In this Blog
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.