Having lived most of my life in a concrete jungle, getting a chance to sneak away to remote, cut-off locations is a treat that I welcome and appreciate greatly. Around 25 km from the Assam border, located in the picturesque state of Arunachal Pradesh, is a small cultural haven — Miao — which is home to a small but global carpet-weaving industry (I use the term loosely) that not many know about.
How did I come about this gem, you ask? Thanks to wives of Army officers posted in the state, who never miss a chance to get their hands on some exotic home decor. If an officer (and his family) have spent even the least amount of time anywhere in Assam or Arunachal, chances are, they own a carpet that was woven in Miao.
Located on the banks of the Noa Dihing river, this unexplored town is home to one of the oldest Tibetan refugee settlements—Choephelling, which is now home to over 1500 refugees. It is here that magic is woven.
As you enter the only carpet factory, you are greeted by the constant churring and smacks of small carpet-looms being operated mostly by women sitting on the porch of a cottage. The sound and the motion of thread being interlaced with thread and a magnificent design unfurling in front of you is almost hypnotic. There are just about enough machines that you can count them on your fingers, but as you enter the storage room, you are greeted by rolls after rolls of intricately woven carpets.
With cotton and wool yarn imported from Panipat, Haryana, and some from New Zealand, the carpets are extremely fine in quality and the best part, the weavers can replicate any design you ask for! Though most of them available on display have Buddhist and Tibetan references. These carpets are exported worldwide and the demand is quite high all year round.
Explore the unexplored
Once you are done admiring the carpets and giving orders for your home, the workers are kind enough to offer you refreshment and show you around the rest of the settlement, which also houses a beautiful monastery—a major attraction for the few tourists who do manage to venture into this part of the world
But the Tibetan settlement is only the tip of the iceberg. The small township of Miao has everything—history, art, nature, spiritual guidance, and of course a passageway to Burma. It is unlike anything you've experienced before. "Cultural potpourri" is probably the phrase that comes to mind as you enter the gates of the quaint little township. Despite its small size and chill way of life, there's a lot to do in Miao: