Arunachal Pradesh means Land of the Dawn-Lit Mountains, which is the sobriquet for the state in Sanskrit. The state is also known as the Orchid State of India or the Paradise of the Botanists. Shying away in the North eastern corner of India, Arunachal Pradesh though may be an introvert when it comes to tourism, is a land of abundant travel opportunities. Adorned with unspoilt landscape, this Northeast state of India is a place that every nature lover and explorer should visit. A treasure trove of culture, nature’s beauty, rich history and warm people, Arunachal is truly a land that you cannot afford to miss.
The ideal time to visit Arunachal Pradesh is between the months of October and April.
Currency: Indian Rupees
Official languages: English
Arunachal Pradesh, meaning ‘the land of the rising sun’ is a state comprising of 24 districts with 26 major tribes including various sub tribes. It is equally rich and diverse in both cultural and ecological aspects, however for a long time much of the world remained elusive to this richness because of the state’s remote location.
An exploration of the cultural roots of Arunachal Pradesh therefore, takes us on a fascinating anthropological journey. Come let’s have a look!
Before 1972 it was known as North Eastern Frontier Agency (NEFA) under the Assam constituency. The name Arunachal Pradesh was given by Sri Bibhabasu Das Shastri, the then Director of Research and K.A.A. Raja, the then Chief Commissioner of Arunachal Pradesh on 20 January 1972. On 20 February 1987, Arunachal Pradesh became a state.
The ancient history of Arunachal Pradesh remains uncertain, yet many traces can be made to Indian History. It is often believed that Arunachal has an ancient connection with India and its mention can be found in the Mahabharata and the Kalika Purana. Sage Parshurama had washed off his sins in the Lohit District, Maharshi Vyasa had meditated here and Lord Krishna is said to have married Rukmini from here. The sixth Dalai Lama was born here in Tawang in the 17th century. This rich and diverse backdrop makes Arunachal Pradesh one of the significant parts of India’s unique history.
A place brimming with tremendous anthropological richness, Arunachal Pradesh is home to several groups of indigenous people. Broadly speaking there are three cultural groups; first being Monpas and Sherdukpen of Tawang and West Kameng districts who are followers of the tradition of Mahayana Buddhism. The second group comprising of Apatanis, Adis, Galos, Mishmis, Nyishis, Tagins, Akas etc worship the Sun and Moon God while the third group including Noctes, Wanchos and Khampti (tribal communities of TLCN – Tirap, Longding, Changlang, Namsai) follow basic Vaishnavism and Buddhism respectively and are ruled by a hereditary chief. Additionally there are the Galo, Nyishi, Tagin, Apatani and Adi communities who are commonly known as Tani clans due to their connection with Abotani (abu/abo-father, tani-tribes) – from whom the mythical heritage of mankind’s origin is associated.
The people’s languages are mostly derived from Tibeto-Burman language with more than 50 dialects spoken by specific tribes. The Tani clans have similarities within each other’s social languages. Assamese is spoken by most people since prolonged influence of the Ahom dynasty era. Hindi and English are currently the most widely spoken languages for people across the state, besides their own tribe’s language.
Culture and Tradition
Having lived in close proximity with nature since centuries, people were depended on Mother Nature for everything. From traditional handicrafts, fishing and hunting tools etc – the people developed many unique skills over the years and even today many of these skills are passed down. Apong (rice/millet wine) is the prominent drink induced by the people, especially in festivals. People used to drink it to honor the spirit guardians. Dance is an important element of the people’s heritage and traditional dancing along with priest/priestess chants, war dance and ritual dance with Buddhist connection etc are mostly performed by men. Ponung/Ponu is performed in groups by both men and women for the celebration of joyous and fortunate events in the future. A rich oral collection of folklores and chants, usually in a ballad tone, have been passed down from centuries about the historical events, myths, power of spirits and calling of deities.
Due to the topographical diversity, the climate in Arunachal Pradesh ranges from sub-tropical to temperate depending upon the altitude. The regions in the lower belts of the state experience hot and humid climates, with a maximum temperature in the foothills reaching up to 40 °C (during the summer).
Citizens of most countries, including the United States, need a visa to visit India which should be arranged in advance. Full details can be found at The Government of India website (http://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/). Citizens of Nepal and Bhutan do not need a visa, while some nationalities may get them upon arrival.
In order to travel in Arunachal Pradesh, one will need to have an Inner Line Permit which you can get issued from the airport at Kolkata, Guwahati or Tezpur. While traveling in Arunachal Pradesh you will be spending a significant amount of your time on the road. Arunachal Pradesh has an excellent road network. There are two highways that connect the state with the rest of the India. One is National Highway 52, which connects Jonai (sub-division of Dhemaji District in the state of Assam) with Dirak. Another highway connects Tezpur in Assam with Tawang. Arunachal Pradesh has its own bus transport service i.e. Arunachal Pradesh State Transport Services (or APSTS) that run state-owned buses to Itanagar from the various district headquarters like Tezpur, Guwahati in Assam; Shillong in Meghalaya, and Dimapur in Nagaland
Before you leave on your holiday, there are at least four health-related things you should do. Please check the handbook for specifics, but for now, here’s the short list:
Step 1: Check with the CDC for their recommendations for the countries you’ll be visiting.
Step 2: Have a medical checkup with your doctor.
Step 3: Pick up any necessary medications, both prescription and over-the-counter.
Step 4: Have a dental and/or eye checkup. (Recommended, but less important than steps 1-3.)
We recommend avoiding packing any plastic bags in your luggage before flying to Kenya. You should also remove any items purchased at departure airports from their bags before boarding. Double check your luggage before disembarking in Kenya and leave any plastic bags on the plane.
Arunachal Pradesh falls under India's restricted area. So as to reach here, foreigners will have to obtain a Restricted Area Permit (RAP). Indian nationals also need an authorization in the form of Inner Line Permit (ILP), which has to be obtained a week prior to the departure.
Get a medical check-up done in advance before planning a trip to Arunachal Pradesh.
Always carry a first aid box with mosquito repellents.
Always drink double filtered or bottled water.
Eat only home cooked food.
Keep the address, and phone number of the hotel, and nearest police station number handy.
Keep updated with the climate condition and political situation.
Stay away from strangers, touts and unauthorized travel agencies.
When on a sightseeing tour, make a point to carry the Xerox copy of your passport and visa for any emergency.
There are limited accommodation options in Arunachal Pradesh, so it would be a good to book your hotel or guest house in advanceTravelling can be challenging and time-consuming in Northeast India, so it would be a good idea to prepare proper map of reaching every destination in Arunachal Pradesh.
Be careful about the culture of the region. As such there's no rule book, the best way is to observe and follow.
In case of any problem, get in touch with the officers at the nearest India tourism office/State Government Tourist Office for authentic information. All the offices will supply you with guide maps/brochures free of cost/at a nominal cost.
Don't wear any shoes and sandals inside a temple, dargah, tomb, and Gurudwara. Also, you shouldn't wear revealing clothes when visiting all these places.
Don't take photos of tribal people without permission. Also don't click photographs of Government buildings including military base, airport, and wherever filing is restricted.
Do not carry any kind of ammunition, toxic material or firearms as it is prohibited.
Get the currency exchanged from the Government approved vendors. Don't fall for tempting exchange rates offered by unauthorized people.
Don't buy expensive shopping items and jewelry from strangers/unknown persons.
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