The unexplored terrains of Northeast India concealed away by impenetrable forests and formidable mountain ranges have stories hidden deep within its trails.
This obscured land has myriad hidden treasures that only the local people and the hardy travellers who gathered courage to reconnoitre it’s uncharted realms are aware of.
Here’s a list of few such startling secrets of the Northeast India that you may have not known about.
1. Home Of The Last Surviving Headhunters
You won’t see them doing it anymore, not unless you can manage to get them really pissed! Well, jokes apart, even if the Naga headhunting stopped back in 1940s you can still spot many elders of the Konyak tribe with tattooed faces, meaning they’re from the headhunting clans. Killing and severing an enemy’s head was considered a rite of passage for young boys and this triumph was rewarded with a prestigious facial tattoo.
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2. The Only Matriarchal Society Of India In Meghalaya
The Khasi tribe of Meghalaya is one of the few societies in the world that follows a matrilineal system. Women are head of the household and the one who does the hard labour to earn a living for the family. Men takes the back seat here. When a girl is born there are cheers of jubilation and when a boy is born, they accept it humbly as a gift of God.
3. The Ambubachi Mela And The Three Days When Goddess Shakti Is Not Worshipped!
Ambubachi Mela is an annual Hindu fair held at the Kamakhya temple of Assam. During the monsoon season around mid-June, it is believed that Goddess Kamakhya goes into her yearly menstruation course.
For a period of three consecutive days at this time all temples, across Assam, dedicated to the Goddess remains shut. In fact prayer rooms in the private residences of people in Assam are kept closed and covered to allow the Goddess to rest. Hoards of people, sadhus, aghoris, sanyasis and the Baul or singing minstrels gathers in Kamakhya temple to celebrate the Ambubachi mela.
4. Sanctuary Of The Exotic And The Endangered
The northeastern region of India with its rich biodiversity is home to some of the most globally threatened species. The list is long, however some of them are: Red Panda, One Horned Rhinos, Golden Langurs, Sangai (brow antlered deer of Manipur), Hoolock Gibbons, Hornbills, Clouded Leopard, Gayal, Roofed Turtle and many more.
5. This Is Where The World’s Largest Electric Guitar Ensemble Took Place!
A Guinness World Record was created on 12 January 2013 when 368 participants in Nagaland gathered to strum to the tunes of ‘Knocking on heaven’s door’ a song by Guns N’ Roses. With an aim to promote brotherhood the Sky Group at Agri Expo in Dimapur pulled off this staggering act.
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6. The Ancient Tradition Of Barter System Celebrated At Jonbeel Mela
Jonbeel Mela is an annual fair held in the Morigaon district of Assam hosted by the Gobha and Ahom kings. The fair dates back to 15th century when the kings organised the fair to discuss the prevailing political situations. The main attraction of the fair currently is the barter system that takes place among the tribes, tourists and general people coming here.
7. Shops Without Shopkeepers – The Nghah Lou Dawr Culture Of Mizoram!
Around 65 km from the capital of Mizoram, Aizawl along the highway of Seling you can spot these tiny vegetable stalls- Nghah lou dawr meaning shops without shopkeepers. You will find the price list right there along with a deposit box where you can leave the money and take what you paid for. And yes, people usually do leave the prices of what they take. This is indeed an act of trust and empathy rarely seen in this world.
8. There’s No End To The List Of Locally Brewed Liquor Of The Endemic Tribes
Apung in Arunachal, Bodo alcoholic beverage Zou, Xaz of Assam, Apong of the Mishing tribe, Chuwarak the Tripuri liquor, Judima of the Dimasa people, Kiaad in Meghalaya, Zutho of the Nagamese, Mizo Zawlaidi, Hot Sikkimese beer- Kodo ko Jaanr, Sekmai Yu in Manipur, Raksi – another Sikkimese drink: An unending list of various alcoholic beverages of the Northeastern tribes. These could just be the reason for you to explore every nook and cranny of Northeast India.
9. Beating Any Maze In The World – The Secret Tunnels of Talatal Ghar That Could Literally Get You Lost!
Talatal Ghar was built by the Ahom kings of Assam as an army base in erstwhile ‘Rongpur’, today Sibsagar. It consists of two secret tunnels and three floors below ground level. These floors were used as exit routes during the battles of the Ahom.
Overall the structure has seven floor and the secret tunnels which are restricted to visitors now. Apparently, some people who went in never returned.
10. Perched Atop A Sikkemese Hill Is The Wish Fulfilling Lake That Is Tended By Birds
The wish fulfilling lake, Khecheopalri is sacred to the Lepcha, Buddhists and Hindus. Situated 34 km from North West of Pelling at an altitude of 6,561 ft., the lake is believed to be blessed by Guru Padmasambhava. You can see the devotees lighting diyas and float them on bamboo barks on the lakes while making a wish. Quite amazingly, in spite of being covered by dense forest, legend has it that the birds don’t let a single leaf settle on the lake.
11. Beware of the Chillies!
Bhut jolokia, bih jolokia, raja mirchi or ghost chillies mostly found in Assam and Nagaland has been recorded as the hottest chilli in the world with 1,001,300 scoville heat units! There have been cases of people being admitted to hospitals after having it beyond their ability. However, it plays an important role in the kitchens of Northeast India and when combined with bamboo shoot promises to sweep you off your feet.
12. The Story Of Digboi In Assam- First Place In Asia To Be Drilled With Oil
Digboi is a prosperous little town in Assam, dotted with numerous unique bungalows, is the first place in Asia where oil drilling started in the year 1901. There is an Oil Museum here that tells the history of the town maintained by Indian Oil Corporation. Another fascinating thing about this place is the World War II Cemetery ground of the Europeans deployed here for joint operation with Chinese and Americans under General Stilwell.
13. Their Eternal Love For Nature – The Mawphlang Sacred Forest And Its Megaliths
A tiny community of Mawphlang in Meghalaya are protecting the watersheds and biodiversity by revitalizing their traditional institutions and culture. This tribal community is now set to be country’s first REDD pilot (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and (forest) Degradation).
Vestiges of megaliths are scattered all over the Jaintia hills and the entire Mawphlang forest. The clans that founded the village erected hundreds of menhirs and dolmens.
14. The River Islands Of Assam; Both The Largest And The Smallest
You may know that Assam is home of arguably Asia’s largest river island, Majuli but did you know that the world’s smallest river island is also located in Assam? Umananda Island or Peacock Island is considered to be world’s smallest inhabited island right in the middle of river Brahmaputra, at an accessible distance from the river banks of Guwahati. An ancient fabled Shiva temple built by the Ahom kingdom is primary attraction in the island. Spotting a golden langur also wouldn’t be a surprising.
15. The Epic Tale Of Baba Harbhajan Singh- The Ghost That Guards The Border!
Harbhajan Singh was an Indian army soldier and the prestigious Mahavir Chakra receiver who died near the Nathula Pass in eastern Sikkim. Revered by many soldiers of the Indian army as the “Hero of Nathula” people have built a shrine in respect of Baba Harbhajan Singh.
Soldiers believe that Baba would warn them of any impending attack at least the three days in advance. During flag meetings between the two nations at Nathula, the Chinese set a chair aside to honour of Harbhajan Singh who has since come to be known as saint (“Baba”). Every year on September 11, a jeep departs with his personal belongings to the nearest railway station, New Jalpaiguri, from where it is then sent by train to the village of Kuka, in Kapurthala district in Punjab which is his home town.
Stunned, are you? Or you think you know of secrets that are even better and more mysterious. Let’s see if you can beat this! I DARE YOU!!
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