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  • Right at the top of north-eastern India, crowning its six clustered sisters like a protective helmet, is Arunachal Pradesh, the `Land of the Dawn-lit- Mountains.' This is the first Indian soil to greet the morning sun. Dawn first illuminates Arunachal's border with China: a long border which stretches all the way from its east, over to its northern boundaries and down to its north- western edge where it merges with Tibet. To its west is Bhutan and on its southern end it touches Assam, Nagaland and Burma before sweeping up to China.

    Altitude: Naharlagun - 200 metres, Itanagar - 750 metres.
    Climate (Degree C.): Summer - Max. 40, Min. 18 Winter - Max. 12, Min. 5.
    Rainfall: 266 cms 266 cms
    Best Season: October to April.
    Clothing: Summer - Cottons; Winter - Woollens.
    Languages spoken: Indigenous languages, Hindi, Assamese, Bengali & English.



    The Buddhist Temple: A new, but beautiful, yellow-roofed shrine, it rises in well-maintained grounds behind a stupa bearing the portrait of a monk. At one side is a tree planted by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The grounds of the temple afford a good view of Itanagar town.
    Ganga Sekhi Lake: The 6 km drive to the lake from Itanagar takes visitors on a rugged road through some superbly primeval jungles : bamboo, orchids massed on tall trees, tree-ferns are some of the vegetation which can be identified by the interested traveller. Stopping at the base of a hill, one has to cross a bamboo bridge floored with a bamboo mat spanning a culvert. This leads to a flight of steps cut into the red clay of the hill. At the top of the ridge one looks down at a serene, green forest lake which one can cross in a row boat. A beautiful picnic spot.

    Polo Park: An interesting little botanical garden atop a ridge overlooking the town. Visitors should notice the cane thicket: it looks a bit like a palm, with spines on its stems, but growing as a bush. There is also a small zoo. Handicrafts Centre run by the Industries Department offers a good range of shawls, carpets, carved caskets & the beautiful cane & bamboo work in which the north-east excels. Behind & to one side of the showroom, is the workshop where cane is trimmed, cut and woven by tribal artisans with great skill.
    Pachin River: This rivulet providing a fine fishing spot passes by Naharlagun.
    Zoo:18 kms from Naharlagun and near Banderdewa police check post. Providing glimpses of uncommon Himalayan fauna.



    The Brahmaputra draws many of its tributaries from the densely forested mountains of Arunachal; the Siang, the Dibang, the Lohit and the Noa Dihing are some of the rivers which drain the rain from some of Arunachal's northern and eastern ranges and pour them into Brahamputra. The Subansiri and the Bharali perform similar duties for the south.
    The interpid explorer can paddle up these rivers and journey...if he has not been deterred by falls and rapids on the way...as far as China, where the Siang begins, if he trusts the roads, he will be able to reach the headquarters of the ten districts, but not very much further.

    No railway enters Arunachal. But Indian Airlines and Alliance Airlines do serve Tezu, Ziro and Pasighat. It's, in other words, India's largest north-eastern state, and also its remotest. And this is the beauty and the wonder and the compelling fascination of unknown Arunachal Pradesh.

    But on the two hour journey from the airport in Lilabari, Assam, to the capital of Naharlagun(Itanagar), the fascination grows slowly. Lilabari is a plains town and Naharlagun gives the impression of a plains town. But the 10 km drive from the 200 metre high Naharlagun to the new capital in the hills, Itanagar at 750 metres, is enchanting.

    The road winds through that magical country where tropical evergreen rain forests meet temperate Himalayan jungles. Tree ferns spread their greenfronds to great heights; jungle giants tower into the sky; there are burgeoning thickets of bamboo; and thick mats of creepers cover everything with undulating bedspreads of green.

    The visitor should stop at the far side of the bridge that spans the Pachim  River. There is an attractive village below and to the right of the road leading to Itanagar. Most of the houses are built at ground level but at least one is on stilts. Such variations could be the result of cross-cultural influences between the twenty major tribes who speak many different languages. According to one account of some of these varied people: There are the gently and cultured Monpas of West Kameng who received Buddhism from Padma Sambhava; the Thongi (Sherdukpens) whoes chiefs trace their treaty relationships with the powers in the valley to a thousand years back; the Hrusso who for thirty generations have patronised Vaishnava scholars; the proud Bangni-Nishi and the Tagin typifying the ancient Indian ideal of the honourable warrior; the Adis and Mishmis who are eager to build academic careers; the Apatanis with their marvels of wet-rice cultivation; the Khampti in their magnificent ceremonial robes and the peaceful, progressive Nocte, Wancho and Tangsa.

    The people of Arunachal are the greatest attraction of this beautiful land. And even in the capital at Itanagar, the visitor comes across Nishi warriors wearing their 'bopiah' hornbill caps, carrying their 'chokh' bearskin bags with their 'oyjo' knives in their monkey-skin 'burkhey' scabbards. But the visitor should not be misled by their appearance.

    As a community's level of civilisation is judged by its health, its urge to fulfil its social responsibilities and its emotional stability, the tribals of Arunachal Pradesh are highly civilised. According to Dr. Parul Dutta, Director in the Tribal Culture Research Department , the tribes are in good health and well-nourished, there are no land disputes, and when an entire village burns down the whole community gets together and with great good cheer, rebuilds it as a community effort. Administrators who have worked in this state contend that in spite of the fact that the police have jurisdiction for only 5 kms. around the District Headquarters, crimes in villages can be concealed for only three days because the prople are virtually incapable of telling lies and they have very clear ideas of justice.

    These, then, are in unspoilt people of Arunachal. And in dealing with them, the Government of India has taken the words of Jawaharlal Nehru to heart. India's first Prime Minister said: "I felt that we should avoid two extreme courses, one was to treat them as anthropological specimens for study and the other was to allow them to be engulfed by masses of India's humanity... We must always remember that we do not mean to interfere with their way of life but want to help them live it".

    Itanagar captures the spirit of this desire to minimise the conflicts that arise when a traditional society is guided into modernity.

    The capital is a scatter of light, earthquake-proof, woodframe buildings rising up the slopes of a green hill. Traditional huts are scattered amongst the more recent constructions and the residence of the Lt. Governor crowns one peak while a new Buddhist temple crowns the other. Between them lie the administrative offices, shops, the bazar and thatched huts.

    It's all very low-profile and unassuming and even the most diffident tribal from the remotest village is unlikely to feel uneasy when he comes to the capital.

    Thus, when the visitor decides to visit this town he should realise that there is a very good reason for such a frontier state to have such a frontier town as its capital: Itanagar.

    Itanagar has been identified with Mayapur, the capital of the 11th century AD Jitri dynasty.



    Starting at the airport of Tezpur in Assam, the road passes through low wooded slops about 60 kms beyond Tezpur. Anglers or those who want a brief rest should wait till they encounter the broad spread of the Bharali river as it emerges from the mountains into the wooded upper plains. On the banks of the river, at an elevation of 190 metres is Tipi, a glass house with over 7,500 orchids. From here the road is farely steep as it soars up to the small headquarter of the West Kameng district Bomdila at a height of over 2530 metres.

    It has a tourist lodge, a Craft centre, Apple orchards and Budhist Gumphas. There are also views of Himalayan landscapes and Snow clad ranges. Bomdila is a good place to rest over nights.



    For the truly dedicated wilderness and wildlife fan, a visit to the Namdapha Natioanal Park is a challenging goal. An unique feature of the park is that it is the only one park in the world in which four of the great felines are found viz., the tiger, the leopard, the snow leopard and the clouded leopard. It is also an ideal location for trekking and hiking.

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