Arunachal Pradesh: Land of the dawn-lit mountains

Arunachal Pradesh

Aptly called land of the dawn-lit mountains, India‘s wildest and least explored state of Arunachal Pradesh is on the easternmost side on the map bordering Bhutan, China and Myanmar. Being one of the most remote and undeveloped places left in India, half the fun is just in getting there. The enchanting beauty of this place should be experienced in person as even the most beautiful pictures don’t do justice to it. This was my first visit to the North Eastern part of India and it had me bowled over!

Beauty of the Eastern Himalayas - The misty blue hills of Arunachal Pradesh, near Tezu.
Beauty of the Eastern Himalayas – The misty blue hills of Arunachal Pradesh, near Tezu.

India is a huge country and Arunachal is so far in the east that ideally it should have its own time zone, but for various reasons it doesn’t. Sun rises at IST 4am, Banks and all shops (including the liquor shop) are doing business by 6am and sunsets are by 5pm! We try to adapt to a new place in various ways and for me to wake up at 4 am everyday on a holiday was a first! But the beautiful drives, memorable time spent with friends around a bonfire, (and we had one every night) and the He-Man Ultra Super strong beer more than made up for it! 😀

Namdapha Jungle Camp, MiaoNoa Dihing near Miao

All along the ride from airport to Miao, my mind was entwined in thoughts of waking up before 4 am to catch a sunrise! We reached late that night and retired to our huts after dinner and woke up the next morning to the sounds of chirping birds and crowing roosters. Namdapha Jungle camp, an eco-resort in Miao is next to Noa Dihing River and the shore is just a short walk away. After a refreshing morning here we headed to the Forest Rest House in Deban, for the next two days. Surrounded by evergreen forest, Deban is the farthest motor-able point and a base for treks & hikes inside Namdapha National park.

Namdapha National Park – Walk on the wild side

Beautiful views of the misty blue hills and river Noa Dihing from the Forest Rest House huts at Deban.
Beautiful views of the misty blue hills and river Noa Dihing from the Forest Rest House huts at Deban.

Namdapha National Park

Namdapha is a Tiger reserve & National park in the Eastern Himalayan sub-region in Changlang district of Arunachal, bordering Myanmar. One of the only parks in the world that rises from 200m to 4500 m in altitude and has four feline species of big cats.

Noa Dihing NamdaphaNoa Dihing Namdapha

Crossing river Noa Dihing on an inflatable raft at Deban, Namdapha. The cover of the jungles here is so thick that the wildlife you are able to see on a trek are some birds (look for horn bills), insects, or if you’re lucky, a flying squirrel! But one thing you’ll definitely experience here is a leech bite! There are flies and insects other than mosquitoes too whose bite could cause allergic reactions. Take precautions and carry insect repellents. Highlight of this place for me other than trekking and the sounds of the thick jungle, was laying down on the rocky bed of Noa Dihing river and feel the water flow beneath!

Namdapha Flora Namdapha Insects Arunachal PortraitArunachal Portrait

A cheerful happy family at Namdapha. Before heading to Nampong to prepare for a visit to Burma, we spent a morning in Miao, a small town on the banks of Noa Dehing river, gateway to Namdapha National park. Traditional bamboo & straw huts amidst lush green wheat fields and a local woman uses a bamboo strainer for catching fish in the swamps around river Noa Dihing.

Lush green rice fields near Miao Fishing near Miao

The everyday local market was set up in Miao when we got there. People from surrounding villages get their produce to sell at the market in Miao. The hustle bustle of a local market, aroma of fresh vegetables, people busy buying and selling groceries, spices, fish, live chickens and pigs, it’s a great way to experience the daily grind of people who live here.

Local market in Miao

Arunachal Portrait Miao Market Vegetables Miao Market Arunachal Portrait Miao MarketArunachal Portrait

Nampong – A glimpse into Myanmar

Bus Station at Nampong
Bus Station at Nampong

Nampong is the last town just 12 kms before Myanmar border, near Pangsau Pass on the Ledo or Stillwell road in Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh. Without a Passport or Visa, thrice a month, on the 10th, 20th and 30th day, Indian citizens are allowed to visit Pangsau village across the border. After reviewing our photo IDs, a picture of our group was taken and we were asked to get back to the border by 4 pm. We were lucky to get a pass across the border and get a glimpse into another country!

Pangsau Pass
Pangsau Pass

Even though we saw the Lake of No Return from a distance, it was a great experience to have a meal and get an introduction to the life and culture of Myanmar. Photography is prohibited here, so the pictures I have from here are from my phone.

Lake of No Return in Myanmar
Lake of No Return in Myanmar
World War 2 Cemetery at Jairampur
World War 2 Cemetery at Jairampur

From Nampong on way to Namsai, we crossed river Noa Dihing with our vehicle AND all of us on a huge raft! Near Jagun, locals walk over the bridge while vehicles are ferried across in boats. Woven into baskets to constructing homes and bridges, bamboo is the most extensively used natural resource here.

Bamboo Bridge near Jagun Bamboo Bridge near Jagun

The Golden Pagoda at Tengapani is on the highway from Namsai to Wakro. Similar to some Burmese pagodas in structure, there are beautifully maintained gardens around the temple. A great place to take a break on the road or just relax in peace.

Golden Pagoda at Tengapani Golden Pagoda at Tengapani

Overnight at a tea estate in Wakro and headed next day to Hawai via Parshuram Kund, and amazing views of Lohit River from the Hawa camp.

Tea estate at Wakro
Tea estate at Wakro
Elephant on the road near Wakro
Elephant on the road near Wakro
Turquoise blue waters of Lohit river in the Eastern Himalayas near Parshuram Kund
Turquoise blue waters of Lohit river in the Eastern Himalayas near Parshuram Kund.

Turquoise blue waters of Lohit river in the Eastern Himalayas near Parshuram Kund

A temple under a tree at Parshuram Kund
A temple under a tree at Parshuram Kund
The monks at Parshuram Kund were more than happy to get their portraits taken. 
The monks at Parshuram Kund were more than happy to get their portraits taken.

Beautiful views of Lohit River from Hawa camp (Lohit view), as it enters and floods the plains, glistening in the setting sun.

Beautiful views of Lohit River
Beautiful views of Lohit River

Stayed overnight in Hawai, the district headquarters of Anjaw district in Arunachal, before heading to Walong, the easternmost town with tourist accommodation.

Hawai, Arunachal
Hawai, Arunachal

Walong is a small army cantonment and easternmost town of India, in Anjaw district of Arunachal. From here you can trek or drive up to helmet top, the hot springs, Namti Plains and the farthest near China border till Kibithu.

Walong, ArunachalLohit River in WalongEastern Himalayas, Walong

Stayed at the Inspection bungalow in Walong for next 3 days with gorgeous views of the Eastern Himalayas. Waking up at sunrise with the view of the gorgeous mountains was definitely worth it! This was the last leg of our trip; from here the furthest we could go to was the town of Kibithu.

Namti Plains, Walong
Namti Plains, Walong

Namti Plains, Walong

Kibithu – Easternmost road of India

Kibithu, wildly enchanting and picturesque, is the easternmost permanently inhabited town of India in Anjaw district of Arunachal, on the LAC – Line of Actual Control, with China. Lohit a tributary of the Brahmaputra river, enters India through Kibithu and flows through the thickly forested Eastern Himalayas.

Easternmost road of IndiaA dragonfly on the road to Kibithu Lohit river at Kibithu

The road to Kibithu from Walong runs next to Lohit River and the views are breathtaking! A video of the gorgeous drive! Some of us caught the Chinese AIRTEL Network on our phones on this road!

Hanging bridge at Kibithu

There are many hanging bridges along the road, make sure you cross each one of them! It’s a unique and thrilling experience just to walk over one of these. To stand in the middle of the bridge swaying left to right in the wind while the river gushes below is an adventure in itself!

Hanging bridge, Arunachal
Hanging bridges of Arunachal

Hanging bridge, Arunachal

Turquoise Lohit river flowing in all its glory, to the misty blue mountains of Walong in the Eastern Himalayas, wild jungles of Namdapha, tea gardens of Wakro, lush green rice fields of Miao, handmade bamboo houses on stilts, hanging bridges, cheerful happy people with a taste in music and the brilliant way locals sustain themselves on nature, liters of super strong beer, bonfires, and lots of memories. All of that in two weeks in the most remote parts of Arunachal, I’d definitely do it again! 😀

He Man Beer and fried fish Arunachal Food Hot Springs at Kibithu and Lime

Itinerary

We travelled in Anjaw, Lohit and Changlang district of Arunachal for 15 days in the month of October. All the places we stayed at, were government-run with basic accommodation; this website on travelling to Changlang is helpful.

All places on Google Maps. Dibrugarh, Namdapha National Park, Nampong (Pangsau Pass & Stillwell road), Myanmar (Lake of no return), Jairampur (World War 2 Cemetery), Wakro, Golden Pagoda, Parshuram Kund, Hawai, Walong (Namti Plains, Helmet top and hot springs), and Kibithu – easternmost town in India on the LAC – Line of Actual Control, with China. Indian nationals require Inner Line Permits to visit.

P.S. Carry your binoculars to increase chances of spotting wildlife, and swimming gear as you’ll be next to a stream of river, mostly. Insect & mosquito repellents are a must. And as a responsible traveler, I ask you to help keep the beauty of this place as it is now, untouched! Thankyou and Happy Travels! 🙂

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25 Comments Add yours

  1. Woww.. absolutely beautiful post and stunning photos..

  2. Sapna Kapoor says:

    Detailed post with lovely captures.

  3. arv! says:

    Excellent write up on arunachal with lots of details. Arunachal and Burma is on my mind

  4. Loved your shots. Arunachal is really a great untouched place. Would love to visit one day.

    1. Ritu Saini says:

      Thankyou! Yes You must if you get a chance.

  5. Bama says:

    Every time I look at the map of India, one particular state always intrigues me for its dotted border line, instead of a solid one. Mostly claimed by China and located at the far end of northeastern India, Arunachal Pradesh seems so remote yet exotic. This is in fact the first blog post on the Indian state that I’ve ever come across on the Internet. Your photos not only captured the beauty of this place, but also gives us a glimpse on how life is like in this corner of India. Plus, all of your photos look so refreshing! I’ll keep in mind to go in October should I plan to visit Arunachal Pradesh some time in the future.

    1. Ritu Saini says:

      Thanks Bama! 🙂 I have been intrigued by the Himalayas and Ladakh was the ultimate I had thought until I visited this part in the East! It’s quite remote as Ladakh, but not barren and desolate, in fact quite rich in biodiversity and culture which we know very little about.

  6. It?s hard to come by well-informed people in this particular subject,
    but you seem like you know what you?re talking about! Thanks

  7. Highly informative blog post. Well done.

  8. SANJIV MONGA says:

    Hi Ritu, I have gone/lived in & out of Arunachal for over a decade but am yet to get to the east side. A lovely read this, with lovely snapshots of the people & the place. Hoping to make it to Namdapha this march. Thanks for a beautiful personal narrative !!

    1. Ritu Saini says:

      Thanks a lot, glad you liked it. Wow! I’d love to visit Arunachal again and go to Mechuka and Ziro!

      1. SANJIV MONGA says:

        Please do let me know if you want any help. Have been to Mechuka & Ziro many times. And if possible, try & make it in the 1st week of november for the Adventure@Mechuka festival. You’d love it !!

        1. Ritu Saini says:

          Yes sure! Thanks a lot! 🙂

  9. sidran says:

    A stunning visual odyssey!

  10. thirdeyemom says:

    Wow I’m absolutely spellbound by this magical post. The photography blows me away. Incredible and thank you so much for sharing this special part of the world !

    1. Ritu Saini says:

      Thanks Nicole 🙂 Glad you liked it! Our Love of mountains!

  11. Clara says:

    I’ve recently started a website, the information you offer on this website has helped
    me greatly. Thank you for all of your time & work.

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