Calcutta & North East India
Travel in North East India rewards the adventurous with some unique experiences, both cultural and natural.
The living root bridges of Meghalaya in North East India are a uniquely special entity found nowhere else. As a tree-lover, I just had to go and see this for myself. It’s a long way to go to see a bridge, but it was worth it! Combined with Kaziranga National Park it was a memorable journey.
Calcutta is a gateway city (along with Guwahati in Assam) to the states of North East India, including Assam, Meghalaya and Nagaland. For many years, parts of this area were considered too risky to visit, partly due to tribal conflicts, but it is now open for visitors and has a rich culture and natural history to share with adventurous travellers.
Travel here is not always easy, and the choice and standards of accommodation are not generally up to the standards of the rest of the country, but there are some unique and fascinating sights which can make the journey worth the effort.
A little further west, Darjeeling is a city in West Bengal, situated between Nepal and Bhutan, and in the foothills of the Himalayas.
- Kolkata: Formerly Calcutta, the city was the capital of British India until it moved to Delhi in 1911. The British colonial legacy can be seen more clearly here than any other India city.
- Assam: Kaziranga National Park, Majuli Island, tea plantations and the wide Brahmaputra River . . . these are the main highlights of this state which is surprisingly little-visited by international tourists.
- Darjeeling: This town in the foothills of the Himalayas between Nepal and Bhutan, is known for its world-famous tea and also for the little Himalayan Railway or ‘toy train’. It was used once as a hill station for the British Raj.
- Meghalaya: A beautiful, tiny, mountainous and forested state with unique living root bridges … and a lot of rain! Ancestral home of the Khasi, Garo and Jaintia hill tribes.
- Nagaland: India’s smallest and most remote state borders Burma/Myanmar. It is home to 16 tribes - including a former head-hunting tribe - and the famous Hornbill Festival. It’s great for orchids too.
- North-East India wildlife: North-East India is often overlooked as a wildlife safari destination. It really shouldn’t be! Kaziranga alone is worth the trip and you will also find smaller places in this area such as Manas. Near Calcutta, Sunderbans is a vast area of reserve. West of Darjeeling, search for red pandas in Singalila National Park. See our section on Indian wildlife safaris.