ARUNACHAL PRADESH

ARUNACHAL PRADESH

Arunachal Pradesh is India's most remote and isolated state. Surrounded by China, Myanmar and Bhutan, it is located in northeastern India and was only declared a state in the late 1980s. It is a rugged and stunningly beautiful place with glacier-clad Himalayan peaks, rain-drenched forests, roaring streams, rarely-contacted ethnic groups and rare animals and birds. State Tourism Website: www.arunachaltourism.com

Arunachal Pradesh state covers 83,743 square kilometers (32,333 square miles), is home to about 1.4 million people and has a population density of only 17 people per square kilometer. About 77 percent of the population live in rural areas. Itanagar is the capital and largest city, with about 60,000 people.

Arunchal Pradesh is still a very wild place and has the greatest biodiversity of any place in South Asia. It is home to 550 species of orchid. A new species of monkey was found there in 2004. There are places that still have not been explored. Arunachal Pradesh is a sensitive area, with many places off limits to foreigners who need a permit to enter the state. Arunachal Pradesh is claimed by both China and India. China rejects the McMahon Line drawn between Tibet and British India in 1914, which marks the northern border of Arunachel Pradesh. A border war was fought here in 1962.

Arunchal Pradesh is a great end of the world kind of place. Here you can find Himalayan peaks that haven’t even been named yet; rain forests that have never been explored; jungles where scientists go looking for new species; tattooed and pierced tribal peoples that live in long houses in the forest and still hunt with bows and arrows; and magnificent, mist-shrouded, Tibetan Buddhist temples and monastery spectacularly situated on Himalayan mountain tops. For adventure, there are treks to remote tribal villages, glacier-sided peaks and the region’s infamous hanging bridges. Lonely Planet has ranked it as one four top regions in the world.

Arunachel Pradesh is inhabited mainly by tribals who have been granted a fair amount of political and cultural autonomy by the Indian government. Many of these tribal groups are animists. Others are Buddhists or Christians. Among the more interesting tribes are the Nishi people, whose warriors wear hornbill caps, use bearskin bags and hunt with knives with monkey-skin handles. Many of the Hindus and Muslims originated from outside the region.

Arunachal Pradesh is still largely pristine but is in danger of being degraded environmentally. It supplies India with 15 percent of its timber. Deforestation was rampant in the 1990s. Laws were passed to ban logging. It is impossible for foreigners or even Indians not native to the region to buy land in Arunachal Pradesh. Access to the region is restricted primarily because its proximity to China and existing tensions between China and India over the region..

Travel and Permits for Arunachal Pradesh

Michael Snyder wrote in the Washington Post: “The lack of infrastructure, and the travel permits required to enter the state because of its disputed northern border with China, make getting to Arunachal complex, which has kept the state well off the grid...Most of Arunachal and the northeast, this remains tribal territory: amazingly diverse, virtually unexplored and beautiful beyond all reason.” [Source: Michael Snyder, Washington Post November 14, 2013]

Traveling in Arunachal Pradesh takes time and generally can not be done with public transportation. The roads are very bad. It can take four or five hours to travel 100 kilometers. There are few buses and little shared-taxi-type transport. The only real feasible way to get around if you have limited time is in a hired SUV and a driver, which will cost you about US$50 to US$100 a day. I did a nine-day trip in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland with a driver who couldn’t speak much English, and no guide, for about US$75 a day. We stayed in cheap local hotels or jungle lodges, ate at roadside restaurants and tea houses, chewed a lot of betel nut and spent eight to 10 hours driving on scary precipitous roads several of the days through extraordinarily beautiful mountains, covered with rain forests, with snow-capped Himalayan peaks in the distance.

You need a travel permit to enter Arunachal Pradesh and in some cases additional permits to visit particular places within Arunachal Pradesh. Permits for Arunachal, valid for 30 days, cost cost about US$100 including government fees and processing fees, if they arranged before arrival with a travel company in Arunachal Pradesh or Guwahati, Assam. To get the permit you need to e-mail scans of your passport, visa, the intended day of entry and maybe filled out documents and some photos of yourself to the travel company you are working with. Often these companies don’t accept credit cards and want you pay through a bank transfer but are often willing to accept payment after arrival, usually in in Guwahati, Assam. A minimum of three official working days is needed to obtain the permits.

Arunachal Pradesh is regarded as one of the best places in India to experience real adventuresome trekking. The routes in the Bomdila-Tawang region are said to be particularly awesome. A famous trek called Tawang Chu starts from Jong, and reaches Mago after passing through dense jungle with waterfalls. Among some of the other trekking areas are Pasighat-Mariang, Daporijo-Along, Bomdila-Daimara via Chakku and Ramlingam, Along-Mechuka and Daporijo-Taksing.

I worked with Oken at Abor Country and Rintu at Times Travel. I arranged the permits with them a few weeks before I left for India and picked them up and paid for them after I arrived. I gave them an outline of where I wanted to travel before I arrived and worked out the details of how that would accomplished at a cheap restaurant after I flew into Guwahati airport. There were a few issues over driver’s expenses but it all worked out in the end.

ABORCOUNTRY
Travels & Expeditions
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Arunachal Pradesh 791111 INDIA
e-mail: aborcountry@gmail.com
Tel : + 91 360 2211722
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Fax : + 91 360 2292969
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www.aborcountrytravels.com

Northeastern India

Northeastern India looks like a wing that was connected to India as a kind of afterthought. It is linked to India proper by a narrow strip of land between Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim and Bangladesh. Northeastern India is made up of the seven states of 1) Assam, 2) Meghalaya, 3) Tripura, 4) Arunachal Pradesh, 5) Mizoram, 6) Manipur, and 7) Nagaland. Assam is a large tea-growing state. Arunchal Pradesh, the northeastern-most state of India, is also claimed by China and requires a permit to visit. Meghlaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura are small ethnic states set up for the main ethnic groups that live in each one.

Northeast India is one of the country's most scenic region. The snowcapped Himalayas provide a magnificent backdrop in the northern part of the region for pine forest, flower-covered meadows and lush tea plants that thrive in the regions misty weather. A multitude of ethnic groups occupy the southern and eastern regions, where there are dense rain forest with rare plants and animals. The main attractions are hill stations, national parks, Himalayan peaks and ethnic minorities. Some areas receive quite a bit of rain, especially in the monsoon season. In the northeastern states of Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Nagaland, upward of 90 percent of the population is tribal. However, in the remaining northeast states of Assam, Manipur, Sikkim, and Tripura, tribal peoples form between 20 and 30 percent of the population.

Certain tensions exist between these states and a relatively distant central government and between the tribal peoples, who are natives of these states, and migrant peoples from other parts of India. These tensions have led the natives of these states to seek a greater participation in their own governance, control of their states' economies, and their role in society. Emerging from these desires for greater self-governance are new regional political parties and continued insurgent movements. In addition to the more frequently analyzed regional movements in Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, and states such as Assam and Nagaland in the northeast, there are other regional movements, such as those in the Tripura and Miso tribal areas. [Source: Library of Congress]

There are more than 30 different separatist insurgent groups in Assam and northeast India. They include the United Liberation Front of Assam, the Manipur People’s Army, the National Liberation Front of Tripura and Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland Some of them have been fighting since independence in 1947 and have a history of fighting that goes back before that.

For a long time many areas of Assam and Northeast India were off limits to tourists, and some areas still are, because of the insurgent groups and tensions with China and to a lesser degree Bangladesh. There is periodic fighting between Assamese and Bengalis, and the Indian army and the Nagas, a tribal group that has never been completely tamed. You need a special permit to some areas. In recent years an effort has been made to open up the area. Restrictions on traveling are slowly being lifted. In 1995, the restricted area permits were lifted for Meghalaya, Assam and Tripura. In 2010, they were lifted in Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur. Arunachal Pradesh still requires a permit.

People of Arunachal Pradesh

Arunachal Pradesh is the home of 26 major tribes and more than 100 sub-tribes. According to a report submitted to UNESCO: Arunachal Pradesh has international border on three sides: Bhutan in the west, China-Tibet in the north and northeast, and with Myanmar in the east. This gives Arunachal Pradesh a multi-cultural, multi-racial lineage that depicts Tibeto-Burmese and Mongoloid traits. However, the region is similarly linked with the other north eastern states of India and shares strong socio-cultural ties. This makes Arunachal Pradesh, and by its extension Thembang, unique in its location and cultural influences that reflect both Tibeto-Bhutanese as well as Northeast Indian characteristics.” [Source: Permanent Delegation of India to UNESCO]

Arunachal Pradesh can be roughly divided into a set of semi-distinct cultural spheres, on the basis of tribal identity, language, religion and material culture: the Tibetic area bordering Bhutan in the west, the Tani area in the centre of the state, the Mishmi area to the east of the Tani area, the Tai/Singpho/Tangsa area bordering Myanmar, and the "Naga" area to the south, which also borders Myanmar. In between there are transition zones, such as the Aka/Hruso/Miji/Sherdukpen area, which provides a "buffer" of sorts between the Tibetan Buddhist tribes and the animist Tani hill tribes. In addition, there are isolated peoples scattered throughout the state, such as the Sulung.

Within each of these cultural spheres, one finds populations of related tribes speaking related languages and sharing similar traditions. In the Tibetic area, one finds large numbers of Monpa tribespeople, with several subtribes speaking closely related but mutually incomprehensible languages, and also large numbers of Tibetan refugees. Within the Tani area, major tribes include the Nyishi, which many people have recently come to apply to encompass the derogatory words; like dafla & Hills Miri. Apatani also live among the Nyishi, but are distinct. In the centre, one finds predominantly Galo people, with the major sub-groups of Karka, Lodu, Bogum, Lare and Pugo among others, extending to the Ramo and Pailibo areas (which are close in many ways to Galo). In the east, one finds the Adi with many subtribes including Padam, Pasi, Minyong and Bokar, among others. Milang, while also falling within the general "Adi" sphere, are in many ways quite distinct. Moving east, the Idu, Miju and Digaru make up the "Mishmi" cultural-linguistic area, which may or may not form a coherent historical grouping.

Moving southeast, the Tai Khamti are linguistically distinct from their neighbours and culturally distinct from the majority of other Arunachalese tribes. They follow the Theravada8 sect of Buddhism. They also exhibit considerable convergence with the Singpho and Tangsa tribes of the same area, all of which are also found in Burma. Besides, the Nocte and Wancho exhibit cultural and possibly also linguistic affinities to the tribes of Nagaland, which they border.

Ethnic Groups in Arunachal Pradesh

Abor is the general name given to tribal groups that lives in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Some are also found in Tibet and China. Also known as the Abuit, Adi and Tani, they live largely outside Indian society and seem do quite well. The Abor name has been applied to 15 different groups: Padum, Minyong. Pangis, Shumong, Ashing, Pasi, Karo, Bokar, Bor, Ramo, Palibo, Milan, Tangam, Tangin and Gallong, of which the Padam, Minyong and Shimong are the most numerous. [Source: Encyclopedia of World Cultures: South Asia, edited by Paul Hockings, C.K. Hall & Company, 1992]

There are believed to be around 100,000 Abor. Most of their settlements are along the Siang and Yamne rivers. They speak Adi (also known as Miri, Abor, Arbor or Mishing), a Sino-Tibetan language. Some of them still live traditional lives. Other have been widely acculturated. Many live in the Dihang Valley near Tibet on the Brahmaputra River in Arunachal Pradesh.

The Abors look more like Southeast Asians than Indians. They migrated to India from Tibet or China by crossing the Himalayas and then retreating back into the highlands. The reason for the migration is unknown. Between 1847 and 1862, the British government tried unsuccessfully to conquer all the Abor territory and a treaty was reached that gave the British some hegemony and promised unrestricted trade and communications and an uneasy peace was achieved. The British divided the area into four region for administration purposes.

Tsanglas are Buddhist who speak a Tibetan languages. The live near the Tibetan border and migrated from Bhutan many generations ago. They live in thatch roof huts and poles so their homes off their the ground in the monsoon season. They eat rice. To keep evil spirits away they hang the skins of jungle cats on the edges of their villages. The Mishing, the second largest tribe of Assam, inhabiting the Brahamputra Valley, are a people of Mongol descent. They have Hindu beliefs.

Brahmaputra River

Brahmaputra River is one of the world's great rivers and as far as anyone knows no one has ever traveled its entire length. Extending for 2,900 kilometers (1,800 miles) through some of the world's most remote and inhospitable terrain, it begins in the Himalayas in western Tibet as a glacier-fed stream and changes its name and twists and turns through China and India before emptying into Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal in Bangladesh. [Source: Jere Van Dyk, National Geographic, November 1988]

By some reckoning the Brahmaputra is the highest river in the world. Brahmaputra means "son of Brahma." Brahma is one of the most prominent Hindu gods. In Hindu cosmology the Brahmaputra is the only male river. The river is regarded as sacred by Buddhists in Tibet but not among the Muslims in Bangladesh.

The Brahmaputra is at its lowest in February, when water in the Himalayas is locked up in snow and ice. The river is at its highest in June when it is swollen from snow melt and early monsoons rains and September after the monsoons. In the dry season there is enough water to irrigate crops. New islands are constantly being creating and channels are consisting changing and on the move.

The Brahmaputra often floods in India, swamping fields and washing away villages. Sediment from floods helps fertilize the soil. Villages have to be move as the water cuts away at river banks. Freshwater Irrawaddy dolphins, known locally as su, swim up the Brahmaputra all the way to Assam.

Route of the Brahmaputra

The source of the Brahmaputra is in Tibet 100 kilometers south of sacred Mt. Kailas in the Chemayungdung range in the Himalayas and near the sacred Lake Mansarovar . The river here is known to Tibetans as the Zangpo, or Tsangpo, which simple means "river." [Source: Jere Van Dyk, National Geographic, November 1988]

The Zangpo is the largest river in southern Tibet. It flows at a height of more than two miles (3500 meters) for 1125 kilometers (700 miles) to the east almost the entire length of the Chinese-Tibetan border with Nepal and eastern India. It wasn't until early in the 20th century that geographers were certain that the Zangpo and the Brahmaputra were the same river. A British surveyor wrote in 1788, "This river must have a very long course before its enters the Bengal Provinces, since for 40 miles it is twice as big as the Thames...[There is] the strongest presumptive proof possible of the Sanpoo and Burrampooter being one and the same river."

The Zangpo goes through several name changes. It starts out as the Maquan Zangpo and becomes the Yarlung Zangpo. The river that flows through Lhasa is a tributary of the Yarlung Zanpo. Most Tibetans live along the Yarlung Zangpo and its tributaries, from Xigaze to Zetang, where Tibetan Buddhism developed in the late 8th century and water form the river is used to irrigate crops in otherwise dry areas.

The Zangpo narrows at Pei and drops into a rapid-filled, 3050-meter (10,000-foot) -deep gorge that seems like an escape route carved out of the Himalayas. Here the river makes a right hand turn towards India and drops a phenomenal 2133 meters (7,000 feet) in 240 kilometers (150 miles). This section of the river is known as the Siang to the Chinese, who want to someday harness the river into the world’s greatest generator of hydroelectric power. The area is also the site of massive logging operations. Travel here is restricted and even if it wasn't travel in the region is very difficult. There are few roads and the ones that exist are treacherous and often washed out or closed by landslides. The river is too wild to negotiate in boats and is crossed by cables rather bridges.

The Siang flows through an area claimed by both China and India and has been the site of some fighting. China rejects the McMahon Line drawn between Tibet and British India in 1914. Many explorers who have attempted to explore this difficult stretch of the rivers did not return to tell the tale. It wasn't until 1924 that the area was explored by Europeans. In 1962, the Chinese invaded this area and the Indian military has a strong presence in the area today.

As the river enters the Assam Valley it become officially known as the Brahmaputra. Here the river broadens and is fed by rivers coming out of some the rainiest parts of the world. River ferries run along some sections around Dibrugarh. Further down river the Brahmaputra passes by Kaziranga National Park, sometimes flooding it and killing rare one-horned rhinos. The Brahmaputra enters Bangladesh as the Jamuna, joins the Ganges to form the Padma and ends as the Meghna, which splits into a massive delta that empties into the Bay of Bengal at a rate of 2.3 million cubic feet of water a second.

According to the Guinness Book of Records, the 77,700-square-kilometer (30,000-square-mile) delta created by the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers in Bangladesh and West Bengal, India is the world's largest delta. Ever year the Brahmaputra and Ganges system carries two billion tons of sediment out to sea. More than any other river system, even the Amazon. The sediment creates islands known as chars, which are utilized for farming but are vulnerable to floods.

Transportation on the Brahmaputra

Rafting on the Brahmaputra River can be done on the upper reaches of the river in Arunachel Pradesh. One 180-kilometer (110-mile) one-week trips starts near the Tibetan border at Tuting, where there is flimsy-looking cane hanging bridge across the river, and ends in Pasighat. The trip takes rafters through some Class IV (advanced) rapids that often flip the rafts. One of the highlights of the trip is the visit to the Dibang Valley, home of the Adi people, and Marmong Gorge, with spectacular sheer walls, waterfalls and dense rain forest foliage. . . After the Marmong there are still some challenging rapids but the water is generally calmer. There are some more hanging bridges. Trips in the region are sponsored by the Delhi-based Aquaterra Adventures.

One can take a cruise along the Brahmaputra in Assam on the “MV Mahabaahu ”, experiencing wildlife, tradition, adventure tourism on the way. It one survey it was rated as one of the Top Ten River Cruise of the World. The MV Mahabaahu runs seven-night sailings along the Brahmaputra, either upstream, from Guwahati to Jorhat, or downstream in the other direction. Downstream itineraries depart from Neamati Ghat, near Jorhat (accessible by air from Kolkata). The cruise stops in Kaziranga National Park, which National Geographic calls 'the Serengeti of India.', which visitors can explore in boat, jeep and elephant-back safaris and look for tigers, elephants, wild buffalo and one-horned rhino. Its sandy and ever-shifting banks are also home to large herds of deer and to birds, including great hornbills, large storks and black-necked cranes.

The Mahabaahu provides comfortable base for enjoying the river. The cabins have large windows. Several have balconies. Though not a 'luxury boat' by today's Western standards, Mahabaahu is well presented with crisp linen cloths and napkins in the dining room, silk hangings and cushions on the beds, and comfortable seating in the main Soma Lounge, up on the sun deck, and around the pool.

In Bangladesh, the Brahmaputra is so wide there are no bridges across it, only ferries. Even so the river is the Bangladesh's main transportation system. Boats of all sized and shapes fill the river. There are large passenger ferries, waters water taxis and noaka loaded with a variety of goods. Most are propelled by boatmen with a single oar. Some of the sailing vessels look like Viking ships. There are even some old paddle-wheelers in operation. Fishermen use variety of nets and poles.

Bridges Over the Brahmaputra

Bogibeel Bridge is a combined road and rail bridge over the Brahmaputra River between Dhemaji district and Dibrugarh district in Assam that makes transportation between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh much easier. Opened in 2018, it was started in 2002 and took 16 years to build.

The Bogibeel Bridge is the longest rail-cum-road bridge in India and second longest such bridge in Asia, measuring 4.94 kilometers. It has 41 spans of 125 meters and a superstructure of composite welded steel truss and reinforced concrete. As it is situated in an earthquake-prone area over a river than is famous for flooding and creating new channels, it is India's first bridge to have fully welded steel-concrete support beams that can withstand earthquakes of magnitudes up to 7 on the Richter Scale. The bridge was constructed by a consortium of construction companies headed by Hindustan Construction Company. The bridge has a double rail line on the lower deck and a 3 lane road on the upper deck.

Dhola-Sadiya Bridge is 9.1-kilometer-long, US$381 million bridge over the Brahmaputra river between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh states that opened in 2017. The Dhola Sadia bridge link Dhola in Arunachal Pradesh to Sadiya in Tinsukia district of Assam is crucial from the strategic perspective as it is close to the border state of Arunachal Pradesh. cuts travel time between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh by four to five hours. It longest bridge close to the border with China and the Indian media made a big deal about the fact that the bridge has been built to support the weight of a 60-tonne tank. [Source: AFP, May 29, 2017]

At its inauguration, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the structure will help farmers in mountainous Arunachal Pradesh transport crops and herbs to markets in Assam.“This bridge will not only save time and money, but it will bring about a new economical revolution for the people of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh,” Modi said. On the military benefits, Ajit Singh, a defence research officer at New Delhi’s Institute for Conflict Management, said: “The bridge is going to help our troops get to parts that were earlier difficult to reach in times of crises.”

The Indian government is also constructing a 2,000 kilometers highway to connect the eastern part of Arunachal Pradesh to the western side at an estimated cost of US$6 billion. It is also carrying out a study on a possible new railway network in the area and has set up a ministry to develop India’s remote northeast beyond the so-called Chicken’s Neck - a narrow strip of territory around Bangladesh.

Tezpur, Assam: the Gateway to Western Arunachal Pradesh

Tezpur (120 kilometers east of Guwahati) serves as a kind of gateway to western Arunachal Pradesh. Generally, one has to pass through Assam to reach Arunachal Pradesh and Tezpur is the main city to do that if you are heading to Tawang and places in western Arunachal Pradesh. Located along the Brahmaputra River with Arunachal Pradesh about 20 kilometers to the north, Tezpur is a pleasant enough town of 100,000 people surrounded by lush green tea plantations and rice fields with the snow-clad Himalayas not too far away. .

Tezpur is considered to be Assam's oldest city. There are many legends associated with this slow-paced quaint city and it is said that it was the battleground of a war between Hari (Lord Krishna) and king Banasura (a devotee of Lord Shiva). Local lore recounts that the nephew of Lord Krishna, Aniruddha, fell in love with Usha, the daughter of the king, who disapproved of their match. The king put the young prince into jail and when Lord Krishna found out about this, he attacked him with full force. Banasura lost the war and requested Krishna not to kill him, after which he presented the couple, seated in a regal chariot, to the lord.

Originally, Tezpur is said to have been known as Haruppesvera, during the reign of the Mlechchha dynasty (650 - 900). The rock inscriptions of Harjar Varma point to the fact that the city was in existence from 829-30. Modern Tezpur was founded in 1835 by the British colonial administration. In fact, the city was an important center of trade that was used as a river port. After independence, the city continued to maintain its significant streak and was the site of the establishment of the first electric power station in this part of the country.

Getting There: By Air: The nearest airport, Saloni Airport, is located around 15 kilometers from Tezpur. Several flights connect Saloni Airport with the state capital. By Road: Roadways is the preferred and most convenient way of travelling to and from Tezpur. By Train: Tezpur railway station called Rangapara North Railway Station has a connect with Guwahati Railway Station. The nearest railhead is Guwahati that has trains from all important cities

Near Tezpur

Bhalukpong (an hour north of Tezpur) is a small town with 5,000 people considered the entry point to Arunachal Pradesh. The train journey from Tezpur there, people say, is one of the most beautiful rail experiences in India. River rafting and fishing and tours of Bhalukpong Fort can be arranged. the Tipi Orchidarium, home to over 2,600 cultivated orchids from 80 different species, is nearby. Bhalukpong is surrounded by the evergreen forests of the Pakhui Wildlife Sanctuary, also known as the Pakke Tiger Reserve. To reach the reserve, tourists need to cross the Kameng river from Bhalukpong.

Bamuni Hills (in Assam near Tezpur) is situated on the right bank of the mighty Brahmaputra river and contains sculptural ruins and stone carvings, which date back to the 9th and 10th centuries. According to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the style of the excavations hints that they were raised during the Gupta period. The stone carvings on the walls of the Bamuni Hills also make for an interesting sight and attract visitors with their artistic beauty. A popular belief hints that the ruins might have belonged to a temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. According to legend Lord Krishna's nephew, Aniruddha, was imprisoned here after he fell in love with the daughter of Banasura, who disapproved of their relationship.

Nameri National Park (in Arunachal Pradesh, near Bhalukpong, 35 kilometers north of Tezpur) and adjoining Pakhui (Pakke) Sanctuary spread over an area of 1,000 square kilometers. The landscape mainly comprises semi-evergreen, moist deciduous forests with cane and bamboo brakes and narrow strips of open grassland along rivers. The park lies around in the foothills of the eastern Himalayas. A haven for birdwatchers, it boasts around 300 species of birds, including hornbills, black storks, ibisbills, babblers, plovers etc. You can also spot fauna like tigers, leopards, sambars, clouded leopards, gaurs, wild boars, sloth bears, Himalayan black bears as well as elephants. Declared a reserve forest in 1978, it was upgraded to a national park in the 1990s.

Itanagar

Itanagar is the capital and largest in Arunachel Pradesh, with about 100,000 people. Located near a lake, it has a Buddhist temple, handicrafts center, polo park and botanical garden. The mountains around the town are filled with tall trees, bamboo groves and orchids. Itanagar zoo contains some clouded leopards.

The city is home to a large population of Nyishi tribe, the largest ethnic group in the state who follow Buddhism and celebrate one of the most famous festivals of the state, Nyokum. The other tribes including Moplas and Monpas celebrate the festival of Losar. According to legend the city was mentioned in Kalika Purana as well as in the epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata. It was called Mayapur during the period when Jiti dynasty ruled here in the 11th century. The outdoor festival of Ziro draws many people. Other festivals like Mopin, Reh and Losar represents an ethnic tribe of the state and are celebrated with dance and music.

Getting There: By Air: The nearest airport to the city of Itanagar is Lilabari Airport, about 57 kilometers away. By Road: The city is accessible from Guwahati, Tezpur, North Lakhimpur and Banderdewa. ASTC bus services are available from Banderdewa, Tezpur and Guwahati. By Train: Assam’s Harmuti Railway Station, 34 kilometers, and Naharlagun Railway Station, 15 kilometers, in the state are the two railway stations near Itanagar.

Sights In and Around Itangar

Ita Fort was built in the 14th and 15th centuries and has an irregular shape and is made from bricks from the same era. Ita Fort literally means “fort of bricks.” Itanger is named after it. While scholars attribute Ita Fort to Jitari dynasty’s King Ramachandra who apparently constructed it between 1350 and 1450, another more recent view is of the opinion that it was built in 1688 by Ahom king Chakradhvaj Simha.

Ita Fort is enclosed by brick ramparts and natural ridges. It is believed that around 80 lakh bricks, with a total volume 16,200 cubic meters and 45,000 man days, were used to construct the fort . There are three different entrances – eastern, western and southern – to the fort. While the eastern rampart of the fort is more than half-a-kilometer long and has one gate, the western rampart is over 1.4 kilometers long with two gates. The original height of the rampart was around 5 meters and the average wall width around 1.5 meters. Irregular steep ridges of over a kilometer long in each of the northern and southern directions provided natural defence. Built of stone masonry, the eastern gate overlooks Doimukh in Dikrang Valley whereas the southern gate was constructed with brick along with the use of stone and stone-slabs. Floral and animated designs were used to beautify the doorways which are nowhere to be found now. These doors acted as a checkpoint for enemies approaching the fort from Gohpur and Ramghat in the south. Probably the main entrance was the one in the west which faced River Senkhi.

Geykar Sinyik (six kilometers from the city of Itanagar) is one of the most popular and beautiful lakes of Itanagar. Known for its lush surroundings and clear water, it is also known as Ganga lake. Geykar Sinyi literally means “confined water.” The water is cold but tourists can boat and swim here among tall trees and rugged scenery.

Tawang

Tawang (11 hours of driving Tezpur) is definitely an end of the earth kind of place. A Tibetan-style town that was captured by the Chinese in their 1962 invasion of Arunachal Pradesh, it sits at an elevation of 2,669 meters above sea level and can be reached by a rigorous road trip from Tezpur and Bomdila. After passing over 4,176-meter (13,701-foot) Sela Pass, one reaches Tawang, a massive walled and fortified complex with a monastery. The 400-year-old monastery belong to the Gelupa Sect of Tibetan Buddhism.

A stunning contrast to the dense jungles and rain forests that lie below it, Tawang sits on a Himalayan ridge surrounded by glacier-covered peaks and snow-blanketed passes and dotted with picturesque Buddhist gompas (monasteries), stupas and temples. Tawang is reached taking zigzagging and winding roads through high mountain passes such as Sela La. Along the way visitors see stunning scenery with fluttering Buddhist prayer flags showing that Tibet is not far away. The People's Liberation Army of China used these same roads when they invaded India virtually untouched in 1962 and only turned back because the roads in the region were so bad and so far away from their military bases and supply lines.

Various ethnic groups and tribal communities live in the Tawang valley. The primary one is the Monpas, a Tibetan-related groups that lives in both Arunachal Pradesh and Tibet and have traditionally been a nomadic people that herded sheep, cows, yaks, goats and horses (See Below). You can enjoy their villages while walking among the misty mountainous landscape on the hiking trails around Tawang.

Getting There: Tawang is located close by the international borders of China to the north and Bhutan to the southwest. Visitors to Tawang require special Inner Line permits from the government which are available in Kolkata, Guwahati, Tezpur and New Delhi. Tawang is located at a distance of approximately 555 kilometers from Guwahati and 320 kilometers from Tezpur By Air: The nearest airports are at Salonibari Airport, Tezpur, which is about 11 hours from Tawang and Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, Guwahati, roughly 14 hour away from Tawang. By Road: Most of the travel up to Tawang from the plains must be undertaken via a steep hill road journey through the Sela Pass at 4,176 meters (13,701 feet). Tourists can travel to Tawang either from Tezpur or Guwahati by road. By Train: The closest railway station is Rangapura, which is connected to the all the major cities of Assam.

Monpa

The Monpa are a very small minority that lives in southeastern Tibet and Twang area of Arunachal Pradesh. They speak a Tibetan-Burman language and have traditionally been a nomadic people that herded sheep, cows, yaks, goats and horses. Also known as the Monba and Moiba, they live in an area with abundant rainfall and steep mountain slopes covered with dense forests. They grow rice, maize, millet, buckwheat, soybeans and sesame seeds and also hunt and are considered skilled archers. Most marriages are monogamous although polygamy and polyandry were practiced in the past. In Tibet they intermarried with Tibetans, live among Tibetans and have adopted many Tibetan customs.

In Arunachal Pradesh Monpas, are known for producing of beautiful arts, crafts and handlooms. Their homes have furniture made of beautifully carved wood. They weave carpet with lovely designs with dragon, floral and geometric patterns. Though this started as a product to use in daily life, today it has become a major occupation for some ladies here. The Monpas also produce various utensils of daily use from wood. Zan Shongbu, a shallow flat rectangular utensil used for kneading flour is made from a single block of wood by hollowing out the inside. Jandhong, a long cylindrical vessel made of wood with brass around it, is used for churning butter tea. For churning milk, they have Zob, which resembles jangdhong but is bigger in size. Sheng Tsumrong is a wooden mortar in which cereals and other edibles are pounded with the help of a wooden pestle.

"Monpa" mean people who live in Monyu"Menyu"—the area where the Monpa—live which is full of ridges and peaks, and is covered by dense forest. The rolling Yarlung Zangbo River (Brahmaputra River) turns southward in the Tibetan region of Linzhi and Motuo, and a fertile river valley is formed there. The climate is warm, the rainfall is abundant rich, and the vegetation is dense and green. The high mountains and deep river valleys made communication and transportation to the region very difficult, and thus it was very isolated and few outsiders set foot there. Buddhists called the place "a concealed place", so people looked forward to seeing it."Source: Liu Jun, Museum of Nationalities, Central University for Nationalities, Science of China, China virtual museums, Computer Network Information Center of Chinese Academy of Sciences, kepu.net.cn ~]

The Menyu is the birthplace of the Monpas. "Menyu" is a Tibetan word that means “plain” and refers to at the lower reaches of the Brahmaputra River. It is also called "Baiyujimubang" which means a hidden beautiful virgin land. Situated in the Himalayan region, the Menyu plain is high (3600 meters above sea level) in the north part and low (only 1000 meters above sea level) in the south part. Menyu area enjoys abundant rainfall, swift rivers, beautiful landscape and fertile land. Virgin pine forests are inhabited by wild boars, bears, foxes and golden monkeys.In this environment, the Monpas are mainly engaged in farming and animal husbandry, supplemented by hunting and gathering. They grow rice, maize, buckwheat, qingke barley, winter wheat, soybeans and sesame. According to historical Tibetan records, ancestors of the Monpas lived in the Himalayas south of Tibet long ago. In the 13th century, the Menyu region to the south of Cuona was claimed by Tibet.

Millet is the staple food of the Monpas, who also eat barley, rice, wheat, buckwheat, maize and various pulses. Their vegetable consumption is based on local availability, but by and large they consume potatoes, cabbages, spinach, radish, lettuce, gourd, pumpkin, layi patta (local spinach), maan, dried local mushrooms, chilies, etc. The Monpas are quite fond of spicy food and use a lot of chillies in their preparations. A very popular side dish served in most households is chamin, which is a chutney made by grinding chilies with fermented cheese. Fermented cheese is a key ingredient in most of the traditional preparations. Another common ingredient is fermented beans called greh-churba, which acts as a flavoring agent. The Monpas also eat pork, yak, mutton, chicken and fish. Maize and millet are ground and prepared to make porridge. Like the Tibetans, the Monpas also eat zhamba (roasted qingke barley) and Tibetan-style butter tea.

The Monpa practice Tibetan Buddhism, but maintain some traditional shamanist practices. They follow the Tibetan calendar and practice water burial. Their version of sky burial involves burial in a tree. They observe the same festivals as the Tibetans. The Monpa have traditionally had close connection with Tibetan in politics, economics, culture and religion. They use the Tibetan calendar and used to use Tibetan money. The Monpa language belongs to the Zang (Tibetan) language branch of Tibeto-Burmese group in Sino-Tibetan family of languages. Their language has many dialects. The Monpa don't have a written language of their own and commonly used the Tibetan written language. They generally practice Tibetan Buddhism. Tibetan New Year's Day is the most important holiday for the Monpas. They also celebrate their own Wangguo festival ("Wang" refers to field while "guo" refers to circle), the Monpa harvest festival) held in July every year.

Tawang Area

According to a report submitted to UNESCO: “Tawang District and The West Kameng district, in which Thembang is located, share “immediate border with Tibet on the north and Bhutan on the west that has similar influence on the socio-cultural systems in the district, including architecture that is manifest in the presence of Dzongs, a type of fortress architecture that is found in Bhutan and Tibet. However, the region is similarly linked with the other north eastern states of India and shares strong socio-cultural ties. This makes Arunachal Pradesh, and by its extension Thembang, unique in its location and cultural influences that reflect both Tibeto-Bhutanese as well as Northeast Indian characteristics. [Source: Permanent Delegation of India to UNESCO]

“The immediate geographic setting... at a high altitude within the mighty Eastern Himalayas replete with a picturesque setting, abundant flora and fauna that have shaped the traditional knowledge systems of the village in a specific way, also make it unique. Since Thembang Dzong is believed to be constructed before 1100, it may very well be the precursor to the more majestic Dzong architecture of Bhutan and a pioneering case study of a fortified village in the eastern Himalayas.”

The area has rich “biodiversity and a wide variety of wild animals, including rare species such as Red Panda, are found in these forests. The locals...respect this ecological richness and have incorporated its aspects in their socio-religious practices. The Monpas knows to maintain the ecological equilibrium as part of their socio-cultural life. The area is also homeland of different species of herbs and orchids which have medicinal value. They are having the sound knowledge in practice of ethno medicine as part of their traditional wisdom.

Tawang Monastery

Tawang Monastery (in Tawang is the social, cultural and spiritual focal point of not only Tawang but of the entire valley in which is situated. Perched on a hill, about 10,000 feet above sea level, this monastery is the largest in India and overlooks ravines in the south and the west, a narrow ridge on the north and gradual slope towards the east. In winter, it gets covered during snowfall, adding to its beauty. The majestic monastery can be entered from its northern side through the gate 'Kakaling', a hut-like structure with walls made of stone.

The ceiling or the interior roofs of the Kakaling are painted with Mandalas or the Kying-Khores, while the inside walls have been painted with pictures of saints and divinities. After Kakaling, comes the main gate of the monastery on its northern side. Its eastern wall is about 925 feet long. A major highlight of the monastery is a 25-ft-high golden statue of Lord Buddha, seated on a lotus throne flanked by his two principal attendants, Maudgalyayana and Sariputra, each with a staff and a bowl in hand. Three storeys high, the Tawang Monastery is surrounded by a 925-ft (282 meters)-long compound wall and houses 65 residential buildings. It also boasts a library that houses valuable old scriptures, mainly Kangyur and Tengyur.

The monastery holds a great historical significance and was founded in 1681, in accordance with the wishes of the 5th Dalai Lama, Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso. The word 'Tawang' literally translates into chosen by a horse and According to legend the site of the present monastery is believed to have been chosen by a horse owned by Mera Lama Lodre Gyatso, the founder. The sixth Dalai Lama, Tsangyang Gyatso, was born in Tawang, making it a major holy site for Tibetan Buddhists. The Tawang Monastery, in Tibetan, is known as Galden Namgey Lhatse, which translates to celestial paradise on a clear night. The monastery belongs to the Gelugpa sect.

Getting to Tawang

Tawang is located at a distance of approximately 555 kilometers from Guwahati and 320 kilometers from Tezpur Visitors to Tawang require special Inner Line permits from the government which are available in Kolkata, Guwahati, Tezpur and New Delhi. Most of the travel up to Tawang from the plains must be undertaken via a steep hill road journey through the Sela Pass at 4,176 meters (13,701 feet). On the way to Tawang, travelers pass through Bomdila and Dirang.

Bomdila (153 kilometers away from Tezpur) is remote town known for snow-clad Himalayas, lush green landscapes and a rich. The Bomdila View Point is a prominent site to view the spectacular West Kameng valley and the cloud-covered Nechipu Pass. Bomdila is also known for its beautiful apple orchards.The highest peaks in the state, Kangte and Gorichen, are clearly visible from Bomdila, which is a predominant tribal area inhabited by the Miji, Monpa, Sherdukpen, Khawas and Aka tribes. The ethnographic museum is worth a visit.

Dirang (halfway between Tezpur and Tawang) is an overnight tourist stopover in the western part of Arunachal Pradesh on the way to Tawang. Located on the banks of the River Kameng, it is small hamlet with pleasant weather and lush vegetation and it is not at a very high altitude. One of the oldest monasteries here, the Khastung Gompa, is an uphill trek from the village.

Downhill from the village, accessible through a foot bridge decorated with Himalayan flags, is the Dirang river. Here, sheep can be seen grazing and sometimes visitors will even find themselves invited to local homes for tea in this village known for its warm hospitality. The village has a market where local handicrafts, which make for perfect souvenirs, are sold. The Dirang Dzong Fort, built according to Bhutanese stone architectural design, is located on top of the hill and is accessible through a long flight of rock cut, stone studded steps. The design of this fort was made using some ingenious techniques to protect its residents from the biting cold. Another interesting attraction near the village is a hot water spring, which is considered to be sacred by the native population.

Thembang Fortified Village

Thembang Fortified Village (55 kilometers north-northeast of Bomdila) was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2014.According to a report submitted to UNESCO: “Thembang, a settlement of the Monpas, is a village within a fortified area measuring approximately 3.2 Acres. It is a host to several ancient and historical structures and has drawn the maximum attention for the fortified Dzong constructed using traditional technology of the region. Due to the richness of heritage structures found in the village, locals consider the village of Thembang itself as a monument. Thembang Dzong is located at the altitude of 2169 meters...The area falls to the east of Tawang-Bomdila road and about 14 kilometers far away from Munna camp. Thembang village and Dzong are surrounded with the majestic beauty of lush green hills, steep gorges and snow clad peaks. The River Dirang cascades down the gorge running along the western side of Thembang gorge in the Southeast direction.[Source: Permanent Delegation of India to UNESCO]

The Dzong has two gates — one at northern side and the other at the southern side of village fortification. The northern gate measures 3.50 meters. X 5.00 meters while the gate at the southern side is in the nature of an emergency or escape gate. The construction of the Dzong and the gates follows traditional construction systems of the Monpas, which includes composite stone masonry and wood architecture. Ornamental features include carved stone blocks, mani walls (stone walls with prayers engraved on them), traditional wood carvings, paintings and manuscripts, etched as murals and graffiti along the houses and ancient ruins.

The Dzong area is inhabited by the Dirkhipa clan of the Monpas since many generations. Due to increase of their population, a section of the Dirkhipa clan is also settled outside the old Thembang Dzong. There are 42 households in the village and the total population is 250. Most of the dwellings are made in traditional method of indigenous Monpa architecture. Thembang Dzong was also constructed using same traditional architecture which is still prevalent. Pre-historic archaeological evidence has also been excavated by the Archaeological Section of the Research Department, Govt. of Arunachal Pradesh at Thembang. Some of the items recovered include Neolithic Celt, various Neolithic tools, Stone Age axe etc. The predominant religion at Thembang is Buddhism and ownership of properties at Thembang is not individual based but controlled by the local panchayat and deemed as community ownership.

“The greatest strength of Thembang lies in the traditional knowledge systems of the Monpas that is indicative of their consciousness in maintaining the built as well as natural heritage of their area as their traditional glory.” The site is important because: 1) Thembang exhibits an important interchange of human values on developments in Dzong architecture within Arunachal Pradesh; 2) Thembang bears an exceptional testimony to the living cultural traditions of the Monpa tribe, which depicts influences of diverse cultures – the Bhutanese, the Tibetans and the indigenous North East Indian. This includes their social structure and practices, rites, rituals and their vernacular building knowledge systems.

Passes Near Tawang

Sela Pass (67 kilometers from of Tawang) is a high altitude mountain pass that acts as the gateway to Tawang. It forms the single and highly crucial connecting line between the Tawang and West Kameng districts. The pass rises at a height of 13,700 feet above sea level. Its stark and rugged terrain has hardly any vegetation and is covered with snow for most part of the year, offering a splendid view of the majestic Himalayas. Some yaks can be seen grazing in the sporadic bursts of greenery on the slopes here.

A few lamas can be seen walking to and from the villages and monasteries surrounding this area. The area around the pass has over a hundred big and small lakes of which the most accessible is the picturesque Sela Lake, located on top of the pass. Due to its height, the lake remains largely frozen for most part of the year. It is considered to be sacred by the tribes inhabiting this region and offers panoramic views of the breathtaking Himalayan landscape surrounding it. The beautiful Sela Pass gate, designed in the Buddhist colors of red, blue, green and gold stands majestically juxtaposed against the white peaks of the surrounding ranges. Another attraction is a gate called Jaswant Garh, which leads up to the Jaswant Singh War Memorial, named after the Indian soldier who died here while fighting the Chinese army.

Bumla Pass (37 kilometers from Tawang the border between Arunachal Pradesh, India and Tibet-China) is situated at an altitude of 4,600 meters (15,200 feet). It is snowbound for almost the entire year due to its steep elevation and presents a beautiful view of the Tibetan plateau. The road to the pass takes visitors through many sleepy hamlets and scenic lakes, making the drive memorable. Maintained by the Indian Army, Bumla Pass is a must for those who want to see how Indian soldiers protect the borders in the harshest of climes. Those arriving here have very warm stories to share of how they were received by the Indian Army and offered refreshments as well as tips on how to adapt to the cold and high altitude.

Bumla Pass is also one of the four officially agreed BPM (Border Personnel Meeting) points between the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation Army of China. On designated dates, cultural programs are also organised by the two sides, which can be witnessed by people. A telescope and a few binoculars are kept near the Indian Army check post for visitors who want to know what lies beyond the border. The army canteen serves hot tea, water and dessert. A special permit is required for visiting the pass and can be obtained from the Office of the Deputy Commissioner in Tawang.

Natural Sights Attractions In Tawang

Shonga Tser Lake (on the outskirts of Tawang.) is a beautiful, serene spot surrounded by lofty snow-capped mountains. Tourists can undertake a trek in the surrounding areas of the lake and get picturesque views of the valley and evergreen pine forests. Strings of Buddhist prayer flags fluttering in the breeze can be seen tied around the trees and boulders of this lake. The lake also invites birdwatchers who can sight species of Ruddy Shelduck birds (high altitude flight birds mostly seen in winters) while exploring the walkways around the lake. The colloquial name for this bird is the Brahminy duck. The lake is also called Madhuri Lake, because a song from a Hindi film called Koyla, starring popular Indian actress Madhuri Dixit was shot here. Tourists can also go for nature walks and explore the natural beauty of the area.

Bap Teng Kang Waterfall (80 kilometers from Tawang) is known as the Nuranang Falls. The water falls in sheets of white, from a staggering height of 100 ft, making its way through lush green mountains of Arunachal Pradesh. A picnic spot at the roof of the world, this place is high enough to give you the feeling of walking among clouds. The area around the falls has a thick green cover and a few hours can be spent exploring the area on foot, with the roaring water falling at a distance and the surrounding mist hanging lightly in the air. Day trip buses and taxis that take you to this waterfalls are available in town. There are a few food stalls that serve hot tea and other snacks. The rich, mineral heavy water of the Himalayas is said to be therapeutic and during the summer months, one can even swim in the little pools created by the waterfalls.

Gorichen (164 kilometers from Tawang) is the highest scalable peak in Arunachal Pradesh, towering at a height of over 6492 meters (21,300) feet above sea level. Because of its elevation, Gorichen remains snow- and glacier-bound throughout the year and attracts seasoned mountaineers and trekkers. The peak is locally known as Tsa-Nga-Phu, which translates into kingdom of the deity. The Monpa tribe worship this peak as they believe it is vital for their existence and protects them from all evils. Locally, people often refer to it as the giant white elephant because of the unmistakable, white carpet of snow that covers it, making it one of the most distinctive and easily identifiable peaks in this region. One of the better views of this peak can be seen on the road between Bomdila and Tawang. Here patches of green meadows and verdant forests that can be seen in the interlocking valleys below, while the bright white snow-capped peaks tower over them.

Mechuka

Mechuka (180 kilometers northwest of Along) is a beautiful, remote place only 30 kilometers away from Tibetan-China border. Because of its location you need a special permit in addition to the one you need for traveling in Arunachal Pradesh. Colloquially known as Menchukha, it is a small town with a strong military presence situated at 1,830 meters (6,000 feet) above sea level, surrounded by tropical forests, pine trees, bushes and often snow-capped mountains. The Yargyapchu river flows in the valley of Mechuka.

Mechuka is one of the lesser explored valleys in this Himalayan region and thus unspoilt. The main attraction is the 400-year-old Samten Yongcha Monastery of Mahayana Buddhist sect. It houses numerous ancient statues, including that of Guru Padmasambhava, considered to be founder of the Nyingma sect. colorful costumes and masks created for folklore figures found in Tibetan mythology can also be seen. These masks are often worn during a traditional dance called cham, which is an energetic and lively event that teaches people to shun all that is dark within them and embrace the good tenets of life according to Buddhism, like compassion and love. Many Tibetan festivals, especially Losar, are celebrated with reverence. The Losar festival, celebrated to mark the auspicious start of a new year, sees a lot of visitors who come to offer prayers.

Mechuka is also known for its pristine beauty, cultural tribes and gushing rivers that allow for sports like kayaking and rafting. The Siang river, which originates from the glaciers around the Mansarovar Lake in Tibet, flows through Mechuka and provides a breathtaking view of the valley. There are many hanging bridges and bamboo walking bridges that connect the banks of this river. Walking on these gently swaying bridges, while the water gushes below, can be quite an experience. Terraced rice fields, dotted with small farms, can be seen on the slopes of the valleys. Mechuka Valley is home to the people of the Memba, Ramo, Bokar and Libo tribes.

I stayed for a couple nights at Gayboo’s Traditional Homestay between Christmas and New Year and had a good time. There was good mix of Indian and foreign tourists there and we had a bonfire party on a small island, with beer, ganja and chicken roasted Assamese-style between splints of bamboo. I did some nice walks. There is a large ridge-hill across the river from the town. With a guide that told stories about dancing pairs of snakes and locals being eaten by bears, I climbed to the top of the ridge where there were good view of snow-capped mountains and Tibet to the north and rain-forest-cloaked mountains to the south. The ridge-hill was dooted with manned military emplacements. I decided at last minute to go to Mechuka a didn’t have a permit so my driver had to bride a policeman about $20 to let us pass.

Namdapha National Park

Namdapha National Park(500 kilometers east of Guwahati) is located where tropical rain forests collide with rugged and remote eastern fringes of the Himalayas, It is home to tigers, leopards, snow leopards, clouded leopards, hoolock gibbon and many other animals. There are a few hiking trails through virgin rain forests but not so many and few hut-style places to stay. You are best bringing your own food. It is often difficult to spot animals as the forests are so thick, the terrain so rugged and animals are wary of humans and can sense them approaching

Namdapha National Park was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2006 According to a report submitted to UNESCO: “Namdapha National Park, Kamlang Wildlife Sanctuary and Jairampur Forest Division are located within India’s northeastern frontier state–Arunachal Pradesh. Among the last great remote wilderness areas of Asia, Namdapha and its adjoining areas, is flanked by the Patkai hills to the south and southeast and by the Himalaya in the north. The area lies close to the Indo-Myanmar-China trijunction. Forests are contiguous across the international boundary with Myanmar, with several adjoining protected areas, including the huge recently declared Hukawng Valley Tiger Reserve (Rabinowitz 2001, 2004). [Source: Nature Conservation Foundation and Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecologyand Environment]

“The entire area is mountainous and comprises the catchment of the Noa-Dihing River, a tributary of the great Brahmaputra river which flows westwards through the middle of Namdapha. Numerous streams drain into the Noa-Dihing and forest pools and natural salt licks are abundant in the area. The park spans a wide altitudinal range from 200 meters to 4,571 meters at Dapha Bum, the highest point in the park. The terrain is steep and inaccessible. Interior and higher areas have not been explored, except by hunters from local communities.

“It is bordered on the north by the Kamlang Wildlife Sanctuary (550m to 4200 meters), Lohit district. To the east and southeast lie the Patkai hill ranges and the international border with Myanmar. To the southeast are unclassified state forest (USF) areas (c. 700 square kilometers) of the Vijaynagar circle. To the west, are Reserved Forests and USF areas of the Jairampur Forest Division. Kamlang WLS is bounded on the north, it is bounded by the Lang river and later by the Lati, to the south lies the Changlang-Lohit district boundary and on its western side, the Tawai Brai up to its confluence with the Kamlang river. The area is mostly steep mountainous terrain, with few gentle slopes crisscrossed by numerous rivers (Lai, Lati, Lang and Kamlang), rivulets and perennial streams.”

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: India tourism website ( incredibleindia.org), India’s Ministry of Tourism and other government websites, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Yomiuri Shimbun and various books and other publications.

Updated in August 2020

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