Asia Personal Travel Study Abroad

Hidden Gems of India

Story and photos by Justus Martin

In 2017, I had the opportunity to spend multiple months at a boarding school in the Northeastern state of Assam, India. Before arriving at the school, I travelled around the region and visited the adjoining state of Arunachal Pradesh. The North East of India is still today a scarcely visited region even though it is saturated with  distinct culture, impressive nature and hidden gems. 

In Arunachal Pradesh many of the native cultures – that have little to do with a western image of a Hindi India – have survived and define the rich character of the region. Moreover, the state encompasses a region strongly influenced by Tibettan culture where the second largest Tibettan Bhuddist monastery can be found. 

Assam is world-famous for its tea but its vibrant culture and natural magnificence  is often overlooked whilst it houses one of the last refuges of the Indian Rhino – the Kaziranga National Park – and ancient ruins, Majuli Island and many more cultural hubs. 

Through my photo essay, I hope to draw more attention for this beautiful but often unnoticed region.

This lady works on one of the tea plantations next to the Highway in Assam, India. The cultures that developed on the tea plantations nowadays form a crucial part in the state’s society and continue to play a central role in its economy.

Another photo from one of the many tea plantations that you pass by when traveling through the Brahmaputra valley, Assam, India.

An old man is turning a prayer wheel in Tawang Monastery, Arunachal Pradesh India –  the second largest monastery for Tibettan Monastery after the Potala Palace in Lhasa.

A woman is weaving a traditional costume for a local festival in a village between Daporijo and Along, Arunachal Pradesh, India.

On a stroll through the rice paddies of Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh, India, this old lady asked me to help her with planting the rice seedlings as I looked young and healthy, Naturally, I agreed and as a reward she shared her rice wine and allowed me to take this portrait.

This photo shows the ladies at work before I joined them in the field.

On a road side market in Assam, this man was serving another customer and reached out for these wafers.. I once heard another photographer talk about the stories to be told by photographs of hands which inspired me to take his one.

In the step valleys of the eastern Himalayas, Arunachal Pradesh, bridges like these are often the only thing connecting remote villages with the highways and, thus, civilization.

In the Buddhist valleys around Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, India, it is still common practice for families to send one of their sons to become a monk. Often already at a very young age, like this one.

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