Arunachal Pradesh: Land Of The Dawn-Lit Mountains

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Photo of Arunachal Pradesh: Land Of The Dawn-Lit Mountains 1/1 by Ritu Saini

Aptly called land of the dawn-lit mountains, India's wildest and least explored state of Arunachal Pradesh is on the easternmost side on the map bordering Bhutan, China and Myanmar. Being one of the most remote and undeveloped places left in India, half the fun is just in getting there. The enchanting beauty of this place should be experienced in person as even the most beautiful pictures don't do justice to it. This was my first visit to the North Eastern part of India and it had me bowled over!

India is a huge country and Arunachal is so far in the east that ideally it should have its own time zone, but for various reasons it doesn't. Sun rises at IST 4am, Banks and all shops (including the liquor shop) are doing business by 6am and sunsets are by 5pm! We try to adapt to a new place in various ways and for me to wake up at 4 am everyday on a holiday was a first! But the beautiful drives, memorable time spent with friends around a bonfire, (and we had one every night) and the He-Man Ultra Super strong beer more than made up for it! ????

Namdapha National Park - Walk on the wild side

Photo of Arunachal Pradesh, India by Ritu Saini
Photo of Arunachal Pradesh, India by Ritu Saini
Photo of Arunachal Pradesh, India by Ritu Saini

All along the ride from airport to Miao, my mind was entwined in thoughts of waking up before 4 am to catch a sunrise! We reached late that night and retired to our huts after dinner and woke up the next morning to the sounds of chirping birds and crowing roosters. Namdapha Jungle camp, an eco-resort in Miao is next to Noa Dihing River and the shore is just a short walk away. After a refreshing morning here we headed to the Forest Rest House in Deban, for the next two days. Surrounded by evergreen forest, Deban is the farthest motor-able point and a base for treks & hikes inside Namdapha National park.

Namdapha is a Tiger reserve & National park in the Eastern Himalayan sub-region in Changlang district of Arunachal, bordering Myanmar. One of the only parks in the world that rises from 200m to 4500 m in altitude and has four feline species of big cats.

Crossing river Noa Dihing on an inflatable raft at Deban, Namdapha. The cover of the jungles here is so thick that the wildlife you are able to see on a trek are some birds (look for horn bills), insects, or if you're lucky, a flying squirrel! But one thing you'll definitely experience here is a leech bite! There are flies and insects other than mosquitoes too whose bite could cause allergic reactions. Take precautions and carry insect repellents. Highlight of this place for me other than trekking and the sounds of the thick jungle, was laying down on the rocky bed of Noa Dihing river and feel the water flow beneath!

Photo of Namdapha National Park, Changlang, Arunachal Pradesh, India by Ritu Saini
Photo of Namdapha National Park, Changlang, Arunachal Pradesh, India by Ritu Saini
Photo of Namdapha National Park, Changlang, Arunachal Pradesh, India by Ritu Saini
Photo of Namdapha National Park, Changlang, Arunachal Pradesh, India by Ritu Saini
Photo of Namdapha National Park, Changlang, Arunachal Pradesh, India by Ritu Saini
Photo of Namdapha National Park, Changlang, Arunachal Pradesh, India by Ritu Saini

A cheerful happy family at Namdapha. Before heading to Nampong to prepare for a visit to Burma, we spent a morning in Miao, a small town on the banks of Noa Dehing river, gateway to Namdapha National park. Traditional bamboo & straw huts amidst lush green wheat fields and a local woman uses a bamboo strainer for catching fish in the swamps around river Noa Dihing.

Photo of Arunachal Pradesh: Land Of The Dawn-Lit Mountains by Ritu Saini
Photo of Arunachal Pradesh: Land Of The Dawn-Lit Mountains by Ritu Saini

The everyday local market was set up in Miao when we got there. People from surrounding villages get their produce to sell at the market in Miao. The hustle bustle of a local market, aroma of fresh vegetables, people busy buying and selling groceries, spices, fish, live chickens and pigs, it's a great way to experience the daily grind of people who live here.

Local market in Miao

Photo of Miao, Arunachal Pradesh, India by Ritu Saini
Photo of Miao, Arunachal Pradesh, India by Ritu Saini
Photo of Miao, Arunachal Pradesh, India by Ritu Saini
Photo of Miao, Arunachal Pradesh, India by Ritu Saini
Photo of Miao, Arunachal Pradesh, India by Ritu Saini
Photo of Miao, Arunachal Pradesh, India by Ritu Saini

Nampong - A glimpse into Myanmar

Nampong is the last town just 12 kms before Myanmar border, near Pangsau Pass on the Ledo or Stillwell road in Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh. Without a Passport or Visa, thrice a month, on the 10th, 20th and 30th day, Indian citizens are allowed to visit Pangsau village across the border. After reviewing our photo IDs, a picture of our group was taken and we were asked to get back to the border by 4 pm. We were lucky to get a pass across the border and get a glimpse into another country!

Even though we saw the Lake of No Return from a distance, it was a great experience to have a meal and get an introduction to the life and culture of Myanmar. Photography is prohibited here, so the pictures I have from here are from my phone.

From Nampong on way to Namsai, we crossed river Noa Dihing with our vehicle AND all of us on a huge raft! Near Jagun, locals walk over the bridge while vehicles are ferried across in boats. Woven into baskets to constructing homes and bridges, bamboo is the most extensively used natural resource here.

Photo of Lake of No Return, Sagaing Region, Myanmar (Burma) by Ritu Saini
Photo of Lake of No Return, Sagaing Region, Myanmar (Burma) by Ritu Saini

The Golden Pagoda at Tengapani is on the highway from Namsai to Wakro. Similar to some Burmese pagodas in structure, there are beautifully maintained gardens around the temple. A great place to take a break on the road or just relax in peace.

Photo of Tengapani Gaon, Assam, India by Ritu Saini
Photo of Tengapani Gaon, Assam, India by Ritu Saini
Photo of Tengapani Gaon, Assam, India by Ritu Saini

Overnight at a tea estate in Wakro and headed next day to Hawai via Parshuram Kund, and amazing views of Lohit River from the Hawa camp.

Beautiful views of Lohit River from Hawa camp (Lohit view), as it enters and floods the plains, glistening in the setting sun.

Photo of Parshuram Kund, Tezu, Arunachal Pradesh, India by Ritu Saini
Photo of Parshuram Kund, Tezu, Arunachal Pradesh, India by Ritu Saini
Photo of Parshuram Kund, Tezu, Arunachal Pradesh, India by Ritu Saini
Photo of Parshuram Kund, Tezu, Arunachal Pradesh, India by Ritu Saini

Stayed overnight in Hawai, the district headquarters of Anjaw district in Arunachal, before heading to Walong, the easternmost town with tourist accommodation.

Walong is a small army cantonment and easternmost town of India, in Anjaw district of Arunachal. From here you can trek or drive up to helmet top, the hot springs, Namti Plains and the farthest near China border till Kibithu.

Stayed at the Inspection bungalow in Walong for next 3 days with gorgeous views of the Eastern Himalayas. Waking up at sunrise with the view of the gorgeous mountains was definitely worth it! This was the last leg of our trip; from here the furthest we could go to was the town of Kibithu.

Kibithu - Easternmost road of India

Photo of Hawai, Arunachal Pradesh, India by Ritu Saini
Photo of Hawai, Arunachal Pradesh, India by Ritu Saini

Kibithu, wildly enchanting and picturesque, is the easternmost permanently inhabited town of India in Anjaw district of Arunachal, on the LAC - Line of Actual Control, with China. Lohit a tributary of the Brahmaputra river, enters India through Kibithu and flows through the thickly forested Eastern Himalayas.

Photo of Kibithu by Ritu Saini
Photo of Kibithu by Ritu Saini
Photo of Kibithu by Ritu Saini

Itinerary

The road to Kibithu from Walong runs next to Lohit River and the views are breathtaking! A video of the gorgeous drive! Some of us caught the Chinese AIRTEL Network on our phones on this road!

There are many hanging bridges along the road, make sure you cross each one of them! It's a unique and thrilling experience just to walk over one of these. To stand in the middle of the bridge swaying left to right in the wind while the river gushes below is an adventure in itself!

Turquoise Lohit river flowing in all its glory, to the misty blue mountains of Walong in the Eastern Himalayas, wild jungles of Namdapha, tea gardens of Wakro, lush green rice fields of Miao, handmade bamboo houses on stilts, hanging bridges, cheerful happy people with a taste in music and the brilliant way locals sustain themselves on nature, liters of super strong beer, bonfires, and lots of memories. All of that in two weeks in the most remote parts of Arunachal, I'd definitely do it again! :)

Photo of Arunachal Pradesh: Land Of The Dawn-Lit Mountains by Ritu Saini
Photo of Arunachal Pradesh: Land Of The Dawn-Lit Mountains by Ritu Saini
Photo of Arunachal Pradesh: Land Of The Dawn-Lit Mountains by Ritu Saini

We travelled in Anjaw, Lohit and Changlang district of Arunachal for 15 days in the month of October. All the places we stayed at, were government-run with basic accommodation; this website on travelling to Changlang is helpful.

All places on Google Maps. Dibrugarh, Namdapha National Park, Nampong (Pangsau Pass & Stillwell road), Myanmar (Lake of no return), Jairampur (World War 2 Cemetery), Wakro, Golden Pagoda, Parshuram Kund, Hawai, Walong (Namti Plains, Helmet top and hot springs), and Kibithu - easternmost town in India on the LAC - Line of Actual Control, with China. Indian nationals require Inner Line Permits to visit.

P.S. Carry your binoculars to increase chances of spotting wildlife, and swimming gear as you'll be next to a stream of river, mostly. Insect & mosquito repellents are a must. And as a responsible traveler, I ask you to help keep the beauty of this place as it is now, untouched! Thankyou and Happy Travels! :)

This post was originally published on Color Odyssey.

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