India // The Northeast //

Arunachal Pradesh


ARUNACHAL PRADESH, “the land of the dawn-lit mountains”, is one of India’s last unspoilt wildernesses. A wealth of fascinating cultures and peoples – plus a staggering five hundred species of orchid – are found in its glacial terrain, alpine meadows and subtropical rainforests.

The capital, Itanagar, is north of the Brahmaputra across from Jorhat. In the far west of the state, the road from Bhalukpong on the Assamese border to Tawang climbs steadily through rugged hills, streams and primeval forests, crossing the dramatic Sela Pass (4300m) midway. Along the route lie the Buddhist towns of Bomdila, Rupa and Dirang. In the far northeast, Namdapha National Park is home to clouded and snow leopards. Nearby Parasuramkund is one of India’s most important and least accessible Hindu pilgrimage sites.

Despite its beauty, tourism has been discouraged because of the extremely sensitive border with Chinese-occupied Tibet in the north and Myanmar in the east. In 1962, the Chinese invaded Arunachal Pradesh, reaching Tezpur in Assam, a 300km incursion India has never forgotten. Since then, a strong military stance has been adopted in the area. All visitors require a permit to enter the state and most places are only accessible by jeep.

Between December and March, most of the state’s hill towns are bitterly cold and accommodation is not geared up to cope – bring a winter sleeping bag, hot water bottle and torch, as power cuts are common.

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