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Arunachal Pradesh


Location:Arunachal Pradesh is bordered by China in the north, Bhutan in the west, Myanmar (Burma) in the east and shares its boundaries to the south with Assam and Nagaland.
Area:83,743 Sq Km
Population:1,091,117 (Provisional 2001census)
Capital:Itanagar(Population-34970 (Provisional 2001 census)
Clothing:Summer-cotton, Winter- heavy woollen
Wildlife Sanctuaries:Itanagar, Pakhui, LakiMehao
National Parks:Namdapha, Mouling

Nature’s TreasureTrove

It is another world, another universe. I read again the lines from a poem that an Afghan mullah, accompanying an invading Moghul army in Assam, had composed some 350 years ago.”Its land is not like our land, its sky is not like our sky,” wrote Mullah Darvish of Herat, after visiting the fringes of what is today Arunachal Pradesh.”…its roads are frightful like the path leading to the nook of death…. Its forests are full of violence like the hearts of the ignorant / Its Rivers are beyond limit and estimate, like the minds of the wise.”

Arunachal Pradesh comprises many districts. Cradled in the deepest curves of lush valleys is Tawang, land of ice and snow at 3,500 meters above sea level. Tawang is known, as the land of Monpas. Its other name is Monyul. The Tawang monastery is a gorgeous monument, among the many monasteries one can visit here.

Today, of course, Arunachal’s roads are no more frightful, and its forests no longer full of violence. But its “otherness” still remains; Arunachal, or NEEFA as it was called before, still seems so uncannily different form mainstream India, so enchantingly mysterious. As darkness fell and our vehicle negotiated hairpin bends, a thousand twinkling stars flashed from the roadside forest, a thousand tiny fireflies. There was a buzz of a million insects, adding to a continuous drone at places. And ever so often, the headlights picked out the lumbering mithuns, huge strange cow-like animals (a cross between the wild gaur and the buffalo) that are of great religious and economic value to the tribesmen.

The tribesmen, more than Arunachal’s eerie jungles, its blue-green rivers and wild tangle of mountains, make this remote corner of northeast India so amazing and wonderful. Arunachal is home to about two dozen major tribes, each with its own language, culture and attire. But if there are differences, there are also similarities. Apart from the Monpas and other tribal groups of Tawang and adjoining western districts, who are Buddhists, most Arunachal tribes are animist, believing in a supreme god called Doni-Polo (Sun-Moon).

The Khamtis in Lohit district, early migrants from Thailand, practice Mahayana Buddhism. However, a large majority of the people practice their ancient beliefs and indigenous religious concepts. They believe in supernatural beings with different names among different tribes.

Place with Rich Tradition of Folk Music

Synonymous with the tribes is music and dance. All tribes have a wide range of dances, which serve varying purposes. Certain dances have a religious significance. Others are a thanksgiving for a good crop and yet others are performed for just pain entertainment. Noctis and Wanchoos have war dances both before launching an attack and to celebrate victory in battles. Pantomime dances are very popular among the Monpa, Khamba, Mamba and Sherdukpen tribes. The dances wear gay costumes of varying materials, colours and shapes for the different dances of the different tribes. We too tried matching steps with them.

The numerous fairs and festivals provide people with occasions to get together and enjoy their common brotherhood. It fills the days of the Arunachalis with mirth and merrymaking. No trip is complete with taste of the local cuisine. We relished the spicy food especially the momos and thukpa, which is more a Himalayan regularity than an Arunachali speciality! Rice is staple, extensively cultivated by all tribes. The tribals make a light and nourishing drink known commonly as apang (rice beer). Again, a Himalayan feature found across the range.

From hot food to hot springs! If you ever go here, don’t miss the Thingbu and Tsachu hot water springs. We took a dip as it is said to be rich in medicinal value and good for skin aliments; in cold weather its plain relaxing.

Hardly a big name on India’s tourist map, but fully deserving of a long visit is our verdict on the beautiful state. The verdure that mesmerized us will leave any traveler thankful that there are places like this on earth.