The Northeast region of India is home to some fascinating UNESCO World Heritage sites, showcasing the region’s diverse cultural and historical heritage, as well as its natural beauty. Visitors to this region can expect to experience eco-friendly travel locations, unique culinary delights, picturesque national parks, and serene Buddhist monasteries.
Here is a list of UNESCO World Heritage sites of Northeast India that are a testament to the incredible richness of the region:
1. Kaziranga National Park, Assam
Kaziranga National Park in Assam, India is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its large population of Great Indian one-horned Rhinoceroses.
1. River Island of Majuli, Assam
Majuli River Island is located in the state of Assam in northeastern India. It is the largest river island in the world and is situated in the Brahmaputra River. The island is known for its unique culture and traditions, as well as its rich biodiversity. It is home to several endangered species of birds and animals, as well as a variety of plant species.
The island is also known for its traditional satras, or Vaishnavite monasteries, which are centers for the preservation of the Assamese culture and art. A characteristic concept of the region are the satras, institutional centres for cultural activities that also serve as democratic mediators for dispute resolution. Majuli Island is facing erosion, which is reducing its size and affecting the livelihood of the local people.
2. Moidams – the Mound-Burial system of the Ahom Dynasty, Assam
Charaideo Moidams are ancient burial sites of the Ahom kingdom in Assam, India, known for their unique cone-shaped structures made of brick and earth. These moidams served as the final resting place for Ahom royalty and nobles, and are sometimes referred to as the pyramids of Assam. The site, dating back to the 13th century, is a significant part of Assam’s cultural heritage and is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Charaideo, the first capital of the Ahom dynasty, was established in 1229 CE by King Chaolung Sukapha and was known as the “shining town on a hilltop.” Despite being relocated several times during the 600-year rule of the Ahom kingdom, Charaideo remained a symbol of power and prestige.
3. Namdapha National Park, Arunachal Pradesh
Namdapha National Park, located in Northeast India’s Arunachal Pradesh, is a 1,985 km² protected area known for its rich biodiversity. The region is predominantly hilly with steep mountains, but there are some gentle slopes intersected by numerous rivers such as Lai, Lati, Lang, and Kamlang, along with many streams and brooks.
It is one of the largest national parks in India and home to over 1,000 species of flora and 1,400 species of fauna, including rare and endangered species. Namdapha is the only park in the world with all four big cat species (Tiger, Leopard, Snow Leopard, and Clouded Leopard) and several species of lesser cats.
4. Thembang Fortified Village, Arunachal Pradesh
The village’s spread over more than 3 acres, fortified using traditional methods, is a marvel of architecture. Thembang provides a glimpse into the culture, lifestyle, and craftsmanship of the Monpa tribe with its impressive ancient techniques on display.
5. Apatani Cultural Landscape, Arunachal Pradesh
Apatanis, a major ethnic group in the eastern Himalayas, has a unique civilization with systematic land use practices and a rich history of natural resource management and conservation. Over the centuries, they have developed their knowledge through informal experimentation.
The tribe is known for its vibrant culture, including festivals, handloom designs, cane and bamboo crafts, and traditional village councils called bulyañ. The Ziro Valley serves as a prime example of a harmonious relationship between man and environment, sustained by traditional customs and spiritual beliefs.
6. Garo Hills Conservation Area, Meghalaya
Garo Hills is located with Goalpara district of Assam to the North, shares the international border with Bangladesh to the South, bordered by the Khasi Hills and Kamrup districts of Meghalaya and Assam to the East, and the Goalpara and Bangladesh districts to the West.
The GHCA includes three protected areas: Nokrek National Park (49.44 sq. km), Balpakram National Park (220 sq. km), and Siju Wildlife Sanctuary (5.18 sq. km), as well as reserved forests such as Tura Peak (4.19 sq. km), Imangiri (8.29 sq. km), Rewak (6.47 sq. km), and Baghmara (43.9 sq. km). The proposed core area for nomination is 337.48 sq. km.
7. Jingkieng Jri: Living Root Bridge Cultural Landscapes, Meghalaya
Locally referred to as “Jingkieng Jri,” there are approximately 100 known living root bridges in 72 villages in the East Khasi Hills and West Jaintia Hills districts of the mountainous state. These bridges are similar to suspension bridges, created by guiding the flexible roots of rubber fig trees across rivers or streams and allowing the roots to grow and strengthen over time.
Most root bridges are made by guiding roots from a single tree planted on one side of a river. It takes 15 to 20 years to build a bridge and they have a lifespan of several centuries. Some of these bridges are said to be over 200 years old, surpassing the longevity of modern bridges.
8. Keibul Lamjao Conservation Area, Manipur
The Keibul Lamjao Conservation Area represents an exceptional example of natural history, diversity, beauty, and human significance. It is home to the only floating National Park in the world, the Keibul Lamjao National Park, which is located on Loktak Lake and is the last habitat of the “Sangai,” the dancing deer of Manipur. Wildlife enthusiasts should not miss the opportunity to see this unique wetland ecosystem.
The park, at 40 km2 (15.4 sq mi), is located in North East India and is a part of Loktak Lake. It is distinguished by floating phumdi, decomposed plant material.
9. Rock-cut Sculptures and Reliefs of the Unakoti, Tripura
Unakoti is a rock-cut archaeological site in the Indian state of Tripura, located about 180 km from Agartala, the state capital. It is known for its ancient rock-cut sculptures and rock-cut carvings of Hindu gods and goddesses.
According to Hindu legend, Lord Shiva and a group of one crore gods and goddesses were on their way to Kashi when they stopped to spend the night at Unakoti. Lord Shiva requested that they all wake up before sunrise to continue their journey, but unfortunately, only he woke up. In anger, Lord Shiva cursed the rest of the group to become stone images, which is why there are thousands of rock carvings at Unakoti, hence the name “Unakoti,” meaning “one less than a crore” in Bengali.
Visiting the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland, and Mizoram would require Inner Line Permits (ILPs) while foreigners including Overseas Citizens of India require Protected Area Permits (PAPs) for Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim. Obtaining an Inner Line Permit (ILP) is not required for visiting Assam, Meghalaya, and Tripura for Indians or foreigners.