Looking for respite from the sweltering heat of city summer? We might just have the perfect destination for you where the afternoons seem like a warm hug even during summertime. Being an all year round destination, the beautiful states of Northeast have something for you in every season, and summers are no different. A proud owner of massive heights in the form of 35% of the total share of Indian Himalayas, seventy percent of the Northeastern states together are covered in hills and mountains. Owning to their snow-clad peaks, thick forests, rolling meadows, gushing rivers and endless expanses of green fields, this corner of the country is an absolute paradise.
Since the 8 states of Northeast India have very diverse landscape and temperatures, we are here to tell you the best places to be at when the sun is being its hottest self.
1. Tawang Valley, Arunachal Pradesh
Tawang literally translates to ‘Chosen by the Horse’. If this isn’t fascinating enough all on its own, this white mountain town with an otherworldly feel is one of those places that is very easy to fall in love with. The Tawang Monastery perched on the highest point of town is a spectacular sight of colour and splendor especially as it sits so strong in the midst of the high towering peaks of Northeastern Himalayas. The largest of its kind in India and the second largest in the world, Gaden Namgyal Lhatse Monastery is a symbol of faith, spirituality and harmony. The name of the monastery translates to ‘peak of the heavenly abode of joyfulness’ which seems very apt. The locals in the village have a calm way about them, which fills the air and is absolutely contagious. This ridiculously peaceful town was one of the main fronts of the 1962 Sino-Indian war. The people of the land are full of stories from the time and so is the war memorial in Tawang which was built in the honour of the soldiers who lost their lives.
Since the town rests at an elevation of over 3000M, summers are the best time to visit here as winters are extremely cold. The entire valley is rich in mountain passes, gompas and yellow-roofed houses perched on high grounds. It is a magical land. One of our personal favourite ways to explore it is on two wheels. (Check out the itinerary for Tawang Bum La Cycling Expedition)
2. Ziro Valley, Arunachal Pradesh
Ziro Valley is probably best known for hosting the infamous Ziro Music Festival which sees an inflow of music enthusiasts from all over the globe. The energy of music in the natural, remote setting of the village hits different, for sure. It is also home to the Apatani people who are spread across 7 different villages in the valley. Ziro is recommended by UNESCO to receive the title of a World Heritage Site for the unique ways its people conserve their environment. The Apatani tribe, as cultivators of rice, are known for their high levels of production without the use of farm animals or machinery, thereby being labeled the protectors of ecology. With its wide expanses of paddy fields flanked by a canopy of dense forests on all sides, it is hard not to swoon over this place once you’ve witnessed its magnificence.
It is also the trail head for one of the most beautiful jungle trails in Arunachal Pradesh, the Talle Valley Trek. The trek takes you through the Talle Valley Wildlife Sanctuary known for its diversity of butterflies. A hot hub for butterflies means a landscape packed with diverse fauna! If you are in Arunachal Pradesh or any of the neighboring states, you absolutely must add a few days to your trip to visit Ziro valley. Besides its showcase of natural splendor, the valley is also famous for hosting pleasant weather especially during summer months.
3. Nathu La Pass, Sikkim
Traditionally stated to mean ‘the whistling pass’, Nathu La at 4,310M is a high-mountain pass in East Sikkim which connects Kalimpong and Gangtok to the villages of lower Chumbi Valley. Strong winds and heavy snow fall for 7-8 months of a year in the region makes the pass hard to access. Summers are the best shot one has of actually making it there. The area is rich in a wide variety of flora and fauna; it is a safe home to some endangered species like Tibetan wolf, snow leopard, Tibetan gazelle, ruddy shelduck, the golden eagle, lammergeyer and many more. It is a literal paradise for bird lovers. Species like the laughing thrush, redstarts, forktails, warblers, kestrels, monals and many more are very easy to spot since they thrive here in large numbers. Since it is right at the border with just a barbed wire separating the two nations, the pass of high military significance. Only Indian nationals are allowed to visit the pass on specific days of the week after obtaining a special permit from Gangtok. The pass is only 70 kms and a two hour drive away from Gangtok.
4. Valley of Flowers in Yumthang, Sikkim
Situated 150 kms from Gangtok to the North of Sikkim, Yumthang is a tiny ecosystem all on its own with rivers, hot springs, grazing yaks, rolling meadows and an infinite stretch of stunning flowers that cover the entire valley. Somehow this pretty amazing spread of beauty gets even more spellbinding when placed against the hard texture of the Eastern Himalayan peaks standing thousands of meters tall in the background.
The Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary in Yumthang is home to over 35 different species of rhododendrons. Besides that, miles on end are filled with delightful flora such as the iris, cobra lilies, poppies, louseworts and primulas. For its fill of the flowers across all its valleys, no wonder rhododendrons are the state flower of Sikkim!
The flowering season is late February to mid-June which means this is the perfect place to be on your summer visit to the northeast.
Point to remember: Because it is right by the border with China, you need a special permit to get here. You can get the permit made in Gangtok. The 100 kms between Gangtok and Lachung – the nearest village with accommodation, can be covered in about a 4 hour drive.
5. Dzukuo Valley, Nagaland
Translated from local language, Dzukou means cold water for the cold stream that runs through this charming valley. Known for its natural splendor, this valley of rolling hills is unlike any other you ever saw. Get this, this densely forested valley barely has any trees! Even so, the route through this valley, which straddles the border of Manipur and Nagaland, is unbelievably green and full of colour from the many wildflowers on its green carpet of rolling hills. The valley is home to some rare and endangered species of fauna. One of which is the Dzukou Lily. The state bird of Nagaland, the Blyth tragopan, also frequents these hills along with other rare species like the Asian golden cat, the Hollock Gibbon, clouded leopard and the horned toad amongst countless other species of fauna that call these beautiful forests home. Very many rare species of rhododendrons do their bit in adding to the magic to this mystical valley.
Declared as a plastic-free zone to protect its rich biodiversity from getting harmed, a walk through the valley also brings you to some of the smaller villages in the region. It takes you to a maximum altitude of 2,452M and gives you enough opportunities to brush shoulders with the locals of the area.
Due to its lush green landscape and its altitude, the weather in the valley is extremely pleasant during summers. If you decide to add a visit to the rolling hills of Nagaland to your itinerary, check out Dzukuo Valley Trek .
6. Loktak Lake, Manipur
Manipur is best known for two things: The first is Ima Market (meaning Mother’s Market) which is the only market in the world run solely by women. And the second most intriguing feature of Manipur is the Keibul Lamjao National Park which is the world’s only floating national park. It lies within the Loktak Lake which holds a title of its own – that of being the largest fresh water lake in South Asia. Loktak Lake is an extraordinary lake which has massive circular masses of green grass floating over its surface, covering the entire length of the lake. These hollow, circular land masses are called phumdi which is basically a local term for a mass of vegetation, soil and organic matter in various stages of decay. They are literally floating islands which are used by locals to build huts for fishing and other livelihood purposes. The lake on the whole has a residency of over 4000 inhabitants.
The largest single mass of phumdi covers an area of 40 km2. This mass is where the world’s largest floating park, the Keibul Lamjao National Park, is. This park is the only place you will find the Eld’s Deer or Sangai as it is known in the local language. It is the state animal for Manipur and the park was created to protect the species from extinction. It is also called the dancing deer and the government of Manipur organizes a festival just to celebrate the Eld’s deer. The festival is called Sangai Festival.
This is not the end of all the fascinating things going on on this very fascinating lake. The lake houses, on one of its landmasses, a village called Karang. With close to 300 houses and a total population of a little less than 2000, this island village became the first island in India to adopt the idea of a cashless economy. The island became the first fully cashless island village in 2017, as declared by the Union Electronic and Information Technology Ministry.
The lake truly is a world of its own and it is best visited in summers.
7. Kaziranga National Park, Assam
Kaziranga, a World Heritage Site, is home to two-thirds of the world's one-horned rhinoceroses. It also has the highest density of tigers among protected areas in the world. It was declared a tiger reserve in 2006. Some other animal species in the park are elephants, gaur, buffalo, pangolins, civets, sloth bears amongst others. Some of the common bird species housed here are various kinds of vultures, babblers, weavers, hornbills amongst countless others.
The best sightings happen in the hot season as all the animals come out of the thick vegetation and gather around the many watering holes in the park. The park remains open from November to April.
8. Murlen National Park, Mizoram
According to sources, even on the sunniest day, only ONE percent of sunlight can penetrate into the forests of Murlen National Park. There are, in fact, some areas of the forest where NO sunlight reaches. That is how thick these jungles, which at some point earned the title of ‘the land of no return’. Over 120 species of birds along with countless species of plants and flowers take sanctuary in these woods. Some of the mammals found living in these jungles are tigers, leopards, sambhars, barking deers, hillock gibbons, Himalayan black bears, macaques amongst countless more. With the songs of the birds, the colours of the flowers and a closed canopy blocking all the world out of this little haven, a hike in these woods is no less than a fairytale in the making. The park is located in the Champhai district in Mizoram, 245 kms from the state capital, Aizawl. These forests are your best hideout from the summer sun.
9. Falkawn, Mizoram
If you ever wondered how the tribes of Mizoram lived like, this place has all the answers. Falkawn is a small village 18 kms south of Aizawl, the capital city of Mizoram. The village is a mini-museum with depictions of the lifestyle and culture typical of the Mizo people. From the many shapes of the straw houses, to the interiors – the kitchen, their vessels, their beds and how they designed their homes – the village created by the Arts and Cultural Department of Mizoram is a trip straight into history and one that you absolutely must make if you are anywhere in the vicinity of Mizoram.
Summer is a good colour on Northeast India!