India

ZIRO: LAND OF TRIBAL MUSIC

By Vacation India
elderly-apatani-lady-smiles-beautifully-for-the-camera-in-ziro-valley
Elderly Apatani tribe lady smiles beautifully for the camera in Ziro Valley, Arunachal Pradesh. The archaic custom of wearing black nose plugs and the facial tattoo is not prominent in recent times © Matt Hahnewald

In this Blog

Things to do in Ziro
How to get there
Where to stay in Ziro
Important Tip
Some Images From Our Trip To Ziro


In June, when summer slowly gives way to cooler weather it is time to head for Ziro, just 71.5 miles/115 km away from Itanagar, the state capital of northeastern Arunachal Pradesh. Pack your bags, for what awaits you are untainted natural beauty, a lively music festival, and fascinating tribal cultures to explore.

Imagine undulating green valleys and sloping hills, sparkling paddy fields, and the faint outlines of the Himalayan peaks as background. If this picture speaks to you, then this well-guarded secret getaway should be your next destination. The region is also home to a large number of local tribes, each with its own unique heritage and customs, and learning more about their various lifestyles is an eye-opener, and will enrich any visitor’s life.

The women of the Apatani tribe, the dominant and most numerous ethnic group, are easily recognized by their interesting tattoos and large nose plugs. They are outgoing, welcoming people who will immediately make you feel like an old friend.

The Apatani in Ziro women are said to be blessed with beauty which is quite evident from the picture of a young woman in a white t-shirt and red scarf carrying her daughter on her back at Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh

The Apatani in Ziro women are said to be blessed with the beauty which is quite evident from the picture of a young woman in a white t-shirt and red scarf carrying her daughter on her back at Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh © Michal Knitl


Every September, Ziro hosts a lively music festival abuzz with many different music genres including rock, indie, heavy metal, fusion, alternative, and funk. It is a youthful, vibrant affair that takes years off anyone’s age, so plan your trip around this time, and make the most of your visit to this region.

After the noise and hype of the music festival, turn to nature for some quiet time, and make a trek to Hapoli, a beautiful elevated scenic spot. The way leads past fields of blooming rhododendrons and orchid farms. Visit the Talley Valley Biodiversity Zone to admire the abundance of flora, like many rare bamboo species. Fauna abounds and just maybe you are lucky enough to spot a clouded leopard.

Other attractions to include in your itinerary are the Siddeshwarnath and Meghna Cave Temples. With such a variety of activities, even a short break to Ziro will feel like a refreshing, rewarding holiday filled with the beauty and serenity of peaceful valleys and hills, interesting encounters with tribal cultures, and the opportunity to enjoy a superb collection of bands performing live on stage.

This is a traditional dress weaving technique of the Apatani tribe in Ziro. They believe in a disciplined life which is evident from their intricate zigzag and angular fabric weaving pattern

This is a traditional dress weaving technique of the Apatani tribe in Ziro. They believe in a disciplined life which is evident from their intricate zigzag and angular fabric weaving pattern © bijitdutta. com


Things to do in Ziro

• Camping: Fill your lungs with clean, unpolluted air while enjoying the beauty and harmony of nature. Pack a backpack, find yourself a scenic spot in the swaying grasslands of Puto Hill, and pitch your tent. From here you can explore the environment to your heart’s content. There are also designated campsites if you did not bring your own camping gear.

• Music: The four-day Music Festival has grown in popularity since its initiation in 2012, and now counts among the prime events in India. Hosted by the Apatani people of the region, it is the perfect time to get to know new bands.

• Local cuisine: The state of Arunachal Pradesh is any foodie’s delight, with lots of new culinary experiences. Feeling adventurous? Then try the local delicacy of silkworms. If you have a more conventional palate, there are still lots to try, like the variety of bamboo shoot dishes. Do not forget to order the local beer made from rice to accompany your meal.

• Unwind: Ziro’s uncrowded, soothing surroundings are the perfect tonic for any stress-related issues. Unburden yourself by taking leisurely, solitary walks, stop regularly to watch the clouds sliding past timeless mountain peaks, or lie on your back outside your tent and look up at the millions and millions of stars lighting up the black night sky.

• Go trekking: Ziro is a trekker’s paradise; the hilly terrain is easily managed and forest routes offer a different kind of adventure. Amongst the most popular are the Talley Valley Forest Reserve hike, an elevated area with the Sipu, Pange, Subansiri, and Karing Rivers crisscrossing the reserve.

A Ward's Trogon that seems lost in reverie at Talley valley wildlife sanctuary. The survival of these elegant birds has been threatened due to habitat loss, Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh

A Ward’s Trogon that seems lost in reverie at Talley valley wildlife sanctuary. The survival of these elegant birds has been threatened due to habitat loss, Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh © Ranjan Kr. Das


NAVIGATOR

How to get there: Take a flight to the nearest airport, Guwahati. Then take the Intercity Express overnight to arrive at Nagarlagun Station in the early morning, and from there a taxi or bus will transport you to Ziro. It may sound like quite a trip, but believe me, you will reap the awards.

Where to stay: A few budget options exist in town, but the best way to enjoy Ziro and its wonderful surroundings are to stay in one of the picturesque campsites.

A bird's eye view of paddy fields at Ziro. The Apatani tribe has a striking way of using the limited flatlands for both rice cultivation and fish rearing

A bird’s eye view of paddy fields at Ziro. The Apatani tribe has a striking way of using the limited flatlands for both rice cultivation and fish rearing © Ashish Kaushik


IMPORTANT TIP

All visitors to Arunachal Pradesh need a travel permit. Forms can be obtained from any state tourism office. This needs to be completed, a photo should be attached, and the document stamped. Keep the document with you at all times.

A blissful portrait of smile, innocence, and rapport shared amongst these three adorable Apatani siblings at Ziro valley, Arunachal Pradesh

A blissful portrait of smile, innocence, and rapport shared amongst these three adorable Apatani siblings at Ziro valley, Arunachal Pradesh © Michal Knitl


Some Images From Our Trip To Ziro


A pile of live yellow caterpillars, a traditional food found at Ziro's street market. You will find women selling a variety of food and ingredients here in an eco-friendly way

A pile of live yellow caterpillars, a traditional food found at Ziro’s street market. You will find women selling a variety of food and ingredients here in an eco-friendly way © Alexreynolds


The landscape shimmering in the morning mist surrounded by hills, streams, and flowers. It is nature's beauty at its best at Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh

The landscape shimmering in the morning mist surrounded by hills, streams, and flowers. It is nature’s beauty at its best at Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh © Tasso 


Every landscape photographer's dream is to capture the gorgeous sunset in the picturesque Ziro golden hour (tadu dobi)

Every landscape photographer’s dream is to capture the gorgeous sunset in the picturesque Ziro golden hour (tadu dobi) © tasso


This remarkable sunlight lane in the Ziro forest is one of the best daylight you will ever see. These forests are home to the most glorious morning light

This remarkable sunlight lane in the Ziro forest is one of the best daylight you will ever see. These forests are home to the most glorious morning light © Tasso


Schoolboys ready for a new day of learning are all set to pose for the camera. in Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh

Schoolboys ready for a new day of learning are all set to pose for the camera. in Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh © Michal Knitl


You will find Apatani women in Ziro, with nose plugs, and face tattoos. It was an obligatory ancient tradition to easily identify the Apatani females

You will find Apatani women in Ziro, with nose plugs, and face tattoos. It was an obligatory ancient tradition to easily identify the Apatani females © David Evison


Ziro valley is famous for its glorious stretches of paddy fields, surrounded by lush green hills and forest. The Apatani tribe worships nature and practices agroforestry © Papiya Banerjee

Ziro valley is famous for its glorious stretches of paddy fields, surrounded by lush green hills and forest. The Apatani tribe worships nature and practices agroforestry © Papiya Banerjee


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