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Guest Column

Off the beaten path: North East and surrounding areas are promising avenues of alternate tourism

By: Ankit Kansal, MD, Axon developers

The Northeast of India is rich in natural beauty, diverse landscapes, and various kinds of cultural hues. Though still relatively less explored, the region is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful parts of India. Scenic beauty and tranquil environs define the magnetism of the region. Known for courteous people who are deeply rooted in their tradition, Northeastern tourism is a rich blend of nature, culture, and rejuvenation. The wide range of greenery spread across Assam to Arunachal Pradesh further makes the region the nature’s true basket. The region is adorned with river islands to unique high-altitude lakes, adding a touch of sublimity.

Nature’s blessing in the North East has also manifested in the form of rich flora and fauna. The region is known for some of the nationally recognized wildlife reserves such as Kanchenjunga and Kaziranga. While it is also home to a few less explored yet equally amazing wildlife reserves such as Dibru, Manas, Nameri, Orang, etc.

A Promising Avenue for Wellness and Nature

India holds towering ambition in developing its alternate healing industry. Already a separate ministry has been formed under the flagship of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy), which probably makes India the only country with an active ministry for alternate healing.

As per market research by the GoI, the Indian wellness industry is set to cross USD 140 billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 25-30%. The northeast region can be important in India’s ambition to spread wellness and alternate healing business.

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The region is blessed with plenty of verdant tea gardens, thick forests, Himalayan meadows, ornate orchid plantations, and subtropical jungles. This makes it a perfect ground for developing alternate healing centers, Ayurveda centers, Pancha Karna & other detox exercises, nature resorts, and much more.

Interestingly, most of the Northeastern states have their own healing and wellness tradition, which is an added advantage.

In the past, connectivity has been a challenge but presently there are airports spread across Bagdogra, Guwahati, Dimapur, and Shillong, which has greatly smoothened accessibility.

Confluence of real estate, hospitality, and wellness

In the Northeast, there is tremendous potential to blend real estate, hospitality, and wellness together to create viable and profitable value chains. This would result in high RoI investments and generate wider social and economic prosperity in the region. This will also generate jobs and vitalize other forms of tourism and commercial activities.

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The region with a vast mosaic of cultures, landscapes, and natural endowments is perfect to start wellness hotels, resorts & spas, rejuvenation and relaxation centres, naturopathy cottages, etc. Similarly, the region is also a potent ground to run other traditional and conventional wellness businesses such as Swiss spas, hydrotherapy, moving stone therapies, mindfulness training centres, aromatherapy houses, etc.

Undertaking a spa or any other wellness therapy in the idyllic environs of the northeast amid scenic beauties and cascading streams has its own unique charm. The weather and landscape are perfect to spend some lazy time and indulge in holistic health and well-being.

The northeast is also the perfect gateway for spiritual wellness as the calm and tranquil environs are ideal for learning mindfulness, Yoga, pranayama, and other spiritual practices.  It is noteworthy that the region is home to some of the globally recognized temples and monasteries, which further makes it a spiritual powerhouse.

The potential in the second home and rental villa market is also visible, as the picturesque region is a perfect ground for disconnecting with urban lifestyle and bonding well with nature for some time.

Darjeeling- the Gateway to North East

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The northeast’s saga is incomplete without West Bengal’s Himalayan Darjeeling region. The hill station of Darjeeling and the nearby region of Kalimpong (which was once part of Darjeeling but has been carved out as a separate entity) is known as the gateway to the North East region. The beautiful Himalayan hill station located at the foothills is known for its toy trains, old-style cafes, spellbinding valleys, and lush green tea gardens. It has plenty of vantage points from where the spectacular peaks of Kanchenjunga and Mount Everest are visible. Many popular urban cities in the Northeast are at a distance of 60-90 km from Darjeeling, which makes it a place of strategic repute.

Though like other parts of the Northeast, Darjeeling has not remained unscathed from modernism. There are dense modern urban neighbourhoods with high rises, malls, modern shopping, etc. However, the region has its own old-fashioned neighbourhoods with quaint shops, cafes, and British-era bungalows, meant to give an escape from the daily hustle-bustle and refresh the mind and body.

The region is also apt to blend wellness with a host of adventure activities such as rock climbing, rafting, hiking, and mountaineering.

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