Named as the ‘Land of the Dawn-lit-Mountains’ and one of the Seven Sisters of the Eastern states of India, Arunachal Pradesh is the farthest state of India and the first Indian soil to kiss the warmth of the rising sun. Nestled on the tip of the northeast border of India with its borders touching China, Bhutan, and Myanmar, this meadow of greenery is endowed with dazzling assortment of flora and fauna, which includes more than 500 rare species of Orchids in its dense jungles, and breathtaking landscape that never seizes to make the visitors spell bound and lure them to visit this magical land again and again.
The spectacular beauty of Arunachal Pradesh is made up of not only eye soothing flora and fauna, but its fog covered hills, sparkling waters, gurgling waterfalls, and the crisp wind that surrounds the place all add up to its allure. The state of Arunachal Pradesh has been mentioned in various mythological and Hindu scriptures such as the literature of Kalika Purana and the Mahabharata. Ruled by many different dynasties and kingdom, Arunachal Pradesh India is a beautiful land with numerous historical legacies and archaeological remains, vibrant culture, delectable cuisines, and colorful festivals, which bear a testament to its rich cultural legacy. Itanagar is the capital city of Arunachal Pradesh, and it is the 14th largest state of India area-wise.
Arunachal Pradesh Population and Language
Arunachal Pradesh is the least populated state of India with a population of 15.5 lakhs (1.55 million) currently. Aunachal Pradesh is covered with forests by one-third of habitat area within the Himalayan biodiversity and covering a total area of 83, 743 sq. km and ranks 14h largest in India.
Major population in Arunachal Pradesh consists of Schedule Tribes who speak about 50 different languages and dialects, most belonging to the Tibeto-Burman branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family. Some of the languages and dialects spoken here are Nyishi, Adi, Dafla, Gallong, Tangsa, Khamti, Hill Miri, and Tagin. Most of these languages and dialects are incomprehensible and thus, Assamese, Hindi, and English are used as mediator languages by people to communicate to different communities in the state or with the tourists. Nagamese language is widely used a link language in some areas.
Arunachal Pradesh is home varied ethnic groups of people, most of which are associated with the Tibet and western Myanmar with over two-thirds of the state’s population designated as Scheduled Tribes. The western Arunachal Pradesh is inhabited by Nissi, Sherdukpen, Aka, Monpa, Apa Tani, and Hill Miri as the main tribes while the Adi, who comprise the largest tribal group of the state, live in the central region. The northeastern hills are inhabited by the Mishmi and the Wancho, Nocte, and Tangsa are concentrated in the southeastern district of Tirap.
Apart from the tribes, the population in Arunachal Pradesh also consists of immigrants from Bangladesh, as well as Assam, Nagaland, and other states of India. The people here usually share a similar kind of lifestyle and engage in occupation such as farming, hunting, fishing, and gathering forest products to cater to their daily needs and supplement their diet.
Arunachal Pradesh History
Arunachal Pradesh is said to be in existence since the pre-historic era from the time of Ramayana and Mahabharata and has been ruled by several kings and kingdoms. Between 500 B.C. to 600 A.D., the area was reigned by Monpa kingdom. After that, the northern part was under Bhutan and Tibet whereas the other parts were under the supervision of Ahom and Assamese till British annexation in the year 1858.
In 1912-13, an agreement was made by the British Indian government with the native people of the Himalayas of northeastern India for setting up the Balipara frontier tract in the west, the Sadiya frontier tract in the east, and the Abor and Mishmi hills and the Tirap frontier tract in the south. Together the tracts formed the North-East Frontier Agency, which was renamed as Arunachal Pradesh in 1972.
The cultural heritage of Arunachal Pradesh is immensely varied in the sense that the state has 26 major tribes which includes the sub-tribes as well. Every tribe is different in their own ways, lifestyle, customs, and traditions which make up the vibrant and joyous culture of Arunachal Pradesh. The major tribes of Arunachal Pradesh are Adi, Aka, Galo, Apatani, Nyishi, Tagins, Bori, and Bokar, etc. who follow the Donyi-Polo religion with the Sun and Moon as their presiding deities. Tibetan influenced Monpa and Sherdukpen tribe are nestled in the West Kameng and Tawang district and the Khampti and Singpho tribes are settled in the Lohit district. These four major tribes follow Mahayana and Hinayana sects of Buddhism, while the rest of the tribes follow the ancient customs of animal worship.
The major cities of Arunachal Pradesh in terms of area, GDP, and revenue are:
Tourist Places in Arunachal Pradesh
Being the ‘Land of Dawn-Lit Mountains’, Arunachal Pradesh is a breathtaking landscape of lush green fields, guzzling waters, and smokey snow-clad mountains. Apart from its beautiful landscape, here are some of the best places to visit in Arunachal Pradesh:
- Tawang – At a height of 3048m, Tawang is a historical monastery and is known for being the birthplace of the 6th Dalai Lama, Tsangyang Gyatso.
- Ziro Valley – The land of festival celebrations with a balmy climate, Ziro is a quaint and spectacular village town and a peace seeker’s paradise known for its pine hills and rice fields.
- Bhalukpong – Aside from being a natural paradise, Bhalukpong offers several wildlife and adventure sport experiences complimenting its natural beauty.
- Tirap – Wish gushing rivulets, stunning Orchids, and the crisp and fresh air, Tirap heals the soul with its authenticity, welcoming tribals, festivals, and the flawless artwork worth admiring.
- Itanagar – Being the capital of the state, immerse in the historical heritage and the modern lifestyle of Arunachal Pradesh with a touch of spirituality, culture, scenic views, and pleasant weather.
- Roing – Roing means cool and refreshing in local language and true to its name, the town is a beautiful and peaceful place for cultural enthusiasts, trekkers, and history buffs.
- Bomdila – It is a quaint village town away from the hustle-bustle of the city and is surrounded by lush green foliage along with some fascinating places to visit such as wildlife parks, monasteries, sunset viewpoint, etc.
- Anini – A town with pleasant climatic conditions and stunning scenic locations, Anini is one of the favorites among locals and tourists for its fog covered landscapes and wildlife sanctuaries.
- Pasighat – A beautiful town tucked along Siang River Valleys and Himalayas, Pasighat is one of the most visited tourist places where you can indulge in fun activities such as rafting, fishing, angling, boating, wildlife safari, trekking, etc.
- Changlang – Changlang is one of the major tourist destinations in Arunachal Pradesh with many places to visit and a vibrant culture to please the wanderer in you.
- Aalo – A quaint little town know for its orange orchards, Aalo is an ideal getaway with streams of blue water, bridges, gardens, and grasslands to offer you peace and solitude.
Places to Visit in Arunachal Pradesh
- Namdapha National Park – The third largest national park of the country area-wise with several species of endangered animals and birds and high-altitude spots overlooking the landscape.
- Nuranang Falls – Mostly unknown and virgin place, Nuranag Falls fall from a height of 100 meters with a white sheet of water and offers a pristine and beautiful experience.
- Madhuri Lake – A scintillating and pristine lake, also known as Sangetsar Lake, is one of the remotest lakes of the country with beautiful panoramic views and a pleasant weather.
- Sela Pass – It is a mountain pass which is covered with snow all year round. It is considered sacred by Buddhists, and it is believed that there are 101 lakes around it.
- Tawang Monastery – Built in 1680-1681 and the birthplace of the 6th Dalai Lama, Tawang Monastery is one of the major monasteries here and is a three storey building housing scriptures and a huge statue of Lord Buddha.
- Bumla Pass – It is a high-altitude pass situated at the Indo-China border and is covered with thick snow year-round. Trek through the pass and witness the high-altitude lake and the breathtaking panorama.
- Talley Valley – One of the best places for trekking, the trail to Talley valley is stunning in itself and you will come across Pangey valley and Ziro valley which are home to Apatanis people.
- Parasuram Kund Temple – Located in Lohit district, a temple site where Lord Parasuram washed away his sins and Lord Krishna married Rukmini here.
- Golden Pagoda – It is a fine specimen of the Burmese architecture with a golden façade where you can observe the Buddhist culture from a closer distance.
- Akashganga or Malinithan Temple – Dedicated to Goddess Durga exhibiting Odisha style architecture, this is one of the Shakti Peetha where one of the pieces of Goddess Sati fell after she burst into flames.
Museums and Art Galleries
The museums and art galleries of Arunachal Pradesh bear rich cultural and historical evidence and showcase the modern art forms from the budding artists of the state. Some of the famous museums and art galleries of Arunachal Pradesh are:
- Jawaharlal Nehru State Museum – Located in Itanagar, the museum is one of the oldest museums of the state established to commemorate the birth anniversary of Pandit Nehru. It houses some relics and archaeological remains from the state.
- Khonsa Museum – This museum is known to exhibit tribal artifacts and offers an insight into the cultural lifestyle of the people of Khonsa.
- Tezu District Museum and Craft Center – The museum houses important artifacts including manuscripts, ornaments, paintings, weapons, and cane handicrafts, etc.
- Chimchoo Art Gallery – Established not long ago, this art gallery showcases contemporary art and paintings from budding artist from the state.
Festivals/Events in Arunachal Pradesh
The state’s cultural lifestyle is dominated by vibrant and colorful festivals most of which are celebrated as a mark of thanksgiving to the Almighty for offering them a good harvest. Some of the most famous events and festivals in Arunachal Pradesh are:
- Zero Music Festival – The Zero Music festival is one of the best music festivals in India featuring musicians from the country and abroad and also showcases local talent from all 7 states of the northeast.
- Siang River Festival – This festival is organized to celebrate communal harmony in the state and is an attempt to promote eco-tourism and offer adventure and fun activities such as boat race, river rafting, food stalls, folk dances, cultural dances, paragliding, hot air balloon, etc.
- Pangsau Pass Winter Festival – Celebrated in Nampong in Changlang district, it is a three-day fest organized in January where people perform on folk songs and put-up handicraft and handloom articles from distinct parts of the state for exhibition and sale.
- Solung – A socio-religious festival of the Adis, it is an agricultural festival celebrated after sowing of seeds to seek the blessings of the gods of harvest. The festival has three main parts and is celebrated to pacify the gods for protection, well-being, and good harvest.
- Nyokum Yullow – It is the festival of the Nyishi tribe and is celebrated for the harmony and prosperity of the people. It is a two-day festival where the priest performs the major rituals and prayers are offered to the spirits to bring prosperity to people.
- Tawang Festival – This three-day extravagant festival is organized by the government to showcase the rich cultural heritage of the state and to encourage the adventure tourism as well. Some of the highlights include – Buddhist religious functions, traditional monastic dances, games and sports, films and documentary, handloom and handicraft, food festival, photography and painting exhibition, cultural evenings, and live shows, etc.
- Dree Festival – This festival involves the sacrifice of fowls, eggs, and animals to the gods to satisfy them. The gods Danyi, Metii, Tamu, and Harnia are prayed for protection and prosperity, protection of plants from pests, controlling famine and epidemics, and keeping the soil stable respectively.
- Boori Boot – Celebrated by the Hill-Miris tribe in the last week of February for three days, where men, women, and children wear traditional attires and make sacrificial offerings to appease the gods.
Art and Dance
Arunachal Pradesh is known for its vibrant and ancient culture which finds its mention n prominent scriptures of Hinduism. The state has 26 tribes with several sub-tribes and all have different ways of celebrating their culture and traditions. There are several festivals, dance and folk arts through which the tribal people of Arunachal Pradesh celebrate their culture. Some of the famous art and dance forms of Arunachal Pradesh are:
- Aji Lhamu – Practiced by Tawang’s Monpa Tribe, this is a religious dance-drama where there are main five characters – Nyapa (lead character), Nyao (rival), Lhum and Lhamu (female fairies), and Gyeli (a mythological character).
- Buiya Dance – Practiced by tribe Digaru Mishmis. This is one of the most popular dances performed in tribal functions. There is no specific dress or steps for this dance and people wear their own clothes and dance to the drumbeats.
- Lion and Peacock Dance – This is performed by Monta tribe and is done is two groups with each group having a drummer. The dancers wear masks of lions and cock heads and imitate the animals.
- Pasi Kongki – The Adi tribe perform this dance form and represent the culture of Arunachal Pradesh. Locals sing a song called Aabang and dancers perform to narrate their history and the social work done by the Pasi.
- Chalo Dance – Performed during the Chalo Loku festival by the Nocte tribe before harvesting paddy, Chalo dance is a dance of joy where people sing songs and dance on the beats of pong and drums.
- Wancho Dance – It is performed for recreational purpose and the Wancho tribe performs this dance. Men wear decorated basket of cane around their waist and dance in a song conveying a message. Then females come and dance which is a reply to the men’s song. Females dance in straight lines while males dance in circle sync.
Being home to several tribes and groups of people, food in Arunachal Pradesh is one of the major focuses of Indian tourism and the variety of cuisines differ from tribe to tribe. The commonality in the food here is that people don’t prefer fried or very spicy food with heavy gravy like other parts of the country, but rather boiled or smoked food stirred with fresh herbs is preferred.
Rice is one of the staple foods in Arunachal Pradesh which is eaten steamed with different kinds of stews. Apart from that, some of the popular and common food items here are:
- Bamboo Shoot – It is a widely eaten food in Northeast states where bamboo shoots are used in dishes of boiled vegetables, cooked meat, and chutneys.
- Pika Pila – A type of pickle made by using bamboo shoot and pork and tastes hot with chilies but not spicy with spices.
- Pehak – Chutney made with fermented soya beans and chili.
- Chura Sabji – Curry made with fermented cheese from Yak or cow milk and some vegies tossed in flakes.
- Momo – Steamed dumplings made with plain flour and filled with different type vegetarian and non-vegetarian fillings.
- Lukter – A combination of cooked dry meat and chilly flakes from one of the spiciest chilies in the world, Bhut Jolokia.
- Apong – Apong is a local beer made with fermented rice over a period of three months and is served in bamboo shoot at room temperature.
- Marua – A homemade alcohol made from millet.
- Wungwut Ngam – A delectable dish of chicken where rice is dry roasted till brown and then grounded to powder. It is then mixed with chicken and spices and slow cooked.
Tourism and Experiences
The beautiful and lush green land of Arunachal Pradesh is a spellbinding phenomenon for everyone who visits the state and the awe-inspiring landscape, and its blissful culture invite people from across the globe to experience its heritage and the dazzling beauty. some of the best things you can do and enjoy here are:
- Angling – The sparkling waters of the state offer several opportunities for the angling and fishing lovers and the simple sport have helped the state to grow as well. Throughout the globe, catching a Golden Mahseer is touted as an accomplishment by anglers as it is very tough to catch and is not found everywhere, which can be done in Arunachal Pradesh.
- Trekking – Trekking is one of the major adventure sports here especially from May to October when the weather is pleasant. Many trekking routes offer Mahseer angling opportunities as well as spots from where a spectacular view of the sprawled landscape can be viewed.
- Rafting – The state is much sought after for its rafting and other adventure activities that are organized in its upper reaches. The rafting enthusiasts much explore the thrilling waters of the Siang River and indulge in the rafting adventures.
- Wildlife – The wildlife paramours will have a memorable experience in witnessing the big four namely tiger, leopard, clouded leopard, and snow leopard as well as other rare and endangered species. A full day is required to visit the wildlife parks and sanctuaries in Arunachal Pradesh containing some of the world’s rarest and beautiful animals and fauna.
- Heritage – Arunachal Pradesh has many places that narrate its history and cultural heritage. Places such as Tawang Monastery, Malinithan, Bhismaknagar, Parasuram Kund, and World War II Cemetery are some of the places of cultural heritage that must not miss.
Arunachal Pradesh is the place if you want to try some of the best non-spicy fresh veg and non-veg dishes and the best Himalayan momos. The state has several restaurants serving local cuisine along with cuisines from other Indian states and some continental cuisines as well. here are some of the best restaurants in Arunachal Pradesh you must go to:
- THE DRAGON – A small but comfortable restaurant known for non-veg cuisines such as chicken dishes, soups, and Indo-Chinese dishes.
- ORANGE RESTAURANT & LOUNGE BAR – A lounge bar with delicious finger food and exotic drinks to enjoy and have a fun-filled evening with your friends.
- BLUE PINE – Visit this restaurant for a delectable assortment of North-Eastern Indian cuisine along with continental and Chinese dishes. As suggestive of name, the interior of the restaurant is light blue with light blue curtains and ceiling and white tablecloth to match the design.
- WOODLAND RESTAURANT – A welcoming restaurant in Tawang with magnificent views of Tawang monastery and Buddha Park from the windows and delicious local food.
- KOREAN RESTAURANT CAFÉ MOA – This Korean special restaurant is a must-visit where you can try different type of ramen, coffee, and other Korean inspired dishes.
- GREENWOOD RESTAURANT – Serves excellent veg and non-veg food at affordable prices in Old Market with dishes varying from local cuisines to Chinese and Indo-Chinese dishes.
- LILIKAF – A modest, unpretentious café in Itanagar with clean and chic interior and is located on a hilltop. Momos, noodles, soups, fried rice, and other local dishes are famous here.
- FIRE AND ICE – It is an attractive restaurant with an open bar space inside and modern décor. The restaurant serves fresh Indian and Chinese dishes and is Itanagar’s fine-dining restaurant.
- SELA RESTAURANT – It is run by Nepalese and is famous for fried-rice, momos, thukpa and spicy chow mein.
Market Places (Traditional Markets)
- Bomdila Market – It is a famous flea and street market with several household item and clothing available at very cheap rate.
- Old Market, Tawang – Old Market is the biggest market in Tawang with many shops dealing with distinct items such as handicrafts, general goods, clothing material, readymade clothes, medical stores, etc. The market is always full of people and remains closed on Tuesdays.
- Akash Deep, Itanagar – Get all types of traditional wears, traditional things, and every day household items along with fancy party things in Akash Deep market at reasonable rate.
- Nehru Market, Tawang – A local market for vegetables and grocery items. Remains closed on Wednesday.
Here are some of the famous shops in Arunachal Pradesh from where you can buy modern traditional clothes and the state’s handicrafts and handloom items.
- Handicrafts Centre, Tawang
- Craft Centre & Emporium, Itanagar
- Arunachal Departmental Store, Naharlagun
- Pantaloons, Itanagar
- Global Desi, Itanagar
- Jockey Exclusive Store, Itanagar
- PATANJALI AROGYA KENDRA, Itanagar
The beautiful and luscious state of Arunachal Pradesh has many places to visit which are filled with stunning landscapes and tranquil environment. Out of the many places, wildlife sanctuaries are scattered around the state where you can witness a variety of flora and fauna and enjoy a fun day with your family and friends. Here is a list of some of the best wildlife parks in Arunachal Pradesh.
- Dibang Wildlife Sanctuary – It is the largest wildlife sanctuary in Arunachal Pradesh and is known for its diversity of wildlife with endangered species which attracts the visitors and wildlife photographers. It also has lush green vegetation and several trekking trails.
- Pakhui Wildlife Sanctuary – Known for Royal Bengal Tigers and several other animal species with 300 species of birds, this wildlife sanctuary is a great place for picnic surrounded by natural beauty and glimpses of wildlife.
- Daying Ering Wildlife Sanctuary – Mainly known for the exotic migratory birds from Mongolia and Siberia as twenty-five percent of this sanctuary is covered with water bodies. The forested land is also home to many varieties of animals.
- Mehao Wildlife Sanctuary – The sanctuary is known for serene environment, picturesque beauty, various species of birds and animals, and several trekking trails.
- Kamlang Wildlife Sanctuary – It is one of the most exquisite sanctuaries in the state with a variety of flora and fauna. It is also famous for its historic background as the Parasuram Kund and Glow Lake are situated here.
- Talley Valley Wildlife Sanctuary – A great place for picnic with friends and family, this wildlife sanctuary is abundant with lush green grasslands, small streams, and wildlife such as tiger, cloud leopard, deer, wild dog, etc.
- Chilika Wildlife Sanctuary – The sanctuary offers shelter to millions of migratory birds from different countries and some of the endangered species. It is regarded as the first Indian wetland of international importance.
- Cygnett Inn Trendz
- Pemaling Lords Inn Dirang
- Siiro Resort
- Hotel Tawang View
- Hotel Pybss
- Hotel Tawang Centre Point
- Hotel Palazzo Prime
- Hotel Grand Tizu
- Hotel Centre Point
How to Reach
- By Air: As there are no airports in Arunachal Pradesh, the nearest airports are in Assam. The Lilabari Airport in North Lakhimpur in Assam in the closest to Arunachal Pradesh which receives flights four days a week, mostly from Guwahati and Kolkata. From the airport, cabs and buses are available to Itanagar. The Guwahati Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport receives flight from all major cities of India which is 315km from Itanagar.
- By Train: Arunachal Pradesh does not have a railway station but the nearest one is Harmuti railway station in Assam which receives trains from almost all major cities of the Northeastern and Northern states.
- By Road: The state is easily accessible by road with sufficient inter bus services. The NH15, 52, and 415 connects the state with the nearby states. One can also take their private vehicle and the roads are well-maintained.
Bask in the majesty of the natural spectacle of Arunachal Pradesh where the dawn-lit mountains greet the chirping birds, the sound of the cascading waterfalls and gurgling rivers plays a symphony, and the fresh air interacts with the scent of herbs and wildflowersthat offers a soulful reprieve from the monotony of frantic life.