
From unique performances like the Maha Ras and Keibul Lamjao Ballet to an array of exotic cuisine, boat races and tribal games –– It is a beautiful transition. Head to the hill-station of Mao Gate to meet the Mao tribe, and while you’re there attend the Cherry Blossom Festival.
The 3-day festival includes camping, exhibitions, food stalls and is the perfect way to end your trip in Manipur and enter into Nagaland. One of the largest villages in Nagaland, Mokokchung is the land of the Ao Nagas. Gather around the bonfire and share rice wine with the locals on Moatsu Mong, a harvest festival celebrated by the Ao tribe.
Don’t miss out on an opportunity to opt for a stay in Wokha with a Lotha family, which is one of the largest tribes in Nagaland. Before you depart, have yourself a serene moment next to the Doyang River, the main source of water for the people there.
On any travel journey, the most significant moments usually show up on your way from one destination to the other. Stop for lunch and a visit to the local schools at Tuensang, home to the Chang, Khiamniungan, Sangtam, Phom and Yimchunger tribes.
Take a deep breath of fresh air as you enter Mon, the land of the twin-tree. Visit Longwa, the village resting on the Indo-Myanmar border. The headhunters belong to the Konyak Naga tribe here, and you will often find the rich history of their land etched in fading tattoos as badges of honour on the people’s chests and faces.
Visit the chief here, who has a large family with 60 wives and a house that is divided between the land of India and Myanmar. One of the most memorable things here is the Veda Peak – A highpoint that offers the most surreal view of the Indian Brahmaputra River and the Myanmarese Chindwan River.
You will notice how the landscapes change as you make your way to a popular tourist destination, Kohima – A land of skilful weavers, wood carvers and great places to fill up on souvenirs. Learn to cook a Nagamese meal and stay with a family to learn about the Angami tribe in the green village of Khonoma for a night, and then make your way to the Kisama Heritage village for the much-awaited event – The Hornbill Festival!, From art performances, music concerts to food stalls, exhibitions and night markets, this festival is a 10-day fiesta to unite indigenous tribes and curious travellers.
A grand celebration of the local tribes, culture and heritage – The Hornbill festival is the best way to end your cultural journey in the Northeast.
With extraordinary memories and a newfound appreciation for the people here, this trip will leave you changed for good!
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