The Forgotten States of India

As mentioned in my previous post, I have been fortunate enough to travel in and around India and ever since I was small, I’ve always been very patriotic. Being born in Maharashtra, growing up in Tamil Nadu and Meghalaya, and then – getting my education from Uttarakhand(high school) and Maharashtra(college), I’ve always felt Indian first and Mizo second.

But, though India is culturally blessed, one can’t deny the unfortunate fact that there comes a lot of discrimination with it. It saddens me that everytime I start a conversation with someone here in Chennai, I have to assure them that I am not Chinese and that Mizoram is within the geographical boundaries of India. It sends down patriotism to the pit and the feeling of alienism and stranger-ness to the top.

So, to all those out there who think that all the people with fair faces and small eyes know kungfu, and have come all the way from China to work or study with you, here is a rough up on the seven beautiful, forgotten states of India, so called, the North-East.

North East Map

1. Meghalaya

Capital: Shillong

Population: 1,774,778

Encompassing the tribes of the Khasi, the Jaintia and the Garo, Meghalaya is a land blessed with beauty and valuable minerals. With most of the Jaintia tribes involved in the business of coal, limestone and more, the people you walk by may seem rugged to you but will mostly have thousands more in their bank account than most of us do. The people of Meghalaya live simple, spend wise and  eat well.

And that’s what Shillong is the best place for, eating. In every other nook and corner of the city, one can find cozy restaurants to sit and indulge in. Also, for fans of picturesque mountains and beautiful valleys, Megalaya is your one stop destination to beauty in all its forms. If you liked Ooty, then think of Meghalaya as Ooty in 22,429 square kms.

It’s a hill station at its best – good food, beautiful weather and warm people. Also, one reason any Indian can enjoy the state is because, it’s filled with people from all over the country, mainland Indians, North Indians and a majority of people from the sister states. Shillong could easily be called the unofficial capital city of the Northeast.

The state is home to the Nohkalikai Waterfalls, which is the fourth highest waterfall in the world.

In majority, you’ll find fresh-faced people with rosy cheeks and red lips, like the Snow White-esque kinds, and hear murmurs of swift, heavy-tone influenced language among the crowds.

When driving across the state, be ready to catch sight of a waterfall or two in the winding corners and stop at some point to walk along the trails and catch hold of beautiful, crystal clear rivers with sweet, fresh mountain water.

2. Manipur

Capital: Imphal

Population: 2,721,756

Loktak Lake

Though faced with a lot of political challenges, the people of Manipur can be relied on for keeping their smiles wide and hearts open. The small state houses twenty nine different dialects and people of various tribes, each with their own rich culture. It is comprised hugely of Meitei people, who are strong and intelligent and though they may look simple, the Meitei’s are quick calculators and can tackle Maths problems in minutes.

Famous for their beautiful dance called the Ras Ila, this beautiful depiction of the love between Lord Krishna and Radha is one of the most famous classical dances in India.

When visiting the state, one must not fail to step down in Ukhrul, the highest hill station of the state and home of the famous Tangkhul tribe. The tangkhul tribe is colorful, beautiful and festival-loving. Every season brings along a one-week festival filled with good music, dances and food. The town is also home to Shirui Lily. These flowers are famous not only for their pretty bluish pink petals but also because they cannot be transplanted in any other parts of the world except here in Shirui peak.

The people of Manipur are a strong crowd. Filled with sportspersons in every field from the famous Olympic medal-winning boxer, Mary Kom to the weightlifter, Sonia Chanu and archer, L Bombayla, the women of this state have made the country proud many a times.

Dzukou Valley

 

3. Arunachal Pradesh

Population: 1,382,611

Capital: Itanagar

The Land of the Rising Sun, Arunachal Pradesh is yet another state that’s blessed with beauty from the Gods. Located in the eastern tip of the country, those who are fortunate to visit, can catch sight of earth in all its beauty with greenery all around and breathe in air that’s fresh and crisp.

Filled with tranquil lakes and monasteries with rich histories, its no surprise the state was voted as the fourth best destination in the world to travel in 2012 by the Lonely Planet. It’s also home to a wide array of flaura and fauna including the four big cat categories – tiger, leopard, clouded leopard and  snow leopard. Also, for bird watchers, more than 500 species of birds have been recorded as of late and flower lovers, be prepared to catch sight of the over five hundred varities of orchids.

The people of Arunachal are keen on sticking with traditions and each tribe among the twenty six, have their own distinct cultures.  It’s the best state to escape from the whims of the world and get lost with nature, why? With only 13 person per sq. km, it has the thinnest population density in the country, it’s living with nature re-defined.

 

4. Nagaland

Population: 1,980, 602

Capital: Kohima

If ever you want to see a crowd of fresh-faced, beautiful people with glowing skin and silky black hair, take a trip to Nagaland.

Upon entering the capital of the state, Kohima, you will be welcomed with a huge gate engraved with traditional Naga art, adorned with buffalo horns. It’s undoubtedly one of the best places to experience a firsthand view of the tribal life.

Upon reaching Kohima, make sure to take a pit stop at the war cemetery filled with 1421 slabs erected in memory of the men who were killed in the Battle of Kohima during the second world war. Erected high and tall is the memorial, with the words, “When you go home, tell them of us, and say: ‘For your tomorrow, we gave our today’, engraved on it. The place takes one back in time and stands to remind us of the struggles our ancestors traversed for our freedom today.

Visit a village and learn of the rich histories of the sixteen clans in the state, and don’t be surprised if you come across a sharp spear or two in the homes of the people. As that’s what the Nagas are known for – their bravery. In ancient times, the Nagas were famous for being strong warriors who stood to protect their guests by all means possible, considering the safety of their guests as honour and prestige. Each warrior had to earn a headgear of their own with artefacts of the wild animals they killed, and the war ethics allowed them to preserve the skull of their enemies as trophies.

Well, don’t fear! These customs no longer exist though rich culture is still a common sight in every town. With most towns and cities situated high above the hills, it’s the place to go for those who want to get lost in the clouds.

5. Tripura

Population: 3,671,032

Capital:  Agartala

Neermahal

Ruled by over 185 kings for more than 5000 years, Tripura is the state with a history as rich as that of India. If you’re a person who likes to dream of the past eras, visit the state and walk through the grounds of the royal palaces and imagine how the queens, kings and people must have felt walking through those same grounds a hundred years ago. And lovers of the wild, trail through the five wildlife sanctuaries, filled with some of the rarest species of birds and other animals. As you embark on the majestic town of Agartala, visit the splendid Ujjaya Palace, built by Tripura’s 182nd Maharaja and crafted to magnificence. Also, take in the breathtaking view of the lake palace, Neer Mahal, built of white marble and red sandstone and filled with artistic balconies, turrets and pavilions the palace is a an architectural treat for the eyes.

6. Assam

Population:  31,169,272

Capital: Guwahati

At the foot of the Himalayas lies the vast and lush state, the gateway to North-East, Assam. A state rich with tea plantations, wildlife and talented hands that craft artifacts through their bare hands.

On visiting the state, one should not miss out on indulging in what the famous Kaziranga National Park has to offer. Book a hotel nearby and enjoy the peace and quiet of the still night amidst the forest lands and, go for a ride through the jungle in the morning sitting on an elephant, swaying your way through the famous one horned rhinoceros, deers,  golden langurs and a tiger or two, if you’re lucky.

With weaving and embroidery being the major industry in Assam,  they excel at it. According to Gandhi, the women of Assam “could weave dreams in their loomes”.

Festivals are abundant in a state filled with different tribes in every corner, each with their language and dances.

7. Mizoram

Population: 1,091,014

Capital: Aizawl

Upon crossing the border of Assam, you will be welcomed by what seems to be a never ending maze of winding roads, surrounded by lush greenery all around, something you might see in a LOTR movie. And that’s Mizoram, my home.

Reaching the capital at night, you get a view that no money could buy, lights twinkling in and around the mountains, scattered like shooting stars on a valley.

This is the home of some of the most friendliest people you will meet in the country. While on the road, you can stop at any home and enter for emergency purposes relating to medical, nature call or even intense hunger, and they’ll welcome you with a smile. Here, people like to celebrate every occasion with aplomb, families are often found living together in colonies, not wanting to live even a few miles apart and the market – is another sight to behold.

They are talented too. Many a  writer, doctor and engineer have called Mizoram their home. Sports is a popular culture, football being the most celebrated. And as you can see, football clubs all over the country have a Mizo pupil or two shooting goals for the team every now and then.

But, don’t mistake the hospitality of Mizos for vulnerability, coz we are also known for strength and bravery. The mizos are a tough, strong crowd and good supporters in times of hardship.

It’s a land that has one of the most beautiful cultural dances. Serving as an amazement to many, the dance consists of women dancing between bamboo sticks moved to the rhythm of drum beats by the men.

You will find here wildlife sanctuaries, beautiful lakes, uniquely shaped mountains but what will amaze you most of all is the rich culture and heritage the land boasts of.

pic source – here

Step in…to one or all of theses amazing seven sister states, for an experience of a lifetime. Get surprised, amazed and learn…of the many kinds of people living in your country. We will welcome you with open arms.

p.s: if anyone has anything to add or if there’s any wrong info, please don’t hesitate to mail me and let me know 🙂

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40 thoughts on “The Forgotten States of India

  1. I feel like a stray brush intruding a fresh and beautifully painted portrait for writing this. 😛

    Firstly, the population of Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh shows the same figure, which I feel is an editorial mistake. Secondly, Dzukou valley is geographically situated in Nagaland (Although a small part of the valley is in Manipur).

    Also a mention of the brother (the 8th state, Sikkim) would have been a nice touch.
    Enjoyed the article. Keep up the great work

      • oh yeah !!! we definitely are planning for that , Manipur n Mizoram are two places we have shortlisted 🙂 can’t wait until next December. Plannin ta take my bike along so would be even more fun !!!!

  2. Hi Kimi, that was very well written! You sure do have a gift in writing. However, if you do not mind my saying, I’d like to mention a few things. First of all, the map you’ve used highlights eight states, but you’ve only mentioned seven. Secondly, Dzukou Valley is better attributed to Nagaland due to geographical reasons. Thirdly, Meghalaya and Mizoram do not share borders, so upon crossing the border of Meghalaya, you should be in the plains of Assam. And fourthly, the spelling of “Guwahati” is presently more appropriate. Also, I believe correcting the typing errors of ‘Otty’, ‘Meetei’ and ‘stand stone’ would make your blog more impressive. You’re a good writer. Keep up the good work!

    • Hi Joy, thank u for the insightful comment…really appreciate it 🙂 It’s easy to look by these small mistakes and your keen eye was very helpful.
      Have made the spelling corrections.
      Im aware that there are eight states highlighted, but however chose to speak of seven.
      and Dzukou valley, flows through Nagaland and Manipur, (http://wikimapia.org/9944736/Dzukou-Valley) so i think it can be attributed to either state.

      Thank u.

  3. Thanks a lot for letting me know so much about those states which form an integral part of my country but yet somehow, I missed out knowing about them all these years. The article makes me feel that the North-east is filled with natural beauty to the core.

  4. Hi Kimi, I had replied you earlier but it could never pass through the ‘moderation’, so I’m writing it here again.
    Well, first off, thank you for your appreciation and if you would allow me, I’d like to express my views as follows:
    1. If you include Sikkim among the northeastern states, then I do hope you write about it too, otherwise, it would become the “forgotten” of the forgotten states. 🙂
    2. Regarding Dzukou Valley, the stream that runs through it forms the boundary between the two states. The reason I said it is ‘better’ attributed to Nagaland is because the valley is part of a larger Dzukou area namely, Western Dzukou and Southern Dzukou which are in Kohima District of Nagaland, (http://www.oocities.org/vikyhimself/Pics/kmadist.jpg) and according to my Angami (Kohima) friends, “Dzukou” is an Angami word. Now which would be more correct: Mizos are from India or Mizos are from Myanmar? (We know that there is a sizable number of Mizos in Myanmar) Also, the valley is better accessible (road/trail connectivity) from Viswema village or Western Dzukou both of which are in Nagaland, while from Manipur’s side, the difficult terrain and lack of nearby settlements hinders such connectivity. However, I think it would be unfair to credit only one of the two states with this picturesque valley, as we know that it is shared by both of them.
    I do not mean to challenge your opinion but was just sharing my thoughts here. 🙂
    Cheerio!!

  5. What a beautiful post and such wonderful images. I am so sad that I just missed a chance to travel the entire north east with a friend-couple over. 120 days back packing trip. I must make the NE a priority now…

  6. Pingback: கன்னிநிலம் – ஜெயமோகன் | கடைசி பெஞ்ச்

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