Arunachal is one of the most sparesely populated states of India, borders China, Bhutan and Myanmar. There are five major rivers – Kameng, Subansiri, Siang (later the Brahmaputra in Assam), Lohit and Tirap and the mountain ranges follow the river systems. Home to a complex mix of communities, its people are friendly, colourful and simple. Its rich flora ranges from the Alpine to the subtropical, from rhododendrons to orchids. Its verdant forests, turbulent streams, lofty mountains and snow clad peaks make it a unique place.
Nearest airport is Tezpur (190kms) with daily flights from Calcutta. Nearest railway station is Rangapara (100kms), Well-connected by daily bus service from Tezpur.
Nearest airport: Tezpur (345kms)
Nearest Railhead: Rangapara (280kms)
Nearest Airport: Lilabari in Assam (56 kms from Naharlagun) (67 kms from Itanagar)
Naharlagun is also connected by a Helicopter service from Guwahati.
Nearest railway station: Harmuti (23 kms from Naharlagun)
North Lakhimpur (60kms from Itanagar) in Assam.
There are 26 major tribes and a number of sub-tribes inhabiting this area. Most of these communities are ethnically similar having derived from the original common stock but geographical isolation from each other has brought amongst them certain distinctive characteristics in language, dress and customs.
Broadly, the people have been divided into three cultural groups on the basis of their socio-religious backgrounds. The Monpas and Sherdukpens of Twang and West Kemeng districts follow the lamastic tradition of Mahayana Buddhism. Noted for their religious beliefs, the villages of these communities have highly decorated ‘Gompas’ . Though largely agriculturists, many of these people are also pastoral and breed herds of Yak and mountain Sheep. Culturally similiar to them are the Membas and Khambas, who live in the high mountains along the northern borders, Khamptis and Singphos, inhabiting the eastern part of the State are Buddhists of Hinayana sect. They are said to have migrated from Thailand and Burma long ago.
The second group of people are the Adis, Akas, Apatanis, Bungnis, Nishis, Mishmis, Mijis, Thangsos etc. who worship the Sun and Moon God. Their religious rituals largely coincide with the phases of agricultural cycles. They invoke nature deities and make animal sacrifices. Adis and Apatanis extensively practice wet-rice cultivation and have a considerable agricultural economy. Apatanis are also famous for their paddy-cum-fish culture. They have specialised over centuries in harvesting two crops of fish, along with each crop of paddy.
The third group comprises Noctes and Wanchos, adjoining Nagaland in the Tirap district. These are hardy people known for their structured village society in which the gereditary village chief still plays a vital role. The Noctes also practise elementary form of Vaishnavism.
The onward journey is most adventurous and perhaps the most difficult as Bomdila, the headquarters of the West Kampeng District is at a height of 2,530 mtrs, offering wonderfully panoramic view of Himalayan landscapes and snow clad ranges. There are apple orchards and Buddhist monasteries, for travellers are now entering an area that has had strong Tibetan and Buddhist influence, over the centuries.
Situated between Bomdila & Tawang, this place is located in the West Kameng district. There are apple orchards and sheep breeding farms. A few kilometres away from Dirang, are the famous hot springs where people go for a holy dip to wash away sins and diseases.
The capital of Arunachal Pradesh, is a beautiful historic city, also known as the “Land of the Dawnlit Mountains”. It is located to the east of Tawang and has been identified with Mayapur, a city of the 14th or 15th century A.D. The new township has modern buildings, bazaars and traditional homesteads.
Tawang, a Buddhist Pilgrimage site, where the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the Tibetans, goes to preach & pray. The most striking building in this Buddhist village is the tall central monastery, the Tawang Gompa. The 400 year old monastery dominates the valley with grand view of the Himalayas. Prayer flags flutter in the breeze and inside, the monks – there are some 500 lamas – light lamps, rush about their chores and drone in joint prayer. An 8 meter high guilded statue of Buddha is here.
On the banks of the river Bharali at an elevation of 190 mtrs is Tipi, an orchidarium with over 7500 orchids. On display are some of the finest species with names like the Dainty Lady’s Slipper or the more formal sounding Dendrobium. Arunachal has the largest range of orchids in the country.
Headquartered in Lohit district, this place Tezu has the Parasuram Kund where, particularly during winter, a fair is held during Makar-Sankranti. Pilgrims from all over the country come here for a holy dip in the kund. There is a large lake called Glow Lake, which can be reached by foot.