“Guys, Let’s explore North-East India this time” is often reciprocated with “No yaar! It’s pretty unsafe” or “Are you crazy! Those people eat dogs, you want to starve?” and also, “Damn! I wish. But it’s really expensive, and I am not an adventure junkie anyway.”
I have started staying pretty active on travel forums since a few months, and I have noticed that there are a few common “beliefs and understandings” people have about the North-East India which somehow doesn’t happen to be true!
Belonging to the North-East (And proud of that), I would like to provide a little insight about the true scenario and get some myths busted!
1. Pretty Remote with poor Transportation and Communication!
So, there are quite a number of travel aspirants who still live in the 1950s and believe that the Transportation Connectivity of the Entire North-East India is a major setback!
All the Eight states of North-East India (Yes, Northeast isn’t one state) are very well connected with the rest of the country by Airways, Railways and the roads and Highways! With 2 international and around 10 domestic airports, connectivity by air has become pretty easy. With the Asian Highway running across North-East, the development has increased by leaps and bounds! So basically, that drive isn’t just scenic; it would be comfortable as well. People also believe that the network and internet connectivity is really poor in this part of the country! But the truth is that majority of the region has amazing network connectivity just like anywhere else.
Just FYI out of Eight neighboring countries of India, Five are connected through the North-East! We share borders with Nepal, Myanmar, Bhutan, China and Bangladesh!
2. You may have to starve when travelling here!
People here eat everything they can lay hands on; from dogs to snails, worms to anything bizarre… And those who don’t eat such things starve to death!
I live in the NE and I am a hardcore vegetarian. And Voila, I am still alive! Yes there are certain communities in the North-East which consume dog meat and a variety of animals; but that is their own choice of food, nobody will shove it down your throat! So, if you are an experimental non vegetarian, you will have huge list to try from. Even if you aren’t worry not! There’s always a vegetarian option at all places; Rice being one of the favorites of the locals.
So don’t worry, the amazing people of Northeast won’t let you starve!
3. You need a Visa to visit some parts of the North-East!
I have been living in the Northeast for over 25 years, and sadly I still have a virgin passport! And I am as Indian as anybody else…
So basically, you don’t need a Visa to visit anywhere in your own country. Yes you may need a permit which is called “ILP (Inner Line Permit)”. You don’t need a passport for an Inner Line Permit. It is a travel document issued by the government bodies of the respective states (Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland). Since these states of Northeast share borders with different countries, an ILP helps keep check on any foreign movement in the region.
To apply for an ILP you need any Identity documents like Pan Card, Driver’s License etc along with Passport photos. And now you can apply for ILP online as well… As easy as that!
4. Very unsafe and there’s constant militant activity!
Well this is a concern most people traveling to North East have thought or heard of. People believe that this region is very disturbed and very unsafe for tourists.
If you were to say the same thing around 25 years ago, you wouldn’t be totally wrong, there were some internal disputes going on then; but today the states of North East are at complete peace and in fact tourism is booming as a major industry in this region. Because it is surrounded by many other countries, there is a lot of border security and might have some checks involved, but the zone is very safe.
As a matter of fact, most cultures of these states follow matri-lineal structure resulting in respect for women which ultimately makes it safe for the women solo travelers as well.
5. North-East India doesn’t see sunshine… It’s always raining!
We do have abundance of rains (Thankfully!) and proudly boast of the wettest places on earth- Cherrapunjee and Mawsynram!
But isn’t it amazing, that we also see spring, summer, autumn and winters!! How cool right! After all a region known for rains isn’t expected to see the sun, heat, spring breeze and Snow (OMG!) Duh! The total area of the North-Eastern region of India is 262230 sq. km out of which the “Rainy-est Belt” is approximately 10,000 sq km.! What about the rest of the region?? Basically, we do see good enough rainfall, but we have all the seasons like other parts of the country as well. So the travelers not fond of rains can always come during the “September-April” time frame!
6. It is very expensive, non comfortable and only for Adventure junkies to explore!
Now if all you want to do is stay indoors in the luxury of a grand hotel/resort, then I would not suggest you to visit the North-East.
Although NE is home to a number of luxurious resorts and hotels, yet it is not worth travelling all the way here to just get spas done and sleep cozy. NE is extremely beautiful and you are in the nature’s lap (quite literally) when you visit here! It indeed is heaven for explorers and adventurists, but it has a lot more to offer. If you want to have a typical commercial touristy experience, there are a few places which can offer you the same and that too at your own comfort.
And about expenses, it’s all how you plan your trip. With rising connectivity, it’s easier than ever to visit here and yes you can travel on a shoestring budget when planned well.
7. The North-Eastern locals aren’t friendly and don’t entertain tourists!
The last time some tourists were seen in the North-East, they were captured by the local tribals and cooked raw on fire! Since then, none dared to put foot here. (Sarcasm intended! Obviously!)
I have never come across any local here who disrespects travelers and aren’t helpful to them. In fact the region believes in “Atithi Devo Bhava” and guests are treated with utmost importance here. Be it a random stranger you meet on the streets or a travel guide you hire, you are more than welcomed to this beautiful unexplored paradise!!
Hope a little insight on the “Myths and Beliefs” people have regarding North-East would make you want to consider us for a visit! So quick make reservations and bookings and come soon!! You can always leave a comment or message me in case you want any advice to plan a trip here!
Keep Exploring, Keep Reading!!
P.S.: Pictures are taken from an external source!