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Know Your Smart City: The Northeast

The 12th part of the 'Know Your Smart City' web series looks at cities in the Northeast

Supratim Dey & Debarghya Sanyal  |  Guwahati/New Delhi 

Know your smart city: Maharashtra

In the 12th part of the ‘Know Your Smart City’ web series on the 98 cities that have been shortlisted to be equipped with modern facilities and innovative solutions over time, we look at the seven cities in the Northeast.


The gateway to the Northeast, Guwahati, also the region’s commercial hub, was formerly known as Pragjyotishpur. It was the capital of Kamrupa kingdom until the 12th century. Situated on the banks of the river Brahmaputra, with hills surrounding it on three sides, the city acts as an entry for all the state capitals of the Northeastern states (barring Itanagar). Guwahati is the foremost city of the region, with its rail, road and air connectivity with the rest of India. Of late, the city has been witnessing a rapid growth in the real estate sector, as people from across the state and the region prefer moving to this city in search of jobs and livelihood. At present, a metro rail project is in the pipeline to decongest the city, as there has been a fast growth in the number of vehicles on Guwahati’s roads. The city also acts as the medical and educational hub of the Northeastern region.


Until 1966, Aizawl was a large village but the regrouping of Mizo villages after the March 1966 Mizo National Front uprising helped Aizawl evolve into a larger town and then a city. With more than 25 per cent of the state population living here, Aizawl is now central to the state’s economic network, with its well laid out roadways and communication networks. Situated on a ridge 1,132 metres (3,715 ft) above sea level, with the Tlawng river valley to its west and the Tuirial river valley to its east, Aizawl has a mild, sub-tropical climate. The capital and largest city of Mizoram, houses a majority of its government houses, so the region's economy is primarily sustained by government services and major banks.


The picturesque city of Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya, is situated on the Shillong plateau and surrounded by hills, the city served as the capital of undivided Assam until Meghalaya became a separate state in 1972. Also known as the ‘Scotland of the East’, Shillong is one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in the Northeastern region, mainly because of its scenic beauty. With tourist inflow fast increasing, tourism has turned into a vibrant industry for Shillong. It has also transformed Shillong from a sleepy town into a bustling city. However, thanks to the complete absence of rail connectivity and poor air connectivity, Guwahati, at a distance of 100 km, acts as the nearest rail and air link for Shillong. The city is connected with a four-lane highway with Guwahati. A survey for laying railway line up to Shillong is underway at present.


Situated close to the Indo-Bangla international border, Agartala, the capital of Tripura, is often referred as a ‘cultured city’, due to the refined tastes of its citizens and its high literacy rate. The city is now also developing as a trade and investment hub of the region. A relatively corruption-free governance, coupled with a pro-business environment, is helping the city attract private sector investments at a fast rate. Just 2 km from the international border, Agartala has also transformed into a centre for cross-border trade and business with Bangladesh. However, Agartala is probably the most geographically disadvantaged state capital of India: The city still awaits direct rail connectivity with rest of the country, and road connectivity to the mainland via Shillong and Guwahati is non-reliable during rainy season. The city of late is looking at enhanced connectivity to the mainland India via Bangladesh, through both roadways and waterways. The recently started bus service between Agartala and Kolkata, via Dhaka, reduced the travel time between the two Indian cities by a third. Laying of rail tracks by the railway ministry from Agartala to the Indo-Bangla international border is in the pipeline.


The capital city of Manipur, Imphal is located amid mountain ranges, lakes and lush green valleys. With an average elevation of 786 metres (2,579 ft), it has a humid subtropical climate — mild, dry winters and a hot monsoon season. With a long history of kingdoms, dynasties, and finally struggle with the British rule, Imphal has many historical monuments. Besides, it has excellent transport connectivity and is one of the prime economic hubs of the state. Imphal is connected by road to Silchar via National Highway 37, to Aizwal via National Highway 150 and to Dimapur and Tumu in Myanmar via National Highway AH-1. The Imphal International Airport is the second international airport built in the northeastern region of India, after Guwahati, and the third-largest airport in the region after Guwahati and Agartala.


Located in the East Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh, Pasighat was founded in 1911 by the British Raj as a gateway to administrative convenience of the greater Abor Hills and the north area in general. The area experiences tropical humid climate during summer and dry mild winter, along with heavy rainfall. Fed by the river Brahmaputra, and surrounded by hills, Pasighat sustains agriculture as the prime economy, with rice as its main crop. Tourism, too, plays a major part in the region’s economy, thanks to its connectivity through road and waterways with major towns in the Northeast, including Guwahati, Lakhimpur and Itanagar. Home to the Adi tribes, Pasighat celebrates myriad festivals and rituals, like Solung, Arar and Etor, every year.


The land of Angami Naga tribe, Kohima is the hilly capital of Nagaland and shares a border with Myanmar. In 1944, during World War II, the Battle of Kohima along with the simultaneous Battle of Imphal was the turning point in the Burma Campaign. Kohima has a large cemetery known as the War Cemetery for the Allied war dead. It is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The town’s population comprises the 16 tribes of Nagaland. The population of the Angamis and Aos are the largest in present-day Kohima urban area. Due to its elevation, Kohima features a more moderate version of a humid subtropical climate. Kohima has cool winters and hot rainy summers. The city is known for the Hornbill festival, named after the bird, celebrated in Naga folklore, and aimed at celebrating Naga traditions and culture. It is a prime tourist attraction, too.

First Published: Mon, September 21 2015. 13:05 IST