North East – Cross the enchanted fronier and enter a world of difference
States and territories
- Arunachal Pradesh
North East India Consisting of Assam, Meghalya, Mizoram, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Tripura and the state of Sikkim has its head amongst the snow-capped peaks of the eastern Himalayas, one arm extending into Bhutan, the other into Myanmar (Burma) and both its feet almost touching the subtropical waters of the Bay of Bengal.
Although connected to the vast body of India by a slender land-locked isthmus a mere forty five miles wide, historically, culturally and spiritually the ties are perhaps even more tenuous for this gathering of seven states is a world of its own, its many peoples – over 166 separate tribes – traditions and languages owing more to its Tibetan and Burmese neighbours than to Mughal or Hindu India. Apart from its vast scenic beauty it is this very ‘otherness’ – indeed, this other-worldliness – which provides the northeast’s greatest attraction.
Until recently the whole area was simply known as Assam. This term of convenience encompassed a richly variegated and interwoven tapestry of highly localised (and often highly individualistic) clans, tribes and states often speaking mutually incomprehensible languages, whose territories expanded and contracted as their poweT waxed and waned. The richest of these constantly warring groups had settled alongside the mighty Brahmaputra river which cuts a broad swathe from right to left across the entire area, but the vast majority of the tribal people inhabited the hills.