North-East region of India consists of the eight states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, and Tripura. North-East region has a subtropical climate that is influenced by the southwest and northeast monsoons. The Himalayas to the north, the Meghalaya plateau to the south and the hills of Nagaland, Mizoram, and Manipur to the east, influences the climate. This region also receives heavy rainfall, with many places receiving an average annual precipitation of 2,000 mm, which is mostly concentrated in summer during the monsoon season. Cherrapunji, located on the Meghalaya plateau is one of the rainiest places in the world with an annual precipitation of 11,777 mm.
Temperatures in the North-East region vary by altitude with the warmest places being in the Brahmaputra and Barak River plains and the coldest at the highest altitudes with a permanent snow cover. It is also influenced by proximity to the sea with the valleys and western areas being close to the sea, which moderates temperatures. Generally, temperatures in the hilly and mountainous areas are lower than the plains which lie at a lower altitude. Summer temperatures tend to be more uniform than winter temperatures due to high cloud cover and humidity.
Northeast India is culturally rich, with numerous prominent temples, and known to be the one-stop destination to witness lush green nature and serene beauty of the mother earth.
Kamakhya Temple in Assam, Sri Govindajee Temple in Manipur and Nartiang Durga Temple in Meghalaya are a some of largest and significant temples in the Northeast region. Dimapur Kalibari in Nagaland, and Mahabali Temple in Manipur are other great religious destinations that attract lots of Hindu devotees.
Northeast region has a long association with Jainism, which makes it home to hundreds of Jain families living in peace and prosperity. Kohima Temple, in Nagaland, was established in 1920. Another famous Jain temple in the region is Dimapur Jain Temple with impressive architecture.
The beautiful and enlightened monasteries in the vivid states of the Northeast are located in Arunachal Pradesh, Gangtok, and Sikkim. The Tawang Monastery in Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh is the largest monastery in India and second largest in the world that keep up its immense spirit among devotees. Phodong monastery, Lingdum monastery, Bomdila Monastery, and Pemayangtse Monastery are some of the major and most sought monasteries in the Northeast India.
Gurdwara Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib and Gurdwara Dam Dama Sahib in Assam are some of the famous Temples among Sikh devotees in the region.
Temples, Shrines and Spiritual Places in Arunachal Pradesh
Arunachal Pradesh is a kaleidoscopic view of natural beauty, which resonates with the aura of spiritualism. Also known as the ‘Land of the Rising sun’, this north-eastern mountainous state finds its earliest traces in the Hindu epics of the Mahabharata and Ramayana, and Kalika-Purana. The foggy morning mists, the dense mountain forests, and the cool temperate climate weave a trajectory to inner peace.
Arunachal Pradesh is one of the least explored states of India, well known for magnificent landscape and beautiful coastline. It is known as the land of dawn-lit mountains and receives the first morning sun rays as the easternmost region of India. A relatively large percentage of Arunachal’s population are nature worshippers, and follow their own distinct tradition. It is also one of the linguistically richest and most diverse regions in India.
The Akashiganga Temple, located in West Siang District is famous for Shakti worship. Legends suggest that one of the body parts of Sati- her head fell into this location. The actual kund is about 100 meters away from the temple, leading devotees via a spiral pathway. Another main attraction of the temple is the visual phenomenon of a shining object, which can be seen sparkling from far, but if gone near is seen to disappear before the eyes. A pond, possessing the qualities to cure ailments is also located near the temple.
The Parasuram Kund Mandir, located on the Brahmaputra plateau amasses huge devotees each year is dedicated to the Sage Parasuram. It is believed that one dip in this holy kund can wash away all the sins and follies of man.
Meghna Cave Mandir, dedicated to Lord Lakulisha (the 28th avatar of Lord Shiva) houses inscribed Sanskrit verses and is one of the most beautiful places of worship. The Shiva Lingam, excavated in the Kardo forest is the largest Shiv Linga. A temple is built around to pay respect to God.
Jain temples such as Digambar Tirth Bh. Parshwanath, located at Naharlagun hosts a large number of devotees each year. It is built by local Jains for community worship. The inner sanctum sanctorium is beautifully carved and houses a large religious library.
Buddhism spread in these mountainous wetlands in their early days. This is quite evident from numerous monasteries dedicated to the Lord. The Buddha Temple at Itanagar is one of the most unique monasteries. The stupa, positioned in the front, contradicts Indian Buddhist architecture. The main shrine is yellow-roofed which draws influence from the Tibetian cultures. One of the most pious elements in this temple is a tree, located towards the end, which was planted by Dalai Lama himself.
The Tawang monastery is the largest monastery in India and is the second largest in Asia. Also known as Galden Namgey Lhatse, this monastery was inaugurated in 1860 to fulfil the wishes of the 5th Dalai Lama and seek his blessings. The gompa, being situated at an altitude of 10000 feet makes the temple an architectural marvel
The Urgelling Monastery is regarded as extremely pious for being the birthplace of Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso – ‘His Holiness, Dalai Lama the 6th’. A tree planted by the 6th Dalai Lama is present which possesses medicinal qualities to cure diseases. Many other monasteries like the Namsai Buddhist Temple at Namsai, Kumchaikha Buddhist Temple, Modoi Buddhist temples etc. uphold the religious bliss of the state.
Sikhism has endowed far-reaching influences by mingling with the north-eastern culture. The Gurdwara Singh Sabha, located in Naharlun houses many devotees and travellers seeking refreshment. The temple area is quite large on which community service is usually conducted.
Gurdwara Menchuka Sahib is more popular for its serene ambience. Located in Kargong, this gurdwara has a simplistic slanting architecture, suited to hilly areas. A root bridge guides the pathway.
The climate of Arunachal Pradesh varies with elevation, with the low altitude areas have a humid subtropical climate, whereas high and very high-altitude areas have a subtropical highland and alpine climate. Arunachal Pradesh is an echo of spiritual solitude, an echo that is a reminiscence of piety and purity.
Temples, Shrines and Spiritual Places in Assam
Assam is known for its rich heritage, exotic traditional culture, beautiful landscape, picturesque tea gardens, diverse Flora and Fauna and serine river valleys. Guwahati, also known as gateway to the North-east, is the largest city, and Dispur, the capital of Assam is located within Guwahati. The state of Assam is dotted with many places of spiritual and religious interest that attract tourists from across the world.
Kamakhya Mandir is one of the most divine destinations located on the Nilachal hill in the capital city of Guwahati. It is one of the the 51 Shakti Pithas of Devi Sati, and attracts thousands of devotees every day. The Bagheswari Mandir dedicated to Goddess Bagheswari, is another Shakti Pith, located in the southern part of Bongaigaon city of Assam.
The Sukreswar Mandir constructed in the 18th century, is a famous Shiva temple located on the Sukreswar hill on the south bank of river Brahmaputra. The Asvakranta Mandir located in the North of Guwahati is a famous temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The locals believe that those who commit sins can attain salvation upon visit to this temple. The main attraction of this temple is the idol statue of Lord Brahma, seated on a lotus, coming out from the naval of Lord Vishnu.
Jain Temples in Assam are famous pilgrimage centers, which makes them special and spiritual. The Shri Suryapahad Digambar Jain Atishay kshetra located in Goalpara Assam has many carved Jain idols which are worshipped like spiritual Devi and Devatas. It is said that in 1975 A.D, idols of Lord Adinatha and Padmaprabhu were found in one of the caves of Surya Pahad.
Centuries ago, Assam was the seedbed of Buddhism. The ancient shrines which are still found and worshipped in Assam, proves that Buddhism was once a glorified religion here. Hayagriva Madhava temple situated on the Monikut hill, in Hajo, Kamrup District is considered to be a pilgrimage place, revered by Hindu as well as Buddhist devotees, who believe Gautama Buddha attained nirvana in this place. It is believed that the founder of Tibetan Buddhism, Padmasambhava, died in Hajo, a small town twenty-eight kms away from Guwahati.
Guru Nanak Dev, the first Sikh guru, visited this place in 1505 A.D and met Srimanta Sankardeva, a famous a saint and a scholar on his way when he traveled from Dhaka to Assam. Later, during the 17th century, the 9th Sikh Guru Tegh Bahadur came to this place and established the Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib Gurdwara located in Dhubri town on the bank of river Brahmaputra.
The state of Assam has three principal physical regions – the Brahmaputra River valley in the north, the Barak River valley in the south, and the hilly region between the neighbouring states of Meghalaya, Nagaland, and Manipur. According to legends and some ancient scriptures, the Brahmaputra rises as the son of the Supreme God Brahma, from a sacred pool known as the ‘Brahmakund’ in the neighbouring state of Arunachal Pradesh.
Assam is not only famous for its beautiful landscape and temples, but also for its culture and crafts. Sualkuchi a small village of Assam, exhibits the tradition of Assam which attracts many. Known as the sleepy village, it is blessed with skilful weavers and craftsmen. To experience the best of Assam and indulge in its spirituality like never before, set off on a tour of the famous temples of Assam.
Temples, Shrines and Spiritual Places in Manipur
Manipur is known as Jewel of India, surrounded by hills with an oval shaped valley at the centre. The Manipuri dance or ‘Raslila’ had gained popularity all over the world, which showcases the theme of Lord Krishna and his love for Radha. Imphal is the capital and the largest city of Manipur.
The name Manipur is derived from ‘Mani’ (Jewel) and ‘Pur’ (abode). It is bordered by the Indian states of Nagaland to its north, Mizoram to its south, Assam to its west, and shares international border with Myanmar to its east. The game of ‘Pulu’ (Polo) originated in Manipur, with British spreading this game as modern Polo to the Western world during colonial period.
The climate of Manipur is largely influenced by the topography of hilly region. This north-eastern corner of India enjoys a generally amiable climate, though the winters can be chilly.
Temples, Shrines and Spiritual Places in Meghalaya
Meghalaya is a mesmerising and geologically rich region, with stretches of valleys, highland plateaus, hills, lakes, caves, waterfalls and famous for its high rainfall, subtropical forests, and biodiversity. Shillong is the capital and the largest city of Meghalaya.
The name Meghalaya is coined from the Sanskrit word ‘megham’ meaning ‘cloud’ and ‘alayam’ meaning ‘abode’. It shares its border with state of Assam and shares international border with Bangladeshi.
The maximum temperature in this region rarely goes beyond 28 °C whereas sub-zero winter temperatures are common. With average annual rainfall as high as 12,000 mm (470 in) in some areas, Meghalaya is the wettest place on earth and well known for places ‘Cherapunjji’ and ‘Mawsynram’, which receives one of the maximum rain-fall in the world.
Temples, Shrines and Spiritual Places in Mizoram
Mizoram is a land of rolling hills, valleys, rivers, and lakes, covered with verdant forests dominated by thick bamboo groves and vibrant wildlife. As many as 21 major hill ranges or peaks of different heights run through the length and breadth of the state, with plains scattered here and there. Aizawl is the capital and the largest city of Mizoram.
Mizoram is a landlocked state in North-East India whose southern part shares borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh, and northern part share domestic borders with Manipur, Assam and Tripura. The tropic of cancer runs through the state nearly at its middle.
The term Mizoram is derived from two words ‘Mizo’ (land of the Highlanders, the native inhabitants or the ‘Mizos’) and ‘Ram’ (‘land’).
Mizoram has a mild climate with climate pattern ranging from moist tropical to moist sub-tropical. With temperature crossing 30 degrees Celsius during summer and temperatures ranging from 7 to 22 °C during Winter, the region is influenced by monsoons with heavy rains from May to September and little rain during rest of the year.
Temples, Shrines and Spiritual Places in Nagalang
Nagaland is known for its primeval beauty, tribal culture and dazzling hills and valleys. Kohima is the capital city and Dimapur is the largest city of Nagaland. It shares border with the state of Assam to the west, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam to the north, and Manipur to the south, and shares international border with Myanmar to the east.
Nagaland is home to the sixteen Naga tribes, each with distinct culture, tribal traditions, and language. It is a land of folklore passed down the generations through word of mouth. Here, music is an integral part of life; folk songs eulogising ancestors, the brave deeds of warriors and traditional heroes; poetic love songs immortalising ancient tragic love stories; Gospel songs that touch your soul or the modern tunes rendered exquisitely to set your feet tapping.
The climate of Nagaland is generally pleasant throughout the year due to abundance of vegetation and the hilly terrain. Winters are cold in most parts of the states, with little snowfall in some regions due to high elevation. Summers are slightly hot and humid in the towns in the plains. The region receives plenty of rain during the monsoons, from the month of May to September.
Temples, Shrines and Spiritual Places in Sikkim
Sikkim is an abode of beauty, adorned with glistening high-altitude lakes, rolling green mountains, rhododendron groves, lush greenery, rivers, waterfalls, and vivid monasteries. Besides being known for its unique biodiversity, Sikkim also features unique culture-ethnicity and traditions. This is mostly due to the influence from its neighbouring countries like Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet, with which it shares its borders.
The Tibetan name for Sikkim is ‘Drenjong’, which means the ‘Valley of Rice’. It is a landlocked state located in the Himalayan mountains famous for its incredible view of the third highest mountain in the world, i.e. Mount Kanchenjunga. The state brings harmony to indigenous Tibetian Buddhism and Nepalese Hinduism. It appears as a beautiful culmination of different colours, exhibiting folk dances, religious festivals, and tribal harmony.
Hindu Temples in Sikkim arose as a synthesis of Nepal with indigenous Hinduism in India and attract a plethora of pilgrims each year. The Hanuman Tok is one of the most important Hindu shrines in Sikkim. Dedicated to Lord Hanuman, it is often believed that wishes are fulfilled if devotees’ worship with a pure mind. The Indian army manages this Temple welfare.
The Thakurbari Mandir is one of the most ancient pilgrimages of the town. It is dedicated to the major deities of the Hindu pantheon and local deities in the culture of Sikkim. Every year, this temple organizes a lavish Chhath Puja.
The Kirateswar Mahadev Mandir at Legship is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The Kiratis constructed this temple to worship Lord Shiva in the incarnation of a hunter. Temples like the Solophok Chardham are also dedicated to Lord Shiva and worships Lord Kirateswar. Set in Southern Sikkim, this temple is a bliss to the devotees in culminating the ambiance of peace at the hilltop and ensuring the promotion of indigenous cultures. Shirdi Sai Mandir, Samdruptse Shiva Mandir are other important temples in Sikkim.
Majority of residents in Sikkim follow Buddhism. This can be speculated from myriads of unique monasteries and Buddhist cultures. The southern part of Sikkim is blessed with the Buddha Park Ravangla. Constructed in the year 2006, this landmark serves as a homage to Lord Buddha. A 130-foot-tall statue stands erect and is surrounded by a peaceful ecological park.
The Rumtek monastery is one of the largest monasteries of Sikkim. Founded in the 16th century by Wangchuk Dorje (9th Karmapa Lama), this monastery aims in promoting Buddhist teachings and encouraging the spread of Buddhism. The architectural features are inspired by the Tibetan school of art.
The Pemayangtse Monastery at Pelling, located in western Sikkim is the second oldest monastery in Sikkim and aims in giving devotees a meditative environment amidst the woods. The presence of several antique idols, old relics, scriptures, statues of Buddhist saints, including Padmasambhava (the Lotus One) adorns the monastery. ‘The ruins of Rabdantse’ is experienced by the devotees from this monastery.
Monasteries like Tashiding Monastery, Yuksom celebrate the festival of Bhumchhu in accordance with the Tibetan calendar. Several other monasteries like the Tashding Monastery, Lachen monastery, Labrrang monastery, etc. ensure to imbibe purity of spirit and religion.
Gurdwaras of historical significance emerged in Sikkim in the 16th century. Gurdwara Guru Dongmar, located in North Sikkim is said to be the site where Guru Nanak paid his third Udasi to support the Kara-pa Nying sects who were hunted down in Tibet by the Ge-lug-pa sect. Guru Dongmar refers to the lake, along with the glacial peak of religious significance, situated at an altitude of 18,000 feet. Guru Nanak is said to have visited this region in 1516 AD and ensured the safety of his followers.
Gurdwara Nanalama Sahib, located in Chungthang, North Sikkim is one of those pilgrimages that is called ‘the wonders of nature. This gurdwara is a confluence of the two tributaries of River Teesta- River Lachen and River Lachung Chu. Legend suggests that it was one of the places where Guru Nanak Dev Ji visited on his religious trip to China and Tibet. In the gurdwara complex, there is a tree, which was supposed to be the walking stick of Guru Nanak, who had himself fixed it in that place. Presently, the truck of the tree resembles that of a stick and the leaves appear rounded.
Sikkim lies in the blissful lap of the eastern Himalayas, and is one of the few states in India to receive regular snowfall. Sikkim is among India’s most environmentally conscious states with fully organic agriculture and farming. It also accounts for the largest share of cardamom production in India. Surrounded by greenery and natural silence, Sikkim tells the tales of mysticism and religion by means of its pilgrimages.
Temples, Shrines and Spiritual Places in Tripura
Tripura is a popular for elegant landscapes, crystalline waterfalls, picturesque mountains, dense forests, with a rich tradition, art and culture. Agartala is the capital and the largest city of Tripura.
Tripura shares its border with the Indian states of Assam and Mizoram to the east and shares international border with Bangladesh to the north, south and west.
The Sanskrit name of the state is linked to the Hindu goddess of beauty named ‘Tripura Sundari’, the presiding deity of the ‘Tripura Sundari Temple’ at Udaipur (formerly known as Ranghamati) in Tripura, one of the 51 Shakti Peethas (pilgrimage centres of Shaktism).
The state has a tropical savanna climate. The four main seasons in Tripura are winter, from December to February; pre-monsoon or summer from March to April; monsoon, from May to September; and post-monsoon from October to November. During the monsoon season, the south west monsoon brings heavy rains, which cause frequent floods. During winter, temperatures range from 13 to 27 °C, while in the summer it falls between 24 and 36 °C.