In December 2019, I got an assignment to shoot India's first sunrise of the new decade. So a bud and I packed our bags, and took a trip to Dong Valley in Arunachal Pradesh. I had seen a commercial shot there earlier in the year so Dong wasn't entirely alien to me. And the idea of a journey to the far eastern reaches of the country, to explore the geographically easternmost, civilian accessible corner of India right next to the Chinese border to catch the first rays of the sun that hit the Indian mainland — fascinated us like nothing else.
The trip started from Dibrugarh in Assam. Even reaching Dibrugarh from our respective bases (Bangalore and Pune) was a tough task, as the anti-CAA protests had gripped the North East then, and connectivity (and internet) was crippled. A combination of ingenuity and multiple modes of transport (flights, trains, even using auto rickshaws across state borders) brought us to Dibrugarh, where we found a cab that took us to Tezu, a small town in the Lohit district of Arunachal Pradesh, famous for the ancient Mishmi tribe who find their mention even in the Mahabharata.
From Tezu, we drove to Walong, a drive of about 9 hours which stretched to 12 for us due to the weather and road conditions. It's a beautiful and challenging road passing through dense forests and valleys. However, going alone on this road isn't something I'd recommend. You should travel with a team that can provide roadside assistance.
Walong is a small cluster of houses that comes before Dong and we ended up spending our first night there. Clean, cozy cabins with tons of blankets and home-cooked food made for a great respite from the chilling December cold. Dong was a quick 20-minute drive from there and we left first thing after breakfast the next morning.