Before arriving in India for the first time, I imagined a country of ancient temples and mosques, palm-lined beaches and camel treks through the desert.
Dense jungle and mist-shrouded mountains never once came to mind.
But then I visited Shillong -- not necessarily by choice, but because that was where this year's autumn Rickshaw Run was launching for the first time. As our taxi from Guwahati made its way towards Shillong, the hills that rose up on either side of the road brought an entirely unexpected landscape.
The northeast region of India is also referred to as the Seven Sisters, after the number of states squeezed into this small area--among which are Sikkim, Assam, and Meghalaya, whose name in Sanskrit literally means "the abode of clouds."
Up until a few years ago, visitors to northeast India needed what's known as a Protected Area Permit, which also required them to travel with a tour guide and in groups larger than four. However, this restriction has recently been lifted in many parts, making this little corner the perfect place to escape the crowds of other places like Goa and the Golden Triangle.
Whether it's spending time in the old hill station of Shillong (and its botanical gardens in Ward's Lake), marvelling at the "living" root bridges in Cherrapunji, taking in the view of Darjeeling's tea plantations, or cruising down the Brahmaputra River in Assam, you'll find this untouched region is well worth a visit.
So if you're thinking of visiting India soon, don't be afraid to go north... northeast, that is.
Travel tip shared by Candace Rose Rardon